Friday, July 13, 2007

Make it Meaningful

I often tune in to Dr. Michael Easley on Proclaim! in the morning, and yesterday’s broadcast was especially great. You can read the transcript here, if you like, but basically it was about how good works do nothing to earn our salvation, only believing and accepting Christ’s work on the cross to overcome our sin can save us. Good works, then, are our response to God, our small way of saying thank you for such an incredible gift. Once we have accepted Christ, then we have meaning and purpose in life by doing the good works He has created for us to do. “We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared before them that we should walk in them,” Ephesians 2:10 NASB

This wasn’t a new concept for me. I’ve heard similar sermons before, and yet I need to be reminded regularly of the power of Christ’s work on the cross and what doing good works is all about.

This got me thinking about the spiritual message in Heartsongs—a required element (as clearly stated in our guidelines) that I’m always checking for strength and clarity. Every story needs to have more than just Christian characters and/or a mention of going to church. I want to see evidence throughout of characters having living, breathing faith in Jesus Christ and how that affects their actions, attitudes, choices, etc. Maybe it’s a faith that is just beginning or is wavering or is incredibly strong. Maybe a character is struggling with a particular sin or a need to trust God or a need to forgive. There are so many biblical lessons and encouragements that can be shared through a simple godly romance novel, and no matter how basic or often taught the concept, we can never hear from God’s Word too much. And maybe we just need to hear a familiar biblical truth in a new way.

Sometimes (thankfully not often!) when I am reviewing a Heartsong, I have to ask in my comments, “What is the spiritual message?” because I can’t seem to find one. That is a frustrating problem because a meaningful message is not easily thrown in at the end. It needs to develop throughout the entire story as characters grow and change and draw closer to God. So, as you write and brainstorm ideas, remember to keep a biblical message central to your story from the very beginning—at least for Heartsongs, anyway. There are plenty of other places in the publishing world where you can leave it out, but not in a Heartsong.

If you know God has given you a gift with words, then use it for His glory! As Christian writers, you have an awesome opportunity to use your words to point others to the Truth.


Nesting For Natalie said...

Looking forward to reading your advice!


Jess said...

What a wonderful post, JoAnne. Straight from your heart. Takes me back to the author who sold me on Christian romance: Irene Brand. I loved the way she used scripture and application in her books. Often I get discouraged and think we're all just preaching to the choir, but your post here struck a chord with me... and Irene's books still minister, speak to and entertain me so I guess we're supposed to keep the 'choir' fed and encouraged with our words.'re right: we often need to hear biblical truths in a new way... from a new voice.

Mary Connealy said...

I was praying about this in church this morning Joanne. Just praying that I maintaim a strong Christian message within the story I'm telling. To keep my eyes on waht's important, to use the gift God gave me for His glory.

Janice Thompson said...

I think this is what drives me to write fiction, to be honest. It would be harder for me to leave the spiritual thread out of a book, to be honest. I can't even imagine it. The story is really just a vehicle to get the message across, after all.

Jennifer Johnson said...

This is a great post, JoAnne. I'm heading to an abbey in Bardstown tomorrow to use the gift God gave me, and write on my book. Pray God blesses my thoughts.