The Repentance Paradox

Repentance is a paradox. The word describes a change of pattern based upon a change of direction.

The Christian use of the word describes turning away from sin in order to turn toward God. This change of direction is initiated by your human will, but empowered by God.

The change of pattern is another problem. We habitual creatures have a way of returning to our past patterns. And hence the reason why I call repentance a paradox. We make a commitment to God to turn from sin, knowing full well we will continue to sin despite our efforts.

But don’t take my statements as asserting there is a falsehood in repentance. It is a real and necessary part of the Christian experience. We make a decision to turn our lives over to God. God then gets a grip on us. His actions place us into His family and kingdom, but they do not remove our humanity. Our free will is a major ingredient in our humanity so removing it would be making us something less than human.

This paradox is necessary because it is God’s desire to have a relationship with humanity. Not creatures without free will, but real people with all their failings. For this reason the Christian life is more one of grace and forgiveness than the conquering of sin.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying sin all you want, or sin doesn’t matter. I want you to work hard to battle sin. In this battle you can expect to gain ground. You can expect to prevent sin from overtaking you and robbing you of your freedom or usefulness to God. But you cannot expect to gain absolute victory by never sinning again.

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Necessary Failure

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, Visiting the City, Passing the Constitution and Tried for Treason.  Today we get Episode 40 which is the conclusion of the second battlefield.

 

Losing the Battle

They arrived and spent a week there relaxing in the comfortable location. They couldn’t help but become immersed in the memories of that location. Chambers had brought back a communications satellite, which they carefully deployed from Jamison’s private craft. This allowed them to receive the news from the colonies. If they had special reason to risk it then, they would be able to communicate with people off-world.

The broadcasts they watched included a lot of discussion about the two individuals who had previously been media darlings. Some people speculated they had run off together, but most people figured Jamison had been kidnapped by a Dibolocos and killed. The theories about Chambers were that either she was on a secret assignment, or that she went into seclusion, grieving over the loss of Jamison.

The two quickly decided that watching broadcasters tell lies about them was not entertaining. They felt offended at much of the tone taken by the media. It was mostly for this reason that they quit checking the news after just a few days.

Two weeks later, their honeymoon was interrupted. It began with Colopher approaching Jamison while he was sitting on the back deck, fishing. She materialized beside him, and with her head slightly bowed, asked, “May I address you?”

“Of course, Colopher. You have no idea how much I have missed you. I am not really sure if I remember when it was that we stopped walking together, but those were good days.”

Colopher began speaking directly into his mind again, saying, “It was when you chose to do what the king was instructing you not to do that you chose for me to not walk with you. But we must talk about that later. Right now it is important that you leave this place.”

“Leave?”

“Yes, and right now.”

Jamison thought of asking for an explanation. But he heard the urgency and instead stepped into the cabin to fetch Chambers. She was already on her way out with instructions from Colophen that they must depart in haste. They gathered only their most basic possessions and started out of the cabin at a dead run to reach Jamison’s ship. The closest hiding place for the vessel had been a couple of miles away.

Jamison heard Colopher say, “Hang on, I will take you there.”

In the next second he felt himself being transported, then he was working hard to stop before running into the side of his craft. They boarded and took off. They noticed a small military convoy pulling up to orbit their planet. They used the stealth of the private ship to slip away from the opposing side of the planet.

Then Jamison set an automated course for a colony named Cinnamon Alpha and settled back to speak with the Chambers, Colophe,r and Colophen. First thing Jamison did was ask what Colopher had meant when she said he had chosen to break off their communication.

The response landed on Jamison like a crushing weight. “It is the commitment made by those who align themselves with the king to do right. I was appointed as your helper to guide you to know what to do. But when you choose to do things wrong, when you do things your own way instead of listening to the king, you are choosing to break fellowship with him. At those times I can no longer help you.”

“When did I stop listening to you?” Jamison asked, although he had a pretty good idea.

“It began with going to look for Johnson. From there it only got worse as you allowed your anger and sadness to begin guiding your decisions instead of your relationship with the king. It wasn’t long before the king instructed me to withdraw until the proper time.”

Jamison found tears rolling down his face as he realized how he had allowed his emotions to control his negative choices and behavior. If he had maintained his relationship with the king, he would not have taken the actions which led to his arrest. He confessed his guilt, but also admitted he had no idea how to restore the breach.

“Speak to the king, extend to him your confession and apology and he will welcome you back.”

Jamison did exactly that and almost immediately felt a sense of relief. When he was done Chambers took similar action to repent of her decisions to release Jamison and to drop out of the military where the King had placed her to do his work. Following this they had another conversation.

“When you won the Battle of the Mind, it was because you made a choice to believe the truth about the king and his good intentions for humanity. Then you entered a second battle, the Battle of the Hands. How do you feel this went?”

Jamison spoke first. “I think that battle is complete and that we won it as well.”

When she didn’t respond right away he continued. “The ten law system is in place so that the people of the colonies will know right from wrong. In addition to that, the work of driving back the pirates and reestablishing trade was successfully completed by Chambers.”

Chambers added, “Compagno had a lot to do with that accomplishment.”

They waited again and yet Colopher did not say anything. After another moment Jamison found himself speculating aloud, “Of course, it didn’t work out so well for me.”

“Go on.” Colopher encouraged.

“I was found guilty of violating the laws, which I myself had put into place. It’s great that the population has a better understanding of what the king desires. But what kind of good does it do when I am unable to keep law after it is given?”

Colopher answered, “You are right, and you are now beginning to see the problem with the Battle of the Hands. Since you cannot keep the law, you automatically have lost this battle.”

Jamison was shocked. “We lost the battle? Even though we successfully did everything you asked?”

“Yes,” she answered, “You lost the Battle of the Hands. It was necessary to lose this battle in order to move forward. It was an unwinnable battle, but it was necessary to fight the Battle of the Hands. Only after humanity has lost this battle are they ready for the last great battle. Next you will face the Battle of the Heart.”

There was again a long period of silence. After a suitable time, Colopher said aloud, “Go on and ask your question?”

Jamison didn’t realize at first she was talking to him. He didn’t fully understand yet that he still had a question. But eventually it formed solid in his mind. “Is there any hope for my sister?”

“There will be, when we fight the Battle of the Heart.

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.

God is Big

CoverOn Wednesdays I promote my book, The Storeroom of the Heart. You can get it anywhere books are sold, regular bookstores will special order it, Amazon or Nook can give it to you as an E-book, or you can contact me and arrange for me to mail you a signed copy.  Here is a link to the publisher site if you want to buy it from them.

http://bookstore.crossbooks.com/Products/SKU-000556067/The-Storeroom-of-the-Heart.aspx

Here is a short excerpt for you to consider.

If we are willing to be used by God, there is no telling what He might accomplish through us. Perhaps what God would accomplish through us would be the next great accomplishment of humankind – finding a cure for some disease, inventing a life-changing device, unlocking a better source of energy, or awakening revival in our times. Maybe what God would accomplish through us would be the redirecting of public attitudes, which are currently shifting hard and fast toward hating God and everything He stands for. I can only imagine and dream about the great things God might do in us. I can’t help but dream big, because I know God. God is big. God does big things in people who are committed to Him. God knows how to use a person whose heart is undivided.

Character Matters

One of the points I am careful to make in my book, The Storeroom of the Heart, I go to great lengths to highlight the importance of filling your heart with positive character and courage. You never know when an opportunity to do something great for God and humanity will pop up in front of you. You can, however, be sure that if you don’t work on your character prior to the critical moment, then you will not have the gumption to do whatever is necessary and the opportunity will be lost.

This past week a friend pointed me an article by Michael Hyatt called The Reflex of Character which also makes that point.  Jump over and read this incredible true story.

Olympic Curling

Curling seems to have become more popular during these winter Olympics.  I have heard others talking about getting into it, and I just found it on TV myself.  My wife then informed me she had seen it on just about every day, only reason I hadn’t noticed before is, I am going through a very busy time.

This might well be an example of the storeroom principle. Whatever you are exposed to will be stored in your heart. Whatever gets stored in your heart will spill out into your life. If curling has been on TV at times when people see more of it their heart is filled with it, and whether they love it or hate it doesn’t matter, it will spill out of their life.

My book, The Storeroom of the Heart, I explore the storeroom principle and discuss the implications for Christian growth. If you are interested in buying a signed copy directly from me contact me via social media and I will tell you how to arrange it, or you can buy it from normal book sellers such as CrossBooks or Amazon.  It is available in hardcover, softcover and e-book.

The Olympics

When I was a kid, the Olympics was a big deal. The family would gather around the TV and all of us would want to watch the events that were on our McDonald’s game cards.

Yea, I know I just dated myself.

As an adult I seldom sit still to watch the Olympics, but when I do I notice a change in the events. Back when I was a kid the most extreme sport for aerial stunts was figure skating. In more recent years we have had people doing stunts on skis, then came snowboards, and in this Olympics Slopestyle events have also been added.

In my book I talked about courage, and the movement towards extreme sports. If you want to know what I said, you will have to buy the book. Contact me via social media if you would like to buy a copy directly from me. This will get you a signed copy for about the same cost as ordering a hard copy from any other source.

But you can also order it from CrossBooks, Amazon or any other bookseller, including picking it up as an E-book.