Friday, November 26, 2010

David's Digest: Faithful Friend

I wrote the following some time ago, in light of some things I noticed with Gary, our gander. Well, for some reason I never decided to put it out at the time, but later thought that I might if Gary ever died. Well, you can guess then why I'm posting it now. Yes, Gary died yesterday, which interestingly was one day short of being two years to the day (which is today) since I started writing the post below. He had some kind of sickness over the last month or more: he had some fluid in his lungs; he just generally slowed down; and in the end, he didn't really seem to be eating, and was very weak. His lungs seemed to get clearer over this last week, but whatever it was apparently was just too much for him, or was terminal.

I am thankful for the fun and brightness Gary brought during these first years of our homesteading, and thanks to the Bunkers for letting us have him. I'm also thankful that Sue and I were able to be back from a few-day anniversary trip to be here when he died, and that he wasn't a burden to those watching our place while we were gone. And I'm thankful I was right next to him when he took his last breath, and that he didn't seem to suffer.

Even though at the time I wrote the below post he was still hanging around me, he did eventually prefer Gigi over me (good call, Gary!); so I'm glad he had a goose mate for the final chapter of his life. Thanks again to Mrs. Judy for giving Gigi to us.

The Lord has graciously begun to grant me a better perspective regarding affections toward animals. I am sad and will miss having Gary around, and he will be fond in my memories; but I am thankful the Lord granted some time with the farm animal "character" that was Gary.

Gary the Gander and Me Fireside


If you have been following this blog at all, you will know about Gary the goose (or really, Gary the gander, as we've since learned). When I introduced him on this blog, he evidenced an interestingly loyal dedication to whom he considered his "mate," which since we brought him up to our land has been me. Even after introducing a female of his own kind to him, he has resisted leaving my side.

While he has some often interfering quirks (like "Gary vs. the Bucket" shown in his introduction post above), this type of latching on, even to a human, is apparently a common characteristic of geese; but it has also offered me an opportunity to observe fierce loyalty. No matter where I go, generally, he follows. If I leave the land in the car, he will walk up and follow the fence line to, what appears to be, stay in visual contact. If we are separated for a brief time across a field, if he feels it is time for him to come beside me, he runs up to do so.

In the past, my friendships have usually been about myself and how they benefited me, even if it was just to feel a sense of friendship. In community here, I pray my friendship is not that, and more in line with being a brother to the others.

But perhaps, I can take a few lessons from Gary in his devotion to, what seems to be, the object of his affection (so to speak). I would like to chase after Christ the way Gary runs up to me when he might first see me. I would like to follow Christ as persistently and as consistently as Gary follows me around. I would like to befriend Christ and His brethren here on earth in the way Gary stays with me wherever I go.

Here are a couple of places where the Bible describes spiritual friendship. I've included the Puritan expositor John Gill's comments on these verses:

Prov 17:17 - "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
A friend loveth at all times,.... A true, hearty, faithful friend, loves in times of adversity as well as in times of prosperity: there are many that are friends to persons, while they are in affluent circumstances; but when there is a change in their condition, and they are stripped of all riches and substance; then their friends forsake them, and stand at a distance from them; as was the case of Job, Job 19:14; it is a very rare thing to find a friend that is a constant lover, such an one as here described;

and a brother is born for adversity; for a time of adversity, as Jarchi [says]: he is born into the world for this purpose; to sympathize with his brother in distress, to relieve him, comfort and support him; and if he does not do this, when it is in his power to do it, he does not answer the end of his being born into the world. ... [T]his may be understood of the same person who is the friend; he is a brother, and acts the part of one in a time of adversity, for which he is born and brought into the world; it being so ordered by divine Providence, that a man should have a friend born against the time he stands in need of him. To no one person can all this be applied with so much truth and exactness as to our Lord Jesus Christ; he is a "friend", not of angels only, but of men; more especially of his church and people; of sinful men, of publicans and sinners; as appears by his calling them to repentance, by his receiving them, and by his coming into the world to save them: he "loves" them, and loves them constantly; he loved them before time; so early were they on his heart and in his book of life; so early was he the surety of them, and the covenant of grace made with him; and their persons and grace put into his hands, which he took the care of: he loved them in time, and before time began with them; thus they were preserved in him, when they fell in Adam; were redeemed by his precious blood, when as yet they were not in being, at least many of them: he loves them as soon as time begins with them, as soon as born; though impure by their first birth, transgressors from the womb, enemies and enmity itself unto him; he waits to be gracious to them, and sends his Gospel and his Spirit to find them out and call them: and he continues to love them after conversion; in times of backsliding; in times of desertion; in times of temptation, and in times of affliction: he loves them indeed to the end of time, and to all eternity; nor is there a moment of time to be fixed upon, in which he does not love them. And he is a "brother" to his people; through his incarnation, he is a partaker of the same flesh and blood with them; and through their adoption, they having one and the same Father; nor is he ashamed to own the relation; and he has all the freedom, affection, compassion, and condescension, of a brother in him: and now he is a brother "born"; see Isa 9:6; born of a woman, a virgin, at Bethlehem, in the fulness of time, for and on the behalf of his people; even "for adversity"; to bear and endure adversity himself, which he did, by coming into a state of meanness and poverty; through the reproaches and persecutions of men, the temptations of Satan, the ill usage of his own disciples, the desertion of his father, the strokes of justice, and the sufferings of death; also for the adversity of his people, to sympathize with them, bear them up under it, and deliver them out of it. ...

Prov 18:24 - "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
A man [that hath] friends must show himself friendly,.... Friendship ought to be mutual and reciprocal, as between David and Jonathan; a man that receives friendship ought to return it, or otherwise he is guilty of great ingratitude. This may be spiritually applied; a believer is "a man of friends", as it may be rendered; he has many friends: God is his friend, as appears by his early love to him, his choice of him, and provisions of grace for him; by sending his son to save him; by visiting him, not only in a way of providence, but of grace; by disclosing his secrets, showing his covenant to him, and by making him his heir, and a joint heir with Christ. Christ is his friend, as is evident from his visiting him at his incarnation; and in a spiritual way, by the communication of his secrets to him; by his hearty counsel and faithful reproofs; by his undertaking and doing for him what he has; and especially by suffering and dying in his room and stead. The Holy Spirit is his friend, which he has shown by discovering to him his woeful estate by nature, and the way of salvation by Christ; by working all his works in him; by acting the part of a Comforter to him; by revealing divine things to him, by helping him under all his infirmities; by making intercession for him according to the will of God; and by making him meet for eternal glory and happiness: angels are his friends, as is plain by their well pleasedness with the incarnation of Christ for men; and which they express at their conversion; by their ministering to them, their protection of them, and the good offices they do them both in life and at death; and saints are friends to one another: and such should show themselves friendly to God, their covenant God and Father; by frequently visiting him at the throne of grace; by trusting in him; by a carefulness not to offend, but please him; and by a close and faithful adherence to his cause and interest: to Jesus Christ their Redeemer, by a ready obedience to his commands; by owning and using him as their friend; by taking notice of his friends, and showing them respect, his ministers and poor saints; by cleaving to him, and renouncing the friendship of his enemies: and likewise to the Holy Spirit, by not grieving, quenching, and despising him; but by making use of him, and giving up themselves to his influence and direction; and by acknowledging him as the author of all their grace: also to angels, by speaking well of them, owning their good offices, and reckoning it an honour that they are come and joined to such a company; and to the saints, by Christian conversation with them, by sympathizing with them in all conditions, by hearty counsel, faithful reproofs and admonitions, and by helping them in every distress, inward and outward;

and there is a friend [that] sticketh closer than a brother; who is to a man as his own soul, De 13:6; and so are of one heart and soul, as Jonathan and David, and the first Christians, were; this is true of Christ, and may be expressive of the close union between him and his people; and of his close adherence to their cause and interest; and of his constancy and continuance as a friend at all times; and of his faithfulness and unchangeableness as such ...

To me, Gary exemplifies an interesting example of faithfulness and friendship: In a way, I would like to have that which he shows to me toward Christ Jesus. I pray for God's graces in faithfulness and friendship to Him and His family.

-- David

Friday, November 19, 2010

A House - Update VII - Floored

With the foundation beams up, it was time to start on the floor.

Floor Joists

Given the approximately 8 foot spans, I chose to go with 2x8s for the floor joists, which I planned to overlap on each beam, spaced 16 inches on center. (I had originally thought I would need the entire piers under the floor; but in looking back, given there is planned to be a porch, I probably would have brought the ends of the floor to sit right on the beams.)

I started with the ends, which I decided to double because they were going to support the gabled walls; and I staggered them, similarly to the built-up beams. Also, since I would be overlapping the joists as they crossed the beams, this would offset the joists 1 1/2 inches off from the 16 inch on center layout, which would cause problems with being able to lay the subfloor down evenly centered on joists. However, having these end joists doubled would allow for shifting the subfloor boards to once again end up sitting evenly centered on the joists. The final subfloor board in a course would end up 1 1/2 inches off the end, which I would cut off and put back on the other side, which had been shifted 1 1/2 inches away from the end:

House Floor Outer Joists

After putting them up on both sides, I ran a header string from each built-up joist...

House Floor Outer Joists with Header String

...which would be used to line up the internal joists with each other:

Floor Joist Lined Up with Header String

Once a joist was in place, I toe-nailed it to the beam....

Toe-Nailing Floor Joist with Nail Gun

And finished them by hammering them in further. Being right-handed, it was fun to learn and practice hammering with my left hand:

Hammering In Floor Joist Toe-Nails

And here is one side of the joists all set in a line:

Joists Lined Up with Header String

This is the overlapping of the joists. With any warped boards, I would sometimes have to clamp them together to be able to nail them together properly:

Nailing Together Overlapping Joists

I added spacers between the joists to straighten them and give the overall floor more stability. Also, I put them on the beams, again, for more stability:

Spacers Between Floor Joists

After getting the joists in place, I added the header boards:

Floor Joists Header

Because we are planning on having an inner wall down the middle of the house, and the middle of the house is in between two beams, on every other joist on the middle row of joists, I doubled the joists to give extra support to that wall. I doubled joists for another inner wall that's to run parallel with the joists; and in this picture, I added several doubled joists in a row, which is where we are planning to put our wood burning stove:

Double Floor Joists for Extra Support

To help against wind lift and to better secure the joists to the foundation, I attached each joist where it crossed each beam with hurricane clips:

Hurricane Clips Connecting Floor Joist to Foundation Beam

And here are the joists completed...

Middle of Completed Floor Joists

...facing South...

Full Picture of Completed Floor Joists Facing South

...and facing West:

Full Picture of Completed Floor Joists Facing West


For this, I chose 3/4 inch tongue and groove plywood; the tongues and grooves fit together to make the places where the boards span floor joists much more stable. I also heard it was good to glue them to the joists and use screws, so I used external Liquid Nails for the glue and 3 inch deck screws to secure them, placing screws 8 inches apart on the board edges and 1 foot apart at the internal points on the joists. The board would be fastened down short end to short end across the whole platform, making a "course"; and each course would be staggered from the previous one by half the board.

When I first started, I didn't really think through which long end type I should place against the first outside corner, the tongue side or groove side of the board. Well, I chose groove side, because it didn't seem right to use the tongues side. Well, this stroke of genius started me on a path where with each subsequent course I was trying to fit the groove into the tongue. Needless to say, it was quite difficult, although I finally did get into a pattern where I'd loosen the screws next to the tongue of the previous course and use the mini-sledge hammer to knock them up and loose from the glue so they would flex better when I was trying to slide the groove onto the tongue. I also learned to clean out the groove and clean the tongue so nothing was in the way of them coupling. All of this worked ok until I learned from those much smarter than me at Ranchfest that you could hit a board against the opposite site to force the tongue and groove together. I thought I had tried it before; but when I tried it again after Ranchfest, it worked great. Of course, by then I only had about a course and a half left. :)

At any rate, given how long it took to get the floor on, I figured it was going to be a while before the house is dried in, so we painted the subfloor with water sealer, tinted cedar color (just to make it darker as a personal preference). Notice the stagger pattern of the boards from course to course:

Painting Subfloor with Water Sealer

Here is a course where the boards were shifted 1 1/2 inches to accommodate the overlapping of the floor joists, and I cut off the other overhanging end of the last board of this course and brought it over to this end to fill in the gap:

Subfloor Offset Fill Piece

And here is the platform finished. Thanks to Sue for all of her helping me get the boards in place, and for painting the rest of the floor and repainting my terrible painting job!

Completed Subfloor Facing Southwest
Completed Subfloor Facing West

Even though it took several months, it's finally done; and we thank the Lord for the continued progress on the house.

-- David

Thursday, November 4, 2010

David's Digest: Walmart-Jireh

Webster's 1828 dictionary defines the word "provider" in the following way:

PROVI'DER, n. One who provides, furnishes or supplies; one that procures what is wanted.

I'd like to ask a few questions:

Who or what is the provider of your water? If you pay to get your water piped into your house, the company that does that is your provider.

Who or what is the provider of your food? If you go to a grocery store, the grocery store is (along with every part of the chain involved in getting it there).

Who or what is the provider of your clothing? If you get it from a retail store, the store and the manufacturers are.

I could go on; but if you're paying someone or some entity for you to have the necessities of life, then by the definition above, they are your provider.

If you've placed a middle man between you and God's direct provisions, then in reality you no longer look to God for His providence -- you look to the middle man. Don't believe that? If your water stopped flowing from the faucet in your house, what would you do? You'd call the water company -- your water provider. If you would starve without the nearest grocery store having food to buy, then it is your provider.

To whom you look for your life provisions, they are your provider.

Gen 22:13-14 - "13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh [the Lord will see/provide]: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen." (see John Gill's commentary on vs. 14)

God provided the ram for the sacrifice, and we are to look to Him alone as our provider.

Spiritual Provisions

God providing temporily is really a "type" of His spiritual provisions (we eat bread -- He is the bread of life (John 6:35); we drink water -- He gives the water of life (John 4:14); etc.) In the same way God provided the ram above (also as a type), He provided a Sacrifice, a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, for His people; and we are to look to Him alone for salvation.

Further, God is the only source for all other spiritual provisions, such as spiritual graces, as the heart of man is desperately wicked; and everyone is dead in their sins until God, by His own sovereign will, graces and mercies, breathes new life into them. Did you conjure up your own free-will faith to believe in God, and that's why He saved you? Then YOU were the provider of your faith (and thus your salvation??!!) Do you pull yourself up by your bootstraps, have "power thoughts" for courage and strength, and declare you're going to be meek and humble and not let the things of life get you down? Then YOU are the provider of your Christian graces.

The Bible says otherwise, and prevents any man from boasting of providing his own faith and spiritual graces.

And so, in the end, who is your provider?

-- David