L'Abri Newsletter, February 2008

Dear L’Abri Family,

Tomorrow morning, preacher Kim’s family will head back their home in Masan; HongKyu, his wife HaeSoon, and their children (SaeHan and SaeRaa), stayed with us in the last three months. Then, once again L’Abri is poised to take its own break in stillness. Only the winter wind and low gazing sun will be visiting L’Abri.

Last month was a typical winter of YangYang – sub-zero temperature and heavy snow. But it was rather less significant compared to the challenge of living together, not just for my wife, KyungOk, but to all of us. In several days, we had to serve the table for tens of people; three washer & driers were in full operation all day long to end up with a bunch of unfinished laundry.

Toward the end of this term, we had to dine out several times because the staffs couldn’t handle the enormous tasks of preparing meals, laundry, and tutoring. We managed to carry through this term because our Lord has sent us Helpers, JungWon and HaeSoon. HaeSoon prepared meals for all of us and beds for students; JungWon also prepared the meals and eagerly spent time with students from early morning till late night.

Despite the cold weather and dangerous road condition, over 100 students and guests visited us in this term. What an amazing work of our God! To summarize a few particular things from this winter term:

1) Several of the visitors stayed with us longer than three weeks; as such it felt more like a home. Noah, MoonKyu, Jiel, Boaz, and KyungJin were among them. JungWon, HongKyu, and HaeSoon stayed with us with fellowship grants.

2) The diversity in visitors’ background created almost argument-level discussions well into late nights; some were non-christians, others were seminary students, church deacons and elders, and Reverend candidates as well.

3) There were hot discussions on sensitive issues ranging from liberal to conservative theology.

4) Students left behind several memorable; the igloo they built to enjoy hot snacks such as instant noodle, is still standing strong in the front yard; some of them wrote essays after their study; and memories of exciting discussions are still afresh.

5) Classes were offered by teachers with diverse backgrounds as well. Prof. Frank Stootman from Australia, Dr. WonSeok Seo, the appointee for the Secretary General of CMF, Elder JaMan Gu, a businessman and a PhD for his research on the issue of Evil, GyungMee Shim a Reverend candidate and staff of the Good Church Academy, Rev. HyungSun Kang, pastor of SooRi Church, YangYang, and Rev. InSeek Cheon who led weekly services and movie times, are those. Some of them did not want to be paid for their precious efforts.

As I write this letter, I suddenly realize how fast the time flies. It was just a few days ago when I was wrestling with students on the truth but I already feel like it was long time ago. Would I ever see them again? As most of the students and visitors are gone now, I feel even more so. It may be an indication of my aging or an evidence of learning the wisdom of life.

Just as Apostle Paul pointed out in the Ephesians 5:15, Christians should make the most of the time not because we are getting old but we are wise men as children of God – he writes about our identity that we, Christians, are not fool but ‘Wiser’ and should be careful in our ‘Behaviour’. He explains that a man of wisdom 1) makes the most of his time and 2) understands the will of the Lord. In Ephesians 5:16, he emphasizes that we should make the most of our time because the days are evil. Let’s dwell on this verse a little bit.

First, the ‘time’ in this verse implies every opportunity. As many of you may already know, the ‘time’ in the New Testament has two meanings; one “Gk. kronos”, the other “Gk. kairos”. “kronos” implies a certain “duration of time”, while “kairos” implies a certain instance in time. “kronos” is the result of connection or combination of “kairos”; as such “kairos” is the basis of the “kronos”.

The “time” in Ephesians 5:16, means “kairos” meaning every moment. This “time” is a gift of God given to all of us without discrimination; no one can extend it by themselves. The “time” flies like an arrow or a bullet; once it is gone, it’s gone forever; and the “time” is the opportunity that we can do something meaningful as well (John 9:4, Hebrews 10:24,25).

Second, “making most of” (Gk. exagorazo) implies “redeeming”, “salvation”, or “forgiving debts”. Originally, “exagorazo” means buying back a servant to rescue from the curses of law and oppression or to adopt as a son. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, ‘CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE’ … so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 3:13, 4:5)

Paul uses this word “Redemption” not just for the spiritual sense but also for the “time” as well. We often limit the redemption by the Cross of our spiritual matter only; but Paul says that the same should be applicable to the time we spend. To redeem our time, we should spend meaningful time according to priority. It may also mean not to waste any moment just as Jesus gathered 12 basketful left-over breads after feeding more than 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fishes.

Third, the reason for making most of our time is because the days are evil. The “days” (Gk. hemera) means the day time – from morning to evening – not the night and symbolize “the present generation” (Matt 3:1; Luke 2:1). “Evil” (Gk. poneros) is equivalent to moral degradation, diseased, or wickedness – something immoral. (Matt 12:45; Luke 6:22).

We should be careful not to waste our time because we are living in an era full of drunkenness, dissipation, and idleness (5:18). In addition our time is the gift of God and disappears very fast.

It is already February of 2008. Most of us may already regret the way we spent our time in January – we may have wasted our time without any visible results. It may be easier to accept the past than we can actually live a fruitful life in the coming days. We can’t waste our life regretting what had happened. We may as well do our best to make most of our time; but how can we do that?

For me it will be to spend more time with my students for discussion and prayer. How about you? Are you willing to pay the price to make the most of your time? Can you think of anything to “redeem the time (KJV)” or to “make the most of every opportunity (RSV, NIV)”?

I’m always grateful of your prayer, love, and gifts. May our Lord be with you to make a great year!

In the evening of Feb. 3, 2008

InKyung Sung

Translated by Ohig Kwoun

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