Flash Fiction

Today Let me put up a few flash fiction pieces I have written for various contests. First up is a story that was entered into Flash Friday, one week ago today. It was second out of about 30 entries. This contest gives you two prompts a picture and some required feature. The picture was of an almost empty bus, but one rider is visible only for her shoes. The required feature was a detective.

The Time Traveling Detectives and the Self-sacrifice of Grace Evangelista

Ten years before she had gotten her time traveling detective license, and had set about unwrapping the mysteries of her own life. Every day she hopped on the lonely bus and went back to some point in her own past, to find out what really happened.

A lifetime of memories gets distorted, and seeing something that was behind the scenes to her during her earthly existence, gave her understanding of her own past.

She learned who her father was. She learned why her favorite teacher left in the middle of the term. Slowly, methodically, the questions in her mind were answered. She finally accepted herself; faults, strengths, pains and glories.

Today she was making one final investigation. She shivered as she thought about it. Today she would find out if her sacrifice mattered. She chose to die for her friends. Had they chosen to live?

 

Next up is a story for Christian Flash Weekly, this challenge is currently open. If any of you are interested this weeks challenge is to write between 100-200 words based on John 8:45.  I also like it because it proves not all my titles are long.

Bent

“Truth is stranger than fiction.”

“That doesn’t mean every strange thing is a fact.”

“No but it does mean some surprising things are true.”

“I wish I could be like you. Happily believing in God, but I don’t have enough faith for that nonsense.”

“That is the real problem.”

“What.”

“Your faith.”

“Your saying something is wrong with me?” Her tone of voice was intended as a warning.

“Yes. Same thing that is wrong with all the world.”

“You’re arrogant!”

“Same thing that is wrong with me. The Bible says, ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ That includes you, and me. Our sin interferes with our faith.”

“Sin stops us from seeing the truth? So how did you overcome it?” She was studying the bottom of her coffee cup.

“I asked God to give me the faith to understand the truth. I thought, if He is not there, that prayer couldn’t hurt. If He is there, He would answer it. And if He was there, I wanted to know it.”

“What happened?”

“He answered my prayer. I began to see things differently. I realized, I had become unwilling to hear the truth about God”

 

Finally here is a piece I wrote for another contest called Finish the Thought.  The word limit was 500 and I forgot and thought it was 700.  OOPS!  But in this context they give you the first sentence and you write the story that follows. If you think my story is too emotional go to the contest and read the winning entry by R. Postupak. If it doesn’t choke you up, you must be one really tough cookie.

Chicken Lips and Other Mysteries of God

“Chickens have lips.” Adam watched as the news sank in.

“What do you suppose it all means?”

That had been the question since they had woken up that morning. Their farm was changed, they couldn’t see any hills, or neighbors around them. Out front, their extensive garden was in its place, but instead of the garage and driveway there was a large orchard.

Because they were farmers, creatures of routine, Adam went to feed the animals while his wife fixed breakfast. That was when he noticed the chickens.

“I don’t know, but I think it means we aren’t on earth anymore”

They made a fearful journey to see if the family graveyard was still beyond the garden. It was. In silent pain they both stared at Timmy’s fresh grave. Timmy Anthropoi, Age Seven. Taken Too Soon. The words on the temporary marker sent his wife retreating to the house. Adam was, once again, paralyzed. A moment later he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder and it brought him back to the house.

“What is happening? Where are we?” Adam asked

“You are in a place, I created so that you could learn the truth.”

“Who are you?”

“I am the Lord.”

“So tell us what it is you want us to know.”

“I already did. Since you didn’t understand it in words I will not teach it to you that way again. You will learn it through experience.”

It wasn’t prayer; it was face to face. But one thing remained the same, they felt much better, even though they didn’t get direct answers to their questions.

After God left they ate breakfast—bacon, biscuits, eggs, and some fresh fruit from the orchard. They had never had this fruit before, it gave them a head-rush. Adam asked about it. She mentioned it was the only tree of its kind in the middle of the orchard.

An idea came to Adam’s mind and he rushed out to look. He became cross with her.

“Why did you pick this tree?” he demanded.

“I wanted to try something different. What difference does it make?”

“Don’t you see? God placed us here in a garden just for us. One tree in the middle is different than all the others. My name is Adam your name is Eve. Don’t you see it.?”

“If you realized this why didn’t you tell me?” She demanded. “Why don’t you tell me what you’re thinking?”

God approached them. “What have you done?”

“We ate of the fruit.” Adam was sobbing, but quickly his tone turned to accusation. “Why did You do this to us? You knew we make this mistake. Why?”

“Are you not responsible for your actions?” God asked.

“But it’s impossible for us. Life is too complicated we cannot get it right all the time.”

“That is true. And it’s my pleasure to forgive you. If you will receive it.”

Adam stormed away. Eve stood confused. God watched with the understanding of Omniscience. Over the next several months, God waited while Adam went through the motions of harvesting the garden, milking the cows, and gathering eggs.

Finally Adam tried to step out of his routine to make a permanent marker for Timmy’s grave. He went to the workshop. But seeing the dried blood, he froze. He had never cleaned up after the accident. All he could do was turn to run.

Just outside the shop, God stood waiting. Timmy was with him.

Timmy ran to Adam. “I’m sorry, daddy. I know I was supposed to wait on you. You trusted me with the key, and I wanted to surprise you, to make you proud.”

“It’s alright, Timmy. It’s okay, I forgive you.” They cried together. Then they cleaned the tools and made the marker. Timmy Anthropoi, Died at Age Seven, Waiting with Jesus.

Adam forgave himself for giving Timmy the key. Eve forgave her husband as well. Together they accepted the forgiveness of God.

They awoke the next morning back on earth. The chicken’s no longer had lips, the orchard was gone and they had the courage to keep on living.

Eternality

God is eternal. As created beings, we have a tendency to misunderstand the full scope of what it means to be eternal. We are prone to define what it means to be eternal in regards to a time line. One of the wrong ways of stating it is, something is eternal if it is always going to exist. Or if there will never come a day when it ceases to exist.

We might differentiate the eternality of man, which is eternal into the future, from the eternality of God, which is eternal both into the past and into the future. But this is a false construct, a misunderstanding of both eternality and God.

God cannot be measured in time, He created it just like He created space. Space He filled up with matter, and time He filled up with events. He is omnipresent within space, and in the same way He is omnipresent in time. God is not eternal because He exists eternally in both directions, past and future, but rather because He is Lord over time.

Time is not even eternal in both directions, past and future. Time has a beginning. Time only goes backward to the point where God created it. But God existed outside of the realm of time He created. He is eternal because He exists outside of time. So just like God is omnipresent in space, meaning that He is equally present in all places, He is also omnipresent in time, meaning He is simultaneously in all times. He sees your birth and your death at the same time. He is currently in the now, but He is also currently in every other time. We move through time. He is Lord over time.

Because of this I think it would be better if we never described anything created as eternal. God is eternal, meaning He is Creator of and Lord over time. Everything else is either temporary or everlasting. Something which is everlasting, has a starting point but does not have an ending point. Human beings are everlasting, but only God is eternal.

Cinnamon Teal

Cinnamon Teal

The cinnamon teal is the only duck which has two separate breeding populations in North America and in South America. There are many ducks, and other birds, which travel between the two continents. But the Cinnamon teal has the exact same bird in two separate groups. One migrates across North America and the other across South America. As far as anyone knows the two groups never mingle.

This is interesting because it doesn’t fit how the scientific world believes speciation works. If you have two different populations they are supposed to become two different birds. I suppose they would explain this by speculating that what was previously a single population became separated in relatively recent history. It would have to be relatively recent or else the ducks would have evolved differently.

I personally have another explanation for how it occurred. I prefer to attribute it to God’s sense of humor. No matter how wise humanity thinks they have become, God is still Lord of all. His creation is not bound by the petty explanations of humanity. Believers need to take a lesson from this. Always build into your theology, your expectations of your God, He can do whatever He wants to do.

When we begin to put a certain set of expectations on God, we fail to let Him be the boss. We cannot pin Him in to a pattern of behavior, without denying Him Lordship. We think we like predictable, and if we were big enough to understand Him, God would be the ultimate in consistency. But we are not capable of understanding Him, and to us he appears to be wild, unpredictable, maybe even random. Or to put that another way, just when we think we have everything figured out, God will throw us a curve.

God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world —what is viewed as nothing —to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one can boast in His presence. 1 Corinthians 1:28-29 (HCSB)

The Cowardly New World

There is a lot of concern over whether or not Russia is about to seize additional territories from among the former Russian territories. My expectation is, of course they will. When I answer this so directly I am not claiming to know the future, I am simply observing the pattern of the past.

When a country ramps up its patriotic and nationalistic rhetoric internally, they are on a path to act on those emotions. Putin gave a speech recently about the restoration of the former glory of the Soviet Union in which members of the audience were brought to tears over perceived wrongs done do them when those nations seceded.

Nations led primarily under the leadership of one ideologue, will take greater risks when attempting to secure or expand national interests. Putin is the national hero in Russia. He has carefully crafted his image as a strong leader, a man’s man, and the people look for his leadership either by direct mandate or more subtle orchestration.

Hostile forces, if not opposed with equal or superior strength, tend to keep going until they meet such a resistance. The US response to what has happened in Crimea has been to state there will be severe circumstances, but everyone is quick to say, “No boots on the ground.” This is really all Putin needs to hear. In addition, we really haven’t tried the economic sanctions which would be most painful to them, energy related sanctions, because they would also affect us.

Many of the former Russian states have large numbers of Russian sympathizers. Once these groups are riled up by the rhetoric of Russian nationalism, they likely will act in their regions to seek reunification. When efforts are met with resistance, or especially violence, Putin will go in to protect the Russians in that region. Then hold a referendum, started and controlled by the sympathizers, which of course will result in favor of reunification. This is exactly how it happened in Crimea. Putin didn’t have to start the problem, he only had to be ready to take full advantage of the problem.

The United States has made it clear military options are off the table. No one else will have the gumption to stand up without the US. Whatever financial or other resource consequences we put on them, they will see as less significant than returning the USSR to its former glory. They also have reason to believe we will treat these other consequences in a similar way, namely we will lose heart to continue once it begins to affect the American public.

Without the courage to stop Russia early on, we will have to contend later with whatever it is we allow them to become.

Theology of Imperfection

I believe humans are imperfect, because of sin, and incapable of perfection on earth. More importantly we should continue to strive for perfection as a due diligence of our repentance. Confession is necessary because we have not fully overcome our bent toward sinning. However, Christ on our behalf, has fully overcome our sin, but we must never use this as an excuse for taking our sin lightly.

Human beings sin. I have met people who deny the fact, but this claim can only be made in a very egocentric view of life. A look at how our actions affects others will demonstrate we have all done things we know harm others, therefore we have sinned.

I also believe we are not currently capable of eliminating all sin. We do not understand the full implications of our actions, nor do we fully suppress the effects of temptation on our lives. These two facts together will lead us to return to sin, even with severe efforts on our side to avoid doing wrong.

Believers can deal with these crisis of behavior by confessing their faults to God and allowing Him to forgive their sins and cleanse them from it. This reality of sin in the believer and the relief from it is described in 1 John 1:8-9.

How the church and believers react to these realities seems to be changing in recent years. Some Christian music, a few books and quite a bit of preaching have adopted the idea even our sin glorifies God. It is all a part of God’s plan so, go with it. Enjoy and embrace life, including living out the sin nature God has for you. I hope you reject this concept. Paul dealt with it in Romans 6:1 and threw out the possibility.

If we are seeking God’s best in our lives we should continue on the path of repentance. We should fight and resist sin every step of the way. Not because we will reach perfection, but because sin is an affront to God. It robs us of potential and robs Him of glory.

Green-Winged Teal

Green-Winged Teal

The green-winged teal is an attractive duck when you see it in full light. That green ear patch is beautifully set off by the reddish brown color of the rest of the head. But that same duck in less light will have the green patch begin to appear, perhaps dark blue, but more likely black. If the setting is a little darker the entire head can appear to be dark.

Of course if you let it get a little bit darker yet, you can’t see the bird at all.

But if you can get a view in direct light such as the one above the green and red will light up with an iridescent sheen. In every situation the duck is still the same duck, but without the external light the beauty of the duck is hidden.

People are like this. They can be wonderful, beautiful people, but it won’t show in the wrong light. They might be walking in the dark. They might be doing something which makes them seem less safe, friendly, or attractive. If the first time you meet someone they are leaning in an alley smoking . . . something, you will see them quite differently than if they were helping a little old lady cross the street.

Christians should be especially aware of this. We must know that we are not perfect people, but flaunting your imperfections is always ugly. If we do our best to stay in the light, walk in the light and reflect the light we will be a better witness. I believe you will also be a better Christian and a better person too. If we take no care at all to live as a Christian, of course, our faith will become completely invisible for others to see.

1 Peter 2:9 (HCSB)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for His possession,
so that you may proclaim the praises
of the One who called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The LGBT steamroller is aiming at the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade this morning. The parade in question is the one in New York City, where the mayor of the city has chosen not to participate. They do so based on the idea that preventing the LGBT community from carrying signs and promoting themselves at the event is discriminatory. Looking at the Parades official website you can see all the groups planning to March this morning.

On the list are lots of pipe bands, lots of city and county governments, and lots of high school bands.  When I scanned the list I did not find any group supporting anything other than the Irish community, Catholicism, or the local government. Nobody on the list is there to promote themselves as in yay for black people or Jewish or Baptist or anything other than Irish Catholic.

Despite this, when the homosexual community is told they can’t do what no one else can do, sponsors pull out, the media gets behind it, and freedom is sent scurrying for cover.

Recently in Arizona a common sense law to try and protect religious freedom was attacked in a similar way. The failure to pass the law seems has many people believing the new state of the law is that right of refusal no longer exists in this country. You must serve whoever walks into your storefront and asks for service. It doesn’t matter if what they are asking you to do offends you or not.

So my suggestion to the organizers of the New York St Patrick’s Day Parade is to bring suit against the mayor. He has no right to turn you down, just because he is offended by your choices. You cannot turn away from serving people whose views differ from yours, that would be discrimination. So get a judge to force him to March.

I am pretty sure this course of action would fail. In our country you can force a Christian to participate in a homosexual event which is offensive to them, but you cannot force someone to participate in an Irish event. The homosexual community are quickly becoming a specially recognized group, with their rights being more protected than the rights of others.