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4131 N. State Highway 251 Mendota, IL 61342 (815) 538-6876

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Welcome To the Iron Works

The Iron Works is material from men for men. It is largely provided by the men of our church, who have written from their own experiences and perspectives to help encourage other men in Godly manhood. In a time when manliness is considered 'toxic' we want to show what the Bible has to say about good and godly masculinity. So take a look around. We hope this will encourage you to pursue God's purposes for you as a man.

Kid's Klubs Summer Camp Crafts

This year, Kids' Klubs a children's ministry which our church supports, needed some help with the craft project the kids work on at Summer Camp. Director Rene Noble wanted the kiddos to assemple a table-top version of corn hole, but needed to have the pieces cut before hand. Our men volunteered and spent a Saturday morning throwing saw-dust into the air and cutting pieces. Thanks for the work, men! It will be a blessing to Klubber and Worker alike!

Daniel drills the holes

Daniel drills the holes

Joe sands the rough edges

Joe sands them smooth

We all stop for lunch

We all stop for lunch

Rene & Brian cut to length

Brian and Rene cut the wood to length

Ripping on the table saw

We rip the pieces to size on the table-saw.

Dan Baxter

Dan Baxter

Dan and his wife Linda have been a members of Mendota Bible Church for 35 years. Dan serves here as a Deacon and a Sunday School Teacher. He has a background in Engineering, and loves working with wood. His cigar box guitars are favorites.

Dan's Workship

I'm Dan Baxter, long time member of Mendota Bible Church, Church Board member serving as Board Secretary and Sunday School Superintendent, and leader of the Sunday School Class. I was born and raised south of Rockford, IL, and served in the US Navy aboard a nuclear missle carrying submarine for 4 years. I finished by B.S.Ed. at Northern Illinois University, and have retired as an Engineering designing woodworking machinery for 43 years.

I spent my youth at my dad's side watching him build our house and work with wood making all kinds of things. My grandfather was also a cabinet maker and fine craftsman. When I got out of the Navy, and my wife Linda and I bought our now 136 year old house, I started learning to work with wood out of necessity to remodel our home. I've acquired many tools along the way, mostly bought at auctions or inherited. My workship is in our basement, which is convenient, but sawdust is always a problem. I have a former neighbor who has a family farm with hardwood timber and he keeps me well-stocked with unbelievably nice hardwoods, and he will not take any money as payment. He is a very good friend. I've gotten really spoiled working with oaks, cherry, and walnut.

The Cross In The Foyer

As our three kids have grown and moved out into their own homes, I've been asked to make a variety of items out of wood. I've made shelves for textbooks, coffee tables, headboards, plant and TV stands, even a litter box for a grand cat. They always ask for something, but give me very little direction on details, so I am always looking for patterns and examples online.

When we started getting grand-kids, my attention was turned to wooden toys and such, some they asked for, some are surprises for a gift. None are plastic or 'Made in China.' When asked to make a specific item, I always say, 'I have a long list and don't expect to get it right now!'

What I really like to make are lettered plaques that I use my scroll saw to make. The scroll saw is my tool to use. Most people use thin plywood on the scroll saw with very delicate patterns. I use 3/4 inch or thicker wood to make a bold statement. One example of my work is found at the front entrance to Mendota Bible Church, first made to identify our table the first time our church was at the Sweet Corn Festival.

I do make wooden rattles that I give to the local pregnancy clinic to give to the moms when they first come to the clinic. I pray that when the moms get a 'first toy' for their unborn baby they will not seek an abortion. I started making rattles for our grandkids, but I sought to somehow help out at the clinic, so started giving rattles away. I also make items for Kids Klub Ministry for instruction aids, awards and craft projects for camp.

In the past years I started making some instruments. I saw the plans to make a dulcimer in a book for making colonial crafts. I thought, 'I can make that!' After much thought and planning I made two for Christmas gifts. The next year I made two bowed psalteries, a 32 stringed instrumetn played with a stringed bow. The next year I made a cigar box guitar. This past year I was asked to make instruments for a staff rhythm band at Kids Klub Camp. I made wooden drums, xylophones, temple blocks, and kazoos, 32 instruments in all. Some were successes, some not so. All made music, or at least noise.

I love making things from wood. Not ready to 'Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood' (Genesis 6:14), but its so interesting and rewarding to work with grain and texture, like working with people. Sometimes wood can be as frustrating and taxing as working with people. You can complete the project, then apply a finish and the project looks completely different, sometimes better, sometimes not.

'Is this not the carpenter?' Mark 6:3

Ed Decker

Ed Decker

Ed and his wife Dianna live in Ottawa, IL. His heart for the church is that people would know God and walk with Him and enjoy His goodness.


After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, "Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it." So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him.

Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly." Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the feast," or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

John 13:21-20

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward." Peter said to him, "Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times."

John 13:34-38

I wonder why the passages records these men as being so puzzled by the prophecy of Peter's (and their) betrayal. Perhaps it is because each feels sure of his own innocence, and wonders if he has misjudged his fellows. Is it because each is considering which of the others is most likely to fail? Or is there in his own heart is a tiny nagging doubt, a worry he might hear: "You are the one!"? How strange. Despite what seems an obvious reference to the immediately following interaction between Jesus and Judas, none of them realize what has just happened is the fulfillment of the prophecy. What is it they are puzzling over exactly, that they miss this?

Oh, Lord! The one we love is all too often the one we betray- perhaps not in the ultimate sense but by bits: little betrayals, tiny increments of denial, fearing to stand with him when it's right (but costly), or falling to the allure of another attraction.

How human, weak, feckless: swaying, grasped and held fast by myopic visions of familiar pleasure-enticed by sweet aromas and alluring imaginations to re-enter slavery to our old master-but only for a moment (so we think).

Somewhere in my foggy recollections is an aphorism: "When you surrender to temptation, you will go farther than you want to go, stay longer than you want to stay, and pay more than you want to pay."

Despite what the tempters whisper, hapless self-made victims have said their grim experience has borne out the truth of that saying. And the worst part isn't what we lose in the transaction. The worst is what we missed out on by settling for such weak, fleeting tidbits of gratification when delight was available. We are willing to jump for crumbs while a banquet is offered! But the banquet-table is not approached on a whim, or by easy, casual desire.

Jesus knows the banquet most enjoyed and delighted in is the that which is avidly sought and desired and valued enough to find pleasure even in the anticipation and waiting, with the hope that when what is sought and dreamed of is finally realized, it will be all the more gratifying and pleasurable because it was long-sought, anticipated and waited for.

Pastor Brian

Brian Kelly

Brian has been the pastor at Mendota Bible Church for over 4 years. He is married to Kim, and has 7 children. He loves to teach the Bible, work with wood, garden and play guitar. He also loves to encourage men to be Godly men, husbands, and fathers.

Get Over It, Dad!

Being a dad presents many challenges. We strive to provide well for our kids, to teach them right from wrong, keep them safe with plenty of food and clothes, and give them the start they will need to have successful and fulfilled lives. It can be daunting! Despite the size of these responsibilities, one task that may be more fearful and overwhelming is to have "The Talk" with our kids. It can be awkward. Sex is a very sensitive subject. But, Dads, ask yourself if you really want your kiddos getting their view of sexuality from anywhere else? Are the thoughts and philosophies and norms you see in the world around you the ones you want your children to adopt? If you are reading this page, I'm guessing you have some concern for your kids' spiritual well-being. That's fantastic! There's no greater duty a father fulfills for his kids than to teach them about their relationship with God (Eph. 6:1-4)Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.. And it is no secret that what society promotes as normal and healthy for sexuality is far different from what the Bible presents. So if we truly want to combat the deluge of sexuality constantly overwhelming our kids and help them choose God's plan for their own sexuality, then we dads need to get over the discomfort of 'the talk' and instill Biblical values of sexuality.

When should you have 'the talk?'

This might be a good time to dispel the thought that there is a singular 'talk' which you have to have with your kids. Think about how important this aspect of life is. How does it affect your relationship with your wife? With the Lord? Sexuality has deep and far reaching implications. Can you communicate all of that in one session? I'm guessing you're shaking your head, 'no.' So, let's start thinking in terms of life-long communication rather than a simple one session encounter. All the time they are growing up little questions should be getting answered. Of course, these have to be in age appropriate ways. I have found that most of the time kids' questions determined the right time to provide answers. When your three-year-old asks where babies come from, it is a great time to explain how part of mom and dad come together to form a new baby which grows inside the mommy until its ready to be born. That will probably satisfy their curiosity, until a few years later they begin wondering how the part of the mom and the part of the dad come together. When they are not satisfied with a simple answer, give more detail. By the time they are maturing physically themselves, you may be giving full-fledged detail about the mechanics of sex. But you will have built a relationship where they have seen that Dad does indeed know what he's talking about, and you will not feel quite so nervous about providing those answers, because you've built up to it.

You might ask, 'But my kids are getting a bit older, and I've avoided the subject like the plague. What do I do?' The answer is simple, though not easy. As Jean-luc Picard liked to say after setting course, 'Engage!' You may have let a few opportunities slip, but there is no time like the present to set course for teachable moments and 'Engage!' You may have to force a few conversations to get started, but it will come. Remember, they will get the knowledge somewhere. Do you want it coming from somewhere other than you? God has tasked you with this, to teach your kids His values for life. Own it. Take up the mantle, and do it!

I may also say that if you are in the habit of Family Worship times, where you, your wife, and your kiddos, and whoever else may happen to be in your home at the time, gather together to read the Bible together and pray then the topic WILL come up. God is, after all, not even remotely squeamish about sexuality in His Word. You'll have some 'splaining to do when you get to Genesis 38 and the account of Onan not wanting to raise up a child for his brother. But this all goes to the point that communicating sexuality is not a singular 'talk', but a lifetime of communication.

How do I begin to explain it?

Much of our discomfort stems from our not knowing where to start. But I have found, as I mentioned above, that their questions can be the best directors of how to answer. If your little one asks where babies come from, your answer can be rather simple. Sure, three year olds don't need the technical names of all the parts involved. She's just curious about where that new baby brother came from. Did you buy him at the store, or what? A teenager probably will need more. He wants to know why he feels the way he does when he sees the new girl at church.

I like the Bible's example. It uses natural examples. It talks about 'seed.' A man has a seed, and woman has a seed. When the two combine they form a whole new person, a baby, which grows inside of mom. Use plants and flowers and the process of fertilization. There should be nothing embarrassing to us about speaking of male and female. God has built it into the world all around us. So from the earliest ages let your kids know that this whole process of sex and reproduction is completely natural and good and enjoyable when used in its right context.

When they are a little older, they will probably begin asking how the 'seed' of the man and the 'seed' of the woman come together. After all, with plants it involves insects and wind, and you don't want your precious 8 year old girl thinking she may have a baby if a honey-bee lands on her, or if she sits too close to a boy while the wind is blowing. I knew I had crossed an appropriate level of explanation when my boys said, 'You do WHAT to a girl?" If you hit that point, just accept that they've heard more than their little mind can take, and leave further explanation for later.

Model Appropriate Affection With Mom

Somewhere in the kiddo's understanding they will begin to wonder whether you really know what you're talking about or if you are just making this stuff up. After all, isn't the real explanation of this stuff a bit crazy sounding? And if you want to communicate to your kids that physical expressions of love are good and appropriate and a blessing within the bounds of marriage, as the Bible explains, then showing appropriate levels of affection with your wife to your kids will be a great real-life illustration. Let them see you kiss your wife. Let them see you hold her hand, and playfully slap her on the behind, and comment on how she looks. Kids need to see that you and your wife enjoy your relationship together. So does she, by the way. Of course, your sexual relationship should be sanctified and secret. Do all you can to make sure your kids don't walk in on you. They also need to see that sex is something that, while holy and good and enjoyable, is also extremely personal. Nakedness is a shameful thing to display publicly.

Use the Bible

Remember that the goal of all of this is to instill in your children a sense of the holiness of the sexual relationship. You want them to understand the mechanics in age-appropriate ways, but more importantly, you want them to understand God's purposes for sexuality, which is one man and one woman engaging in an exclusive relationship for each other's benefit for life. If you are wondering where there may be passages of the Bible which speak about this subject which you can use to teach your kiddos, here is a list. Use Biblical terms when you talk to your kids about this topic. Quote the passages that refer to it. Let them know that God is supportive of sexuality within the right context.

Along with this comes the responsibility to discuss with your kids the dangers of misusing God's gift of sexuality. Some of these can be difficult subjects to broach, but again, remember that God has tasked you with this responsibility. Get over the discomfort and talk to them. Warn them about the dangers of sex before marriage, of adultery, of pornography and masturbation. Talk about the struggle not to lust after women, and of the need to guard your eyes, and heart and mind. Your boys especially will be glad to know they are not the only ones who struggle with such things.

  • Genesis 2 and 3

    Discuss how God created Adam and Eve because it was not good for a man to be alone.

  • Proverbs

    The book of Proverbs has a wealth of wisdom regarding sexuality, including talking about the blessing of the marriage relationship and the dangers of promiscuity and fornication and adultery.

    • Proverbs 5

      Solomon discusses with his son the blessings of marriage and the dangers of adultery, even referencing the danger of sexually transmitted disease.

    • Proverbs 6:23-26

      A warning against adultery and prostitution.

    • Proverbs 7

      A warning against adulterous relationships, with a lengthy discussion of the process of temptation.

  • Song of Solomon

    A love song between a man and his wife, discussing their wedding night. The repeated refrain, 'Do not awaken love before it desires' is a good warning about arousing our sexual passions out of context. It could counsel us on the music we listen to, and the movies and shows we watch, or the books we read. Do they arouse sexual passion out of context?

  • Exodus 20:14, 17

    Do not commit adultery, and do not covet. Talk about what each of those means and how to avoid them.

  • 2 Samuel 11

    Read the account of David's sin with Bathsheba. Talk about what actions led up to it, and God's rebuke to David, and the consequences which followed.

  • Job 31:1

    'I have made a covenant with my eyes, why then should I look upon a maid?' Of course, I assume, men, that you yourselves are fighting the good fight in regards to purity of thought, and keeping your thought and mind reserved for the woman God has given you as a wife. If not, please, turn from lustful thinking, and make a commitment, by the grace of God, to keep your heart and mind away from sexual thoughts towards other women.

  • 1 Corinthians 7

    A lengthy treatment of the purpose for sexuality within marriage, where the husband is not seeking his own pleasure, but the wife's and vice versa.

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

    A warning about living in sexual immorality rather than sanctification.

  • Hebrews 13:4

    An encouragement to hold marriage in high esteem, guarding it from violation.

There are more! God is not silent about sex. He tells us much about it in the Bible. We, as Dads, should be drawing our children's attention to God's teachings regarding sexuality so that they can make good decisions regarding their own sexuality.

Protect Your Home From Over-sexualization

It's no secret that sex is everywhere. Nobody believes that Victoria has any real secrets anymore. She displays them everywhere for all to see! TV shows, commercials, internet sites and music all carry heavily sexualized themes. As we saw earlier, the Song of Solomon warns against arousing or awaking love before its proper time. As Dads, are we helping our children by protecting our homes from sexualized images and themes? It may not be helping your teenage boys make godly decisions regarding their sexuality if we all sit down and watch shows with blatantly sexual scenes or people wearing revealing clothing. By doing so, we may be arousing their desires out of context. How then can we help them in their struggle to remain sexually sanctified?

Dad, do you watch such TV? Are you listening to sexualized music? Are you looking at pornography? These will all hinder your ability to communicate effectively to your kids God's standards for sexuality, because you yourself are violating them. If you are struggling with such things, get some help. Talk to your pastor, or another trusted Christian man, preferably older than yourself, who can advise you and keep you accountable. You need to overcome this, for the sake of your relationship with Christ, for the sake of your relationship with your wife, and for the sake of your relationship with your kids.

Okay, Dad, are you ready? God has tasked us fathers with the responsibility to 'bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.' Eph. 6:4. Sure, it can be uncomfortable. Sure, it can be awkard. Sure, you going to make mistakes. But that doesn't excuse you from the duty, and the privilege of engaging with your kids on this difficult subject. And if you do not engage, you will never see the great blessing of watching them grow and develop and choose for themselves to do what is right, not because you forced them, but because you led them to God's standards, showed them how great they are, and how great He is, and they began seeking God for themselves. Get over it, and Engage!

Rusty Tools Hanging on a wall

Rusty Tools…

I love to collect old tools. I have been a carpenter by trade, and enjoy working with wood like Dan, though I don't have his level of skill. But I love to collect old tools because they remind me of the wood-working artists of old, who could produce amazing pieces of craftsmanship without any the of finery like battery powered drills or table-saws. No Delta 10" table-saws with built in dust collecting, no router tables; no, these men produced their work with hand-tools. They used braces instead of Milwaukee 24v cordless drills. They used handsaws, and mauls and buck-saws. And we with our wonderful power-tools even take the short cut of assembly, using nails, while the old-timers cut mortise and tenon joints and used pegs, which are stronger by far. The precision they were able to accomplish was based not on highly machined tools, but on their skill as craftsmen. We can only stop and marvel at their accomplishments. Today we are more jealous of the shop or the toolset, and we think to ourselves, "Boy, if I had that lathe, I could make stuff like that." I realize that there is still skill required, but tell me that when you see a guy with a massive shop and expensive tools, and he shows off his latest piece of work that you don't think this to yourself, "I could make that, too, if I could afford a two thousand dollar shaper." What wonder is there is seeing a carving made by a CNC machine?

Now, the tools on my wall are a bit out of repair. Some have been sitting in a barn for years, collecting dust and absorbing water, their blades pock-marked by the years of oxidation. They wouldn't be good for much of anything now. That draw knife would do more gouging than clean shaving. But think of the amazement of seeing a man come a long and take that rusty tool and create something strong, and wonderful, and intricate. Such is the craftsmanship of our Lord Jesus. He is building a magnificent piece of work called the church. And we are the tools He is using us to construct His church.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

Here is the first mention of the Church. Now I know this verse has much debate about that curious 'rock' upon which the Church will be built, but my point is not to get into that today. I want to focus instead upon the simple words, "I will build my church." This is Jesus speaking, obvs. So that means the Master Builder of this Church is Jesus. It is not us. We don't carefully select the materials, nor consider the shape of the superstructure. He does. We don't set the stones in place and masterfully level and square them. He does. He will build His own Church. Isn't that comforting? So what is our role? Well, that is answered in other passages.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Peter, who himself listened to Jesus say, "I will build my church," reminds us again that we are being built up (notice the passivity?) into a spiritual house. Thus, we know that the Church Christ is building is not a building. It is a spiritual thing. It is not made of stone, and wood, and steel. It is made of US. We are living stones, and Christ is masterfully setting each of us in place to construct a temple for the worship of himself. Each person who believes is a new, living stone, in this glorious construction where Christ is worshipped. Not only is every Christian a stone in the temple, he is also a servant-priest, worshipping Christ within this grand monument. Christ is the Master Craftsman.

So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. 1 Corinthians 14:12So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

But then, in discussing spiritual gifts with the Corinthians, Paul tells the Corinthians that it is the power of the Spirit of Christ which is at work through us, and that we, as the tools, should be eager to be used, not so that people will see the tool, but the Craftsman wielding it, and so that the project be completed. I have a couple of projects in the works myself, and I cannot wait to see them done. But what will be more amazing is to see the finished Church presented to Christ Jesus as a finished thing, beautiful, masterfully wrought, intricate in every detail. And when we see it, we will marvel not at the rusty tools that were used to create it, but at the Master Craftsman who used such tools to accomplish such work of art.