It’s Not Fair

“It’s not fair!!!”

“It’s NOT fair!”

Those three words have peppered the tantrums that have played out in our home over the years. I’ll admit I’ve even said them myself. It isn’t fair. Many things are not fair. Much of life is not fair.

The one who says those words most often is my youngest; she still bears the scars of difficult obstacles she was forced to face even before her remembrance. She struggles with the everyday and the basics on a day-to-day basis. She is the youngest of the Martins and she waves high the banner of unfairness of youngest siblings everywhere.

A few weeks ago I was studying the King’s Book, specifically that of Matthew, and I happened upon the parable in Matthew 20, the one about the laborers in the vineyard. I haven’t always liked it because it seems so not fair. It made me a tad uncomfortable and I tend to avoid things that make me uncomfortable. For this reason I hadn’t really studied it. You can find in Matthew 20: 1-16.

I’ll summarize it.

There was a Master. He had a vineyard. About 6 in the morning he found some workers and agreed to pay them a denarius for a day’s work. About 9am the Master went out again and hired some more workers. He agreed to pay them a fair pay for their day’s work. A little while later, about lunchtime, he went out and did the same thing. At 3pm He did the same and at 5pm the same. At the end of the work day he paid all the workers a denarius. In essence some of the workers worked 12 hours and some worked just an hour, but at then end of the day they made the same wage.

money-euro-coins-currency-332304When recently questioned about what I thought about the parable, I admitted I’ve been in the same camp as the all day workers. “It’s not fair!” The Master should’ve paid the one hour workers a twelfth of what he paid the all day workers. I am not a mathematical expert but the lunch time workers should have gotten half a denari and the 3pm worker a fourth. That would have been the FAIR thing to do. Wouldn’t it?

Yet when one reads on, the King Himself says in verses 15 and 16, “ ‘Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”

The first will be last? The last will be first…that is so not fair….or so it would seem, but the King’s economy is not the same as my economy and thankfully God is in charge and I am not. It took a change in perspective for me to surrender my “It’s not fair” banner. Because He is Kind and compassionate, abounding in love, He was gentle in revealing this one to me.

If I am completely honest I’ve long held on to the “it’s not fair” because I know that I am an early morning laborer. I came to know Jesus early in my life. I got the same Grace and Salvation He freely gives to someone who comes to know Him in the Eleventh hour of his or her life.

With the all day workers, what I failed to realize was, that they had enjoyed the presence of the Master longer. They had been with the Master all day. They had been able to work and serve the Master for a full day. They had been able to see that Master at work himself, managing and such, doing whatever it is Vineyard Masters do.

Perhaps the Eleventh hour workers were envious of the all day workers. They had just met the Master and had not had the benefit of gleaning from Him, watching Him lead, spending time in His presence. I am thankful that in the Kingdom I am an all day worker, that I have had the privilege of working alongside the Master for the majority of my life, that I have been under His protection and grace for many years. I am grateful that He takes the time to show me a new perspective to an old story that my heart hadn’t always been receptive to and how He reveals Himself continually in His Word. He is a good Master, one who is not fair, because He is better than fair.



Christians and non-Christians alike are familiar with the Ten Commandments, and people who were raised in the church know so many shoulds and shouldn’ts that we often struggle with legalism and perfectionism. No one wants to be accused of legalism.

Legalism has become such a distasteful concept in society that modern Christians tend to shy away from anything that could make them look as if they are rigidly following the rules. In fact, contemporary Christians often exhibit behaviors that make them appear just like the rest of the non-believing world. Their underlying message seems to be, “Live how you choose, but carry a Bible, go on the mission trips, and make sure you have the right “look” to be accepted as a modern Christian.” Who wants to be a Pharisee, right?

While living a life by the letter of the law or to fulfill our need to look perfect can trip us up, the thought behind those actions is a holy one: it’s important to live a life obedient to God’s dartboard target aim goal achievement conceptword. It’s as important to play this game of life perfectly as it is to pitch that perfect game of baseball or to get that shut-out in football. No, not as important – more important. In fact the Hebrew word for sin in scripture (chata’) means “to miss the mark.” We tend to give ourselves credit for getting pretty close to the mark. In the game of darts that doesn’t fly: a miss is a miss. In reality, it’s the same way with sin. A miss is a miss; a sin is a sin.

In John 14:23-24 Jesus tells His disciples, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” Our level of obedience to Christ clearly reflects the depth of our love and commitment to Him. It’s not a bad thing to want to live a totally obedient life and follow the rules! In fact it is a precious, loving gift to the Father to walk uprightly and honor Him!

If we dig into scripture and really look at Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees, we find it isn’t because they are rigidly obeying laws, it’s because their inside didn’t match their outside!

“‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without dishes-197_640neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.'” (Matthew 23:23-28)

Dirty dishes! White-washed tombs! Their behavior didn’t reflect their heart. They put on holy masks and tried to look good before people, to be acknowledged, and to be honored publicly. They obeyed the laws, all the while having hearts full of selfishness, greed, envy, … sin. The Father had chosen His people, the Israelites, way back in Genesis. He had intended them to bring blessing to others (Genesis 12:3), but now these Jewish leaders were looking out for themselves instead. 

And so we come to us. Today. We are to be Ambassadors for Christ. To spread the Gospel. To show God’s glory. To bless others.

In this world of darkness, living a life filled with the light of Christ is more important than ever. If we only offer our stories, scripture verses, and other words of encouragement we are short-changing the people God has placed around us to minister to. Don’t get me wrong, our testimony and uplifting words are very important; we are commanded to share the good news in Matthew 28:19-20! However, if words are all we have to offer, with no obedient lifestyle to back it up, we’re presenting a half-hearted gospel. Our obedient life is living proof of the change the gospel has on a human heart. The world needs what we have, not just what we say. These words of Jesus Christ enlighten us:

pexels-photo-262042“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

How many souls have rejected Christ because I spoke the story of the gospel, but I lived out another story: the same story of fear, depression, worry, desperation, sin, and failure that they were living. While my words seemed hopeful, the reality seemed like a myth. Instead of being a light on a hill, I was like a flashlight with no batteries – not effective for the job I was created for. A help to no one.

Today scripture charges us to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3) We are a representation of Jesus to the world. Are we reflecting His humility, gentleness, patience, and love for all in our behaviors?

In Colossians 19b-14 Paul calls us to live out a worthy life. He states, “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into His kingdom of light! Let us live as children of light as Paul lays out in Ephesians 5:8-20. Let us not fear living blameless, pure lives above reproach in this warped and crooked generation. (Philippians 2:14-15)
Following the rules only becomes damaging legalism when we equate adherence to the laws of scripture with salvation instead of offering the grace and love of Christ to ourselves and those around us. Therefore we must speak up to share the gospel with the lost world: Jesus is the only sacrifice for sin. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” (John 14:6) We must walk uprightly in every behavior. We must also get involved in people’s lives to love them well instead of standing back and pointing out their error, but offering no help. We must be patient, offering grace and mercy to those who fail, but also calling others to a higher standard of obedience.

Walk as children of light!



Drawing Strength from Sorrow

“As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” Psalm 40:17

My daughter is a college freshman. The university she attends is four and a half hours away from home. I miss her. A lot. A few weeks into her second semester I got a phone call and her quivering voice told me something was wrong. Soon she couldn’t hold back the tears and I listened as the dam burst and a flood of anguish poured out. Her young, inexperienced heart was breaking. The few hundred miles between us felt immense. I asked the King, as I had many times before, if He was sure He couldn’t just suspend the laws of physics and teleport me to her side. My girl was hurting and I was so far away. Even if I could just stretch a shoulder across state lines to squeeze her or just hold her as she sobbed, I’d feel so much better. I would’ve done anything to be at her side at that very moment, but it was impossible. All I could do was cry out to the King on her behalf.

This semester has been tough for my girl. Academics are fine. Books are constant and reliable. It’s learning how to love people when they aren’t so lovable that’s tough. And learning how to love ourselves as the Lord reveals all our pride and weakness is an even greater challenge. As Christians, we’re supposed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, right? So if we don’t understand God’s extravagant, ridiculous, unconditional love; how in the world can we love others well? How do we dwell in God’s love? In our flesh, we can’t. Learning to see ourselves as God sees us is impossible. Even in the best of circumstances it’s impossible to love others the way Christ asks us to love them.

clasped-hands-comfort-hands-people-45842So how do we love well? How do we love genuinely and sacrificially when our heart is broken? How do we give of ourselves when we’ve been rejected? How do we serve when we’ve been cast aside? How do we forgive when we feel forgotten? How do we offer others strength when we’re so fragile? It begins by understanding what is impossible with man is possible with God. He can give us a new heart, He can remind us how much we are loved. But only if we look to Him for our strength. And that starts with admitting how desperately poor and needy we are.

As I’m walking through this heartache with my daughter, I’ve been reading through the Psalms. I’ve always adored the Psalms. Poetic, powerful, and, honest. I used to get annoyed with David for whining so much. But I’m more and more convinced it’s David’s genuineness and humility that made him a man after God’s own heart. He would honestly cry out to the Lord with words like “Why have you forgotten me? Why are you so cast down my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?”, but he would always, always land on truth and speak the truth to himself. “Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 42)

As I read through the Psalms day after day, over and over, I noticed this repeated pattern. Raw vulnerability followed by reminders of truth about the character of God. So where did David gain his strength to stand firm in his heartache? He was willing to admit, as he did in Psalm 40, that he was poor and needy. He was willing to admit his weakness and frailty, but he didn’t end there. He made sure to focus on God’s strength, on His goodness, on His power, on His faithfulness, on His ability to heal and humble and renew and restore.

As I continued to focus on David’s pattern of humility and honesty, I began to find a refrain. God alone is our strength. He is our song. He is our hope. He is our healer. He is all we need. And isn’t that right where I long for my children to be, where I long to be, desperate and dedicated to seeking more of my heavenly Father? And that begins with confessing my weakness, being honest before God, and there I find there is a certain strength in sorrow. A certain knowing that my Abba is enough and His love and His acceptance are enough. And I found myself saying these words to my hurting, but healing, daughter, “What if your greatest sorrows are God’s greatest gift?”.

And what if they are? What if those sorrows propel you into the loving arms of the King. James 1 tells us our trials are meant to mature us; to grow us up in the truth. If sorrow and heartache are what is required for me, and my family, to become more intimate with the King, to become more accurate reflections of His love, then, though I would not choose it, I am learning to be grateful for it. Because in our greatest sorrow; He will become our source of strength.



Locked Out!

Have you ever been locked out?

glass-984457_640I remember as a child that we would get locked out of the house. My Mother would break the window out of the back door to get us back in the house. Then we would go to the hardware store to get glass cut the right size for the replacement window. My Mother got us locked out so many times that she had her own putty knife to help with replacing the window.

car-keys-2653311_640I laugh at this funny memory but I did not think it was so funny when I realized my car had locked itself. I left my keys inside the car one night. I did not know the car had the feature to lock if keys were left in the car. We had not had the car very long at that time. I did not remember the door code. My husband was on a business trip and I could not get in touch with him. It took me several hours to get in my car.

Not long ago I was cooking a special dinner. I had made the dessert the day before. My bacon wrapped beans marinated in Catalina dressing were ready to cook. My ham was also ready to go in the preheated oven. I reached for the handle to the oven and it would not open. I tried again. It did not budge. What was going on? Why would my oven not Household Appliances in modern kitchenopen? After several tries, I called for my husband. Usually when he touches something I am having a problem with, the problem immediately goes away. Not this time. He pulled and tugged but sure enough, the door was locked. Then he did what any self-respecting husband would do – he Googled “Oven door will not open.” He found diagrams of the self-cleaning lock and how it could be bent to lock the door. After he finished with my oven door, it will never lock again!

As I reflected on the locked door, I was reminded of Revelation 3:20: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and sup with him.”

John 3:16 says; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

Salvation is the key to the door of our heart. Jesus will never break a window or tug on the door to get inside of your life. He will wait for you to open the door and invite Him in. Jesus says to us in Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” All He is asking is for us to believe and open our heart to Him.

And then there is this: Romans 10:13 (NKJV) – “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Have you received salvation and opened the door of your heart to Jesus?

If not, say a prayer and unlock the door of your heart. Ask Jesus to come into your life.


The Journey

Priceless has begun a new series of articles this year. They will be entitled and tagged as “The Journey” with several different subheadings. These will be encouraging or uplifting blogs that offer sustenance for us all as we travel through this Journey of Life. Proverbs 4:26 reminds us to “Ponder the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure.”

We hope to do some pondering, and to give you scriptures, questions and ideas that will keep you pondering your paths as well, so that your ways will be sure and established. In fact, we’ve already published a couple that you can find here and here if you missed them.

pexels-photo-41102Does your journey seem dark right now? Psalms 119:105 tells us that “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

Does your path seem too difficult to keep going? Isaiah 43:2 reminds us that “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Are you journeying alone feeling unknown and unnoticed? Psalm 139:3 tells us that  “You [Father God] discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”

Are you searching for wisdom to help you deal with a seemingly insurmountable mountain you are facing? Psalm 27:11 offers encouragement: “Teach me your way, Lord  lead me in a straight path….”

Do you long for direction in life? Psalm 16:11 explains where to get real direction and where to find joy in the Journey: “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Have you wandered in a wilderness for so many years that you are hopeless and desperately looking for deliverance? Isaiah 64:4 says, “From ancient times no one has heard, no one has listened to, no eye has seen any God besides You who acts on behalf of the one who waits for Him.”

Whatever you are searching for on your Journey, it can only be truly found in Jesus Christ leading your life, working in you and through you! Let us walk with you on this Journey! Eagerly look forward to the Father miraculously speaking just the words you need to hear. He does that you know!

May you find joy in the Journey!


A Mary is A Mary

One of my Nearest and Dearest visited the U.K. this past summer. She brought home souvenirs that I truly treasure, they were English tea leaves housed in a tiny Big Ben tin. Once used, I cut the box that it had come in apart and made bookmarks. Currently, these memorial snap shots of London’s major landmarks can be found in the book of Jeremiah Chapter 29. The tiny Big Ben tin is in my pantry, a reminder of our friendship and her trip.

Much to my surprise and delight for my fortieth Birthday she gave me one of the most treasured gifts I have ever received. A gift so unique I’d’ve not even known to ask for it. Wrapped in a simple blue box with the words “Historic Royal Palaces” lettered in gold was something I’d always wanted I just didn’t know it until I received it. I squealed when I opened the box. As I unfolded the bubble wrap I uncovered a for real English porcelain pexels-photo-810050.jpegtea cup and saucer. I do not possess the vocabulary to describe how enchanting that cup and saucer are. Beautiful and dainty, they evoke a feeling of elegance when I look at them; I even hold my pinky out when I pick up that cup and sip my imaginary tea. I have yet to use it, for I am waiting for as unique and special an occasion as it is. I have placed it in a place of prominence and I admire it daily.

I enjoy television from across the pond, British entertainment is some of my favorite. In fact, it would seem much of the British world brings me delight. I particularly like how the Brits do documentaries. Recently I was watching one such documentary and found myself pondering the Marys the King knew when He walked this earth.

There is one presenter I especially enjoy, he’s a jolly fellow with a grand sense of dry British humor and is entertaining as well as educational. He says things like “flabby bits” and will draw the eye to the unusual and often overlooked details of art. After watching a special on Impressionists, he changed how I pronounce Van Gogh.

the-tardis-263153_640(I once watched a Dr. Who episode centered around the Impressionist Vincent Van Gough and I will not even lie, it made me so distressed I shed actual tears. My children still find it funny that I cried while watching Dr. Who. They refer to that particular episode as “The one that makes Mama cry.” They are right, it does. Every. Single. Time.)

I digress, the aforementioned Jolly Presenter was explaining his point of view regarding the Renaissance art, he introduced the audience to the various Marys of the Bible depicted in classical art. He spoke of the Mother Mary, Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene. He explained that many times the Marys overlap in Renaissance art. To drive his point home he would say “A Mary is a Mary” his British accent stretching out the name Mary in the statement. It sound more like “A Maaawrie is a Maaawrie.” I mused at that thought and what I actually knew from the King’s Word about those Marys. Mary his mother, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Salome and James. I thought about Matthew 28, when Jesus had been raised from the dead. I imagined how dark and overwhelmed those Marys must have felt as their Precious Jesus was beaten and crucified, how he hung on that cursed tree amongst common criminals. How deeply sad they must have felt as they lay His lifeless body in that tomb. The pain would have been overwhelming. How so early on that Sunday morning those Marys went to finish the job of preparing his body for burial. I thought about that “Mary is a Mary” mentality and how very inaccurate that it actually is.

When Mary Magdalene cried and mourned, believing that Jesus’ body had been stolen (John 19:13-15), she wept with grief there before her Lord. She did not recognize Him. But then He did what He so often does for the ones He loves. He spoke her name. Verse 16 says he said only her name “Mary” for her to know who He was. He knew her all along.

The reality is, in the eyes of the King, a Mary is not just a Mary. The truth is we are all uniquely created. Jesus knew each Mary then individually just as He does now. He is in the business of making relationships. The purpose of His death was to restore relationship with God.

As I’ve pondered on the British Presenter, how his statement prompted me to ponder, I am in awe of the King and how He loves each of us individually and uniquely. How the world may scream something different, yet that will never negate the truth that Jesus loves me and He loves you too.


You are a precious treasure! The King loves you indidvidually and uniquely!

The Journey: Walk in His Shoes

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 5:1-2

Once I had children, this verse became a powerful incentive for me.

I read it one peaceful morning as my babies were sleeping. My husband’s work boots sat across the room beside the door. As I read this verse, the boots caught my eye, and I flashed back to the night before with our 18-month-old climbing into Daddy’s boots and vintage-shoes-old-bootstrying to walk. It was a sweet picture. He was stumbly and slow and didn’t get very far, but he wanted to be like Daddy.

That’s what the Christian journey is. It’s just a matter of stepping out as Jesus would and getting up again when we fail to walk like Jesus.

When we are first saved and do this, our steps are faltering and slow. We stumble a lot and mess up often. But we love Him and we want to be like Him, and so we get back up and try to take a few more teetering steps. We lurch forward and face plant again, but once again get up and haltingly keep trying to walk like Jesus.  The shoes may feel too big at first. We get tripped up by the strange feeling of this new walk. We feel like all we can do is stumble. And it hurts when we fall. But we are not called to be perfect; we are called to be an imitator of Christ!

What we find is that we don’t stay a 2-year-old Christian any more than my children stayed 2-year-olds. We grow up in Christ. The walk becomes more natural.

We become an 8-year-old that can scuffle through the house in Jesus’ boots without falling so much.

We grow to be a 14-year-old in Christ whose feet fit perfectly in our Father’s shoes, and we only fall when we face obstacles beyond our abilities.

We mature to be the eager 24-year-old who barges into the mission field with energy and confidence in our Father’s shoes, but occasionally lets our ego lead us into failure.

And one day we hope to become the 76-year-old that may have faltering physical knees but has the spiritual foundation that makes imitating Christ in their every step not even seem like imitating Christ; they have walked in His shoes so long, that the shoes seem like their very own!

Whose shoes are you walking in?

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