Holding On

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by Deborah Heal

When I started writing Holding On, my soon-to-be-published contemporary Christian romance, I thought it was going to be a simple retelling of the beautiful, redemptive story of Ruth and Boaz. But as I wrote, a secondary plot about a church in turmoil also unfolded. There was too much of that nasty conflict to tell in Holding On, so I’m planning two more books in the series to complete the story.

Conflict in the church is painful and ugly. I’ve suffered through three major ones, so I know. When I was a child I saw two deacons standing in the church parking lot after a summer evening service threatening to punch each other. It’s not something you forget. God only knows the damage and far-reaching consequences incidents like that have on people, especially children.

The Bible says in John 13:35: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” And in Romans 12:18, Paul says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

But what if the leadership and teaching of a church becomes defective? What if there is no loving Gospel outreach to the community? What if the Bible is not being fully and faithfully taught? Jesus often warned his followers to avoid false teachers, especially the legalistic Pharisees. He said they were as the blind leading the blind and that both would fall into a pit.

Should you stay and try to correct the error or should you leave? It’s not a decision to be taken lightly or hastily, because the Church (no matter how much we mess it up) is God’s blessing and command for us. Pastor John Piper has some wise words of advice about when and how you should severe ties with a church. But I can summarize his comments this way: in everything speak the truth in love, strive for peace, and maintain a humble Christ-like spirit.

My heroes and heroines try to do all that, but of course it’s difficult. At my fictional church Bethel (and I stress fictional), a core of strong believers led by their new young pastor struggles to wrest control from a minority of legalistic bullies and steer the church back to the doctrines of grace. The title of my book has several meanings in the story: Julia is desperately trying to hold onto her farm and her pride and the memory of a dead husband. But the story is also about holding onto the truths of God’s Word.

The series is called “Love Blooms at Bethel,” and all will be well at the end of it, because it’s easy to write a happy ending for a fictional story. They are so much harder achieve in real life. When I mentioned to my pastor that I was writing this series, he reminded me that we’re all Pharisees to one degree or another. He’s right about that. E And even writing about the legalists in Bethel leaves me open to criticism of being judgmental myself. (But it sure has been cathartic!)

I’ve seen some of the most wonderful Christians let pride rip congregations apart. But thankfully in the end not even the gates of hell shall prevail against the church. How wonderful that blessed day will be when all striving is ended, and we shall be like Him!

Holding On is scheduled for release in June 2017. You can find out more about it and all my other books by visiting www.DeborahHeal.com.

Download my FREE eBook “Charlotte’s House” HERE.

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