The Resurrection

I believe the resurrection is the central event of Christianity.

I believe the resurrection is God’s proof, demonstrating His plan of salvation for humanity works.

I believe the resurrection is the example of what we will be like in eternity, not necessarily like the resurrected Jesus in every way, because He is also divine, but nevertheless we will a resurrected body similar to his.

I believe the resurrection is a verifiable via historical evidence. Therefore it is worthwhile for an honest seeker to study the resurrection, and the difference it made in the lives of those who encountered it.

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

The black-necked stilt is a sharp dressed bird, wearing black and white with a red color accent like a businessman’s power tie. The flock will use that power when they respond to predators. While most water birds will flee from threats, these birds, these birds will work together both to spot and drive away dangers. These displays can be remarkably aggressive, including surrounding the predator with birds that are jumping up and down and flapping their wings at it.

A behavior like this would be unwise when the bird is alone, but it is effective in groups. If a solitary bird ran up to a coyote jumping up and down like this the message received would likely be more “pick me!” than “go away!” But when it is done in the group it is a successful deterrent and means of dealing with danger.

There is likely to be a lesson there for the church. How good is your church at pointing out and dealing with the dangers of sin? Sometimes the church will shy away from this activity because in today’s world people can think we look silly. A little bit like the group of birds gathered around a threat and raising a ruckus. This type of warning people against sin is perceived as old fashioned, and described as the church acting like chicken little claiming the sky is falling.

But when the church doesn’t point out the dangers of sin, they are instead leaving it up to the individual Christian to handle sin on their own. This is likely to turn out a bit more like the lone stilt displaying for a coyote. We need the support of the group in order to strive toward righteousness. We need the help of the congregation to defeat sin and the intentional enemy behind all sin.

1 Peter 5:8 (HCSB) “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour

Fiscal Priorities

Oliver North coined or quoted a phrase he called the spies credo, “Just because I am paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out to get me.” While I don’t know much about spy games, or for that matter anything military, I prefer for to have people protecting our country thinking this way. We don’t know what the future holds, but we should choose to be prepared for big and little threats.

Recently the news has talked about policy changes that will decrease the amount of military and military spending to levels similar to World War Two. I have to wonder why we take such actions. It appears to be cost saving actions, which would make perfect sense in light of the fact we have made a habit of spending money we don’t have.

But this action also reflects priorities. We have prioritized overhauling the healthcare system over national defense. Meanwhile the cost of healthcare reform, both federally and individually is crippling us financially. This will guarantee we are not fiscally fit enough to defend ourselves when conflict escalates. I suppose we are supposed to be happier being healthy while subservient to other countries? Well, if this is how it is supposed to work, we had better make ObamaCare a lot more functional.

Jasper Mullins and the Fall of Eden 51

Jasper Mullins was one of the few remaining independent miners. There had been a mining boom fifty years before when technology created mineral scanners, mining lasers and ships capable of fast interstellar travel. Most of his kind had found sudden death rather than sudden riches. Mining was dangerous.

Jasper had survived by being cautious, but he had also never quite gotten rich enough to quit. As mining rights got more and more restricted he found a sweet deal in a star system named Eden 51. The local government was a monarchy, and the King had granted him exclusive mining rights to the asteroid belt between the fifth and sixth planets. The only catch was he could not mine one particular rock. It was sacred, but there were a thousands of others to choose from.

The King was a different race or maybe even species than the people he governed. Jasper thought they must be slaves of some sort. But they were peaceful, passive, happy, and more than willing to trade with him. He would not risk this opportunity worrying about those people.

He had been accumulating small amounts of gold, platinum, silver, copper, and latinum. The real money was in the metal crystals, he had a couple dozen gold crystals, hundreds of silver and one single platinum. These formed in the hardest of rocks, under conditions impossible on planets. Most colonies didn’t even know they existed, but the ones that did valued them higher than any jewel.

The computers had taken over the mechanical process of scanning different asteroids and planning which ones to mine, leaving Jasper with time on his hands. He used it to visit with the King. He studied non-planar calculus. He also wondered about that sacred rock.

The computer had scanned it along with the others. It was too hard for the scanner to penetrate; he had never seen that before. His imagination speculated what might be inside an asteroid that hard. No one had ever found a latinum crystal before. He figured, if such a thing existed, it was there in that rock.

He approached the King asking for rights to mine it. But was strongly rebuked. He offered to trade the gold and silver crystals for the rights. The king refused and positioned gunships nearby. Jasper felt this action signified a final answer. So instead of asking again he planned a way to do it without the rights

Although the gunships would be watching him, he would often go to the back side of the rocks. So he went behind a fast moving asteroid, then when it passed by the sacred stone he slipped around behind it, keeping out of sight of his guards. He left a drone on the other rock doing mining operations to cover the static he would make

So now that he was here, he had to work quickly. He scanned again with the more powerful short range scanner. But still the rock was too hard to penetrate. He made the decision then to use the mining laser to make a small incision. It would be hardest on the outside. Once through this layer he expected to be able to make a successful scan.

The laser took longer to bite into the hard rock than normal, and Jasper feared the electrical and radiowave whitenoise generated would attract the gunboats. Despite these fears he continued until finally he saw a crack open up on the surface. He withdrew the laser and prepared to scan again, but then noticed the crack was spreading.

He fearfully watched as the cracks spread over the entire surface of the asteroid. Jasper knew the gunboats would see it; they might already be gathering. His fate was sealed. But still he had to know what was in there

Then the sacred rock broke apart. He found out what was in it. Not minerals or crystals, but creatures came out. Something like winged dragons, which flew in space by spitting fireballs. Several were fired in his general direction, none hit him, but only because his small ship was nimble. Whatever they hit was destroyed. Entire asteroids shattered into thousands of pieces.

The gunships opened up on the creatures, but failed to hinder them. The creatures destroyed all the fleet in the next few seconds. Thousands of lives lost. Jasper then watched helplessly as the creatures headed toward the heavily populated fifth planet. Nothing in his experience allowed him to process what he was seeing. Not knowing what else to do, he followed them. The King’s ship met him in orbit above the planet.

He was taken to the King’s attending room. The King asked why Jasper had committed this crime. He could only answer he didn’t know this would be the result The King asked what price Jasper would pay for his crime. Jasper had no answer. Instead of executing him, the King made him watch what was happening on the surface of the planet.

The creatures settled down in different spots, and instead of killing the population, they enslaved them. They no longer worked for themselves, but instead were forced to spend their now shorter, unhappy lives feeding and serving the creatures. Billions of free and happy beings were transformed by bitter servitude. They were tortured for the entertainment of the creatures. They died young because of their hard labor and lack of care.

Jasper was forced to watch the process unfold over several months. Then one day the king said it was enough. Jasper was glad; he thought anything was better than watching the misery he had caused. The King made a new sacred stone, then defeated and gathered the creatures which had become fat and incapable of fighting. Once again they were imprisoned in the asteroid. Finally he came and took Jasper, who was transformed into a creature like the others, and placed him into that prison too.

 

The idea for the above flash fiction piece came to me last night. Now that it is written out I don’t especially like it.  Can you see why?  Do you see the parallels and what are the strengths and weaknesses of those correlations?  Comments welcome, postive or negative. After all, I already admitted I don’t like it much. 

 

 

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird

This is a yellow-headed blackbird. There doesn’t seem to be any need to discuss how it came up with its name. This is the biggest blackbird. It appears most sporadically, meaning there are few places they don’t show up in at some point, but there is also only a few places where you can be sure they will return year after year. The marsh where I took these pictures was full of at least twenty males dividing up the area into nesting territories.

One of the behaviors of these birds is they will drive red-winged blackbirds in order to claim a nest area. The squabbles when they first arrive are a comical affair made up of more posing and bravado than of crossing talons and beaks. The winner in these battles is generally the one who stands their ground with the most courage.

I believe courage is a spiritual value. We should carefully store courage up in our hearts. We should encourage it and nurture it in our children and those we mentor. Courage is important because it is a necessary ingredient in everything we do. From a child’s first steps to a young soldier’s command to join the battle to an old man facing a cancer diagnosis; courage is necessary.

It is a spiritual value because courage is necessary to do things for God’s sake. It takes courage to walk away from sin. It takes courage to learn and grow in the Christian life. It takes courage to become whatever it is God wants us to become. In addition to believing courage is a spiritual value, I believe most people are not reaching their full potential in Christ because they have not practiced the high level of courage it takes to achieve God’s best.

This is a pattern of Scripture. Remember the children of Israel refused courage and wandered in the wilderness for forty unnecessary years. Then when they did take the promised land they used some courage, but stopped short when they grew weary of the battle. Then they had to live with the consequences of compromise for the remainder of the time they were carried off into captivity. That captivity was one of the consequences suffered for their lack of courage.

In Joshua 1:7 (HCSB) we see the principle of courage being taught to Joshua as he prepared to become a leader. “Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go.”

Political Communication

Communication is at the heart of all politics. The communication of ideas, the communication of values, and the communication of policies. A good politician will not only be a skilled policy maker, but a great communicator.

But the art of communication is sometimes not just about conveying information. Sometimes it is also about what is purposefully not communicated, or maybe even purposefully miscommunicated. The manipulation of information is at the heart of all bad politics.

Several times lately, I have heard details of three cases where government was purposefully preventing communication. When Gibson Guitars was raided by homeland security, they immediately ordered the plant to shut off all of their surveillance equipment. Another case was when a hospital disagreed with a standing diagnosis of a child by another doctor, they not only succeeded in having the child removed from her parents, but also successfully asked the court to order the parents to break all contact with the family’s priest. Just today, I learned a basketball player who was also a paid social media publicist was in trouble for having tweeted a selfie he took with the president.

In all three cases I don’t see the point in the action taken. If the raid on Gibson Guitars was being done in a lawful way, why prevent the details from being recorded? How was ordering a couple parents to cease contact with a family priest in anyone’s best interest? If the president shows a lack of discretion in who he takes a selfie with, why would anyone expect the other party to take that responsibility for him?

Who controls the flow of information is always critical, and without solid communication there is no accountability. When a society loses the ability to access factual data about their government and its activities, they cannot expect to remain free.

Redhead

Redhead Duck

This is a redhead. I found this one swimming around a city park. In this picture you can see the red color of the bird’s head. That coloration is occasionally seen as a brighter red if the light is just right, but usually is colored like this picture.

The redhead has a habit which a few other birds and waterfowl have and that is it will parasitize the nests of other birds. What this means is they will lay their eggs in another birds nest. For a very few species, they never nest on their own and this practice is their entire survival strategy. For the redhead though it is not so much a survival strategy as just an odd habit. Sometimes they lay an egg in the nest of another redhead. Often times it is laid in the nest of some other water bird. Herons, bitterns, geese and more have returned to the nest to find a new egg left by a redhead. These eggs seldom survive.

I believe there is a lesson here for Christians. Most of us have a desire to serve the Lord. We know this often comes in the form of serving others, both inside and outside the church. This sacrifice of service is precious to the church and to the servant. Sometimes for the person who is outside the church it is also appreciated and can draw the person into a saving relationship with Christ.

But at other times, the person being served will be spiteful about that service. They will see it as something Christians do out of foolishness. Others are so hostile to the gospel as to not want any acts of Christian kindness around them. In cases like this sometimes the decision should be made redirect our efforts.

Time is more valuable than money, and wasting time on a person who does not want the attention or assistance is robbing us of the opportunity to serve someone who does. Jesus spoke of it this way in Matthew 7:6 “Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.”