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Joshua 3: Crossing the Jordan

water-872016_960_720For people of God, the Jordan River carries heavy symbolism.  If you are a churchgoer, take a quick peek in your hymnal.  You will find songs revealing the Jordan as a symbol of death.  Crossing the Jordan and reaching the Promised Land meant  entering the gates of heaven.

Some time after Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, baptism took the meaning of dying to your old self (upon immersion) and being raised to new life found in Christ (being drawn back up out of the water).

In Joshua chapter three we read the people of Israel needed to sanctify themselves before they could cross the Jordan River.  For this ancient people it involved devoting themselves completely to God and worshiping him.  God was about to perform a miracle and he wanted their undivided attention.

“Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”” Joshua 3:5

Unlike the Red Sea crossing found in the book of Exodus, crossing the Jordan to take possession of the Promised Land required an act of faith on their part–especially by the priests.  God wasn’t going to stop the flow of the Jordan River at flood stage until their feet were in the water.  The priests, however, didn’t go into the water alone.  God was with them in the form of the ark of the covenant, which they carried.

“The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.”  Joshua 3:17

Some thoughts for those who know God through his son Jesus:

  • God sometimes performs miracles at the most extreme times, often only after we step out in faith
  • How many miracles have we missed because we failed to take that first step of faith?
  • Every person passed by the ark (containing the Word of God) as they traveled through the dry riverbed. Much as every person today must encounter God to pass from death to everlasting life.
  • God will accomplish the impossible in our lives if we will trust Him.

 

 

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Couch to 5k: Redo

It has been almost two months since my last post.  Since that time my car was repaired and the weather turned much colder.  Then, the snow came–lots of it.  Since I work in building maintenance, I get to spend a portion of my day outside shoveling snow.  Keeping the snow off the sidewalks benefits me in a couple different ways.  It helps slow down my weight gain over the winter months, and it lets me rack up tons of steps on my Fit Bit.

walking-1283978_960_720Traditionally, I use my free time over the winter to work on indoor projects.  Since I have neglected my model trains for about three years, I’ve been working on my train layout.  In addition,  I’ve committed to teaching a class Sunday mornings for the next several months so there’s little time left to begin a training regiment.

It looks like I’ll have to circle the wagons and wait until spring to resume a training program.  April 1st seems like as good a day as any to start a couch to 5k for the second time.  This year I’ll begin training two months earlier and fifteen to twenty pounds lighter.

Between now, and then, I plan to try to keep my step counter whirling.

The Kremlin Conspiracy

51Uwwhjh-5L._SY346_If you are looking for heart pounding read this is one I’d recommend.  It’s book one of a three book series written by Joel C. Rosenberg featuring the adventuresome Marcus Ryker; former marine and former secret service agent.

One of the things I like about Rosenberg’s work is his ability to incorporate important world events into his writing in an almost prophetic manner.  The Kremlin Conspiracy is no exception.  A quote from the book:

“America’s next president needs to understand that as troubled as the Middle East is and as volatile as North Korea remains, the most serious threat facing the United States–the truly existential threat–comes from Russia.”

The plot follows a reckless Soviet president bent on consolidating his power and restoring Russia to its former glory. His plan includes capturing and annexing former Soviet states into the Russian federation and adopting the dangerous countries of Iran and North Korea as strategic allies. Will his plan succeed?

As the plot thickens, a mole surfaces from deep within the Kremlin’s inner circle taking the story to even loftier heights.  Can the information the mole entrusts to Ryker be trusted or is it meant to trap him?

Joel C. Rosenberg is one of my favorite authors.  The second book in this series is due out March 2019.  The Kremlin Conspiracy is a must read political thriller.

Joshua 2: Rahab

I blogged about Joshua chapter 1 a while back, see my posts here: A Homily on Joshua Chapter 1 and here: Joshua 1: Be strong and courageous.

Joshua chapter 2 features two spies who are sent to Jericho to gather information about the city prior to the Israelite invasion.  Their job, blend in to a culture foreign to them, one in which they didn’t belong.  As Christians doesn’t life in the workplace sometimes seem just like this; different ethics, language, and temptations we’re not prepared for.

uruk5The spies encounter Rahab, a pagan prostitute and owner of the establishment.  Her house, an inn, was the best place to gather information, that is, until they were labeled spies.  In a startling turn of events, Rahab not only agrees to hide them from the authorities, she lies to protect them.  Her motivation: she fears God and believes He is the one true God of heaven and earth.  In the most unlikely of places the Israelites encounter a person of faith.

…for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on earth below.  Joshua 2:11 NLT

In exchange for harboring them, Rahab asks for a guarantee she and her family won’t be destroyed when the Israelites invade.  She is given a red cord to hang in her window, a symbol she has chosen to side with the God of Israel.

One has to wonder, how will Rahab be remembered after she is gone.  After all, she’s a prostitute and a liar.  Yet, the Bible chooses to remember her as a person of faith.

It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Hebrews 11:31 NLT

D.R. Davis in his commentary on Joshua states, “Genuine faith never rests content with being convinced of the reality of God but presses on to take refuge in God.”

How will you be remembered?  Will people remember you by an occasional good deed or will you be remembered for your faith in God, your refuge?

Trains: First DCS Lesson

51j4po-rq1l._sx385_bo1,204,203,200_How many of us throw money at a problem in an effort to get it resolved?  I’ve been there and done that!  On this occasion surfing the Internet seemed to yield a solution to my problem. I  purchased a couple of highly recommended DCS (Digital Command System) resources. They were a DCS video from OGR (O gauge railroading) and a book, The DCS Companion.

The first lesson learned from these resources had to do with sound boards.  MTH (Mike’s Train House) locomotives are equipped with Protosound boards.  These enable features such as lights sounds and functions such as couplers and smoke.  I learned just because the box says “equipped with Protosound” it doesn’t mean it will work with the DCS system.  Only “Protosound 2” and “Protosound 3” sound boards are compatible.  So what I thought was a defective DCS system or damaged engines turned out to be a system incompatibility issue.

ogr-dcs-productThankfully, I can still use these engines but I will need to run them on a separate track not hooked up to DCS.

I have one engine with a Protosound 3 board in it.  It should have worked but it didn’t.  After consulting my resource materials again, I learned much of the trouble model train hobbyists have with DCS are bad batteries powering the Protosound boards.  My engine had been boxed up for at least 3 years.  I ran my Proto-3 engine around the track with DSC unhooked to charge the battery.  Magically, the DCS remote later found my engine and the DCS starting working.

*** Warning, while it is possible to charge a ProtoSound 3 sound board by running it on the track while trying to use DCS, DO NOT try to do this with ProtoSound 2 engines.  The battery in Proto-2 engines must be charged using a charger or replaced with a new battery before attempting to run the engine with DCS. ***

After charging the battery in my protosound-2 steam engine it, too, could be loaded into the DCS remote.  Now that I have two engines running DCS, the system is everything I imagined it would be.  I’m amazed at how slow I can make the engines crawl.  The sounds, lights, smoke come alive with the push of a button.  Having my couplers work by remote control will greatly enhance my plans to have an operating layout (being able to pick up and set out cars according to a train schedule).

 

Treats for Brody

img_0162It amazes me how treat oriented dogs are.  They will preform any task for the reward.  Brody is no exception.  Though we haven’t taught him a host of tricks, his go-to stunt is sitting up on his hind legs and dropping his front paws.  Perhaps he believes he’s too cute to resist (and he’s right).

At our house treats fall into two categories, “treats” and “chew-chews.”  The mere mention of the word “chew-chew” evokes mayhem.  Brody and Jake will go nuts for 1/2 a chicken substitute chew (comparable to rawhide but better for their digestive system).  For Brody, its barking and a classic pose. Jake spins round and round, joining in the chorus of barks.

As a pet owner I use this love for treats to my advantage whenever possible.  If our dog gets loose outside, I mention the word “treats” and abracadabra he comes back.  When we are in a hurry to leave the house and Jake goes into hiding, “treats” brings him out. After a long day at work and I simply want to collapse on the couch I have been known to utter the word “chew-chew.”  Jake and Brody’s pleas for attention evaporate and order is restored to the universe.

Digital Command System for Trains

IMG_0555Last month I attended a local model train show for some much needed inspiration.  I hadn’t touched my train layout for almost three years due to Mom’s declining health and dealing with her affairs following her death.

At the train show, watching what others had done to their layouts stirred a passion lying dormant inside me.  I spent the balance of December clearing the accumulation of boxes and other debris off my train layout.  Since I consider my layout under construction, I have little to show to company should they ask to see it.  I vowed to change that this year.

When I first set out to build my railroad empire I dreamed of having a DCS system (digital command system) to run my trains.  I wanted to be able to walk along side an engine pulling a string of cars as it visited various industries and control the action by remote control.  Additionally, with DCS installed I could run several trains at the same time on the same track.

Before I started laying track down on the benchwork, I researched the recommended method of wiring my layout should I happen to acquire a DCS system someday.  For the technically inclined this involved dividing up the track into blocks and insulating each block from the others.  Several blocks are grouped together into power districts.  Each power district is fed by a transformer.  It would take 3 transformers to power my layout.  Enough about wiring.

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This Christmas Santa brought me a DCS system.  Imagine my excitement as I rushed to the basement to hook it up.  (Yes, I was as giddy as a child.)  Over the years, I accumulated a number of steam and diesel engines sold by Mikes Train House (MTH).  I unboxed one of them and set it on the track. When I powered up the DCS system nothing happened!  I set another engine on the track, and then another, still no response.

Stay tuned…