Friday, February 24, 2017

The case of the Driveshaft Drumming Dilemma

When a customer would come in with a complaint of a noise, I would try to pin it down.   “It does it all the time,” and I would ask “is it doing it now?  Well then it doesn’t do it all the time.”  And could narrow it down to make my tech’s job easier to duplicate and diagnose.  A lesson learned and applied to myself one afternoon.  I was managing a small shop with four of us crazies.  We were hanging out from previous stressful jobs, and having fun, too much fun sometimes.  Charlie had a good shop but needed to be organized, which I provided and made him money.  Joe was a well know fabricator among SCORE racers and had helped build some championship trucks.  Harp was just looking to coast, as he was a renowned header builder, had worked on land speed record holding cars, and done wind tunnel work.  Even spent time working for Jim Feuling.  All four of us good at what we did, with one flaw, we loved to laugh and joke.  With one rule, “it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.”  And we were all fair targets.
Now Joe liked to tie zip ties on the wheels of Harp’s cart, making it not roll or fall over.  He was the master of using them, and I became his target one afternoon.  When leaving work, as I drove off in my truck, it started making a banging sound underneath, and I knew just what it was.  Charlie climbed under it, cut off the zip tie wrapped around the driveshaft that made the drumming noise every time the truck moved, we both knew it was Joe, but he had left before.  Remember, no one had lost an eye, yet.  So the next day I showed up early and told Charlie “just go ahead with what I do to Joe.”  And when Joe arrived, I had a sling around my neck, with my arm in it.  And was screaming at Charlie “I don’t think it’s funny, I know you did it.  I spent three hours in the ER having my shoulder put back in place!”  while Charlie tried not laugh, denying it in front of Joe.  Now Joe was the perfect mark, we were close and he was tender hearted, and upset to see me in a sling.  So I went on after Charlie, him standing there and listening when Harp drove up.  And listened.  Charlie kept denying it, I kept accusing, Joe stood there almost in tears, and Harp walked off shaking his head.  That joke wasn’t so funny.  A few minutes later we were all together, except Joe,when he came up and started babbling “Mikey I’m so sorry I did it, not Charlie.  I’m so sorry I didn’t mean for you to get hurt.”  And we could no longer hold it together, and we all broke up laughing, even Harp who by now had figured out the joke.  I had gotten Joe back, no one had lost an eye, and I had gotten back at Joe.  In front of everyone.  I had pulled off the ultimate practical joke on maybe the ultimate practical joker, and we still talk about it.  And to this day, I know just what the case of the driveshaft drumming dilemma was all about.  Now about that noise you’re hearing.....does it really do it all the time?
Proverbs tells us “to not put your ear to the wall because you may not like what your neighbor is saying about you.”  It just doesn’t seem right that Solomon was so smart.  But I bet he was also speaking from experience as the king.  Too often we jump to conclusions, and put our foot in our mouths, wishing we could retrieve the words we just spoke.  Sometimes it causes damage to relationships that can go on forever, sometimes it is like Joe, we are sorry and repent.  But until we know what we have done is wrong, we may be sorry we got caught, or even hurt someone, but will do it again, because we have not repented, we have not asked for forgiveness, and turned from it.  Repent is an interesting word, a military term meaning to turn around and go the other way.  Stop what you are doing, and don’t do it again.  Not a retreat, but an admission of guilt, a relieving of guilt and the burden of it getting between you and God.  And that forgiveness is only found in Jesus, when we are prompted by the holy spirit.  We all like to joke, but some go overboard, to great lengths to hurt.  Even a kind ridicule can damage, and you don’t have to lose an eye before it isn’t fun and games anymore. 
Some are just sorry for the moment, some sorry they got caught, but true repentance comes from the heart.  A sign we have sinned, and don’t wish to repeat it.  I have two friends who lately asked me to pray for them, they are involved in sin and want to stop.  Both times I refused, “you know what you are doing is wrong already, it is your choice to continue.  That is not repentance, but your sin is between you and God.”  I love these men, but I cannot be their savior, or their conscience.  That is for the spirit to do, and he seems to be doing a good job, they both are seeking, but still avoiding the inevitable.  Which is to repent, and I hope they both do soon.  I can love and I can counsel, but I cannot change a heart or reunite it with God.  Only Jesus can do that...
So that noise you may be hearing is a knocking at your heart, the spirit telling you that you have a problem.  One that is standing between you and God, and that all it takes is knowing it is sin, repenting, and being forgiven.  Now at first I thought of seeking revenge on Joe, the chance just could not be passed up.  But he got the point, a least for a while, he loved me and didn’t want to hurt me.  But would continue on in his jokes until he repented.  Hopefully before he lost an eye, or a friend did. 
When Paul confronted the church at Corinth about their sin, he didn’t stay stop or you lose your salvation.  He said “stop, you are hurting yourself.”  He just said “stop.”  And enjoy the gift of salvation via God’s grace he has given you.  Let nothing stand between you and Jesus, like David acknowledged, “for I have sinned against both God and man.”  Remember whatever we do we are doing unto others, we are doing unto Jesus.  We all can become that victim at any time.  But that forgiveness is always available.   Seek it first today, let the spirit guide you and show you where sin is in your life.  And give it to Jesus.  “But I don’t do it all the time,”  but did you do it before?  Will you do it again?  Are you still doing it?  Only when your heart changes will your actions follow.  Without forgiveness both the joke and the sin are on you.
love with compassion,

Thursday, February 23, 2017

curiosity-a word to the why's

If you are like most of us, when the hot plate of enchiladas is set before you, and told it is hot, don’t touch, you do.  We all do.  When told “don’t look behind  the curtain,” that’s exactly what Dorothy did.  Go into a 31 Flavors and you are offered a sample of Castrol GTX Almond flavor of the month, and you take a taste test.  First thing when you get a new bike, see how fast it will go.  The new car you get says it gets 40 mpg, the first thing you have to do is try it.  Remember as kids going to the carnival, and hearing the guy barking for the yak woman, and you just had to see if it was true?  Or the two headed cow?  When we were young with no beard growth, we were told to dry shave and it would grow in faster.  And when told stay behind the line, what do you do, lean over it as far as you can.  Why?  That’s why, we are curious, and want to know why we can’t go there, if it is really hot, or will it really go 140 just because the speedometer days so.  Curiosity is a word to the why’s, although it may not always be wise.  Curiosity may have killed the cat, it still can maim us.  All life is not why they ask “Why” on the Mickey Mouse Club.  “Because we love you” doesn’t always work in the real world.   Stupid hurts, and we all know why.
But without curiosity we would still live in the stone ages.  And living alone.  Or maybe with God, as part of Satan’s allure to Eve was curiosity.  She wondered, then wandered away from God.  Lot’s wife was curious, and turned back when told not to, she was curious.  Nicodemus was curious about being born again and what it meant.  And we are born curious, wondering if there is a God, who is this Jesus, and can he rally save me.  Curiosity may be the father of faith, it gets us wondering, which makes us ask, which leads to believing, and to salvation.  Aren’t you curious to see if you can do all things in Christ who strengthens you?  Are you curious enough to wonder if Jesus is the only way to heaven?  Curiosity is a word to the why’s, Jesus is the answer to the wise.  But it all starts with “I wonder if...”
But yet it can be dangerous without trusting, while just being curious.  We are warned in Ecclesiastes that whoever digs a pit may fall into it.  Just one step closer to see what’s inside and....and reminds us that all pits are not physical, but emotional too.  We are also told not to break down any walls, a snake may be on the other side.   Yet some just have to take the risk after being warned.  And then we are warned that splitting logs can be dangerous, and be careful quarrying stones, both are dangerous.  Maybe things we may not do today, but in the real world we will dig pits by our words, and fall into them.  We will just have to see what the do not open message on our email says, and suffer the consequences.  We may be forced with a decision, and choose to split the wood rather than leave it stacked for later.  Just because the ax was handy, and we were curious.  All things done without the benefit of wisdom, it was there, but curiosity won out over common sense, or listening to God.  We suffer from normalcy bias, a psychobabbel term meaning if it hasn’t happened to me it must not be true.  If real life terms, believing is seeing, no sight, no belief.  If only we approached Jesus with the same faith the guy pumping our gas has, when asked if your ride will really go 150 like the speedometer says, and you answer “yes,” and he spends all day telling of the 150 mph bike he filled up that day, by himself, he has bragging rights.  To a fantasy.  Yet we have Jesus, reality, and don’t have his faith.  Doesn’t that make you the least bit curious?
And we have bragging rights in Jesus. And God has them in us.  Remember his bragging on Job?  Is our walk brag worthy?  Or do you wonder if reindeer really know how to fly more?  The spirit is busy telling us “we need Jesus,” have you overcome curiosity yet and acted in faith?  Aren’t you the least bit curious about heaven?  Or are you more interested in the why’s rather than being wise?  Maybe we are like the man who wants to split logs, but doesn’t know the ax is dull.  Wants to dig a pit, like the underground forts we used to build, but doesn’t know about the sewer pipe below.  How many big rocks have you tried to make into gravel, and then can’t push the wheelbarrow out of the gravel?  The wisdom is available for all of these, and that is why we are given warnings.  But yet the spirit entices us to get more of Jesus, to go deeper, to trust him, and bear witness.  We look for the key to open the door, only to find we have never turned the knob to see it wasn’t locked.  We have more faith to turn on the light than to trust the Lord.  Even the Israelites wanted to return to Egypt and slavery, just because the food was better.  What is your excuse for your curiosity?  Can it be lack of faith, or just plain selfishness?  Laziness?  Or “nah, that could never happen to me, you don’t know what I’ve done.”  Which only makes us wonder what have you done? 
Jesus Christ, the message is there, the proof is there, the spirit is here.  Going off on our own just wears us out, tires us, disheartens us.  Bums us out.  Without the spirit guiding you will soon be worn out, soon tire, and soon become a target or a victim.  No wisdom in that, when Jesus offers you rest, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  While others still try and fail, in Christ you will succeed.  And open up the doors of heaven to all your questions.  To all God has to offer, rather than just what our minds can imagine.  So Jesus talks more of hell than of heaven, graphic warnings, and tells us “I would not tell you if it was not so.”  Today when your bike won’t start because the kill switch is on, the channel won’t change because the batteries are dead, or your friends are mad because of a joke you thought is funny but they didn’t, wisdom as warned us, we don’t have to be stupid anymore.  And we don’t need both a metric and standard Crescent wrench, when both are the same.  Which you knew, of course.  Turn to God, Nicodemus did, Eve and Lot’s wife turned away.  Abraham turned to him, as did Noah, and all but one of the disciples.  Pretty good company.  Still curious?  Stop and ask Jesus, and listen for his answer.  And be amazed at how many more questions you will have now that you know him.  And trust him.  Good answers require more questions.  Like did Adam have a belly button?  Or was Cain going to kill his brother as long as he was Abel? 
Is your life the pts because you fell into one you dug yourself?  Just because you wondered how much dirt was in that hole, forgetting it was a hole, with no dirt in it?  And blame the shovel?  Don’t be afraid to call a spade a dirty shovel, but realize it is useless until you pick it up.  Tools in the wrong hands can be lethal.  The shovel didn’t get you there, your digging did.  And potholes may be the pits, too.
Now about those flying reindeer....if bird droppings are may be a good night to stay inside, just to be safe.
love with compassion,

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Perry Mason-The Case of the Peculiar Detail

I love to watch Perry Mason, to see the logic that he uses to not only clear his client, but to catch the guilty party.  I try to apply his logic to the current show I am watching, but his producers have an inside track, they know the ending, and can alter the lines to meet it.  I can’t.  But along the way, I learn lessons, little things by the examples and evidence, and apply it scripturally.  Perry Mason a Bible lesson?  He is a great counselor, do you remember another in man in scripture defined as one?  So why not, we all can use a little more Jesus, and a dose of Perry, and a few shots of Della never hurt anyone, either.  So here is a simple lesson, to be applied to our daily lives, via the ultimate attorney.  Who always wins...only Hamilton Burger would object to that. 
In yesterday’s story, an Italian immigrant was killed, after a battle over money.  He was a tight old man, and his will didn’t mention who would inherit his business.  Families that are tight can split apart over money and the death of a loved one in real life, too.  With only minutes left of the show, we all knew Perry would have the next witness be accused and confess, but this time with a twist.  The guy didn’t, because he didn’t do it.  But Perry had found out who via him, and some notes he had left behind, the old man who was murdered was his client for 30 years, ever since he came into the country.  And where Perry tripped him up was classic, a lesson to be learned by all, particularly Christians.  His attorney, the man on the stand, didn’t speak Italian, and the immigrant spoke very little English when arriving here.  And in early communications with him via telegrams, he tried to translate his English into the man’s native Italian, and that was where Mason tripped him up.  He translated the English to Italian word for word, as if looking each word up in a dictionary.  Not the way it would have been spoken by someone who knew Italian.  His attempt to translate the words, to give them a meaning, was his downfall, and when Perry pointed that out, he confessed to embezzlement, and the real murderer was cornered and confessed.  So what is the lesson to be  learned here?  The clues are there, let’s look at it from a Biblical point of view...still with me?
Of late I run into many Christians who can recite a scripture at the drop of a hat.  Note that “drop of a hat” is a slang term, they don’t really drop their hat as the euphenism implies.  And many of these scripture memory students have done just that.  From “a camel going through the eye of a needle,” to the disciples not knowing how Jesus would “rebuild his temple in three days,” or “how the body is a temple where the holy spirit dwells,”  they are taught literal, not spiritual meaning, and can miss the true meaning God intended.  Any comments on Nicodemus on being born again?  Literally quoting the Bible word for word, instead of catching the meaning of it, and being confused.  Worse yet, taking those words out of context, and not reading the preceding or the next verses to complete the thought.  They may know the word, but do they know Jesus, who is the word?  They may have the knowledge, but do they have the wisdom?  They may know the book, but do they know the author?  Do we take the time Perry does to study the case, and look for the evidence of the spirit in scripture?  Or has the word taken the place of the spirit in their trinity?
Knowledge puffs up, we are told, and I am not against study.  But I am for just study’s sake.  To know, but not apply.  For it is when we apply the things of the spirit to scripture that it comes alive, where we see Jesus as real and personal.  Where we go beyond the red words on the page, and into the heart of God, and his love and grace is revealed.  Tripping over words, or tripping out in the spirit?  Our souls may be saved, but our minds can still be a battleground.  Simple tests like Satan gave Eve are part of daily life, Satan didn’t use physical force, he appealed to her in knowledge, misquoting God so cleverly that when she fell back on her knowledge, it let her down.  Of course, that never happens to us, we all study to find ourselves approved...
So have you just studied it, or are you living it to find yourself approved?  The real test is daily life, our witness, what we show the world when we think no one is watching.  Our character, who we really are under pressure is revealed, and the truth was there all the time.  If Perry can figure it out, why can’t we?  Or are we so heavenly minded, we fail to represent Jesus Christ on earth?  Is your relationship with him so literal you can put it into words, or so deep and spiritual you cannot find the words to express his love?  So deep, only an action, a picture with a thousand words will do.  Are you still felling guilty, although Jesus proven you innocent by is death on the cross?  Have you been spiritually born again, or just religiously?  If you were on trial for being a Christian, is there enough evidence of Jesus in it to convict you?  Do you give the right answers, but don’t live them?  Perry would know, Jesus knows, but so does your accuser.  Do you know the words, but not the word?  Remember, when bragging on your knowledge, you may know all the answers, but not have heard all the questions yet.  When we fall back on what we have been taught alone, we fail.  When it is spiritually inspired, when we walk in his spirit, we are changed by him, and our lives reveal him and we see things through his eyes.  Not a lesson to fall back on or just a scripture to be quoted. 
Perry always catches his man in an hour, Jesus asks “could you have not waited just one more hour?”  Could you show some of my life in you instead of preaching and running others off?  Life has taught me, wear a Jesus shirt and you will be avoided by the same ones Jesus asks you to minister to.  If you have to remind me you are a Christian, maybe you are missing something.  And the world will judge you accordingly. Try showing love, let Jesus rule and reign in your heart, let him give you the words when you need them.  He has written his word on our heart, so you always have him with you, scriptural evidence the word is always in you.  So are you in the word or is the word in you?  I plead guilty by association with Jesus Christ.  Hopefully my words will match my actions.  In one short conversation Eve’s decision changed the course of history.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  Let your actions reflect Jesus Christ, and if necessary use words.  And remember, that wonderful counselor who is there to do just that, counsel.  I rest my case, you be the about your secretary Miss Street....
Do you have enough confidence to approach the bench?
love with compassion,

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

to those of you who prayed for rain

Riding through the mid west we love to see all the colors.  The bright greens, the blues and purples of wild flowers, and the yellows of mustard seed.  It is amazing all the colors you can see on any day riding through farm country, and when you add the blue skies of farmland, you can see why God had to invent the rainbow for times just like this.  But here in So Cal we get varying shades of brown and tan, we see a much different pallet of colors, for one very simple reason.  Rain.  My yard that had dried up and died, now is green again, at least the weeds are.  Grass that had gone dormant is now growing again, flowers are blooming, and the blossoms are on the trees already, all because of the rainfall we are experiencing.  Which somehow effects the color of the sky, not sure how or why, bringing out a much deeper blue against the earth tones we grew up with in the seventies.  Driving around the Central Valley, we saw yellow fields of wild flowers, white blossoms on almond trees, and patches of green everywhere, the water had been added to the recipe, and growth is in progress.  All because of adding water to something dry.  And to those of you who prayed for rain, you have had your prayers answered, including the farmers who get it for free now instead of paying for it.  A natural event, when turned over to the supernatural is left to him and his best judgment.
But this year we are faced with floods, dams breaking, and too much rain for many sewer systems to handle.  It seems the rain has outsmarted many of the government geniuses we elect or hire, and the same streets, creeks, rivers, and neighborhoods are flooding, again.  And add to that the fact that we get so little rain normally, and that 97% of it runs out into the ocean, why aren’t we better prepared?  With so many having rain barrels this year, what do private citizens know the government doesn’t?  Or when left to our own devices, do we use common sense, and left with the alternative?  Yes, we live in a desert climate, and yes, most rivers are dry, but it rains each winter here, not a new occurrence, lest we forget.  Add to that the fact we are in a drought, and they keep building houses, more people but no more additional water supply, the reaction is to raise the rates so we use less.  I even saw the water police on our street last week.  Does anyone here know how to play this game, or are we being held hostage to stupidity, and really don’t care?  Just as long as it is available....
I have lived through two gas crises, and although it was expensive, it was available and we paid for it.  We complained, but few stopped driving, only when the stations ran out did we panic.  And suddenly the price was secondary, I hope we don’t learn the same lesson with water. If you prayed for rain, today someone is praying for sunshine.  If only we could have a system where it only rained while we were asleep, so as to not effect our riding....that’s my prayer.  But the rain falls on both the rider and the non-rider, the farmer and the city boy.  We are under the same skies, under the same God, who sees us all and our needs.  Do we see him?
Again in Ecclesiastes we see the seeker admitting that talent, money, looks, and education are important, but it seems time and chance do happen to all.  We may accept it as chance, but God knows where each drop of rain falls, and when.  All of man’s talent, resources, and education are useless when compared to the power of a loving God.  We plan, God laughs, and sends the rain, or the sunshine.  We see where the race is not to the swift or to the strong, the rich or privileged, but each day we face challenges that are sent our way, with an opportunity to reflect God in our reactions.  Which for me can go from happy to mad in only a few seconds.  But I am getting better, I tell myself.  And if I want green surroundings, I need to live with the rain.  The weather will not adapt to me, rather I must adapt to it.  So we dress in layers, and peel them off as it warms up, or add one as it gets cold.  We put on our riding suits, gloves, and rain suits to match the weather.  If only I would learn to adapt to life’s pressures so easily.  And as much as I love the brightly colored fields, I still hate to ride in the rain it takes to make them that way. 
Jesus tells us our life is not our own.  While the ads claim we can have control over our destiny, or make our successes, we find that life is really not under our own control.  We may have prepared for the floods like they did in Oakland one spring, but when a fire took out dozens of homes, they found they may have been ready for a rainy day, but not a fiery night.  That God orders things, his way for our benefit.  Which stifles my thinking, and my ego.  We are told our choices make the difference, but do they really?  How important are our choices? 
The last fruit of the spirit is self control, which we all struggle with.  But it is manifest in the decisions we make, and remember it is a fruit of the spirit, not of us.  When we make the right decisions based on God, after prayer, or by walking in his spirit, we get the rain and see why it occurs when it does.  God is in control, not us, and while some pray for rain, while others pray for sunshine, God has his own ideas.  And own will.  It is his fruit that we bear when we agree with him, not the other way around.  And just when we think we have thing under control, we find how much we don’t.  Sometimes a gentle reminder, other times the harsh result of rebellion against God.  While some saw Jesus’ death as murder, we forget he went voluntarily to die for us to be reunited with God our father.  While Good Friday seemed terrible, three days later we saw the why, and why we cannot have Easter without Good Friday.  Without rain nothing grows, too much and we get floods.  Only God knows how much, when and where.  Think you are up to playing God, deal with the weather first.  And yet God has time to hear our prayers and answer.  If only we would listen as much as he does. 
So when scripture tells us time and chance play a role in all, it isn’t like the chance we take when gambling, or play calling, or thinking all is good luck or bad.  We are reminded that the Lord has everything under control, and we need to turn to him, in times of need and before.  Anything can fall apart, any plan can go awry.  Which is why we carry rain suits, and maps.  Directions change, we find detours, and need to adjust.  All God’s plan the whole time.  Something to remember the next time we got caught in a downpour, or bake on a sunny day.  God has everything under control, and with the sun breaking through today, we almost forget the rain of yesterday.  But the fresh flowers and sweet smells of nature in full bloom remind us of being under his control.  And to those of you who prayed for rain, you got your  wish.  If only I could learn to go with God instead of against him.  And so he provided cars, with roofs and warm insides for me for such times.  It’s your party and you can cry if you want to, but I rather rejoice in a living God.  After the rain there is a rainbow, no rain no rainbow, which reminds us of his presence.  Best observed after putting on your rain suit than before.  The signs were there, God was there, where was I?  And where will you be?  And bless you all who prayed for sun and warmth, he brings that too.  Which is always appreciated more after the storms....and riding.
love with compassion,