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Nateskate
08-17-2006, 05:06 PM
We are told we are Living Epistles (letters) to be read by men. We who write are not only writing, we are being read. The Bible also says, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" -

I started out responding to a statement on another thread, and felt this should have its own place. I don't think our most difficult problem is finding a good story idea, whether it is "Christian" or "Secular". I think the most vital thing is that we "are" relevent and we write what is relevent. That doesn't mean writing another allegory of the Gospel. Jesus talked about attitudes, values, priorities, and purpose. All those subjects relate to "Thy kingdom come" and "Thy will be done". This is a pretty broad brush to paint with.

Peter said, "...and when they see your good works they will glorify God..." That's a pretty broad area (good works), but if you start at the beginning of Second Peter, he pretty much says (Paraphrased) if you deal with your own character issues, you can't help being fruitful and having a good impact on the world. Get a good heart- you can't help but do good things. Empahsis is on growth as a person, rather than actions. Good actions come out of a good heart.

Honestly, I can't wait to talk about elements of my story, some elements only after it is published. But if you look at the fact that Jesus talked about many issues that cross all boundaries, things that even non-spiritual people can relate to like attitudes, values and priorities (The Sermon on the Mount) you/I can talk about these things- selfishness, mercy, love, being two-faced and judgmental, and be entirely Christian, entirely spiritual, and still sound entirely relevent to the world at large without looking like a walking cliché.

Most of the world religions believe in some form of sowing and reaping, and yet we have a foolish generation that believes in neither. Parents (Christian and non-Christian) deal with instilling wisdom in our children- actions have consequences. They may say it different, "What goes around, comes around"...but a story whose purpose is to make people think about their actions doesn't have to quote scripture to be spiritual.

Many people misunderstand Jesus, but that isn't because of anything Jesus did or said. There are many kinds of Christians (not in reality, but in the way they practice and act) It's like Goldilocks, "too cold, too hot, and just right"

This is portrayed very well in Revelation 2 & 3 where Jesus addresses the seven Churches of Asia Minor. You have non-loving institutions which are very orthodox, but miss the highest purpose- love. (Ephesus) You have very carnal - party churches where anything goes. You have luke warm churches who are impressed with their stadium seating and big screens- yet they are spiritually dead. And then you find some churches who are pretty great. If you look at Paul's letters to the Corinthians, he rebukes them on a number of points. Being Christians in some ways they were terrible examples to the culture around them. in 1 Cor 5 he pretty much spells out that their behavior was worse than the surrounding culture. In chapters 11-14 he implies their disorder (and wrong motivations not only hurt the church, but leave the world thinking they are "mad")

But if you look at Revelation 1-3 the condemnations/commendations and corrections- more churches are problem churches with disorder, hypocrites or wrong motivations. I think two out of the Seven were doing pretty good, but only one of the Seven had no problems. The other five were pretty bad representatives of who Jesus was.

If you do the math, then most churches are messed up in practice. I'd say this is definitely true and this crosses ALL denominational lines.

The world looks at "Christians" and judges Christianity on what they do and what they say, rather than looking at Jesus words and actions. And so, yes, they think they know who Jesus is, but haven't a clue.

I was there as an atheist once. I saw hypocrites and people who acted weird or spacy immature, but at one time I don't think I knew a single "Jesus-like" Christian. Yet I presumed to know what Christ and Christianity was about. And I even railed against injustice caused by wrong priorities.

I imagined if someone had a belief in anything worth following it would somehow make them better people, and wouldn't be relegated to them talking spiritual jargon- Christianeese. And for a time I looked hard at Judaism and Islam, after the eastern religions/mysticism and pantheism.

I wasn't raised in church, and had thought Christianity was the last place I'd find evidence of God. But that was based on looking at what some might call "Carnal- Christians" and immature people and superstitious Christians who saw going to church or praying as little more than rubbing a rabbit's foot. And their lives were no different, and sometimes worse than the most "unchurched" people.

For Christians/Christianity to be relevent in any way, our own vision of who God is, who Jesus is, has to far transcend what many churches of the past generation have been to the world- immature, escapist, pushy, judgmental and sometimes inhospitable and mean. (Some churches) In other words, there is far less room for error in the way Christians act and portray their faith in this world becoming increasingly disenchanted by what they've seen. If someone is going to have a negative view of Christ/Christianity, it should be because they know exactly what it is and don't want it, rather than they saw terrible representation by immature people with carnal motivations- selfish and self-serving.

Jesus own life and words are profoundly compelling, so much so, that when people see it they can't help but be pushed to think and ponder. Or they become uncomfortable with that process and react negatively. However, there wasn't a person who came in contact with Jesus who wasn't changed in some way. Jesus even made Herod and Pilate (two enemies) into friends. And all they had in common was that they both wanted nothing to do with Jesus, and wanted to wash their hands of him.

All the same, the world looks at Christians as representatives and judge accordingly. With that kind of scrutiny, the worst thing possible is to join the myriads that've been poor representatives. But it is much harder -'being Christ-like'- than telling people some formula for getting a ticket to heaven. I know, because I've tried, I'm trying, and hopefully will continue to try to strive for that high mark.

erika
08-18-2006, 01:15 AM
I find your thoughts very interesting and you mirrored something I wrote about in my novel. But here's my issue. When I was agnostic, what turned me off most about Christians was their piety. Being cynical, I always assumed that the piety was a veil for some deeper flaw. That is why I have historically never trusted anyone who does not swear or drink on occasion.

I don't think we are ever good examples or role models, are we? I'm not, to be sure. And I'm starting to think the only way we could possibly be anything remotely Christ-like is to engage in some ascetic life where we are wholly divorced from the world. Then and only then, when we kill that pernicious pride, do we have a shot at peace or at impressing anyone. How does one do that?

When I first started writing, that's what I struggled with. If I try to be published, am I not simply feeding my ego and isn't that as base and common as it comes? Thus, how can I claim to truly represent any Christian sentiment?

Erika

Calla Lily
08-18-2006, 01:28 AM
I'm starting to think the only way we could possibly be anything remotely Christ-like is to engage in some ascetic life where we are wholly divorced from the world.

Erika, I tried the ascetic road--I used to be a nun. (Long, painful, and sometimes humorous story.)

When I was working out whether to stay or go and what I was doing with the call, I looked at Christ's life: He didn't wall himself away--He went right in the middle of everyone, ate, drank, partied, wept, healed. I realized that's what I needed to do to lear to be more like Him.

Don't get me worng--I still have friends who stayed in the convent. But it wasn't my path.

Along these lines, god gave me the gift to write, and put the novels in my head that are my WIP. Yes, indeed, it feeds my ego when people compliment wy writing and when I see my byline on an article. Butit also furthers the Kingdom when I reach out to the seekers and doubters, like I was for 20 yeras post-convent.

We work with what He gives us, you know?

Nateskate
08-18-2006, 08:18 PM
I find your thoughts very interesting and you mirrored something I wrote about in my novel. But here's my issue. When I was agnostic, what turned me off most about Christians was their piety. Being cynical, I always assumed that the piety was a veil for some deeper flaw. That is why I have historically never trusted anyone who does not swear or drink on occasion.

I don't think we are ever good examples or role models, are we? I'm not, to be sure. And I'm starting to think the only way we could possibly be anything remotely Christ-like is to engage in some ascetic life where we are wholly divorced from the world. Then and only then, when we kill that pernicious pride, do we have a shot at peace or at impressing anyone. How does one do that?

When I first started writing, that's what I struggled with. If I try to be published, am I not simply feeding my ego and isn't that as base and common as it comes? Thus, how can I claim to truly represent any Christian sentiment?

Erika

Laughs/cries. I'm not ordained. But I've been offered ordination. I don't feel I'm that good. But I have ministered in one capacity or other for close to thirty years. Technically, everyone is a minister and everyone has a gift. They just may not recognize their value or how important it is to figure out where they fit in the whole. But if you look at the definition of pure religion in James it only has two parts. 1) keep unstained- harder than it looks. 2) Visit orphans and widows in their affliction- help hurting people when and where you can.

No steeples or stained-glass mentioned in that definition. When Jesus spoke in Matthew twenty-five, he spoke of acts of compassion. "Feed/clothe/give drink/visit" God is not simply looking at our technical beliefs but what we do.

"I always assumed that the piety was a veil for some deeper flaw" - no.

Some people are genuine. I'm far from perfect but not fake.

Most of my closest friends are for real. One of them literally went to India out of his own pocket to rescue a Chinese woman taken as a sex slave. She was abducted- Shanghied- however that's spelled. He risked his life. I knew this guy for ten years and we were close friends. I only found out because his wife told me out of the blue. But this guy has done things like this his whole life, and nobody knows because he's not looking for applause. He'll take off for a week to help build a school in a third world garbage village- people who live in land fills to survive.

I kept an invisible profile for many years. No one but a few knew I was helping people, but I was forced to organize things which required getting ministers or benevolent people involved. When I started speaking- not something I sought after- I realized I needed to take a higher profile and start talking about things I'd done in order to teach/motivate.

But there are such things as "real Christians", who are not vendictive or judgmental, very giving and patient and loving.

But with that said, one of the most difficult things to deal with is messes made by Christians. In fact, when I was young I prayed God would never give me a high profile because I figured I'd screw it up. I'm very aware of my flaws. I came out of a terribly dysfunctional childhood and was scarred and scared. In a sense, the process of changing and growing has made me a marginal Christian in that I love God, love people, and don't pretend to be something I'm not. But I wrestle with pride and human weakness. At times I wrestle with terrible depression.

On some level, my ability to effectively help people has stemmed from a willingness to be honest. When I worked with men- mostly people who were abused as children, which I still do at times, there is the "First guy in the shower" syndrome. Men in particular fear to be seen. And I joke it's like Jr High School where we're embarrassed by our bodies (feeling like mutants) and after the first gym class that actualy forced guys to shower, we were mortified and refused to drop our towels, though of course you always had a few people who'd actually developed and these were part of the problem, because the rest of us were at various stages of mutancy.

Well, if you want to do a group session with men, someone has to be the first in the proverbial shower, talking openly and honestly. Otherwise, you'll never have growth. Everyone will prance around with metaphorical masks.

I don't see people as being malevolent. Many walk around in earnest wanting to be open and honest, but the atmosphere of a church may make that impossible. Someone has to proverbially be the first mutant in the shower. And then leaders have to make sure no one casts stones or you wind up with hypocracy city.

I am both disturbed by Christians who do terrible things, but I also try not to be vendictive. We wound God- grieve the Holy Spirit- which is a sorrowful thing.

erika
08-18-2006, 09:14 PM
GREAT COMMENTS!! So I realize the problem is not with Christendom nor with Christians. The problem is with me, which is no big surprise. (And I must never let my husband read this thread, else he will come to the conclusion that I am fallible.)

Now, the question is, whose job is it to fix me? Do I sit back and wait for God to act or do I start doing something, anything? I volunteered to be our Church's financial secretary and I hate that job, but at the time it felt like such a good thing to do. I have since lost my Christian fervor, my motivation and I have no idea how one recovers that. It doesn't help that I'm horribly impatient which is why my preschoolers drive me batty and I don't like waiting on God. He acts like He has all the time in the world.

Nateskate
08-19-2006, 09:07 PM
GREAT COMMENTS!! So I realize the problem is not with Christendom nor with Christians. The problem is with me, which is no big surprise. (And I must never let my husband read this thread, else he will come to the conclusion that I am fallible.)


Now, the question is, whose job is it to fix me? Do I sit back and wait for God to act or do I start doing something, anything? I volunteered to be our Church's financial secretary and I hate that job, but at the time it felt like such a good thing to do. I have since lost my Christian fervor, my motivation and I have no idea how one recovers that. It doesn't help that I'm horribly impatient which is why my preschoolers drive me batty and I don't like waiting on God. He acts like He has all the time in the world.

There are problems throughout Christendom, but they are answered as Christians do what they need to do to deal with them. I have to deal with what's in me, but I'm also a corporate creature. We all are. How do I fit into the whole and help (not hurt) the whole?

We are Christiandom if we are Christians. If we do well, we help it. If we do bad we hurt it. Immature/judging/hypocracy...etc bring harm. Foolishness brings harm. Incorrectly portraying who Christ is and what he said, brings harm. Manipulation- using God to promote another agenda- is one of the worst harms done to Christianity, because it allowed horrible things like the inquisitions and crusades.

As far as you as a person??? What should you do??? The best thing is to find someone who you can trust who is mature who has something of value to say, teachers and pastors...etc. See me as neither, I'm like a radio DJ answering the caller's questions.

Well, it sounds like you are duty minded, so I'd say go on a Christian honeymoon and get to know Christ better. Spend time reading, listening, searching. Doing can be a real big problem. Seeing who Christ is with clarity is a great starting point. Look close. Common people liked him. Religious people feared him. He never sent anyone away for being too sinful. He did rebuke people harshly for putting walls in front of others who were "too sinful" to come to God in their eyes. Christianity is about Christ more than any other thing.

In Jewish law, all recent married husbands were allowed to take time off from the military to spend exclusively with their spouce to solidify the relationship. The primary focus of Christianity may seem -doing- but it's relationship (See John 17:3) Eternal life is KNOWING...in a relational sense.

Is it up to you to fix you? 1 Corinthians 11 says that if we judge ourselves rightly then God doesn't have to judge us (spank us in a corrective way). So, our motive should be to deal with what needs dealing with. But according to Hebrews twelve, all of us get disciplined by God as needed for our own good. God is at work in you. If you belong to a healthy kind of church, others should help watch over you- not in a controlling way, but a healthy way that a mentor helps.

Some people need restoration- if they are overcome by some things- as Paul describes in Galatians Five. Lots of Christians fit this profile, where some things they deal with are too hard to overcome- addictions, lifelong negative points of view, depression (if its severe), anxiety- if its a general state they're in. Paul tells those who are spiritual (those who qualify) to restore these. The art of restoration is just that, an art. Some are good at it, and others frankly stink at it. Whoever reads this don't give up if you've only found people who stink at it. Just keep searching until you find someone good.

I don't know you enough to know what you need, but that is really the job of a pastor- to know the sheep, what specifically will help them. They are like the guidance counselors of Christianity. They may not teach every course, but they should know what classes you need if they know you well enough. (Includes under-shepherds- especially in bigger churches)

Pat~
08-19-2006, 09:40 PM
When I first started writing, that's what I struggled with. If I try to be published, am I not simply feeding my ego and isn't that as base and common as it comes? Thus, how can I claim to truly represent any Christian sentiment?

Erika, it all depends on why you want to be published (gets back to that 'heart' thing, which is different for everyone). Do you pursue publication because you want recognition for your excellent writing? Before you say no, think how you respond to rejection letters...do you say, as Mary, "may it be to me as You have said" and enjoy a peaceful acceptance that God said no, or do you feel frustrated and upset? (I'm not trying to accuse or preach at you, here; it's just how I examine my own heart.) I think one can truly represent Christian sentiment if their efforts to get something published are because they feel the work would bring glory to God, and that that is His particular will for the work. And God will correct us by not letting something get published if somehow we've surmised incorrectly.

Pat~
08-19-2006, 09:55 PM
Now, the question is, whose job is it to fix me? Do I sit back and wait for God to act or do I start doing something, anything? I volunteered to be our Church's financial secretary and I hate that job, but at the time it felt like such a good thing to do. I have since lost my Christian fervor, my motivation and I have no idea how one recovers that. It doesn't help that I'm horribly impatient which is why my preschoolers drive me batty and I don't like waiting on God. He acts like He has all the time in the world.

I would say the answer to that is that it's God's job. We are His "workmanship, or masterpiece" (Eph. 2:10)--and we are the available, pliable medium. In other words, we cooperate with the work of sanctification He's doing in us, by being in continual communion with Him, seeking His will, obeying, waiting, whatever He requires. There is joy in doing His will; so if you're not joyful in that job, it would seem to call for more prayer, more spending time in His presence, either to confirm that that is what He wanted you to do, or to discover possibly some area of sin that's preventing you from that joy. Please don't take that as judgment; I'm only going on how it works out in my life. There have been times when I chose to "do something for the Lord" that was not on His agenda at all, and I bore the miserable consequences. Those times invariably were because I didn't pray about it, or wait for His input...I just relied on my own reasoning. And then there were other times when I was miserable in His calling simply because of my own frustrated self-centeredness. I was serving without having a servant's heart (serving as unto man, and not the Lord.)

Have you ever read the Sacrament of the Present Moment? (by Jean de Caussade)? It's an older work, but hits on this idea pretty well.

Nateskate
08-19-2006, 11:56 PM
Erika, it all depends on why you want to be published (gets back to that 'heart' thing, which is different for everyone). Do you pursue publication because you want recognition for your excellent writing? Before you say no, think how you respond to rejection letters...do you say, as Mary, "may it be to me as You have said" and enjoy a peaceful acceptance that God said no, or do you feel frustrated and upset? (I'm not trying to accuse or preach at you, here; it's just how I examine my own heart.) I think one can truly represent Christian sentiment if their efforts to get something published are because they feel the work would bring glory to God, and that that is His particular will for the work. And God will correct us by not letting something get published if somehow we've surmised incorrectly.

I wanted to comment on the general aspect of this question. For years I was hamstrung, waiting to be "Perfect" before I'd dare use my gifts (whatever abilities God gives to us). And I waited/struggled/waited/struggled, and grew so discouraged and was entirely ineffective. I figured I wasn't worthy to take out trash.

Then one day I had this revelation (of sorts). My gifts are not for me, but for others. If you look at an ability as a task- such as a fireman putting out fires. A fireman may feel unworthy to be a fireman, and tell himself someone can do it better, but if he doesn't do what he can do, someone's house burns down.

He doesn't put out fires because he's worthy to put out fires, but because he's equipt to and if he doesn't someone suffers harm.

I'm not saying we can't be disqualified for a task or underqualified; because with any higher gift (teaching) we are judged more harshly according to James. So, there really is a catch twenty-two. Don't use your gifts and someone suffers since we are all a body and no part is expendible. Take our duty lightly and irreverently and we can also hurt people.

As a rule we cause the least harm when we are servants, something we can all do. So, we should always be doing something rather than nothing.

Betty W01
08-25-2006, 08:27 PM
Well put, Nate. I don't feel as though my desire to be published is an ego thing (although it can be at times), but it is my way of sharing with the world what God has done in my life, the gifts He's given me, the small glimpses of Him I have been blessed to receive.

And yes, you can be miserable in a job for either the right reasons (it wasn't God's plan for you to be there) or the wrong ones (something going on in my life that I'm not dealing with or aware of that is wrecking my job performance).

More and more I'm beginning to understand that prayer is the most important thing. Before we do something (to make sure we're on the same page as the Lord about it), as we do it (to be able to do our best and beyond, especially when God puts us in a job that's over our heads, as He often does), and after we do it (to deal with whatever glory we may have received from our performance, whatever hurts came from it, whatever we learned from it), as well as along the way just because God is so wonderful and we need to tell Him so on a regular basis!

Too many times Christians (and I include myself) turn to prayer once they've tried everything else, instead of before they try anything else. Prayer is not a last resort answer, it is the fountain from which all of life flows.

Now, I need to hop off my soapbox and get back to work. Blessings, y'all!

SherryTex
08-25-2006, 10:25 PM
I really appreciate Erika's struggle with whether or not revealing one's own doubts and faithlife is a source of pride.

It is difficult not to get the rush from being recognized publically for your thoughts and words.

On a post-it on my computer, I wrote :Be Truthful. Be Humble. Be Faithful. Be Brave. I don't always live up to these creeds, I especially fail at the humble part, but I now have added one more note. Don't quit.

Don't quit.

Use this time to fill yourself up. With what? she reasonably asks. With good books. With good friendships. With healthy food. With good music. With wine. With song. With truth. With Beauty.

p.s. unfortunately for all of us, God does have all the time in the world. We only have the world's time.

Loved Nateskate's metaphore of the fireman.

God loves us as we do our children. When they are first put into our arms, they have done nothing to earn our love, they have it unconditionally. We come to teach them as they grow to take on tasks because they can and because they should, and because we love them. In this way, we act as God the Father does to us, requiring more of us as we grow and mature.

Nateskate
08-25-2006, 11:03 PM
Re: Pride

I don't think there's an antidote- on our end. The Apostle Paul spoke of pride, and he had a big pride issue. He was the CHIEF of sinners, the JEW of JEWS. He boasted of his Roman Citizenship- by birth, not bought. Yet God wanted to use him, and did use him. I gather God couldn't wait for him to get pride in check, and let him loose.

In his case, God didn't yell at him- "Stop it Paul you egotistical Apostle!" I don't think Paul could stop it and God knew this. So, what does God do? He gives Paul a Thorn in the Flesh and leaves it there. God knew Paul had a pride problem. Paul knew Paul had a pride problem, and I guess if Paul could solve it, he'd have been even more proud. So God solves it by permitting (torment) into his life.

Sometimes I feel tormented, though I'm not exactly worthy of that much torment. But all the same, I understand the principle. God has to break our pride. And every major person in the Bible had to be broken. David, Joseph, Moses, Daniel. Either they had to be taken through a wilderness or born into one.

I'm pretty miserable- at least right now I'm in pain- physical/emotional. This week I've been threatened with termination of my job for sticking up for hurting people that can't fight for themselves. I wound up standing before the proverbial king over my stubborn refusal to cave-in- which pissed off a slew of people.

But whenever I see my pride, I realize how quickly it comes to life. I'm still not sure what would happen if I do end up with a best-seller on Oprah??? I'd like to think I'd keep my head. But it might take a six foot pin to deflate my ego.

At one point that was a major obstacle to my writing a novel- or convincing myself I should. I wondered if I could possibly keep humble- considering how easily I can stumble with pride.- if it should ever be successful. I don't know? But I do know this, God is able to deflate my ego rather quickly, and loves me enough to do that. Ouch! Why do I want success! (Laughs) Ouch again.

SeanDSchaffer
08-27-2006, 09:21 PM
I'm glad I've been reading up on this thread. It has given me reason to look into why I'm trying to become a published writer.

My reason is presently to make a career out of writing.

This might very well be why God has not allowed me to be published yet. I'm not focused on the will of God for my life, but rather upon the will of Sean for my life.

My question: how do I change my wrong motives into right motives? I do love the Lord, very much. But at the same time, I do not treat the gift He has given me as something He has given me. I treat it rather like something I have made for myself.

I know that such thinking is the wrong attitude for a Christian. When I got saved a little more than three years ago, I wrote for the right reasons. But now, I seem to have changed my focus to being published and making a career for myself.


I'd like to ask you all to pray for me. I want to have the right motives, not the wrong ones. If my motives continue to be wrong, I might just give up writing altogether. I do not want the message of God's goodness and righteousness told by a hypocrite....especially if that hypocrite is myself.


Nateskate, I appreciate your comments, and I want you to know they've touched my heart in a way my heart has not been touched in a long time.

Nateskate
08-27-2006, 10:48 PM
I'm glad I've been reading up on this thread. It has given me reason to look into why I'm trying to become a published writer.

My reason is presently to make a career out of writing.

This might very well be why God has not allowed me to be published yet. I'm not focused on the will of God for my life, but rather upon the will of Sean for my life.

My question: how do I change my wrong motives into right motives? I do love the Lord, very much. But at the same time, I do not treat the gift He has given me as something He has given me. I treat it rather like something I have made for myself.

I know that such thinking is the wrong attitude for a Christian. When I got saved a little more than three years ago, I wrote for the right reasons. But now, I seem to have changed my focus to being published and making a career for myself.


I'd like to ask you all to pray for me. I want to have the right motives, not the wrong ones. If my motives continue to be wrong, I might just give up writing altogether. I do not want the message of God's goodness and righteousness told by a hypocrite....especially if that hypocrite is myself.


Nateskate, I appreciate your comments, and I want you to know they've touched my heart in a way my heart has not been touched in a long time.

Thanks for your kind words.

Those who are gifted with any obvious talent will eventually face this issue. It just gets more complex when we are given a public forum, because the things we deal with may have nothing to do with a project, but people's responses to something we've done.

People make far too much of "the will of God" - or far too little of it. But those who seek it always assume it's something we don't want to do, aren't inclined to do. If someone likes to bake a cake, they shouldn't need to pray every time if it's okay to bake a cake.

Now, they may not bake a cake for "love" every time. It could be a need to feel needed and appreciated. It could be a constant desire for praise- needy. It could be to prove I bake better than alice- I'll show that wench!

We also have real ego needs that God doesn't frown on. Jesus actually fed into those needs by saying, he would greet us with "Well done thou good and faithful servant" when we see him again, not "You worthless person...I didn't need you...I could have made a better servant from a rock than you've been!"

Jesus actually told/tells us to seek a place of honor. He just tells us the means of honor is seeking a place of humility (take the lowest seat...when you are called forth...you will be honored in the sight of all...) God not only wants to honor you in the sight of God, but in the sight of men. Jesus told people when they answered rightly, and honored people in front of others. "Here is an Israelite in whom there is no gile..." That probably made him feel special in front of a whole crowd. God is a God of honor, to the point he opens the clouds. "This is my beloved Son..."

God isn't against honor, he simply doesn't want us to be proud and arrogant and boastful.

One of the problems Christians have is a false-humility thing, where we are overly self-defacing- I'm nothing- my voice stinks- and we assume this is being humble. Well, some of these humble acts are actually lies.

I have to put on my ego hat a second.- I confess, I don't stink at everything. I do stink at many things though. When I used to play guitar I was compared to Gerry Garcia, Eric Claptain, David Gilmore, some things I never really aspired to. Now, if I said- which I think I was inclined to as a young Christian- It's not really me-it's all God (Well he made the hands, the brain, the ears, the wood the guitar came from) But I can't say, "I'm not that good. I really stink but God takes over my hands"- There's this dishonest disconnect that really baffles people when we do this.

The truth is, I tried to learn songs by Claptan, and tried to get my guitar to sound like Stevie Ray Vaughn...or David Gilmore. I worked hard to that ends, so to say, "Well...it's not me..." God didn't say, "Put this amp with this guitar and hold a note just so.." He may have allowed or brought such thoughts to mind, but there has to be that place where we can honor God, and allow him to "HONOR US". If I am a good guitarist, it is by his grace, and his gift to me and to listeners. But my saying I stink or not playing because it is difficult to stay humble, wasn't necessarily more spiritual.

Remember the end of the example of Jesus story about taking places at a table, when we take the lowest seat, and the master tells us to come up higher, we are not only honored, but honored in the eyes of everyone there. God is saying "I'm honoring you...in front of everyone." My saying I don't want that is not an act of spiritual maturity. Rather, I don't want to usurp that and try to make life about "me" .

And so when God calls us higher and we scoot back down to the lowest seat and say, "Oh, no...I prefer to be humbed and take no honor for me or what God has done, we've actually disregarded the entire lesson Jesus was making. God wants to honor people. It's just that he wants us to be humble, and in doing so, realize his hand and his gifts.

When someone bakes a pie, and I say, "God has given you a wonderful gift..." I consider all creativity a gift, whether cooking making garments, administrating well. Not everyone can do these things well.

It really doesn't sound right when they say, "Oh, it wasn't me...it was Jesus..."

Well, technically every good gift comes from God. Yes, the apple, the tree, the fingers of the baker. But you made the pie- I wanted to say thanks. I wanted you to know how much I like the pie. That is not trying to build a big ego or make you think you are queen of the world, it's honoring you. Honor is something that God designed and in fact commanded. Honor your mother and father...etc. Honor the king...

There is a gracious way to accept honor. I'm not sure I mastered it, and I know I haven't. But the point is, if you have a gift- writing, and a good idea- why do some people assume God wouldn't want them to write?

I do realize we can do everything from a base motive- but that doesn't mean the action itself is wrong. Back to the firefighter- I may want chicks to dig me and guys to think I'm superman. I may think I'm the greatest firefighting force since Niagra Falls- But if my gift is to fight fires and I can fight fires, I may still have to fight fires. Now, God sees the heart, and back to 1 Corinthians 13- If I give my body to be burned....but have not love it is nothing. - Clarification. It may be nothing in the sense that God cares about our motives more than our actions, BUT it is everything to the baby we rescued from the fire, and to the mother of the baby rescued from the fire. The act is not the problem, and should be done.

God wants us to use our gifts out of a right motive, but that doesn't mean not using our gifts because we don't have a right motive is particularly more spiritual. Use your gifts, and at the same time work on getting the right motives.

Back to the table. If we have the wrong motive and try to take a higher place, God- the master- will tell us to take a lower place. We eat crow, and march down to the lower place. So, starting with the right motive helps us. It keeps us from being embarrassed. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.

Still, I wrote a book. I hope my heart was in the right place. If it stinks and no one reads it, I'll be moving on down the table- Nate's that guy who spent years writing a book for the closet. (hopes that isn't the case) I hope God is glorified. I wrestle with motives. But I don't presume that means I shouldn't write.

If people like my book- that doesn't mean it is particularly God's will or spiritual. (Wood, Hay and Stubble) God will sometimes allow us to make worthless things that have no eternal value- hopes that is not the case.

The best we can do in life is line up our hearts in the right place, and go from there. But as a general rule, God gives us gifts to use, not bury. Some use them wisely, some foolishly, but burying them is the worst. So keep writing unless God tells you not to write or shows you through whatever means you should be doing something else.

SeanDSchaffer
08-28-2006, 01:30 AM
Thanks for your kind words.

Those who are gifted with any obvious talent will eventually face this issue. It just gets more complex when we are given a public forum, because the things we deal with may have nothing to do with a project, but people's responses to something we've done.

....Snipped for Length....

The best we can do in life is line up our hearts in the right place, and go from there. But as a general rule, God gives us gifts to use, not bury. Some use them wisely, some foolishly, but burying them is the worst. So keep writing unless God tells you not to write or shows you through whatever means you should be doing something else.


Nateskate, more kind words for you:

What you just said is one of the reasons I'm going to continue writing. I had come to the forums just now to announce I was going to quit. But I can't do it. I cannot stop doing something I do well in life just because I had the wrong motives.

I'll keep going, because frankly you're right: God has given me a great talent. For me to bury that talent is a bad idea. I'll not disrespect my Savior in such a way.


Thank you for posting that.

:)

SherryTex
08-29-2006, 01:30 AM
Recommend reading CS Lewis Mere Christianity --specifically chapters on Faith, really gets to the core of what is Pride, what is False Humility, what is true humility and what it means to use one's gifts appropriately.

HoosierCowgirl
08-29-2006, 04:30 AM
About hay, wood and stubble (straw?)

We had a revival at church last fall (yes! We go to *that* kind of crazy church ;) ) and one of the speakers pointed out the difference between those, and treasures that last.

Hay, wood and straw are bulky, come in mass quantities, are quick and easy to produce (well, sort of, relatively speaking) and are very visible. Comes by the truck load.

Treasures like silver, gold, diamonds and such come in teeny-tiny quantities from deep in the earth; take a long time to create; are hard to bring forth.

Something for me to think about ...

Ann

Nateskate
08-29-2006, 04:57 PM
About hay, wood and stubble (straw?)

We had a revival at church last fall (yes! We go to *that* kind of crazy church ;) ) and one of the speakers pointed out the difference between those, and treasures that last.

Hay, wood and straw are bulky, come in mass quantities, are quick and easy to produce (well, sort of, relatively speaking) and are very visible. Comes by the truck load.

Treasures like silver, gold, diamonds and such come in teeny-tiny quantities from deep in the earth; take a long time to create; are hard to bring forth.

Something for me to think about ...

Ann
Good points. The amazing thing to me is that people can devote their entire life to a project that has entirely no eternal value. That doesn't mean everything we do in life has to be entirely religious. In Matthew 25, Jesus made religious duty sound pretty easy. Giving water to the thirsty, feeding the hungry, visiting those who were in prisons or hospitals. That's not rocket science and anyone can do it- unless for a medical reason or other reason you are a shut in. I've written stories with entirely no overt spiritual message. Well, not that there was no message- The message was that I cared about the people I wrote the stories for. It was stuff to encourage them. When I told my kids Candy Land Stories- what story-telling parent doesn't- laughs- Jesus didn't save someone at the end of every story. In fact, I might be terribly unspiritual in the fact that these were nothing more than fairytales, but entirely spiritual in that I did it for love for my children, to put smiles on their faces. Giving a glass of water in love is an entirely spiritual act. Baking a pie for a discouraged soul is an entirely spiritual act, just like foot-washing was. The glass we give to sooth parched lips doesn't have to have a "Jesus Saves" sticker on the label to make it a good deed. In Jesus illustration about -giving or not giving- He didn't mention- "Well, once you give them that water- pitch the kingdom"- It bothers me when Christians can't just love for love's sake. Jesus instructed us to love those that hate us (hmmm) pray for those that persecute us (hmmm) and to do good to those who spitefully use us (hmmm)-Translation- do good for people who are not in agreement with your theology. If we can't "Love" period- which is to love those who are not agreeing with us, then we are missing the mark entirely. If we can't love for love's sake, which is what God does, then we are missing the most important aspect of life. He healed ten lepers, regarless of whether or not they appreciated him or understood him. Only one out of ten came back. The others were just so glad to get out of their predicament, Jesus wasn't their ends, but their means to an ends- what a difference. Still he healed them. Back to the point, Paul implied in 1 Cor 13 -"Faith, hope and love remain...but the greatest of these is love..." What we do in love is eternal. What we do- no matter how spiritual it sounds- that is not in love, is not. That doesn't mean it doesn't do good for someone. But the giver of the gift is not benefited by insincerity. (When you give...give in secret...) - not to show off. Jesus said that when we give with a wrong motive we already have our reward- our pride is stroked by impressed people, but if that's the case and the motivation, we should not expect a reward from God for that act. But insofar as eternity goes, wood, hay, or stubble- doesn't withstand the fire of God's scrutiny.

P.H.Delarran
08-29-2006, 07:20 PM
What an interesting,positive and encouraging discussion.
That's all - carry on.