95,000,000 Shades of Success

95,000,000 Shades of Success

 

The 2012 earnings reports were in and no shocker here, E.L. James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey, was at the top with over $95,000,000 earned in 2012. Yeah, you read that right, all of those zeroes are supposed to be there.

As I watched the news program I found myself having a little talk with Jesus (or, more like a whine-fest), “Why is it like that, Lord? Why is it that a book like that sells like that? Why is material like that so successful?”

But Jesus is good about bringing me back to the truth when I get all worked up over injustices, because it is an injustice. It’s an injustice when people—including many Christians—are more willing to spend money on a message about sex than on character building, encouraging, hope or healing. The demand is high for escape-ism, and painfully low for truth and reality. Sex and erotica are perfect avenues of escape into more me-ism (that is, the study of making ME happy, because I’m all that really matters) and those are avenues that earn writers (in those markets) a lot of money.

As great as having financial success sounds, it’s not what I am about. I don’t write Christian devotionals and articles and Bible studies because I want to be rich and famous. And if that was my motive, God wouldn’t bless it anyways. The more paychecks I’ve earned over the past year (and I use the term “paycheck” loosely), the more God has purged my heart of improper motives and given me multiple opportunities to bail on this whole writing-for-publication-in-the-Christian-market thing.

But you wrote a book, Rebecca, you’re an author. Surely you have some financial success in that regard?

Well—the truth is, my last (and only) commission check for my self-published Bible study was a little over $10, and that was for selling nearly 50 copies over nine months’ time. I make about $0.24 per book sold. So, contrary to popular belief, being a writer/author is not synonymous with money or glorious stress-free days of sipping mochas while watching the bank account grow with each online sale.

paycheck

(The above is a photo of a recent “paycheck” I earned)

Of course, there are exceptions to this. And I’m not saying all writers (namely, Christian writers) are simple folk like me. But I’m pretty sure if you talked with those “successful” writers, they would all say the same thing: If you want to make a living as a Christian writer, be prepared to work hard, sacrifice much, and make some investments of time and resources long before you’re earning that much desired “nice” paycheck.

I know this post is coming across as whiney but I am not whining, I’m merely sharing my heart as I’ve wrestled with this issue. A lot of you who read my blog are writers as well, or are involved in another Christian ministry of some kind where you’re tempted to judge your “success” in that area (heck, I am even tempted to judge my “success” as a Christian parent). I’m here to tell you right now, you can save yourself a lot of frustration and disappointment if you let go of your expectations; I mean really let them go—your expectations for money, success, or even how many people will be helped in whatever ministry you do.

In His response to my prayer, Jesus made it clear that there is only one shade of success as a Christian writer, or even as a Christian in general, and it is measured by how I choose to apply in my own life (live out through my behavior and my words) the following:

•Seek His will above my own (Matthew 6:33)

•Give all my expectations/rights to God—they were never mine to begin with (Job 38-42; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

•Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit by making this about ME; it’s about Him and the fact that He really does know what’s best. Make it my goal to listen to Him and follow Him wherever He leads (1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Timothy 6:6)

•Seek peace and pursue it (not the hippy, new age peace, but the inner personal peace that comes through living out my God-given purpose), and I’ll find that the success I was after was already a gift I’d been given (Psalm 34:14-15; 1 Peter 3:11-12; Psalm 119:165; Philippians 4:7) 

Advertisements

When “ONE” Really Does Matter

When “ONE” Really Does Matter

 

Earlier this year I felt led to start a life group at New Life Community Church—a life group that focused on spiritual freedom, spiritual healing, spiritual warfare, and the icky issues that often get overlooked in favor of more traditional studies by famous authors. You know, the studies about Grace, How to Pray, How to Disciple, How to do this and that and the other. Don’t get me wrong, I love those types of studies too, but sometimes people walk into church a little “messy” on the inside, and sometimes those people need something a little different than another “Five Steps to Being a Better Christian.”

I was excited as it got under way. There were four of us ladies, which would be perfect when it came to discussing the more sensitive issues we were likely to explore. (It’s easier to share in a small small group then in a room with twenty people.) But after just a few weeks our small group was reduced to microscopic proportions as just I and one other woman remained. Not surprisingly I struggled with the doubt of whether or not I had really “heard” God’s voice in this endeavor. Apparently I had some unmet expectations regarding the “success” of this group. (Don’t you love how God kicks us off our platform of pride rather bluntly?) But in the end I knew I had followed His leading, and I committed myself to sticking it out, even if it was only so “ONE” little life could possibly be affected in a positive way (and even if that “ONE” just happened to be ME!).

Surrendering my expectations to God lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I could walk into the “group” (I mean, if two people can be called a group) excited about the study and what God had revealed to my friend during her week. We probably learned more from each other’s insights and experiences then either of us thought possible.

A few months into the group I had the opportunity to share a testimony at a Life Group Leaders meeting our church held. I had “ONE” little testimony to read, but God had more in store as a result.

After the meeting a woman approached me and asked if there was room for “ONE” more (Oh nope, sorry, three is a crowd—NOT). So she started attending the group even though the study was ending soon. She shared some of her struggles and asked us to pray for some of her family members who were struggling with some specific “icky” issues we often addressed in our study. The three of us developed quite a bond through this “doing life” together thing. We now pray for each other on a regular basis and know we can depend on each other for a listening, non-critical/judgmental ear. We have a “safe” place to share what many people may find “taboo” in a Christian environment (after all, Christians shouldn’t be depressed or have anxiety, right?!).

A few weeks after this woman joined our group, one of the Pastors referred another woman to me who needed a listening, non-judgmental ear regarding her “issues”. She ended up coming to the group, even though she was only able to make it to a couple meetings before it ended.  (I’ll share more about her amazing spiritual transformation in a later post, but you won’t want to miss it! It’s powerful!) So, by the end of the semester, our little life group was up to four. Then the summer came and I found out God had some major plans!

Now, we weren’t even meeting in the summer, nor was this group specifically advertised at church—but the church happens to have a website where people can browse through the life groups and read a little paragraph about it to see if it’s something they are interested in. Through this website, a few more ladies contacted me and a few others were referred to the group via word of mouth. I like to think of it as a carefully God-selected group of women called to come together in this special way.

In a matter of two months I went from prayers of, “Lord, only one? Ok, I’ll trust that this “ONE” is exactly what you have planned,” to, “Ok Lord, where am I going to find room for all of these people?!” You see, the Unexpected God came through again with His awe-inspiring blessings.

In just a few weeks our group begins again, this time we have two different meeting dates because there isn’t enough room for all of us in the room we had been using! So we’ve expanded to two days of meeting, and TEN women searching for the same thing: a dynamic and intimate relationship with Christ. Woo! God is GOOOOOD!

So I said all of that to say this: if you’re leading or mentoring just “ONE”, or maybe you write a blog and only “ONE” person reads it, or maybe you work hard to serve but not “ONE” person notices your efforts, then take heart! Maybe God will grow your ministry and maybe not, but either way, the “ONE” He gave to you is the perfect one because He chose it. So embrace it! Every “ONE” is important in God’s kingdom and we really CAN change the world one person at a time. It starts with our own spiritual freedom, and then through building relationships—one at a time—and trusting God with the results. You never know how your influence, testimony, or freedom in Christ could be used to affect the life of another…and another…and another…

…Or, as it was in my case, maybe that “ONE” God wants to transform is actually YOU.

Celebrating Two Years of Sobriety!

“How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That he would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure…
***
Behold the Man upon the cross
My guilt upon His shourlders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers …
***
It was my sin that held Him there
Unil it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
***
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr’s, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
***
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.”
***
This month I celebrate two years of sobriety, and a life completely turned upside down by Jesus. Freedom, peace, and life to the full. Thank you all for your continued support of this page and the ministry of truth and transformation God has allowed me to partake in.
–Rebecca Aarup

Interview Link

On Saturday, May 18, I had the awesome privilege of appearing as a guest on the CL Gammon radio show. I have even been asked to come back and interview again in the near future (yay!).

 

If you missed the interview, you can listen to it at your convenience by clicking HERE. From start to finish it is approximately 25 minutes long. If you are interested in getting the “specifics” behind my journey to freedom (which we didn’t have time to discuss) feel free to email me at: RebeccaAarup@mail.com or servant.sisters@yahoo.com.

 

I’m still in awe over the circumstances that came about to make this interview happen. God is so good and He continues to blow me away with how He answers prayers and opens doors.

 

_______________________________

profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

_______________________________

If you enjoyed this post, please take a second to click the FOLLOW button on the space provided on the right hand side of the computer screen (or scroll to the bottom of your screen if using a smartphone) and you will receive new posts in your email inbox. This is absolutely free and your information is never shared!

If you were encouraged by what you read here, please share with your friends and/or leave a comment.

Rebuking the Devil’s Deadly D’s (Part 3)

Rebuking the Devil’s Deadly D’s (Part 3)

Rebuking the Devil 

Today we’ll be discussing Deadly D #6. (To read about 1-3, click HERE. To read about 4-5, click HERE.)

 

6. Distraction

In Satan’s economy, distraction is about as subtle a ruse as you will find. Not because he distracts us with horrible, grotesquely sinful things, but because the distractions are typically good and wholesome things. These good and wholesome activities keep us busy—too busy to find God’s best for our lives.

                                      

•In Ministry

Good counterfeits will look different to each of us because God hasn’t called us all to the same ministry. But in many Christian’s lives it looks like a heaping plate of hyper-involvement in various church activities with a side of complaining about busy-ness and a decadent dessert of stress levels through the roof. Rather than devoting 100% to a specific ministry, many Christians devote 10% to ten ministries, resulting in a good “product” that is not God’s best.

Stay Armed: Pray against a spirit of distraction, and begin your day arming yourself with the truth. If you do, you will have the peace of knowing your every activity—from preparing a meal for a needy family to sending a note of encouragement—is exactly what God would have you do at that moment. At the end of the day you’ll experience a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that only God can provide to those who walk in His will consistently and are led by the Spirit.

Seek Ye First: Prayerfully consider what ministries or activities God would have you involved in, and joyfully pursue them with your whole heart. Choose to focus on your own calling, not the calling of others. Cultivate your spiritual gifts instead of trying to develop a gift you haven’t been given.

 

•In Every-Day Life

Satan also uses our daily needs to distract us. Consider this short excerpt from Hal Lindsey’s book, Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth (I strongly encourage you read this book!)

 

“The Devil exploits our personality quirks, the lusts of the flesh, and our natural physical drives to conspire against us.

There are times when I have a message to prepare or studying to do. I gather my materials and settle down in my study. Then they hit me—hunger pains! Now I know I shouldn’t be hungry—I probably had breakfast less than an hour before—but a built-in excuse has been offered me to get away from the Word of God.

I wish I had always said, ‘Satan, be gone,’ but I don’t. I begin prowling around, getting something to eat, and before I know it I’ve killed an hour—an hour of valuable time. I didn’t really need that food, but Satan can use any natural drives we have if they are not being controlled by the Holy Spirit.” (pg. 220)

 

Satan will use anything to keep us from time with our Lord. Just ask any stay-at-home mom who is often distracted with piles of dishes, laundry, dirty counters, and toys strewn about. It’s hard to get on our knees and into God’s word when there are a thousand things screaming for our attention (sometimes even children screaming for our attention).

Stay Armed: When it comes to combatting such daily disturbances, the best remedy is of course, beginning the day (before your feet hit the floor) with a prayer of protection.

An Ounce of Prevention: It is also important to eliminate potential distraction by practicing good stewardship. Keep the clutter to a minimum, don’t let the dishes pile up, keep your work space neat and tidy, eat healthy meals that nurture the body rather than work against it (maybe you’ll even save some money on doctor’s co-pays), get plenty of sleep (exercise helps with this too)…etc. Working from home and doing correspondence schooling, I have learned these lessons through trial and error (with an emphasis on error). But I’ve noticed a huge improvement in focused productivity when I consistently adopt these preventative measures.

 

“It has been rightly said that often the real enemy of the best is not the worst, but the good.

To be distracted is to forget Matthew 14:30, ‘But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, “Lord, save me!”’”¹

 

If you’re struggling with the Deadly D of Distraction, pray out loud: “Jesus, I confess that I have been distracted with so many good things I have failed to pursue the best things you have designed for me. In the name of Jesus I now renounce the spirit of distraction and choose to focus only on your will for my life. Please reveal any activity I need to let go, so I can whole-heartedly pursue the good works you ordained for me². Help me to be content in all you have called me to do, knowing that even the seemingly mundane things of life bring glory to you when my heart motives are pure³.”

How often have you been distracted with something good, only to miss out on God’s best?

(Speaking of which…I think I’m hungry now, the dishes are piling out of the sink, and I think my smartphone is buzzing…)

___________________________

1-      Dr. H.L. Willmington, Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, ©1981, 1984 by H.L. Willmington–all rights reserved.

2- “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10, NIV

3- “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV

“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5, NIV

____________________________

You can support Rebecca’s ministry with one click! If you enjoyed this post and others, please take a second to click the FOLLOW button on the space provided on the right hand side of the computer screen (or scroll to the bottom of your screen if using a smartphone) and you will receive new posts in your email inbox. This is absolutely free and your information is never shared!

____________________________

profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

How Food Paves the Path to Forgiveness and Faith

**Originally published in The Christian Online Magazine, December 2012 Issue**

Food is more than a tasty treat, a temptation for over-indulgence, or an excuse to spend obscene amounts of money at fancy restaurants. No, food has a much greater significance. Food is a ministry—at least it can be. The following article highlights just a few examples from the Bible concerning food and its significance in our lives beyond tickling the taste-buds.

Food for Forgiveness

     Passage: Genesis 41-45

In the midst of a seven year famine, God paved the way for a divine appointment of familial restoration. Joseph’s brothers were forced to travel to Egypt to save the lives of their family by purchasing food from the Egyptian storehouses. Of course, they had no idea their brother Joseph, who they sold into slavery over a decade prior, would be the one standing between them and their hungry tummies.

In what is probably one of the most famous stories of the Old Testament, we see that Joseph chose to extend forgiveness to his wicked brothers (after first giving them the scare of their lives) instead of retaliating in anger. They came to him helpless and hungry, and through the use of food, God ushered in one of the most famous verses used by millions of Christians throughout generations:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done.” Genesis 50:20

God used a famine, a store-house full of grains, and some hungry men to bring forgiveness and healing to many wounded hearts. The food was the vehicle, but the deeper purpose was restoration. We need to look at our lives and see if there is unrelenting bitterness, anger, or resentment either in our hearts or the hearts of our loved ones. We are fast approaching Christmas but how many families will remain divided because of unresolved hurts? Maybe we are the vehicle God wants to use to bring the family back together. Ultimately we are only responsible for our own attitudes, but we can “set the table” for the rest of our loved ones to give that thing called “forgiveness” a try. Perhaps a holiday meal would be the perfect time for such an act of peace.

• Food for Faith

     Passage: Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus had just been told the news: John the Baptist, his cousin and beloved friend, had been killed. At a time when most of us, in the light of such news, would have curled up in the fetal position and checked out of life for a while, Jesus was afforded no such luxury. Instead, he was followed by mobs of people anxiously awaiting His every move—would he heal again? What would He say next? No one wanted to miss a thing!

The disciples urged Jesus to force the crowds to leave; besides, it was late and the people were probably hungry—they should just leave Jesus alone and let Him grieve. But what was Jesus’ response? He chose to sacrifice his own comfort and focus on the needs of the people. They were hungry—he fed them. In fact, he fed five thousand of them!

When we are met with difficulty and pain, we tend to turn our focus inward and withdraw from companionship. But in that pain we are offered an opportunity to reach out and help someone else. And yes, we can do that with food. Someone out there is hungry; someone out there has a need. Perhaps God wants to use our pain, not to feel sorry for ourselves, but to reach out and touch someone else with the generous spirit of giving our Lord demonstrated for us.

So as another year comes to a close and we gather at tables full of buttered biscuits, pumpkin pies, carved hams, and candied yams, let’s purpose to reflect a spirit of love, forgiveness, and selfless service to the world around us.

“In a word, what I’m saying is, grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:48 (MSG)

__________________________________________________________

profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a health columnist for The Christian Online Magazine, a contributing writer for Encourage 365, founder and creater of S.E.R.V.A.N.T. Sisters, and has written devotionals/studies/articles for a variety of other publications. She just released her latest Bible Study The Word: Six Lessons from Psalm 119 which is available as a free download on her website or in print form from Amazon. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and 5 year old, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following this blog and following her on twitter and facebook.

Positive Life Principles for Women by Karol Ladd

Karol Ladd, bestselling author of over 25 books, will be releasing her latest work, Positive Life Principles for Women, in February 2013. Positive Life Principles for Women is short, sweet, and easy to read, but by no means is shallow. Quite the contrary, actually, this book is full of convicting spiritual truth. If you have lived a less-than-perfect life wondering how or what God could possibly do with your spiritual ugliness, then you will find great encouragement in this book.

Positive Life Principles is unique in many ways. Each chapter includes a section titled: Powerful Truth, Plan of Action, Pay it Forward, Place it in Your Heart, and Discussion Starters.  Powerful Truth is just that, a powerful one sentence take-away from the text covered. Plan of Action outlines several easy steps to put what the reader learns into visible action. Pay It Forward describes simple suggestions to reach out and touch someone else’s life and get the focus off of self. Place it in Your Heart provides a suggested verse for memorization, to further aid the reader in internalizing and living out spiritual truths. Discussion Starters includes a few thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter perfect for group study or even individual use.

Within the text, Ladd addresses several key issues in many women’s lives; negative thinking, dealing with fear, being flexible, being an encourager (versus a discourager), and much more. Overall this book far exceeded my expectations. I have read many books addressing these issues, but Ladd approaches them in a new, creative way. My eyes were opened to personal areas of needed spiritual improvement, without making me feel like a reject or a failure. In fact, the only negative thing I can say about it is that it wasn’t long enough (the book is only 120 pages).

If you’re a Christian woman (perfect or not), or if you know one, this book is a must read. I have no doubt it will be used in many churches as a group study once it is released.

You can read more about Karol Ladd, her books and her ministry, at http://www.Positive LifePrinciples.com. Her newest book, Positive Life Principles for Women will be released on February 1, 2013.

(I received Positive Life Principles for Women by Karol Ladd from Harvest House Publishers for review purposes only. I was not required to give a positive review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.)