Monday, November 21, 2016

Rejoice with Thanksgiving



Philippians 4:4-8
 
This short passage of Holy Scripture is very rich in what it teaches us concerning how we should live as Christians.  Nearly every phrase included in it could be the subject for a message on its own.  For instance verse 5 alone easily provides the inspiration for at least two different sermons.  Letting your moderation, or reasonableness as some translations put it, be known to everyone is an important principle that could be expanded upon much, and the phrase “The Lord is at hand” almost begs for more to be said on that subject.  In fact, I can quite easily count 20 different sermons on interrelated subjects that could written with the contents of these 5 verses acting as a springboard.

Today, however I will take just take two words from this passage to consider, though even that will demand that it be a superficial look at them.  The two words I have chosen are ‘rejoice” and “thanksgiving.”

The first verse in our passage says “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”  It probably does not surprise you to hear that this is not the only place in this letter from the apostle Paul to the church at Philippi that speaks of rejoicing, given the letter was written for their encouragement and to commend them for their faithfulness. 

In chapter one Paul states that he will rejoice in the fact that Christ is proclaimed whether the one proclaiming him did it for the right motivation or not.  In chapter two Paul speaks of their mutual rejoicing over his being used by God as the means of bringing the Philippians to the faith of Christ.  Later in the same chapter Paul speaks of the rejoicing that they would rightfully take part in when their fellow churchman Epaphroditus was able to return to them.  Chapter 3 begins with the exhortation to “rejoice in the Lord”, which is reinforced and expanded here in chapter 4 to “rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say Rejoice!”

Clearly rejoicing was not just an afterthought in this letter which Paul sent to the Philippian church.  But even though the work thanksgiving is used only once in Philippians, I would suggest that it carries just as much weight.  In fact, all of the things that we can properly rejoice over, are things that we should be thankful for.  

Consider the verses we previously mentioned in Philippians which speak of rejoicing. When Paul said that he rejoiced that Christ was being preached, he was at the same time thankful for that fact and doubtless his prayers included thanksgiving for it.  Likewise when Paul spoke of the joy that came from his ministry among the Philippians, that joy reflected thanksgiving to God for allowing him to be used in that manner.  Again, is there any doubt that the rejoicing which would take place when their brother Epaphroditus returned to Philippi would be accompanied by thanksgiving to God for his providence?

Finally, rejoice in the Lord, rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!  We have so many reasons to rejoice in the Lord and all of them are reasons for giving thanks to God.
Eighteenth century pastor and theologian John Gill said this about rejoicing in the Lord, and keep in mind that every reason he gives for rejoicing is a reason for thanksgiving:

Quote: “A believer has always reason to rejoice in Christ; in the greatness of his person, he being in the form of God, and equal to him, and therefore able to save his to the uttermost by his obedience and death, and has interest enough in heaven to make his intercession prevalent and successful and power to keep safe all that are committed to him; and in the fitness of his person to be a Mediator, and daysman, to take care of things pertaining to the glory of God, and to make reconciliation for sin; and in the fulness of his person, he having all grace in him for his people, which is all theirs, and with joy may they draw water out of the full wells of salvation in him; and in the beauty of his person which surpasses all others, a sight of which fills with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. They may, and should rejoice, as they sometimes do, in his salvation; in the contrivance of it by infinite wisdom; in the impetration of it by himself; and in the application of it by his spirit; and that because hereby justice is satisfied, the law is magnified and made honourable, sin is finished, and an everlasting righteousness brought in. Also they are called upon to rejoice in his resurrection, which is for their justification; in his ascension, seeing he then received gifts for men; and in his session at the right hand of God, which is in their nature; and in his intercession which is to their advantage; and in all the relations he stands in to them, as head, husband, father, brother, friend; and in everything that is his, and that belongs unto him, as his Gospel, ordinances, ways, and worship,…”  End quote.
 
I would like to point out that this quotation began with these words; “A believer has always reason to rejoice in Christ.”  Though one might argue that even an unbeliever may experience joy and give thanks for any number of these superlatives rightly attributed to Christ, realization of full joy and thanksgiving is only possible for those who have come to understand their sinfulness and utter hopelessness outside of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, wherein he took upon himself each and every one of our sins in his bloody death on the cross, paying the penalty demanded by perfect justice.  In return we are looked upon by God as having the righteousness of Christ. 

If you are a believer, then you cannot help but join in rejoicing with thanksgiving! If not all you need to do is believe, and join us in rejoicing in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice!

(this is the message I preached on November 17th as part of the monthly service ValleyView Baptist provides for Friendship Manor nursing home in Shakopee, MN)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Knuck Return Lines

Much as I love the fact that I am able to make a living (of sorts) working on Harley motors, in every profession there are inevitably some aspects of the job that we don't look forward to performing.  Sometimes there is not even a rational reason for the mild distaste that the prospect of performing the operation produces, which often leads to putting it off as long as practical.

Boring cylinders has long been one of those operations for me.  Totally irrational, I know; I have equipment that does an accurate job, and good measuring equipment that confirms that accuracy.  The fact is, my shop would probably do better financially if I spent all day, every day, boring and finish honing cylinders, yet I am thankful that the volume of cylinder boring that comes through my shop is not that high.

But then there is the other type of job that I enjoy even less.  The kind that is time consuming and difficult to produce good results, which in turn leads to being a losing proposition from a financial standpoint.  However, sometimes after years of "fighting" an operation which fits that description, you come up with a method that takes some of the pain out of it.  One of those dread jobs is what I'd like to present here.

If you've been around Knuckleheads for a reasonable length of time, you have probably noticed that some of the small oil lines on the heads which connect the lower spring covers to the back side of the rocker boxes, don't always age gracefully.  Oft times the flare that provides a seal to the rocker box is the first to cause problems, whether it be split from often over tightening, or a case of just one too many on/off repetitions.  Then there are those lines which have been in contact with parts they were not designed to share such close quarters with, resulting in spots nearly to the point of striking oil.  And lets not forget rust, because it never sleeps, and eventually that tenacity will likewise make a tube unfit for service.
A twofer: at the top center of pic you can see the tube is flattened out, and at bottom left the flare fitting has a previous emergency repair via a compression fitting

What to do?  Replace the whole assembly?  While that might be tempting, once you determine that these particular parts seem to only be sold in sets of four, and then price them out, ...ouch.  The logical thing, and what we were forced to do for many years when there were none being reproduced, is to replace just the tube.  Now, it may very well be that someone somewhere is reproducing and selling these tubes, but if they are I have not been made aware of the fact.  Instead, for as long as I can remember, I have had to fabricate my own replacement tubes to braze into the lower spring cover.  And it has always been one of those jobs that I dread, because replicating all of those complex bends never seems to go well.

For years I contemplated building a fixture for making all the appropriate bends, or rather four fixtures since each cover takes a different length and shape.  But each time I considered it, I concluded that I lacked the time to undertake such a project. Instead I would painstakingly bend each tube a little at a time trying to duplicate the original's shape.  If you have ever attempted it, you know how frustrating it can be.  The first bend was usually the only one that one could get right, from there it was a tale of bend, hold the new and the old side by side to see how well they matched, bend some more, match up, try to unbend that last one that didn't match up so well, and so on.

Here is a method that I have found to be much less frustrating, and best of all requires a minimal investment in time and money to get started.  First is the purchase of a brake and tube bending pliers.  The one pictured was under $20.  If you have previously had to fabricate your own line, you probably already own something similar.  The only other piece required is a piece of scrap aluminum thick enough to take 1/8 pipe threads and long enough to clamp into a vise.

A few tools that can help make a tough job a little easier
The fixture shown in the upper left is just a plate with two holes drilled and tapped for the same fitting as is used in the rear of the rocker box.  You want to put them as close together as possible while still allowing room to tighten the flare nuts.  Now, in the picture you may notice a couple of additional items that I fabbed up to make the process yet a little less painful.  They are merely a couple of clamps made from scrap aluminum plate by drilling two holes (the diameter of the tubing) which are the same distance center to center as fittings in the fixture.  Then cross drill a pilot hole which will be tapped on one side after you saw the plate through the center of the clamping holes.  The clamps are not essential, but I found them to be quite helpful.

To fabricate a new line, your first step is to cut a piece of tubing to a manageable length and then flare one end of it.  Note that these fittings take a single flare, not the double flare used in most brake line applications.  Once you have a nice flare on a new piece of tubing, mount it to the fixture with the original drain tube next to it, and with the fixture in a vise, commence the bending process.

With the lines side by side all that is required in your bending is to keep them running parallel

The additional clamps make it easier to keep the lines parallel to each other

Once you have duplicated the original line, all that is left is to braze it back into the lower spring cover.  It is a good idea to mock it up with the head and rocker box  in order to get just the right orientation.  Hope you haven't painted your heads yet!  One other quick tip before I go; the lower spring covers are very prone to cracking just below where the oil return line is attached as shown below:

The only thing worse than a cracked lower spring cover that goes unnoticed ...

... is four of them that slip by.



This last tip about the cracks seems obvious once it has been pointed out, but I can't tell you how many times I have had customers bring in nicely cleaned, straightened, and Parkerized covers that still had cracks that gone unobserved simply because they did not know to look for them.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Vote 2016 - Judgment Day



I have tried to avoid specifically political content on this blog during this election season, but conscience demands that I speak out on this last day before you go to the polls.

If you are comfortable with the view that it is morally acceptable for someone who has been deemed by a government to have “more” civil rights than a person in a position of no political power to have that person legally killed, then by all means vote a Democrat ticket on November 8th.  It is in their party platform.  They call it abortion, but a murder by any other name would stink as bad.  If you cannot see how closely that position mirrors the “Final Solution” championed by the Nazis (National Socialist Party in case you have forgotten), then by all means vote a Democrat ticket.  If you have no fear of God, that he might justly bring destruction upon this nation for it state sanctioned child sacrifice, then by all means vote Democrat.

But remember:

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.  For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:  Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:  But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.  
 - 2 Peter 3:3-13

Regardless of the election results, our hope is not in man.  Neither justice nor judgment are likely to come on Tuesday or the day after, but it will come, in God’s perfect timing.  Be careful that you are found covered by Christ’s righteousness on that day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Mother's Reckoning

If you are a guy like me, you probably soon get lost when women speak of the age of their babies in weeks.  Personally I need to do the math in my head to translate "17 weeks old today" into a meaningful (at least to me) unit of time. There was a stand up comic (his name escapes me) who did a bit about his mother still referring to his age in weeks even when he was into his late thirties - that's in years of course.  Something to the effect of , "she called me on my birthday to tell me how proud she was of her boy who was 2028 weeks old today!" 

Yes, it would seem that a mother has a little different perspective on time when it comes to their children.  The whole "weeks" thing just does not resonate with the male half of the population.  Most of the time this is little more than a barely interesting object of whimsical musing, good for little more than the good natured jab of the aforementioned comedian.  But earlier today it struck me that in some cases this mental block exhibited by some of us is detrimental to our full appreciation of the horrors which plague our godless society.  This minor eureka moment came to me while reading a report concerning the method that some of the child murderers in this nation have come up with to get around the law against partial birth abortion. 

You remember "partial birth abortion" don't you?  That is where the baby is partially delivered, all but the baby's head, and then a sharp object is driven into the brain so that the baby is dead before the delivery is completed.  This of course is a mere technicality, so that the murderer cannot be charged with murder, and the mother cannot be charged as an accomplice (or for hiring a hit-man?), since the baby was not born alive.  Neat, huh?  You may also recall that two of the more well known of those who vigorously opposed the ban on this barbaric practice are our sitting President and one of the major party candidates for that office.  In fact, don't forget that unequivocal support for abortion is enshrined in the party platform that they both affirm. 

But now it seems that those who love death have devised a way of getting around the ban on partial birth abortion as well.  This method involves injecting the baby with a drug which causes a heart attack.  Again, once the baby is dead, the body can be removed without fear of legal consequences.   This is where the concept of weeks comes in.  The information I read about this practice mentioned that in some parts of this nation, it is carried out in the 35th week of pregnancy.  Now any woman (at least with any motherly instincts) will immediately be aghast.  Me? ...I had to do the math first.  Even men remember that the time from conception to birth is commonly deemed to be 9 months.  So let's see, if you figure about 4 weeks to a month, and 4 times 9 equals 36, then ...  Oh my!  They are killing these babies only a week before they are born.  But at least the baby doesn't feel any pain, because ask anyone who has had a heart attack, it is painless.  Oh, wait...

I would also point out that it is a sad commentary on our society that the murder of babies about to be born seems more distasteful than the same crime committed against them earlier in their existence.

"It's not a baby, it's a fetus," they argue to justify themselves.  Well, they are half right.  "It" is a fetus; Fetus being Latin for offspring or child.  Just doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it?  Terminate a fetus, or murder your offspring, the act still has the same smell of death. 

There was another comedian who used to do a bit where he poked fun at conservatives for being anti abortion and yet supporting the death penalty for 1st degree murder.  A very rough paraphrase of his punch line would be, "I guess they just want to let 'em grow up before they kill 'em."  The liberals in the audience seemed to think it hilarious, apparently unaware of the inverse they affirmed.  Kill those who are the most innocent and vulnerable, but have mercy on the one who has proven himself a murderer; yeah, pretty funny.  The Bible has something to say about that subject:  Isaiah 5:20