Merry Christmas, y’all! I pray God extends his grace, comfort, and joy to you today and well into 2021.
A few entries ago, I promised to offer you either some of my short stories or devotionals for reaching 100 subscribers. Since I prefer to give you a choice, below are two flash fiction stories (both previously published at Go Havok), and a series of devotionals I wrote for my church:
Devotionals: A Glimpse of Faith.
They’re all in Adobe PDF format, which can be read by any computer as well as uploaded to Kindle and/or Nook (although the text size can’t be adjusted).
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~ Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)
I’m a technophile. I am always looking for the newest gadget. A while back at lunch I drooled (figuratively speaking) over a fellow restaurant patron showing off a gadget that turned his phone into a projector. He caught me staring, but I didn’t care. It was cool!
When Christmas season gears up (no pun intended), we are flooded with advertisements of the newest gadgets and toys that no one can live without.
And I am tempted. I don’t need any of it, but I excel at convincing myself otherwise. The purchase might satisfy me for a while, but then what? If I die, all those gadgets will end up at a second-hand store, given away, or tossed in the trash.
We like to think we’ve evolved, but we’re no wiser than those who came before. We simply have better tools (and toys). Like those Jesus preached to in Matthew, I’m so busy collecting worldly treasures, I’m not collecting heavenly ones.
What do heavenly treasures look like, anyway?
It could be giving money we would otherwise spend on toys to more useful causes, or using our talents to glorify God more—to name a few. It boils down to what we choose focus on: the shiny stuff of this world, or God and his will.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” ~ Matthew 6:33 (ESV)
First off, to everyone, both new and regular vistors, welcome! Pour yourself a cup of your favorite beverage and have a seat!
Now before we get into the meat of this post, I recommend you read Rebekah Loper’s entry and first installment of this blog tour. She describes best the humble beginnings of the anthology as well as the anthology itself, and I don’t want to repeat what you may have already read.
You’re back now! Great!
For my story, I was lucky enough to pick the first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3, KJV)
I’ll admit to some trepidation over writing a story about that verse, because I never studied what “poor in spirit” actually meant.
So I brought out my handy-dandy study Bible, and it referred me to this verse among others:
Isaiah 57:15: “The night and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy one says this: ‘I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.'” (NLT)
As one who has to work hard at being contrite and humble, this was double the challenge!
After three complete rewrites (and a lot of prayer) where nothing but the first paragraph made the final draft, I finally completed my story called The Promise:
Cantis promised his parents to take care of his ailing twin sister, Cathrin, before they died. In order to do that, he must take her through unknown and dangerous territory where Marauder ambushes are frequent and deadly to get her the help she needs.
He soon learns firsthand what it feels like to be “poor in spirit,” and to depend on God when all seems lost.
Intrigued? Will he and Cathrin, avoid being caught, robbed–or worse–killed by Marauders? You’ll have to read the story to find out!
But it doesn’t end there! Since my story is only the first of thirteen, I guarantee if you like mine, you’ll love the rest.
Although the official release date is July 13th, you can pre-order the Kindle edition for a mere $4.99. There will also be paperback and hardcover editions available soon!
Something else to add to your calendar: all the authors and our illustrious editor, Travis Perry of Bear Publications will be hosting a Facebook Party on July 13th for the book’s official release. Come and join the fun where you can ask questions of the authors, answer trivia, and perhaps win a prize or two.
Since I doubt Rebekah or I have whet your appetite enough, check out the next stop on this tour written by RJ Conte who “writes realistic, issue-driven fiction that explores human nature and the depths of the soul, while pointing readers to their Creator.”
My short story called “The Eye,” will be published February 28, 2019! It’ll be free to read on that day only on gohavok.com.
A few days ago, I submitted another short story to a speculative anthology about the Beatitudes and Woes in the New Testament. I chose “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I expected the story (titled “House Rules”) to end up at maybe 3000-4000 words. It ended up just over 8300.
There’s no guarantee it’ll be published, but I’m confident. Either way, I enjoyed writing it. Mostly because I hadn’t thought of that particular verse and what it really means. Considering how prideful I can be, I don’t see myself as “poor in spirit.” I researched the verse, and it felt almost like a treasure hunt, and I found a lot of gold.
Anyway, I will keep you apprised, and I will also send a reminder when my Havok story is released!
If you haven’t read my previous entry, yet, I recommend you do before continuing (http://almarquardt.blog/2018/10/22/story-matters/).
I have since discovered that the last books will be completed by another author.
In the meantime, if you enjoy fast-paced epic fantasy with science fiction elements, and with deep, colorful characters struggling to find their way in worlds they never before imagined, I highly recommend you check them out. The first novel can be picked up on Amazon for a mere $0.99.
To find out more about Brandon Barr and his “Song of the Worlds” series, check out the attached link.
My thanks to Brandon for writing such a fabulous and memorable story, and to #BrandonsBuddies for taking up the torch on his behalf.
Or if you don’t use Facebook:
I received the following email yesterday (in part):
I enjoyed speaking with you recently. I would like to offer you the volunteer position of Associate Editor of Spark, if you are still interested. Please let me know at your earliest convenience.”
Although it’s not a paid position, the insights I will gain into the magazine industry (and publishing in general) will be invaluable. Plus I get to read all the stories before anyone else!
For more on the magazine:
I noticed I haven’t shared an entry in almost three weeks. I’m not slacking, though. Writing-wise I’m doing a lot:
1. Editing my fantasy novel (for the umpteenth time)
2. Finished writing devotionals for my church.
3. Beta reading two short stories for another writer
4. Will be beta reading a friend’s novel in the next few days
5. Reading (although not as much as I’d like, because I keep buying books without first reading the ones I have now).
Here are the hoar frost pictures I talked about in my last entry:
I’ve heard a lot of talk to the effect of: “How can you call yourself a Christian for voting for that candidate?”
From both Christians and non-Christians alike.
Let’s use Alabama’s most recent senatorial election as an example. Of the two main candidates, one is pro-life and an alleged sexual predator. The other has no sordid accusations, but is staunchly pro-choice.
The Christian is faced with a hard choice: Vote for the alleged predator who believes life at all stages deserves protection, and the second candidate who thinks abortion should be legal up until birth, but was never accused of preying on young women.
This Christian voter needs to decide which sins the candidates have committed is the more and least egregious.
The Christian can also not vote, or write in a better candidate. Perhaps a third party choice if one is listed.
That’s not the end of the struggle, however. Once the choice is made, the Christian has to decide to never reveal the choice, or openly support said chosen candidate.
This is a difficult one. By staying silent when unfair criticism of chosen candidate arises, the Christian can continue to remain silent, or risk being counted as (and accused of) supporting either sexual assault or infanticide.
Most Christians expect criticism from the worldly no matter what they do. After all, the world hated Jesus first (see John 15:18).
What Christians don’t expect is to hear such vitriolic criticism from fellow Christians. Aren’t they all members of the body of Christ, united in a common cause and inseparable?
Here’s how I see it.
Government is a secular institution. Any person we vote for is a fallible, sinful human being, and they seek to occupy an office equally secular in nature. It’s neither a religious nor spiritual occupation. Therefore, I think our standards shouldn’t be the same as voting for a new pastor or priest at a church. The qualifications and expectations are too different.
Aside: Do we all want good, moral people to lead us? Absolutely! Still, even moral people are flawed, so no matter how good they appear, they are still sinful (That and what society considers moral is in constant flux). Voters, Christian and otherwise, are too often faced with deciding which candidate holds to their own world-view the closest — the least of evils to use a cliche. Perhaps not vote at all, and let the chips fall where they may.
What concerns me is how willing so many Christians are to judge, condemn, and divide over political lines.
Paul warned us against divisions in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, and how we’re all parts of a single body with different roles to fulfill in 1 Corinthians 12.
When we allow the world generally, and politics specifically, to divide us, the Body falters, and we lose both sight and effectiveness of our mandate to lift up others and spread the Good News. Those we seek to save instead laugh at us. Because of our petty and public arguments, and the constant finger-pointing, we deserve to be mocked.
The only remedies are to quit mixing in politics when discussing spiritual and Godly matters (especially in public), vote our conscience (including not voting at all), and remain silent about both our choice, and the choices others make. Let God judge the heart and intent of the voter, because the rest of us are far from qualified.
In other words, watch for those planks instead of scrounging around for specks (Matthew 7:5).