Friday, July 31, 2009

An Idle Mind

Been off work for two weeks and got one interview in so many. Anxiety hasn't kicked in yet and Lord willing it never will. Last night, it was praying at midnight, after the wife and kids were asleep asking Him to use me according to his will. Opened the Bible and He spoke to me, and the verses were in First Corinthians Chapters 1 and 2 and in Job Chapter One. I will edit these and insert them when I get home, as they are marked down there...

Anyway, being idle and in a situation like a job loss are going to lead to temptation. The idle mind being the Devil's workshop is true and the only way to overcome this is to turn it over the Lord. This is in First Corinthians anyhow (I like the Apostle Paul, his messages are very practical).

So today, I elected to clean out the garage over at my parents' house. It was a mess and still is, but after nearly 3 hours, I'm starting to make some headway. My hope is to get my grandfather's workbench cleaned off so I can use that to make and fix things. Mainly it's to get the garage cleaned out my dad by choice can walk in there.

Well, my cup runneth over as in Psalms and the Lord is good, blessing us on this beautiful summer day.

Jesus is coming soon, Maranatha!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why the Lord Hates Sin,

This is a hot button topic for sure and if it isn't maybe it should be. I've had a lot of issues with furnaces, air-conditioners and duct jobs over the past 16 years; not to mention issues with the vehicles I've owned to understand one thing. When I've built or fixed something as well as I know how, it had better work right and the problem can be extremely frustrating when it doesn't.

Having a garage door counterweight spring break three days before we were supposed to sell our house in 2000 was a case in point. We had about $100 to our name and it soaked us for nearly $80 to get a spring, pulley and cable system which was robust enough to counter a 300 pound door. This was daunting, but it worked. I got the door to go up and down without a hitch, but it would have killed a sale that we had already made huge concessions on if anything had failed.

Imagine investing a lot of time and energy into a project, just to have it fail. Emotions can range anywhere from disappointment to a nervous breakdown. The Lord has invested a lot of time and energy into his errant creation, man. More often than not, we have completely failed in our intended purposes. Instead of living the lives we're supposed to, we elect to go our way.

Rather than raise our children to fear Him, be good stewards, keep the Sabbath holy, keeping the marriage bed sacred and just obeying our creator, we shame Him, over and again. We watch the rot on the telly, objectify others as instruments for pleasure, cheat on our taxes, demand to be coddled and serve money for our own selfish purposes. We also use religion as a crutch to do what "feels good" and even in some situations, to murder. We use as pawns and cheat those who depend on us to survive and legalize it all under the guise of our belief system.

It's no wonder why the Lord is angry and though it is righteous, it's still anger. Yes, He is a loving God and all that. John 3:16 is the main one we use, but think about another chapter in the book of John. This has to deal with the adulterous woman (who was probably a pawn in the Pharisees' wicked games) and the end of it all were five precious words uttered by our Lord Jesus.

"Go, and sin no more" seems like a hard concept to follow, but it's a safe bet that woman never sinned again. The Lord created us and is then good enough to provide an avenue to forgive us. It would seem like a small effort on our part to just make an effort. If we're getting tempted, than bring it to the Lord (this is from experience, God is working on me) but still we need to fight the good fight. If we fall, then we need to pick ourselves back up. Our 16 month old was a case in point on that. He was going to walk and took his first tentative steps at 11 months. He fell a lot, but by 12 months, he was walking and now the little guy is running and climbing all over the place. Nothing can stop him.

Sin should not stop us either, in becoming what the Lord has intended us to be. Maranatha!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Money.

I was thumbing through the channels on the telly this morning, something I seldom do because it's usually iCarly, Spongebob, or the Penguins of Madagascar on Nickelodeon, or some show about 18 kids, Little People, or something like that one The Learning Channel. I don't watch much, in other words, unless it's with the boys.

The channel was MTV, for those born after 1980, this was a channel that showed music videos in the early 1980's and started teen-oriented shows, such as the Real World, Pimp My Ride (an occasional guilty pleasure of mine) and this other show called Teen Cribs. The first episode of TC seemed inoffensive enough. After all, there were two teens, a brother and a sister who seemed to pour praise on their mom and dad. However, they had a kitchen/family room that could have been over 1500 square feet, richly appointed (no pun intended) a house and grounds that could have easily housed 30 or 40 people.

The boy had a 2007 Chevy Avalanche (A pickup/sport utility vehicle) and the girl a Nissan Pathfinder, also fairly new. They had a golf course of sorts, at least 3 swimming pools to choose from with a cave in one of them. The next installment I didn't watch too much of because the first scene was a girl, probably 15 to 16 years young, in a string bikini by the pool (click).

Needless to say, from any worldly standard, these kids have it made. However, this is because their parents have been doing what they do in the pursuit of wealth. I never heard what their parents did and I don't begrudge anyone financial reward in this life. Anyone I know that lives in a 20th of what these people do has had to work really hard for it, so I do not propone class warfare and feel this is wrong. The Lord commands us not to covet others' goods, wife, cars, etc, so I can't write this out of envy.

What I am trying to point out is that these people were to die, (God forbid, before they get right with Him), all this stuff stays right here. It happened to the Marshall family fortune earlier this decade. At least two people have died trying obtain this massive amount of money, in the hundreds of millions. Anna Nicole Smith and Pierce Marshall, both contestants in this struggle, have died with nothing to show for it, but the battle rages on and probably will for the foreseeable future.

Right now, I am unemployed and completely dependent on our Heavenly Father. No, we don't live extravagantly, but we live well. We have food, clothes and comfortable place to sleep for us and our boys. We have decently-running, late model cars to drive. Considering what Jesus had to His name while He was here (And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. Luke 9:58) we are very well off. He has blessed us immensely and I am very thankful for what He has entrusted to us.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fixing Strut Mounts

Tonight, I'm having writing withdrawals...



For the past few weeks, the Dodgeasaurus Intrepidus has been handling like a pig, the steering has been hard to turn and there was a combination rubbing/snapping noise coming from the front end when I turned the wheel, regardless of the speed or direction of the said car.



Remember, do these projects at your own risk.



I had my wife turn the wheel while carefully feeling and looking at the spring seats under the wheel wells. The right side hesitated and was the source of this obscene noise. A similar check revealed the left side was hesitating, but not enough to cause problems. In short, the right front strut mount was shot. There is a bearing that allows the coil spring to turn with the rest of the strut without binding on the body.



Problem is that bearing is mainly a plastic, doughnut-shaped cage with about 40 to 50 ball bearings inside covered with grease. A new, or otherwise good bearing will feel gooey and smooth when it's turned. A worn one will feel rough and hesitate when turned after being pulled off the strut.



I jacked up the car and removed the tire and wheel. Looking carefully at the strut, it is a cylindrical, vertical object with a spring at the top and fastened with two bolts on the bottom to the steering knuckle. There is also a tie rod and a stabilizer link attached. The latter is hard to get off and may require cutting and replacement. If either the tie rod or link has been on the car awhile; better to replace them now. I had to use an 8mm and a 17mm box end wrench to get the link off the strut. An 18mm box end wrench will get the tie rod end nut off. A couple good licks to the steering arm adjacent to the tie rod with a ball pien hammer will extract the tie rod. Do not use a pickle fork as it will wreck the boot.



Remove the two bolts with a 1 inch wrench or socket on the nut (do not turn the bolts or you will wreck the steering knuckle). Carefully tap them out with a hammer, but before you do, brace up the knuckle with a tire. It will save the driveaxle from being overextended. If this happens, don't panic. Just don't turn the hub, lift the knuckle and shove the joint back in. If this doesn't work, or the tripod falls apart, you may be buying a driveaxle. Mine overextended and I managed to save it without a lot of grief and no curse words.



There are four nuts holding the strut to the tower and the manual suggests taking off the cowl, wipers, brace, etc. This adds about an hour to the job. I use a 13mm ratcheting box end wrench. The newfangled ones that at like a socket wrench. Just be careful not to drop the nuts. Remove the two in back, loosen the front, all the while holding the strut. Once freed, this thing is heavy and wants to land on the driveaxle. Don't let it hurt the boot, but it will take a little bumping.



Take it out of the car and try to twist the bearing. If you can't turn it easily, the bearing needs to be replaced.

Now let's get dangerous...

Really, the spring needs to be collapsed with a strut compressor you can borrow at some auto parts stores for about $50. Get the one that grabs the spring from the outside. The inside ones won't work. There's more than enough tension in one of these springs to critically injure someone. I've been fixing cars for 30 years and know the risks. They never go away, but you can minimize them by following the directions and using the safety hooks on the tool. One you can wiggle the spring seat with your fingers, this means you can take the strut apart.

The nut holding it together really needs a special tool to get it apart, but I've had no luck finding it. So the other options are an air or electric impact wrench or rattle gun and a socket, or the redneck method. This is peeling back the boot and moving the little orange plastic bumper away from the mount (this is the jounce bumper). The area formerly covered by the bumper can now be held with a pair of vise grips. Don't do this anywhere else on the rod or you'll be replacing the strut. Now take the nut off with a breaker bar and remove the mount and bearing.

The bearing should feel gooey when you turn it. If there is any roughness, replace it. Don't handle the strut too roughly and you won't have to fuss too much with trying to line the spring up. A paint mark on the bottom is a good idea. I just used the indentations in the isolator and was careful.

The new mount/bearing will have hole in the plate with the studs and an indentation that need to be lined up before you put the nut on. Once you line up the spring with the new seat/mount/bearing, line up the hole and indentation. If you can look at the top of the strut as it would be installed in the car from the outside and draw an imaginary line through the steering arm through the rear part of the mount, the hole should be just inside the line when it's put together correctly.

Make sure the compressor can span over three coils on each side of the spring or you will never get the mount back on. Also avoid putting the tool on areas where the spring will be under the mount or strut when you release the tension. This is embarrassing. hold the rod with vise grips or use an impact wrench to reinstall the nut. The rest is reversing to get the mess back together. If the ball stud on the tie rod spins when you try to install and tighten the nut, replace the tie rod with a MOOG part. I've found the TRW parts are junk and will not hold up. Carquest sells MOOG parts under their brand name and they are worth the money.

Make sure everything is tightened to spec before you put the tire back on and again, tighten the strut nuts only or you will be replacing the steering knuckle. It took me about two hours because the driveaxle popped out and I had difficulty getting the strut apart. But it should take about an hour with the proper tools.

Maranatha!

Stand on Firm Ground!

Stand on firm ground,
Stand up for the Lord our Father.

When evil rears its ugly head, despair is all around us.
And friends begin to turn away, epitome of sorrow.
Remember my sisters and my brothers,
Love will not confound you.

Stand on Firm Ground,
Stand up for the Lord Our Father.

For all that what is of this world,
the systems they are reeling.
Need to remind you that of they darkness
we are feeling.

Stand on firm ground.
Stand up for the Lord Our Father.

The only hope there is to accept Him as your savior,
The name is Jesus Christ and not a name to use in anger.
For those who do confess Him,
There is life eternal

Stand on firm ground,
Get on your knees for the Lord our Father.
Stand on firm ground,

No need to be angry,
No need to frightened,
No need for angst,
No need to watch the stock market.
No need to change that channel.

Stand on firm ground,
Stand up for the Lord our Father.

Get on your knees and pray...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More than Ever...

Oh the day was really reeling,
wished that I were kneeling.
just like to know my purpose,
what You meant for me...

Oh I need You more than ever
then, now and forever,
I need Your words of wisdom,
to help me through my day...

When You were picking up the pieces,
of my shattered dreams and,
the things that meant so much to me,
just carried all away...

Oh I need You more than ever,
then, now and forever,
Helping me accomplish things,
by myself I'd never do...

When You took me home this evening,
All the saints were leaving.
If home is where the heart is,
Then heaven is with You.

I'll still need You more than ever,
Now that it's forever,
Your love is there eternal,
The best is here with You.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Honor thy Mother and Father, Part One

Let me tell you, my wife and I have two boys and in the best of days (which is often, praise Jesus) they are a handful. They require a lot of spiritual, emotional and financial input that I never thought possible. They mean the world to us, even in the worst of days.

Parenthood is no walk in the park, even when walking in the park. There is so much to think about. From a child's point of view, thoughtful, loving and caring parents are worth more than all the money in the world. They are as much a gift from the Lord as children are to them.

My mother and father were not able to afford the latest styles, video games or even a color television until about 1982. However, we went to the park, Woolworth's, saw Grandma at the Bach Building, went camping with Russ and Daisy, went to the drive-in, even to the YMCA once in awhile. Life was good.

I took it upon myself to work when I was able, this being my personal responsibility. When I couldn't drive, I rode my bike, when I couldn't do that, took the bus, or took the shoe leather express. Lord Jesus, it was rough, but nothing beyond what I could bear. You saw to that, you wanted me to appreciate and depend on You for my needs. I am after all, Your child as well.

As for the people You saw fit to be my parents, I thank You without reservation. They helped mold me into some semblance of a responsible, caring adult. Perish the thought about the alternatives, Lord Jesus. Your will is perfect and You have the best for me and my family in mind. It is an honor and a privilege to be their child and more so to be one of Yours.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Redneck Repair

This is a blog about a handy person and from time to time, a handyman has to what he does best and that's to fix something. Well, I have a 2003 Dodge Intrepid that needed a bit of fixing up several months ago, but I've put it off because it cost too much money. The exhaust system from the muffler back was starting to rot out and leak through the drain holes. This wasn't just water mind you, but a towel applied to the business end of the tailpipe confirmed three exhaust leaks. There was nothing in the way of sound, but this is still dangerous because any gases that don't make it past the rear bumper usually end up in the cabin. This is bad news as we take our little ones in this car. The pipes and the resonator up front were in great shape, as they get the full heat of the engine and little condensation lingers in these parts.

On the other hand, mufflers farther downstream tend to accumulate a lot of moisture and acids that build up as a result of combustion. Even the best stainless steel parts will corrode over time as these corrode from within and without. Salt tends to eat these parts and Michigan's roads tend to need a lot of it during the winter. The car is six years old with 78,000 miles; something needed to be done. A look at Autozone's website showed the rear resonator at $43 and the muffler at $49. Add four clamps and a turn down and that would have been in excess of $120. A muffler shop would have wanted to redo the whole system. This would have been closer to $400 to $600 by my reckoning. Instead, a trip to Meijer was in order. Two Cherry Bomb turbo mufflers at $22 apiece, a turn down and one 18" straight pipe and elbow (about 8" to 10" radius) at $6 apiece and 6 clamps at $2 apiece and two hangers at $6 meant a grand total of $70 with tax.

But how does it sound, well, you'll have to wait...

First of all, this is how I did something and not how you should do it. If you have any questions about safety, don't do this and take it in. I'm a terminal cheapskate and don't like spending money. I will not take responsibility for your success or failure in any repair. Now that the niceties are out of the way...

First things first are to raise the rear of the car. I use ramps whenever feasible and to set the parking brake. Choking the front wheels would be a good idea too. Wear safety goggles and gloves when working on exhaust system. Do not use a torch for this work as you're more likely to do more harm than good. A sawzall works great for getting a welded exhaust system into manageable pieces. I cut the pipe going into the muffler (the one behind the rear axle) as close to the weld as possible, without leaving any weld attached. Cut the metal part of hanger going into the rubber insulator next, then cut the other metal hanger attached to the rear resonator. A ground strap is attached to this part; cut this off with the sawzall or a pair of dikes (wire cutters).

Next is to remove the mess from underneath the car and place a turbo muffler on the stub of the pipe. These are 2 1/4 O.D. or outside diameter, so the mufflers will need to be 2 1/4 I.D. or inside diameter. A clamp goes on next, snugged finger tight. Cut swagged end off the 18" piece and discard. Then cut the remainder into equal-sized pieces. File or grind off the burrs and insert one of the pipes into the downstream end of the muffler. Install the elbow and loosely clamp both joints. Level this relative to the car and snug these down.

Now the next part is tricky. Hopefully you anticipated the pipe clearing the spare tire well. The muffler needs to go on that end of the elbow and a clamp to hold it in place. But first you need to remove the rubber insulator behind the rear axle and discard it. Then remove the rear exhaust hanger with a 1/2" wrench. Throw this away too. Next, you will want to position the hangers on the body. I used the hole for the original resonator hanger and the one which supports the fuel filler tube for mine. The hangers I used were the ones that use the clamps from the new install. They look cleaner, but remember, they need to line up with the clamps to work right. Leave the screws loose for now.

Install the second turbo muffler on the elbow and clamp it. Make sure everything is level to the rest of the car and doesn't hit the body. Install the other piece of pipe you cut and the turn down, clamping each and hooking the hanger into the last clamp. Make sure everything is tight, but not so tight you break the clamps. Carefully level everything out and even a little tilt toward the rear of the car might not be a bad idea. Leave the parking brake set and start the car. Using a towel. block off the end of the tailpipe and wave your hand over the joints. There should be no gases blowing on your hand. Satisfied the exhaust isn't leaking, nudge the accelerator while sitting in the car with your foot on the brake and the transmission in park. There should be no buzzing, rattling, excessive noise or banging. If so, shut off the car and check, if not, get the car off the ramps and take it for a test drive.

As for the sound, despite the Cherry Bomb brand, the system will sound the same as it did before, albeit a little throatier. I'm 39 years old and even as a teenager, I liked a quiet vehicle. Besides, the 2.7 liter on most Intrepids does not sound good unmuffled. The Intrepid is now safe and quiet with a minimal investment. When I went to get the parts, a service advisor from a local Chevy dealer warned me this would be loud. Happily, when this is done right, the car is almost factory quiet and sounds better than new. God bless!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Through Cleaning...

I get a kick out of object lessons. They were a mainstay at a congregation I attended for a third of my life, but that's a different story. I have nothing bad to report about them anyhow, Ahem...
An object lesson is where the speaker, or writer in this case relates his or her lesson with inanimate objects, hence the point of an object lesson. Now that the niceties are out of the way, and we always need to, well, be nice; we can move along.

Callbacks are a fact of life where I work. It can range from miscommunication to error on part of the technician, or something else just breaks. When we deal with man-made contraptions, we have issues. Such is the case until the Lord Jesus comes back to take back and rule this planet in the manner it ought to be ruled. I got a call from one of my coworkers that found a huge problem with a job I did. Because we service heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment, we have to climb on roofs of commercial building to change filters, belts and clean the condenser coils on package units that live up there.

For the most part, these units do their thing without too much hassle. A little T.L.C. and these contraptions will do what they're supposed to do for eight to ten years. One crucial function is that these need to take the heat out of a building and send it somewhere, preferably outside. This is so the occupants in said building can work in relative comfort. In a kitchen, this is doubly important, not only for comfort but sanitary reasons as well.

To make a long story short, I arrived to a rooftop unit in trouble. Even after my cleaning, enough grease from a nearby exhaust was caked on the condenser coil, which is the part that gets rid of the heat. If it's blocked, covered, or obstructed in any way, the unit will have to work harder to remove the heat. On a 90+ degree day, the unit is fighting a losing battle and will eventually fail. Even on the very mild day we had today, this one was in an uphill climb and the kitchen was relatively warm and humid.

After some figuring, I lugged a garden hose, two gallons of industrial strength coil cleaner (which is a fairly strong acid), a nozzle and the appropriate safety measures up the ladder to the unit in question. With a spray bottle, I sprayed the acid, full strength, on the condenser coil. Eventually, the grease and other accumulated filth bubbled angrily to the outside, where I washed it off with the hose. It took no less than several treatments and all of the coil cleaner to mitigate the mess and get the unit back to rights. The result wasn't much to look at, but at least it was workable and all but the most stubborn grease was now history. A quick peek in the kitchen confirmed the results; it was like an icebox. Mission accomplished! For now.

We human beings also have a purpose. This is to glorify the Lord Jesus and do His work. While Satan accuses us before the Lord, sin is the means that causes us not to function as we should. When we're not in the Word, in prayer and into the traps and snares of this world, we become dysfunctional for our prime function. The only way to mitigate sin and all its trappings is through the maintenance of prayer, the Word and hopefully a Bible-believing congregation (something I'm working as well). As Christians, we are not of this world, in a very real sense. We are supposed to do His work. We do that better when unobstructed by sin.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Prayer

This is the calm before the storm, Lord Jesus. Those who know You are fully weary of this world and what it has to offer. I am one of those in that category. You are the rest for the weary, food for those who hunger for Your Word, Living Water for those who thirst. Lord Jesus, I am through praying for anything but for those who are lost that they may come to know You and that those who already do know You more.
I was lost and You found me.
I was blind and You led me.
I was sad and You comforted me.
I was lonely and You befriended me.
You snatched me from the jaws of death, the very gates of Hell. I anticipate your return, Lord Jesus. I hope and pray that those who've lost faith in everything else seek You. You are the only One who deserves praise and glory, Amen

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Renewing My Faith

Late January this year, I got cut from my position as a service tech from a well-known and respected heating and air-conditioning firm. The reasons were myriad and unworthy of discussion, but the consequences are the same. It was a loss of identity in a precarious job market. Admittedly, Michigan has been the butt of none too kind remarks, but this is where I chose to live, work, choose a wife and raise a family. Despite all of this, this is home. At 9% unemployment, my chances of landing another job were slim. To add to this, I was already angry, depressed and every other negative feeling imaginable. We were and still are in the process of adopting a little boy, so this was a constant source of anxiety.
I was angry at the Lord, to put it bluntly.
In a week, the DHS (Department of Human Services) called. They had a seven year old boy who had spent nearly two months at Angel House because his parents were unable to care for him. A flood of emotions filled my mind. "How am I going to support another one?" I asked myself, and halfheartedly to the gentleman doing his level best to persuade me to take in another homeless kid.
I told the gentleman that I would call him back. I needed to call my wife.
Sparing the details, we were then the proud foster parents of another young life. He stood about four feet tall, barely seventy pounds soaking wet, bringing boxes of his belongings like a refugee from some war-torn country. A few niceties from his caseworker, a twenty something we knew from our first placement. She had brought us our then six week old last May. Now it was the seven year old, who was scared and upset over losing his family.
We made it through four months of daddy going stir crazy. The only thing breaking up the monotony was driving Jose to school, fixing a temperamental car and the subsequent running the entire family around while I tried to make sense of a recurring steering problem.
Fast forward to June 3rd, my boss calls me up. The name of the business on the caller I.D..
"How was your sabbatical?" he asked in a matter of fact tone. "I held my own," I lied. "Can you come in for work tomorrow?" he asked. "I need to take my son to school tomorrow, it's his last day," I countered.
My wife blanched; we didn't have child care for Jose. I calmly suggested making some calls and within a half hour, child care was taken care of.
All the sudden, God spun me around and in the Stephen Baldwin fashion, "SEE Walter, if you hadn't been out of work, Jose wouldn't have had someone to take him to school. You probably would have said no and would have been contrary to My will. I was there all along. I carried you and though it was not easy, you should never doubt Me. Those boys were My top priority..."

We live life for the good of others, i.e. the greater glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not live for our own self enrichment. When we think as the World does, nothing makes sense. When we wait on the Lord, all will come clear. He taught me an important lesson those four months. Hopefully, I have the faith and the sense to realize that the Lord's will and timing are perfect the next time something like this crops up. I thank Him for the boys, my wife and family, not to mention my job. God Bless.

My Philosophy of Life Paper

I. Personal Values
In this class, the author ascertained and brought to words what he already knew in pertaining to his personal values. However, it was not as easy as taking a test, even one as thorough as the Life Values Inventory or L.V.I. It took being honest with myself, much less being accurate with the results to properly translate them to the forms. It took several tries with which to decipher the results. When this was accomplished, it brought meaning to the contexts of my life and what is deemed important. This should not be construed as values in tangibles, such as family, friends, and job as of this writing, possessions, prestige or even something semi-tangible such as an impending degree. No, values are what guide a person to operate in the fashion he or she chooses, regardless of whether or not they recognize moral ground or a deity.
The mandates of this world, having a job, taking care of a family, acknowledging and interacting with friends, taking care of contractual obligations, obeying the law and in this author’s case, fulfilling a promise, carry a heavy burden of responsibility. The promise spanned over eighteen years of his time and tens of thousands of dollars of monies that are ill-afforded to lose. This was going to college and earning a bachelor’s degree after two years out of high school; all the while validating a reason for pursuing a trade over higher education.
Responsibility is the most important value this author has. Even in impossible situations, the only way “out” is through a problem. I have learned this lesson through a personal bankruptcy in 2001 as a result of frequent unemployment in the 1990’s. It prompted an attitude of getting back to basics that is a tenet of my beliefs to this day, even while many took to living beyond their means.
Spirituality is much harder to define and something I have struggled with during my time at Spring Arbor University. While there might be a religious component to being spiritual, it is not exclusive to being religious. Being spiritual is service to a higher purpose than survival or the aforementioned responsibility. When accepting the responsibilities of life, it is for that purpose. All the real, tangible benefits of a job, family or other components of life are just window dressing in this author’s opinion. The real purpose is serving others as well as the religious aspect of serving the Lord in our work and every other thing we do if this is applicable. It is a value that has been tough to translate into his work as of this writing.
When people are allowed to pursue their means in a spiritual way, creativity is another favorable byproduct. It means that people can call upon their own strengths to solve a problem, rather than lock step with policies and procedures. Time and again, the people who are working with the customers and their problems are the best qualified to solve the problem. Rather than make a lot of rules that few can remember, a few that make sense with the spirit of the objective are more constructive. To this end, the author cannot claim to know everything about a certain job or means. Nor is there any real reason to try. The best way to solve a problem is to create a way to solve a problem, not by memorizing a myriad of procedures.
One example of this is the time it takes to replace a heat exchanger in a well-known brand furnace. The flat rate is four hours because it takes time for a technician to get a handhold on the part. With a piece of pipe and a cap, the author can perform the same task in half the time. Achievement is the result of many failures and the ability of that person to stand on them, rather than be buried by them. Employment has not been a shining moment in this value to the author, substituting academic success instead. This is not the fault of anyone save the author; because he set his expectations in a direction that insured he would be buried by his failures. Fortunately, I have found this condition to be completely reversible.
The real challenge of attaining a sense of value in employment is to realize his brand and work for the sense of a higher purpose first. Although working for the heating company, my heart was not in it until realizing this is for the glory of the Lord. This is has been the theme since being first laid off in August of 1993. Employer loyalty and the achievement it might bring has become a victim of lowered expectations as a result. Those are the core values for the author, as far as the test is concerned. Values are not set in stone and this is a personal belief. As we find a hierarchy of needs in our lives, age, or find ourselves at a crossroads in life, these are bound to change.
II. Three Moral Languages
My background beliefs consist of Christian Theism and to a small, but not insignificant amount, Humanism. In other words, I believe that people can and do change things but the Lord Jesus Christ is the reason for creation and redemption of this world. He is also the final answer to the human condition through his redemption of human beings from sin and the evil one, commonly known as the Devil. The meaning of the name “devil” is slanderer and accuser. While Jesus is our advocate, the Devil is the one who brings our faults before the Lord to condemn us. In addition, the Lord created good, but in an absence of good is evil. I believe strongly in the concept of both; while one is the presence thereof, the other is lacking thereof.
Therefore, we make sense because we are created by the Lord to love and be loved by him through our own free will. This is the very reason the Lord, in his perfect wisdom, has allowed us to choose the absence of good in our lives if that is in fact our decision. We have creativity, imagination, the ability to express love, the desire to do what is right. In short in the image of our creator that transcends anything perceived on a superficial level.
One aspect that we should never expect to chare with the Lord is his glory and the accompanying responsibility. This is in fact the reason for the fall of man. This greed for knowledge and power has corrupted our relationship with him that only Jesus could reverse. It is all we have to do to accept this gift from him, there is nothing human beings can do to earn their salvation.
Moral character something first learned from parents and in my case, from the first church I attended for the first thirteen years of my life. It was what is referred to as a Southern Baptist church, but is more correctly referred to as Independent Baptist in today’s language. The pastor, Dr. Don L. Green, refers to it as an “old-fashioned, Bible-believing (King James), Christ-centered church.” They are the basis for all of my moral and arguably religious beliefs, even though I have not attended for nearly twenty-six years. What is more is while I may not agree with their methods on a superficial level; they gave me a strong belief system and the vehicle in which to convey it. In other words, this is my ability to read and write well. My relatives, friends and acquaintances have also had varying degrees of significance in shaping my moral sculpture. However, as with the church, there are “good” and “bad” things concerning this shaping and forming that is still going on to this day.
While altruism, spirituality, responsibility, faithfulness and industriousness are core beliefs throughout my peers there are some unfortunate negative aspects to this as well. Gluttony, sloth, lust, pride, selfishness, idolatry and other platitudes run rampant in the community as a whole. There is not enough space in such a paper to address all of the influences, helpful or harmful, but all have touched me and everyone else in some way. On the individual level, I have had many positive roles models, but again, not enough room in such a paper or the time to discuss them all.
My mother’s husband and his father were instrumental in helping me become a productive, creative and responsible citizen in the community. Although I disagree with my mother’s husband (for all practical purposes, my father) on the morality of labor unions and my late grandfather on his conservative viewpoints, I agree with both of them in their positive beliefs made mention of at the top of this page.
My moral principles are based on the Bible and those around me, whether because of, or in spite of, those principles practiced around me. However, even without the moral guidance of the Bible or other theological influences, such as those claimed by a good friend of mine in class, there is the innate desire to do what is right. So what is meant by what it right or wrong? One advertisement on the radio for the Baldwin/McCullough Extreme Radio show makes mention of whether or not something is legal as the basis for being moral (or ethical).
Clearly, this is not the case. The best way for me to explain my version of morality is to bring it to one, easy to remember phrase. This is to do onto other as you would want them to do onto you. In contemporary English, this is to treat someone else the way you yourself would like to be treated. It bears mention that this includes at a minimum, dignity and respect.
In fact, the whole of Luke 6:27-36 could sum up my morals quite well. Loving your enemies, blessing those who curse you, being kind to the ungrateful and wicked (not carrying grudges), and doing something without expecting something back is the foundation. It will allow me to create the ideal work environment within my scope of influence, no matter how small that might be.
III. Worldview Assumptions
Admittedly, my worldview is not exactly that of Christian Theology, at least in the legalistic sense. Nevertheless, it the one which I embrace the most and it has been the focal point of most if not all of my decision making processes. This has been instrumental in marrying my wife instead of living with her as my girlfriend, as the Bible also supports this in Genesis 2:24, Ephesians 5:21-23, Mark 10:6-9 and even 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8. The Lord did not just mandate these rules to cramp my style. All of my friends who practiced cohabitation were deeply offended at my disapproval of this choice, but most of them have experienced the anger and pain of divorce.
I cannot ascertain whether or not this worldview has affected my career choices fully. It has gotten me fired at least once. This is because I would not take part in breaking God’s commandments against lying or stealing for the gain of the company I was working for several years ago. Though previously wanting to be in the ministry for an Assembly of God church, the perceived hypocrisy of the laity and clergy after my request has shelved those plans for now. It is my prayer that the Lord will grant me the opportunity if this is in fact his will. Moreover, a better explanation of beliefs will be answered in the seven questions posed in chapter one of the Universe Next Door.
What is the prime reality-the really real? As an individual who has a self-confessed value and belief in spirituality, this is beyond the corporeal existence that we find ourselves in. Reality is not what we see, hear, taste, touch or smell. These are part of a universe created by a being with infinitely more intelligence than all of the smartest human beings on this planet who have, will or ever will exist. God is the reality as Christians and there is little we as created beings can relate to this. Even as being who can create something like a sand castle, step stool or an automobile, we cannot create something out of nothing as God has done.
What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us? This is a question I admittedly struggle with. This does not mean that I will not try to explain it. I believe the world and universe are created, orderly (as through intelligent design and execution) as both matter and spirit (in the case of us human beings).
What is a human being? As in the aforementioned book, the Universe Next Door, a person made in the image of God. To reiterate, we are not only given the superficial semblances, but the spiritual and emotional ones as well. After all, we feel anger, sadness, jealousy, happiness, joy and loneliness. The Lord feels these as well as is expressed in the Bible.
What happens to a person at death? As a Christian Theist, my legalistic point of view is that we’re either with the Lord Jesus, or separated from him after our heavy, cumbersome vehicle finally fails. This is dependent on choices that we have made through life as one either chooses to accept or reject the gift of eternal life. While many pastors have tried to gloss over the negative consequences of not accepting this gift (one tried to equate Hell with the garbage dump of the universe, but being drawn to what others might call garbage, I call this saving money and not exactly Hell).
I do know that Jesus spoke more about Hell than Heaven (or Paradise), because it made more sense to talk about avoiding the negative consequences rather than lusting over the positive ones. Paradise is more about being with Jesus than any other perceived “rewards” in my opinion. Neither would I reject the “rewards.”
Why is it possible to know anything at all? The answer to this is also to the answer of question three. We were made in the image of a knowing being and therefore have the ability to know. This is not to say that too much knowledge is a dangerous thing, as the old adage says. Knowledge is has been a blessing and curse for us as human beings and there has been an explosion of it as we have headed into the twenty-first century. We have even given up our relationship with the Lord to know what we do. The consequences of this are full of wonder and horror to this writer. We have the ability to split the atom, clone human beings and track everyone with a computer. The last of the three is probably the most oppressive form of tyranny we have at our disposal (Revelation 13:16-18).
How do we know what is right and wrong? Even if we as human beings do not care to admit it, we were created in the image and by a being with the innate sense of right and wrong. We have a conscience, which gives us a fair assessment of what we ought, rather than what we please. Time and again, it appalls me to see so many, young and old, decide to do what feels good to them and make this the basis of their moral scope. There was a significant parking problem at the apartment complex I used to work at. Yet tenants continued to flout the rules because they put their wants ahead of their neighbors’ needs to have a parking space. I had twenty cars towed in the last ten months of my tenure and nearly got into a physical confrontation with one of their owners. This is how deeply ingrained our skewed sense of right and wrong has become.
What is the meaning of human history? We are here to love and be loved by the Lord and this is in a nutshell. We are collectively and individually supposed to learn to make good choices throughout our lives, love and care for other, follow the Lord’s word and accept him. History is linear, with a definite beginning and end. Even the supposed end is just the beginning for those who trust and put their faith in the Lord.
IV. Application of Personal Ethics
I would relish the thought of a more profound ethical dilemma in which I could discuss what has more impact for the one about to be mentioned. This is clearly not the case. I have been defined and typecast by this dilemma for probably the rest of my life. It is akin to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner in the fact I will probably tell this story for the same. There is only one real decision-making model for this dilemma and this is whether it is right or wrong.
Tom’s Shop Rite was the typical “mom and pop” stores that had a tenuous hold in the late 1980’s, when I elected to pursue an after school job to help my struggling family. I had the opportunity to work among people my age. Popularity was not one of my larger priorities but being liked and accepted was as important to me as it was any other teenage boy. There was the want to be attractive to the opposite sex and cultivate friendships with coworkers in this “mom and pop” store. The very first week of work culminated into a moment that has affected me to this day. My aunt worked there for nearly twenty years before the store closed its doors in the mid 1990’s and she was an observer and commentator for the happenings after. At the time, I could not visualize the possible consequences of my choice, good and bad, but it was something rushing headlong out of.
A young, attractive woman is one matter, while the admiration and invitation from same is another entirely. She was in the person of a cashier at said grocery store and a coworker during my fledgling career. I bagged the groceries as was customary for sixteen and seventeen year old males at the time. She passed the groceries down and I put them in the brown paper bags, also customary at the time. Then I would carry the wares outside to the customers’ vehicles, something today reserved for the elderly and disabled and again, only if the customer asks for it. It was a simple enough job, looking back twenty-three years, but it was about to get much more complicated.
The young woman turned to me, eye to eye and asked me if I wanted to go to a party with her. This seemed innocuous enough; after all, I had been to a fair amount of parties by this time. What she said next was what was as vile to me then as it is now. “We can get drunk,” was the beginning of the end of any hope of popularity at the grocery store. I knew this if I uttered, “I’m sorry, but I don’t drink.” If I acquiesced and somehow got permission to go to this party and imbibe, it might result in popularity and a girl to decorate my arm. The negative results of going were just as bad as not being rejected by the microcosm known as Tom’s Shop Rite, but from a sixteen year olds standpoint, the results could be equally devastating.
It conflicted heavily with my value of responsibility, which is what prompted me to take this job in the first place. It also did with spirituality in that I was working for a higher purpose (even then, this value had not changed either) and this did not include getting “wasted” or breaking the law. It also conflicted with my value of achievement. Is this something I really wanted to be proud of, getting intoxicated for the sake of going to some party? Neither did I want to be perceived as being “holier than thou.”
I could fully empathize with the parties involved as I had been subject to “aggressive Christianity” in my formative years and did not want to take part in it. The decision I made was to be direct, polite and firm. The moment I uttered those words “I’m really sorry, but I don’t drink,” there was no turning back. My chance at popularity was over; this was to be the least of my worries. Being shunned and oppressed seem to walk hand in hand.
My car was egged and a door bashed in “accidentally”; the tires on my bicycle slashed with a box cutter and one co-worker even assaulted me in the backroom. There was no relief from the management either. It was if I declared being “holier than thou” to the whole world, though this was clearly not the case. There were three younger sisters to think about and one had already demonstrated her willingness to break the rules. How was this going to look if the big brother decided to “get plastered” in the name of popularity? It did not bode well for my time there, and less than two years after I started, I gave notice out of anger and frustration.
This did not win me any accolades with any of the coworkers my age. It did win me my self-respect, dignity and individuality. Some things are worth more than popularity to me now. Less than two weeks from my thirty-ninth birthday, I can say that my values mean something to me. They are something that I can truly call my own.





References
Green, D. D. (2009 ). Home Page . Retrieved June 12 , 2009 , from Parker Memorial Baptist Church : http://www.pmbclansing.org/Home/
Sire, J. W. (2004 ). The Universe Next Door. Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press USA .