At Sea

This is a great stand-alone book even though it is #16 in the Harbingers series. I have not read any of the others, so was clueless about the characters and plot. In the opening scene, we see a man waking up in a small room. He is lying on the bed while wearing a full tux, complete with shiny shoes. He does not know who he is or why he is in what looks like a cruise ship cabin.

He eventually meets a man and two women who are in the same state. They struggle to understand what is happening to them as they make their way through an abandoned ship. When they rescue a boy, he knows them and calls them by name. Emotionally, they all believe they know him as well.

The Harbengiers series is a collection of stories interconnected by one major plotline–specifically, the Book of Revelations. Each of the four authors takes a turn at writing the next segment. Bill Myers writes as Brenda, Jeff Gerke as Chad, Angela Hunt as Andi, and Alton Gansky as Tank. They always write in that order and each group of four stories makes up a full book. This story closes book 4. Harbingers 17 is now available.

I can’t judge the whole series by this one book, but I can say that Gansky wrote a captivating story.  He used all the tricks of suspense, There was little time to relax before the next problem hurtled toward them. Each chapter ended with a cliff-hanging question.

Without having read the preceding 15 episodes I did have a little trouble with the ending which introduced a couple of characters with little explanation. That did not detract much.

This is a good example of how to write a Christian story. The characters displayed true Christian attitudes even as they wanted to punch each other from time to time. All swearing was done off stage–“he swore.” Otherwise, real people.

Mike Lawrence

No Other Name

Photo by dmitryzhkov on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA 

Acts 4:5-12
Psalm 23
1 John 3:16-24
John 10:11-18

 

The story in today’s Acts’ reading is a powerful drama pitting the might of the High Priest and his family against two fishermen, followers of Jesus. We do not know how long after Pentecost this story occurred, but within a few months seems likely.

Peter and John stopped to speak with a lame beggar, and the beggar began to walk. A crowd gathered, and Peter began to tell them about Jesus. That lead to the arrest of Peter and John.

At the “trial,” the leaders tried to get Peter and John to condemn themselves by their answers. If Peter had said, “I healed the man,” that would have been a claim of being God, punishable by death.

Instead, Peter said that God was the source of the healing and that it was Jesus who made it possible. He even went as far as to say that the only way that humans can approach God is through Jesus.

Remember who those important people were. There was the High Priest, the one person who was permitted to approach God on behalf of the people of God. Peter told Annas that he was out of a job. Jesus alone can stand in the presence of God.

To use an American political term, we can stand before God on the coattails of Jesus. He alone can vouch for us. Even though we do not have invitations, Jesus will get us past the doorkeepers.

For writers of fiction, this storyline is too powerful to ignore. It could be as simple as an unworthy man who has no chance to meet the popular, even famous, woman until he is befriended by someone who can get him into the room. Or it could involve a complex series of actions and choices which culminate in the two meeting.

More to the point for the Christian author, the protagonist may struggle before realizing that only Jesus can give him the peace he seeks.

We need to stick to the basic point in fiction (as a rule). Christians argue about the exact role of Jesus in the salvation of people. On one extreme it the position that Jesus’ resurrection takes all humans into the presence of God without our needing to say or do anything. On the other end of the sliding scale is the belief that each person must speak, aloud in front of people, the name of Jesus and asked for his forgiveness.

Unless a specific contested belief is essential to your story, stay with the simple version. Some way we don’t understand, Jesus saves.

 

Read my earlier comments on this theme here.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence