Gripe Not

I am grateful that You are the Sovereign of the universe, and I am not.

Me: Good evening Jesus!

Jesus: Good evening Jon!

Me: I was reading Step Four in the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelves Steps and Twelve Traditions book, and it was talking about various character defects as examples that they might help one learn to examine them. It sort of jumped out at me that this sentence was one of those hit-the-nail-on-the-head moments:

… griping that others failed to recognize my truly exceptional abilities?

While the authors didn’t also mention the desire to say, “I told you so!”, they could have. Then the thought came that You had many fail to recognize Your truly exceptional abilities. Yet, I’m sure You never griped about it and I can’t think of an instance of You telling an individual that they had been warned after things went wrong. What is the secret to being at peace about such “votes of no confidence”?

Jesus: Have you noticed that you do not also have a tendency to analyze ways in which your own shortcomings contribute to various problems, especially failing to help those you are responsible for adequately prepare to meet what is expected of them from those with higher authority in the organization? I know that the items that progress into crisis mode are most evident once someone in authority begins to express they view it as a problem. But as a manager (technically) responsible for directing the work of another you would do well to help them with your experience. I know the “chain of command” that is referred to in military service is often violated in private business; your protege’s get directions you hear nothing about unless there is some kind of trouble. Meanwhile, you tend to assume all is well, whether there is a storm brewing, or not.

I know the end from the beginning. Do you ask Me about these things, and what you should do about them? Recognize My truly exceptional ability to help! I ask My Father about everything. Then I do what He tells Me. This is the answer to your question about how I remained at peace. It is faithless to gripe about things you have asked Me to help with. If you have not, it is because you have asked not.

The best kind of discernment, is My discernment. I will help you with insight into the unseen. I know the thoughts and intents of the heart. Just ask.

Recognize, also, that I chose a few to disciple. These were generally not among those casting no-confidence votes, though they were all works in progress; as are you. This is the secret to multiplying the exceptional abilities that I Am giving you. Seek Me. Listen carefully. See clearly. Be diligent. Abide in Me. Keep My love for you and for your charges in mind. Love them in the power of the Spirit.

If you find you have detractors, so do I. Do not blame them. Pray for them. They are being used by the accuser, almost certainly without consciousness.

Me: Thank You Jesus! I love You! I ask you to help me make a habit of seeking You about these situations. I have so much I need to grow in!

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you! I am helping you grow. I Am the Vine.

Unholy

Near the two-lane’s center stripe, I saw him;
His lifelong mate, lifeless, lay nearby.
Staid stood he, at my coming;
Her recently-stilled breast faced the sky.
Still, save for feathers slightly ruffled;
By the breeze, enveloping a sigh.
His grim mourning filled the spirit realm;
Deeply felt, while carefully, I crept by.

His eyes, a window to bereavement;
Her color, mottled gray, except the chest,
Added cream, perhaps would best describe.
All with dismal loss, will sometime wrest.
The enemy comes not, but for killing;
Delighting if his appearing takes the best.
Late return, I found her mate still standing,
The evening would bring his heart no rest.

Dove photo by Tina Nord, https://www.pexels.com

Dove Update 5/14/2021

Went to town and back 24 hours later than yesterday.
Both going and coming home again, there was a lone dove
standing in the same location on the center line of the road.

Can I swear it is the same one? No. I saw others on the trip.
No others on that exact spot, though. The female is gone,
due to some scavenger, I suspect. There are many of those.

Oh Lord! Please!

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/01/22/statement-from-president-biden-and-vice-president-harris-on-the-48th-anniversary-of-roe-v-wade/

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/individual

I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. Psalm 22:10

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14

Lord Jesus, I ask You for protection for the little ones, who yet have no voice to speak for themselves, who have no option to flee. My heart is heavy and my sorrow is great. No euphemisms can assuage what I know deep inside. Hear my cry, for I am without words.

Black Wallpaper · Pexels · Free Stock Photos
pexels.com

“Modern” Idols and a Remnant

I am grateful for Your direction and reassurance!

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.
2 And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:
6 Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay (heavy debt)!
7 Shall they (creditors) not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?
8 Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
9 Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!
10 Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.
11 For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
12 Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!
13 Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?
14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!
16 Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the Lord’s right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.
17 For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?
19 Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.
20 But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

Habakkuk 2

Me: Good afternoon, Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good afternoon, Jon!

Me: It seems the instruction you gave to Habakkuk to write what You told him for later and for others, was very good.

Holy Spirit: It is a way of respecting what I Am telling you. The one who thinks he will remember all later deceives himself. This, he would know, if only he looked at how his remembering has worked in the past.

Me: Then Your word is not like the manna which was to be gathered only for the day, and spoiled if the direction was not followed to consume what was gathered? I have heard preaching that says the gathering of manna was meant to teach that we are to have to have a fresh conversation with You every day.

Holy Spirit: You are to have a fresh conversation with Me every day! However:

For,“All flesh is like grass,
And all its glory is like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
And the flower falls off,
But the word of the Lord endures forever.”

1 Peter 1:24, 25

I asked Habakkuk (and you) to write down what I Am telling you to make it more permanently available to you. You are flesh, and do not always understand Me at first. If you go back and look at what I have said to you earlier in light of what I have told you later, I Am able to reveal both error and incomplete understanding. Habakkuk was called as a prophet. Whereas, you are not. Yet, I Am watching over My Word to perform it. (Jeremiah 1:12)

Me: Most (all?) of the prophets spoke of the iniquity of the people, serving idols instead of You.

Holy Spirit: Yes. Has the iniquity of the people changed? Do not many serve idols to this day? If anything, they are more proud; they serve their own appetites and stop their ears to all that I Am saying, all the while claiming that idol worship ceased with antiquity. In fact, they are more corrupt; serving only self and thinking not of another.

The Old Testament prophets spoke under the Law. You understand that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law:

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.

Romans 13:10

The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:8

Do you yet love as Jesus loves?

I am no longer going to be in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, so that they may be one just as We are.

John 17:11

The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one;

John 17:22

Are you seeing unity, or division?

And knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and no city or house divided against itself will stand.

Matthew 12:25

Do not despair that many are not seeking Me. Have I not proved that I will work with the remnant? And, that it is My work to change hearts of the willing?

In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, since otherwise grace is no longer grace.

Romans 11:5, 6

Me: I pray you will help us consider what idols we have put before You and help all to lay them down, seeking You and Your righteousness! Let us individually be restored to You that we might together be all that you have desired!

Holy Spirit: I will help any who humbles himself enough to consider.

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!

===

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

PS: About the First Amendment Tablet on the Newseum building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. : Bizjournals

The featured picture is simply one I captured on December 12th. In no way am I suggesting that our (US) Constitution or Bill of Rights is an idol. These are not things we should lay aside. Ever. Rather, these truths have always been properly understood as the intention of God concerning the liberties He bestows on His children because we are made in His image and He is constrained only by His own word and by His perfect nature.

The Face of Abandonment

I was on the way home from town when my wife told me on the phone. I had that sinking feeling. “We’ve got a new cat.”, she said.

I don’t mind cats that much. But, they are a lot of work. Though we were down to four due to the oldest two passing. (Did I mention I’m the one who does cat-box duty?) The youngest is a calico who was “rescued” by my stepdaughter, who couldn’t keep it, of course. She found it as a kitten. It was crying in the park in the rain over one-hundred miles from where we live. Jill brought it straight to us. Where else? After the initial three-hundred dollar visit to the vet, I named her Pricey. What can I say? I am easily amused. Pricey is probably four years old now.

All the cats came that way, more or less. Neither my wife or I actually tried to get a cat. At least, I don’t think so.

Two days before that phone call, one of my wife’s friends called her with a litter of newborn kittens which the mother had abandoned. That happens sometimes. My wife has had some significant experience fostering and placing kittens. So, she agreed to take them. That is pretty much a full-time job at first. Everything else kind of comes to a stop. She is a little over a week and a half in now and they all have their eyes open.

That is the backdrop against which the news that, “We’ve got a new cat” came to me.

That is his picture that heads this post. Someone had apparently dumped him near our farmhouse. It must have been quite a while before he found my wife outside on the porch. My wife was waiting for Lady the permanently-fostered Pit Bull to finish her outside business. The cat came running when he saw her. He had been down near the road, which is about one-hundred yards from the house. There is a creek down there across the gravel road where a cat could get water to drink.

He was severely underweight. Clearly very friendly. Obviously didn’t know how to hunt for himself. His first trip to the vet was only a little over $100. Males are cheaper to neuter. Besides, “Pricey” was taken. It seems like he has eaten non-stop for the first week. He is starting to look better. And, as the picture shows, now he will now opt for a neck-scratch before diving into the cat food.

I named him “Covid”.

The name is part of the story I tell myself to lessen my tendency to condemn callous cat-dumpers. Here is how it goes:

Constrained to “shelter in place” and out of a restaurant job due to shutdown orders, the father struggled with the choice to feed the kids adequately for the next few days or buy another bag of food for the cat. He decides the cat could get lost near a farm in the country and the kid’s wouldn’t have to know how it disappeared. He didn’t like the choice, but he felt he had to make it.

That’s my story. No other hard choice would explain it, really. Surely not just convenience. I can’t make my mind be OK with that.

I don’t know how long Covid managed to evade the coyotes that often howl hereabouts at night. Long enough to begin to border on starvation. It was probably the ability to drink from the creek that saved him long enough to catch someone outside.

I suppose it remains to be seen how much trouble it will be when we try to introduce him into the rest of our little cat population. At least I am working and Covid will get to eat on a regular basis.

Mortal Fear Antidote

In times like these, or any other.

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24 King James Version

(The featured image taken outside Larry Pearson’s metal shop in Radcliffe IA.)

Reaping the Whirlwind

Two and a half years ago I wrote a blog post called Subsidized Vandalism about the extensive new wind farm being put in near us by MidAmerican Energy. I won’t rehash that original post here. The link above will open it if you like. I took the featured photo for this post down the road from where I live on Sunday this past week. You may have heard about the “wind waste” problem related to aging wind farms. Did I mention this one is less than three years old?

I believe we are charged by God to be good stewards of His creation, though I have witnessed much done by men that has proven to the short sighted and destructive. Some short sighted and destructive behavior can easily be attributed to me. If one hangs around me long enough, though, I will be heard to say that failure to “count all the beans” if a fatal economic flaw in many projects. I would be hard pressed to imagine an undertaking where that ill wind blows more faithfully than in the wind-energy industry.

I understand that many are being – how shall I say this? – proselytized by the climate change religion whose preachers assert that we have been much worse than poor stewards of creation; but predict with certainty in their voices that we are on the verge of destroying the earth’s ability to sustain us. The preachers are often in our schools; that particular religion is apparently OK within those walls. The motivation is usually held to be greed, rather than pure malice. Those who live where there is public transportation may blame drivers of cars. Those who need a car to get to work may blame eating meat. The point seems to be that someone must be to blame. I suspect ignorance is the most prevalent root cause of casting blame. Any climate change non-believers must endure attempts to shame any who are capable of such, into giving assent to any effort that can be remotely classified as “green”. We have to save the planet at all costs, after all.

Once one discounts the existence and promise of the Creator, it becomes easy to let fear consume all hope and believe the (carefully crafted and oft repeated) propaganda that we are feeling the breath of the mercenary evil who have set themselves over us and backed us up against the final precipice of doom.

I might as well own it. You can probably tell by now, anyway. I am one of the “deniers” that drive the fearful-of-climate-change-due-to-man to distraction. There are many reasons that I take this stance. Some of them are even based on science. However, the most powerful is a promise that I find in scripture. (At least I admit that mine is a religious argument.) The promise was made to Noah after the earth was destroyed by flood. In Genesis 8:22, we find this:

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

And in Romans 3:3-4

What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:

“So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”

I trust God with my future. You can trust Him with yours. As a Christian, I don’t even worry about the case where earth “ceases to endure”. I have other promises of my continuance and that of anyone who believes in the One who has made it possible for us to get past anything (Romans 8:38-39). I “get” that those without belief in God persist in hopeless worry. If that was my state, I would never risk getting into a car.

Enough of owning my view on climate change. Let me get back to the rant at hand.

The best numbers I have heard is that break-even for a wind turbine is around twenty years; roughly the maximum lifetime. The numbers the industry cites in public statements, however, are more like one to two years to profitability. Of course, that includes the subsidies and many other shenanigans. It is maddeningly difficult to get a straight answer about the economics. I do know that here in Iowa there are plans to raise our electric rates to subsidize more wind farms. Why, oh, why would that be necessary in a profitable industry? Iowa wind power has now exceeded 42% of total generated power in the state. We Iowans are apparently all-in.

I started this rambling post to complain about the use of material that is not economically recoverable to manufacture the massive blades. The solution of the wind industry to this problem is to plow up large swaths of western prairie to bury them, where they will never decay while the earth endures. How green does that seem to you?

Lest you come to the conclusion that I am blowing wind waste all out of proportion here are three links to articles in publications that are usually willing to go way out on the limb of veracity to be supportive of anything “green”. If you read these, you will see that even they have a hard time putting a good spin on the waste generated by the wind industry. In the Des Moines Register article, you will see that MidAmerican is creating a great deal of this waste by reworking ten-year old windfarms to install bigger turbines. I would liken this to an individual trading in a vehicle for which he still owes more than its value.

It takes a big rug to sweep all the waste under.

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/10/759376113/unfurling-the-waste-problem-caused-by-wind-energy

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-02-05/wind-turbine-blades-can-t-be-recycled-so-they-re-piling-up-in-landfills

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/agriculture/2019/11/06/few-recycling-options-wind-turbine-blades-head-iowa-landfills/3942480002/

Technician Work

Our treadmill gave up a few days ago. I took the motor down to the local motor shop for a check-up, mostly because that was easier than reverse-engineering circuit boards (for which I had no schematic). Alas, the motor checked out fine.

Reverse-engineering a circuit board takes patience and careful inspection. Since I do electrical engineering design work for a living, the function of the boards is clear enough, but the circuit details have to be ferreted out the hard way. At my age, that means a magnifier and an Ohmmeter, drawing a schematic as I go. These old through-hole designs are much easier to deal with than modern surface mount circuits. The original designer placed some handy LEDs in the circuit to give indication of various functions for troubleshooting technicians who would have to make a living doing service calls. That was great, because it drastically limited the scope of what I had to trace out. In this case, the PWM LED would blink, so I could tell that the input speed-control signal was good. But there was no output to the motor control board on the wire that is supposed to set the speed of the motor. I was able to measure the forward voltage of all the transistor junctions, except the final opto-coupler output (4N35 / U3). Careful inspection of the white wire that plugs in to HD5 revealed a skinned place where it had gotten trapped between the top of the housing and a heatsink. This short would have easily taken out the optocoupler output circuit.

I ordered a part. The shipping will be much more than the $0.60 part cost. It is way less than the price of a new treadmill, of course. My wife is very attached to this particular one anyway. I am grateful to God that the problem wasn’t more time consuming to discover. You can see from the schematic and this picture of the circuit board that I didn’t have to get anywhere near drawing out the whole thing.

I hope you have enjoyed this temporary nerd-break in the usual fare on missionary sojourn.

Friday Night Update: The UPS guy pulled in behind be when I drove in from work today to deliver the optocoupler that I ordered from Digi-Key. After replacing it, the motor on the the treadmill started doing its normal spinny thing again. My wife is very happy! I’m not just a nerd. I’m a nerd hero!

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.

trough (not like this picture)

I am grateful that You laid aside Your glory and majesty to graciously serve us in our helpless dilemma, becoming helpless yourself that You might rescue us.

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:6-7

Me:
Good morning Jesus!

Jesus:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
I am prone to think that I need some kind of position of authority to make a difference, that I would have to be in charge of something. What authority does an infant in a feed trough have? Yet that is the way You came and You have made all the difference. I love You!

Jesus:
I love you! And that is why I came in the way that I came. I want you to make a difference and know that it is not your power or authority or circumstance that makes it possible to achieve the goal set before you.