Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reactions to Christ

This past Sunday morning pastor Voigt preached on some of the reactions and attitudes of those coming into contact with Jesus in Mark 15. This chapter describes the trial, scourging, and crucifixion of Christ. One of the phrases that stands out in this chapter due to its repetition is "King of the Jews". In the varied reactions we can see many of the same attitudes that are displayed by people today when confronted with the fact of the Kingship of Jesus.

First of all we see Pilate in verses 1-15. If he had been given a choice he would not have been involved with the whole "Jesus situation" at all. His attitude can be summed up in one word. Indifference. Pilate did not perceive Jesus to be guilty of anything worthy of death, but that conviction was not enough to make him take a stand and release him either. He would have happily let Jesus go free with perhaps just a good beating as somewhat of a compromise.

In verses 8-15 the crowd of people are shown to be easily influenced. Wishy-washy you might say. The chief priests, in verse 11, are said to have "moved the people" to release Barabbas instead of Jesus. It is quite likely that among this crowd were some of the same people who had a week earlier hailed Christ's entry into Jerusalem with cries of Hosanna. Disappointed, perhaps, with Jesus failure to take the nation by force, they were quick to turn on him.

Next are the Roman soldiers. Verses 16-20. They, as a group, already have hatred and contempt for the Jews. They are more than willing to take it out on Jesus. They are bullies who like nothing more than to beat a man when he is defenceless. It is part f their job, and they love their jobs!

In verse 21 it is said of Simon of Cyrene that the soldiers "compel" him to bear Jesus cross. From the text we get little information about this Simon except that he was an unwilling participant.

The Jewish religious leaders can be found in several places throughout this chapter. Their motivation is made clear from verse 10, which states that Pilate knew that the chief priests acted out of envy. Clearly they wanted to remain the focus of religious authority in the Jewish nation, and so needed to get rid of this Jesus that so many of the people were turning to follow.

But where were the disciples? Not to be found in this text! Even the women who followed Jesus were said to be "looking on afar off" in verse 40. Now we know from other books of the Bible that at least some of the disciples were present, but they apparently were keeping a low profile. Keeping their distance. Not making an outright denial of Christ (as Peter had done earlier), but neither willing to share his fate.

Its pretty easy to make the comparison between those described here in Mark 15 and the people of our time. Perhaps most of the world is like Pilate. They can take or leave Jesus. They are willing to accept that he was a great teacher, but...

Unfortunately, many of those who call themselves Christian today may fit into the mold of the crowd who were so easily swayed. They may be hailing Jesus as savior one day, only to reject him as King the next, when they find he is not the one their man-made theology made him out to be.

Clearly there are "Roman soldier" types at work today. Atheists show their hatred of Jesus Christ on a daily basis. They hold him in utter contempt just as most of those soldiers did so long ago. For the most part they make it obvious that their hatred is reserved for Jesus, since they rarely waste any time attacking any false religions.

Simon the Cyrenian. His modern day counterpart can be seen in nearly anyone who is unsaved. They are an unwilling participant in God's great plan, but participant they are nonetheless. In fact it is only after God has saved us and changed us that we begin to become conformed to his will. Phillipians 2:13 says: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

We have some religious leaders that appear to be in it for the fame and fortune. They take the focus off the King, and seem to prefer that the spotlight is on them. These modern day "chief priests" seek to keep their athority at all costs.

And what of the disciples? How many who really are Christians spend much of their time keeping a low profile? Watching the work of the Lord from a safe distance? All of us are guilty of this to some extent at one time or another. Keeping our focus on the King should help!

Friday, October 19, 2007

How to Please God

As you may have noticed, I seldom link to posts by other bloggers, but I just finished reading a post by Dennis over at The Recliner Commentaries which was one of those that I agree with completely. So completely that I wish I had written it myself. And since I so strongly agree with it, and since I did not write it, I am going to do the next best thing and link to it.

So, click here HERE for a great dissertation (don't let that word scare you off, it doesn't take that long to read) on pleasing God.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Piston Survival Training

Any time you start dealing with old Harley engines with cast iron cylinders, there will be some concern about piston "scuffing", "scoring", or "sticking". All pretty much the same incident, just a matter of degree. In this installment of my series on the Stroker Flathead Engine Build , I would like to address this issue.

I have touched on this issue in another post, The Great Knucklehead Cylinder Controversy . Scored pistons can be a heartbreaking proposition when it leads to a broken cylinder. Its not much fun even if it only causes enough damage to require an overbore. Having seen so many badly scored pistons come out of cast iron cylinders, I was naturally concerned about how the pistons would hold up in this Flathead.

Pistons stick, score, or scuff for one reason. The piston gets hot enough that it expands to the same size as the bore, leaving no clearance. Having too little clearance initially is only one of a number of possible causes. Lack of oil on the skirt can be one culprit. Lack of cooling (sitting in traffic) can be another. Retarded ignition timing and lean mixture are others. Add to that the fact that cast iron motors like Knuckleheads, Flatheads, and Iron Sportsters just tend to hold a lot of heat and you can see the potential for disaster!

In recent years I have been getting the piston skirts for Knuckleheads Teflon coated. The Teflon does a couple of things. It gives an extra margin of "lubricity", but it also allows you to run a little more clearance without fear of getting noise from piston slap (the Teflon coating "dampens" the sound). When Joe (the owner of the Flathead) brought up the idea of having additional coatings done, it sounded like a good idea.

What we wound up doing was having the piston skirts coated with a Teflon and the domes with a ceramic. The ceramic reflects the heat rather than letting it "soak" into the part. Most of the heat which ends up in a piston comes through the top due to being exposed to combustion temperatures. The ceramic should keep the pistons cooler, and thus less likely to stick. The Teflon on the skirts will give an extra level of protection in case of a break down in the oil film.

Added to this we did a ceramic coating on all parts of the combustion chamber (on the Flathead that means both the head and cylinder) including the face of the valve. We also ceramic coated the back side or "tulip" on the exhaust valves and the exhaust ports. Now with all those surfaces having a ceramic coating on them to limit the amount of heat soaking into them, this should be one of the coolest running Flatheads around.

One last thing. Likely not needed, and something you would want to do on a stock looking motor, but I added piston skirt oilers. With some careful measurements I determined that oil ports could be added to the cylinder flanges front and rear of each cylinder. Not any extra room here, so if you choose to do a similar modification be careful ! The holes need to be low enough that they are below the oil control rings with the piston at bottom dead center. Whatever fittings you use have to be small enough to clear each other in the "V" between the cylinders. I used some fittings from Clippard which were a #10-32 thread, 90 degree with 1/8" hose barb. Thses fitting are normally used in pneumatic air control devices. The actual hole going into the cylinder I limited to .050". Like I said, there is not much room for error here. I fed the oilers by way of a "T" in the oil pump return line.

Between all the teflon/ceramic coatings and the piston oilers this Flathead should prove to be about as bulletproof in the area of piston scoring as you can make it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Your Local Church

There seem to have been a lot of posts recently on the blogs that I follow about the local church. Interesting how God works, leading different Christians in different locations, most of whom have never met or even know of each other to focus on the same subject. Having spent over a year in search of the right church for my wife and I to join, and having become members within the last 6 months, it is a subject I have given plenty of thought to.

During the time of searching (much of which consisted of "scouting" church web sites during the week and attending a different church every Sunday morning) I went though a goodly amount of soul searching as to that selection. At some points I wondered whether I was being too picky about certain things we deemed important, but were not actually issues of doctrine. At other times I wondered if it would be better for us to just continue endlessly attending a different church each week because we could not find one we agreed with in all areas. One thing that we never did consider though, was calling it quits on attending services altogether!

Hebrews 10:24-25 "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

Though we have this biblical command not to forsake the assembling together,attending church services is something that has never been a burden since I became a Christian about 8 years ago. In fact, I tend to think that anyone who doesn't have the strong "desire" to attend services at least once a week has fallen victim to one of two possible maladies.

The first possibility is that you have managed to "ween" yourself from church services. The world we live in today seems to just beg us to do other things on Sunday morning. Many of us spend a lot of time making a living, leaving little time for all the distractions the world provides. I am sure I am not the only one who puts in more than eight hours every day during the week, plus at least a half a day every Saturday. That barely leaves time to keep the lawn mowed, let alone a few fun activities. Forty years ago, when I was a lad, this was not such a trap. Since Sunday was largely considered a day of rest, very few commercial enterprises were open to lure one away those Sunday morning services. No one I knew had parents with any kind of cabin or lake property to cause them to be out of town on the weekends. Face it, there was not much else to do on a Sunday morning back then except go to church. Not so today. If you are not so worn out by working too many hours during the week that you want to sleep in, then you surely will be tempted by all of life's other pleasures that there never seem to be time for. Certainly life's circumstances can get you out of the habit of going to church regularly if you let them.

If it were not possible for a real Christian "ween" themselves from attending services, then we would not have needed the warning of Hebrews 10 quoted above.

The second possibility is that you really are not a Christian in the first place. Perhaps you do not even claim to be one. My guess is that if such is the case the only real desire you may have to attend services would be the working of God in calling you to him. Follow that calling. Your salvation is in the gospel, and the gospel has been entrusted to the local church.

What if you claim to be a Christian, but have never felt much desire to go to church, but only a sense of duty? Maybe even more like a chore. That should be enough to cause you some worry. The bible makes it clear that there is such a thing as making a false profession of faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? " It is not an unhealthy thing for a Christian to consider their spiritual condition from time to time. Better to find your lack now than to one of those Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:22-23 when he said "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

In fact one of the clear "proofs" that the bible gives us that we are indeed saved is that we love the bretheren. As it says in 1 John 3:14 "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death."

So, if you are saved, then you love your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Why would you not be a member of a local church? That is where you will find those brothers and sisters. And if you are a member, why would you not be a regular attendee? My wife and I have children and grandchildren who live out of state. We don't get to see them very often. My wife is going to visit them in about a week, and I wish I could be there with them. It gives me a real ache down deep when I think about spending time with them. But on a slightly smaller scale I get the same feeling when I am going to miss a church service. I think that is the way it is supposed to be.

Now the church that I belong to is a small one, and in the last year has suffered from even lower than usual attendance. No fault of the pastor. He certainly delivers a good challenging sermon ever week. Most of the members tend to be "older" with children that have started their own families. And as is so often the case, those grown children no longer live in the area. This has lead to very small number of children in the church, which means no children's programs. It is tough to attract new, young families without a program for their children. Sort of a catch 22. The bottom line is that there is a very real concern that the church will not be able to continue. Ouch!

My point is this; If you are a Christian and you are not a member of a local church, then why not? It is your biblical duty! If you are a member of a local church and you do not attend or support financially on a regular basis, then why not? It is your biblical duty! Do not take your local church for granted! Not only do you need your local church, your local church needs you! Be involved. Why? Because the Lord that died for your sins wants it that way!