Christ's Glory, Not Mine

Devotions, advice, and book reviews from science fiction author Andrea J. Graham

Flashback Friday: Sheol

I wrote this in college at eighteen or nineteen years old. Note Sheol is the place of the dead in ancient Hebrew.

Sheol

CristiYor / Pixabay

There used to be others here, once.
But that was a long time ago.
They told me pretty stories, fables,
Things I have never felt,
Touched, heard, or tasted.
She, I think she was my mother,
Spoke of color and light,
She spoke of stars above,
A world without pain so constant
You forget it is there,
But it was all a lie.
There is no light,
Just this suffocating darkness.
I trip and stumble,
My fingers are oozing again.
I place them in my mouth,
And taste salt, metal, grime.
I am down to the wiggly long
Slimy creatures since the carcasses
Are stripped to the hard parts.
Once again I fling myself upward,
Toward the alleged stars,
My claws are outstretched, ready
To tear down anything they grasp.
I fall back to the wet, black ooze;
I hear a crack and feel a pain
Intense enough for me to notice.
I run a hand down my leg. Yes.
Tensing, I snap the hard part
Back into place. It is agony,
But I am used to agony,
What else is there?
Then IT comes,
This nameless thing I
Cannot describe with any
Of my four senses.
It burns my eyes and melts
The comforting darkness,
As I realize, too late
That maybe, just maybe
The myths were true after all.
I retreat on hand and knee,
Stumbling back, trying
To escape this brightness
But even behind my eyes it seeps
Finally, my darkness shelters me
Again; yet IT is still there.
A voice calls from IT,
“Come child, come
Come to me, and face yourself,
Surrender to me
And I will cleanse you
Believe, and I will save you.
Come, child, come,
Come serve me and be free.”
I cry out, ragged, “NO!”
And it vanishes with a sigh
But my pounding heart tells me
It will be back.
For me.
For you.

Pair this with: 1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen race [people], a royal priesthood, a dedicated [holy] nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth [declare] the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.


Run 4 Heaven’s Gate

This year, on my thirty-fifth birthday, I gave up receiving presents and instead asked my friends and family to give a donation to SendHopeNow.org, to help AIDs Orphans in India. In addition to losing their parents to AIDS, many of the children are themselves infected with HIV. If you have only $1-5 to spare, my birthday campaign continues until 9/20/2016.

I’m also taking a journey with my husband, Adam Graham, who has been training for the past few months to do four half marathons in four weeks between October 9th and November 5th. A half marathon is 13.1 miles, doing four in such quick succession is a very daunting undertaking. I’ll be his support crew, waiting at the finish line, and training with him some.

We’re also doing this to raise money to support AIDS orphans in India at the Heaven’s Gate orphanages. In that country, so many children are cast out to die in the streets alone and abandoned. The Heaven’s Gate orphanages care for them and provide food, shelter, medicine, and a loving home and family environment.

Run 4 Heaven’s Gate is a great opportunity to join hands and send God’s love across to the world to children who will never experience it any other way. We can help give them hope for future.

Your prayers are appreciated. This is Adam’s second time running it and it is a big physical challenge for all involved. Please keep us and Adam’s fellow runners in your prayers as we make this endeavor. If you would like to sponsor Adam, you can make a pledge at the Run 4 Heaven’s Gate website.

Image belongs to Calvary Chapel Boise.

Image belongs to Calvary Chapel Boise.


Avatars Virtual Release Party Raffle

Check out the lovely artwork we used to make the cover of Avatars of Web Surfer!

Check out the lovely artwork we used to make the cover of Avatars of Web Surfer!

You’re invited to celebrate the release of Avatars of Web Surfer! On Tuesday 10/18 at the Avatars Release Party event page, from 7:30 Mountain Time to 8:30 Mountain Time, we’ll be playing party games, including Mad Libs.

Right here, we’ll be raffling off neat stuff from my co-authors of this collection of same-universe Sci-Fi with a touch of magic and wonder.

Raffle Items:

afgan
Afghan made by Cindy Koepp
Vintage bracelet similar to the ones Joya makes in Jewel Among Stones by Cindy Koepp.
A DIY Jewelry Kit from Cindy Koepp
Travis Perry’s never-worn size 15 black army boots (used ones may be available in smaller sizes upon request.)
Crocheted AI Doll by Heather Titus.
Signed copy of Forged Steel by Heather Titus
Print Copy of Martian Science Fiction anthology, edited by Travis Perry
Framed Cubist-style portrait of the Avatars cover art by an artist friend of Travis Perry.

To enter to receive one of these nifty prizes, any time beginning on 9/20 and ending on 10/19 (at 12AM) return here and use the Rafflecopter gadget below. It will give you entries for each of the following activities:

*Attending Virtual Party and Play Mad Libs
*Winning a game at the virtual party, excluding Mad Libs
×Owning Avatars of Web Surfer (The confirmation number from your purchase.)
×Reviewing Avatars Online (The link to the review)
×Posting about Avatars on Social Media (Link to your post or to your profile)
×Leaving a Blog Post Comment
×Following @andreajgraham, @tt_perry, @CCKoepp, @HATitusWriting on Twitter
×Signing up for Andrea J. Graham’s mailing list. (Your email address)

I’ve set up the raffle so you can get started on some of these in advance; just be sure to save proof so you can provide it when you come back here on the day of the party to get credit in the raffle for any activities done in advance. The ones you can do in advance have after them the proof you’ll need to provide in parenthesis, (like this.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bear Publications released Avatars on 7/20/2016. It is available as an ebook or in paperback on Amazon. Read more about Avatars of Web Surfer on its page.

Also please note I replaced an outdated feedburner subscribe box with a new, proper mailing list. I’ll be posting copies of new content from this website as well as info on new releases of my science fiction and fantasy books and perhaps some of my Christian authors friends’ new releases in those genres.


Change Begins With Us

Devanath / Pixabay

Devanath / Pixabay

Peace, brothers and sisters in Christ, peace.

 

Lately, I’ve encountered a disturbing amount of Christians bickering amongst ourselves, sometimes with the eyes of a lost world literally watching, and likely thinking if our unkind, unloving, disrespectful attitudes in the moment represent what Christ is about, no thanks. They can get plenty of that without the Lord. Meanwhile, often, everyone involved in the fussing is sure they’re right and the other person is wrong, no one is respectfully listening and respectfully responding to each other, and everyone feels justified in their bad behavior by the other side’s bad behavior, and this ugly cycle just goes on and on. Let’s break the cycle, be respectful to the disrespectful, kind to the unkind, loving to the unloving. It begins with us.

 

We have to set boundaries sometimes of course. Even when that is the case, if we want anything to change, we need to all examine our own conduct, restrain ourselves from reacting automatically, pray for God’s help, and choose to respond in a manner that represents Christ well. I know such discipline is hard for some of us, and learning it may take time, but we have to keep practicing making the choice to crucify the flesh and walk in the Spirit on such matters. It is too easy to behave disrespectfully, hatefully, etc. when we feel we or someone or something dear to us is being disrespected, hated, etc.. That’s simply the nature of the flesh we all struggle with.

 

It’s long been a battle in my own life for sure, but lately, I have observed so much of Christians falling prey to the flesh in this regard, I’ve begun to strongly suspect that none of us are immune. If we want things to change, we need to face that if we’re not watching ourselves, any of us can get sucked in and become one of those people. Yes, even when we deeply love the Lord, care deeply about the lost and demonstrating who God is to them. Even someone who is normally one of the loveliest, sweetest souls on Earth can potentially get conned by “righteous” anger into becoming part of the problem. So I ask us all to watch ourselves, to humbly face the potential within ourselves to become a part of the problem, in hopes one of us will catch ourselves about to act like that and check ourselves first.

 

Again, becoming “one of them” takes only one moment of “righteous” anger where we’re sure we’re right, that the other side is ignorant, wrong, and a threat to people or causes we love dearly. One moment of feeling disrespected and hated and in pain is all it takes to surrender to the flesh, snapping back in kind without thinking or praying through our hurt and asking God to help us respond in a way that will glorify his name. While it is fine to give respectful, loving responses and to set boundaries in a respectful, loving manner, outside of that, keeping it going isn’t much better than causing it when these things quickly come to both sides thinking the other side started it.

So again, let’s all work together to break this ugly cycle. Let’s stop before we react automatically by mirroring either real or anticipated bad behavior. Let’s instead give our angry feelings to God and ask God to give us the strength to respect those who are disrespectful, to be kind and loving to those who are unkind and hateful. It begins with us.