Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Product and the Process

I recently realized that thoughts are hard to contain when they only exist in the deepest corners of your mind, so, finding this idea important (leastwise to myself, if not to others), I decided to write it out. I apologize in advance for any spelling errors, or whatever else may be wrong with it (such as its incredible length), but this was mainly for me to keep my thoughts in one place.There are times in your life when you have important realizations. Often, these come because of a stupid act you have committed and only discover what you could have done when it was too late, but at other times realizations can be given to you as a gift. I was recently given one of the latter. These kinds of realizations are from God, because otherwise they could just as easily lead you in the wrong direction as they could in the right. I spoke to one of the wisest people I know, about my youth group, its direction and the path which should be taken to lead in such a direction. To strengthen a youth group, I thought, you should have events, plan fund-raisers and call people without ceasing. This was all good and well, but up this point I did not fully understand the relationship between these small events and the vision which the youth group should hopefully soon acquire. There is one vision. There can be one future for the youth group which could be so bright that people could see nothing besides it hoping only to move in its direction. I was still having troubles trying desperately to understand the significance of this concept, when a packet of sugar was poured out on the table in front of me. "These", he said pointing at the miniscule granules of sugar splayed out on the table, "are the events, the fund-raisers and the phone calls." The first thought that came to my mind was that he had made a horrible mess. "This", he said pointing towards a coaster sitting on the table, in size, towering in comparison to the shiny crystals of Splenda, "is the vision of our youth group." Gesturing once again towards the white splash of sugar on the table, he said "These dots of sugar are only useful if they lead towards this", another time pointing out the coaster. Only after the fact, did I realize what this means in the youth group. Every event, every conversation and meeting, is not advantageous if used only for the sake of business, but rather is worthwhile if it is carefully planned in such a way as that it may lead towards an inspired vision. After all, is the youth group for my own sake, or for that of God?This is in fact, only a facet of the larger image which I saw. The larger image which I am speaking of is quite simply, my life. Every thought I formulate, every conversation I mold and every action I take while I am stuck in the flesh of my body, is sugar. Every thing I do is in and of itself is without value. The architect can spend years of his life carefully erecting walls and pouring cement, but unless he has a final product, or rather, unless he focuses his work in only one direction, that direction being his vision of what the building could be in its final stage, what can he accomplish? The architect knew all along that he was constructing a building, but until he realized the vision of what that building would look like when it was complete, he could do nothing. Similarly, I have come to realize that I know what I am building. I am working to build a biblical representation of the man of God in myself. However, I need to have vision of what that looks like as I leave the dust of the Earth to pass the gates of heaven. Just as the architect must look ahead to the final stage of his building, so must I look to see what vision I have for who I will be in the finality of life (or the start depending on your interpretation of life as physical or spiritual).On the conversation of sugar, what does this entail? If I have no vision, then I can accomplish nothing, because I may be building walls in the right places, or I may not, but my life is something I would not like to leave up to chance. How then, do you conform your life to the vision, the powerful final image you behold which contains in it the answer to "is this all there is?". You must be deliberate with every granule of sugar you possess. We live eighty years, ninety if God should give us the time, but really, is any of this time expendable? Although not every conversation needs to be "deep" and not every action needs to be "serious", every action must be deliberate. Some conversations may simply be to uplift, some others to comfort and others to provide fellowship, but yet they must be working to the common vision which is shared solely between you, and your Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Many people know what they wish to do, but few know what they desire to do with their life. The difference between these functions is that of the equation used in an algebra problem and the problem itself. You could know every equation formulated to this point in time, but accomplish nothing if the problem is not known. The mathematician must study the problem itself thoroughly to understand which formula to use; but beyond this, he must have purpose in deciphering the problem itself. Few would abandon themselves to an equation without first having a reason to find the solution. Similarly, few would bother in life with the sugar, when there is no coaster on the table to create a pathway to. This coaster brings on a further question, the vision rather than the acts; the product rather than the process. Where then is the incentive to bother with the process, when there is no product? From the Christian frame of mind, a general direction is assumed – life eternal with the Creator – but is salvation the only necessity placed on a Christian? If so why would life end so slowly? Due to these implications, rather than find the Creator cruel for his lack of ability to provide a quick end resulting in a great gain, I assume that I myself am unwise to a greater calling. If this is true, what is the process and, (in line with this discussion) more importantly, what is the product that we are called to?The Great Commission is this: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The Great Commission is the process by which we attain the product. This process is of itself, two-fold: We are called to spread the Word of God throughout the nations of the world, that others may observe to do the things which our Savior commanded of them. The other side is this, nothing of value should be taught hypocritically. Therefore, the process contains the way in which we should encourage others to act and also the way in which we should ourselves act. This process however, no matter how noble and pure, is of itself without meaning (except in the form of obedience to God). Every refined end must be attained through the work of pure means. The end that is gained through these means is that of providing others with the opportunity to worship and love God. What does this mean then? That the vision of the Christian life is to submit to God out of love. On the conversation of sugar, work for each granule with purpose, striving always for the coaster on which we place the hope of our lives. Remember always the interconnectedness of the formula and its quotient. On this day, you may only have a smidgeon of sugar, but on another day, much. However, over time, these small, seemingly unimportant crystals will produce a road either towards the coaster or off the table. These things change the importance from the ingredients, to the dish and must not be taken lightly. Every school and every corporation has a mission statement, what must ours be, and how must we behave to reach it in its fullest significance? Discover the vision, and diligently strive in its direction

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sharing the Gospel

Personally, I have always known who God is, but I have not acted on that as I should. Until very recently, I viewed sharing the gospel as a long, drawn-out process. I thought I needed to slowly and carefully work people towards the gospel. In the back of my mind I have always thought, "what if he's not ready, maybe I'll only discourage him from the gospel." Recently, I realized the power of the gospel.
I had been teaching a friend of mine for years. I used apologetics, I used wisdom, but I never used God. I was encouraged to call this friend and when I did, I brought God to my friend, I used no apologetics, no facts, only God. He came to Christ over the phone.
I'm not telling this story in an attempt to puff myself up, or make myself seem more important than I truly am, but rather to show an example of the power of God. Through this, I have learned on a personal level to always count on the power of my LORD and Saviour to whom I owe everything.
(I would like to give a special thanks to Dare To Share for changing me)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Is Faith Blind?

A term commonly thrown around is "blind faith". This term suggests that faith is irrational and unsubstantiated. As stated in the blog's description, there are many uses for faith, even in daily life. The definition of faith is "confidence or trust in a person or thing". Every time you sit in a chair, you use faith. You must have faith that the chair will hold you up. This is not blind faith, because your belief in the chair's ability to hold you up is based on past experience. Based on the fact that the chair has been reliable in the past, most people are willing to put their faith in the chair and assume that it will not break. On the next level, in a good marriage, husbands will have faith in their wives. They can assume that their wife is not cheating on them, based on past experience. On the final level, some people have faith in God. I have faith that God exists, based on past experience. I have seen the effects of God throughout all of creation and throughout all aspects of my life. From the time I prayed to get my life back on track to the time I saw a broken woman, tears streaming down her face, confess that she had beaten her children until the grace of God turned her life around, I have seen God work in peoples' lives. Amazing Grace states, "I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see." Faith is not blind, it gives people the ability to see.