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Homemade Leather Kindle Case

July 7, 2011

Last weekend, I got to spend some time working on a project with my dad, who has the tools for, and knows how to make just about anything.  I received a Kindle for Christmas, and have been needing a case, but wanted to wait until I could make one for myself, and my visit with my parents gave me the opportunity.

About 15 years ago, I was the systems administrator for a leather furniture company in Dallas.  My dad has kept in touch with the company, and, once in a while, is able to pick up some of the leftover leather.  If you have access to a company like this, it’s a great way to get leather for free, or at least very cheap.

The first step was to create the metal plates that would add rigidity to the front and back of the case.  My dad has a million old computer cases laying around, so I found one that was thin enough, and cut the plates out of it using a band saw with a metal blade.  I rounded off the corners with a vertical belt sander, and we smoothed the edges with another (horizontal) belt sander.

Using measurements from the Kindle, I drew out and cut a pattern from brown paper.  We would need two long rectangles for the main enclosure, two narrow straps – one to go across the top of the Kindle, and another just below the screen – and two corner pieces.  We would also need a strip for the fastener, but since the measurements on this didn’t need to be precise, I didn’t create a pattern.  We made the pieces larger than they would finally be, since we would be cutting everything down to size after it was all sewed together.

Once I had the corner pieces cut, I needed to shape them so that they would fit around the corners of the Kindle.  To do this, we put them in hot water while we cut a form out of wood.  The middle piece was the same thickness as the Kindle, with similarly rounded corners.  I laid the soaked corner pieces over this middle piece, and used clamps to press other blocks against the top surface, sides, and bottom of the corners.  After letting them dry in the sun for several hours, they held this shape when they were removed from the form.

While the corners were drying, I assembled the rest of the case.  Using contact cement, I glued the two metal plates to one of the pieces of leather forming the main part of the case, and then glued the second piece of leather to this.  My dad then sewed around the metal plates.  I laid the Kindle on the case, placed the straps and corners where they would be, and marked their locations on the case.  After I glued them into place, my dad sewed all of them on, and I cut the case down to its final size.

I cut the strap that would keep the case closed, and sewed a nametag magnet into one end, using a leather punch to create holes around the two magnets.

My dad apologized several times for not sewing perfectly straight lines, but they don’t bother me.  I like the more rustic feel of this case.  I still need to stain and finish the raw edges, but I’m happy with the result.

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Your other gift

December 24, 2010

This is on its way, and should arrive this week…

This is a porcelain shelf for the bathroom. If you don’t like the style, we can exchange it for another one, and there are several different options available.

Logos 4 for Mac

September 15, 2010

Logos 4 for Mac has finally been released, and it is, in my opinion, THE best bible and study software available. Like other Bible study software, it comes with a library of Bibles, concordances, commentaries, and Hebrew and Greek lexicons, in addition to vast libraries of books on theology, doctrine, devotionals, and Christian living. Everything – everything – is cross referenced, so if you are, for instance, reading Matthew, and you stumble across “But seek first the Kingdom of God…” and you want to find out more about what this means, you can very easy launch into an in-depth study, by doing any or all of the following:

  • Right click on “Kingdom” to pop up a menu of options.
  • From there, you can find out what the Greek word that is translated “Kingdom” meant.
  • …or link to all other verses that use that word
  • …or open up a number of commentaries (such as Spurgeon’s The Gospel of the Kingdom) and other Bible study companions that speak to this subject
  • …or find passages of from other books, like Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom, by Kent Hughes.
  • …or open up the same passage in many other Bible translations and see charts that visualize the differences between them
  • …or look up clip art, pictures, or music that is relevant to this subject
  • …or add your own notes
  • …or add notes from the passage itself or any of the other resources to a study document you are creating within Logos.
  • …or look up information about the time, culture, and geographical location within which Jesus gave this message
  • …and LOTS of other things.

It would take many words to fully cover all of Logos’ capabilities, but whether you are a pastor or just someone wanting to go deeper in your study of the Bible, Logos is absolutely the best tool available.

From Logos’ website:

Logos Bible Software is giving away thousands of dollars of prizes to celebrate the launch of Logos Bible Software 4 Mac on October 1. Prizes include an iMac, a MacBook Pro, an iPad, an iPod Touch, and more than 100 other prizes!

They’re also having a special limited-time sale on their Mac and PC base packages and upgrades. Check it out!

The Resurrection, Here and Now

April 12, 2010

I’ll be posting some thoughts here later on where I think I’m going this Sunday, when I’ll be preaching about how the Resurrection affects us in the here and now, and what it means to live in light of it.  Until then, however, I’d love to hear some of your thoughts.  What does the Resurrection mean for us today, at work, at school, with your family, by yourself?  Please comment!

Me Study??

November 23, 2009

Humor is always based in reality.  This is hilarious, but also true, and therefore also not hilarious.  [courtesy of Calvinistic Cartoons]

The American Christian

Lukewarm: Notes for Tomorrow’s Sermon

November 21, 2009

I’m preaching tomorrow on a difficult topic, on the fact that American Christianity has excused a lukewarm, half-hearted (if that much) response to God, that we have created a theology that says this is acceptable, when it is in fact utterly unacceptable.  God detests a lukewarm response to Him because He is worthy of nothing less than whole-hearted surrender to Him.  We are lukewarm toward God because we have redefined Him, and what it is to follow Him, based on our own terms, rather than seeing God for who He is and letting that define everything else.

As I preach this, I’m acutely aware of James 3:1

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Because of that, I need to take care not to create the impression that I’m exempt from this teaching, or that I’m saying this from a position of superior righteousness.  I need to seek to increasingly practice what I preach.

Below are the condensed notes for my sermon, and I welcome your comments.  If you would like the full version of my notes, let me know in a comment, and I’ll email them to you.

The point: Many American Christians are lukewarm, because we are more attached to the material things we have and the comfortable lifestyle they provide than we are to God.  To excuse being lukewarm is to not truly follow God.  God is worthy of  nothing less than everything we are and have, and He finds lukewarm-ness disgusting.

Spelling it out:

  • We have access to lots of “stuff” and this stuff makes our lives easy.
  • We are very attached to these things, and to easiness.
  • We have defined Reality on these terms:  Life SHOULD be easy
    • We have defined God in these terms as well
      • God exists to make my life (here and in eternity) easy.
    • We should be looking first at God and then defining everything else in light of who He is and what He has done and is doing.

Our definition of being a Christian.

  • It is defined in terms of a “greater truth” – that our life should be easy, with few exceptions.
  • Material life is the most real.  It makes our lives easy, and we feel like we are in control (for the most part).
  • God gets isolated into the realm of beliefs, ideas, and thoughts.
    • That’s where we want Him to stay unless He plans on making life easier
  • We know we can’t control things on the other side of death, but that God can.
    • We put this within the context of our agenda to be comfortable
      • Heaven means eternal ease and comfort.  Jesus is important because He can give that to us.
      • So God is most important because He offers eternal bliss when we die, which fits perfectly into our agenda to be comfortable.  It’s the way things Should Be.
      • This is what it means to be a Christian.  You believe in Jesus, so you get to go to Heaven (John 3:16)
  • Next we think about Church within these terms
    • Redefining church:  a place you go to once or twice/week
      • True definition: A people belonging to God, with the assignment (privilege) of carrying out His plan as they gather to worship and serve.
    • We want options about when we gather, because gathering together should be easy.
  • Thinking about worship.
    • Redefining worship: Singing/Music
      • Preferably presented in an entertaining way, providing an emotional kick.
      • True definition: lives given in sacrifice (Romans 12)
  • Study and Prayer
    • We approach the Bible as a document containing principles designed to make life easy.
      • It’s difficult to find these principles in many places, so we think that the Bible is hard to read.
    • God, being placed into the realm of belief, thought, and idea, is difficult to talk to, compared to how we talk to physical, tangible humans.
      • We have this idea that we can’t use normal speech or talk about normal things with Him.
    • Therefore, we look to a pastor to perform these things for us.
      • Good sermons should find principles in Biblical passages (what did God mean to say?)
        • Those principles, though sometimes challenging, should make things easier in the long run
        • Biblical “truths” put in a nutshell, and spoon fed.
        • Challenges should be punctuated with “but it’s okay if you don’t do this, thanks to grace.”
      • We’ll also get the pastor to pray, since he knows how

Approaching God and Christianity this way has resulted in a lukewarm response to Him.  We have made Him man-centered instead of making ourselves God-centered.  This reduces Him significantly, so that we are following not God, but an idol of ourselves.

Isaiah 6

  • Isaiah perceives God correctly
    • Perceives himself, by contrast, also correctly and responds appropriately
      • God responds to humility with grace, then asks someone to serve Him.
      • Isaiah jumps at the opportunity, not knowing what it will involve (because God hasn’t stated it yet), but that doesn’t matter in light of the fact that He gets to live for this amazing and gracious God.  Nothing else compares to Him and Isaiah knows it.
  • If Isaiah was the typical American Christian.
    • Would have thought the special effects were cool.
    • God would have had to point out that Isaiah wasn’t worthy to be there, and that the only remedy would be for God Himself to leave all of that, to suffer greatly, to become sin – the thing that earns His wrath and disgust most – in order to give righteousness to Isaiah.
      • Isaiah would have said “yeah okay, I’ll take that.”
    • His response to “Who shall I send, and who shall go for Me?”
      • Not me!
        • I’m not gifted in that way anyway
        • And besides, I don’t have to do that – I just have to believe.
        • I like my life the way it is, so unless You are going to make things easier, leave me alone.

Is this your response to God? This kind of response is no response.  You’re still living for yourself

  • Matthew 25:31-46
    • Did you serve Me by serving others?
  • Matthew 7:13-14
    • The road to life is difficult, and few find it.  The easy road leads to destruction.  There’s no third road
  • Matthew 7:21-23
    • Not all who call Jesus “Lord” will enter the Kingdom, and many will be surprised when they don’t.
  • Revelation 3:15-17
    • These people were like us.  They had defined reality based on ease.
    • God will not accept a lukewarm response.

We cannot escape dealing with this issue. We cannot defend or excuse being lukewarm.  God will not accept it, and when we truly see Who He is and what He has done for us, we will see properly that the only worthy response is a life completely surrendered to Him.

  • We must avoid the temptation to half-heartedly say “Yeah, I guess I am lukewarm and I should do something about it.  So yeah, I’ll look into that and try to remember to pray about it.”
  • Be careful not to just agree somewhat with these words and then not act on them and seek change through the grace of God.

Potential questions
Is this “works righteousness?”

  • No.  Works cannot save us, but salvation will result in works.

How do I make myself NOT lukewarm?

  • Beware of formulas and rules.
  • “let us fix our eyes on Jesus.”

Does this mean that I am not saved if my life is easy?

  • No.  God may bless us with material wealth and ease if He chooses, but a surrendered heart is generous, compassionate, cares for those in need, and is not attached to or enslaved by material things and ease.

RSS Readers

November 9, 2009

tech5

As you spend more time on the web, you’ll find more and more sites that you want to read on a regular basis, and eventually, you’ll have more sites than you feel that you can keep up with.  You’ll realize that it’s been weeks since you visited some of those sites, and then when you look at them, you’ll find so many new articles there that you decide that it’s too much and quit reading.

But there’s hope.  Enter the RSS reader.  This is an application that makes it easy for you to keep up with your favorite web sites, even if you’re reading a lot of them.

It looks and acts a lot like an email program – in fact, many email programs have built in RSS readers.  In most email programs, to the left, you’ll have a list of folders, and on the right, you’ll usually have two separate window panes, one showing a list of emails, displaying the sender, subject, and date, and a second pane showing the actual text of whatever email you’ve selected.  An RSS reader will have a similar interface – a list of sites on the left, and on the right, two panes, one showing a list of articles on the site you have selected, and a second showing content from that article.

So let’s say you’re looking around on the web and you find a site that you like a lot and want to keep up with.  Many sites will have a link somewhere on the page that allows you to subscribe to its RSS feed.  Sometimes it’s just text that says “RSS” or “Subscribe to our feed” or something like that.  Other times, it’s the international RSS feed logo that looks like this:


If you have an RSS reader installed, clicking on that link will add that site to the list of other sites in your RSS reader.  Now, every time you open your RSS reader, you’ll see that site listed there.  When you click on that site within the RSS reader, over on the right, you’ll see a list of headlines for each article on that site.  You can quickly scan those headlines, and if you see an article that looks interesting, clicking on it will that article.  Depending on how the site itself is configured, you may see only a short summary of the article (which you can then double click to open the entire article) or you’ll see the whole thing.

Some of the larger sites have several different RSS feeds.  News sites, for instance, may have one feed for international news, one for business, one for sports, and an overall feed for all news.  Most blogs, including this one, have feeds, so you can find out when a new post has been added without having to check the site every day.

Once you’ve got a list of sites you’ve subscribed to (subscribing is free) in your RSS reader, it’s quick and easy to just click on each site, scan the headlines of new articles, and read only the articles that grab your attention.  You’ll know at a glance which sites have posted new articles since you last looked at them, and which haven’t.  You can even bookmark the really good articles and come back to them later.

As far as specific RSS readers go, you have lots of options, which fall into two categories: Web based, and desktop application.  A web based RSS reader is essentially just a web page that you access by using a web browser.  It has all of the standard RSS reader features, but you can only access it when you’re online.  A desktop reader, on the other hand, is a separate application, and when you open it, as long as you’re online, it will download all new content from all of your subscribed sites, which means that even after you go offline, you can still read all of that downloaded content.  This is not true for a web based RSS reader.

While there are plenty of options, I’ll only tell you about three of them:

Desktop RSS Readers
FeedDemon – for Windows.  Click here.
NetNewsWire – for Mac OS X.  Click here.

Web-Based Readers
Google Reader – www.google.com/reader

Once again, as always, if you’re new to all of this and would like to know more, please feel free to contact me at musicman@thirstyforjesus.org.