A place for thought.

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Psalm 103:12

Psalm 103:12
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

I looked at this verse differently. What if you turn around? I was excited. It fit so well into the rest of the Bible. Repentance is an abrupt about face, turn from your sin and turn toward God right? So I shared it with three pastors. I’m thinking this will preach! But not only did no one get all excited and start to make sermon notes; they didn’t even like it.
Looking into it I think I now understand why. The modern day view of Grace is that our sins are made right. But sin is never right and can never be made right. God prunes the bad branches and takes them to the dump to be burned and while we are on Earth the consequences remain. Only Godliness goes to heaven. We work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
So how far is my sin from me? I’m a fairly normal guy. I read books and find descriptions of people who think a lot like me. I can be driving in my car singing worships songs (Walking West) until someone cuts me off for no good reason and I ride their bumper (Walking East) and then the love of God finds its way back into my heart and I back off and look for my place in keeping the highways safe (Walking West). I’m making an effort to walk toward God all the time, but I don’t and going from walking away from God and walking toward God is always an abrupt about face.
So what is the Grace God gives us? What is this undeserved gift that we should not be able to even conceive? I believe that because of the Grace of God we can understand what goodness is. We can make a choice between Good and Evil because of Grace.

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Jimmy, Super Kid (part twenty-nine)

My mother and father are not acquainted with Ricky’s parents; they talk on the phone when they are looking for their kid, or to get permission to take us somewhere, they shake hands at school meetings, and wave on walks when they pass each other’s house, but they haven’t even shared first names.

“I’m Huel, this is Betty. I guess you know Jimmy?”

“I’m Jill,” Ricky’s mom shakes everyone’s hand including mine. Well she doesn’t shake Ricky’s hand that would be weird. “Have a seat,” she motions toward the kitchen table a chrome metal and yellow Formica topped table with four vinyl cushion covered matching seats. As we take our places she asks, “Coffee?” she doesn’t mean me, she knows the juice I like and puts a glass in front of me and Ricky without needing to ask. “The police called when they found the car trailer,” she tosses out the remark to make it easier for the conversation to begin.

“So you know most of the story,” my father begins.

“I’m so glad you came by.”

After about ten minutes of this chit chat I’m about to die and can’t keep quiet any longer, “Mrs. Sanchez,” I slip into a gap in the conversation. Everyone turns and looks at me. “If it’s okay to ask, what is it that Mr. Sanchez does for a living?”

“I’m not sure this is the time for personal questions,” My father instructs me.

“No, it’s fine Huel, I know a little bit about how Jimmy’s mind works. Ricky has shared some pretty amazing stories and if he needs information…” she just kind of trailed off and then focused on me, “he does research.” I just let my eyes widen a bit and wait for more. “I really don’t know much about the specifics,” she looks around the table a little embraced and then adds, “he studied entomology in college.”

“Bugs?” I blurt out.

“Jimmy!” my mother reminds me of my manners.

“Well, insects, including bugs,” she smiles at how funny it sounds. “It’s really a very serious business, insects are very important to all of us. Ricky’s dad is quite successful in his field. He’s been all over the world sharing information. And he’s totally committed, he even brings his work home and does experiments here.” She can tell I’m interested so she adds, “have you ever been in his workshop?”

I look over at Ricky who doesn’t seem to know much about this workshop ether, “can we see it?” I ask.

“Ricky, take Jimmy into the basement and show him around, just don’t touch anything.” We leave the adults and Ricky leads the way to a narrow door, he pulls a string and lights a single blub and illuminates wooden steps.

“I didn’t even know you had a basement,” I inform Ricky on the way down the steps.

“I spend very little time down here,” Ricky answers. “When my dad’s down here he usually wants to be left alone. At the base of the steps Ricky flips a light switch and fluorescent strips make the dark cellar as bright as day. The cellar is the full length and width of the house and barely has room for walking. Insects on pins fill the walls. Insects in jars fill shelves. Live insects in small cages sit on tables. A long wooden table runs the length of the basement, at the far end of the table is a single chair, a computer screen, a pile of instruments and a desk light with a gooseneck.

“This must be where all the work gets done,” I say walking up to the chair.

“This is where he is always sitting when I come down to talk him into leaving his work and coming to dinner,” Ricky’s eyes water a little when he’s reminded that his father isn’t home this evening.

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Jimmy, Super Kid (part ten)

Between two towers of books, on the floor, leaning against the wall, I sit with my legs straight out in front of me and a book in my lap. If I tilt my head up and stretch my neck I can see Amy in the children’s section sitting at a short round table with some other children talking and reading. Kids are allowed to talk quietly in the children’s section. Adults are required to show more restraint.

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You Know The Drill, part three

A long time ago I had office hours at a local church. People came by looking for handouts. It was the policy of the church, and my personal conviction, that we should try to help out as much as we could. To me this required more than the quick handing off of a twenty. When, asked almost all, nine out of ten, of the people were heading for Fresno, California, a town a couple hundred miles away. For some of the people it was just a story that most likely would not be checked but many were nomadic people who spent their time traveling from town to town. Is it because the grass is always greener? Is this why we have a space program?

Okay, break’s over, the next step is costly, although I hear there are great deals in Mexico – purchase a rat hole drill. We are making the Kelly Bar and Bucket so those are not needed. The drill must have a mast at least thirty feet high, thirty-two feet from the ground sounds good to me.   The drilling table should allow our thirty-three-inch bucket to easily pass through, so three foot inside the table is good. Inside the thirty-six inches a couple of “dogs” should be welded straight across from each other. These “dogs” will spin slowly, round and round when the engine is fired up and the table is placed into gear. With only one more major piece to build I’m afraid I don’t know what it’s called, I searched and did not find. Start with a three foot length of square steel three quarters of an inch thick and six inches by six-inches on the inside (so it will fit over the Kelly Bar we made). Perpendicular to this three-foot length on opposite sides at the top and bottom weld four bars of steel, these should form a flat letter “H” with the square steel forming the center of the “H”.   Cut the ends of these bars so that when we weld two strips of steel to the outside edge of each perpendicular bar the over-all width from these new parallel bars from outside to outside is thirty-five inches. These bars that are parallel to the center thirty-six-inch length of square steel should extend from the top perpendicular bar to six inches past the bottom perpendicular bar. At the point where each of the two parallel bars are welded to the perpendicular bar heat the metal and with a sledge hammer bend the bottom six inches toward the center a couple inches (this will help this unnamed structure to pass into the drilling table). Weld a couple of two inch ears onto the tops of this structure making it thirty-seven inches wide at the very top (keeping it from traveling all the way through the drilling table). Gusset and re-enforce anyway you think might be helpful – weight is not a problem. Slip this “yoke?” of steel over the Kelly Bar lying on the driveway and weld a bit of metal onto the end of the six by six shaft so when we lift the Kelly vertically it will not fall off. There is just one more quick addition to our project before we can get started but let’s confront that after another break.

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A heavy quiet covered the hillside, even the stars were quiet this night. The roots of the grasses felt their way into the old hard soil careful not to disturb. A bit of space dust lit up the dark sky for just a second and then decided not to intervene and burst into a long trail of flame. The silence continued to rule. The small boy looked out from his place behind the rocks and tall grass. He was overcome with fear. He did not fear the darkness or the quiet. He feared what they suppressed. Clear beads grew on the edges of each blade of grass and slid down until they nestled next to the thin stems. The stars split into all their colors inside the clear beads of moisture and gave the simple grass elegance it had not earned, pastoral grace. The boy child watched the stars swim in their blackness until he earned one of the precious beads, it moved from the corner of his eye to the mound of his cheek and held its ground, a jewel of red and blue and green and purple. He broke the peace with a sniff and once the spell was broken there was nothing to stop the vocalization of his mood, he whimpered and sniffed and snorted. The quiet ran for the next valley embarrassed to have been chased away by such an insignificant thing. The boy dripped the ornaments of water from the tip of his nose into the grass and the grass accepted them as gifts. He continued until the water no longer came and the sounds relaxed. All that was left behind was a gasping for air that he could not control and then even that came to an end. The quiet peaked through the blades at the top of the hill and inspected the valley. The quiet slid back into its place of comfort, pausing for a second near the small boy for one more gasp and when the boy slept the silence relaxed with the night. A cool breeze came down the draw between the hills; not enough to shake the jewels from the blades of grass, not enough to stir the thin brown hair on the head of the boy, felt more as a few less degrees of heat, just a hint of change. Fire appeared on the edge of the highest mountain in the East, a fine line of light marking the peaks and turning the sky from black to dark blue. The boy rolled onto his stomach sticking his nose into he bend of his arm with his forehead resting on his elbow. The damaged grass under his arm released its scent and screamed without hurting the boy or the quiet. And then the sun, no longer content to hide behind the mountains, jumped into the sky and pushed the stars into nothingness in an instant. The cool breeze demanded its place but knew it would lose once more to the ball of fire so far away and it, which once had thoughts of overtaking, became the hunted. The boy squirmed in his sleep. His feet moved in a mock run and his hand pushed an unseen, to anyone but him, assailant.

The squeak of hinges in need of oil, “Timmy!” and then with more respect for the quiet, “timmy?” a girl, still just a child herself but also a mother stood in the gap of the open door. “Timmy, I’m sorry. Come inside and talk with me,” she paused a second and then added, “I love you Timmy.”

The small boy woke in time to hear only the last words. As he stood his mother came to where he was near the rocks and reached out her hand. Timmy placed his tiny hand into hers and let her help him stand. Inside the house she poured him a cup of coffee cooled with an oversized portion of milk. She sipped her black drink and listened, first to the story of his recent dream and later to what had made him afraid. They covered the fear with toast and jelly and smiles.

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Wheat #13

“Please pass the rolls,” Jack said. For the first time Jack noticed the dinner rolls were a pale pink and the pink was only noticeable when he tore one in half in order to butter the inside. His mother did not have the unlimited access to the red grain that Toby had and it was the day before harvest when supplies would be almost depleted. “These are great Mom,” he said while he smeared on the butter. “I’m going to help Toby with the harvest in the morning.” He just let the statement drop in the middle of the table and waited. The effect was more than he had hoped for. All chewing stopped and no one said anything for at least ten seconds.

His father broke the silence, “Less than ten years ago Toby started hiring custom harvesters but he handles everything on the ground. The operators stay in their cabs unless their machines need maintenance, no one else helps, no one ever has” it was a statement, not a question.

“Well, I’m gonna be on the ground dumping trucks, running information, getting things,” Jack couldn’t hide the pride he felt.

“Why isn’t Toby doing all that?” Jack’s mother asked continuing to ignore her food.

“I think he’s just tired,” answered Jack.

“Silly, Uncle Toby’s never tired,” Jack’s sister Sally said while she chewed her pork chop. She was quoting what she had heard adults say many times.

“He’s getting old,” Jack said taking a bite of his dinner roll – the best dinner rolls anywhere even if his mom didn’t have unlimited supplies of the red grain.

“Toby’s always been old. He was old when I was a boy. But he’s never acted old. He runs that farm, sun up to sun down nothing’s as constant as Toby,” another statement of fact from Jack’s father.

“Well, for whatever reason I’m helping him first thing in the morning.”

“You’re not going to be doing anything dangerous are you?” Jack’s mother asked, getting over her initial shock.

“Just backing trucks and running errands. I’ll be careful.”