Sunday, December 26, 2004

Make it eternal

I was in a Bible Study this semester with some people who worked at camp last summer. One of the things Lynda shared at it that impacted me the most was a dream a pastor had, loosely based on 1 Corinthians 3:10-17. Basically the pastor saw himself standing beside 2 other people, and each had a pile of straw in front of them. Jesus came with these piercing, fiery eyes, and the straw in front of the two other people was consumed. One was left with a pile of diamonds, which she offered gladly to Jesus in worship. The other was devastated to be left with nothing but ashes. The pastor woke up before Jesus got to his pile. Basically what he took from it was that as Christians, we will all be saved (In the 1 Corinthians passage, which talks about building a house of straw, it says "The builders themselves will be saved, but like someone escaping through a wall of flames") - we're forgiven, as long as we don't deny Him. But I think the way we choose to spend our time in this life will inevitably have an effect on our afterlife nonetheless. If we love God, we will redeem the time He's given us. We will use this resource wisely. This idea may not come directly from that passage in 1 Cor, which talks more about the discipling work done by leaders, but I still think it's biblical. What will we have to offer Him at the end?

I know I've heard this lesson many times, heard it called "practicing the presence of God" or "praying continually" or even "WWJD". But the new twist, the mantra I developed from this lesson was "Make it eternal". Strive to give every moment eternal value. Don't let it slip by. How can it be used for God's glory? It's not only the big moments, the big decisions God's watching, He cares about the in-between stuff too. This practice can seem tiring, but I believe it's the way to live like Jesus did. Many times I get the sneaking suspicion I've been missing the point, doing so many things that keep me busy but never focusing on the right things. This "make it eternal" idea has been keeping me more on track.

For example, the simple act of talking to someone. So often I let little conversations slip by. How to make it of eternal value? By focusing on showing God's love rather than receiving love from that person. By taking opportunities to encourage, without flattery. By being vulnerable and talking about things God's teaching me, instead of usual surface conversation. By listening, even to what they're not saying. Maybe by trying to pray for the person while talking. Studying for exams was another major activity I've been trying to "redeem" in this way - by working hard without becoming self-absorbed, starting and ending study times and exams with prayer, thanking Him for my mind and the chance to get an education.

Anyway, I wonder if any of you do this kind of thing too? Any other ways of looking at it? Any other ideas of how to "make eternal" everyday activities, make diamonds instead of ashes? As good old DC Talk says, "Time is ticking away..."

Saturday, December 25, 2004


Well, I suppose it's about time I got myself a blog. And I suppose Christmas is as good a day as any to start it.

I have participated in many conversations with people who have various opinions about blogs. I must admit I do enjoy reading other people's blogs. Sometimes it makes me feel like a voyeur, since these people whose lives I'm looking into can't see mine. Sometimes it makes me feel silly, when I'm reading people's thoughts who live five minutes away from me, who I should really be asking out for coffee to actually TALK about our thoughts. And I've been a silent witness to the "comment wars" that have bruised the emotions of many people who are close to me. Anytime there's written text, where everything is open to interpretation and you can't always determine the tone or the level or sarcasm intended, this is a danger. It happens on MSN too, and in e-mails.

But I've also seen the redeeming qualities - people get the chance to share things they've been thinking about that no one would necessarily ask them about. Sometimes it's raw, and writing it down helps them work out the kinks. And constructive comments can show support and refine the thought by showing other facets of it. I'm a very analytical person. Through half a year of careful analysis, I've concluded that blogs are valuable. Dangerous but valuable if handled with care.

So I'm going to write my ideas, my inspirations, things I like, things I'm not sure about - probably not very regularly, only as often as they come. I'm probably not going to be very vulnerable. I've only recently been learning about how to do that with people I know and trust and see face to face, and I don't think this is the best place to practice. If you want to really know me, call me up, and we'll go for coffee, and probably go much deeper than I could ever go on this blog, show a more complete picture of who I am. And I'd get the added bonus of understanding who you are, which I can't get at all using this blog. But there's not always time for this. I'm starting this blog because something is better than nothing. Here, you can see one side of me. The intellectual, thinker, dreamer, wonder-er side. I hope you will comment - even if you don't agree with me. Even more, I hope something you read will spark a conversation when I see you in person. I hope it will inspire further ideas in you. I hope God will teach us both something. I think he can use anything. Even blogs.