Tag: Christianity

The Power of Fiction

While non-fiction is probably the most direct way of addressing issues of importance, my personal preference, for both reading and writing, uses fiction as the vehicle.

A few months ago I read a book called Then She Was Born, written by Cristiano Gentili and translated into English by Lori Hetherington. I am often asked to review books and in this case, I received an unsolicited copy. I don’t always have the time or desire to read the books I receive, but something inside nudged me to try this book. I’m glad I did for it impacted me profoundly. The book is about the plight of African albinos living and struggling to overcome deeply rooted superstitions, even in today’s ‘modern’ world. I had no idea. Although I’m sure I would have been sympathetic to the cause had I read an article in a magazine, hearing it from the point of view of a person going through it brought the issue up close and personal.

That’s what good fiction is supposed to do: transport us into the lives of the characters in such a way that we feel what they feel; experience what they experience. As a Christian writer, I see huge opportunities to spread the gospel in an unobtrusive way while highlighting some of the struggles common to both Christians and non-Christians. I don’t need to get on a soapbox to talk about drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, the occult, or sexual promiscuity. I just let my characters struggle with these issues. Hopefully, but not always, they come out on the other side with the help of the Lord and other caring individuals. Sometimes things don’t get wrapped up quite so neatly, however, but I think there are lessons to be learned no matter what the outcome.

I’ve heard it said that you should write what you know. I’m not sure I totally agree. I wouldn’t want to have to go through some of the abuse that my characters have had to and I don’t need to murder someone in order to be able to write about it authentically! I think this is where writing from a place of personal passion comes in. My goal is to expose the darkness and shine the light of Jesus on whatever situation my characters find themselves in. In the end, it is up to them how they choose to respond.

I’ve taken some criticism about the use of ‘edgy’ content in my work. My characters have pretty much done it all: drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution, pornography, dabbling in the occult, promiscuous sex – not to mention lying, cheating, stealing, greed, doubt… the list goes on. Some are believers while involved in these activities, some aren’t. For me, God’s grace and the redemptive power of the cross is everything – for those who don’t know Him and even more for those who do and mess up. While I do not feel comfortable writing graphic scenes (most of the aforementioned occurs ‘off camera’) I don’t try to hide the fact that it takes place. God’s power shines brightest against the darkness.

Perhaps part of my desire to write what I do stems from my own experiences. I came to the Lord as a young adult, having dabbled in some of the seedier side of life before crossing over to the light. My husband and I have also been in ministry for many years and we’ve seen some pretty dark things, even among believers. The truth is, all have fallen short of the glory of God. To pretend that hot button issues aren’t relevant in the church is to bury one’s head in the sand. All is not always as it seems.

The good news is, nobody is too far gone for God. Hallelujah! That’s why I will continue to write the kind of fiction that I feel called to write. God’s redemptive power can shine, even in fiction.

This post originally appeared on the Inscribe Professional Blog on June 29, 2017. 

 

The Little Known ‘Secret’ to Finding More Time

*Note: Since I’m taking a ‘rest’ this week myself, I re-posted this. It originally appeared on the ‘Inscribe Writers’ Online‘ blog on August 15. Enjoy – and leave a comment!

“If I only had more time!” How many of us have said that? I know I have. Lack of time seems to be the number one barrier to reaching one’s writing goals – or so most people say. What if I said you could actually increase the amount of time you have for writing – or at least make it much more effective? Read on…

We’re talking about ‘balance’ – specifically, finding balance between our writing life and the ‘rest’ of life in today’s time driven world. A few months ago, I would have said things like, “Set SMART goals.” “Make a schedule.” “Just get your butt in the chair and do it!” I’ve always been ‘big’ on all of the above, and I’ve managed to be quite productive despite a busy life of ministry, working, and raising a family. I’ve always maintained that if something is important enough, you’ll find a way to fit it in, no matter how hectic your life.

While all of those bits of advice are still valid, I’ve discovered that none of them is actually the real secret to ‘finding more time’.

God has launched me on a different trajectory these past few months. For those that don’t know, I had an unexpected heart attack in May and subsequent open heart surgery. For the first while I couldn’t do much but pray and listen to scripture and worship music on my phone. I had been longing for more time to work on my writing projects, but now that I HAD the time, I simply didn’t have the energy.

As I began to recover, God gave me a new thirst for His Word. As I got stronger I could have jumped all over that list of writing goals I had on my bulletin board, but instead, God prompted me to keep on soaking in His Word with the promise that He would help me finish them in His time.

IN HIS TIME. 

I believe God has shown me the ‘secret’ to living a balanced life. Actually, it’s no secret at all. It boils down to one thing: Honour God with the BEST of your time and He will honour you by multiplying what’s left. 

It is the same principle we see in regard to tithing. It doesn’t make sense to give one tenth of your income away, especially if things are tight. I’ve heard people say, “I can’t afford to tithe right now.” The truth is, people can’t afford NOT to tithe! When we follow God’s principles, He supernaturally gives us increase. It’s just one of the ways that the laws of the spiritual realm operate.

The same is true of our time. This is where my post might turn into a sermon, so hang on to your seats and and keep reading if you dare!

How much quality time do we really spend with God? REALLY? Five minutes each morning? Ten minutes? Half an hour? If we applied the tithing principle to our time, we should conceivably spend two hours and forty minutes per day studying, praying and worshipping. I suppose one could factor in the times praying in the shower, listening to worship music while doing other chores, or going to mid-week Bible studies, but I suspect we’d still come up short.

Unfortunately, many Christians feed themselves with, “A chapter a day keeps the devil away.” Some are on an even leaner diet of, “A verse a day,” or substitute the solid food of God’s Word with one of those little devotional books. (I’m not knocking the devotional books, but if that’s all you’re getting, it amounts to a starvation diet.)

Our rebuttal might be, “But I go to church every Sunday.” This brings me to another point, even more serious, I believe, than how much time we spend in daily time with God: Very few Christians keep the Sabbath.

Please don’t be offended! (And I’m not talking about keeping a certain day of the week – I will leave that up to individual interpretation.) Instead, we each need to examine our own habits. (I’m examining mine as I write!) God commanded us to keep the Sabbath. Not only is it one of the ten commandments, but it is His first ordinance right at creation. He ‘rested’ on the seventh day, not because He was tired, but as an example to us. It’s that important! Taking an entire day for rest and reflection is a gift for our benefit, not an imposition. It says in Genesis that He ‘blessed and sanctified’ the Sabbath day.

This is hard for us to hear in our modern ‘pressed for time’ world. I don’t have time to take an entire day off – every week, no less! It seems there’s always some chores to be done on a Sunday afternoon; things to prepare for the next week… on and on and on… even down to the ‘work’ of writing. And so I continue to scramble about trying to ‘fit’ everything in and hopefully squeeze some time in for writing along the way.

Except… God has promised to BLESS us if we are obedient. I’m beginning to see that God truly can redeem the time if we honour Him FIRST. If I spend quality time with Him each day as well as an entire day once a week, I actually get more accomplished – and with less stress!  Go figure! It doesn’t make sense logically, but God’s spiritual laws work. Just like tithing doesn’t make sense to our natural mind, neither does keeping the Sabbath or spending more personal devotional time make sense in our super-charged-gerbil-on-a-wheel world.

Sermon over. Now for the challenge. 

1. For the rest of this month, spend double the time you normally spend in prayer and Bible study each day. If you spend five minutes, make it ten. If you spend half an hour, make it one hour.

2. Purpose to set aside one entire day as a Sabbath each week for the rest of this month. If Sunday works for you, great. If you want to try the Jewish custom of Friday at 6pm until Saturday at 6pm, that’s cool too. You don’t have to read your Bible and pray the whole time, although doing that is good, but God made the Sabbath for our enjoyment. Prepare a special meal and eat together as a family or invite friends over. Play games, go for a hike, do something fun with people you love. Fellowship. Socialize. Just don’t do any WORK.

3. Keep track of how much more productive you are with the rest of your time. Write it in a journal or just in your head, but I can almost guarantee that you will get more done with the time you have left. Of course, Satan will try to thwart your success, but ignore him and you will be fine!

4. (Optional) Report on your success! I would love to hear about your experiences if you choose to take up this challenge. Comment here, or email me privately: tracy.krauss@gmail.com

In today’s fast paced world I think one of our biggest struggles is lack of time. The enemy has tried to rob us of time with God by making us ‘too busy’. Take back your right to time with God and you will be surprised at how ‘balanced’ the rest of your life will become.

Use Your Intelligence

Digital visualization of flying dinosaurs

I’ve had an interest in creationism since I became a Christian back in the eighties. I was alerted early on to the discrepancy between what I had been taught to believe in school and what the Bible had to say. Often the best that I was told was, ‘Just have faith’. This wasn’t good enough for me, and so began many years of reading and research into the topic, culminating in my fictional novel AND THE BEAT GOES ON.  It turns out there is lots of information out there, some favouring a ‘Young Earth’ model and some an ‘Old Earth’ model of creationism. Of course, there is evidence for both and when listening to either argument, one could be easily ‘convinced’ due to all the ‘so called’ facts. I’ve always been one to let God be God and not try to figure everything out. I think we may all be surprised one day, if and when He chooses to reveal all those secrets.

And The Beat Goes On coverHowever, too many people believe blindly in evolution and its so called ‘evidence’ simply because no one has ever pointed out that there could be a plausible alternative. Actually, that’s not exactly true – most people who do question evolution are labeled as religious quacks and discounted before even getting a chance to present anything. It’s really so unfortunate, because if anyone with any brains at all stopped for a minute and just looked at the world around them, there really is no other alternative than to believe in some kind of intelligent design. The probability is SO great that it literally could not have happened. Yet, for some reason, if we throw in that magic and elusive element – time – people will believe anything. How does stretching our thinking past comprehendible time limits make it any more likely?

As a long standing fan of Science Fiction (okay I admit it, I was a Trekkie) it seems like even that genre can at least embrace the possibilities, even if not in the strictly ‘religious’ context. (Any one remember ‘Q’?) Intelligent Design is so sensible, with or without the aspect of Diety, although I suppose it does finally lead to one conclusion: If someone or something out there has the capacity to create the universe in all its complexity, then they are probably worthy of some kind of allegiance, if not worship. As a believer in creation from a Christian perspective, I suppose God in his wisdom chose to let some things remain a mystery. If we could figure everything out then there wouldn’t be any room (or need) for faith. And so I am content to know that God made the universe in His own time, whatever that might mean.

And the Beat Goes On will soon be re-released (with improvements!) under a new title: Conspiracy of Bones. Look for it early in 2017!

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