Archive | June 2014

Clutch-starting My Car

Once again my thoughts are moving towards misuse. Last week’s column, Overextended, could be seen in the same light. This theme resonates so much with me because many of the difficulties people face are direct results of some misuse or overuse of a beneficial trait, gift, talent, or skill. How often do we implement emergency mechanisms into everyday use?
“Emergency Exit Only: Alarm will sound” is one example. The door is not to be used for regular entry and exit. But clutch -starting my car is a real life instance where I caused a several hundred dollar repair by not doing a $60 correction.
I had a 1976 Dodge Champ when I was in college. A gasket leak allowed oil to get into the starter. I changed the starter, but didn’t fix the leak. I probably didn’t feel like delaying the starter replacement job by going to get the gasket. So off I drove.
Yes, a couple of months later, the starter went out again. I had this bright idea. “I will just clutch -start the car. There are enough hills in Birmingham so I won’t have to push it very often.”
One day, it started and cut off after a couple of seconds. Again and again I did this. The jig was up.
I had to pay for a tow to the mechanic. He discovered I had ripped all of the teeth off of the timing belt. Now I had to pay for a starter, gasket, and timing belt job.
The moral of this story is, it is normally less costly to fix the initial problem than to find a way to avoid dealing with it.
Whatever isn’t functioning properly in your individual life or in your relationships, get it repaired, soon. Say, “I’m sorry” today, if you know you need to. Start working on the project today, rather than wait until its almost due. And by all means, don’t use clutch-starting in place of the designed method.

Losing Sight of the Goal

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were watching Family Feud. If you are familiar with the game, you will know that two teams, usually families, play survey answer puzzles to win the chance for the $20,000 Fast Money round. The winning family picks two players for the Fast Money round. The goal is to win the money.
On the show we were watching, the winning family chose a teenager as one of the bonus round players. This round is fast paced and takes fairly broad life experiences and fast thinking to win. To me, it seemed that a teenager would not be the best choice for a player.
I began to think that the family’s goal was for the teenager to have fun. But the goal is to win the $20,000. Needless to say, the family did quite poorly. I may be wrong, but I think they lost sight of the goal.
This reminded me of a couple of other glaring instances of losing sight of the goal.
I was enrolled at Brookes Bible College, early into my Biblical Counseling and Pastoral Care Certification. I was talking with my father about some difficulty I was experiencing with one of my professors. I thought he was wrong about some point he was pressing. My dad reminded me that the goal was to finish the courses and get my certification. The goal was not to prove my debating abilities.
I had lost sight of the goal.
The other instance was with a very smart man I worked with. He was looking for another job because he was too smart to work where we did. He told me about an interview he had with a company where he could practice his specialty. “Man, the guy interviewing me didn’t even know the job. I had to correct him a few times…” he told me.
He didn’t get the job. I told him that he had lost sight of the goal.
In relationships, most often the goal is to have loving, or at least peaceful communion. Needing to be right about everything is a sign one has lost sight of the goal.
Most of us can think of at least one time where we missed out on a great opportunity because we lost sight of the goal.


I thought seriously about titling this column “Too Far From Home” or “Too Far From the Body .” The subject will fit in those contexts, too.
One of my responsibilities at work is to write out crane lift permits. I have to review the crane capacities, the weight of the load, height of the lift, etc. Sounds simple enough, but certain variables, such as the angle of the lift and the center of gravity of the load, will significantly reduce the crane’s strength and cause it to lose balance.
What really brought this home to me was setting up a lift using a 28 ton crane. Under the most extreme conditions, a crane that can ideally handle 56,000 pounds will only safely lift 4,350 pounds – roughly a 92% decrease in strength.
What is the situation which causes this decrease? When the boom is extended as far as it can go away from the crane. The best practice is to keep the load as close to the crane as possible.
The same principle can apply in our lives in at least two ways. First, the further we reach away from our bodies, the less strength we have. We can create some serious disadvantages in our lives when we reach beyond our intended scope.
The second context is when we physically stray too far from our base of strength. Most of us can see this in our relationship to God or the Church. When we get too far from the body, our strength is diminished. The same can hold true for our family morals and ethics. When we get too far from “the way we were reared” we find ourselves unable to bear some of the loads we pick up.
We can become spiritually, emotionally, or even physically weakened by overreaching. There is a good reason some things are out of reach. As well, we are not designed to lift some loads.

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