Arizona Thunder

There is a transition that occurs in those who move to Arizona. Prior to living here, they may have been in Washington, or Minnesota, or California. And in the normal way of thinking of the weather, they thought of the clear sunny days as the beautiful days. This was the weather they loved and appreciated.

This thought will change after they have lived in Arizona long enough. It might take a year, it might take a few yers. Eventually the transition occurs and the person becomes a true Arizonan when they begin to see beauty in the rainstorms. Rainy days are treasured by true Arizonans. They see wonder in the dark gathering of clouds. They rejoice in the sound of thunder. They celebrate in the formation of puddles.

Rain in Arizona is no less troublesome than it is in other parts of the country. In fact, it can be much more so. The desert soils are unaccustomed to water. Less of it sinks in and more of it runs off, in what quickly becomes dangerous torrents. While driving at night, one can come across a small stretch of water on the road that appears to be a harmless puddle, but which might have enough current to carry you and your car off the road. These floods can create amazing amounts of erosion, which in turn will redesign the landscape. It can undermine roads, destabilize the foundation of buildings and reroute washes by the accumulation of displaced soil. This last point makes the next location to be flooded unpredictable.

So if the monsoon rains are dangerous, why do Arizonans appreciate them? The answer is not as simple as you first might think. It is true and perhaps most obvious that after 9 months of straight sunshine, often in high temperatures, that rain is a welcome change of pace. But what might be less obvious is the way the repetitive days of sunshine give you a greater appreciation of our dependence upon water. Water is basic to who we are, and that water comes to us from the sky, even if it is in tumultuous moments of storminess.

Where once, all we saw was the chaos and danger of the storm, here in Arizona we begin to recognize the necessity of the rain that comes with it. Perhaps even notice some elegance to the delivery method. We know we will not be able to survive without the water brought by the storm, so there is something immature about being unhappy with the storm.

It is not a lesson we learn quickly. It does not change the reality that the storm will harm us if we disrespect it. Still, we become deeply invested in the coming of the storm. Our hearts anticipate those moments. We depend on those drops of life-giving water. We depend on those breaks from the normal patterns of sunshine.

Switch from Arizonans to Christians. Switch from rain storms to storms of life. Switch from rain damage and storm dangers to health and success issues.  Switch from life giving water to the water of life, or the gospel brought by Jesus Christ.  Thunder is God’s Word, both in Scripture and in how He sometimes work in the life of an individual to shape their hearts.  Days of sunshine are days of comfort and ease, but the storms are the days that make us more than we currently are.  Christians eventually learn to embrace the transformational power of these storms.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

Romans 8:37 (NASB)  

Trump as Primaries Approach

One bit of news, I have found hopeful in the presidential race, has been that Trump is no longer leading republicans in Iowa.

I don’t want Donald Trump to be president because I believe a man’s character is more important than his policies. As it happens I seldom disagree with his policies, but I strongly disagree with his way of operating.

(See my blogpost on why I don’t want Donald Trump for President here.)

The best thing that could happen in America would be for us to learn from the success of the Trump campaign, but have someone else come forward to win the republican nomination and then the presidency. I have long expected that most of the Trump supporters know he would not make a good president, and will switch their allegiance as push comes to shove.

Learning the lessons means admitting that a great deal of people in this country, and especially those who are voting republican, want to see us return to a constitutional, conservative, and common sense approach to governing. Throw political correctness out the window, and let’s set about fixing the mess we are in—bring back jobs, secure our borders, and return to constitutional checks and balances.

The worst thing that could happen in America would be for Donald Trump to lose the not, turn independent and then hand the election to the democrats.

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.

The Builder

Before the post, let me say that I have been very busy in my ministry and therefore have done a lot less writing. I do plan to get back to Jamison’s Battlefields soon and also expect to begin blogging again more regularly.  For today I am putting in a post I submitted for Flash!Friday. This weekly challenge allows 150 words based on a picture prompt.

StKilda

St Kilda, Scotland. CC photo by Neil Wilkie.

The Builder

The cairn is our home.

For untold generations, we have been safe in the rocks.

It’s the perfect home—nutritious grass, water from the sky and others of my kind.

It’s true, the sky occasionally has a kite, but, if we are vigilant, we will be safe in the Cairn before they get close.

In the past we always believed someone gathered the pieces into a pile. The rocks are stacked so carefully. It is all so well planned for our purposes.

We decided we owed the builder a debt of thanks.

Now our leaders are teaching our young that the rocks got here by some natural process. They believe our adoration of a builder is silly. They make us feel stupid.

Soon my babies will be born. I worry about them, growing up in a world without appreciation for the builder. I fear they will grow up believing the rocks fell into these stacks.

Politics and Religion

There will forever be an abrasive mark where politics and religion meet.

The reason for this is religion and politics both have their dictates regarding morality. Politics forms the laws whereby society decides what is immoral and at what level it will not be tolerated. Religion does exactly this same thing, but under the authority of God.

This creates friction for many reasons.

Those who refuse to believe in the existence of God, with authority to dictate a moral law, will always see adherence to religious principles as an unnecessary enslavement of humanity.

In a very similar way those who are entrapped in immorality always wish to legalize their behavior. This will create friction with both religion and politics.

There may be friction where two political systems disagree with each other, or where two religious systems disagree with each other.  There is surprisingly few examples of this. In regard to morality, people generally agree murder is wrong, family is valuable, and honesty is to be rewarded.

Finally, there will be friction when the political laws and religious laws are in disagreement. As the number of people who reject God increases and as the number of people trapped in immorality increases they will pass laws opposing religious perspectives.

This last case is worth considering carefully. The United States has a bill of rights which protects our freedom of speech, freedom of religion and many other key freedoms. But with the legalized protection of immoral behavior we have created a quandary for our society.

Largely this problem has been addressed by limiting the free speech of religious people. This solution dismisses the bill of rights and undermines the foundation of American freedom. We need a different solution which prioritizes the freedoms in the bill of rights.

The Unexpected Strain of Spiritual Growth

We have some strong misconceptions about what it means to grow spiritually. We expect it to be an intellectual experience, like memorizing Scripture. Or maybe we expect it be a mystical experience, like feeling God’s touch at a critical moment. We almost certainly expect it to be coupled with an emotional experience, specifically a positive emotional experience.

Unfortunately, these expectations will largely be unmet because spiritual growth is not just about what you know, or about our supernatural connection with God. Spiritual growth is mostly about character.

So what does God do to shape our character?

He puts us under pressure. He sends us into conflicts. He allows us to experience stress. He might even allow us to find some temptation.

Moving through these things will allow us to grow. Better be prepared for some pain along the way though. Sometimes it’s the kind of pain we feel when we are chastised. Other times it’s the pain of being betrayed by friends. It could also be the pain of knowing you failed someone you cared about.

I tell you all of this to give you this advice. Don’t despise the process of spiritual growth by avoiding pain. Don’t pray them away. Don’t switch to a church with less issues. Don’t write off people who challenge you. All of these things are likely to be a part of God’s plan to grow you.