Meeting Compagno

The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.

The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind.  Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue,  Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment

The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands, Here are the previous episodes in this battlefield Learning to See and Maintaining Common Sense.  Today we get the Episode 23 or third episode of the second battlefield.

 

Meeting Compagno

They continued moving across the floor of the valley until they found the original settlement. This allowed them to explore and look for items which might help them at the lake house when they returned.

One building though they both felt was too dangerous to enter. Even though they were not sure why. They decided nothing in there could be so valuable to make it worth overriding the sense of danger they felt. They did ask Colofer if she knew what it was that made them feel so uneasy. She explained the building had explosives from the mining operations. Those explosives had aged to the point of being unstable. If they opened the door, the breeze, the change of pressure or the sunlight might well set it off, blowing the entire settlement sky high.

They spoke about whether this had been the feeling they were following. But it wasn’t. So they moved a safe distance out of town and set up camp again. Both looked around carefully before setting up their tents. Colofer watched with satisfaction. The next morning Jamison felt all the more urgency to get across the valley and find the source of what was calling him. So they hastened their breakfast and headed in that direction. Shortly they stopped on the edge of a tree line watching a man in a mining operation just above them on the hillside.

He had brought in a private ship, with sophisticated equipment to withdraw minerals out of the planet. Almost certainly the operation was illegal, but even if he had secured the rights to do this mining, prospectors were notorious for being wary of claim jumpers.

“This is why we had felt the sudden danger two days ago. He was watching us from somewhere nearby and had considered killing us.” Jamison spoke out loud as the surprising realization came to him. “But why did I need to travel out here and talk to this man? Even now I feel for certain I must get up there and somehow meet him without getting my head blown off.”

Colofer answered, “You want to speak with him because our king is asking you to do so. One of the important lessons you must learn is how to discern what assignments the king is giving you. For you, Jamison, this is one of the most important assignments. Telling others about the king.”

Jamison watched the man going about his business for several long minutes. He would work for a while, then he would put his hand on his side arm and scan the surrounding terrain. After reassuring himself, he would return to work for a while before repeating his routine.

Jamison glanced sideways at Chambers and said, “I will be back as soon as I can.”

“We will be back as soon as we can.” She corrected.

He gave her a nod and the two of them walked out of the tree line and into a clearing. Here Jamison signaled Chambers to stop. They waited until the man did his next scan. When he looked their way they both waved their arms to get his attention. Jamison found the hair on the back of his neck standing up when the man pulled his weapon with one hand while motioning them away with the other.

Jamison did not go away, nor did he draw his own weapon. Instead he waved the man to come down to where they were. The man hesitated only a second, but then he put his operations on hold and started down the mountain. He didn’t put the weapon back into his holster. He carried it at the ready the whole way down.

This caused Jamison and Chambers both to feel the presence of danger. But in addition to that they felt a slight emotional tug, kind of like a Dibolocos was coming toward them. Jamison decided this must be what it felt like to meet someone under Dibolocos control. He determined it must be the passive version, first because it was very subtle. But more importantly he figured if it was active control the king never would have asked him to meet the man.

“Hello.” He called out as the man got close enough to talk with. He hoped he sounded friendly. He felt a bit of relief when the man switched his weapon to his left hand and extended the right for a handshake. Jamison took the hand gladly. Then the man extended his hand to Chambers in a similar way. But when Chambers shook his hand he snatched her back toward him and attempted to hold her, hostage style.

He had not counted on Chambers being a trained officer in the CDF though and she rather easily deflected the attempt. A moment later the man was on the ground with his weapon several feet away and both Jamison and Chambers had their weapons aimed at his head. His eyes were wide and sweat was soaking his hair and clothing. Jamison did not need any special training to know this man thought he was about to die.

After holstering his own weapon he picked up the man’s gun and put the safety on. Then he handed it back to the man. The man sat up, received it and put it back in its own holster. Only then did Chambers lower her own weapon.

The man stood up and said lightheartedly, “So does this mean I am going to live to see another day.”

“Well, not necessarily,” Jamison answered, matching the man’s tone, “but it does mean if there is a fight we would rather fight with you than against you. Shall we try this again, my name is Jamison, and this is Chambers.”

“Glad to meet you, my name is Compagno. If you guys are not claim jumpers then what are you doing here?”

“We crash landed on this planet in an escape pod after our ship was blown up by pirates.”

Compagno nodded and said, “I see.”

Jamison ventured an educated guess and stated, “But you knew that didn’t you. You were here and monitored our emergency beacon as we approached. You have been trying to figure out ever since whether to kill us to hide your illegal mining.”

“Well. If you knew all that, why did you give me my weapon back.”

“We will do better as friendly neighbors than as mortal enemies.”

“Okay, neighbor. But why did you choose to come calling today?”

“I felt compelled to talk to you once I figured out you were here. The colonies are falling apart. The Kilkian and Dibolocos discovery has undermined our society. If we don’t restore society we will cease to exist as a people, we are already in the process of destroying each other.”

“True enough. Legitimate business seems to be a thing of the past. We are trapped in this mess. But in the long run what can we do about it?”

From this point Jamison explained his own journey. He spoke of the things he had learned about the Kilkians and their king. When he was done Compagno made a commitment to the king in the same way Jamison and Chambers had. They invited him to come down to the tree line and meet Colofer and Colofen. When they arrived they were all surprised to see three kilkians instead of two. The new Kilkian introduced himself as Coloban, He was going to be the one responsible for helping Compagno in his journey to serve the king. Just like Jamison and Chambers, Compagno had a special purpose in the king’s plan.

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Personal God

I believe God has personhood. This means He has the traits of a person rather than being an impersonal force. This is especially relevant since an impersonal force cannot love, show mercy, or make deliberate choices. God does all of these things and more. He is self-aware and cognizant of others. He holds appropriate emotions at their proper occasions.

The movie Star Wars ruined a lot of people’s theology. After that movie talked about a force as the most powerful thing in the universe, the idea of an impersonal God gained a lot of steam. But this is not how Scripture speaks of God, nor is it how any of us have experienced God. We experience God relationally and it takes personhood to have a relationship.

But if God is personal, and we relate to Him the same as any other person, then we must have an obligation to Him. The created one must relate to the creator in the manner the creator chooses. I suspect this is part of the appeal of God as an impersonal force. If God was impersonal we would be off the hook, but since God has personhood we are under His authority.

Understanding these details of God’s nature also helps us to understand how come salvation comes not by a series of rituals, or a benchmark of personal holiness, but rather through relationship with God. Why would a personal God want anything else? How could we expect our activities to measure up to God who is so much higher than us? (Please note I am not saying behavior is holiness and worship are irrelevant, I am only saying they do not bring salvation.)

Instead of earning or achieving salvation, we receive it by grace when we enter into a relationship with God.

Satyr Comma

Side Comma Top Comma

Normally on Tuesdays I would put up a picture of a bird and a devotion based on the characteristics of that bird. Unfortunately I am running out of bird pictures, therefore I have given you something different today. The two pictures above are a butterfly. They are the same butterfly.

This is a comma, probably a satyr comma. I am still relatively inexperienced at identifying butterflies so I am not confident in the exact species, but it is undoubtedly a comma. These butterflies have the ability to look like a leaf when their wings are closed. And they keep their wings closed almost all the time.

But the top of the wing, the view you get when they open their wing is a bright, almost metallic orange. It is a spectacular sight to come across a comma with its wings open, but it is their habit to leave their wings closed. They do this for safety, since when their wings are closed they can be very hard to pick out among the detritus on the forest floor. By being hard to see they are highly unlikely to be eaten.

The differences between the two views can be very dramatic when the bug flies. It will hold its wings open and glide, looking like an orange reflector floating through the trees. Or it will flap as it moves looking a bit like a flittering, blinking signal light. But in both cases when it lands the bright orange flips off and it seems to disappear.

Sometimes Christians can be like this. They will show themselves to the world in a bright attractive way, but their inconsistency in Christian living is like turning off the light. They can appear strong and exemplify the benefits of righteous choices, and the light is bright and attractive to a lost world searching for answers. Then they can tell an off color joke or let out a swear word and the light blinks off.

Perhaps more often than the light blinks off because they brushed up against immorality, the light blinks off because the Christian felt the need to keep their spirituality low key. Just like the butterfly fears being eaten, many Christians fear attracting the attention of those hostile to Christianity. The devil has convinced too many people it is impolite to talk about Jesus, and we will become subject to some horrible persecution if we live our beliefs out publicly.

We make a foundational mistake when we listen to this kind of propaganda. The mistake is listening to the wrong person. Satan may tell us to keep our light to ourselves, but Jesus tells us just the opposite.

Matthew 5:16 (HCSB) “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Potty Retraining

One of the more awkward trends in America right now is towards, non-discriminatory bathrooms. A number of places are setting laws, under pressure from the LGBTQPXYZ community, to allow a person to use either the men’s room or the women’s room at any time and at any place. The goal of this law is to protect individuals who feel they are a different gender in mind than they are in body.

This is another example of the amazing amount of power our society has given to this specialized community. If this relatively small group wants a law or a community standard changed they will probably get it. In this case, they will get it even if it is beyond all common sense and contrary to the safety of the average citizen. Did anyone who worked to create and pass these laws consider the ways in which they could be misused?

Anyone who wishes to do harm will simply have to claim they felt like the other gender at that moment. This claimed feeling will give them permission to hang around in a restroom which in reality is not for people they associate themselves with, but people they intend to victimize.

I think the point of greatest concern should be schools. This law allows a curious boy to claim identity issues in order to get access to the girl’s locker room. For most boys they will go through a stage in their development when they would do anything for that opportunity. Is this really what lawmakers think is wisdom?

I noticed as my kids were going through middle and high school that gym classes had gotten very lax about the shower requirement. In today’s world children are so fearful that it has become impossible to enforce. Simply stated they believed some of the other kids were certain to be homosexuals, who would be looking at them in predatory ways. Now I wonder if they will begin to fear to even use the restroom at school, for similar reasons.

Maintaining Common Sense

The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.

The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind.  Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue,  Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment

The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands, it started last week with Learning to See.  Today we get the second Episode.

 

Maintaining Common Sense

Over the next few weeks, they continued this training. Jamison with a great deal of practice pushed his perception of Kilkians to a few hundred yards. Chambers could sense them at any location on the planet.

Next they had to learn to sense the presence of a Dibolocos. For this training Colofen changed his attitude in such a way that his impact on the emotions of the two humans was similar to that of what a Dibolocos would be. It was hard for Jamison to describe how it was different. In some manner it was just like when a Kilkian was nearby. But in another way it was totally different. He and Chambers would discuss this in the relaxed evenings at the lake house. During one of those evenings Colofer explained to them that their imitation of a Dibolocos was pretty good, but when they met the real thing again, it would hit them harder.

The next lesson was to be able to perceive danger. This time it was Chambers turn to be frustrated. Jamison had already begun to have a spine-tingling feeling when they approached an unseen egopod. With a small amount of practice he was able to spot their direction and distance. Within a couple of days he was giving the census of hundreds of egopods in a radius of several hundred miles. While Chambers was able to perceive them one at a time from a distance of up to about 300 yards.

While doing these exercises, Jamison found himself focusing on the valley below, but he wasn’t sure why. That evening Colofer asked him about it.

“Why do you keep staring towards the valley? Do you know what is drawing your attention?”

“I have no idea. It’s not quite the feeling of danger like the egopods, but something is definitely over there.”

Colofer stared back and forth between Colofen and Jamison for a minute before declaring. “Tomorrow we will go and see what it is.”

Chambers asked, “Do you want me to go along or should I stay here and train with Colofen?”

Again Colofer and Colofen exchanged numerous glances. Jamison and Chambers knew they were having a discussion. Jamison even wondered if they were having an argument. Colofen eventually answered, “We will all four go.”

Early the next morning Jamison felt a bit of excitement at a new adventure. Chambers also expressed she was glad for the change of pace. Colofen surprised them both by stating they should prepare to be away from the lake house for several days. This would include packing a tent, sleeping bags and rations. Since they had been living off the land, and Colofer’s excellent cooking, they were a little disappointed to return to rations. They were even more surprised to find Colofen and Colofer asked them to lead instead of following the Kilkians.

Jamison was glad though because it also allowed him to set the pace. They moved quickly and with their new perceptivity they had little reason to fear egopods along the way. After about an hour, both of them came to a sudden stop. They had both felt a sensation of great danger. But was totally confused as to what it was. They took cover behind a rock until it passed. Their ability to tell what direction it had come from allowed them to know which side of the rock was cover.

Once behind the barrier the feeling subsided. They didn’t figure out what happened, but both were sure there had been some danger. They continued hiking for most of the day, stopping only for a quick lunch from their rations. After lunch they continued, but later they again perceived a danger of some kind but this time it was different, smaller and spottier. A moment later they saw their first bitter bug. As they worked their way down to lower elevations they had entered the beetles habitat.

As they moved along they became accustomed to avoiding these smaller dangers as handily as they had the egopods. When evening came they found a nice place to set up camp. It was an open field giving them good visibility around them, but they already knew there were no bitter bugs or egopods because of their newfound sense of danger.

They set up camp. Choosing to use both tents and more of their rations. This allowed them to drift off to sleep early. Jamison slept soundly and with satisfaction. But before sunrise the next day he was awakened by a sense of danger so strong he woke up from a dead sleep. He hadn’t realized he had screamed until he was fully on his feet. In the dark he couldn’t see what was endangering them. But he could feel it. It flew by about ten feet over his head, and instinctively he shot at the spot where it should have been. Unfortunately the shot just went uselessly off into space. Another drifted by on his left and he fired another a blind shot into the dark.

Chambers also stumbled out of her tent with gun in hand. She didn’t fire it, but alternated pointing it a hundred different directions. They might have continued this pattern but Colofer spoke to them and told them to stop shooting or they might hit each other. Then he commanded them to get flashlights and respirators. Once they had the breathers on they used their flashlights to discover they had camped right in the middle of a field of complasencia. They quickly broke camp and moved before their respirators ran out of juice.

Once safely away they received a lecture and a painful lesson from Colofer. “Even though you can sense danger, you still have to stay in touch with your intellect. You must carefully maintain your traditional powers of observation and reason in order to protect yourself from danger as well as your new perceptivity. You should have seen the complasencia before setting up camp. I let you camp there hoping you would learn this lesson.”

“Why didn’t we feel the danger when we camped?” Chambers asked.

“Because the plants only pollinate in the early morning. There was no danger to sense when the plants were not pollinating, but your over dependence on perceiving danger caused you to overlook the plants you would have seen at the beginning of the summer.”

For a few minutes Jamison thought he might have found what it was that had seemed to call him to go on this trip. But pretty quickly he abandoned that idea. First because he remembered the feeling at times other than morning. But also because he could feel something ahead in the valley that was still calling him in that direction.

The Spiritual Discipline of Giving

The topic for today is going to be one of those which different people will see in other ways. So let me begin by saying if you see it differently then, feel free to start a conversation in the comments.

I believe a person has no right to call themselves a Christian or a believer unless they are striving to live obediently by everything God has asked. This includes being a tither, seeing everything you own as His, and being generous with those in need.

Tithing is giving ten percent of your income, from every income source, to the local church God has led you to join. I think the tithe should be for the support of the local church. For this reason I do not believe giving to a designated account, or to a special offering, or to a para-church organization is tithing. But all of these forms of giving can be legitimate ways to give offerings above and beyond your tithe and this is a part of being generous.

Stewardship is a Biblical principle for believers. Everything we are, and everything we have belongs to God. We are to care for it and manage it like it is something owned, not by us, but by the Lord. The pretty part of this picture is we can trust Him to take care of us; we will never be abandoned. But the difficult part of this picture is that we need to curb our wants according to what He would want us to have and often deny ourselves in order to be money wise.

A part of stewardship is to care about the things that God cares about. Most notably this includes those around us who are in genuine need. This giving needs to be done under the direction of the Holy Spirit, because of the deceitful nature of our world. But when God says give, we should give. (When I say the world is deceitful I mean it is full of people who appear needy, but would actually use the money to harm themselves and others.)

Now let me also say, giving sometimes has its pitfalls. Pride gets into our giving just like it does into everything else. So some act as if their giving means they get to be arrogant or bossy around the church. Some people use their giving as a means to control the shape of ministry. This is not giving, this is manipulation. It is not giving to God as an act of trust, it is using money to exert personal power and put yourself in the place of God.

So give, but give with the right attitude.

Bufflehead

Bufflehead

This picture is a bufflehead. Like many ducks it nests in abandoned cavities, but in this case it is almost always a nest excavated by a northern flicker. Presumably the reason for the symbiotic relationship is caused by the similarity in size requirements between the two birds.

When it comes to nesting cavities there are several relevant measurements. The size of the inside of the cavity, the size of the opening and how high the cavity is off of the ground all come into play. The most important of these measurements is the size of the opening. It has to be big enough for the owner to fit through.

But you don’t want the opening to be any bigger. Predators tend to be larger than prey. Having a spacious opening means leaving the welcome mat out for whatever wants to turn you into a meal. There are, of course, some predators that can access a smaller hole, such as snakes, but hawks, owls, felines and canines will not pass through that small opening.

One of the key factors of security is controlling access. This is not just a rule in the physical world, it is also a spiritual problem. Have you noticed how many times in the Bible God’s people were admonished to remove something? Idols, those who practice witchcraft, foreigners and their gods all have to go in order to stop their spiritual influence. In a world that prides itself on inclusiveness being spiritually discerning is difficult.

The only way it really works is to take God’s Word seriously and to stay away from those things that God makes clear is bad or unhealthy. This turns walking with God into a narrow path, and narrow ideas conflict with the open minded age we live in. But like the door into the nesting cavity, opening up the passage way will allow harmful things in.

Isaiah 14:6 (HCSB) “Therefore, say to the house of Israel: This is what the Lord God says: Repent and turn away from your idols; turn your faces away from all your detestable things.”