Don’t Sell Yourself For Two Cents.

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“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

This is one of my favorite passages. Often in this world we can start to feel unimportant, insignificant. We may think our petty problems are too small for God to be concerned about in a world full of grave evils. If we suffered the abuse of neglect as children, we may think our human fathers couldn’t be bothered and didn’t watch out for us, so God won’t care enough to be there, either.

This tells us it is a lie. God is not like us–he sees everything and everyone and he cares about and forgets none. Not even the most insignificant thing escapes his notice–not a sparrow dies, not a single strand of your hair comes off in your comb, without God noticing. He has all of us counted that exactly.  Those who see this and care about the sparrow also do well. Those who remember we are worth far more than the sparrow and refrain from  saving the animals while neglecting the humans’ lives and well being do even better.

We must not forget that. God cares about the sparrow, but you are worth far more. You’re the one created in his image, you’re the one Christ died for. Do not sell cheap the treasure that God spent all that he had to redeem.

Lord, forgive us when we sell our selves short, whether by surrendering to sin, or giving into satanic lies that demean humanity and worship the creation, or even that misuse your word to beat us to a pulp and make us feel worthless. Remind us of the value you freely gave us at Calvary and at the Creation. Show us how we can best live before you as your priceless treasure. May we value  you as much as you have valued us and hold nothing back from you. In Jesus’ precious name we pray, amen.

Working As Unto the Lord

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On the Guild we’ve been having a debate on what separates Christian Fiction from Non-Christian. I submitted a version of this piece on that blog, originally as Writing as Unto the Lord.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men

–Colossians 3:23

What separates secular from sacred? When dealing with this question in any public forum, it quickly becomes evident how many of us truly are waffle brains: Secular and Sacred are in separate compartments,with each area of our lives clearly defined in our minds and totally separate from the other. In this mindset, God takes up residence in His very own compartment marked “Sacred”, which leaves the person especially prone to thinking that God only is concerned about, relevant to, the stuff in His compartment.

Which means despite years of singing, “You are my all in all” and “In all I do, I honor you” (“Amazing Love”) on an unconscious level, many of us think that means, “You are all in all in my religious life, as for the rest, that’s why you gave me a Brain,” and “In all I do in explicitly spiritual activities, I honor you.”

To this mindset, the natural assumption is, if Christians must honor God in literally all we do, all we do must fit in our Sacred box. If we’re a carpenter, we have to build churches. If we’re a doctor, we can only glorify god by joining an overseas mission. If we’re a writer, our work had better be fit for the Christian Booksellers Association. But none of that is true.

When the bible says “do all things unto the Lord” it doesn’t mean make everything you do fit inside your sacred box. It means let God out of the sacred box and into every other box, including the one marked “work, “job” or “career.” No matter how “secular” our work.
Even if you’re a street sweeper, to borrow from Martin Luther King Junior, go out and sweep those secular streets for the Lord–aiming to please Him with your work before anyone else. And allowing Him to sweep streets through you. You’d be surprised who He can minister to through your ordinary, secular street sweeping when you fully submit this area of your life to Him.

Note I’m not saying the typical Evangelical line–think of ways to “witness” to your coworkers and clients in your own strength and wits. Overt may genuinely not be appropriate, and using your own wits never is. I’m talking about a simple prayer, “Lord, use me in my work today to bring Glory to You.” Then let Him go to work as He sees fit.

Personally, I want “In all I do, I honor you” to be a summation of my life. But frankly, I’m an alcoholic’s daughter. Like most daughters of alcoholics, I have some serious control issues–as anyone who has known me more than half an hour probably already knows. Left to my own devices, I want things my way, and if I don’t get it, I might just go off to pout and stew about it a good long while. Taking my hands off the wheel and trusting Him enough to let him have control is something I don’t always find easy to say the least.

For me, one of the most difficult verses in the bible to live out is Proverbs 3:5,6 “Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (The From Andrea’s Memory Version).

As a writer, the difficulty I have doesn’t stop when I sit down at the keyboard to write. In fact, I’ve found the more I learn the craft, the harder not trusting my understanding of it but rather submitting to His leading becomes. The hardest thing He could ask me to do, writing-wise, is to break one of my “sacred” rules (such as, thou shalt not write in first person multiple.)

Americans in general, I’ve found, have a hard time with not leaning on our own understanding, especially as relates to the God-box. Most of us still talk about honoring God in everything and Him being all in all. We usually still talk about aiming to please Him, not man. But the behavior of the American Church indicates most of us are in the camp of: “God gave me a brain. God only is concerned with explicitly Sacred things, so I only need to seek Him in regards to those things. Secular things He wants/expects me to handle myself using the whits and natural wisdom He gave me.”

Now, if I’m not careful, I start thinking that way, too. But, Brethren, that notion isn’t of God. God gave the Israelites a Law chock full of rules dictating practically every aspect of their lives at least in part to disprove that lie. No matter how secular our work or ungodly our employer, God wants us to “scoot over” as recording artist Mark Shultz put it–and let Him work through us.

You know what? I’ve found God often is faithful to our covenant even when I’m neglectful. I’ve looked back on situations and things I’d written and realized He’d still worked through me even when I’d neglected to specifically invite Him to. It’s ultimately the willingness of the vessel that counts.

Again, our work can’t rightly be defined as Christian or not in terms of our actual duties or the content of what we produce. Rather, it is our relationship with Christ that truly defines our work. Where we are not fully surrendered to Him, that shows, especially for those of us who work in the arts or media.

Yet, even at the same time, where we are walking in right relationship with Him, everything we do truly does honor Him–whether sacred or secular. And if that be true, what distinction is there between the sacred and the secular for the Christian?

To Give or Not to Give . . .

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To anyone conflicted over a request for money from a couple who became pregnant at a time when it was anything but financially expedient. And especially if you’re struggling with feelings of resentment.  
Dear Conflicted,


My greatest concern isn’t the issue of money, but the attitude of our culture towards children that’s behind this question. What do you think they should do, and be honest with yourself, kill the child? Believe me, there’s not much of a difference between that and “preventative” measures. Many of the popular methods are abortificants (kill any embryos that are conceived). Children are a gift from god–no matter what their  parents’ circumstances.

I know how hard it can be to separate issues. Pray about this one first and foremost. Because it’s important to understand that this child is not on this earth through the “carelessness” of his/her parents. S/he is growing and alive in the womb today because God has a special purpose for that life–whether s/he comes to the end of this life’s journey tomorrow or 100 years from now.

God doesn’t always give convenient gifts. You’re not the first to question His wisdom, nor will you be the last. But whether we believe it or not, He does know what He is doing. I know this struggle, believe me. I’ve been there. I’ve asked myself why He gives people who turn their backs on the Way to live in sin children and strike barren those who do things “right.” One thing I’m learning–He is still on His throne, and He brings the rain on the just(ified) and the unjust, those who deserve it and those who don’t, those who have the resources–and especially those who don’t.

It is not our place to prevent life, to give it, or to take it away. That is his domain and we should leave it to Him. He’s got a real perchant for bringing things into our lives that we lack the natural strength, resources, ability etc. to handle. So that we will learn to rely on Him.

On the money, let’s examine this: why do you resent this request? Why do they always need money? Are they in need because they will not work? The bible says not to give to someone who is poor because they are unwilling to work for their bread. Are they poor because they are financially irresponsible? Giving financially irresponsible people money is the proverbial “give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day” situation; such people don’t need money, they need taught how to manage it. Quite a few of us fall into this category, but pregnancy alone doesn’t qualify no matter how financially inconvenient God’s timing is.

Are they poor as a result of intentionally sinning against God and running from him? Does it have a purpose in His plan for them? This is where we need to pray and seek His guidance. Because there are situations where by helping someone out we are hindering His work. But at the same time, this is often used as excuse to not give when we feel Him calling us to show generosity.

Lastly, or are none of these applicable and they are simply poor due to hardships that have come through no fault of their own, such as all their income going to medical bills, or the primary breadwinner’s pay/job being suddenly cut? God provides, but how often does his provision come via His church coming together to lift each other up in such circumstances?

Or is the issue simply that you feel it was financially irresponsible of them to choose to NOT play God and did not have the audacity to tell Him how many children He is allowed to give them and that is why you are angry? Sadly, you are not alone by far, but that idea is of the world and rightly has no place in the Church of God.

If that is the only “irresponsible” thing they’ve done financially, if none of the other caveats apply, then it is the role of the church to help their own. Believe me, if they’re sane, they’re probably scared to bring another child into the world in their circumstances. It tries a couple’s faith and they need the church’s support in regards to the child, not her judgment and condemnation; especially when they conceived within the bonds of marriage! It’s a shame on the church that we’re too “loving” to correct a church member actively engaged in sexual immorality, but gossip behind the backs of married couples that dare to leave the family planning in the Hands it belongs in! 

Though adoption is an option to pray about, the Church should support them whether they decide to keep this gift or bless another couple with the child.

One last consideration: Do you have the money to give? No matter how deserving someone is, you have to feed your own family first;  you can’t give what you don’t have. But at the end of the day, giving requires wisdom and discernment. Pray about it and give what God leads you to–no more and no less. It’s His money, after all. But it’s likely they need more than mere money anyway. There are other ways to give.


In Christ’s Service,

Andrea Graham

P.S. Today is my birthday!