Tag Archives: Jesus

Is Fiction Inferior to Non-fiction?

Many of the people I meet at book tables explain to me that they only read non-fiction. The implication is that fiction is somehow inferior. Just give me the facts whether of history or engineering or finance—write it out for me in logical order.

Non-fiction writing has great value. I’ve written nine non-fiction books and many articles. But soon after my book, Revolutionary Forgiveness was published, a neighbour asked me a question. “Why don’t you write about forgiveness using the medium of a story with descriptions of characters dealing with bitterness and hurt?’

Good question. I still feel it is important to summarize biblical teaching on forgiveness [and other subjects] and give examples of those who have abandoned bitterness and resentment. But in some ways fictional characters and situations can illustrate more deeply the thoughts and feelings, the anguish and pain of unforgiveness. Fiction can also reflect powerfully on the subtleties of joy and peace that comes with forgiveness.Scan_20170327 (5)

Consider historical fiction. It is one thing to read the facts and figures of life and death, of battles and defeats that occurred in World War Two. But when we read, for example, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doer, the effects of the war on allies and enemies become stark. We feel the story. A French family with a blind daughter open up to us the anguish and fears that reverberate deep inside the psyches of an occupied people. In the same book, a German family gives us an agonizing glimpse into the pressures and fears that drove many to conform and even resort to unbelievable cruelty under the Reich.

Rust Bucket jpeg, 288 pixOr take slavery. We are told that there are an estimated 27 million slaves today; men, women and children being trafficked for sale to brothels, farms, and businesses. Telling the true story of one or two who escaped can put a face on this evil. However, fiction, written, as I have done in Captives of Minara and Rust Bucket, helps to illuminate both those who traffic and those who are kidnapped. We can gain a heightened a sense of the unbridled malevolence of its practitioners and agony of the victims.

What about indigenous affairs in North America? The Back of the Turtle or The Inconvenient
Indian
by Thomas King, or Susan Cooper’s The Ghost Hawk probably accomplish more in raising awareness and sympathy than a dozen government studies.

Think of geogrScan_20170327 (6)aphy. In Christy, by Catherine Marshall, we journey back in time to an earlier day in t
he Great Smoky Mountains. We might be able to read depictions of the flora and fauna, the slang of the people and their superstitions in non-fiction books but we would miss the living sense she gives of people and place. We would not feel ourselves walking with Christy among spring dogwoods.

Consider terrorism and Islam. We have myriad books written about Islam, pro and con, but without fiction books such as The ReScan_20170327 (4)luctant Fundamentalist, or The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahanjan, we will miss insights into the influences moving liberal Muslims to become militant as well as the anguish of those affected by their militancy.

But let me hammer in the final nail in the coffin of those who restrict their reading to non-fiction. Do you mean to tell me that the method of the greatest teacher of all time is defective? That is, should we discount the parables and stories Jesus told to teach us about how to act and believe? The parable of the good Samaritan. The Lost Sheep. The Rich Man and Lazarus. I doubt any would go that far. Jesus not only taught straight-forward principles—the sermon on the mount—but a multitude of stories. He was the penultimate story-teller. It is an honourable calling.

Give fiction a try…but be careful of your choices. Not all fiction is created equal.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright  Also check out his books on Amazon.)

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What Refugees Remind Me About Thanksgiving

Pictures of refugees fleeing their homes in Syria and Iraq, cry out for men and women of good will to respond with compassion. On a practical level, a group of five churches in our town, among others, have banded together to help bring five to seven families here to start a new life. Unfortunately, red tape may seriously delay their arrival.

Day after day the devastation and cruelty, the destruction and misery grinds on in the Middle East. We pray for it to cease. We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing…The wicked oppressing cease them from distressing!

Meanwhile the misery of those in refugee camps remind me of how much we have for which to give thanks. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.

We are safe from the rockets that fly by day, and the bombs that fall at night. We take safety so much for granted! We can sleep at night without fear of being captured and tortured by inhuman monsters. God, of our fathers,…From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence, be Thy strong arm our ever Rainbowsure defense.

We live in lands blessed with a beauty that is unspoiled by war and destruction. For the beauty of the earth…Hill and vale, and tree and flow’r.

We have roofs over our heads, soft beds to sleep in, and kitchens in which to cook our abundant food. Refrigerators to keep things from spoiling. Furnaces and air-conditioners. Grocery stores with a bewildering array of foods. Malls chock full of every kind of consumer product from clothing to books and shoes. Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices…who from our mothers’ arms hath blessed us on our way.

Beyond our cities and towns, farmers work long hours to supply our population and people in other countries wLocal applesith an abundance of food. Come ye thankful people come. Raise the song of harvest home.

We have running water at our finger tips and sewage systems to drain away our waste, not onto the street but somewhere beyond our thought and care.

Every day, we open our closets and let our eyes wander over the various choices we have in what to wear. We have blankets and coats for the winter. Imagine, having only the clothes on your back. Imagine trekking to safety in worn out shoes. We thank Thee, then, O Father, for all things bright and good,…our life, our health, our food.

We have newspapers and bookstores and libraries and access to the Internet. We are wealthy in information and free to travel along our highways and through our skies.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We have abundant hospitals, clinics, and doctors plus a bewildering array of other health care providers. Our drug stores are well stocked with medicines. Fire brigades and police forces are there when needed.

We have the freedom to vote; the freedom to speak out against tyranny and evil. And in spite of concerns about the deterioration of religious freedom, we still have freedom to gather in our churches and worship God according to our conscience. In everything we give thanks for what we have, whi???????????????????????????????le we intercede for the suffering churches of the Middle East.

But most of all we give thanks for the Bible and for the Holy Spirit who opened to our hearts the good news of Jesus who died for our sins and rose that we might have new life. We thank Thee for Him—Thy unspeakable gift without whom all others were vain…For Jesus, our Light, our Salvation, our All, Our Hope till His coming again.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

No Place Like Home

We crept ahead an inch at a time through driving snow. I peered ahead past our line of cars but spotted no reason for our delay beyond the slick nature of the snowy road surface. My knuckles gripped the steering wheel as if the intensity of their grasp could ensure safety. A fire-truck sped by us oOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAn the right shoulder; a tow-truck on the left. I massaged my right knee to keep it from cramping from the tension. Ten minutes. Fifteen. Thirty. What if?

Then two badly damaged cars materialized, one against the left guardrail, the other nose toward the ditch on the right. We crept by only to pass three—no five—no six or seven more each showing the effects of crashes. Fortunately, they were receiving help although no police had yet appeared to shut down the road.

With a sigh of relief we exited the highway and soon turned into our own driveway. Home! Warmth. Shelter. Is there anything like it on a cold, snowy day? We turned up the thermostat, put on coffee, and relaxed.

I could feel the tension gOur home on a winter's dayradually dissipate as I sat there drinking my coffee on our couch. I looked around: the familiar pictures on the wall, the china cabinet, the dining room table, the rug, the kitchen counter. I smiled at Mary Helen across the room in her recliner. “I am blessed,” I thought.

That old cliché is so true. Be it ever so humble there’s no place like home. We often take our homes for granted. They’re just there. Ready to receive us whenever we come home. Then my thoughts circled the globe. How must Syrian refugees suffer; driven from their homes. How terrible to lose your home in a typhoon; or, like a friend’s daughter, to have it burn to the ground.

Even animals, create homes: burrows in the ground, hollows in trees, dens in caves, nests.

Having a home is so basic—so wonderful. And yet we read that Jesus warned an erstwhile follower that; “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head”(Matt.8:20). Think of it. The ultimate source of all shelter didn’t have his own home on earth. He went without, he suffered, and he died for our sins so that we might find eternal refuge.

Raod closed during ice storm “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go…I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”(John 14:1-3). Wow! All those who trust in Jesus for their salvation, have a home being prepared for them in heaven. “This world is not my [only] home. I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.”

Actually, throughout the ages God has been a refuge for his people. “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations…He is my refuge and my fortress”(Psalm 90:1, 91:2). We need not only a home for our body now but a refuge for our souls—a place where we can go in thought and prayer, a place where we find comfort, acceptance, encouragement and love. When the storms of life bear down on us, let us retreat there often. And let’s give thanks for our earthly homes.

Can We Only Learn Grace Through Suffering?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWHY SUFFERING #8
On the surface, suffering seems meaningless—wasting precious human vitality, creativity, and energy. But are there things we can only learn through suffering?

Anguish and puzzlement about the purpose of suffering reverberates down through the centuries. Perhaps we can understand why some Christians who manifest immaturity, selfishness, or pride need the stern rod of suffering. But surely mature Christians such as the apostle Paul didn’t need to be subjected to this painful tutor? Well yes, he did, as he himself explains in Second Corinthians.

“Lest I be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:7-10).

Evidently, even the fearless apostle of grace could only learn about the sufficiency of God’s grace through enduring some chronic Our house, last year...we still hope for snow this year.infirmity. Why? Paul was highly educated, a Pharisee of the Pharisees. He had a dramatic conversion and learned the gospel through direct revelation from the resurrected Christ. Grounds for pride. He could have easily trusted in himself instead of praying constantly for the help of the Holy Spirit. But his infirmity kept him dependent on God’s grace.

If Paul needed something to remind him to keep humble; so do we. God has to often use adversity to remind to bend the knee in humble dependence. Mary Helen and I had to learn it often in Pakistan. And, slow learners that we are, we keep relearning that, “He is able to make all grace abound to [us]” (2 Cor.9:8).

Do we doubt this necessity? Then consider the fact that even Jesus, though the Son of God, in his human nature suffered that he might realize how challenging it is for sons and daughters of Adam to learn obedience in a fallen world. “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering” (Heb. 2:10).

Think of it. The Son of God laid aside the robes of His deity to come at Christmas as a helpless baby. Ponder how he grew in grace and in favour with God and man. His human development e demonstrated his identification with us! Human perfection through suffering!

And since Jesus “shared in [our] humanity…[and] because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted”(Heb. 2:14,18). Do we despair in the midst of pain? Are we fainting with weariness because of some suffering? We need to cry out to Jesus who understands and can moderate our suffering or give us the strength to endure it. He alone, who bore our humanity, knows how much we can bear. He alone understands that our emotions ebb and flo as we grapple with troubles.

What about the role of Satan in suffering? See #1 in this series on suffering for a description of the cosmic dimensions of suffering. See : http://www.ericewright.com/why-suffering

In this fallen world, we need to ask God to help us develop an ironclad Sunsetdependence on the sufficiency of His grace and the reality of His presence. From beginning to end, salvation is by the undeserved grace of God. We are saved by grace. We are kept by grace. We grow in grace, not by our education or skills or discipline or effort. Lord, help us to never forget this reality.

The Strawberry Farmer

The kingdom of heaven is like a strawberry farmer who went out early in the morning to hire workers to pick his fields. At 7:00 he hired three for $10 an hour. Seeing that the strawberries were plentiful he went out at 10:00 and found more workers waiting to be hired. “Go join the others,” he said, “and I’ll pay whatever is right.”

He went out and did the same at 12:00 and at 2:00 pm. Finally at 4:00 pm he went into the town square and found some workers still lounging around. “Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing,” he said.

“No one has hired us,” they said.

“Go and work in my strawberry fields,” he said, “And I’ll pay you whatever is fair.

At the end of the day, he charged his foreman with paying the workers, beginning with the last ones. The workers who were hired at four in the afternoon received $100. Hearing about this, the ones hired first supposed they would receive much more but when their turn came they were given $100. Looking at the dollar bills in their fist, they began to grumble. “It’s not fair, “they said, “We laboured through the heat of the day and received no more than those who worked only an hour.”

Hearing their grumbling, the farmer asked, “Didn’t you agree to work for $10 an hour?”

“Yes,”, they replied but—

“Take your pay, and go,” the farmer said, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?” And so the first shall be last and the last first in the kingdom. (See Matt. 20:1-16)