More about Jim Clevenstine

CLEVENSTINE ENGINEERING is not a large company with many engineering resources. When you invite CLEVENSTINE ENGINEERING to team with you, you are inviting me, Jim Clevenstine, to provide you with the services you need. From that perspective, you deserve to know more about me, beyond the typical academic and technical credentials listed on other pages of this web site.

Jim and Beth, July, 2011

Beth and I were married in 1978. We both grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota, attending the same schools and same church. We left Minnesota and moved to the NY Capital District in 1983 to accept a position with General Electric in Schenectady (my department has changed hands a few times and is now under Bechtel).

We have three children, all boys. All are grown and on their own. We enjoy our grandchildren!

But to understand more of my character, you need to know what I believe. The rest of this page explains my Christian faith. My faith forms the basis for my values and shapes my behavior. My service to you will be at a professional level and, as such, I do not bring up my faith nor do I strategize methods to sell it to you other than to present it here where you are free to continue reading or quit as you wish. I encourage you to read on, particularly if you have been confused about Christianity.

In some Christian circles, people are taught methods for telling others about our faith. I have often been unimpressed with those methods because I don’t think they reach to the core of my beliefs. A common question people are told to ask others is “If you died today and were face-to-face with God, and he asked ‘Do you think you should be in Heaven?’ what would you say?” Although this may be a good question, it is not a good place to start because it assumes the person believes there is a god and a heaven, and implicitly a spiritual world altogether. That’s a big assumption. So let me back up.

I believe there is a spiritual world.

  • There is a part of me that is not biological. It is the part that allows me to think, to form ideas, to plan, to have likes and dislikes. It is my mind. And at some point, it transcends further than that and I believe it becomes my soul, also referred to as my spirit.
  • There are a lot of things that go on in this world that are not explained in physical terms. Such things as hauntings, supernatural possessions, mediums that reach those who have pre-deceased us, attest to the presence of a spiritual world. I suspect many reported events are a hoax, some phony trying to make a buck. But there are too many occurrences to dismiss them all as phony.
  • My spirit gets tugged in two directions. One direction focuses on my own selfish satisfaction while the other benefits others, often to my loss. Why? Are there two forces in the spiritual world battling for control over my spirit? It sure feels that way!

I believe there is a God.

  • If there is a spiritual world, it isn’t much of a stretch to realize there must be rulers in that world.
  • Mankind has always had a hunch that there is a god. Throughout history, the various civilizations such as the ancient Romans and Greeks, the Incas and the Native Americans, have always set up Gods. It’s interesting that most of these civilizations saw creation and assumed it was made by a god and therefore determined there was a god of the sea, a god of the buffalo, a god of the heavens, a god of love. Civilizations saw the world and each in their own thinking concluded there is a god.
  • If there is no god, then I am on my own with no ultimate direction. Sure I may have goals in this life, but in the sum of things, so what?

I believe the Bible is God’s word to us. It has endured the test of time. Dead Sea Scrolls found in the mid twentieth century date back to about 200 AD and include copies of various Old Testament books including Isaiah. Inspection has shown our text today (Hebrew version) to be accurate as compared to those scrolls. (Dead Sea Scrolls). Other historical documents (Josephus was a historian from the period around Jesus’ time who recorded many events) provide many confirmations as to the accuracy of New Testament records. Archaeology keeps finding evidence that fits with Old and New Testament history. Unlike the other basic documents of other major religions, the Bible is the only one that claims it is written by God. (2 Timothy 3:16).

I know that the last thing I mentioned is a cyclical argument “I believe the Bible because the Bible says it is real.” Seeing the truth in God’s Word, in spite of the cyclical argument, is the most important step a person can take! Either you choose to believe the Bible is God’s word or you choose to believe it is no more than a manmade religious artifact from long ago. The Bible is a complex, yet simple, book. For those who choose not to believe it, it is complex and loaded with inconsistencies. But for those who choose to believe it, they find it contains a simple fundamental message and teaching that together provide beautiful guidance and direction. It tells us that the same God that created the world is also a personal God that loves and cares for each of us as His child. Just a side thought - in our world today, we see all kinds of influences that erode the role of a father and undermine the relationship between a father and his children. If children grow up with little knowledge of a good relationship with their earthly father, how will they learn to relate to their Heavenly Father? But I am digressing.

So what does the Bible say? God loves us and has a plan for us. The Bible is divided into two sections: The Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament provides the accounts of the creation of the world and the creation of man and woman. It has major portions that provide a history of God’s people, the Israelites. Key in those accounts is the description of the Laws that God handed to the Israelites, the most significant being the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). God required obedience. But the Israelites are unable to follow all God’s commands and that unrighteousness separates us from God. Today we too cannot keep all the commands on a continuous basis (Romans 3:23). While I may not have murdered anyone, there certainly are times when I have envied someone.

The New Testament provides the accounts of God’s son Jesus. The single fundamental element of Christianity is that Jesus was sacrificed for us (John 3:16). Our inability to follow God’s commands causes separation between us and God. We are unable, due to our sins, to approach God. But God chose to have the punishment that should have been ours fall on His son instead. Now, because of Jesus death, we are able to come to God.

So what? In multiple accounts in the New Testament, Jesus taught us to pray and gave us the Lord’s Prayer. It begins with “Our Father who art in Heaven…” (Matthew 6:9). I have a loving father in heaven. God is my father in heaven. This concept sheds a strong light on the biggest issue in our society. The biggest purpose, responsibility and challenge for a dad is to be a loving and caring father, a father whose children will freely come to with all their cares, one who is strict in discipline and generous in love and compassion. And as the child grows, a father must nurture the child’s faith in God so that when the child leaves dad, the child has transferred the fatherly bond from the earthly, imperfect and temporal father to the perfect and eternal Heavenly Father. The New Testament clearly tells us that through Jesus’ death, all of us who have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice as payment for our sins are now children of God (Galatians 3:26). He is our Heavenly Father. He becomes our source of strength and comfort through life, regardless of the circumstances we face.

Back to the question at the beginning of this email “If you died today and were face-to-face with God, and he asked ‘Do you think you should be in Heaven?’ what would you say?” The only reason you are able to enter heaven is because you believe that Jesus died for your sins. It’s not about being good enough. It’s about believing that Jesus died for you.

So what is our daily response? When you give a child a birthday gift, one they really like, typically they throw their arms around you and say “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” For a time, their thankfulness may be accompanied by being grateful and willing to return the favor in terms of obedience. While that may be an idealistic expectation when we give a child a gift, it is the proper response when God gives us the gift I described above, the sacrifice of His Son and the privilege of being His child. Our response is to be obedient on a daily basis (Ephesians 4:20-24). Many more paragraphs could be written on obedience but Jesus summed up all the commands in two simple but deep commands: Love the Lord your God with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37).

If you have more questions, or simply want to comment on this, please send me an email. (my contact info)

Personal Perspective: "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will keep your paths straight." Proverbs 3:6 NIV

Burnt Hills, NY
Last update: January 21, 2015