5/27/09

Three Ways to Redeem Time

“Time is relative. How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you’re on.” Though I don’t know who said that, it sure is true! No one likes to wait, and time sometimes seems to crawl.

Like most children, I thought I’d never be big enough to ride the adult rides at Disneyland. It took forever to reach high school or go on my first date. The months I lived between high school graduation and college seemed to stretch on “forever.” So what happened? Suddenly I’m sitting in a race car called “the prime of life,” and I’m talking about the decades I’ve lived!


I’ve found that sometimes it’s easier to talk about eternity than next week, because I feel my days are all slipping by so quickly. When I think of eternity, I’m back to the “I can’t wait” thinking of childhood. It seems like it’s taking forever for Jesus to return! But when I think about next week, it’s like—“Yikes, I don’t have time to get everything done!” I have to remember that all time, this side of heaven, is exactly the same: 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. It doesn’t change. All that really changes is what I accomplish during that time, and that has to do with the choices I make.


Paul exhorted the believers of his day to “redeem the time”—to buy it up and use it wisely (Ephesians 5:16), because the days were evil. That truth hasn’t changed.

Three practical ways to “redeem” time:

1. Save Time – Is there something you can do today to shorten a process or chore, so you’ll have more time for something that counts for eternity? (I now keep stationery and already-stamped envelopes at my desk, ready to write encouragement notes.)
2. Buy Up Time – How can you take time from one area of your life and commit it to a God-focused activity? (I cut out a favorite 30-minute TV show, and have committed that time to Bible study.)
3. Use Time Wisely – Is there any time that you are using foolishly that you can turn around to make more effective for the Lord? (I've cut out time I spent leafing through catalogs when I can't afford anything in them anyway! That's aimless dreaming.)

We’re still in a wicked culture, and all that really counts is living for Christ and following in His steps to redeem the world. John Wesley said it this way, in “On Redeeming the Time” (Sermon 93): “... saving all the time you can for the best purposes; buying up every fleeting moment out of the hands of sin and Satan, out of the hands of sloth, ease, pleasure, worldly business ... .”


I once counted up how many days I’d have left if I lived to age 70, and I started marking off each day. But I quit because it was so fruitless. How much better to say, “Father God, what do You want me to accomplish today?” Then, no matter what else happens, I know I’ve redeemed the time for Him.

So tell me, how have you chosen to redeem the hours of your day? I’d love to hear from you!

For more help with time management, see "Spending Your Time Account."

5/20/09

Family Memories

I have seven boxes of photos, and several small containers with “memories” that all need to someday find their way into scrapbooks. These items are put away for safekeeping, but other than that, they aren’t doing me much good. To enjoy our memories, we need to be able to pull them out once in a while and “rehash” them.

I had to laugh, back in January, when suddenly my sons’ wives and many of their relatives started sharing memories of “Great Grandma Dunkle” on Facebook. It seemed like they were “scrapbooking” online! I learned a lot about the extended clan that night as I began to “picture” this dear woman. Story after story poured out, and it was obvious that they enjoyed their “Grandma’s” influence and love.

That week was a week of memories for me, too, when my sister found my dad’s old Navy record in my Grandma Parks’ Bible. We’d been looking for it for several years. The record listed his duty stations, ships he’d served on, and awards he’d received. I celebrated with my sister, but I also sat at my desk, weeping, as I remembered many things about my father—funny times, sad times, and wonderful loving times. I want to make a memorial scrapbook someday of Dad’s Navy career, including notes about how sad I felt to wave good-bye when he left on ships, and how I smiled as I saw him walking down the pier toward us, when he came home. This Memorial Day is much sweeter, with Dad’s record, a precious gift.

While I’m thinking about remembering: Jesus said, speaking of communion with His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me.” In other words, “Do this to remember who I am and what I will accomplish for you.” Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is the “scrapbook” we pull out to review our grateful memories of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. We love Him, because He first loved us. It’s the best “family memories” of all.

5/14/09

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum – Huh? Most people say it is simply a collection of scrambled letters—the “placeholder” or “dummy” text used by graphic designers and typographers since the 1500s to mark textual space until it can be filled with actual text. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not gibberish. Actually, it is the first two words of a Latin work written by Cicero in 45 BC (titled “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum”) that begins with these words: “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.” The passage expounds on the values of pain vs. pleasure—a complicated philosophical discussion.

But that’s not why I’m writing about it. I discovered that Lorem Ipsum is used so a reader will not be distracted by truly readable content while looking at a layout. It has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters that sort of look like the real thing. I read that some people have altered the Latin version to include messages and jokes in the middle of the long text, and that can be embarrassing! So graphics artists are urged to use only a legitimately-generated Lorem Ipsum, or at least to read their filler sample carefully.


As I read that, I was reminded that our Enemy likes to insert words in the text of God’s Word to confuse and humiliate us, and we might not pick up on that deception right away if we’re not in tune with God. What Satan says may be similar to God’s words—it may look like the real thing—but it won’t make sense when compared with the truth that comes directly from our Father God. Satan used this tactic on Eve.


We have to be careful to examine what we hear and read, because Satan is a subtle counterfeiter. He tries to imitate, distort, and confuse the Scriptures (I John 5:19; Rev. 12:9; 2 Cor. 11:14), so we must become aware of his tactics (2 Cor. 2:11). Sadly, there are also things written by believers that are distortions of the Truth, and we can be distracted because they “sound good” or make us feel good. We must test every spirit, and beware of falsehood (I John 4:1-3; Matt. 7:15-16).

5/6/09

Beyond June Cleaver

I have to confess. I love June Cleaver. Beaver’s mom was all that I wanted to be. She adored her family—respecting and loving her husband Ward, and guiding her sons Wally and Beaver with wisdom and compassion. I even grew to love aprons because of June! My friend Nancy Thompson, who spent many years in ministry alongside her husband Cecil, confessed that she also used to vacuum in heels, just like June. I can’t imagine.

June always seemed to look right and act right. (Ok, she was a little too perfect. She was a “Martha” to the max. I always wondered whether her hair would muss up if she stepped out to do grocery shopping on a windy day.)


Like June, I had two sons, and I soon discovered that the Cleaver Clan had abnormal genes. No one lives like that! The challenges of clothing, feeding, teaching, disciplining, and loving my boys taught me a lot about reality. I mean, what would you do if your child emptied all the wood chips out of a plant holder at your local mall? What would you do if your child walked into a store and said, “My mother is lost”? What would you do if your refrigerator suddenly developed a black hole, sucking out every last bite of food? Boys eat a lot!


I like to think June Cleaver was on to something powerful and good; perhaps she was a modern Proverbs 31 woman. But I’m also a realist. Proverbs 31 women aren’t perfect, and they don’t live in perfect circumstances. I know Proverbs 31 women who don’t fit the mold of “wife” anymore, because their husbands left them for younger women. I know Proverbs 31 women who are single and content; and some who are single and not-so-content. I believe the Proverbs 31 woman is a basic template that points women to a godly pattern of purpose and femininity.


In recent days, I’m caught up in a growing women's movement that is designed to help women return to biblical womanhood. It’s called True Woman. True Woman encourages women to embrace God’s design and mission for their lives, reflect the beauty and heart of Christ, pass on biblical truth to the next generation, and pray for genuine God-sent revival in the home, church, nation, and world. I may never be a June Cleaver, but by God’s grace, I choose to be a True Woman!