Iowa Caucus – Monday Night

I used to write a politically-oriented blog because I care deeply about the country that I live in. I care about the Constitution that our founders have left us. I believe the Bill of Rights is an awesome expression of the grace we have enjoyed as a people. I am passionate about trying to help elect those who care about these things too. I care about those who have served in various ways to secure and protect the freedoms that we hold dear. Those traditions go back to the very beginning.

I served six years on active duty in the US Navy myself, longer ago than I usually admit. The “featured image” for today is of one of the ships that I served on during a transit near a typhoon that was churning things up in the western Pacific (photo credit – Ralph Turner) . But I don’t limit my honor to those with military service or to our elected officials, or even to our brave first-responders, who are using their specialized skills and regularly putting their lives on the line on our behalf. As heroic as all those are, who selflessly do these important jobs, I also recognize that the mom and dad who are doing their best to instill a sense of duty and service and love of others into the next generation are also on the front lines doing work that is critical to our survival as a nation.

Today, I spent the afternoon driving around rural Iowa, delivering some last-minute materials that will be used in the caucuses in my Iowa county on Monday night. I hope the turnout is better than the one we saw last year. There was a blizzard, and it was an “off” (non-presidential) year. Perhaps folks wonder, “What difference will it make?” To me, the difference is that I meet with my neighbors and together we show that we care enough to show up. The sacrifices we make to get together are so pale when compared to those who suffered the brutal Winter and supply crisis at Valley Forge (1777-1778) with General Washington. Or how will we compare our time of discussion to the withering fire faced by those who fought their way ashore at Omaha Beach? No, ours seems like a minor contribution. I take it as important in preserving our freedoms for the next generation, none the less.

You might wonder, since this is a passion that I freely own, why I gave up my political blog. The reason is fairly simple, and it was voiced by John Adams, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” I came to realize that as a nation, while we must work within our political system to do what we can, our fundamental dilemma is a spiritual one. Our diminishing state of spiritual existence probably helps explain the explosion of laws and bureaucratic regulations that have been passed to try to restrain us. Alas, the long line of legislators that we have had since our founding apparently felt the simple and direct Constitution had to be supplemented. The word “religious” used by Adams may not have exactly the same connotation in our day, as it did in his, but unless we return to our mooring as “one nation under God” as our Pledge of Allegiance has it, we will remain adrift and headed for the shoals of destruction – and all those regulations will not save us.

Am I? Are you? #6


I am grateful for having made Eric’s acquaintance.

This is the sixth affirmation found on the piece of Christy Mitropoulous’ artwork that we have been working though.

I Am … More than a conqueror. Romans 8:37

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39

My life is mercifully devoid of deadly peril most of the time. Hardship? More like occasional inconvenience. Nakedness? Hardly ever in public, except nightmares remembered from childhood where I was a helpless mannequin on display in the J. C. Penney store. I guess I was feeling sorry for the public embarrassment of the mannequins that worked there.

Persecution? Well, that is certainly on the increase. It is a plot by dark powers faithfully executed by those who follow them, whether wittingly or unwittingly. The policies of most companies have been changed to restrict open expression of convictions supporting traditional moral values. They may or may not be regularly enforced, but are a snare waiting for the unwary. Does this documentation mean your company is actually against traditional values? They could be. Probably though, they are just observant and pragmatic. They observe that if a complaint is lodged against you they are open to be sued because of your beliefs, unless they have taken a position against them. The courts have proven repeatedly to come down on the side of anyone but the one who is following convictions based on Christian belief. Christ-believers are now in a condition where one can’t work for a living and vocalize one’s traditional beliefs without taking on significant risk.

Most of this is in a still-trifling state, compared to the full aims of the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). This passage in Romans 8 stands ready to console, however bad it gets.

Death? I am convinced, like Paul, that death is no enemy for the Christ-follower. This doesn’t imply my sense of self-preservation has ceased to function normally. Though I know that none of us gets out of this world alive, I am sure that this existence is not all there is. Yesterday, I learned my friend Eric, who had been valiantly fighting cancer, had passed. I watched him battle the symptoms at fairly close range and fervently prayed daily, expecting his restoration. I never talked with him when I did not come away uplifted by his sense of gratitude and grace. There is no doubt in my mind that the attitude he displayed was merely an artifact of the upward road he was walking, right to the end of this phase of life. There in no end of the list of things that Eric was conquering. If you had known him, you would have seen that clearly too. Death is now one of them.

Life is in Paul’s list of things that cannot separate us from the love of God. I need to be reminded at every turn that I am a conqueror over the issues of life. God has given us in the scriptures a perfect life manual, He has given us a reprieve in Jesus from the spiritual death sentence we each had earned. He has given us His Holy Spirit to empower us to move in the life we are called to live. Why, you might ask, would I need to be reminded that I am a conqueror over life? You can likely answer that question yourself before it is fully formed on your lips. Life is sometimes not a bed of roses. Sometimes if is filled with many of the other troubles in Paul’s list. For me, though, it is my past history as a serial abuser of the free will that God has graciously given me, doing things that I wanted to do that were not in my best interest. Why? Well, inexplicably, because I wanted to. Still, I find Him unfailingly faithful. Unerringly true to His word. Helping me to be more than a conqueror, even over life. And this is the best part, simply because He loves Me.

Christy Mitropoulos Signature

If

Featured photo from Garden of the Gods – Colorado Springs Colorado

 

I am grateful that You are loving!

 

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:10

 

Me:

Good morning Jesus!

 

Jesus:

Good morning Jon!

 

Me:

If I didn’t know better, from verses like Romans 5:8 (But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.), I could read John 15:10 as a statement of condition for God’s love.

 

Jesus:

“If” precedes a statement of condition, by definition. But it is not the condition that has come first to your mind. The condition is not stating that God will love you only if you behave in a particular way. The condition stated is that God – because He loves you – has prepared a beneficial (saving, growing, healthy, vibrant, giving, amazing, purpose-fulfilling, life-changing, joyful, …, and on and on) way for you to walk and has told you about it. The “if”, therefore, refers to whether you will accept His goodness and walk in the Way He has prepared; His plan for your good (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

“Don’t play in the street”, a parent tells his child. Is this a command?

 

Me:

Yes, it is.

 

Jesus:

Is it given to prevent the child from enjoying the wonders of the roadway?

 

Me:

It is given to protect the child whose experience is not developed enough to avoid the mortal dangers of traffic speeding along the street.

 

Jesus:

Is protection an expression of love?

 

Me:

Yes, it is. An expression of love by a parent meeting a critical need of the child.

 

Jesus:

Do all children obey?

 

Me:

No. Not all. Perhaps none obey all of the time.

 

Jesus:

Does disobedience in this matter dissolve the love of the parent for the child?

 

Me:

Not even if the worst actually happens.

 

Jesus:

So it is with God.

 

Me:

Thank You Jesus! I love You!

 

Jesus:

You are welcome! I love you!

deerCropped
Town Deer – Woodland Park Colorado

Doll Bed 3

I am grateful, Lord, for revelations of Your majesty! In the eyes of the one who dares to examine the smallest part of Your mighty works, You leave no doubt of Your power. Nor will the one who seeks refuge in You fail to understand that You are strong to save! You overcome those who hate us on Your account. You draw us close to You in safety. Blessed are we, in You!

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Keeping a promise, today will complete a short series on making a doll bed for my granddaughter. Here is a link to the previous installment.

Mortised Bed Posts

The four mortised bed posts are seen in the photo above, and four identical cross pieces are required with a matching tenon cut on each end.  I did not capture a picture, but all of these have to have a slot cut on the inside centerline to inset the plywood that makes the closed head- and foot-boards.  It is tempting to want to cut this slot with the dado blade on the table saw, and that could work for the cross pieces where the cut extends from end to end.  For the bed posts, the slot is limited to the area between the mortises.  I cut these slots 3/16″ deep with 1/4″ straight router bit.  Because it is really difficult to get a saw setup to match the router setup exactly, I cut all the slots with the router.  These can be done with only the top and bottom guides to keep the cut in the center of the board.  One just has to be careful not to cut past the mortise on the posts.

Glue-up of foot-board

The picture above shows the glue up of the foot-board with the plywood captured in the slot.  One should always test fit all assemblies without glue.  Once satisfied that it goes together correctly, then add glue to the mortise and tenon joints only.  The plywood inset floats freely in the slots, allowing for expansion and contraction with humidity and temperature without splitting or cracking.

Basic Assembly

The bed rails in my design are painted angle iron.  I welded a bracket on the end to take a screw to hold the whole bed together.  This allows the bed to be broken down flat for storage.  It would be perfectly acceptable to make these out of wood, but then I would not have gotten to practice with my new flux wire welder!  Besides, I had the angle laying around from a previous project. The bottom deck is the same 3/16″ plywood that is inset in the head- and foot-boards.

Finished Doll Bed

The side rails are made from the same 1×2″ oak as the rest, except they are ripped in half to give a 3/4″ by 3/4″ finished cross section.  In between five vertical 3/8″ dowels are glued in to complete the rails.  Holes for the dowels were drilled using a drill press, so the depth is easily controlled.  The rails are mounted to the head- and foot-boards with dowels that are glued into the rails but not into the bed posts.  This arrangement allows for disassembly for flat storage.

Finally, the finish (after some light sanding) consists of two coats of a simple wipe-on poly.  I like this type of finish for items that get wear and tear because it can be refreshed  to deal with scratches with a light sanding and a new coat.

Covered Footbridge over Escanaba River, Gwinn MI

All of 1 Peter 1 is an incredibly rich tapestry of the Life prepared for us: conceived and planned by the Father, purchased in blood by Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, stretching across history, predicted by prophets, and announced by first-century preachers; concerning grace, peace, fullness, mercy, hope, protection, salvation, eternal life, joy, praise, honor, love, glory, revelation, belief, faith, angels, and mysteries.

I am grateful for the grace that enables us to enter in to this magnificent journey with God, and to stay the course, if we are willing.

Bridge

Subsidized Vandalism …

… of the pristine Iowa horizon.

This is a hand-held time exposure, so not the best quality photo.  All those red lights on the horizon are a warning-blink from part of a new wind farm being installed between me and the next mile over.  There are close to a hundred of them.  I’m already missing my unadulterated view.  Yesterday’s blog photo was before this blight on God’s landscape.  I freely admit that I am struggling to find a good face to put on this project.  If these machines pulled their own weight in the economy, I suppose I would find some solace in that. As it is, I have to reconcile myself to the fact that I am paying taxes that are going to blight in my own neck of the cornfield.

I have to return my focus on things above and remember that at the day of the Lord, this too will pass (2 Peter 3:10).

Steadfast of Mind

 

The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock. – Isaiah 26:3-4

Me:
Good morning Father!

ABBA:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
It is not easy being steadfast in mind.

ABBA:
I spoke to you about that yesterday by My Holy Spirit.

Me:
You said to be mindful of what I focus my attention on.

ABBA:
I did. I Am able to see all. I see the beginning and the ending, for I Am the Alpha and the Omega; the First and the Last (Revelation 22:13). I Am unconstrained by time, for time is of the physical realm and I Am Spirit (John 4:24). I do not look only on the outward appearance, but upon even the thoughts and intents of the heart (Psalm 44:21).

You do not see as I see. I designed your mind to be able to focus. I am mindful that you are but dust (Genesis 2:7, Psalm 103:14). I Am not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Instead, I bring order out of chaos (Genesis 1:2).

I intend You to seek Me for today (Hebrews 3:15). I gave a picture of this when I provided manna for the Israelites. I satisfied their hunger in the wilderness. They were instructed to gather what they needed for the day, plus some extra the day before the Sabbath, when they were to simply rest in Me. If they tried to store it up, the manna would spoil (Exodus 16).

Jesus told you not to worry about tomorrow, for each day has enough trouble of it’s own (Matthew 6:34). That does not mean you should not plan, only that you should not worry. Worry is focused on trouble. Proper planning focuses on achievement (Luke 14:28).

Me:
Thank You Father! Help me keep my eyes on Jesus my Example and my Savior (Hebrews 12:2) and to set my mind on things above (Colossians 3:1-2). Let my ears be attentive to Your Word and my hands ready to do your calling from the heart! I love You!

ABBA:

You are welcome! Those are prayers that I Am willing to help with, obviously, for I have told you to do these things for your own benefit; because I love you!