Sunday, February 23, 2014

Give Until It Hurts

"Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me.
But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ 
In your tithes and contributions."
Malachi 3:8


Our pastor's Bible lesson today was about how God's people were robbing Him...or attempting to rob offering defiled meat, sick animals, and partial offerings to the Lord. As a result, the Lord became angry with His people.

As we went through Malachi 3 and the verses that reveal God's anger, I was convicted. Let me tell you why...

A couple of weeks ago, our church hosted missionaries from Scotland. They discussed their ministry called 20 Schemes. In America, we call government housing "The Projects". In Scotland, they are called "Schemes".

My husband went to listen to the missionaries speak about their ministry in Scotland. He came home with powerful and inspirational stories about how God is using this ministry to bring people to Him. Immediately, my husband wanted to give monthly to this ministry.

And I was against it. Why? I said we couldn't afford it. 


Give Until It Hurts

As you can imagine, the Lord used our pastor's message today to convict me. He used Malachi 3 to really convict me.

And that's a good thing. 

When the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts, it's proof that we belong to Him. It's assurance of our salvation. And it hurts. 

A lot.

I was convicted because I wasn't trusting in the Lord for provisions. I was trusting in the money we see each week in our paychecks. I was telling the Lord, "We cannot afford to give to your ministry. Sorry." I was telling the Lord that I had forgotten all that He had done for us. I was telling the Lord no

How crazy is that when all that we have already belongs to the Lord? 

Give All you Have To Give

So, after the lesson this morning, I turned to my husband and told him we'd better start giving to 20 Schemes...immediately! I fear the Lord. I revere the Lord. And I believe His word. You see, in Malachi 3, He reminds His people of His promise. 

He reminds them how He does not change. He reminds them of how they are not their enemies or by Him

Wow. That really spoke to me and pierced my heart. It was if the Lord was reminding me of all that He has done for us, but He was also reminding me of all that could have happened to us through the years. And how we were spared pain and misery only because of God's grace. 

The Lord isn't interested in our sacrifices. He isn't interested in our rituals. When He tells us to give to Him, it isn't for His sake. He is eternal and has no need.

The Lord tells us to give for our sake and for His name to be glorified. How? Ask a Christian about a time when the Lord provided for them. Will they glorify themselves? No. They will tell of the Lord's mercy and protection and in the end, it is the Lord who will be glorified by their testimony. 

Amen. That's how it should be. Ask me about the times when we had no money, yet bills were paid. Ask me about a time when we had no insurance, and yet all 3 of us remained healthy. We owe it all to the Lord. 

And that's why we are to give. Give until it hurts. Give all that we have:

  • Our time
  • Our talents
  • Our income
  • Our children
  • Our home
  • Ourselves

GIVE. And give with a cheerful heart. Don't be like I was. Don't withhold anything from the Lord because it all belongs to Him anyway. 

Just give.

Your turn: Was there a time when you gave thinking you couldn't afford it, yet the Lord provided? How do you feel about giving to the Lord?


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish?

Now isn't that a pretty cool cover design?

The Hybrid Author

I did it! I set a goal to self-publish my book this year and I finally met that goal in January. 

Now, I am a hybrid author. What is a hybrid author?

It means I am published with a smaller publishing house, OakTara Publishing, AND I also have a self-published book out at I am still looking to be published with a larger publishing house someday. 

What's the big deal? Well, I'll explain.

REAL Authors

I recently attended a writers conference here in Phoenix. This conference was for and about self-publishing. Many of those on the panel of speakers were only self-published and one also had a book contract with Simon & Schuster. 

As they spoke about their personal experiences with the publishing industry, an interesting thing happened. A young man in the back of the room raised his hand to ask a question to the "real" author on the panel. You know, the author with the book contract with Simon & Schuster? Yeah, that one. Nevermind the other author who had 17 books out.  

Uh, huh. That's right. He only considered the contracted author to be a "real" author. And it made me wonder how many others in the room also thought as he did. Well, that "real" author didn't like where his question was headed, so she cut him off. 

She explained to this impertinent young man how all the self-published writers in the room were also "real" and just because they didn't have that coveted BOOK CONTRACT with a big time publisher didn't mean they weren't "real" authors. She went on to detail her experience with her publisher. She said they got into a dispute with a brick & mortar bookstore recently and that bookstore now refuses to sell any Simon & Schuster books...including hers! So now, even though she has that book deal, her books are not being sold at the largest bookstore in the land. And her book was once on the NYT best sellers list. 

Not much of a fairy tale ending! Finally, she explained to that same young man the reasons why she turned to self-publishing: she wanted people to read her books!

BINGO! And that leads to my next point...

Why Do You Write?

Everyone applauded her speech because not only did she shut this young man down, but she lifted so many others up with her encouraging words. 

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty tired how writers look down on other writers just because they have an agent and, well, you don't. 

That makes them a real writer, don't you know? 

No, that makes them pretentious, limiting, and rather boring, if you ask me. 

I write for one reason only: to have my books read. 

If that desire leads to a literary agent or a lucrative book deal with Scholastic Books, then GREAT! If not, that's okay because, guess what? I saw five kids reading my book last week. That's five kids, my target audience, reading MY BOOK. Woo hoo!

And that's why I thank the Lord for giving me this chance for however long it will last. 

If the reason you write is to sign with a literary agent who will then get you that book contract with a big time publishing house, then you go for it!

But if you write to have your books read, then don't limit yourself to just the traditional method of publishing. 

Try self-publishing! I did it with CreateSpace and it was an easy process with a terrific product in the end. So far, my readers love my book! Yay for self-publishing!

There's a variety of other ways to self-publish your work. When I told the writers at the conference my story, so many of them approached me with hope in their eyes. I could tell they had nearly given up and didn't feel they were "real" writers, but my experience gave them a chance to pursue their dreams even still. 

The Sky's the Limit

So, when it's all said and done, don't limit yourself to one way! Become that hybrid author. Self-publishing isn't all that taboo anymore. Millions of writers are trying it because they want their books read. Now! ...not 2, 3, 10 years from now. 

That's why I did it. And that's why I recommend it. 

Your turn: what are your thoughts on self-publishing? Would you ever consider being a hybrid author?


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