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.


Mercy Killing


In desperation I sought out this great physician. My condition was fatal, but he had a plan. It was radical and it would either succeed or fail. He was more honest than my other doctors, they said the same thing in pages of legalese on consent forms they hardly expected me to read.

He hauled me down to his river. He asked me to trust him. He lifted me up and carried me out into swift, deep water. I clung to him in fear, until he reminded me I promised to trust him. I reluctantly released my grip on his hair.

He plunged me down into the river. At first I just looked up at him through the surface of the water. But when I needed to draw a breath I struggled. Then, I fought with all my might, but to no avail. I blacked out and yet he still held me. I died in that river.

I watched my killer from the shore as he drew me out of the water and back into his arms. He behaved with a remarkable tenderness, now when compassion was too late. Back in his office he laid my body out on a table. The rest of me followed and watched and wondered what was I supposed to do in a situation like this?

The entire second day my body lay there on the table while I paced nervously around the room. I tried touching it, but found I could not touch anything save the ground beneath my feet. He occasionally checked on me. And when he spoke to me, I realized he knew both parts of me were present.

The third day he prepared a funeral for me. My body was placed in a casket, and I was delivered to a chapel. The doctor stood up to address the empty chairs, there was no congregation. There were none to mourn my broken remains.

He began his eulogy by detailing my condition and its deadly outcomes. He described aloud my faults, my frailty, my failings—these things were why I had to die. No kind words about my good deeds, or the quality of my character; he just pronounced judgment.

Murderer, I thought. I had to die, but not yet. It was your choice to kill me before my time. You decided to take my trust and execute me because of your intolerance of my descent into death.

Then he did what I thought was impossible. He grabbed me by the arm, not the arm of my body, but my arm. He wrestled me into the coffin, he forced me back into the corpse.

A moment later I was gasping for breath. For the first time in three days, I drew air. I saw through eyes. I could smell the dust of the room.

“You killed me!” I said.

“No, I killed the diseased body, but you have been raised to newness of life.” His voice was not angry, despite my accusations. The opposite of anger, he was full of joy. As these thoughts came to me, another I scarcely understood crept into my heart.

“What do you mean?” I asked, failing to believe yet this glimmer of hope was possible.

“I mean you are no longer sick.”

There was a long silence, while hope began to become acceptance. I felt better, I felt new.

“How did you do this?”

“I killed the diseased body and then raised you up in a new body.”

“So the frailty will never come back?”

“Actually it will come back. Every day you will experience it again in one way or another. But I will train you how to deal with it.

“What will I do?” I asked with familiar fear creeping up my spine.

“I will teach you to kill every new attack. I will teach you to daily take up death, and thereby to also take up life.”

“You can teach me to do that.”

“Yes,” he said, “I will give you the tools to crucify yourself daily.”

“What kind of a tool do I need for that?” I asked.

“Your cross, of course.”

Theology of Death

Few things will test our belief system as much as death. If we claim to be Christian it should improve how we handle death. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (HCSB) says “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” This verse says our belief in Christ should help us to handle death better than the rest of the world.

Grief will still invade the life of believers, but it should be a different experience than the hopelessness of those who don’t know anything about what is coming after death. So let me give you a brief discussion of death.

First I believe that the human soul has a starting point, but no ending point. Every person on earth is going to spend eternity somewhere. Scripture indicates the majority of them will spend eternity in torment. Please don’t think it’s more polite to remain silent about hell. Letting people walk unknowingly into a deadly trap is less polite than discomforting them with a warning.

I believe a person is placed into eternity the minute they leave this earth. For the believer this means to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Some believe in soul sleeping, but not many. This phrase means a person goes into a sleep like state at death and doesn’t wake up until the resurrection. The resurrection is when the soul is united with a body again, although the new body will be eternal. It will not grow old or suffer decay. I do not believe in soul sleeping, and I do believe in a bodily resurrection.

I believe the circumstances of the body at death or after death have nothing to do with the person’s eternal state. Being buried is not spiritually better than cremation nor is it better the other way around. The state of a person’s remains will not affect their resurrected body.

I believe Christians who are incurable, suffering and only surviving by medical means can be allowed to die without guilt. But I also believe all three of those conditions need to be met before giving up on a person. When this believer leaves this earth their suffering will cease and they will enter the eternal bliss of our Savior.

For the non-Christian in the same situation there is no good option; to continue to live is to suffer and to die is to lock in eternal suffering.

The Reunion

Calvin Hopper packed and headed to Oakland for his annual reunion. He loved the reunion. He hated going back to the old neighborhood.

On the flight he prepared his words. It was his turn to speak again. He wondered if any other fifth and sixth grade boys Sunday school classes had annual reunions. But then again his class was far from normal.

They all stayed at the same hotel, had an informal dinner together that night, and went to church together the next morning. Calvin felt apprehensive. Two brothers and a sister had died on these streets. His mother’s funeral had been in this church.

He and the nine men with him were the only ones he knew who made it out. There were four entrepreneurs, one accountant, a cop, a lawyer, a stock broker, a soldier and Calvin was in marketing. All but one was married with children, and none were divorced.

At church, the old ladies cried to see them again. The pastor gushed at their success and gladly accepted their gifts. Calvin gave a brief testimony, but he saved his notes for later. After the service, the ten survivors went to the graveyard. They gathered around the grave of Brayton Johnston to remember the man who had given them the courage and hope to survive.

Calvin took out his notes, and for the next twenty minutes he described to Brayton what he had done with his life. He thanked the man for the sacrifices that had given them all the opportunity to escape the gangs and violence. Finally, with tears running down his face he recounted how the gang had taken Brayton’s message as an offence.

He finished by quoting John 15:13. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

302 words. Prepared for the Trifecta Writing Challenge. Follow the link if you would like to participate. The prompt this time was the third definition of the word ‘remember.’

Doctrine of Life (and Death)

Theological Anthropology is the study of what we believe about man. A big portion of this branch of theology is our viewpoint of life—its purpose, its limits, and its locales.

Where I live there is a proving ground about fifty miles out in the desert. This proving ground is used by an automobile manufacturer to test cars to their limits and beyond. They find out if the vehicles will measure up to designers expectations by putting them through their paces. Often times, they improve them by breaking them.

I believe this world is a proving ground. We spend our lives on this earth for the express purpose of making a choice as to where we will spend eternity. Rejecting or accepting Jesus is the most important decision not just of our life.

But this life spent on the proving ground is a limited time offer. We will all leave this earth. God knew the day of our birth and death before creations first word. The brevity of time on earth is easy to look at as a great tragedy, but that is not exactly correct. Death is simply a person passing into whatever they chose for themselves—eternal life or eternal torment. Their death is simply the time when God planned to move them into their choice of eternities.

Death does involve tragedy but dying itself is not tragic. The two sorrows associated with death are our separation from our loved ones, and that so many people choose eternal torment. If we and the person who passes into eternity both know Jesus then this separation is temporary, but for them it’s a promotion from a painful earth to a blissful heaven. So we grieve the distance between us, but we celebrate for them, and long all the more for our own promotion day.

Jolene’s Sorrow

Jolene knew everyone was gathered around her, a lifetime of family and friends who had ignored her warnings. Now they were unequipped to deal with the realities of life. And the realities of death.

Suddenly, she found herself standing on an old wooden bridge. But she was grateful; every pain was gone from her aged body.

Then she was back in bed, struggling to breathe. She caught a glimpse of Jake, her youngest grandson, now an adult. He was there with his “family,” the girl he never married and the children they had together. And they had separately. Jolene grieved remembering how they scorned her faith.

Then she was back on the bridge, but younger this time. She felt healthy and began to stroll across.

Then she caught a glimpse of her youngest son. He had believed until he attended college. She had begged him to reconsider his choices.

She looked at her hand on the bridge rail, it was younger yet. Her step was light and she allowed herself a graceful spin.

Back in the bed, her husband whispered love in her ear. They had been married sixty years. When they wed he lived as a believer. Then he went off to war, and he became angry at God. She had prayed, but he never repented.

She skipped along the bridge in her twenty year old body. It felt so good to be young.

“Goodbye, Jolene, you crazy old coot.” It was Sharon, her childhood friend. Sharon thought Jolene’s faith was insanity.

Jolene reached the other side of the bridge and looked down as her five year old feet stepped off the bridge. There He sat in the grass. She sat down in His lap and cried for her lost family and friends.

When Jolene looked up into Jesus’ eyes, He was crying, too.