Saturday, January 28, 2012

Politics and Old Letters

For those who pay attention to such things, we are in the midst of the political season, if indeed that season can be said to have a beginning or end anymore. Nevertheless, it cannot help but to wear on the mind, and as often as not, leave one in despair over the future of our nation. The rhetoric only promises to increase in volume and pitch until at least November.

That is why I found myself somewhat chastised, yet at the same time encouraged, by my discovery of a letter written somewhere between 130 and 200 A.D. by one identifying himself as Mathetes to a person named Diognetus. Of course I did not stumble on it as though it were a root across my path as I explored the jungle that is the Internet, but rather I found it quoted on one of my regular stops which is a Christian blog that goes by the clever name of Pyromaniacs.

It has often been my thought that if one could go back to the very early Christian Church, it would be possible to see the right way to live. That those who were taught directly by the Apostles, or perhaps only a generation or two removed from them, would have had to have gotten everything right. Of course, in truth, that is to a large extent a fallacy. Even as the Apostles were still penning the letters of the New Testament, false prophets were making their way into the Church. (2 Cor. 11:13) Still, those early followers of Christ can certainly, by their example, point us toward scripture that we should remember to take heed of.

The following is a small section of the letter from Mathetes. You can find the rest of it here. I used the translation by J. B. Lightfoot.

"For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in customs. For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their own, neither do they use some different language, nor practise an extraordinary kind of life. Nor again do they possess any invention discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some are. But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvellous,and confessedly contradicts expectation. They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign. They marry like all other men and they beget children; but they do not cast away their offspring. They have their meals in common, but not their wives. They find themselves in the flesh, and yet they live not after the flesh. Their existence is on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives. They love all men, and they are persecuted by all. They are ignored, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life. They are in beggary, and yet they make many rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they abound in all things. They are dishonoured, and yet they are glorified in their dishonour. They are evil spoken of, and yet they are vindicated. They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and they respect. Doing good they are punished as evil-doers; being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby quickened by life. War is waged against them as aliens by the Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell the reason of their hostility."

That's right - as a Christian, our real citizenship is in heaven! And though we find ourselves in the flesh, we are not to live after the flesh! It seems that Mathetes' description of the lifestyle of the Christians of his time should make us ponder whether we fit that mold or not. And most of all, it reminds us that there is no "salvation" to be found in any government or secular leader, but that our only hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ!

I feel better now.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January Updates

Long hours and late nights are the order of the day here at the speed shop this time of year. If you have noticed a "longer than normal" spacing between posts, that is the reason. Besides a couple of Panhead engines in for complete rebuilds, I have five sets of Knuckle heads here for valve jobs, with two of them getting big intake valves and porting. Oh, and don't forget the Big Twin Flathead top end. Then of course there are the normal dozen+ sets of modern heads in various stages of being ported. And then there is another biggie: an S&S 113 being turned into 126 cubic inch for drag race use only. All but the porting on the modern heads tends to be quite "time intensive." I had better stop there. I am beginning to scare myself.

The drag race motor, despite being based on a fairly modern design, is the kind of project that I can sink my teeth into. For one thing, its not the type of engine I build very often. Add to that, its somewhat challenging from a porting prospective. The standard S&S SuperStock heads, while providing more flow than a stock Evo head, have some serious limitations in their "as manufactured" state. Hopefully, with some heli-arc and grinding bench time, I will be able to remedy that somewhat.

Stock S&S intake port sports a very low floor along with an "interesting" vane protruding from it. My guess is that the design was influenced by the need to fit an air cleaner below wide fatbob tanks.

The first step in the process of attempting to make these into "racing" heads is to remove the guides and seats, followed by a generous build up of the floor in order to provide a good short side shape.

note: The welding in the picture above shows evidence of the approximately 15 years since I have had access to a tig welder. Now that one resides in my shop, I expect the welds to start looking more professional with a little more on the job training.

The chambers were also treated to some added material so that when done, 30 degree domed pistons will provide enough compression ratio for the motor to be run of E98 racing fuel (E98 is a commercially available mixture of 98% ethanol which is carefully controlled to maintain consistency). I will try to give updates on this project as it proceeds.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

All Things New!

This post would have been more timely at the begining of this week, but Happy New Year (better late than never)!

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Rev 21:1-7

As we begin a new year, one thing is sure ...we are another year closer to the fulfillment of this prophesy that we find in Revelation 21. And perhaps it is because of promises such as this one for a new heaven and a new earth, that we look forward with anticipation to each new year.

In the passage above, God said "Behold, I make all things new." Obviously we have good reason to believe this. The same one who sits upon the throne and promises this new heaven and new earth and a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, is the same one who created it all so long ago. If we go back to the book of Genesis, we see the story of how God spoke the world into existence. God said, let there be light: and there was light. By his word, God separated the dry land from the sea. He called trees and grass and animals into existence, and it was all NEW! And it was GOOD! ...that is until we messed it up. And when I say we, I am including all of us in along with Adam, because though he was technically the one to get thrown out of the paradise that was the garden of Eden, if he hadn't done it, you or I certainly would have.

Have you ever thought that? Adam only had one law given to him to keep - why couldn't he have just kept it? The ruin this world is in, is all Adam's fault, right? Yes, ...but my answer to that is, which one of God's laws have you never broken?

And that, in effect was the Old Covenant, or Testament as we most often call it. If Adam had obeyed God, he and his would have lived, but Adam ate of the forbidden tree and death entered into the world. All was not lost though! No sooner had we broken the old covenant, than God promised that a new covenant would replace it. We get the smallest glimpse of that promise in Genesis 3:15 when God tells the serpent that he "will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

Further on in Genesis we see a little more of that picture of the New Covenant in the story of Abraham offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice. In fact throughout the Old Testament, more and more of the picture that is the New Covenant, or New Testament are revealed. But when we get to the Gospels, finally all the pieces of that picture which is the New Covenant, are revealed. The picture becomes clear and vivid. The New Covenant is that Jesus Christ lived the sinless life that was required of us, and not only that, but he died paying the penalty for our sins that was required of us. And he sealed that New Covenant with his own blood.

Entry into this New Covenant begins with a New Birth. As the Bible tells us in John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

When you are newly born, obviously everything is new to you. It is the same with this spiritual rebirth. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
Does that sound familiar? In the text we began with in Revelation, God said "Behold, I make all things new."

This new creature that God says we will become once we are born again, leads to something else new. How we act. Romans 6:4 "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Here Paul compares the way our conscious decision to be obedient to Christ causes us to conduct our lives differently with being raised from the dead! If we experience a New Birth, resulting in our being a New Creature, then walking in this newness of life should show up as some sort of recognizable change.

We all experience the New Year, every year. But not all experience the New Birth, or becoming a New Creature and walking in Newness of Life. And for those who never have, I must go back to our original text to the verse that follows it. The first seven verses of Revelation 21 are filled with all kinds of wonderful promises such as a new heaven and new earth, God dwelling with us and wiping away all tears from our eyes, and making all things new. But verse 8 says this: "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

If you have never entered into the New Covenant by way of the New Birth, then you are one of those mentioned in that verse, and I would focus on one of those in particular: the unbelieving! But it is never to late this side of the grave. Won't you come to God in repentance, putting your faith in the fact that Jesus Christ died for your sins?