WHY “SACRED” THINGS SHOULD NOT BE UP FOR SALE. IF THEY ARE, MAYBE THEY ARE NOT REALLY ALL THAT SACRED!

Ever since I was a young girl I have had a passion for writing, for expressing my inner most being in the written form.  I can only describe it as a fountain of emotions, a spring of life deep within me which needs to come out, because when it does, it adds health to my bones, it releases tension, it unburdens my heavy heart, it gives hope and an audience to longed-for dreams, hopes and aspirations.  When I was a child, I always thought I would become a writer, or have my works published.  During my school years I entered various competitions and at university always had top marks on my English and American literature essays, and the amazing thing was that though I was studying my English degree in Spain, all my work had to be written in English, so I felt very proud of myself for being able to convey that passion in my writing in a foreign language, specially as I recall failing English subject during my earlier years.

As years went by, I began to long for writing my own book, but circumstances and the surprising turns that life brings always got on the way, and so I set my attention or focus on other things.  One day the writing ceased and with it died many hopes and dreams I had had since childhood. 

In more recent years a pivotal moment in my life has taken place:  I have had a heart transplant and willingly accepted Jesus Christ into my heart, my mind, my soul and my spirit.  The old heart of stone which would rely on self to chase after dreams, things, goals, self-satisfaction, is now a heart of flesh which has Christ at its core, and those things which occupy the mind of God, such as drawing people to Himself and making us step out of our self-focus to be able to become aware and active in meeting the needs of others, not with the aim to bring glory and praise to ourselves but instead to highlight how glorious and powerful God really is.

As a result of this heart transplant, the sleeping giant was awoken within me once again, and one day the pressing urge to express myself through the written word came back as easily as it had left me all those years previous.  This is when this blog was born.  Every thought, every idea, every single word expressed here is not my own but was born out of time spent pondering on the word of God, the core message of the gospel, the stories of Bible Characters, in short, the heart of God for His people. 

Many people have complimented me over the years on the ability to write so well in a foreign language, and even more flattering has been the praise I have received on the content of what I write and the effect it has had on others. The Truth is none of it has really come from me, but from the presence of Christ brought about in me by this new heart transplant.  The reason I know it is not my own achievement; the reason I know I cannot take the credit for any of the thoughts expressed on this blog is the fact that I am very aware of how limited my own creativity and ability to write are, if it wasn’t for the Spirit of God making its presence felt within me at any given time.  The normal pattern is that I cannot write or think of anything to write for days.  My mind is burdened by the worries of life, my creativity numbed by fear and the anxiety of the problems I face each day, and just as easily as some days are void of any supernatural muse, then one fine day comes with equal ease the ability to put down in writing complex thoughts and ideas which when I read back leave me astounded, for I do not recognise my own capability to come up with such stuff.  My mind suddenly awakens, and as I am making the bed, doing the washing up, listening to worship music, praying or simply pondering on the word of God, the light literally comes on, and I feel drawn into my study, forced onto my keyboard to unburden the lines, the sentences and paragraphs which begin to so easily form in my conscience.   The composition of the message is pretty much effortless, all that is required of me is the obedience to put it down on paper.

I was always taught at school and university that in order to write a worthy piece one had to plan ahead, design a beginning, a middle and an end; think of a structure to the piece, consistency throughout and a poignant message or point to one’s writing.  And yet, with every single post on this blog, that has never been the pattern.  On any given day, I never know when, the switch is turned on in my brain and within the hour, the post is written, and the words will never stop coming until all that was meant to be expressed has come out.

It has often been said to me that I should write that book I longed for during my formative years, that I might as well make a living out of this, earn some money in the process and let’s not forget, grow fame and a reputation.  However, there is something intrinsically and fundamentally very wrong and flawed with that picture, not when you are the Lord of your own life of course, but when you claim that it is Christ whom you follow in every breath that you take.  The moment I put a price on the heart of God which has been revealed to me and through me; the moment I put up for sale what the Lord has revealed to me in the secret place; the moment I sell those precious gems wrought in the furnace of seeking with all I am who God really is and what His will is, the focus, purpose and end result of my writing automatically and immediately turn from bringing glory and praise to the God who inspired every word, to bringing glory, praise and recognition to myself, the clay which without the hand of the Potter will never be made into anything worth looking at, will never be used for anything other than to be put on a shelf to every now and then be admired by those who are easily fooled.  The world of publishing, the reading market is and has been for many years totally saturated by individuals who are desperate to make their voice heard, their wisdom acknowledged, and their status elevated to that of someone who should be recognised and elevated to a higher plane.  There is nothing wrong with that, one may say, but what about when those people I am talking about are those who supposedly follow the call of Christ to “lay down” their life so that others may live, to pick up their cross and follow Christ wherever He may lead, to simply serve and ONLY serve?  I recently read by A. W. Tozer that “carrying a cross” is not something you can do in the company of others.  And so being paid and regognised for a work well done when publishing a book does not sit well with the idea of walking alone the path of the cross.  There is nothing glamorous about carrying a cross or laying down your own wishes to silence self, so that one can begin to hear and see the deep needs of others.  Carrying a cross even when figuratively speaking is not something the world will pat you on the back for, give you fame and fortune for, and you are certainly never going to get remunerated for it.  There is something deeply sickening in that thought.  And so I find it absolutely impossible to marry the thought of countless numbers of Christians being incredibly prolific in their creativity and in their expressing and sharing all that God has laid in their hearts, with that of putting a price tag on what they claim God has spoken to them.  It seems to me that today Christian leaders are so anxious to have relevance that they have lost all reverence for the things of God.  I am reminded of the episode in the Bible where we clearly see a Jesus filled to the eye-balls with righteous anger as he throws people out of the temple for turning a place meant for prayer into a marketplace (Mark 11, 12-19).  Are not things still the same today when the burdens that the Lord has placed on his saints are ultimately used for fame and a profit?

Of course there will be some authors reading this who will contend that some or all of the profit raised with the sale of their books goes to Ministry or Mission.  I agree that some do, but I also know that some will strategically and cunningly use that money to further ministries and mission of their own choosing which again serve to once more highlight their own worth and achievement, and little of the impact that money makes has anything to do with feeding the poor, looking after orphans or even being the light and the salt to those who remain in darkness.  Though good things may be accomplished with that money, it is all still ultimately drawing attention back to themselves and not the power of God to do amazing things, to reveal His power  in their weakness.  What weakness? we are left wondering.  And in many cases many of these  Christian authors will ultimately quieten their consciences by putting on the plate money they have earned through these books, instead of diligently, faithfully, consistently and above all lovingly and sacrificially giving God of themselves.  Great results disguise and hide a very rotten apple at its core.

Will I ever write a book which leaves a testimony of the wonderful things that God has done in and through my life?  Each post in this blog is filling up the pages of such a book. It is priceless, not for sale and most certainly won’t be finished until I get to Heaven to be with him and perfected in His presence.  Average daily readers to this blog? 10. Average comments left on any given post? 2.  Does this speak of a blog which is popular in the eyes of other Christians, in the eyes of the world in general?  Perhaps not, but what it does testify to is a soul who strives to live with integrity, transparency, humility and anonymity?  Anything else would not testify to the God of Heaven and Earth, to our Saviour and Redeemer, but to the idol we secretly worship within: ourselves.  The validity of my claims does not rest on the number of people who follow me or praise my messages, but solely on  my willingness to remain true to such claims and to lead a life which seeks to become a reflection of the beauty of Christ, as opposed to using the beauty of Christ to make myself appear beautiful and worthy of praise to the world. 

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8 thoughts on “WHY “SACRED” THINGS SHOULD NOT BE UP FOR SALE. IF THEY ARE, MAYBE THEY ARE NOT REALLY ALL THAT SACRED!

  1. Challenging and thought provoking stuff. I agree when the Spirit of the Lord rests on us the words flow. However, I do not agree that everyone fits into the image projected of a stereotype Christian writer. What is in the heart and the the motivation behind the book or blog is what matters. I have certainly found great enlightenment from many different writers . Whatever the motivation God can use the message to speak into our hearts as part of the refining process we Christians are all going through.
    Be encouraged, you may only be receiving 2 responses on average to your blogs; what you do not know is how many people have been affected by writing and views. Let the Spirit flow in you for the benefit of others and let the Spirit convict in others where conviction is needed. Thankfully it is not for us to make such judgements or convictions. Be blessed

  2. Thank you for your comment Glenn.

    Yes, I agree that God can use some Christian authors’ message in a book to speak into others’ life, because like you say, it is the heart and the motivation behind the book that matter. However, I find it very contradictory that a Christian should be the mouthpiece for God and be profitting from it at the same time. As Christians many of us “buy into this”, no pun intended! However, isn’t it the unbelievers whom we should reach with our messages from the heart of God? And don’t you think unbelievers have become slightly cynical about the integrity of a message in the name of Christ which has got a price tag on it? None of the apostles ever mention anything about receiving income for putting down in writing their personal experience and lessons learnt through their walk with Christ. The Apostle Paul says that yes those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:14), but very little of what is being published today under the banner of Christian books has much to do with the gospel. The more Christian books get published, the less Christians read the bible, the more our attention, focus and meditation detracts from the word of God. Yes, we can all learn from the crumbs others leave behind along their own journeys, but we are ALL called to fill the pages of our own book, with our own lessons and growth. I put it to you: wouldn’t Western Christianity look somewhat different today, if the only book available as our source of encouragement, guidance and path to the heart of God was the Bible? Indeed, poor civilisations often can only get hold of the Bible and so many don’t even have that, and yet their faith is more ardent, transparent and bright than the millions of Christians who feed on one Christian book after another but spend little time in the presence of God, “wrestling” with the word. We do not need other’s take on what it means to be a Christian or at least one should not have to pay for it. The Holy Spirit can guide us on that journey of discovery pretty well!

    Paul said talking about refusing to get paid for preaching the gospel: “What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.” 1 Corinthians 9:18 Oh how much more beautiful would be the faith of those who are so gifted, if indeed they offered the fruits of their gifting for free, with Paul’s humility and grace

  3. Mercedes,
    I understand where you are coming from but many write and publish not for personal gain (in some cases at a significant personal financial cost/loss) but that God’s work in them might have a multiplied usefulness. Even the esteemed Tozer published his works. And generations later, folks like you and me, are blessed that he did! I pray that you write, as I do, that the Kingdom be spread, whether it be in the written or typed word! And may it be a ministry and not a business.
    Thanks for sharing your heart. I’m sad for those who write for profit and glad for those who do so for the glory of the gospel.
    Glory be to Jesus alone!
    Your friend,
    Linden

  4. Judging by both Glenn’s and your comment, my message clearly comes across as me talking about all Christian writers. This is clearly not the case, and I apologise if any one of them out there has taken offence, and their motivation as well as the use of the money made on the book sales is gospel-kingdom oriented. Though many may already be paid for being in the ministry and this is yet another source of income. If their need to put out what God has given them is so strong, then by all means write it, but why put a price on it? Is God not powerful enough to build His own Kingdom without the aid of men resourcing to mammon?

    You mention Tozer publishing his works. Publishing someone’s works is not the problem. If God lays something on your heart to share with others, one clearly has to follow that prompt, but publishing something does not mean one has to use it as a source of income, unless of course that person has no other way of making a living. The Christian authors I am talking about here are those who already have it all, and more than most, and decide to put a price/make a profit on something that should surely be given away as a gift from the Lord, completely free. Think about it! Would God really lay a message on thousands of Christians authors, which has clearly in many cases, taken away from the focus and devotion Christians should direct and dedicate to Christ alone? Give me a person who reads all the latest/most recognised Christian authors currently making the top rankings in terms of sales, and I give you a Christian who is investing too much time in other’s opinions of what faith is and who God is, instead of communing with the Spirit of God themselves. Who do I know this? Because I have been and continue to wrestle in this battle myself. It is much easier to pick up a book and digest someone else’s regurgitated food, than travail in the word ourselves, and yet if we are honest, we know only too well God is calling us precisely to that intimacy with Him, with no outside influences. Money makes the world go round, sure it does! Are we not meant to follow and seek God’s ways? Should money also be the catalyst that makes the gospel go round?

  5. I have just bought and given 10 copies of a Christian book written for men. I was surprised how easy it was to count 10 men who I know or work with ,who I have never had been able to talk to about God in anything more than a superficial way. I trust and believe that this will be for one of them at least, a seed that may grow and be watered and I would imagine that this growth will happen in the hands of someone else.
    I don’t care how much the author earns, how much it cost to publish the book and what profits are made. To me, its simple….this book might talk to someone, someone who has no desire to go to church at the moment, who can very easily ignore “religion”. I doubt God counts the cost of anyone who is brought back to Him – he paid the highest price imaginable and didn’t once look for the profit margins.

    • Hi Sian,
      It is good to hear from you after all this time, and I am glad you have finally found peace about leaving a comment on my blog. Thank you. How are you?
      Like you, I believe that planting a seed of faith in someone else’s heart and spirit is simple, but we differ as to the avenues that God will use to plant a seed which will produce lasting fruit for the kingdom. Most Christians are not willing to follow the path of the cross to be able to plant and water that kind of seed. Many seeds are of course planted through Christian books, ministry, leadership conferences, retreats and so called “revivals”, but how many of those seeds grow into unwavering faith, into followers of Christ who are not only willing to one day be partakers of his treasure in heaven, but also to share in his suffering whilst here on earth?
      My issue is clearly not with God, who of course is able to do anything, and particularly is in the business of turning what was meant for evil, into something glorious (I have experienced that personally on many occasions), and also is in the business of using the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. Clearly God can use the message in a book written by a person whose life does perhaps not quite match the faith and “key to joyful living” expressed in that book. That is not the subject of my post and neither is it the issue at stake here.
      My point is how far are we prepared to go to spread the gospel? As representatives of Christ on this earth, how much of a blind eye are we prepared to turn in order to see the name of Christ preached? If like you say, evangelising is as simple as to pass on a Christian book to an unbeliever and trusting that that book will plant a seed, don’t you think that with the thousands of Christian books published and available today the whole of the Western World would be Christian by now, and I mean “truly” Christian? And yet, we are living in some of the most “challenging” times in terms of worldliness having a firm grip on all our weaknesses, Christians included, and despite that, we are putting our hopes of touching someone’s life with the love of Christ on a message published in a book by someone whose willingness to obtain fame and fortune as a result of it, contradicts the very essence of the faith they talk about? Please note I do not refer here to the author of this particular book you mentioned, but to many Christian authors out there today. Christians today are saturated with knowledge, we have more resources available to us than ever before, but still only a few are prepared to put their hand to the plough and never look back.
      It is my experience that people do not want to be talked to about God as much as they want to see that the things one speaks of and preaches about are mirrored and supported by that person’s life and by the way they conduct themselves and particularly the way they treat others. A lack of consistency and integrity can with the flick of a switch destroy any seed originally planted. It is happening all the time!
      1 Corinthians 13, 1-3
      If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
      Christ did not say: “By their words and encouraging messages, by their wisdom and eloquence, by their popularity and recognition you shall know that they are my disciples.” He said: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this ALL MEN will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” You are right, it is simple, but our focus and energy is in all the wrong places.
      My quest in striving to live a life which in and of itself speaks of the hope that is within me and the love of Christ which carries me through, will never ever be to get another person to come to church or to get them to tolerate or accept “religion”. That was never Christ’s commission to His followers. My only hope is that by putting my faith into action, someone can see the light and the love of Christ within me. Once a person witnesses that in another person’s life, nothing on this earth will be able to destroy or derail the growth and fruitfulness of that seed.
      There is only one Book which has the power to supernaturally make a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die, so that it can produce many seeds, and we both know what that is. Like I said before, these millions of Christian books are keeping in many instances both authors and readers away from the word of God, from His presence. Is God really behind an “industry” which today keeps millions of Christians from Himself? God is a jealous God and idols do not fare well in God’s Kingdom.
      Paul said: “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labour.” 1 Corinthians 3, 7-8, and then a few lines later he says: “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay a foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” 1 Corinthians 3, 10-13.
      God help us all!

  6. Dear friend, you have challenged your readers in a very unique and personal way since many are successful or aspiring Christian writers with the ultimate common denominator objective of provoking or inspiring people to reflect on God in one way or another – on one end to simply take a second look at Him and on the other to grow in faith and in His likeness.

    Now that is a mouthful, but for me a guy who tends to fly at about 20 thousand feet, it all boils down to the same thing, ” intention” – whether preaching, teaching, song writing, and various other forms of communication. Like all other gifts there are people who worship the lord with all their hearts and those who are attempting to glorify themselves with it.

    So, my answer would be one that focuses its critical eye more on the intent of the heart of the communicator than the style or output method of that communication. To be clear, I view Paul as an apostle, disciple, preacher and a writer. I view David as a King, warrior, songwriter, a priest of sorts, and a writer.

    Their intent was to point other men to God through example, through written communication through music, through battles. So it leads me to my next question which is this: Did God provide for their needs? And / or does he provide for the needs of the saints today whom he has gifted in these ways? I believe the answer is yes.

    Which leads me to my next question: does God provide so that we can take His word forward or in spite of our desire to take it forward? In other words if he has gifted you as a writer and He has provided a way for you to earn a living doing that for His glory would it be wrong to stop writing and work at a conventional job so that your income can be scripturally legitimized?

    To answer this question we have no choice but to look at the scripture that speaks directly to communicating God’s word for money (all context considered).
    Matt 10:10
    Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed
    Luke 10:7-8
    Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
    1 Timothy 5:17-20
    The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

    The scripture indicates that those who are working (preaching teaching writing,etc) should be paid and if your God appointed work is writing for the Lord then you deserve wages for your labor.

    Okay, I may be missing your point here. Maybe you are only referring to the arrogant, pompous greedy people who are exploiting their gift and spirit leading for their own gain. If that is the case I would have to agree that their heart is in the wrong place. God didn’t give our gifts for the sole intention of meeting our needs but he did intend that we use them for His glory and that he would in turn meet our needs. How He does that is up to Him not us.

    He also clearly said that our labor deserves a wage. So at the end of the day, my conclusion is that this is not an issue of writing for profit, but an issue of where is your heart when you write. If God chooses to bless you through your writing what matters is the condition of your heart (that your are following Him) not the fact that you have been blessed with the ability to write (labor for Him) and get paid or be well paid for it, but what do you do with your wealth? The same applies to any labor field for the believer. where is your heart?

    Listen, wealth is dangerous but it is also wonderful in the hands of Godly men and women. It’s not the money, but the heart of the one who holds it. Beyond that, all forms of labor should be dedicated to God and furthering His kingdom. I see no difference between writing books, making movies like fireproof, or Truitt Cathy using Chick-Fila as a way to send kids through college in the name of Jesus.

    Okay my sweet friend that is my two cents – worth little but it’s an honest response for an honest wage 

  7. Dear Kevin,
    Firstly can I just say how grateful I am that you have honoured my request of leaving your comment on this particular post as someone who does not know me personally, and is therefore giving me an objective, impartial and hopefully unbiased take on this issue. I am truly grateful and feel blessed for having your wisdom and revelation on this particular subject.

    What can I say? I agree with everything you are saying. It all clearly boils down to intent and how the money earned is used and for what. And yet though I know God can and does gift many with the ability to provoke or inspire people to reflect on God, I feel clearly drawn to the heart of the Apostle Paul, whom though aware he could and should get paid for his labour, chose not to. I feel I must repeat what I said in a previous comment: Paul said talking about refusing to get paid for preaching the gospel: “What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.” 1 Corinthians 9:18

    Oh how much more beautiful would be the faith of those who are so gifted, if indeed they offered the fruits of their gifting for free, unconditionally, with Paul’s humility and grace.

    Just to give you an example that I do indeed know there are some Christian writers out there whose heart truly is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, nothing less and nothing more, I would recommend reading a book called “So you don’t want to go to church anymore” by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman. Two friends I have made in the blogosphere have already received a copy of this book from me and I would love for you to read this and would be more than happy to send you a copy. Books which overflow with the love, grace, mercy and freedom that come by accepting Christ into our heart and soul with no strings attached are far and few between today. This book just oozes the spirit of Christ coming through from every single page. It engages the reader to seeking Him for no other reason than to find freedom, redemption, forgiveness and unconditional love, and not to find the formula to joyful living, happiness, or to be drawn into the traps of legalism, institutional church and organized religion. Again, if you would do me the honour of reading it and letting me know what this book does in your Spirit when you read it, I would love to hear it.
    There is so much junk out there on the shelves of Christian bookshops which is being masqueraded and cleverly disguised as a means to preach the name and message of Christ, but in reality and when you look beyond the lofty words, well thought out prose and grandiose message, when you look closely at how these individuals understand the reason and the purpose for which they were given such a gift, not to mention the way the publicity and marketing of that book are being manufactured as opposed to trusting the Spirit of God to spread that message like fire, you realize that some of these books speak of nothing else but the wisdom, righteousness, private agendas, holiness and self-sufficiency of the person writing it. Writers endorse each other and write the reviews on each other books guaranteeing in this manner fantastic appraisals and feedback on the book. “If you scratch my back, I will scratch yours”, type of agreement. It is not mutually discussed but clearly understood.

    I don’t deny at any point that God will gift many with music, writing, film making etc. for His purposes and allowing those people to make an income out of it in the process if again they have no other way of making a living, but let’s face it, a high percentage of Christian writers selling books in the Western world are middle class, if not upper, and have got a pretty cosy lifestyle. The income received from these books, not to mention the fame and reputation acquired through them does not in any way represent the basic needs of food and drink which Jesus speaks of in the following scriptures:
    Matt 10:10
    Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed
    Luke 10:7-8
    Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

    We have taken something Holy and Pure, something Beautiful, a Gift from God as you say, and in many instances we have turned it into a business, an industry which is puffing up individuals and churches to such an extent that all we can see in them and through them is the gift and the unlimited possibilities of how far they can get with it. We get carried away with the gift and forget to honour and praise the giver by using such gift with the humility and grace clearly spoken of in the Bible. We have abandoned our first love and “corrupted”, in my opinion, something which was meant to be treated with the utmost respect, veneration and adoration.

    Is it possible that in some instances God is asking some to sacrifice the gift and the joy, fame and fortune that such gift brings, for a life of sacrifice, humility and anonymity? Is it possible that some hide behind the significance and potential in their gift to avoid facing carrying a cross where we lose our life to save it, where we come last so that we can be first, where we sacrifice our own “stardom” so that the “undeserving” may truly shine in HIM?

    I love your heart and hope you will continue to bless me with your humility and wisdom.

    God bless you and all your family

    Mercedes

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