Construction continued . . . into August and getting “under dry.”

On August 12, Eli came over early to our job site and back-filled the trenches that had been dug for the water feed lines and drains (see October 23, 2015, because about noon the trusses were to arrive.  Terry Brewer of Brewer’s Truss Company out of Sand Gap, Kentucky . . . (yes, there is a Sand Gap in Kentucky) delivered the trusses just a short time after Eli had finished.  Very cool delivery system: the trusses were loaded onto a truck with rollers under them, so when the truck bed is tilted a little, the pile of wood just slides off!  Most everything is banded together with tight metal bands so it all stays intact.

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On the morning of the 13th, Cruz and his team from Olympic Construction carefully counted and layed out the order of the truss construction. This was quite a project for so many trusses, but Terry had labeled everything so it was not difficult to identify which trusses went where.  The trickiest part was measuring the house to see how the trusses would fit.

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We began with some assembly of the north hip on the ground, and then lifted it into place.  The guys were ready and pulled it into exactly the place it needed to land, and then nailed it down to the sill plate.  Then they got ready for the next set of trusses.

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With the first set going over the kitchen and dining room, the longest ones went over the great room and the front porch.

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Temporary bracing was placed on top of the trusses to keep them level and straight.  The last big piece was the south hip.  With the main trusses finished, the 13th had been quite a day!

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The sheathing had been delivered on the 13th, but we needed some more 2x4s for the final details of the framing.  This involved placing the corners and connecting the valleys on the 14th.  But even as that was going on, part of the team started on the sheathing that would get us “under dry.”

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More next week on finally getting “under dry,” shingling and fitting in the doors and windows to get ready for the brick exterior.

The Mask of Greed and the Face of Generosity; Part 3 of The Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Saving Virtues

Seven Deadly Masks GreedYou will find Greed often called Avarice in lists of the seven deadly sins.  Greed is generally thought of as a desire for money or the things it can buy, and is sometimes even considered a “good” quality.  All you need to do is search the phrase, “greed is good,” and you’ll see a host of references from Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko to descriptions of Mother Teresa’s “greed!”  One author compares it to the airlines’ warning, “Put on your own mask first, before helping others.”  In other words, we should be greedy so we will have resources to dole out to those who are less successful at being greedy.

Avarice, on the other hand, has no redeeming quality (not that I agree with Gekko nor think the assessment of Mother Teresa as greedy is correct).  Avarice is the “inordinate, insatiable, miserly desire to gain wealth.”  However, the Bible makes it clear that this is simply what we consider greed and it is a root of evil.  Proverbs warns that greed will destroy a household and stir up conflict (Proverbs 15:27; 28:25).  Isaiah noted greed as part of the reason God sent Israel into Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 57:17).  Jesus was very clear: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  (Luke 12:15)  He named it as part of the guilt of the religiously serious of His day that made them hypocrites (Matthew 23:25-28).  The Apostle Paul had several tirades about greed, but none more severe than what he told the Christ-followers in Ephesus: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a person is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God.” (Ephesians 5:5)

Greedy peopleNow, before anyone points a finger and thinks, “I wish so-and-so was reading this,” remember the principle of the three fingers pointing back at yourself!  I have never understood why the 99% wanting to take the wealth from some who have earned it, is less greedy than the greed of the man who has wealth.  Granted that many wealthy are like the guy on the airplane putting on his own mask, and then ignoring the neighbor who needs help.  But that criticism is for another blog.  Many wealthy people are there because they have exercised principles taught in the Bible that result in rightful gain; they can be trusted with money, so more money comes to them.  The problem is assuming wealth equals greed.

Job’s “comforters” made the opposite mistake.  They thought that if you had good stuff, you were blessed by God, and if you had misfortune or were poor, this was surely God’s punishment.  But God is less concerned about whether we have wealth or not, than what we do with any resources He places in our hands.  He promises Heavenly rewards for even giving a cup of water in His name (Matthew 10:42).

The point is that greed is not good, it is deadly!  A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare. The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right. The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright.” (Proverbs 21:6-8)  The fact is that money will not solve most people’s problems, because their problems are not rooted in a lack of resources.  In fact, getting your greed satisfied can cause significant problems.  Just look at the lives of some who got what millions dream of: they won the lottery, and where did it get them?  For some, it was nowhere, for others it was divorce, and in some cases, even death!

The Biblical teaching is to be content with the basics: food, shelter, and clothing.  Tommy Barnett once explained that in America, we consider poverty to consist of only having one used car, only having three or four pairs of shoes, only eating out at MacDonald’s a couple times a month, and having difficulty making cable TV payments.  In the rest of the world, poverty consists of sometimes getting to ride in an ox cart, wrapping feet in cloth when “needed,” wondering if there will be anything to eat today, and entertainment is avoiding anyone with a desire to kill you.

Cell phone 2When relating this to a friend, my commentary was to think of all the things we think of as “necessary” to life, that are, in fact, not necessary at all: TV, air conditioning, automobiles . . . and I got as far as “cell phones” when my friend erupted with, “Oh, C.A., but I need my cell phone!”  But I reminded him that we have only had cell phones for a decade or less!  How did we survive the centuries without this need being fulfilled??

The fact is that His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)  And Paul wrote: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

Generosity is only possible when one has something to give, but very few in this life are totally without anything to give, refugees and prisoners excepted, especially Americans.  However, it is interesting to see even refugees take care for each other, giving out of their own need to supply for each other!  There is a balance to a spirit of generosity with responsibility for what God has placed in our hands.  God forbid that we put on our own safety mask in an airplane and ignore another who needs help.  But equally, we must be careful “to not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6)

This takes wisdom from the Spirit of God, to distinguish between genuine need that God enables you to supply, from greedy people who only want to take advantage of that with which God has blessed you.  And it is before Him that we must show our true faces and reveal if we have been wearing a mask of greed.  In the end, if you love things and use people, you will lose; first the very things you love, and finally, your life.  But if you love people and use things, you will be blessed, even if you lose all the stuff in your closets.

Next week, November 2, 2015 , let’s look at Envy.


Construction continued . . . even when I did not. ;-)

September 7 was the last construction blog I posted about the Manitoo Place project, and that was as of July 28!  So while July 29 saw the bracing come down, the interior framing started going in on July 30, 31, and August 1.

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This went rather quickly as the floor was already in, and we just had to assemble each wall and then “raise it” into position.  You can see the hole where the stair access will be.  The first photo is looking from the front window in the master bedroom (the southwest corner), the second from the opposite northeast corner, looking back, and then from the southeast corner looking toward the garage,

IMG_4052   IMG_4044  IMG_4049This was also the week for connecting the house drain to the city sewer which had a light blue spur connection pipe the city had left raised far above grade for easy location.  This work was done on August 3 and 4, as the plumbers are very good and in high demand.  We were very fortunate to have Grubb Plumbing for this job!  What the spur did not tell us is from which side we had to connect. Logically it should have faced west toward the house, but for some reason the city had put our spur in on the north side, parallel to the house, so the plumbers dug a much larger hole than would have been needed if the spur had pointed toward the house. The pipe sticking up next to the house is the house-drain clean-out.  So if there is ever a clog in the drain outside the house, it will be easy to locate.

IMG_4042  IMG_4040  IMG_4043They also installed our feed line and hooked it to the meter.  The blue Pex pipe is the flexible feed line going into the house.  I like Pex because it expands up to 400% without cracking, an advantage if the ground ever freezes below 36″ (1M), which is extremely unlikely in Kentucky where the frost line is 24″ (0.6M).  Because we anticipate pouring concrete around the front porch, we put a white PVC “sleeve” of 3″ (7.5cm) through the wall and under where the porch will be. That way, it it ever needs servicing (an unlikely event), the blue Pex can be easily removed and replaced through the sleeve.

IMG_4079 IMG_4078 IMG_4080 IMG_4082 Getting a skid-steer on site was difficult as there was so much rain in the early part of the spring, that most operators were buried under work for bigger jobs.  But Eli Farmer, who had poured our footers, came back on the 12th in some “spare time” ( 😉 ) to backfill the plumbing lines.  For an early morning job, he was moving like greased lightning! You can see the light blue spur pipe better from this view.

I’ll try next week to catch up to the trusses which arrived in the afternoon as soon as Eli finished leveling the front yard!


The Mask of Sloth and The Face of Energy: Part 2 of The Seven Deadly Sins and The Seven Saving Virtues

Seven Deadly Masks SlothDo you not know?
    Have you not heard?
Yahweh is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in Yahweh
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

A friend of mine once observed what the worst sins are “those with which I do not have problems.”  It is easy to cast stones at someone who has committed a sin which we feel no temptation towards.  In our 24/7/52 world, very few of us can be accused of laziness or Sloth.  Most of us worry about getting everything done in the little time we allotted for doing the stuff we feel is important.  And as I mentioned in the Introduction (see October 4, 2015), when we point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at ourselves.

However, even though most of us do not have problems with sloth, it is important that we not take a “holier-than-you” attitude towards those who struggle with this deadly sin.  If you are not plagued with Pride, the sin we addressed last week, nor Sloth, the subject today, be patient, we will touch on your area of weakness, where you struggle with deadly sin, by the time we finish this series.  You see, none of us are exempt; we all struggle with one area or another, and all seven of these sins are just as deadly!

Now you may wonder, what is deadly about laziness?  Isn’t it just annoying?  Isn’t it just frustrating to those who have to pick up the slack for the deadbeat?  How can inactivity or sluggishness kill you?  Solomon begins to answer this in Proverbs 26:13-16:
A sluggard says, “There’s a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!”
As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed.
A sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.
A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven people who answer discreetly.
And again in Ecclesiastes 10:18, he says:
Through laziness, the rafters sag; because of idle hands, the house leaks.

Through excuses and rationalizations, the loafer will eventually starve to death or suffer destruction when the unmaintained house falls in on him or her.  Such death may not come immediately, but then again, if the laziness results in not getting his brakes checked on the car, or in ignoring a warning label on uncooked food, these can result in sudden death.

But the greater significance of “death” for the lazy person is in the separation from The God Who Is There that results.  Jesus was very clear in the parable about the bags of gold a wealthy man gave to his servants. (Matthew 25:14-46)  The indictment of the third servant in the story does not mince words:  Jesus accused him, You wicked, lazy servant!”  His crime was not that he did not earn any interest on the money, but that he did not even try!  He hid what he had been given, and tried to make peace by just giving back what he had received.   Hebrews compares the lazy to “land that produces thorns and thistles, is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned” (Hebrews 6:8,12).

The Apostle Paul explained his “standard operating procedure” in all the churches he visited in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”  Idleness was disruptive and contributed to gossiping, and was to be treated as a serious breach of Christian teaching.

Now it is important to balance this with the promise of Psalm 127:2: “[The LORD] gives sleep to those He loves.”  Rest is an important part of our walk with God, as He gave us an example, even in creation, by “resting” on the seventh day.  The distinction of the worker who rests from the sluggard who never moves is clear.  When we are actively engaged in doing God’s will there will be a balance of work and rest, of effort and relaxation, of expending energy and going to bed with the “comfortable ache” of muscles that are satisfied.

This is the promise of Isaiah in the poem that opened this blog.  It is the assurance of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  But it is out of this appropriate rest that we find Energy to do God’s will. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness(2 Peter 1:3).

EaglesWork that is pleasing to God is, itself, invigorating at the same time that it wears out our old bodies.  When we are busy doing “good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers,”  we will find a life in the Spirit that defies our natural tendency toward laziness (Galatians 6:1-10).  When we are led by the Spirit of God, we will remove any mask that excuses us from rightful labor, and we will “soar on wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).

Next week, October 25, 2015 , let’s look at Greed.

The Mask of Pride and The Face of Humility: Part 1 of The Seven Deadly Sins and The Seven Saving Virtues

Seven Deadly DishesThe Christian church listed these seven deadly sins in a catechism (a question and answer format for learning religious instruction) in the 1500s, but the list was taken from the earlier writings of Thomas Aquinas, a famous theologian of the 1200s, which was a revision of earlier works dating back to Evagrius, a Turkish born Egyptian church leader in the late 300s.

The list is not in the Bible, but more of a consolidation of several lists of sins, based on logical connections and psychological discipline.  For example, Solomon lists in Proverbs 6:16-19 seven things that “are detestable to the LORD,” that include only two of these seven (pride and wrath), and Paul’s list in Galatians 5 leaves out sloth and gluttony, but overlaps several sins that would qualify as lust, pride, wrath (anger) and envy.

The list is intended to identify those attitudes and aptitudes that lead to behaviors that result in premature death, or at least spiritual degradation, thus the designation, Deadly Sins.  Of course, none of these include or cover the “unforgivable sin,” which is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:32), which we can address in another blog someday.  Therefore, we can assume any, and even all, of these attitudes are redeemable by Him who “does all things well” (Mark 7:37).

Seven Deadly Masks PridePerhaps the most basic of these, from which all the others flow, is PRIDE.  After all this is the original sin, the decision by Lucifer to replace God on His throne: “I will be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-15)  This self-exaltation resulted in Lucifer’s immediate expulsion from the Heavenly hosts, and apparently he took a third of the angels with him, whom we now encounter as demons.  You see, Lucifer, like us, was created with free will, a characteristic of The Creator.  And we can follow in his steps if we so choose.  We can lift ourselves up with pride, and claim to be better than we are; more than we have accomplished; higher in value than our Creator gives us.

Look at its synonyms: vanity, conceit, arrogance!  All terms that express one thinks of oneself as better than any other.  Pride is a mask that says, “I am better than so-and-so, have a better history than he has, am more worthy than she is, should have received better for my efforts and effects.”

To fully understand Pride, we must look at its opposite: Humility.  Humility is often misunderstood as “self-depradation,” an act of plundering one’s self-esteem; specifically taking a negative view of oneself.  It is a false humility that denies what good you may do or what value you have.  If you can sing a beautiful aria, it is not humility to say, “I did a terrible job on that song.”  The falsehood of this ‘humility’ is to either gain more recognition by people refuting this lie, “Oh no, really, you were magnificent!”  Or it is an exercise in self-flagellation because we think ourselves unworthy of praise for something we did well.  This involves a misconception of where our value or gifts come from, and a misappropriation of the credit for something done well.

If you sing beautifully, is it because of your hard work that you can hear your pitch better than others?  Is it to your credit that your vocal cords can reach more octaves than others?  Did you design your nerves to keep perfect time?  These are all gifts that you have been given.  You have only exercised the talent with which He has blessed you.  And to worry too much about praise or condemnation is to put too much emphasis on how you feel about yourself.  Rather sing as beautifully as God made you to sing, and then say graciously, “To God be the glory,” when you receive honor.

So if humility is not self-depradation, what is it?  Again, let’s gain understanding by looking at the word’s synonyms: unpretending, unpretentious, submissive, meek.  Humility is not putting yourself down; it is simply not thinking of yourself.  And that is the tricky part about humility: it does not think about itself.  As soon as you begin to examine yourself to discover if you are humble, humility flies out the window.  Like a gentle butterfly, it will land on your hand while you are attending to what you should be doing, but as soon as you start to pay attention to it, it will be gone.

Humility recognizes our “creature” status before the Creator.  We brought nothing into this world when we were born.  Even in the forming of our bodies before we were born, we had no say in when and how we would come into the world, we could not decide on our eye color or shape of our noses.  We have each arrived as He intended us to for His purposes, not for ours.  We did not even know we had purpose until He revealed this concept to our tiny brains . . . and I am not talking about the size of a baby’s brain!  I’m talking about the size of any of our brains, including Einstein’s!  You are what He created you to be, at least at first.

But our father, Adam, followed Lucifer and chose to believe a lie, and passed on this aptitude to us: we prefer to think we know better than God what we should do, where we should live, whom we should marry, what course our lives should take.  Our pride separates us from the One who is so much higher and better in thought than ours that it is almost incomprehensible! “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).  So we, too, have chosen to follow the inclinations of our father, and we have become something less than what He created each of us to be.  But He forgives and accepts us when ever we call on His Name (Romans 10:12-13).

When Peter walked out onto the water with Jesus, his eyes were humbly on Him, not on his own ability or his own power.  (Matthew 14:22-30)  When he took his eyes off Jesus and started worrying about how he could walk on water, he realized he could not!  If he had kept his attention, not on himself, but on the Lord, he would have been as safe as a duck.

So tonight exercise your Humility and refute your Pride.  As you lay down to bed, say to Father in Heaven, “I am what you made.  Any good in me comes from you.  Let me be used by You to show the world how wonderful You are.”  And then forget about yourself and concentrate on Him, and you will find yourself wrapped in loving arms and warm embrace of which any earthly love is only a shadow.

Next week, October 18, 2015, let’s look at Sloth.

Seven Deadly Sins, Introduction

Have you ever thought about how your car can be tool for God to use to show His grace and mercy?  What would my driving look like if I realized Jesus was sitting beside me every time I get in my vehicle?  Or do we consider our autos as instruments of God’s justice and hatred of incompetence?  (Hmm, does He hate incompetence?)  Do not think I am Finger Pointingpointing a finger at anyone.  The old adage about “three fingers pointing back at yourself” is truer here than I wish.

Priding myself on my driving skills, I used to consider myself a good driver.  In recent years, however, I have come to realize that being a “skillful driver” is not the same thing as being a “good driver.”  This brings me to the subject of this week’s blog; how fallen, flawed and self-justifying I can be.  I have asked friends and counselors for prayer and advice on how to deal with this failing, but it seems to be part of the sin nature, that it is constantly hiding and finding new ways to entrap us.  Lewis said we are either repenting of sin, bragging to ourselves about our repentance, considering how we can indulge in sin again, or sinning . . . and three of these steps are sin.

“No sooner do we believe that God loves us than there is an impulse to believe that He does so, not because He is Love, but because we are intrinsically lovable. The Pagans obeyed this impulse unabashed; a good man was “dear to the gods” because he was good. We, being better taught, resort to subterfuge. Far be it from us to think that we have virtues for which God could love us. But then, how magnificently we have repented! As Bunyan says, describing his first and illusory conversion, “I thought there was no man in England that pleased God better than I.”  Beaten out of this, we next offer our own humility to God’s admiration. Surely He’ll like that? Or if not that, our clear-sighted and humble recognition that we still lack humility. Thus, depth beneath depth and subtlety within subtlety, there remains some lingering idea of our own, our very own attractiveness. It is easy to acknowledge, but almost impossible to realize for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us. Surely we must have a little–however little–native luminosity?” – C.S.Lewis, The Four Loves.   I am afraid we do not, if my history of driving provides any warning.

Lexington, Kentucky, may have the worst drivers in America (except for perhaps Nashville, Tennessee; those “Volunteers” have the same bad habits as Kentuckians, but commit them at much higher speeds).  Many of our drivers do not know what turn signals are for, and I suspect, it they accidentally turn one on, wonder what that funny clicking noise is as they drive along for miles.  Following the car in front, they tailgate with less than a car length between them at 70 mph (113 kph), yet leave three car lengths between when the red light changes to green, insuring the last cars in line will not get through the light at the same time.  They will stop with inches between cars at red traffic lights, and then, even if car in front of them is not moving, they insist on creeping forward to get closer to the intersection, only to wait for the light to change, then wait for the “required” three car lengths if they are near the front of the line.  They will stop in the middle of the road, waiting for an opportunity to change lanes, with five lanes of traffic to cross, rather than spend an extra 90 seconds to turn right and come back to the left safely through an intersection.  When you do see the rare blinker indicating a driver would like to change lanes, the apparent rule for Kentuckians is to close the gap and try to prevent the car from entering “my lane.”  Speed limits appear to be minimums, and if you dare to go slower, expect to be goaded off the road by tailgaters.  Parking occurs where ever anyone chooses to stop his car, whether it blocks a driveway or pass-through, and most do not know that “jay-parking” is against the law in most cities of Kentucky, even police.  They will remain parked with doors open on both sides, maximizing their obstruction of others passing.

The whole philosophy of Kentucky drivers seems to be, “My time matters more than any one else’s on the road; I should not be deterred in my preferred speed; my preferences for parking or moving my vehicle are more important than yours; only the pesky police can interfere with my driving.”  In other words, it is a prime area of life for the devil to tempt one to anger.

Anger is one of the “Seven Deadly Sins,” the seven of which the next few blogs will address.  When driving in Kentucky, it is easy to see how this becomes a “deadly sin!”  If you look at any of our junk yards, you will see the crumpled results of someone’s anger at someone else, from the wreckage left by miscalculating who would give in to the lane change, the parking decision, or the traffic light.  Try as they will, as the engineers design our cars for greater and greater safety, all that happens is they inspire greater risk-taking by angry drivers who will not be deterred.  Now all we need is a “self-driving” car of which a hacker can take control, and let the “fun” begin!

Seven Deadly Sins FireSo the next seven blogs, starting with October 11, 2015 , will detail each one of the Seven Deadly Sins and each one’s corollary, the Seven Saving Virtues, although it is important to note that virtue is not what saves us.  So having written this blog, and your having read it, we can now congratulate ourselves on how virtuous we are . . . or can we? 😉