Passing the Constitution

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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed, Convoys and Propaganda,  Changing the Moon, Expanding HorizonsRunning the Blockade, Dueling Politicians, Legislation, Delegation, and DeliberationFailed Tyranny,  Political Parties and Visiting the City.  Today we get Episode 38.

Passing the Constitution

The vote to pass the constitution was held with minimal issues. Two of the most remote colonies were still in disorder, resulting in the election being marred by violence at those locations. It was actually less problems than the military had hoped for and it stood as a marker to the progress that had been made.

At this point the government set about more normal tasks of leadership. They established limits on what local laws could do, established a collection of laws to flesh out how the 10 law foundation of their society would be made functional. They also established committees to help areas that were recovering less quickly.

Jamison tried to be happy with the progress but inside he felt increasingly depressed. He was accomplishing everything the king had asked him to do in terms of bringing law to the colonies. But what good would that do for Jenny, his sister that had unwisely aligned with the Dibolocos and was now trapped in the perpetual abuse of the sexual entertainment industry. He thought it was great for those who chose to accept the will of the Kilkian king, but what of those who were already trapped under the control of the Dibolocos?

He knew from his military background and training that a measure of emotional letdown was common even after a successful campaign. But this knowledge did not stop him from feeling the grief and failure associated with his sister’s enslavement. He thought he could shake the feeling by throwing himself into his work, but instead he began to feel increasingly that his work in the congress was finished. Because of this feeling, he divided the work of his committee up to a handful of other leaders and stepped back.

When the congress took a recess a couple of weeks later he decided to take a short break instead of returning home to campaign and govern on Platinum 9. He acquired an expensive personal craft, partially through his military back pay, partially through the privileges of being in the congress, but also largely through the generosity of his friends, Compagno and Galvez.

He took this vehicle out to the lake house. A long trip alone for a poorly armed vehicle, but it was fast and very stealthy. He spent the time fishing, thinking, praying to the king, and pouting. He even visited the site where Lobokidos had been unseated. He could vaguely sense the presence of the Dibolocos even though he was largely shattered into small pieces which had settled all over the planet’s surface. They were slowly beginning to reform into the blobs of grape jelly that would eventually take shape as the full sized alien pirate.

Jamison began to develop a plan for this pirate that had caused his sister so much pain. Despite his intentions to keep these ideas to himself and away from Colopher, she quickly recognized what he was up to and warned him against seeking vengeance on his own.

Jamison chose to ignore these warnings, and as he did Colopher spoke to him less and less often. He didn’t notice her distance though as he was busy working out a plan.  He spent every day gathering bits and pieces of the jelly that should have composed Lobokidos. When he had about a jar full he would load it up and take it to a nearby moon, planet or asteroid and leave it there.

When the time came to head back to the capital for the next session of the government he had spread Lobokidos parts so far and wide that it was likely he would not be able to return to form for a century or longer.

But as he headed back he went alone. He didn’t notice that Colopher was no longer traveling with him, and his anger had so overtaken him that he didn’t easily recognize the presence of aliens, situations of danger or the leadership of the king in his life. Even after he returned he failed to seek out the fellowship of others who were aligned with the Kilkians. He no longer felt the value of spending time with these individuals who had previously been his friends.


Placing Faith

Where do you place your faith? When you need to be healed, do you believe God will heal you? When you need to pay your bills, do you believe God will provide the resources? When you come before God with an intercession, a request for a friend, do you believe God will do as you ask?

As for me, I answer the first question, by saying I place my faith in God. I purposefully and intentionally choose to trust Him. This trust means I have to allow Him to make choices which affect my life in ways, which might not be what I think I want. He might choose to allow me to suffer in order to refine me. He will, sooner or later, chose some method of death. Death will be His way of bringing me to heaven. In cases like these, I might well be asking for something other than His will and His sovereign choice. Therefore, I would be placing my faith contrary to God’s will if I believed God would or should do whatever I am asking. I believe it is more faithful to voice my request and to trust God’s choice, knowing it might be different than I requested.

I am aware many teach the right way to use faith is to believe God will do whatever you prayerfully request. To me, this sounds more like manipulating God than trusting Him. Who really is on the throne, if you think God has to do whatever you ask, as long as you can muster enough faith in the request?

Placing your trust in God should inherently mean you trust His choices to be best. This does not mean you cannot speak to Him with your prayerful requests. Letting God know what you desire is a part of being in relationship with Him. However, if you allow God to be the boss of the discussion, you might find Him changing your desires, instead of giving you everything you think you need.

Place your faith in God. Allow your trust to be a path to a deeper relationship, instead of a way of manipulating God to give you what you want.


Heart Problems

About a month ago, I went to the doctor to follow up on my still new CPAP machine and its usage. In that appointment I mentioned to the doctor that I had woken up in the night with a bunch of chest pressure and pain.

He ordered his nurse to hook me up to a box which did an automated EKG on me. I was so relaxed I was almost asleep, but I woke right up when I heard her tone change as she said, “I want to show this to the doctor.” and slipped out the door.

A moment later my doctor came back in the room and informed me that the box had said I had had a heart attack. He was quick to say he didn’t believe that; he believed my slow heart rate and an anomaly in my rhythm had fooled the machine. But to be certain, he sent me for a full stress test which I had done within a week.

For a bit of history, my father was one year younger than me when he had his first heart attack. My middle brother, who is in fantastic shape and goes on long runs regularly, had a heart attack earlier this year. So family history is stacked against me.

In the time intervening I suppose I tried to take it easy, but my schedule was far from normal. I went on a mission trip for five days. I took several days off to paint my house. I also took my wife in for medical tests and attended a meeting which promised to be very stressful for a local ministry.

During all of these events, I repeatedly noticed pressure in my chest. I tried to take it as easy as possible, but I also fully intended to meet all of my obligations. Even the day I went back to get results proved unusual. My car had a tire going flat, so I dropped it to the shop, and walked from there to the doctor appointment. Along the way I thought to myself, if I get a bad report I am going to feel like an idiot for pushing my luck with all this physical activity.

My doctor said the tests demonstrated my heart was completely healthy. As I walked back to my car after the appointment I didn’t notice any pressure in my chest. Since then, I have had some once or twice, but I am ignoring it like I did all my life prior to that first appointment.

This is an example of how life events affect us. Before the box had made the mistaken diagnosis I had never worried about my heart. But from that time until I got the final word, my head (and spiritually speaking, my heart) were filled with concern for my physical heart. This concern caused me to notice things I normally wouldn’t have. Even though I resisted the temptation to live differently, what filled my heart and mind did shape my behavior.Cover

This is an example of why I wrote the book, The Storeroom of the Heart. I wanted to help believers recognize how the content of their heart shapes their potential. Only by doing what we can to control the content of our heart will we allow ourselves to be most useful to God.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy, you can either pick it up anywhere books are sold. You can get it from CrossBooks, or from Amazon. Or if you want a signed copy you can contact me and I will arrange it. You can use the social media links, on the right side of the blog, then contact me by private message.

Ebola and News Life

We are approaching the day when the news will quit telling us about the status of Ebola in America. News stories often have a short life. Even if a story is still developing, the news media may quit covering it after certain situations develop. The public can grow weary of a story, a story can be perceived as the new normal, or the public can react in ways the media doesn’t appreciate.

You can see the end approaching. The news shifted recently, showing reports on TV last night and this morning, about the mistreatment of nurses who cared for Ebola patients. These reports are shifting the focus from the danger of the disease to prejudicial reactions toward it. This paves the way for the media to become afraid of reporting about Ebola because they are may be creating hysteria.

It’s awkward. We have a disease that at this point in history can only be controlled by isolation, but at the same time we have a media that is more interested in protecting people who are quarantined unfairly. As I type this, I am watching another news report explaining how to legally fight being quarantined.

So which do you think is the bigger concern to your wellbeing, the disease or prejudicial over reactions by society?


Ebola and The Future

Ebola is scary. It has a death rate somewhere between 50% and 90%. There is no direct cure, only treatment of the symptoms. Furthermore it is a hemorrhagic virus, meaning that it causes bleeding, most visibly from the nose, but from other places including internally as well. Victims of Ebola generally bleed to death. Not coincidentally, horror movies have been showing us people dying in this this way for decades and have cemented it in our minds as scary—apocalyptically scary.

Containing the spread of the disease is presently achievable only by isolating the infection. There is no direct treatment of the virus, only management of the symptoms, and the spread of the disease has outpaced the ability of the affected African governments to manage it.

But, for those of us who are not in Africa, we can delude ourselves into thinking it will not reach us. Or perhaps we will choose to believe our technologically advanced nations will manage it better. Unfortunately these assurances have been undermined by the first attempts to deal with cases of Ebola here in the United States.

The case in Texas, which has been all over the news, has resulted in two additional cases so far according to the CDC 10/19/14 update. This one case, has resulted in two additional cases, so far. If we do not get better at containment, if we allow each of these cases to result in two additional cases and if that trend continues from there, then we are already in deep trouble. But I doubt we will continue to see this one to two ratio continue. I believe we will get better at isolating it.

Unfortunately, I also believe the mood in Africa is that infected people are left to die, because local resources are overwhelmed. Desperate people do desperate things. Those with resources will flee the parts of the world where the contagion is spreading. At least some of these will not know they are infected and will bring the virus with them, others will be hiding their symptoms hoping for better treatment.

I will not speculate further on the future of the disease, other than to say it is going to get interesting.

Visiting the City

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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed, Convoys and Propaganda,  Changing the Moon, Expanding HorizonsRunning the Blockade, Dueling Politicians, Legislation, Delegation, and DeliberationFailed Tyranny and Political Parties.  Today we get Episode 37.


Visiting the City

The next step taken by the fledgling government was to seek to replenish its own membership. Through the work of the military, and largely through the successes of Chambers, the majority of the colonies were under peaceful control and successfully participating in commerce. The communications systems which allowed for news, entertainment and more to pass between the colonies was also restored and reached to all but a couple of the most remote colonies.

Based on a new standard adopted in the congress it was determined they needed 40 new representatives. Some of these were new positions formed by the more fair division of political districts. Others were to replace those who died during the tumultuous early stages. Since their activities had been reported on widely to the colonies, and since order had been restored to most areas, the delegates that came were better suited for leadership, rather than people seeking their own benefits.

Another week’s worth of work and they had a constitution ready for the people, this then undergirded with the ten law system, was presented for a final vote before the newly elected body. The discussion was lively but much more civil than with the previous group. Once it was passed the measure was put out for a public vote in the colonies. For this portion of the process the measure was communicated to the colonies by the media. They were given a full month to consider it, before a popular vote would be held to ratify it.

During this time Jamison spent a lot of time communicating with the leaders he left behind on Platinum 9. He found they had been very successful in furthering the economic recovery of the area. The resort would be finished soon, and visitors from other areas had already began coming in there to see the well-publicized green belts. They were bringing in workers from neighboring colonies to fill the employment and positions necessary to run the resort community. The majority of the miners who had been there during the revolt chose to stay in mining. They were producing platinum now fast enough to make them an economic leader among the colonies. All these things were great, but it made him feel unneeded.

He also spent time with Chambers when she was in port. They would often be seen dining together or laughing in the common areas. Since order had been restored they were both treated like celebrities and it was common for the media to speculate on the nature of their relationship and to predict an impending wedding. Jamison and Chambers largely ignored this gossip and just enjoyed their time together. They never spoke of progressing their relationship at this point, believing instead they would know from their king when they should move forward. Both of them knew they would, one day.

Many of the representatives had begun traveling off the military base for recreation and entertainment. They often went in groups, and the military provided security for them on these occasions. One afternoon Commodore Galvez invited Jamison to go into the heart of the city with him and a group of delegates. They rode in style, not taking the train, but instead riding in a vehicle that was something like an armored limousine, crossed with a tank.

They had a nice meal at a restaurant in one of the less restricted community buildings. It was a new facility and was right across the street from where Jamison had stayed with Johnson. He wondered if he was still registered in the security system and could enter through the automated entries. Excusing himself he decided to walk over and try it. He crossed the street watching carefully for dangers. Approaching the door he was pleased to see it recognized him, but when he attempted to enter he was blocked. He asked the computerized system for an explanation, and was informed the tenant he was cleared to visit was diseased, therefore he was no longer allowed entrance.

The news hit him hard. He thought about the brash young soldier who had gone so far out of his way to help him. Then he began to think of everything else he had seen on that first trip home. He returned to the group, but his spirits remained dampened for the rest of the evening. When he got home he did some research on his old neighborhood. Jewel’s place was now a registered business there. That side of town had become openly seedy.

The next night he arranged to travel into town without any of the other delegates, taking only the protective detail which was used for these occasions. He took them through Murphy’s territory and then pulled up in front of the strip joint run by his sister, which had previously been a furniture store. The ground level had been cleaned up, and the business that had been hidden below ground, now was operated in the open. He thought about it and assumed worse things were being done in the basement.

He walked through but didn’t see his sister. He was about to leave when an elevator dinged and she stepped out, along with a cadre of armed guards. His military escort immediately gathered around him, guns drawn, in the ready position.

“What do you want?” She asked without greeting.

“I wanted to know if you were still alive.” He didn’t feel any threat, so he ignored the guards.

“Get out of here. Don’t come back.”

He studied her face. She appeared confident and in charge, but a closer look revealed bruising on her face and arms where she had been mistreated.

“I thought I might be able to help you.”

“My Lobokidos is the only one who can help me. If you want to help me, bring him back to me.”

Jamison thought of the Dibolocos pirate that Chambers had skillfully scattered into a million pieces back on the planet with the lake house. The alien was probably still trying to pull himself together. He would have loved to tell her about the battle, but he knew she would hate him for fighting on the other side.

He left and went back to the base. His mood continued its downward spiral.

The Sovereignty Question

Recently someone asked me if I believed in sovereignty. I whispered back, “Of course.” That person then went on with their life assuming I believe the same things about sovereignty that they do. I let them go because it was not an appropriate time to chase the point, but I am pretty sure they did not understand my answer.

Many people have a one sided view of sovereignty. For some this is little more than name calling. If you do not accept their views then you are assigned to class or category somewhere in between dogs and Pelagius. For others it is simply a matter of not thinking through the possibilities of how sovereignty plays out.

I believe God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe. This is a statement of sovereignty, but it is a very broad statement. Working into the specifics I want to ask more questions. Does sovereignty mean merely authority over an area, or by necessity does it mean making every decision within that area? Does God have the right to delegate?

An earthly king is said to be sovereign. However somewhere in the kingdom there is someone doing something the king disapproves of, for this example let’s name a pickpocket. This fact does not detract from the king’s authority. He is still sovereign, despite the fact he doesn’t have control over every event in the kingdom. In fact, he doesn’t even know what all is happening in his kingdom. If he did he would stop it. This example does not carry well to Deity because God knows everything and can do anything. God is omniscient and omnipotent.

Many people get hung up when trying to imagine how omnipotence and omniscience working together, affect sovereignty. Some have supposed this means God ultimately makes every decision. This description is unpalatable because it makes God responsible for sin. I have no doubt God knows everything about sin, but I don’t believe He initiated sin.

So in God’s kingdom, which includes everything, there are pickpockets. We can agree He knows. We can agree He knew in advance there would be. But does that leave us with only two choices either God made the choice for the pickpocket to engage in this activity or God is not sovereign? No, I don’t believe either of these choices. I believe God is big enough to create moral agency. Moral agency means we make and bear responsibility for our own moral choices.

For many people moral agency is oxymoronic. They believe that since God made us, He is ultimately responsible for our choices. But this is a denial of the meaning of moral agency. Moral agency, once again, is our making and bearing responsibility for our own moral choices. Just because we have a hard time wrapping our head around a concept doesn’t mean God cannot do it.

Shortcutting the definition to make God responsible, is equivalent to claiming He is not big enough to make creations with true moral agency. I think He is capable of doing so, and did. This choice did not detract from His sovereignty, it came as His decision as to how to express His sovereignty.

Political Ads

I am an Arizona voter. Like voters in other parts of the country, I am being subjected to political ads. Mostly I see them on the TV, but they are also on other outlets.

Based on these ads, I know what political campaigners believe will get someone elected. This is apparent to me because the ads have some very consistent themes.

These themes can be divided into two categories: mudslinging and image building.

In the first category, you want to paint your opponents as supporting Obama Care if you are a Republican. You should also associate your opponent with the president and it never hurts to bring up our spiraling national debt or the border crisis and how it affects Arizona. If you are a Democrat you will want to accuse your opponent of being a corrupt millionaire, who wants to cut taxes. If possible, associate the failures of Arizona government with tax cuts for the rich.

In the image building category, you should point out how you courageously stand for your principles. Show pictures of yourself with disabled veterans or foster kids. Show yourself empathizing with the victims of crime, or walking the border with law enforcement officers. Or if you can’t figure out which party you want to be a part of, just say they are both wrong.

The one thing that you apparently should never do is publicize your principles, or discuss the issues of the election, unless of course it is one of these lightening rod issues.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t want to cast my vote based on who throws the best mud or who polishes themselves up best. I want to know how the person is going to handle key challenges faced by Arizona.

What are they saying about Arizona, or America as a whole, if the voters they try to reach are unthinking ones who can’t see beyond these shallow facades?

Political Parties

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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed, Convoys and Propaganda,  Changing the Moon, Expanding HorizonsRunning the Blockade, Dueling Politicians, Legislation, Delegation, and Deliberation, and Failed Tyranny.  Today we get Episode 36.

Political Parties

They were eventually dismissed, and since Jamison’s committee had no immediate work to do he took a leisurely lunch and spent his time in the library and other common areas. While it might appear to have been relaxing, Jamison found it to be anything but comfortable. The unaligned opponents to his committee’s recommendations approached him in a steady stream. They would ask for clarification, discuss disagreements and either begin to change their minds or agree to disagree. Then another would show up to take his place and it would start all over again.

Jamison was often tempted to dismiss the politicians or worse to upbraid them for their failure to understand. But he didn’t. In fact, as the process continued he began to see value in it. He suspected that by the time the next morning session began he might have a majority in favor of the 10 laws his committee had proposed. He continued this schmoozing with the other delegates up to dinner, and then through dinner he continued to be approached by even more. During this time he saw Commodore Galvez watching him from across the dining hall.

His motions were very similar to those he had seen all day long. It was the action taken by a man waiting for the previous man to finish so that he could be next to start a spontaneous conversation. Unlike the others, Galvez didn’t hang around and wait. He disappeared and Jamison assumed he had been mistaken.

Three different delegates bought him a different dessert, not realizing perhaps how full he had become, before he headed back to his quarters. He let himself into the apartment and immediately knew he was not alone. He didn’t feel threatened so he walked into the main room without taking any guard for his safety. Galvez was seated there.

“I was beginning to think you were planning on staying out all night.”

“Nah, just had a lot of people who wanted to talk to me today.”

“I suppose they wanted to discuss the army having weapons of mass destruction hidden in the walls around them.”

Jamison thought about it, and said, “Actually not a single person brought that up. Although now that you mention it, I want to thank you for having them there. If you didn’t I would likely be dead.”

“As would I.”

A moment of silence settled on them and Jamison settled into the other chair in his sitting room.

“Your comments after the event were well spoken. It was exactly the kind of words we all needed to hear.”

“Thank you. Speeches are the prerogative of rank in this man’s fighting force.”

Again the silence settled around them. Not the silence of two friends totally comfortable and well acquainted with each other’s company. This was the pregnant silence of a man who knows he needs to say something, but dreads beginning the conversation.

“Would you like something to drink, I have sweet plankton tea?”

“No. But thank you. I actually wanted to talk with you about your alignment and your ten law system. Why do you want to include this silly loyalty code? Without it, you would have nearly unanimous approval for the moral code.”

Jamison knew he would have to answer carefully. He knew he wanted the loyalty code because, to the best of his understanding, it complemented the will of the Kilkian king. The king wanted people to be free to choose to align with him, rather than being coerced by the circumstances of culture and law. He answered carefully, speaking slowly.

“In short I am trying to work with the new realities we have, now that we are interacting with Kilkians and Dibolocos on a regular basis. We need a way to form one society despite the fact that our citizens have chosen two very different paths of who to serve.”

“Are the two really all that different?” The question was ludicrous knowing everything Jamison knew, but for people like Galvez it was the key question. They saw all forms of alignment as an unnecessary subservience of the citizens. They saw remaining unaligned as the way to preserve their freedom.

“The two are very different, but even more importantly, the one who stays unaligned is actually serving the Dibolocos, whether they know it or not. Can I tell you my story? Would you mind hearing what has happened to me in the last year?”

Galvez ascented and the two talked all night long. They drank all the sweet plankton tea and then switched to strong coffee. Finally as the sun peaked over the hills. Galvez was making the choice to align with the Kilkians. They celebrated over breakfast and as they entered the chambers together laughing and talking as if they were the oldest of friends, everyone in the room took note of the new alliance.

Jamison was given the floor again in order to further discussion, of the laws he had proposed. This time he saw only two groups come out of the discussion. These two groups would form the first two political parties for the colonies. Those who were whole heartedly in agreement came to be called Advocates because they advocated working with the aliens. The other group which was actually a little larger and stronger were called Isolationists because they wanted to live without any connection to the aliens.

It took another two days, but the ten law system eventually passed. The isolationists allowing its passage, not because they agree with the loyalty code, but because they began to realize it also protected them from being forced to align against their wills.