Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Planting, Watering, Blogging and Counting Hits

I keep coming back to the similar subject of numbers within churches. There are some churches that draw large crowds. Often these are churches that stress Evangelism. They are led by pastors whose gift is Evangelism. They grow quickly in numbers and have lots of new converts to the Christian Family.

Often these churches do not have enough leadership in order to take care of all the discipling that is needed. The focus is on Evangelism and not discipling. The numbers are impressive, but the depth of growth and faith among them is not and some even fall away. I talked about this in more depth in my post "Why do we Blog?".

I remember reading once about a minister that was discouraged about his numbers and also jealous of this other minister that had a huge church. It seems to me that it might have been Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but I'm not sure. Instead of the Lord blessing him with larger numbers, he was asked to pray for the growth of the larger church that he was jealous of. Reluctantly, he obeyed. What made it even worse was that the prayer for this other church was answered.

This minister's smaller church was near by and continued to only grow at a snails pace. Eventually, though, as this larger Evangelistic church grew, some of it's members began to seek council from the minister at the smaller church. Like is so often the case, the larger church lacked the leadership required to handle the load of the rapid increase in their numbers.

Hungry for Discipleship and something more than just the basic Gospel Message taught over and over again, those who wanted something deeper than that overflowed into this other minister's church and his church began to grow as well; never as fast as the larger church, but it was a growth that represented not just an introduction to the faith, but a greater depth and growth.

The principle here is illustrated in one of Paul's letters to the Corinthians...

"6) I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7) So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8) The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose and each will be rewarded according to his own labor." (1 Corinthians 6-8, NIV)

So what does this have to do with Blogging. Well, different bloggers have different gifts. Just as in the Church "One Plants and Another Waters", so also in the Blogosphere, one plants the seed of a new idea into the hearts of many and than another picks up the job by trying to weed out all the obstacles that are blocking people from accepting the idea.

The second of these jobs is more intense and requires much time and thought. The second of these jobs involves a greater depth that is not accepted by and does not draw all of the crowd.

As one last thought, I ought to add that influence goes out like the ripples from a pebble thrown in the stream. As I am often influenced by people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as by many of you, and my blogging is influenced by you all. As you influence me, you influence how I write and than what I write influences how other bloggers write, which influences what other people write, which influences all that is available on the Web to read.

Interestingly, when ever I pray and ask God to do this or that in our world, God ends up assigning me at least part of the job. For example, I asked him once to give energy to all the bloggers on the web that are writing about what is true. Since I don't have the energy to do the whole job myself, I need God to give energy to all others that are doing it as well. Considering that prayer, is it any wonder that aside from my originally thought that I'd be blogging about Politics and the fact that God seems to keep drawing me away from that and into more Spiritual Subjects; that aside from all that, I am also drawn often to the very subject of blogging itself? As soon as I submit this post, I will be able to say that I have done more posts on this subject than any other subject. Why the subject of Blogging? Well, because this is one way in which I can encourage other bloggers and "give energy" to them to continue presenting what's true.

When you think about it, there are two ways to influence the world. One is to directly influence someone and play a part in changing their mind on something. The other is to influence those who influence. In a lot of ways, the second of these contains more power.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Sacrifice/Cost of Efficiency

There are things Sacrificed for the sake of Efficiency that I am simply not willing to Sacrifice. For example, most Efficient Bloggers Read Fast, Type Fast and Comment Fast. The problem is that many of them read a whole bunch of Posts as fast as they can, while giving minimal thought to each Post they are reading and occasionally Comment as quickly as they can, while giving minimal thought to what they are saying. Some "Efficient" Bloggers are obsessed to the point at which they are spending too much time on the computer and don't have enough of a life spent apart from it.

In order for me to keep up with this level of Efficiency, I have to make all the same sacrifices and me even more so, because I am a slow reader. Aside from my reading speed, the other main difference between me and highly Efficient Bloggers is that they think that the price they pay for Efficiency is worth it, but I do not. That which is Sacrificed just plain isn't worth it to me, so instead, I just keep plodding along, at my own slow little pace, and hope that a few loyal followers will still come by.

It's like the story in the Bible about Mary and Martha.

"38) As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. 39) She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40) But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' 41) 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, 42) but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.'" Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)

I've used this story often in order to remind myself that when I have company, it is more important to spend a little undistracted time with them, than to plan an extremely complicated meal that keeps me in the kitchen. Even the house work, if left to the last minute, like I so often do, causes me to feel tired when the company arrives. It is so easy to forget our priorities.

The other thing that this passage is about, though, is about spending time at Jesus' feet, in both Bible Reading and Prayer. This is more important than all of our busy, Efficiency Goals and even than our Ministry.

Another important lesson relates to a few words that I put in Bold Print in the above passage. When we are interacting with people, we need to listen and not just talk and we need to try to do so very intently, without distraction. When we pray, this is true as well. We need to listen to God and not just make our requests. This involves the Reading of Scripture and also moments a quite reflection, in which we stop complaining and requesting and just listen to that still small voice inside of us; the Holy Spirit; God's Voice.

So how does this relate to Blogging? Well, first of all, time spent in Bible Study and Prayer is more important than our Blogging. There are other non-Blogging priorities that we need to tend to as well. We also need to seek God's direction in our Blogging and not just do it from our own strength or even from our own passion. This is why we need to Listen Intently to God, Without Distraction and than after this is accomplished, then we can Blog.

It's very interesting how so often when I try to write about politics, I get writers block and I'm not able to return again to the blogging until a give in to writing something Spiritual. Isn't that the strangest thing? It's as if God Himself causes the writers block, in order to get me back on track again.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blogging Fatigue/Sometimes God has Different Plans

Ok. Once I got thinking, I decided that maybe I should make my response to the last comment on the previous post into a new post, whether than just a comment. Interestingly, though, I thought that this post was going to be about our puppy, yet as I began expressing a frustration that I have, it became Spiritual instead and also relates once again to frustrations with Blogging.

BB's Comment
In what is now the last comment on the previous post, BB-Idaho was talking about "getting bruised up a little in the political blog arena, with the Election coming up and most folk uptight."

My Response
Your frustration with politics at this time is interesting. I've actually been annoyed with God a little over how my life has been going since we got our puppy. I've been thinking that it is such bad timing with the Election coming up and all.

I even asked God just before the puppy arrived to please send one that would fit with His plan, not only in relation to what ever life lessons we need to learn, but also in relation to not being too much of an interruption to something that I have considered a ministry, such as my blogging.

Since I prayed this prayer, I have to trust that what ever happens is what God wants, yet I've been so frustrated because what was sent to us was an extremely difficult puppy that requires a lot of our time and causes me to feel almost too tired to blog. I've been very frustrated and have been asking God why. Why at a time in which it would seem that blogging would be all that much more important, has God allowed me to be experiencing this distraction? I haven't had much time to blog or to visit blogs. My hit count is way down to the point at which there are only a small handful of people coming by and looking at my blog. I want to thank those who still do come by and tell you how very greatly I appreciate you.

And yet from the above comment, it seems that one of my most loyal supporters is almost pleading with me to not post about politics. How odd and yet, you know what? It just goes to show you that sometimes what we think is really important is not what the people who we are interacting with really need.

Perhaps just before an election is not the best time to sway people's basic political views anyway. If I thought that there might be some undecided voters reading my blog, that might be different, yet for the most part, I get the feeling that Bloggers in general are rather opinionated people who are difficult to sway. What mostly appears to be happening on Blogs is that those who feel passionate about something have the chance to vent their feelings and they draw others to their Blogs who feel the same way that they do and are also venting. I wonder, at times, how much actual persuading is going on.

And as for me, I ask God for guidance and he distracts me with a difficult puppy.

The bottom line is this...

The Bible says "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)

Perhaps the key to effective communication both politically and otherwise is Humility, Prayer, Seeking God, Purity, Honesty and Sincerity. Unfortunately, Passionately and Obsessively expressing our views doesn't usually produce the effect that we would like it too.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rupert, a Premature Baby Fawn Survives in an Incubator

While considering moving to a little lighter subject, someone sent the most precious story to our Email Box. It's the story of a little fawn delivered Caesarean section from it's mother who was killed by a car. The story and some very precious pictures appear below...

After reading this very precious story, you may also be interesting in the comments because they tell the actual outcome of the baby fawn and also go in an interesting direction.

This tiny deer was delivered by Caesarean section at a wildlife hospital after his mother was killed by a car. Little Rupert, who is so small he can fit in an adultʼs hand, was born after vets failed in their battle to save his mother.
At just six inches tall and weighing just over a pound, he is now in an incubator in the intensive care unit at Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Buckinghamshire. He has only recently opened his eyes. Les Stocker, founder of Tiggywinkles, said: ʽRupertʼs mother had very severe injuries. We brought him out and got him breathing and then he went into an incubator on oxygen. He is now being fed by a tube.ʼ
Tucked up: Rupert in an incubator.
Rupert pulls a striking pose for the camera Staff are optimistic Rupert, now five days old, will make a full recovery. ʽ"Deer are very, very tricky but this one has spirit. Heʼs an extremely feisty little guy and quite pushy," Mr Stocker said.

Asleep: Rupert takes 40 winks.

If you want to continue reading, the comments went off into some interesting subjects. Aside from just a few comments about Rupert and Animals getting killed on the road, there is also some discussion on Abortion and how often Animals are valued above people and then the discussion went into whether or not Animals have a spirit or soul and will they go to heaven when they die. Also, what distinguishes People from Animals? As you can see the discussion got interesting, so please do feel free to read on.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Susan Jacoby's "The Age of American Unreason"

I need to do another post because the Comment Thread of the last post is becoming quite long. If I was going to just pick up the conversation where we left off, it would be with the following link that was submitted by BB-Idaho, which thankfully is available again, even though it appeared for a time to be disabled.

Susan Jacoby's "The Age of American Unreason"

BB submitted this link in relation to a discussion on Evolution verses Intelligent Design, yet I fail to see the connection, for there is no mention of the subject in the Linked Page.

I sort of agree that there is often an air of "Public Ignorance" in our country, as well as "a Culture at odds with America's Heritage" and "with Modern Knowledge and Science", yet I would define "American's Heritage" as the Morality of the Founding Fathers, that was mostly based on their strong Belief in God and grounded in Christianity and would define "Modern Knowledge and Science" as ALL of science, including that which has been introduced by those who support Intelligent Design.

The "Anti-Intellectual Tendencies", as well as the "Anti-Rationalism" that this Link speaks of is just another way of describing what I have heard called "Post-Modernism", which among other things, involves a mistrust for both Science and also Objective Thought. The Subjective is respected more than the Objective, yet unfortunately, truth can not be found completely by just exploring a few examples from a few individual lives.

The description of TV and Videos that is made in the Linked Web Page reminds me of how I studied recently of how so many of the current action shows change from one screen to the next so rapidly that it has a Hypnotic Effect that has a tendency to shut the brain off, allowing very little room for the viewer to think rationally about what he or she is seeing on the screen.

I'm not sure what is meant by "Junk Thought" on Blogs, though not requiring students to obtain "a thorough grounding in American and World History, Science and Literature" is obviously a negative and "Disdain for Logic and Evidence" is a negative as well.

Yes, we have Poor Education and yes, we have "a lazy and credulous public, increasingly unwilling or unable to distinguish between fact and opinion". I even agree that we have an "Anti-Rational Government".

I was glad to read that Susan Jacoby describes "Dumbness" relating to both the Political Right and the Left, for I would agree with that.

I actually found the Linked Web Page, it's description of "The Age of American Unreason", of our "Descent into Intellectual Laziness" and of our "Flight from Reason" quite interesting and I was following Susan Jacob's ideas and even agreeing with them right up until the phrase "Anti-Rational Religious Fundamentalism" was mentioned. That came across to me as a False Accusation and a clear example of Stereo-Typing.

Interestingly, I agreed with all that I read, with the exception of one Stereo-Typing Phrase and I also do not see how this is relevant to the discussion of Evolution verses Intelligent Design. The subject is not at all mentioned in the Linked Page and in order to make it relevant, one would have to add another Stereo-Typing phrase implying that those who support Intelligent Design are guilty of all that is mentioned on this Linked Page and to that I would have to say that I do not agree with the accusation, but than again, the subject of Evolution verses Intelligent Design was not mentioned at all in the Linked Page.

Please take the time to read the discussion below my post Equations we Live By/Gen./Evolution v. Intelligent Design, as well as the others under the Label to the Right, "Science and Research".