Last month I had an empty period with my blog because a host of issues came up all at once. I thought that I would take this time to update you on the results. In one month, I had to repair four vehicles in order to allow my wife to continue working and to help my son. Let’s start with the obvious, none of the repairs were a surprise. The surprise was that all of the repairs needed to be done at the same time. The one major repair was her car and we both knew it needed work for a long time. We simply couldn’t afford to take her car to the shop to get it repaired. She drives a 30 year old, classic Mercedes-Benz as her daily driver and the repair estimate was high enough for me to find and purchase three of her cars. (Most people would say this would be the best reason to get rid of her car, but I’m also a retired mechanic.) Her car has NO rust and we live in the rust belt. It was also a car that came to us as an answer to a prayer with an amusing story that dates back to the time we first dated 20 years ago. Here’s the story:
When we first met, I was searching for a new (used) vehicle and one of the vehicles I test drove at the local dealership was a black Mercedes with a grey interior. At the time, I was able to afford the car but I also thought the price was a little high for a ten year old car and a price in the high twenty thousand range. I had her with me and she was in the car when I drove it and said to her “I’m going to get one of these someday.” By that time, I had already owned three Mercedes cars, (two were diesels), so I was already familiar with the repairs and not afraid of the cost. She was not familiar with owning luxury brand cars like I was so her answer to my comment was, “In your wildest dreams.” Over the last 20 years, she has gotten used to my buying and selling all sorts of vehicles, good and bad, large and small, including five different used Mercedes cars.
She was on her way to work last year when someone rear ended her at a stop light and totaled her car. The insurance settlement was enough for us to replace the car and we found a black 1991 300 SE Mercedes with a grey interior. I don’t know if this was the same car we test drove 20 years ago, but it would not surprise me since the dealer was only 10 miles from the place where we found the car. We purchase the car from a store owner who also bought it used in the same area. There are very few of these cars in the area because it is rural with small towns. The nearest large town is 30 miles away and larger city is an hour away. After we got the car, it was God that reminded me of the test drive 20 years ago with the thought: “You finally got the car of your ‘wildest dreams’.” The car has a sentimental value that points to God’s love and sense of humor over our lives.
It may very well be the same car we test drove 20 years ago in the local used car lot. That would not surprise me. God does have a sense of humor and for Him to make the same car available after 20 years and an amusing statement from my wife would be both a miracle and a display of His power and humor. That is why I wanted to repair the car. It took only $250 of parts purchased through Ebay. The parts were all new and were purchased as low as 10% of the original retail price. If I went to the local dealer, the same parts would have cost $1500, with labor rates at $150/hr. and 30 hrs of estimated work time, that would have added $4500 to the bill. We bought the car for $1500, so I could have purchased four of my car for the estimated price of the repairs. Since I did the work myself, it was only $250 and the car is running once again after a week of work.
I normally drive a Ford F150 pickup. It is also a classic truck that is 29 years old. As can be expected from a machine this old, things will go wrong. But when a window goes down and refuses to go up unexpectedly, this is a problem that has to be resolved immediately. The cost for the parts vary according to the damage from $90 to replace the entire regulator assembly with the motor to $5.99 to replace damaged rollers in the motor/regulator drive. Once again, the shop would charge about $250 to $300 for labor. I got a used assembly from a salvage yard for $15 and installed it myself. This took only an afternoon and gave my wife a vehicle to use while her car was out of commission. With so much rain lately, I couldn’t let her take the truck unless I was certain that the window would work properly and allow the truck to be secure in the parking lot for the entire day. The window also had a bad habit of slowly dropping down even though I could help the motor lift the window by hand. It simply couldn’t hold the window up or raise it up by itself. But now it’s working just like new and $15 with an afternoon of work is much more affordable than $390 and no truck for an entire day.
The next two problems were self inflicted problems but ones that helped my son. He purchased two vehicles recently. A motorcycle that wouldn’t start and a four-wheel drive truck that had no reverse. Because both vehicles had issues, he was able to get them for a very good price. But because he is also a teenager with no mechanical experience, he had to rely on dad to help him out. I told him that the motorcycle would be the easier problem to repair and showed him that replacing the spark plugs and battery allowed the bike to cough and sputter, but it still wouldn’t start. He got a Yamaha motorbike and they have an issue with their rubber intake manifold. It connects the carburetor to the two cylinder heads but rubber also dries up and cracks with heat and age. The bike shop called it a Y-connector because of its shape, but I know it as an intake manifold from my experience as a mechanic on cars. We got the part for $112 new. This was another afternoon of work and the total cost for the battery, two spark plugs, and the rubber connector was $175 and he had a running motorcycle to enjoy with his friends. What would the bike shop have charged for the repair? About $500 for parts and labor.
That brings me down to the biggest job of the last month. The truck with no reverse. This is not a repair I would recommend to the average home mechanic. I knew when my son and I looked at the truck that I would have to rebuild the transmission. I believed that the problem was a simple problem, but one that would be difficult to get to. My belief was well founded. As a mechanic, I’m not afraid to tackle a transmission rebuild. It’s a straight forward job as long as I have all of the proper information. This meant that I had to purchase a repair manual specifically for his transmission. This manual cost $50, but I was able to find a used one for $15. I was also able to find a free .pdf online, but I prefer to have a paper manual with me when I tear down and rebuild any transmission so I can have the diagrams, procedures and torque specs handy without the need to search with a computer and dirty hands. A $15 book is easier to replace than a computer.
Along with the repair manual, I needed to purchase a rebuild kit. The kit included all of the parts I needed to repair the transmission. This is something I prefer to purchase new, but once again, I found that the internet had the best deals. Depending upon the amount of damage I found in the transmission, I could get kits ranging from $86 to $595. I found everything I needed for $150. If I took the truck to the local transmission repair shop, the repairs would have run, $1500 in labor and $2000 to $3000 in parts. If I assumed the high end, this would have been another $4500 repair bill in one month. But because of my experience, I got it done for $165 and two weeks of time under the truck in the garage. What was the cause of the problem? One broken snap ring located in the deepest part of the transmission. I found that most of the parts in the transmission appeared to be new. In fact, it appeared to be a freshly rebuilt transmission that had one part go bad and it looks like this one part could be a common issue with this particular design.
Because I prefer to purchase older vehicles that I can repair myself, my loss is my time. I spent three weeks of time working on four vehicles. The total bill for all of the parts was $542. If I took all of the vehicles to a shop and allowed someone else to do the work for me, it would have cost $9890. If you are able to afford a bill like this in a single month, you have a lot to be thankful for. However, I cannot afford to spend this kind of money. It would have required a bank loan so being able to do the repairs myself is something I appreciate as a blessing from God. Both having acquired the knowledge over the years from previous jobs and having the strength to do the required lifting are reasons to be thankful. So for a little more than the cost to have a cycle shop repair a motorcycle, I was able to repair four vehicles: a classic F150 truck, a classic Mercedes-Benz, a four-wheel drive truck, and a motorcycle. I am sorry that I didn’t post a blog for most of October, but as you can see, there were a few issues that needed attention. This is how life works. We all have to do the best we can with what we have and know.
The temptation of the world and by the flesh is to blame God for enduring problems. However, I do not believe that my God is the blame. Nor do I believe that these problems are direct attacks from Satan. He may have had a hand in the timing and severity of the issues, but I really don’t want to give him credit for that either. I would prefer to accept the responsibility for allowing the car to go too long without addressing the running problem. The F150 was simply an age issue. Things wear out over time and this truck is the workhorse of our stable. The motorcycle and the four-wheel drive were both chosen despite the problems. The motorcycle’s issue was due to heat, age, and storage. The four-wheel drive’s issue was a design flaw common to that transmission. If I accept the responsibility for tackling these problems, then I owe you an apology for my tardiness in posting. But I also wanted to show you how God still blessed me in the midst of these problems, which I’ve built a habit of calling “opportunities” instead.
If I choose to call the timing of the problems a devilish attack, then I have this verse to remember.
James 4: 7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
This is why I consider problems and life issues “opportunities.” Each one is an opportunity to watch God’s hand of blessing come to pass as we submit to His directions. In each situation, the solution was different. Some of the parts came from the dealer. Some of the parts came from the local parts store. Some of the parts came from Ebay auctions, others came from Ebay “buy it now” listings. And some of the parts came from internet searches for domestic suppliers. I purposely choose to avoid the least expensive parts that come from China due to past experience with vendors that sent wrong parts or no parts, but happily took my money and disappeared. So the manner of deliverance is simple.
- Pray to God for help as I begin each project.
- Listen for His answer. He will always give answers when you ask for help.
- Act on the first answer you receive. God will always answer first. When you act on God’s revelation knowledge, you are demonstrating your trust in His ability to help you and this “trust” is really your faith in Him.
- Avoid second guessing the answer you receive. Second thoughts and doubts always come from our own “intelligence” or from the devil trying to produce doubt.
- Doubt is no different from “unbelief” and is the only way we are led away from God. As long as we resist the temptation to entertain doubt when God gives a Word of Knowledge or a Word of Wisdom, then we will witness His power and love in our lives.
- Each time we are able to experience God’s knowledge and wisdom gives better results than our knowledge and experience, it becomes easier to trust Him more than our own “second guessing.”
- This is how God helps us learn to trust Him in the little things of life and living.
- Then, when we are faced with a more difficult issue, we will easily trust and act on His revelation Word and written Word. This is how to learn the new walk of faith by the Spirit of God and cast off our old walk of the flesh or fear by our reason and intelligence.
Do I expect all of you who read this blog to be able to do the same thing? Absolutely, I already assume that you are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and have Holy Spirit within you. But you have different needs, different problems, different abilities, and different resources at your disposal. God works with you differently as well. This is the reason why religious rituals will always ultimately fail. Religious rituals assume that one habit will fill everyone’s need. The only ritual I can say will fill everyone’s need is to pray in the name of Jesus Christ to ask God for answers in every situation. But if there is any doubt at all that the prayer is heard or the prayer will be answered, then I can also assure you that it will always be answered. Doubt indicates a lack of trust in God or a lack of believing there is a God. I had to work through both of these issues as well and just as it took time and experience for me to learn how to repair vehicles, it took time for me to learn that God is real and I can trust Him for anything I need.
I didn’t get all of my parts from one place to make all of the repairs. I believed God would lead me to the best quality and least expensive sources for everything. Here’s a situation that just happened a few minutes ago. My wife needed some information at work that she thought was here at the house. She called me and told me to look for her notes. I looked everywhere without finding them and got the thought to tell her to check her phone case. That’s where she put them. This is how God works with me. When I get a thought that is out of the blue with no logical forethought to lead up to it, I believe it is God and act on it. Of course it has to track with the logic and heart of Scripture too. When you read scripture, look at the way God interacts with people. One or more of those ways will be His manner of working with you.
That was how I and my wife found all of the parts we needed. It is interesting. Sometimes I found a cheaper part somewhere, but also got a bad feeling or thought about that seller. I simply kept looking. It may have been a used part with issues or a seller that wasn’t truthful. I have simply learned over the years that God always looks out for me. So I simply trust His advice. Have you ever talked to someone and got a sick feeling in your stomach? Then when you leave their presence, that sick feeling goes away? That may be God telling you that the person has issues to resolve. Sometimes God will inspire you to say something, other times He just tells you to leave. When you are praying for someone, He may show you exactly what problem they are having and what you can say to them. Other times He will give you the “green light” to minister to them. No two situations are the same. Even if it is the same problem, with the same person. There could still be two different causes for the same symptom or issue. It could be ignorance, health, attitude, or spiritual issues. But no matter what is going on, God wants the best outcome for your safety and for them so He will always lead you to the best solution.
When a devil spirit is present, you don’t want to go around casting them out without God’s approval first. Sometimes it’s simply best to leave them alone and be thankful that God has revealed their presence to you. Other times, He will not only tell you that they are there, but to confront the person / spirit directly in Jesus name. Then He will also tell you what to say at the time you need to say it. There is never a need to be afraid because by the time you are able to be aware of the presence of evil spirits, God will have already proven Himself to you. Until then, your prayers for people and thankfulness for God is all you need. He will never give you anything more than you can handle or understand by your Spirit and knowledge of Scripture. This is how loving and kind He is to His children. Just as you would be with your own children. This is also why the family structure is being attacked so much today.
If the parents are away at work all of the time, who is teaching our children in our place? If you want your children to believe in God and trust God, then you have to show them by example that you believe in God and trust God as well. Then your children will watch what happens to you in every situation of life. When bad things happen, what do you do and who do you trust for deliverance? Where does your deliverance come from? Is it from someplace logical or something unexpected? Do you give glory to God, or to your job and intelligence? If you are not an example of believing to your children, then they will be motivated by the example of their teachers instead. If their teachers do not believe in God, you can be certain that your children will never believe in God either. That is why liberal control of the school systems to remove everything Godly was so important to them. That is also why so many young people simply do not believe that God is real. Of those who believe God is real, there are many who also believe God is irrelevant. Of those who believe God is real and relevant, there is also the question: where does He apply to my life?
To answer that question, let’s look at the first time the phrase “in all things.” appear.
Genesis 24: 1 “And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.”
God cannot bless anything what we don’t entrust to Him first. For Abraham to be blessed in all things, Abraham had to commit everything to God first. He trusted God in all things first, then God blessed all things for Abraham in return. And Abraham wasn’t perfect. He was just like you and I. He had fears. He made mistakes. He was intelligent and resourceful. He was a nomadic herder that dug wells. And he loved God. Look at his own children. Ishmael is the father of the Arabian tribes and Isaac is the father of the Jews. Just as these two boys fought in life, their offspring are still fighting today but both sets of tribes believe in and worship God. Both sets believe they are worshiping the one true God. Even in disagreement, they still demonstrate the example of their father, Abraham in that they strive to worship God and keep Him in their lives. This is the kind of legacy that every parent can leave with their children and I hope and pray that my example will carry on with my children as well.
Our liberal culture of today happened over time through generations of unbelief. Until Jesus returns, our examples to our children are the only way we can recover godliness and morality back to our culture and into their lives. Maybe a Gideon, Silas, or Isaiah will rise up to make the change in short order, but until a man of God will rise up, we have to rely on our example of believing faith to motivate our children to greater and greater trust and fellowship with God. We cannot limit the things we pray for because we think God is too busy to care for us. We need to be fearless and active with our prayers for anything we need so our children can see how much God loves and cares for us. Will this make God really busy? Yes it will. But who would you rather see busier? Humanistic unbelievers or God as He protects and delivers His children? I would rather let God continually prove His power and relevance to our lives in every possible way than to let the current gospel of unbelief prevail with my children and grandchildren. God has given us this blank check in His Word when Jesus said:
Matthew 21: 22 “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”
What is your need? Where do you need help? What opportunity do you have to face? We all have problems. Why not give our problems to God as opportunities for Him to display His love and care for us personally? As we give our cares and concerns to God and experience His delivering power more and more, our faith grows, and our children’s ability to believe in God grows as well. But we never ask for something out of selfish desire, that goes against the heart and intent of God’s Word. You may have noticed that my wife drives a Mercedes-Benz. I did not choose a Mercedes because of its status as a luxury car. I chose it because it was affordable. I can repair anything that happens to it and it has every important modern safety and comfort feature. When it was built, it was the safest car made in the world. Why wouldn’t I want a vehicle like this for my family? Everything we ask for must also be in alignment with God’s Word and His heart, not out of vain desire or greed. There must be a Godly purpose behind the desire. Then you will have the full faith that God will never let you down in any situation and this next verse will no longer be a pipe dream or empty promise, but a living reality in your life.
1 Corinthians 9: 8 “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”
What kind of “good work” the work of faith that builds the kingdom of God around you. The kind of “good work” that will overcome evil and prove God’s preeminence and power. The sort of “good work” that brings miracles to your life and to the lives of the people you touch around you. Culture changing miracles like the ones we are praying for in my book below. We cannot ever allow ourselves to believe our culture is lost until the day and hour Jesus Christ comes to meet us in the air. Until then we have the honor and privilege to experience God’s love, God’s power, God’s care, and God’s miracles. Why wouldn’t you want to get this book to open up this kind of life for you and your children? Then you can experience God helping you like the way He saved me $9348 last month.