An Invitation

I want to start off by acknowledging that there’s almost always “an angle” in the blogosphere. So many comments and likes are left only in the hope of receiving comments and likes back again in a sort of ego-exchange. And I’ll be perfectly honest, in my early days of blog-writing I did exactly the same thing.

But I do believe it is possible to do something nice just to be nice, and I do believe that a real sense of community can be built even in the virtual world. And so I’d like to extend an open-ended offer to all of my readers, inviting them to let me know if there’s anything I can help them out with.

This is not about wanting a cross-promotion, a guest appearance, or a testimonial. I mean, let’s be honest, it’s not like I have nearly enough influence to be useful in building your brand anyway, and I stopped caring about building my own brand a while ago.

So Wait, What Exactly Are You Offering Then?

There are other blogs where’ve I wished I could reach out and have a personal chat with the author, but have felt that that would be too forward. There are people who I’ve respected and would like the opinion of, but don’t want to burden them for their insights. There are people that I would like to work with, just to make something together for the fun of it, but then worried they’d think I was just trying to get something from them for free.

In short, with today’s culture most of us feel like we need to have an invitation to connect. So this is my blanket invitation. This is me saying that if you want to chat, I’d love to chat. If you want me to look at your stuff, I’ll gladly tell you what I think. If you want to try making something together, I’d love to see what we can do and you keep the intellectual property!

My only stipulation is that we approach this in the spirit of genuine friendship. I sincerely do want to help…but even more than that I just want to get to know you better.

My Interests

It’s an open-ended offer, and if you decide to reach out you don’t have to keep yourself constrained within the following categories and examples. But just to get your ideas flowing, here are a few of the things that I have at least some experience in.

SPIRITUALITY
I know, I know, never talk about religion or politics if you don’t want to ruin a friendship, but if you’re on this blog then you already know that this is a very large sector of my life. I’d love to have theological discussions (though never an argument!) with anyone who cares to.
Most of us carefully couch everything we say about religion in order to not say anything offensive, but we all need to find a place where we feel safe enough to talk about very real frustrations and confusions. We need a friend who understands that partially formed ideas are only partially formed ideas. The relationships I value most in life are the ones where I am able to say “hey, this might sound crazy, but what if God is actually like this…?” If that sounds interesting to you, I’d love to chat.

STORIES
I love writing, and I will always write. Never mind if I’m any good at it or not, I’ll always be trying! But we writer’s are notoriously reclusive. None of our work is good enough to share, because if we show it to someone else they might think its terrible, and then they’ll hate us forever by extension.
Well, let me tell you, I’ve read the work of people that I love dearly and it was astoundingly bad. Yet, in spite of all temptation to forever loathe them for coming up with such a monstrosity, I somehow was still able to respect them as a person. I know, crazy! Not even sure how I came by this ability, but so long as I have it feel free to make use of it for some honest, but kind, feedback!
Or tell me about the idea you’ve always wanted to get rolling, but would like a fellow creator along the journey. Or ask me about my own work, see if I have a starting point laying around that you could build off of. Or just start a conversation about our favorite stories by others.

TECHNOLOGY
By profession I am a software developer. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I can fix your computer or build your website…but, depending on your exact situation, maybe I can! If you want an opinion for what your next laptop or cell phone should be, let me know what you’re use-case is and I’ll try to help you find something that you can really love.
Or maybe you’ve wanted to learn a bit more about technology? Perhaps you want to find out what we mean by “its all just 1s and 0s,” or you’d like to setup your first coding environment, or you’re about to take the plunge and build your first PC…let me help, I’d love to.
Or ask me about the hobby projects I’ve been coding up on the side. Tell me about your little game idea that you’ve always wished someone would make. Perhaps you’re a programmer yourself? Why don’t we see if there’s an intersection of interests and make something together?

LIFE
If none of the above is striking a chord, then talk to me about how you’re afraid your new job is about to let you go. Or how your marriage is on the rocks. Or how you felt so proud of your son yesterday. Or how you’d like to go to therapy but don’t want to be labelled as having a problem. Or how you wish the world saw your autistic brother the same way that you do. Fact is, I’m a darn good listener, and I would be privileged to do just that.

CONTACT ME

And like I said, don’t feel like the ideas I threw out were the only one’s you can take me up on. Thought of something totally different that could be helpful for you? Great. I’d love to hear it.

To make things simple, you can just email me directly at abe.austin@gmail.com

If you don’t get a response, assume that it went to my spam. I promise I won’t ignore any reach-out that I receive. So if I don’t respond to your email within a day, then either send another or try using the Contact page of this site.

Okay, I think that about covers it.

If I’m being honest…I don’t actually expect anyone to reach out.

So prove me wrong.

I really would like to get to know you.

Sacrifice and Consecration- Summary

I had very personal reasons to do this particular research. Which makes sense, this is a personal blog. But even if my situation was different from yours, I do believe that the principles we have discussed are generally useful.

The differences between sacrifice and consecration are an excellent example of how the gospel is both wonderfully simple and delightfully complex at the same time. To satisfy both laws all one has to do is give to God whatever their conscience moves them to give. One’s duty is not any more complex than that.

But behind that simplicity there are systems and reasons. Behind the “what” we are supposed to do there is always the “why” we are supposed to do it. I am grateful for a God who recognizes that we will be naturally curious, and takes the time to explain things to us. My faith is reaffirmed whenever I go to the scriptures, and there discover that He already wrote the answers before I even conceived of the questions.

We Sacrifice Our Obstacles

Jesus might have done away with animal sacrifice, but that does not mean that sacrifice itself was done away with. That law is still in full force. The only difference is that instead of giving up our animals, we give up whatever things obstruct us from fully following God.
Most obviously this means our sins. We sacrifice anything that he has declared unworthy, anything that makes us feel guilty. We also sacrifice our excesses. For example, there is nothing wrong in entertainment and media…though we need to keep these indulgences within moderation.
This is not all, though. At times our conscience will prompt us to perform other sacrifices, too, even of things that are not inherently evil. I once had a dream to become an artist. I tried my hand at it and found it did not provide me the joy and fulfillment that I had hoped for. Artistry is a very right thing for some people, but after some soul searching I concluded that it was not right for me. I let that dream go.
3 Nephi 9:19-20- And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings
And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

We Consecrate Our Talents

There are things that we do not need to sacrifice, but that we do still need to offer to God. These offerings are called “consecration.” It means that we will set apart this thing for His work and His glory. This fundamentally alters the thing that we offer, but it does not destroy it.
Our talents are an example of something that we consecrate. Each of us has unique abilities and skills, and we are meant to use them for building up God’s kingdom. He does not ask us to give up the things that we were born to do, but He does ask us to do them in the way that He intended.
For myself, I have decided to consecrate my writing to God. Any novel that I intend to publish will purposefully be written with His messages at its core. It will be designed as a tool for promoting His kingdom and helping His children. But this is just the right choice for me and it might not be the right one for you, even if you are a writer. It is a personal thing that you have to work out with God.
2 Nephi 9:39- But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

Consecration Preserves Forever

In the end our talents die with us. That which we perform on Earth, one day we will perform no more. And if we used our talents to obtain worldly wealth or glory, then all those will be lost when we pass on.
But if instead we used our talents to give a goodness to the world, that good will persist after we are gone. And if we used our talents to give glory to God, that glory will yet remain with Him because He is undying.
And God has declared that it is His intention to share His glory with us, and so that glory which we gave to Him will be returned to us in the hereafter. It would seem that karma does not end in the grave.
The more we understand consecration, the more we will want to commit our lives to it. In fact the idea is that we commit our whole selves to God, which then allows Him to restore us back in full measure. Each of us will live again, but only those who consecrate will have their heart waiting for them on the other side.
Matthew 16:25- For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

That They Might Have Joy- Personal Example #2

One of the motivations for this study was that I have been feeling an increase of joy over the past year and wanted to examine the reasons why. As I’ve considered the matter I have identified three basic reasons. Today I’ll discuss the second.

I’ve always been fascinated by the act of writing. I wrote stories all through my teenage years, I loved crafting essays in college, and even in my careers as a software development I do a form of writing every day. Surprisingly, though, I never thought of myself as “called” to write until a year-and-a-half ago.

March of 2018 I was attending a spiritual retreat up in the mountains where I had a lot of pondering and prayer. God spoke to my heart with many sacred messages, and one of them was an invitation to take my old hobby and make it a spiritual vocation.

I distinctly felt that God took pleasure in my writing. The thought occurred to me that He is a supremely creative being, and my own desire for creativity is a sign of my being His son. It was time to start taking that gift seriously.

As a result I began a blog where I examine the principles of storytelling and publish short stories. I also began working in earnest on a novel, one which communicates the deepest feelings of my heart. And last of all I began this second spiritual blog six months ago.

My skills still have a long way to go, but the fact is I am already so much more fulfilled by doing that which I feel was I was born to do. If what I write is good for anyone else, that is delightful. But already it is enough that what I write is good for me.