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Archive for the ‘Kingdom Writing’ Category

Earlier, I posted a tweet bemoaning the pathetic Christian fiction offerings at my local Barnes and Noble. This is something I pay attention to, since I am a writer and also hope to be a publisher some day. The way I see it, Christian fiction is currently 99% fluff. You know what I’m talking about: all the books are meant to strictly entertain. If they have a message behind it, it’s outdated. In other words, it’s not prophetic.

What do I mean when I say prophetic? Basically, I’m talking about novels that convey biblical truths in story form. These novels get across what God is saying, who He is, or what He’s doing in a story that will stick with the reader.

Jesus was a Master at this technique. He understood that stories would stick with his followers more than simple sermons would; that’s why nearly every time He spoke, a parable worked its way in there. People can mull over a parable, pick it apart, put it back together. They get new revelation out of it each time they read it.

That’s prophetic fiction.

Prophetic fiction will teach people about God, what He’s doing and who He is, through characters that will stick with the reader. I believe that this kind of fiction is on the rise in CBA. People are waking up and realizing that they’re not satisfied writing fiction that merely entertains anymore. God is grabbing hold of the writers’ pens and writing His story through them. The story is king and the message is still getting across. It’s a beautiful thing.

The problem, however, with this kind of writing is that people have the opportunity to get prideful. They know that they’re hearing God. They know that God wants to use what they’re writing to make a difference. They know that they are gifted and blessed and talented. Suddenly they think something like, “Wow, God is really doing cool stuff with this!”

Then, “That sentence was written really beautifully. Thank You, God!”

Then, “This character could be better. I can do better than this.”

Then, “I’m doing awesome!”

Then, “This is the best stuff I’ve ever written.”

Then, “This is totally God-breathed. Any agent that wouldn’t accept this is an idiot! I could totally sell thousands of copies in a blink.”

Sounds kind of silly, right? But this is how people act in regular CBA, so I can imagine how people will act when they really know that they are writing exactly what God wants written. (If you don’t believe me, check out agents like Rachelle Gardner on Twitter. They’ll tell you.) We see it every day: people with gifts get prideful in the fact that they are gifted. Often (especially with people who are prophetic or elevated in leadership), this pride will end up hurting people. How does this pride translate to writing? You won’t get signed. You’ll be seen as a difficult client who is impossible to teach. Worst case scenario, you’ll be blackballed in the industry because you’re so impossible to teach.

The thing is, you’re not special. No matter how blessed and gifted and how much you hear God, you still have to put in the time. You have to do the work. You’re considered an expert in writing (or any subject) when you have put in 10,000 hours of work. That is 20 hours a week, every week, for 10 years. And that’s just writing time.

A lot of people will scoff at this. After all, if you’re hearing God, then you’re golden, right? God won’t allow mistakes in what He’s telling you to write. He’ll make sure that everything is so good that it’ll barely need revising, right?

Uh… not exactly.

The thing that we have to remember is that we’re human. God is God and cannot, will not make mistakes; He will allow us to, though. Why? Because He knows that allowing us to make mistakes will create a kind of buffer against pride. But even with this buffer, we can become prideful in our gifts and talents. So how do we stop the inevitable? How do we keep from becoming prideful, arrogant, and unteachable?

Borrow a page from King Solomon for the writing life: accept correction and don’t turn your nose when people point out our shortcomings. Surround yourself with people who will not only encourage you, but will also be brutally honest. Join a critique group. Don’t scoff when people tell you that the character you’ve been laboring over for months is over-edited or a scene you love needs to be cut. Set yourself up for criticism, then take it to heart when you get it.

The best thing we can do, however, is to pray for God to humble us. Yes, this is a dangerous prayer. Yes, He won’t stop at just your writing if you ask this. And yes, it is a painful process that will last for a long, long time. But you know what? The more humble we are, the more God will trust us. The more humble we are, the more we can be taught and the higher God will elevate us, whether it’s in gifting or leadership or what have you. The most humble people are usually found at the end of the line, way back there where they’re working quietly and diligently at whatever task the Lord puts in front of them. Funny thing about those “last” people: they’re first in God’s eyes. And that’s really where we all want to be.

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On Sunday, I went to a prayer team meeting.  We ended up having a long, drawn-out prayer session and I described something, in prayer, that the Holy One revealed to me.  It was just a small picture; I don’t even know if it could be called a vision, it was so brief.  Later on the leader of the team pulled me aside and spoke to me for a minute.  While she was speaking, suddenly my brain (weird thing that it is) drew a line between the way I write and the way I pray.

See, when I am praying for someone in the anointing, I see pictures.  Brief flashes of insight that might give someone hope, or explanation, or just something new that the Alpha and Omega wants declared.  So I’ll pray it.  I’m not trying to brag or anything similar; if you heard me pray out loud, you’d know I’m pretty much the least eloquent one around.  But what this tells me is that I’m a visual person.  When I need to know what to pray, the Lord shows me pictures.  He also does it when I write.

Ay, there’s the rub.

See, I’m not original.  At all.  Everything I write doesn’t come from my imagination, that I might boast in it.  Instead, I have to rely completely upon the One who created story, the One who created my imagination, the One who created my mind, for every little piece.  He basically dictates everything in pictures and I just describe it.

Then it’s never good enough, so He has to tell me how to describe it.  It’s actually a fun process.

So now y’all know.  I’m a bold, unashamed cheater.  But I know I’m not the only one.  So tell me, how do you write in the anointing?

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“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.”

Leviticus 27:30

What is tithe?

The Bible defines a tithe as a tenth of the  crops.  OK… so you get that.  If you walk into a church, at some point they’re going to say something about giving a tenth of your income to God.  This has been around since Leviticus times and it’s nothing new.  Most Christians will write a check once a month or every other week or whenever they get their paycheck and stick it in the bucket as it comes around.  Then they’re done until their next paycheck, right?

Uh… not exactly.

At least not the way I understand it.  The way I understand it, the most common type of tithe is of your income.  But it’s not the only thing you can tithe.  The Biblical Israelites would give a tenth of whatever they were given back to God.  It didn’t matter if it was crops, wine, livestock, etc… anything the Lord doled out was given back in a small measure.  They did this, not only in worship and obedience, but in order to remember God and the blessings He gave them.

And there’s the kicker: God gave first.

Well, duh.  I can picture y’all’s eyes rolling right now.  But, hey, wait, don’t close the window!  I’ve got a point.

Just like our income, whatever talents we have are gifts from God.  Yeah, I’m talking about writing here.  And whatever God gives us, we need to give back in a tithe, back to the One who gave it to us.  But you know what’s really cool?  This is one of my favorite things about God (uh… ok, favorite being a relative term since He’s too amazing):

Malachi 3:10 states that when you give a tithe (10%) to the Lord, He opens the windows of heaven for you and pours down blessings beyond anything you can imagine.  The parable of the three servants tells us that when we are faithful with the small amount of blessing God has given us, He trusts us with much more (Matthew 25:14-30).  Part of being faithful is giving the blessing back to God.

These are Kingdom principles. They are unchanging, unquestionable laws in that upside-down backwards Kingdom that works so much better than ours.  When we give our writing back to the Holy One to do whatever He will, not only does He make us better writers, but He also reveals more of His plan and His purpose both for us personally but also for others, to be revealed through your writing.

And just think: if He does all that for a tenth of your writing gift, imagine what He’d do if you handed it all over?  So try it.  He’s a better Writer, anyway.

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Ever since I decided to follow God and have felt like He’s leading me to pursue a career in publishing, I have been drawn to fiction.  But then, I couldn’t reconcile my love for fiction with my love for God and His ministry.  The two seemed mutually exclusive except for a few extreme cases.  After all, if you wanted to learn about God or how He speaks or who He is, most people pick up something non-fiction.  I once had a conversation with a friend who summed it up pretty well: he said that if he wanted to read something that entertains, he would reach for a novel but he counts it as a waste of time.  His time is better served reading something that edifies his spirit, teaches him, serves a purpose.  I.e: non-fiction (specifically C.S. Lewis, whom we were talking about then.)

Now, I have nothing against non-fiction.  I’ve been known to read Bill Johnson or Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda, Patricia King or James Goll.  These authors are all incredibly anointed and should be read.  And, he’s right, most fiction is meant strictly to entertain.  My bookshelves are full of novels that are absolutely meant to entertain.  But then, there are those exceptions.  Those books that teach you how to hear God, or something new about Who He is, or something about what He’s doing right now. For example, some books that have spoken to me personally:

  • This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti
  • Blessed Child by Ted Dekker
  • The Shack by William Young

But here’s the deal: each of these novels taught me something new. Frank Peretti opened my eyes to spiritual warfare.  Ted Dekker taught me just how accessible the Kingdom is.  And The Shack… well, The Shack might as well be non-fiction for all the information it is pregnant with.  It’s not perfect, but when read with discernment I believe it can serve a very profound purpose.

Each of these novels helped me to understand something new about how to walk the Walk and talk the Talk.  They also taught me something new about how God works and Who He is.  The one thing I love most about them is that they’re not preachy.

Newsflash: No one wants to read something if they’re being preached at!  Save that for Sunday morning.

Instead, in fiction, the message needs to be subtle.  Story first; message second.  If your story is well-written — if it is driven by characters that seem real and not forced — then it will stay with your reader.  They’ll find themselves pondering the message even if they don’t realize it.  The lesson that God has given you to convey through fiction will sneak in like a thief in the night; it’ll grab hold of the reader and never let them go.

Jesus was the master of this technique.  All of his parables were character-driven and promoted deep, intelligent thought at the same time.  They were easily memorized yet, for the discerning reader, they will never grow stale.  There will always be a need for this kind of steal-in-the-dark fiction because it will reach an audience that would never in a million years pick up a non-fiction work.  The only question is: are you willing to hand your pen over to the Master?

Food for thought.

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