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
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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!

Rest and Responsibility

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Me:
Good morning Father!

ABBA:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
This is not the first time lately You have instructed me to rest in You.

ABBA:
I know that it is difficult for you. I made you with a high sense of responsibility. What I need you to see is that the most responsible thing for you to do is to recognize that it is My doing that makes all the difference.

Me:
How do I properly put that sense of responsibility that You put in my makeup to work in a way that it fulfills its proper function and does not just end up producing stress?

ABBA:
One thing to recognize is that the enemy knows you. He may not truly understand My purposes, but he knows how to pull your strings, so to speak.

Me:
I want to learn how to be all that You intend me to be and also how not to give him any latitude for manipulation. What You intend for good should never be subverted for bad! Not even to produce stress in myself.

ABBA:
You have heard the secret to the martial art of Judo is to use the momentum of an opponent against him. In the spiritual realm, think of striving as momentum and resting in Me as a perfect counter to the very principle that gives the enemy the ability to use your own energy against you. True achievements are enabled in My power. The voice of the enemy will encourage you to glory in successes as though they were your own; ever striving for the next one. I remind you of Paul’s words of admonishment to the Corinthians: … so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? [1 Corinthians 4:6-7]

Me:
Are You telling me that my sense of responsibility is a gift that I have received?

ABBA:
A gift, and also one aspect of being made in My image (though every one is unique). Like every spiritual thing bestowed upon My children, it is a power for good when exercised in Me and powerfully destructive when operating apart from Me. This is the nature of power. Moment by moment, breath by breath, the heart focuses on things above or on things below. This is so because I have determined that you shall determine your way, whether you will walk with Me or not. I know you have heard the quote attributed to Francois-Marie Arouet (Voltaire), “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Me:
Yes, I have heard it. I have heard that he was disturbed by the abuse of power and privilege while the poor and downtrodden suffered.

ABBA:
He was exactly right about the linkage between power and responsibility. The power which I bestow can only be properly exercised in Me. It is the responsibility of the bearer of the gift to present it for My purposes, else it will putrefy under the direction of self-interest and produce only rottenness.

Me:
Voltaire had pretty mixed opinions about things of faith.

ABBA:
Do not all men? He saw the misuse of power in the church as well as in the government. Still, his reasoning was not without its flaws. This is the nature of reason.

Me:
I suppose we do. I want to know You in all Your ways and learn to miss-step less often.

ABBA:
Then keep looking to Me, as I Am the One to guide you. I have given Jesus as Example and the Holy Spirit as Enabler.

Me:
I am grateful for Your guiding hand in my life. I would obviously not have any hope of enjoying all that You have promised except You teach me to walk in the Truth. I love You!

ABBA:
You are welcome to all the guidance you will accept. I love you!