Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Jewish Moral Law and the Gospel of Christ

There are many moral laws in the first five books of the Bible (i.e. the Pentateuch, the Books of Moses, the Torah) which many people, even Christians, find confusing and others often mock as proof that the Bible is an antiquated book with little relevance to me today. This is probably best exemplified in an open letter written to Dr. Laura Schelssinger a few years ago posted below. Schelssinger is a radio personality who gives advice to those who call her radio show and this satirical letter was posted on the internet in response to her quoting Leviticus 18:22 and condemning homosexuality as an abomination. 

Dear Dr. Laura: 

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law.  I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can.  When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination.  End of debate.  I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them.

1.  When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord—Leviticus 1:9.  The problem is my neighbors.  They claim the odor is not pleasing to them.  Should I smite them?

2.  I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7.  In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3.  I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness—Leviticus 15:19-24.  The problem is, how do I tell?  I have tried asking, but most women take offence. 

4.  Leviticus 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations.  A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians.  Can you clarify?  Why can't I own Canadians?

5.  I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.  Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death.  Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

6.  A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination—Leviticus 11:10—it  is a lesser abomination than homosexuality.  I don't agree.  Can you settle this?

7.  Leviticus 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight.  I have to admit that I wear reading glasses.  Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

8.  Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Leviticus 19:27.  How should they die?

While I give the writer of this letter points for creativity, wit and humor, it is misguided for several reasons. One, it completely ignores the context in which these laws were written. The Bible is not a code of moral ethics by which people curry favor from an insatiable and insecure deity. It's ultimately a story, written by and about a God who loves us and who is pursuing a relationship with us which has been broken and initiating that restoration through His Son. 

Second, the writer fails to understand the fundamental problem of sin -- especially in the presence of a holy God. Have you ever noticed that anytime a person enters the presence of God in Scripture their immediate response is to fall on their face? That's "shock and awe". Notice it's not a holy God scurrying away from sinful man. It's sinful man falling down and hiding his face from an awesome and holy God. 

"Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?" -Exodus 15:11
As a child I used to think that sin somehow has power over God - as if God is Superman and sin is his kryptonite. We have it backwards. It's not so much that a holy God cannot dwell with sin - but rather it's sin that cannot dwell with a holy God. When Uzzah touched the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sa 6:7) the Ark was not destroyed....he was. Sin and anything sinful is simply vaporized when it comes into contact with the awesome holiness of God. It's as simple and sobering as that.

And so God did not send His Son as a panacea to His greatest weakness - He sent His Son as a panacea to our greatest weakness. This was not God's solution to His greatest problem - it was God's solution to our greatest problem. 

If you're still not convinced or would like to understand how it all ties together better please watch the video from The Bible Project below which does a great job of describing the structure and purpose of the book of Leviticus. Here you will see that Leviticus is pointing (as every book in the Bible does) to both the nearness and to our need of a Savior -- Jesus Christ -- who is ultimately revealed in the New Testament. 

You can choose to see the confusing moral laws in the Old Testament as arbitrary nonsense that disproves the relevance of the Bible. Or you can choose to see it as defining our problem with sin before an awesome and holy God, leading to God's gracious and merciful solution in His Son - Jesus Christ. 


Monday, May 18, 2015

Life, Death and the Glory of God

I want to share a quick story on the sovereignty and goodness of God in the midst of aching trials. When Kim was sick with cancer, we were served by some wonderful people. One of the best was our friend Jen (and her husband Rob) Stotz. She was truly a blessing to us -- constantly praying for us and greeting us with that positive attitude and infectious smile of hers. We were more than happy to partially return the favor this past year after we heard that her brother Bob was stricken with cancer and battling for his life. I did not know Bob personally but followed his journey of faith and suffering. He struck me as a godly man with a beautiful young family who loved to serve the "least of these" as proven by his dedication as a pediatric surgeon and his heart for medical missions.

Well, long (and tragic) story short -- Bob passed away last week after fighting to the end. The grace he and his sister Jen displayed through all of it is truly a testimony to the indescribable hope and peace we have in Christ. Though the outcome was not what we had hoped for, I know God was glorified by their faith. I share this because last night we got a message from Jen. Apparently, as soon as she got home from her brother's funeral a letter was waiting for her. It was from Be the Match and she was notified that she is a possible match for someone with cancer in need of a bone marrow transplant.

Jen wanted us to know since she registered when Kim was sick in 2012 when we were trying to get the word out for everyone to sign up. Only God could have orchestrated the timing of all these events. Obviously, the outcomes were very different for Kim and Bob and frankly it's something we don't understand ourselves, but one thing remains the same: GOD. God is good. God is sovereign and God is near to the broken-hearted.

p.s. If you haven't done so already please visit and register to be a donor. It's as simple as mailing in a cheek swab.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Faith, Hope and LOVE

I ran across this "spoken word" poem from a very talented artist named Janette...ikz about 4 years ago.  Her poem was entitled "I Will Wait For You" and it's an honest look at the disappointments in seeking a soul mate but finding satisfaction in the one who created her soul. I remember listening to this and thinking "she gets it".  Though she learned some tough lessons in dating the best thing she learned was that ultimate love can only be ultimately measured by and found in the One who is love -- Jesus Christ.

Well, I was happy to find another video from her this week. Apparently, she waited in hope for that man and she got married recently and recorded her vows. I'm so glad that her faith was rewarded on earth as it yet will be in heaven. God has granted her a Prince Charming for her time on earth but a greater Prince awaits her in heaven and she has not lost sight of that greater hope and promise.

I pray that my little girl gives her first and greatest love to the only man that can never disappoint her. Not her boyfriend. Not even me, her father. But the one who made her and loves her more than He loves himself. I hope she sees that the marriage vows she makes before her husband one day are only a picture of the covenant vows that Jesus has already made to her so that her struggle to keep her promise will be strengthened by Christ's promise to always keep His (Rom 8:38-39). I pray that she will find herself whole and complete not in an earthly man, but in the perfect God-man who provides a lasting "shalom" (wholeness, peace) and a perfect (complete) love.

Monday, December 15, 2014

'Til Death Do Us Part

I find it fascinating that this is the most popular movie currently in Korea...

South Korea has by far the highest rate of cosmetic surgeries in the world. Yet even a country capable of such shallow superficiality finds itself enamored with the beauty of a love that endures "until death do us part". Maybe we are drawn to stories like this because there is a higher love our souls long for and a greater love that even death cannot separate.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 8:38-39 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Gospel Marriage: Conflict, Reconciliation and God's Glory

This is a continuation of a series on how God created marriage to be living picture of the gospel to make us more like Christ and as a witness to the world for the glory of God. We looked at this in terms of how God designed marriage to be a COVENANT similar to Christ’s covenant to us. And we looked at this in terms of HEADSHIP and how God designed the husband to be the servant leader of the home as Christ is servant leader of the Church. In this post we will look at marriage in terms of RECONCILIATION and how God designed both the conflict and reconciliation found in marriage to be a profound picture of Christ’s reconciliation of the Church.  So let’s start with a video. WARNING: some foul language.
If you find any humor in the video above, it’s probably because you’ve “been there”.   The English writer, G.K. Chesterton once said “Marriage is an adventure….like going to war.”  While actor Gary Busey observed, “Marriage is the only war where you sleep with the enemy.”  Sad, but often true. 
marriage counseling anyone?
Marriage can evoke the language of war simply because it can feel like a constant battle. But take heart, even great leaders who have demonstrated the character and patience to lead nations and broker peace agreements in the midst of civil wars like Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela, had well-documented conflicts in their own marriages – so we are in good company. Of course, marriages don’t typically start this way but for many couples what begins as a blissful union often devolves into perpetual conflict. Why is this? I believe there are two primary reasons:
1.  the husband.
2.  the wife.
Both are sinners so when the “honeymoon phase” inevitably passes our true nature often emerges and the battle begins. To compound the potential for conflict, generally speaking, men and women are very different. Our culture perpetually pushes the false notion that men and women are the same in every way, but one week of marriage usually debunks that myth. That said, I believe God did make man and woman the same in many ways in that we both share God’s image, and therefore share the same inherent value and worth, but He also made us profoundly different – to His glory. We are physically different, physiologically different and also often very different in the way we think, act, feel, process, communicate. I’m all for equality but in its march for male-female equality the world has jettisoned male-female uniqueness discarding an important element of God’s creative design.
In 1992 John Gray published a book entitled Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus and it was an instant hit – selling over 7 million copies it grew so popular that it even became a television sitcom and a Broadway show. The basic premise of the book was that men and women are so different that they might as well have come from different planets, however understanding and appreciating these differences is the key to unlocking harmony and happiness in the relationship. What a radical concept! Our differences are not to be mocked or blurred but respected and even celebrated. In my own experience I often marvel at how God has gifted my wife with incredible amounts of “emotional intelligence” while I have the social awareness of a cave-man raised by a pack of wolves. I cannot count how many times she has (correctly) pulled me aside and told me how my words or facial expressions might have affected another person – completely unbeknownst to me.
The challenge is that our inherent differences have the potential to create a perfect storm for conflict which is why when I see a husband and wife who live in holy harmony and who have a peaceful home I find myself drawn to them like a moth to light because the glow is so attracting. Is this not what we all seek? Reconciliation in our differences. Unity in a world of diversity. Peace in the midst of conflict.
A few years ago I visited a good friend’s church in upstate New York and was surprised to see so much artwork on display in the hallways. I found that a local artist named Charlotte Blanchard was responsible for the work and the church displayed them in an effort to reach out to the community. The paintings were of natural and serene landscapes and were beautifully done but what struck me the most was not the art but the artist’s statement:
"It's all about detail and contrast coming together and making a pleasing union. I incorporate the solidarity of buildings with the fragility of flowers, light and shadows, bold colors and subdued earth tones, smooth and rough surfaces, dramatic and yet peaceful at the same time and all of this comes together to tell a story. 

It struck me that a gifted artist, someone who makes a living recognizing and expressing beauty in life through her work, would identify the unity found in diversity in life as the ultimate objective in her art. Her stated desire to “tell a story” by showing a “pleasing union” by using contrast is remarkable and I think she is touching upon a profound gospel truth here. I’m convinced that marriage is one of God’s greatest works of art. As the greatest of all artists, I believe God designed marriage to “tell a story” of a “pleasing union” that the world longs for but finds so elusive and that story is the gospel and that union is “Christ and the Church”. Think about it -- unity in diversity is the goal of every marriage and when we see it we are drawn to it and I believe in a small way we see its beauty because in it we see a picture of the triune God Himself (Father, Son & the Holy Spirit)– the ultimate coalescence of unity in diversity. Michelangelo once said that “the true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” He too saw the goal of art as reflecting, albeit imperfectly, a perfect God – a medium upon which man can trace the transcendent.

Where can we find the power of a sublime – even divine – reconciliation? Where points of contrast can be transformed into a picture of coalescence? I am convinced this truly begins when the husband and wife understand that their union was designed by God to be a faithful picture of the gospel, only then can they then move forward in the power of the gospel. To put it simply, the reconciliation found between Christ and the Church was meant to be the model and the motive for the reconciliation, peace and harmony found between a man and his wife.
So let’s connect the dots here. How can we know that Christ’s relationship with the Church should be the model of reconciliation for the husband’s relationship with the wife? The New Testament makes it clear that Jesus is the one who initiates the peace and who is our peace:
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility  - Ephesians 2:14
And it is only by faith in His covenant of love that we can have peace with God:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  –Romans 5:1
And it is only through Christ reconciling us to God, are we enabled and empowered to forgive and also be “ministers of reconciliation”.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  -2 Cor 5:18–19
Christ is our motive...
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  –Eph 4:32
This reconciliation is not only true of marriage, of course, but is prominently displayed in the context of marriage because marriage is one of life’s most fertile ground for conflict. I ran across the blog post a few years ago from a black pastor of a multi-ethnic church who describes the gospel picture of reconciliation found in marriage together so beautifully:
I told a couple I married this summer that their relationship was a grand opportunity for reconciliation.  They came from different backgrounds, in every way.  To start, the husband is African American, the wife Japanese American.  I told them that they didn’t appear to belong together in the eyes of some.  I told them that their relationship was an opportunity to bring together visibly opposing parties.  I tried to tie that into the Christian story because the story is chiefly a narrative about how two parties (estranged and yet full of love) return to one another.  In fact, as I think about it, that theme was in all of my wedding messages this year, with the possible exception of one, because all my marriage ceremonies were interracial.  If marriage is anything it is a community of forgiveness.  A marriage’s success or fruit or longevity is not ground up in the similarity of backgrounds and races of the couple but in the free, liberal, and frequent offering of the hardest thing in the world–forgiveness.
What a powerful expression of what every marriage should ultimately model – the unity in diversity and the beauty of a Christ-like reconciliation. While this display is perhaps magnified within the context of an inter-racial marriage it can certainly be true of any and every marriage that is built upon the glory of the gospel. Every marriage begins with two persons who may share similar interests and values but who come from different families, who have experienced distinct upbringings and are similar and yet so different. Despite being brought into this world at different times and different places these two persons somehow find each other, and although estranged by their inherent differences, ultimately find reconciliation and unity in the midst of their diversity. 

There is gospel beauty in the profound unity in diversity of a biblically-based marriage relationship because in the same way, the gospel begins with two people (Jesus and me) who are similar (Jesus being fully man) and yet so different (Jesus being fully God), who must find one another, be reconciled and build a relationship that is both beautiful and unified. This reconciliation projects a profound picture of the reconciliation found between God (in the person of Jesus) and us. Therefore, we are to live as initiators of peace and be reconciled with one another just as Christ is reconciled with those who believe in Him and enter into covenant relationship with Him. The goal of reconciliation is not just to have peace in the home. The goal of reconciliation transcends this as it pictures the reconciliation found in the gospel of Jesus Christ to the glory of God.
We live in a world where the most common stated reason for divorce is “irreconcilable differences”. Think about this for a moment. If the marriage relationship was created by God to be a beautiful picture of Christ’s reconciling love for the Church – how can we divorce on the basis that our differences cannot be reconciled? We are communicating to a watching world that a reconciling love that is bound to a sacred covenant and entered into by faith can in fact be broken and left unreconciled – when it cannot. Christ would never break His covenant of love with us on this basis and therefore neither should we.
These days the news cycle is being inundated by a video of NFL running back Ray Rice punching his fiancĂ© (now wife) unconscious with a left hook in a casino elevator. It is disturbing to watch and it seems the entire world is inflamed with a righteous anger over this senseless act of brutality and rightfully so. But where does this sense of “wrong” come from? I think a large part of the horror comes from seeing a man treat his wife with such contempt that it contradicts everything marriage is supposed to be about. Christian or not, we all believe that marriage should be marked with love and peace not anger and abuse. I am convinced that when we see this picture profaned we are rocked to our very core and it offers evidence that God, in His goodness, has placed this gospel image in our conscience.

So what is the take-away and application of this truth for my own (or future) marriage?  We will all experience conflict in our marriages, but is our marriage marked by a Christ-like reconciliation or constant strife? Do you seek reconciliation in the midst of conflict? Then you are a model of Christ who reconciled the world to himself. When you are at an impasse are you the one who initiates the peace – even when you are the one who has been “wronged”? If so, you are never more like Christ than you are at that moment – who initiated the peace though we wronged him.
When we are principals of peace in our marriage we are modeling the “Prince of Peace” and moving from “perpetual conflict” to a “pleasing union”. It is here that we shine forth the transcendent and glorious reconciliation found between Christ and His redeemed bride (the Church). And this is what marriage is all about -- illuminating the gospel as husband and wife for His glory and for our good.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Power Tools (A Man's Best Friend)

What is it about men and power tools? Why do we love them so? My theory is that power tools make men feel like pee-pee.  Ummm...not that kind of pee-pee! But "P" as in Practical and "P" as in Powerful. Practical: Because you can accomplish tasks at a fraction of the time and energy of manual tools. Powerful: Because they make you feel drunk with power as you rip through large pieces of wood like a hot knife through butter. Plus - they make loud noises too! Yeah!

I was going to get into the flooring and framing but I think this is a good point to talk about tools. Having the right tools make all the difference in the world. That said, tools are not cheap and power tools are definitely not cheap but if you are buying tools that you know you’ll be using again you do sleep better knowing it was money well spent. I have been blessed enough to live by neighbors that are both generous and have lots of cool tools (great combination!). As with most things you buy, you have to find that happy medium between cost and value and with power tools it’s no different. There are a wide range of opinions on which brand you should buy and while I'm sure some would disagree but based on my amateur opinion, if I had to put brands in a general order of quality I’d probably order it something like this: Dewalt, Bosch, Makita, Hitachi, Craftsman, Black & Decker, Skil, Tool Shop (whatever Chinese brand Harbor Tool Shop is carrying). I'm sure I've left off a few quality brands and the list may vary depending on the tool in question but this is just off the cuff so don’t hold me to it. So let’s start with one of the most basic power tools:

The Power Drill – up until about 6 months ago the only power drill I owned was a Skil. This is a lower end brand and will do the job if you live in a townhome (like we did) and all you’re doing is assembling Ikea furniture but if you want any real torque in your power drills move up. I’ve noticed that professionals/contractors almost exclusively use Dewalt (easily identified by their yellow color). This is a very durable and high-performance brand and your best bet if you’ll be using the tool very frequently and for heavy duty projects but it is pricey. I couldn’t justify spending this much for something I don’t use every day. I did need an upgrade though and noticed a three-piece Bosch power tool set at the clearance rack at Menards and so I was able to get a power drill, circular saw and reciprocating saw (i.e. saw zaw) with 2 lithium ion batteries for about $300 (retails for $500). Score! I’ve been very happy with the purchase. This is virtually a life-long investment so don’t go cheap here. 

The Impact Driver – this is not a have-to-have but boy it is close. This is like a power drill on steroids because it can drive big screws quick and deep unlike any regular power drill. I was fortunate enough to have a neighbor who owned this Milwaukee one which made drilling 4 inch lag screws a piece of cake (or even smaller screws). They are loud and have a hammering effect when they meet resistance on a drill so they don’t strip your screws and get them in very quick. Very tempted to add one of these to my future tool collection because using this tool makes me feel like this:

The Miter (Chop) Saw - You will obviously need saws since you will be cutting lots of wood. Most people have a circular saw but given how much wood you are going to be cutting I would highly recommend a miter saw. This is also called a chop saw but it makes cutting 2x4’s especially for framing MUCH faster and cleaner. It’s also great for making quick angled cuts which you will need for framing roofs.
so easy even a 9 yo can operate!
uhh...make sure the blade is pointed outward
The Jig Saw – this is a tiny saw but it is a must have as well. It can perform almost any cut but where it is most handy is when you are trying to make exact cuts like framing a circular shape in wood to wrap floor boards around a tree. They are not too expensive either, as you can buy a decent one of these for under $50 and it is totally worth it. I went with a Black & Decker since it was only like $30 on Amazon and I’ve been very pleased with performance. FYI – this is a saw you push not pull. I spent the first day trying to pull it towards me and the blade kept popping off. So frustrating! It wasn’t until I went back to the store that I realized I was doing it wrong. I told you I wasn’t handy. You should have seen the look on the Menard’s employees face when I explained my problem to him.
can't do this cut without a jigsaw
Right Angle Square –Not a power tool but you absolutely need one of these. Makes framing much easier as it ensures you are drawing a straight line  since you can rest the beveled edge perpendicular to your cut as it sits at a square 90 degrees. This makes for a straighter cut.  

Screws - Not a power tool again but don’t go cheap here. This is what holds everything together. I found these GRIPFast Gold Triple-Coated screws from 1 3/8 inch to 5 inch screws to be solid and useful for putting up walls to – and no pre-drilling necessary which makes it so easy especially when using an impact driver.  You can get these at Menards for about $11 per box. By the way, these aren't real gold in case anyone gets any ideas about driving over and stealing all my screws. I'm building a treehouse....not recreating Solomon's Temple here!

Oh, I'd also recommend some clamps if you ever plan on working alone. Because I didn't always have someone available to hold stuff while I cut. 

Happy shopping!

Next posting will show you how I built the flooring, framing and ladder!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Treehouse Project: The Beams and Platform

Patent Pending #0257648891535
In case you missed it, see previous post on why I am building a treehouse HERE. To prove that anyone can build a treehouse I have posted a picture of the only other woodworking project I have completed in my entire life. About 5 years ago I needed a stand for my printer in my office so I built one from scratch. Not to brag, but while I've gone through multiple printers (e.g. Canon, HP, Brother) this stand has outlasted all of them. I’m sure your first thought was “This is most assuredly the workmanship of a skilled Amish craftsman!” I forgive you. 

I share this all in jest of course because who attempts to build a treehouse after building a printer stand like that? I didn’t know where to start so I did quite a bit of research on the interwebs but full disclosure my primary resource in guiding me through this project has been this book (Amazon link HERE). It’s pretty simple read with lots of pics (who doesn't like pics?) but it covers a lot of things you may run into and stresses important things one might overlook. It also contains a lot of creative ideas  - which is the fun part! I highly recommend it as a basic guide. Lastly, my advice to anyone attempting to build a treehouse is “plan ahead but expect the unexpected and be flexible”.  Every tree and treehouse is different, and almost nothing goes exactly as planned so get ready to use your power drill clockwise (to assemble) and counterclockwise (to undo mistakes).

The Beams, Wood and Hardware
So the most important part of a treehouse are the beams. You cannot skimp on this part because this is what will be bearing the weight of your house (and your children!) and so it must be done right. As Jesus said, it’s better to build on rock than sand or the house will come tumbling down (i.e. your foundation matters!). I decided to go with two 2’x6’ beams on each side of the tree. The two oak trees I was securing the beams on are about 7 feet apart. If the beams were spanning much more than that I would have went with 2’x8’ beams but combining two pieces of wood is much stronger than going with one thicker piece (4’x6’) because two distinct cuts of lumber will have varying weak spots making the combined piece stronger overall. Yes, King Solomon was right when he said: Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Eccl 4:12) The two pieces are secured by 4" galvanized carriage bolts secured with washer and nut on the other side (single bolt on right).  Don't skimp and not get galvanized. This is a non-negotiable. You don’t want water rusting your bolts over time and your structure is only as strong as the bolts holding them. For the screws I went with two ½” thick by 7 inch long galvanized lag screws and washers on each side for attaching the main beams to the trunks. This would ensure that even after going through the two pieces of wood there would be a good 3-4 inches embedded into the hardwood of that solid oak tree. 

level is key!
Now before you affix it to the tree you have to make sure that everything is level both across the beam and between both beams. Though time-consuming this step is very important because if it is not consistently level throughout the base the weight will not be distributed evenly and the final structure will be more susceptible to collapse. Don't trust your eyes! The leveler does not lie. I also highly recommend getting pressure-treated wood at least for the beams and platform. Water is wood’s worst enemy and so getting pressure treated wood will make everything last much longer than untreated wood will. Yes, it looks uglier (greenish tint), yes, it costs more, and yes, it weighs more but it is well worth the investment in the long run.

The Platform
The size of the platform will depend on the strength of the tree and the design of the house. I wanted to make it as big as possible without compromising safety and so the platform spans about 9x12 - stretching short of 2 feet beyond each trunk. That’s over 100 SF suspended over 10 feet in the air. Plenty big. I used pressure-treated 2x6 wood for this as well and doubled up the perimeter for additional strength and stability. The biggest challenge was calculating how far away from the tree the platform could span before requiring additional support. I’m trying not to use additional posts as it starts to feel less like an authentic treehouse and more like an elevated house next to a tree. Well, there’s no exact science to this but I went about 3.5 feet beyond the trees on each side.

Since at this time it was just me and my cousin Young working on this we weren’t quite sure how we were going to get the platform up and on to the main beams. We thought it would be easier to build the platform leaning up against the beams so we could just slide it up when complete. We used a 6 ft ladder to help us prop up the frame while we screwed it together. It wasn’t until after we finished this and were getting ready to hoist it up that we realized the ladder had become permanently affixed to the frame.
Do not try this at home...
Doh!! Like I said “expect the unexpected”. We unscrewed one corner and slid it out and tried again. We quickly found that with the frame doubled up on perimeter and with joists running across it was now too heavy to hoist 8 feet up. Mind you, we are both very strong men. =) 

pulleys are the best!
We had already set up some pulleys on each side to hoist the main beams and so we tied ropes around one end and my cousin got on the lower side and used the ropes like a cable crossover machine. Meanwhile, I was on the other end pushing the platform up as if I was doing a clean and jerk lift. Now imagine two out-of-shape men squeezing every aiota of strength out of their middle-aged bodies to get this platform up. I'm pretty sure we scared all the crows out of all the trees in a 3 mile radius when we released the primitive screams reminiscent of an olympic power-lifter....


However, when the platform was placed above the beams we noticed it would tip if there was too much weight on one side. To mitigate this we secured deck ties between the joists and main beams. After doing this I could stand on the edge with zero movement. 
deck ties galore

But just to make sure I also put in some corner braces at a 45 degree angle in each corner. Again, this is primarily to support the platform from tipping if there was too much weight on one side - highly recommended if you are going more than 2 feet over the beam.

Next week I’ll point out the essential  power tools you’ll need, how we put in the floors and also show the beginning stages of framing the treehouse. 
framing chapter next!!