Reawakening Manners and Morality in Men

Troubleshooting a Car That Refuses to Start

Car

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Nick LaPrell from Familyautoguide.com who is doing a series of posts for Godly Gentleman on the basics of vehicle maintenance.

Here is a scenario that has played out in virtually all men’s lives: You’re running late for work, you get into the car, turn the key… And nothing happens. Or even worse, you get out of a movie with your date, ready to go for coffee, you turn the key and. ErrrRRrrrRrrrRrrrrrr. You can’t just call AAA, you have to at least pop the hood and move a few things around. But it is all so foreign (figuratively AND literally). Maybe tighten a wire? There are so many. Perhaps you can check the oil, get a little grease on your hands, and convince your girl that you tried all of the reasonable options before breaking down and calling a tow truck.

Sometimes hiring a mechanic is going to be unavoidable. Other times, hiring a mechanic means paying for a tow, diagnostic, labor, and overpriced parts for a job that might have taken as little as 5 minutes. Knowing how to assess the problem yourself might not keep your car out of the shop, but it will keep you from being taken advantage of or over paying for simple work.

One of the more common car problems is a failure for the engine to start. There are probably near a hundred reasons a vehicle won’t start, but only a handful are common, so we’ll focus on those. As with any car trouble, see if there is an engine code first. If the check engine light is on, rent an ODBII diagnostic device from your local parts store and run a Google search on the make and model of your vehicle along with any codes it throws. This can save a great deal of time troubleshooting the issue and bring up some good articles on the Internet about how to proceed. If you are a techno geek, you can get a cheap blue tooth adapter that connects to your OBDII port and lets your Android or iPhone device read and clear trouble codes (yes, this is on my shopping list).

If there is no code, or you are unable to check for it, there are several other things you can check manually. Be sure to pick up a repair manual for your vehicle from the local shop. They run about $25 and are well worth it. This will come in handy for specific test procedures and component locations. All cars have three key systems to get the engine going. Each system should be tested in order:

Starting System

The starting circuitry of your car may be advanced, but thankfully, it is a rare occasion that faulty wires keep your car from starting. A failure of the starting system typically manifests as nothing happening when you turn the key, or often a clicking sound. First most common cause is a dead battery. Did you leave your lights on? Is the battery more than three years old (two years out here in the Arizona heat)?

The first thing to try in this scenario is to jump start the car. Always keep a set of jumper cables with you for a quick resolution, or use a jump start kit if you have 20 – 30 minutes to wait. Follow the instructions included with either and try to start your car.

If this fails, the fix will not be quick, but may still be easy. Disconnect the battery and bring it in to an automotive shop for testing. If it is dead, but still holds a charge after re-charging, your alternator may be bad. If the car starts again with the new charged battery, drive the vehicle into the automotive store and have them test the charging system (this is usually free). If the car still does not start, the most likely cause is the starter or starter solenoid (they usually come together as a single unit). This can be removed and also tested for free before you commit to buying a new one.

Spark

The next think the engine needs to run is a spark to ignite the fuel vapors. The quickest way to test this is by removing the closest spark plug, plug it into the wire, touch the plug to the engine block, and have someone try to start the car. If you see a nice bright blue spark, the system is fine. If not, remove the spark plug from the wire, hold the wire about シ inch from the engine block and try to start it. If you now see a spark, the spark plugs are worn or dirty and need to be cleaned or replaced.

If you still get no spark, you will need to work your way down the system. Open up the distributor cap (usually just a couple of screws or clamps) right where all of the spark plug wires connect. If there is any moisture, dry it out (and buy a new distributor cap). If all looks well, the next suspect is the ignition coil. This can be tested with a cheap ohmmeter as indicated in your repair manual and is easier than it sounds.

Fuel The final component to make the engine go is fuel. Relieve any fuel pressure as instructed in your repair manual and connect a fuel pressure gage (about $30 at the parts store) where the fuel line goes into the engine. This will usually be a thick line that comes from under the car and not the lighter weight hose that comes out of engine at the fuel rail and into other parts (this is the fuel vapor line). When you turn the key into the accessory position, the fuel should pressurize and register on the gage. Attempt to start the engine. The gage should register anywhere between 30 and 50 psi. If not, fuel is not making it into the engine. An alternative method is to pull the fuel hose and place it in a jar while someone attempts to start the car for about 1 second. This is risky as the fuel should come out pretty fast. Use caution and eye protection and be sure to have a proper fire extinguisher handy if you try it.

At this point, you want to hope it is a much cheaper electrical problem. Open up the fuse/relay box (usually near the battery). The relays should be labeled. You are most interested in the one marked as the fuel pump relay and the ASD (automatic Shut Down). If either of these are bad, you will get no fuel pressure. You can test them with an ohmmeter as instructed in your manual. If you have other relays with the same serial number on them, try swapping them out. (For example, if you know the horn is working and it has the same number, switch it with the ADS and/or fuel pump relay and see if the car starts).

If fuel is still not making it to the engine, either the fuel filter is clogged, or the fuel pump is not working right. The fuel filter is MUCH cheaper than the pump, but both are equally difficult to reach in most new vehicles, requiring the gas tank to be lowered or removed. If you feel up to it, try the fuel filter first (about $10 – $30) and the fuel pump next (around $250). Always replace the fuel filter when replacing the fuel pump. For my 99 Dodge minivan, it took about 3 hours on my own. Getting the gas tank back is a lot easier if you have help. You should also drain the tank first with a siphon from an automotive shop (for the purposes of this article, a tube and your mouth are NOT considered a siphon).

In Summary

Hopefully your diagnosis was done several paragraphs back, but if not, now is the time to call in a mechanic. There are several other less common problems that can cause the engine not to start, and a mechanic will be better able to figure it out quickly. If you need to have your vehicle towed, check your local shops for discounts that you may get for having them do the repair work. If you don’t have a mechanic, ask for referrals from friends.

Remember that your time is valuable too. Some repairs become cost ineffective when you factor in the amount of time you are spending doing the diagnosis and work. You can save a great deal of money doing your own work, but some jobs are best left to the professionals.

A Gentleman’s Guide to E-Mail

E-Mail
For many men, email is a daily part of life, both at work and at home.  Some men take their email with them everywhere they go on smart phones, and are literally able to send emails at a moments notice, anywhere, at any time, about anything.  While most men revel in the swiftness that these communications can take place, there are certain challenges in using email as a primary means of communication.  What distinguishes the gentleman from the ordinary man is his ability to retain all social graces in his swift communications.Confidential?
Whenever you send an email, be careful with what you say, even more careful that if you had written a note by hand.  Any thought, sentiment, feeling, idea, or whatever else you sent in confidence can be all too easily forwarded to dozens, or even hundreds, of people.  Before hitting the send button, reread your email and make necessary edits.  Be sure that the recipient will know precisely what you are saying, and the tone with which you are saying it.

Emotionless?

Since email lacks the non-verbal subtleties of a face to face conversation, emails must be carefully constructed to convey the proper emotion.  Sarcasm, for example, is often lost in emails.

Emotional?

While emotion does not convey well in an email, drunkenness, anger, and irrationalityconvey very well, and not in a good way.  Before sitting down to write an email, you must be calm, articulate, and absolutely sober.  Never type an email while in any other state.  You angry drunken ranting lunacy will be forwarded to everybody.  Your follow up apology email the next day will not be.  If you are writing an angry email, let it sit in your draft box for a day, then re-evaluate it.  This will give you a chance to re-read, re-think, re-write, or just simply delete it as necessary.

Timing

While some people respond to all emails within mere seconds of receiving them, this is not necessary.  You do not need to be available at a moments notice in most of life’s occupations and situations.  Do not answer emails in the middle of conversations, private dinners, movies, important meetings, or anywhere else where you know that your attention is requested and required at the task at hand.  No email is ever important enough to be received or replied to while in a moving vehicle, especially if you are the driver.  Likewise, do not expect instantaneous responses from people via email.

Subject Line

The subject line should be as informative as it is brief.  A simple phrase or short sentence is all that is required.  The subject line is akin to a thesis statement, only shorter.

Beginnings

Personal emails should always begin with “Dear Crystal,” rather than “Hi Crystal,” or simply “Crystal,” or “Hey.”  Business emails may be less formal, but the recipients should still be addressed by name.  All emails should contain some form of greeting, instead of diving right into the meat of the text.

Endings

Every email you send should end with a closing, so there is no doubt that the bottom of the email has been reached.  The greeting can be as formal as a “Sincerely, Christian” or as informal as an XOXOXO exchanged between lovers, but there should be a closure.  In business settings, a simple “Thank You” will suffice in most situations.

CAPS LOCK!!!!!

Using multiple exclamation points or all capitol letters are the internet age equivalent of screaming at the top of your lungs.  You should not, under any circumstances, scream at another human being, even via email.

Scope

Use the “Reply To All” button sparingly, if at all.  Invariably, whenever the company sends out a mass email reminding everybody to get their TPS Reports in on time, one idiot will reply to all 5000 employees that he in fact got his done on Tuesday.   The only time to use reply all is if you are responding with vital information that everybody on the list needs to know.  Do not carry on a conversation via email using the “reply all” button.

Grammar

Proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling should beused at all times.  Do not rely on your spell checker.  There are too many words that will auto correct incorrectly.  Do not use text message abbreviations.  Do not rely on a thesaurus.  The word you have to look up is the wrong word.  If you can only define a word by looking it up in a dictionary, you may not use that word in your communication until you have added it to your vocabulary.  If you work in an acronym heavy field like the military or information technology, define your acronyms.  Also, no emoticons.Email Shield

Never say something in an email that you are unwilling or unable to say in person.  Never fire somebody, or break up with somebody with an email.  Some conversations were meant to be held in person, and emotionally charged conversations do not translate well into emails.  A gentleman does not hide behind a computer screen.These rules should serve as a guideline for effective email communication, but they are by no means a comprehensive list.  If you want something even simpler, remember this;  Jesus himself commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  This applies to email as well.  Email others as you would have them email you.  Good email etiquette really is that simple.

A Brief History of the Amateur Mechanic

Mechanic

I am one of those guys who does not feel comfortable driving a vehicle who’s operation I do not at least vaguely understand. I am no mechanic, but I like to do as much maintenance and repair work as I can to save money, as well as to earn man points (I like to recount my repair projects, but usually leave out the time spent studying the manual and searching Google). I know several guys who’s understanding of their vehicle is limited to “I turn the key and it goes.” These guys are at the mercy of mechanics who charge up to $120 an hour for labor and admittedly mark up parts by at least 10%.

I am not suggesting you must do all of your own work and maintenance, but I do believe that a failure to understand the basic operation and maintenance of your vehicle will cost you. The operation manual for the 1922 Ford Model-T has this in the forward:

But while it is not imperative, it is, however, altogether desirable that every Ford owner should thoroughly understand his car. With such knowledge at his command he is always master of the situation—he will maintain his car more economically—prolong its usefulness and he will also derive more pleasure from it, for it is a truism that the more one knows about a thing the more one enjoys it.

The entire operation manual is written under the expectation that the driver will know the ins and outs of the vehicle and maintain it himself. What may not be readily apparent is how much more complex this was in the 1920′s.

Operation of the Model-T

While little has changed mechanically over the last 90 years, the actual operation is much less complex today. Here are the basic steps the regular Joe followed to get from A to B in his shiny new Model-T:

· Check oil, fuel, and water levels (every time it is driven)
· Open the throttle control knob about three quarters.
· Advance the spark control knob one notch from max.
· Pull the hand lever all the way back.
· Put the key in the ignition.
· Turn the hand crank towards the car until you hear it engage (don’t do this too fast or it will kick back and hurt you).
· Lift the crank quickly to start the motor (this may take a few tries, especially in hot or cold weather).
· Turn the ignition switch on (select the magneto (called an alternator today) instead of the battery).
· Adjust the spark control knob until the engine revs the fastest, but retard it if the engine starts to knock.
· Hold the clutch pedal half way in (neutral) and engage the hand lever forward.
· Push the clutch pedal all the way in (slow speed) to get the car moving.
· Once momentum is gained, let the clutch out completely (high speed).
· To stop, push the clutch to the middle position, and apply the foot brake. Pull the hand lever all the way back and let off the clutch (the far back position engages brakes).
· To reverse, come to a complete stop and pull the hand brake almost all the way back. Press on the reverse peddle.

There you have it. We haven’t even addressed the routine maintenance, for what Ford called the simplest car ever designed. Maintenance was to be done by the owner and included:

· Checking all fluid levels before operation
· Lubricating the vehicle every 2 – 3 days.
· Regular inspection of the running gear.
· Checking for play in the wheels.
· Re-tightening ALL nuts and bolts.
· Grinding the values when they get dirty.
· Cleaning the spark plugs.
· Adjusting crank shaft bearings.
· And on and on…

If you are one of those guys that finds basic maintenance to be a nuisance, bear in mind that men of your same stature 90 years ago did their own valve jobs and engine rebuilds and considered it maintenance.

Today, controls are different and simpler. Parts last longer and there is less to maintain. The computer scares many of us (myself included), but all the computer does is puts a sensor on each of the various parts to help you diagnose a problem. Our vehicles are easy to understand and diagnose.

Here is your assignment: Go purchase the repair manual for your vehicle. They run about $25 and will save you more than that after your first minor repair project. Read the first chapter in the manual. This goes over basic maintenance that will, at the very least, save some of your money from the mechanic. I am not suggesting that you learn to rebuild your transmission, nor am I suggesting you have to change your own oil (it doesn’t actually save you much money to do this). What I am suggesting is that next time your battery goes dead, you don’t pay for a tow to the shop, diagnostics fees, and a marked up battery. And when you do choose to use a mechanic, you won’t find yourself paying to have blinker fluid added or the whackadewy tightened.

The Code of the West

Cowboys

The Code of the West is not a set of rules. Rules can be broken. There are not enough rules in the world to make people do what is right. The Code of the West is a set of principles, which speak to the character of the man who owns them. They cannot be broken.  Therein lies the difference between rules and principles.  Rules define what you do, whereas principles define who you are.

Here are the principles that defined life on the open range.  I challenge any man to find at least one of these that needs some improvement in his life, and then work on improving it.

Live each day with courage

Courage was not something spoken about amongst cowboys except to notice its absence.  Courage was a job requirement when dialy facing stampedes, quicksand, indians, blizzards, bandits and herds of cattle that weigh over a ton a head.  A cowboy without courage would not be a cowboy for long.  His hesitation and fear could cost those he rode with their lives and he would not long find himself employed.  A cowboy is said to be “a man with courage and a horse,” and the virtues of fortitude and courage were as basic a requirement as breathing and having a pulse in order to do their jobs.

Modern application of the code:  Having courage is not just jumping into a pool to save someone’s life.  It is also being willing to speak up and say that something isn’t right, even against your friends, colleagues, partners, and bosses.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. ~1 Corinthians 16:13

Take pride in your work

Cowboys did not see themselves as simply  hired hands, but thought of themselves as knights of the planes sitting tall in their saddles.  Their pride growing from their skills in riding and roping, their capacity for hard work and their indifference to danger or hard living on the range.  Cowboys certainly did not enjoy all aspects of their job, but they did everything to the best of their abilities.  Digging fence posts is not glamorous work and no cowboy ever enjoyed it, but they all did it.  They dug deep and straight so that the fence was solid and straight, they took pride in riding by the fence the next time through and thinking “I built that.”

Modern application of the code: There are a great many jobs that nobody enjoys doing, but still need to be done.  If you sweep the floor, do it so that it shines.  If you flip burgers, cook them in such a way that you would enjoy eating them.  Whatever you do, do it well.  If it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing it right.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving. ~ Colossians 3:23-24

Always finish what you start

If a cowboy signed on for a ride or a season, you knew that he would see it through to the end.  Cowboys hated quitters, whiners, and complainers.  In the movie Red River some cowboys have to make a hard journey that is known to be perilous, and John Wayne delivers a speech at the onset of the ride.  “Nobody has to come along.  We’ll still have a job for you when we get back.  But remember this: Every man who signs on for the drive agrees to finish it.  There’ll be no quitting along the way ~ not by me, not by you.”

Modern application of the code: If you begin a job, finish it.  If you start a project, see it through to the end.  Whatever it is that currently has your attention, stay the course.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  ~2 Timothy 4:7

Do what has to be done

Cowboys stand up for what is right.  They deal with injustice and exact retribution when due.  To do anything less would be down right uncivil.  A cowboy was honor bound to do the right thing, even when the odds were stacked against him.  The test of a cowboy’s honor was in how much he would risk to keep it untarnished.  Standing up for the little guy, or just for the principles in which he believes are stock and trade for a cowboy.

Modern application of the code:  Every boy growing up dreams of being a hero, and standing up for truth and justice, but somewhere along the way we lose the action that goes along with the ideal.  Have you ever witnessed an accident where everybody is just standing around and nobody called 911?  Dozens of observers all assumed somebody else was doing it, and it didn’t happen.  Has the phrase “somebody should do something about that” ever crossed your mind?  Take personal responsibility for your life and the lives of others around you.  Do not merely strive to not be a part of the problem but actively seek to be a part of the solution, wherever you find yourself.  Help your neighbors with their groceries, do good deeds, leave the campsite cleaner than when you got there.  Make a positive impact on every life you touch.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. ~ Galatians 6:9

Be tough, but fair

The toughness of a cowboy is not to be disputed.  They are depicted as hard men, tough as nail in all modern media both print and on screen.  They had to be to survive hard times, hard lands, and the many aspects of their job that wanted to kill them; beasts, bandits, Indians, and the like.  The cowboys toughness, while legendary, was also tempered by his fairness.  Cowboys would share their last scraps of food with a stranger before turning them away, and would not cheat in business dealings.  Every cowboy had a turn at being down on his luck and in need of assistance from someone, and they in turn would not fail to help someone in need.

Modern application of the code:  The golden rule used to be a way of life, but has been regulated to nothing more than a Sunday School teaching for suckers.  It needs to be the very core of your moral compass if you truly want to be known as fair in your dealings.  It is simple to apply.  In any situation you can simply ask yourself “How would I want to be treated?” and this should provide you an excellent guide to what is a fair deal.  This can be applied to dealing with customers, business partners, spouses, children and strangers alike.  If you truly treat others the way you want to be treated yourself, you will find that you strike a “square deal” much more easily.

“So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 7:12

When you make a promise, keep it

Cowboys come from a time when a handshake was a binding contract between men, and reneging on a debt was unheard of.  No man would ride with a cowboy that couldn’t be trusted.  They came from a time when honor was a key to life, and failing to keep your word was akin to lying and cheating, both hangable offences on the open range.  If a cowboy said he’d do a thing, then there was no question that he would.

Modern application of the code:  The code is simple, only make promises that you can and will keep.  The trick is not in keeping promises, but in taking more care with what you promise.  Do not promise things that are out of your control.  This applies especially to your children, and spouse, but equally so to business partners.  Only make promises that you can keep, and then be sure to keep them.  We need to turn away from our legalistic, 1,000 page binding contracts and get back to a time when men would shake hands and mean it.

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your “No,’ ‘No.’ ~ Matthew 5:37

Ride for the brand

Once a cowboy signed on with an outfit, he was obliged to put its needs before his own.  Loyalty was forged quickly among men that needed each other for survival on the open range.  This loyalty was not a blind unquestioning allegiance to the boss simply because he was the one that paid them, but was given only if deserved and returned.

Modern application of the code:  Be loyal to your outfit.  If you hire on at a job, do not badmouth them on facebook.  If they are not worthy of your loyalty, find another place to earn your keep.  Be loyal to your family.  So many men today speak poorly of their wives and complain about their kids with their friends.  If you cannot say good things about them, then keep your mouth shut.  You would punch another man for disrespecting your wife, you should hold yourself to an equally high standard.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. ~ Proverbs 18:24

Talk less and say more

Cowboys are often viewed as men of little words, the strong silent type.  It might have been the isolation of his work, or the grandeur of a life in open places beneath a big sky that rendered small talk useless, but cowboys were doers, not talkers.  Cowboys often said what needed to be said,  and they were straight to the point about it.  They understood the importance of words and used them with great care.  Many cowboys were uneducated and thus not bound by the rules of grammar or polite discourse, but instead pulled their words from their experience, giving them powerful imagery and a blunt directness in their conversations.

Modern application of the code:  If something you said can be interpreted in more than one way, you didn’t say it clearly enough.  Say what you mean, avoid ambiguity, and mean what you say.  If you find yourself talking more than listening in any conversation, you need to practice this principle more.

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. ~ Proverbs 10:19

Remember that some things aren’t for sale

Often the best things in life are not things, and there are things that money cannot and should not buy.  Many of the previous aspects of the code are things a cowboys would not compromise for money; honor, integrity, pride, or his word.  Many a cowboy lost everything of material value in order to keep a firm grip on the things that truly mattered to them.

Modern application of the code: If you have to sell your principals as part of a deal, you made a very bad bargain.  Know what you believe in, then stand up for those things.  Like the mastercard commercials often tell us, there are some things that that money can’t buy.  Figure out what matters to you more than money, then be sure not to sell them.

The righteous who walks in his integrity – blessed are his children after him!  Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright. ~ Proverbs 20:7,11

Know where to draw the line

A cowboy knew his principles and would not cross them.  He knew where to draw the line.  This aspect of the code is simply a reminder that there is a code, and that it matters.

Modern application of the code:
If you have a code, be it the Code of the West or something of your own creation, live by it.  Draw the hard line, and do not cross it.

Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall. ~ Proverbs 28:18

Further study can be done with the excellent books by James P. Owen titled Cowboy Ethics, Cowboy Wisdom, and Cowboy Values. They are excellent resources, can each be read in a short sitting, and have amazing photography. They make great conversation starters if left on a coffee table, and I have referenced them more than a few times over the years.

Surviving Undulation – Recognizing Peaks and Valleys

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines undulation in these simple terms, a rising and falling in waves.  Undulation occurs in many mediums, including life itself.  Your moods, feelings, spirituality, job satisfaction, and for some, even the desire to remain living rises and falls in peaks and valleys, high points and low points, crests and troughs.  The trick to surviving the crests and troughs of life’s undulations comes simply from recognizing them for what they are, crests and troughs.

If you haven’t read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, you should.  The story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, a junior “tempter” named Wormwood, so as to advise him on methods of securing the damnation of a British man, known only as “the Patient”.  The 8th letter from Screwtape covers the Law of Undulation.

VIII
MY DEAR WORMWOOD,

So you “have great hopes that the patient’s religious phase is dying away”, have you? I  always thought the Training College had gone to pieces since they put old Slubgob at the head of it, and now I am sure. Has no one ever told you about the law of Undulation?

Humans are amphibians—half spirit and half animal. (The Enemy’s determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father to withdraw his support from Him.) As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation—the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life—his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it. To decide what the best use of it is, you must ask what use the Enemy wants to make of it, and then do the opposite. Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favorites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us a human is primarily good; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of self-hood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures, whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to his. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct. And that is where the troughs come in. You must have often wondered why the Enemy does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to over-ride a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve. He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. But He never allows this state of affairs to last long. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs—to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better. He cannot “tempt” to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is leased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger, than when a human, no longer desiring, but intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys. But of course the troughs afford opportunities to our side also. Next week I will give you some hints on how to exploit them.

Your affectionate uncle

Screwtape

So there you have it.  Recognize that your high points and low points are transient, like all things in this life and you can enjoy the good times and endure the bad.  Do you have a challenging boss?  This too shall pass.  Do you own a troublesome puppy?  This too shall pass.  Does your teenager know everything and has no problem telling you how stupid and old you are?  This too shall pass.  If you plan for the worst (valleys) and hope for the best (peaks) then life will usually land somewhere in the middle.

If you are riding high on a mountain peak, recognize it for what it is, so you don’t get all bummed out and dejected when it doesn’t last.  Men take it especially hard when they crash off the top of a mountain. Have you ever gone to a men’s conference where you were all on fire about something, only to have reality hit you hard in the guts when you got home? If you can accept that the almighty creator of the universe really does have a plan for you, both riding high and lying low, it can make this whole undulating roller coaster much more fun to ride.

If you’ve managed to read this far, I’ll leave you with two inspirational verses to chew on, one for peaks and one for valleys.  I’ll leave it to you to decide which one is appropriate to your current state of mind.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. ~ James 1:2-3

Indoor Soccer Shoes For A Classy And Comfy Football

DFB Futsal Cup

Love to play soccer? This is for the folks that prefer to amuse themselves with super classy indoor soccer. So have you already got a pair of indoor soccer shoes? Or you haven’t yet figured out any reason to get one? If you fall into the second category, let’s just give you a few motives.

The ball in indoor soccer isn’t going to let you breathe. You are always on your toes when the ball travels lightning quick on the hard surface. That’s not the case when you play outdoor on grass. Why would you use the same shoes for two different surfaces? Indoor grounds have different builds and thus you need specially designed shoes to hold on. You can’t be a footballer without a sound balance, skills, accuracy, and control. That’s why you need indoor soccer shoes for indoor games. See “Indoor Soccer Shoes: Buyer’s Guide” at spryshoes.com.

Here are a few advantages of these shoes screaming and calling you to get them.

1. Superb balance

Why would one design a shoe exclusively for a sport? There can be no other reason than to serve the most crucial purpose of the game. Football needs balance and that’s what these shoes are magical with. While you make several cuts and turn in the game, your soles need to be compact with the ground. This strong base gives you a great balance, avoids slipping, and avoid injuries as well. These shoes are designed keeping in mind all the moves you make while you play.

2. Best compliments to your ground surface

Now you aren’t going to get the same surface here that you get for the outdoor version. This surface is going to be harder and more risky for play. Indoor soccer shoes compliment this surface in every way possible. When playing on a field turf, you can go for the shoes with rubber spikes. And for carpet-like surfaces, you get indoor shoes without spikes as well.

3.Shoe uppers offer better ball control

Now another advantage with indoor football shoes would be enhanced ball control. Here the uppers of the shoes are made up of special synthetic materials and natural materials. This gives you a better grip on your ball as your shoe surface comes in contact with it. You can even make the ball swing in the air with this. These shoes also have lace cover-ups to avoid any disturbance when you kick.

4. Football shoes cum sneaker

This can comes as the biggest bonus when you buy indoor football shoes. These shoes are designed class apart. Indoor shoes look no less than your most stylish sneakers and you can make them your style statement if you desire so. They look really good and you can wear them as you casual and regular shoes. So you get to be a fashion pro and not just a footballer with these.

Wrap up

So next time you’re out, or rather in, to play the classy game of football, take some care of the thing that gives you the power to kick. Yes, your feet. How to do that? It’s been already told. Get a nice pair of indoor soccer shoes and you’re good to go score the most goals in the tournament.

Bastions of Manliness in Baltimore

construction

I recently got the opportunity to travel to Baltimore for the first time.  I don’t often make it to the east coast, so I had a good time exploring a new city.  During my stay there I discovered a few fantastic little gems being operated by some amazing gentlemen.  These men (and women) stood out from their east coast brethren for their attitudes of service, something I found altogether lacking for the majority of my east coast experience.

As I was wandering around the harbor area I noticed that the local police were wearing some outstanding Stetson hats.  I inquired about them and they directed me toward a little shopping mall in which lay my first gem of gentlemanliness.  The charming little store was called Hats in the Belfry, which immediately drew a smile from me.  I’ve always been a sucker for clever names.  Upon entering I was greeted by an entire store full of hats, floor to ceiling.  They had everything a gentleman looking for a hat could want; top hats, fedoras, pork pies, bowlers, women’s hats, and even a few tasteful ball caps.  I was also greeted by a jovial gentleman named Keith.  He was a pleasure to talk to and his knowledge of hats must have rivaled the hatters of olden times.  After a lengthy discussion with him, I selected a well crafted black fedora with a much broader brim than my ultra stingy.  The store was a delightful surprise, nestled in amongst the more traditional tourist traps associated with waterfront malls.  If you ever find yourself near one of these stores, they are worth a look.  I saw hats ranging from the low twenties well into the low hundreds.  During my wide ranging conversations with Keith he recommended my second destination, the Quinntessential Gentleman.  Yes, they spell it with two n’s.  Maybe it’s an east coast thing.

On my way to check out the Quinntessential Gentleman, I found a second gem; the JoS. A. Bank clothing store.  I know they have them all over the country, but this one was staffed by actual gentlemen.  I wasn’t looking for anything in the way of upscale clothing, but a book in the window caught my eye in passing.  I was only in the store for a few minutes, but while I was there I watched the employees interact with a few customers and each other and I found myself to be quite impressed.  These were true gentlemen.  The deference they showed everybody was outclassed only by the clothing in the store.   I only noticed the price tag on one item, and I think I could have replaced about a quarter of my current wardrobe at the same cost, but the book I purchased was quite reasonable.  Everything in the store looked like it was hand spun out of the finest materials by clothing artisans.  It probably wasn’t but I did get that impression.  During my conversations with a well dressed, immaculately groomed gentleman named Michael, he also recommended the Quinntessential Gentleman.  Book in hand, I exited the JoS. A. Bank clothing store and continued on my way.

Much like Hats in the Belfry, I found the Quinntessential Gentleman nestled away.  It sits in the base of a large structure that if memory serves was a hotel of some sort.  I was immediately impressed with its sense of style.  It had an old school look about it, like somebody took an old black and white photo of a barber shop and added some modern colors to it, but left the rest completely unaltered.  The olden charms were in every corner, hanging from every wall, and heard in every word spoken within the walls of this shop.  They offered products from old style shave kits to magnetic collar stays and services from shaves to haircuts.  This was not just a place to come and get trimmed, it was a place to hang out and enjoy a conversation over a game of chess or pool.  I mean that literally, there is a chess board and pool table in the upstairs lounge.  Appointments are recommended for most services, but I was in luck that somebody had just canceled so they were able to fit me in for a quick trim.

Manning the desk was Karey. She was a delight to talk to, alternating between asking questions and providing local insights. We did share one particular thing in common.  When she tells people that she runs a gentleman’s shop, she gets the same reaction I get when I tell people I run a gentleman’s website; the wrong one.  She was able to squeeze me in thanks to the aforementioned cancellation, so my total time to wait was about to minutes.

I treated myself to a haircut.  The attention to detail provided will rank this amongst my top five haircuts of all time.  A hot lather and straight razor to finish the neck line ears and sideburns really made it the most precise trim I’ve ever experienced.  It would not have surprised me even a little bit if my executive barber, Jacquie, pulled out a ruler.  She was seriously that meticulous about the length of each hair she touched. Jacquie kept up a running commentary and conversation that really added to the experience.  She was as gifted a conversationalist as she was a barber.

Should you find yourself in the harbor area of Baltimore, these three places should definitely be on your itinerary.  Tell them Godly Gentleman sent you.  Who knows, if enough people do they might send me a nice hat or shaving kit.  All kickback kidding aside, I highly recommend these places for their old time charm, stand out style, and their high quality employees that genuinely care about the customers.

Faith Defined

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Jason Calhon, a good friend whom I enjoy sparring, both with martial arts and with words.

“Faith is an irrational belief in something that is impossible.”
–Emily Deschanel as Temperance Brennan, Fox Television series Bones

I rarely actually hear statements so direct as the one above, but it seems I often hear faith dismissed as something only the ignorant or foolish would possess. The word itself conjures up images of God, churches, and religious rituals of all kinds. Let us not forget the dozens of wars fought and the millions of people killed over the centuries by “faithful” people.
It amazes me to no end that people use this word constantly, as something to be cherished or held in contempt, without any clue at all what the word actually means. As I began to write this article, I wasn’t even sure I could make it long enough to be worth reading, for the meaning of the word “faith” is actually quite simple.

Trust.

That’s it. It’s no more complicated than that. The word “faith” may carry religious or spiritual connotations or imply belief in unknowable things, but that is not its true meaning. It simply means trust, or belief.

Once that is understood, then what many people do not seem to realize becomes obvious. Faith itself means nothing. Faith is not an end in itself, it must have an object, and even more importantly, that object must be able to provide the need of the faith. If I need to get to work in the morning, I have to trust my car to be able to get me there. If I wish to obtain eternal life, I have to trust one who is actually able to provide eternal life.

If I didn’t trust my car, I would get another one. If I didn’t trust my God, I would get another one.

With a parallel like that, it also becomes obvious that faith need not be blind. It need not be immune to scrutiny or criticism. Faith can be based on knowledge. It can be based on experience, or research, and can be carefully examined to make certain that the object of your faith is able to provide what you need. My morning ride to work may not matter much, so it doesn’t really matter if my faith in the car is misplaced. My road to eternity matters a great deal, so I’d better make very certain that my faith in God is well placed. To steal the quote, “Eternity is a long time to be wrong.”

Billions of people around the world claim to have faith in God in some way or another. Many of them say this simply because they go into a fancy building once or twice a week. This is habit, not faith. Others have very real faith, held with conviction that can lead them to martyrdom or drive them to murder. You can’t deny the reality of that kind of faith, but again, you must examine its object. Only a god who is real deserves your faith.

So in whom do I trust? I trust Jesus Christ, the real Son of the real God. This Jesus is the one who lived a perfect life, and allowed himself to be crucified two thousand years ago to pay the price for my sins and purchase my entrance into the presence of God. This Jesus is the one who got up and walked out of his tomb after being dead for three days. This Jesus is the one who interacted with his followers for over a month after his death and resurrection, before himself going up into heaven.

If I’m wrong about Him, I’m in just as much trouble as anyone else. So how can I know?

Libraries, almost, have been written on the reliability of the Christian Bible and the accuracy of its records. We know the Bible has been reliably preserved over the centuries quite simply because we have copies of the Bible which are almost as old as the events they claim to record, and they are the same as the Bibles we have today. We have found mountains of archaeological evidence to corroborate what the Bible says. The physical sciences are also finding ways to verify what the Bible has to say about the universe.

I do not wish to minimize the importance of the written Word, but there is another reason I believe.

I know the Lord. I have met him, spoken to Him, and He to me. I’m not talking about booming voices from the sky or strange other-worldly experiences, but experiences both more subtle and more clear to me, though I doubt I could explain them to one who has not experienced the same.

I know the LORD, and He has earned my trust.