11/24/10

Social Media and Prayer

One of my friends, Bill McKeever, ruined a perfectly good breakfast meeting (with our spouses) at Coco's this week when he quoted Pastor John Piper: "One of the greatest uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time."

Groan. Deep thought. I couldn't let go of that quotation all day long!

Although I don't live on Facebook, I do post several times a day. I catch up with close family members' activities, and try to minister to others through humor, insights, special links, and thought-provoking quotations. But Bill's comment made me evaluate (no, compare) the amount of time I spend in each activity, social media and prayer.

We really have no excuse not to carve out time for prayer, do we? We have so many time- and labor-saving appliances, but what do we do with all the time we save?

The truth is, we will give account to God for how we spend our time.
Sometimes we foolishly waste or squander time; but the Psalmist's earnest prayer was, "Teach us to use wisely all the time we have" (Psalm 90:12). Wisely.

Time is a treasure, and time lost is never to be regained.
We do need time to relax, and for me, it is as relaxing to chat with friends on Facebook as to lie in a hammock in the sun. One activity relaxes my emotions and relieves stress; the other relaxes my body. It's not the activity that is in question, but rather, the amount of time we spend.

I have to ask, "Is the time I spend on Facebook and Twitter in balance with the rest of my life? I think it is, but I can sure see how this simple pastime could sap up hours of my life. Like any good thing, it has to be kept in check. I have to discipline my life to guard my heart and time.

God is the sovereign ruler over time. He lives in eternity and does not measure it the way we do. One day is as a thousand years in His perspective (2 Peter 3:8). But we are temporal and finite (Psalm 39:4-5); we spend time at a set pace of 60 seconds every minute and 24 hours every day.

The wonderful truth about the stewardship of time is that we can actually multiply the influence and effectiveness of our lives through the wise use of every minute. Time is a precious resource, and we have a choice how we will use it.

When I consider time, I think about two things. How can I glorify God with my time, and how can I enjoy God, people, and the calling of God in my life? A little Facebook time will never be a problem as long as I keep God's perspective and priorities in mind. In His economy, there is time for every activity He wants me to do, but I must be careful and wise, understanding His will (Ephesians 5:15-17; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

What about you? Do you struggle with the time spent with social media? Does something else drain your time and rob you of opportunities? What do you do to protect your priorities and your valuable time?

11/16/10

A Fingerprint from God

I felt old a few weeks ago. Maybe it was my lack of energy from illness. Maybe it was depression from taking too many medications. Whatever the reason, I felt like I had one foot in the grave. On the way to my friend Pam Farrel's house, I turned into her long driveway, and there it was. A fingerprint from God.

Amidst all the green on the hill in front of me stood one lone maple tree, ablaze in red and orange. I stopped the car and stared at the tree. The words that drifted through my mind were, "This is you, Dawn, in the autumn of your life. You may feel old, but I still have much for you to do, and I want your life to stand bold and bright like this tree."

I turned off the ignition as tears flowed down my cheeks. In this serene moment with my Creator, I didn't want to leave too soon. I waited to hear more from Him, but that was all I heard. It was enough.

I'm still not completely well. I'm tired. I still feel old most of the time. But I have fresh vision. No matter what comes my way, it's time to blaze brightly for God.

In the autumn of life, there's still some sap flowing through this ol' gal, and I don't want to waste a minute. I want to bring forth fruit in my autumn years just as I did in the springtime of my youth (Psalm 92:14a). I want the example of my life to teach women how to love God more; I want to live a blameless life (Titus 2:3). I want to use my days wisely and well (Psalm 90:12).

"Oh God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me." (Ps. 71:17-18).

11/10/10

Keep Your Tank Full

One of our cars had this maddening habit of requiring gasoline sometime before the tank is even down to one-quarter full. My husband "rides" the tank a little closer than I'd like. I head to the gas station when the gas is half gone. I like that feeling of security. I don't have to wonder whether I'll make it to my destination. I can focus on other things.

I read something by author Jerry B. Jenkins about writing that struck me hard this week. Preparing to attend and speak at the CLASS Christian Writers Conference, I rushed through preparations to teach until I was worn out. I couldn't think straight, and worse, my time with God suffered. I rationalized that since I didn't have time for my normal Quiet Time routine, what could a mere five or ten minutes do to help? But I told my husband, a few days before the conference, "I'm running on empty." Exactly.

Jenkins wrote, in Writing for the Soul,* "To write, you need a full tank, and I'm not talking about writing resources. I'm talking about emotional and spiritual well being. With physical exercise, anything is better than nothing. Even just five minutes on a rowing machine gets the blood pumping and the pulse jumping."

That answered my "What could a mere five or ten minutes do to help?"

Jenkins continued, "The same is true with spiritual exercise; do whatever it takes to jumpstart your spiritual life ~ prayer, Bible reading, reflection, whatever. Don't feel like you're a failure if you haven't worked your way up to an hour a day. Anything is better than nothing ~ though we should, of course, be trying to build those muscles."*

I like that word "jumpstart." Between exhaustion and illness, I've felt like I needed jumper cables every morning! I've let some spiritual disciplines slide, in these stressful weeks, but I have to say, my relationship with God is intact. I've never felt closer to Him. I've never enjoyed Him more.

I think that perhaps we have a spiritual tank with different compartments to be filled ~ one for times of Bible reading, one for intimacy in prayer, one for an outflow of service, etc. From time to time, one of those compartments gets low, and we need to take time to fill it. Other times, a compartment seems to overflow. My joy in the Lord has overflowed these days in the midst of struggle (Neh. 8:10b), and He has strengthened me within (Eph. 3:16).

The Holy Spirit wants to fill us with all we need to live the victorious Christian life, but we have to open the tank and yield every compartment to His control (Gal. 5:25; Eph. 5:18b).

How about you? Does your tank need filling today?

* Jerry B. Jenkins, Writing for the Soul: Instruction and Advice
from an Extraordinary Writing Life
(Writer's Digest Books, 2006), p. 58

11/3/10

Treasure Beyond Measure

I couldn't find my new ESV (English Standard Version) Bible the other day. Frustrated, I finally sat down with my dog-eared King James. But I had the thought ~ "What if I had no Bible at all?"

I've had that thought before, usually after a sermon about third-world believers and their need for fresh water and the Living Water of the scriptures. But this time, I thought about all the things I would not have, if I had no Bible.

Most important, I'd have no knowledge of salvation. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). I heard the truth of the Gospel and responded, and my salvation in Christ is my greatest treasure.

But there are other treasures I have because of what I've learned in the Bible:

The Disciples remind us that wherever our treasure is, that's where we'll find the passion of our hearts (Matt. 6:21; Luke 12:34). If my treasure is the Word of God, then I will focus there and live my life in light of what I find in the scriptures.

Some years ago, a Banner of Truth broadcast suggested that the Bible is "a treasure to treasure beyond measure!" The motto, derived from Ps. 119:162, reminds us that we find great joy in having and embracing God's Word.

How is the Word of God your dearest treasure?

Read about my old "eaten" Bible, so precious to me!