Blogging for the new year?

Here’s how I hope to keep up on a discipline I’ve failed to do for years and years.

So my new year’s resolution is to have some discipline in the new year. It’s not that I completely lacked discipline before, but that I always see the need to improve in that department. The weird part is that developing discipline is not quite a thing in itself as much as it is seeking to change your habits form bad ones to good ones. You don’t gain discipline by seeking to develop discipline in the abstract, but by more directly seeking the things you should (and as a result ignoring the things you shouldn’t).

The Christian life is, in the end, not so much about primarily avoiding things, but seeking after things; primarily seeking after the God who is the proper object of our affections, but also concretely seeking the things that mark such an ultimate pursuit. As Paul says in his letter to the Philippians:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, sbut in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, vwhich surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:4-9, ESV)

Notice that Paul doesn’t leave his hearers seeking to *not* do something primarily, but to avoid the evil by seeking the good. You don’t become a lover of truth by hating lies (or false news, or whatever you call it), but by seeking truth. You gain joy by thinking on worthy things, you become a man of prayer by seeking communication with God, you avoid sin by seeking to be holy etc.

This year, I’m trying (yet again) to become a regular blogger. I am not sure it will work out, but I think my failures in the past can be informed by some of my recent successes in discipline. I have found myself more able to spend time in the Word, and in prayer, not by seeking to be a man of prayer and the Word, but by keeping love in mind, and acting accordingly. That’s how I power the long obedience in one direction that is discipline.

The prayer list program was helpful, but what drove me to my knees more regularly was the memory that I loved the people I was praying for, and I loved the God I was communicating with (and I realized that love was as much long-term action as it was gushy feelings). I found it easier to keep to my Bible reading schedule because I wanted to hear from the God I love. The discipline came as I held that before me and acting accordingly.

Hence the renewed interest in blogging. I am commanded to tell of the glories of God, and to reflect on His goodness in my life, living as Paul did, an example of godliness (not perfection). So here I am aiming to reflect on how God is teaching me, and share it with you, my readers.

I have no idea if this will bring me the discipline (and the ultimate joy) of daily blogging. Telling of how God is working all things together for my good mediately, and His glory ultimately. But that is the goal.

One year from now, lets see how it went.

Keep me in coffee

The author is often highly caffeinated. Keep him that way!


Getting Back into It

I am not the greatest for discipline.

If you’ve been waiting for me to write here, you’ve been disappointed and I’m sorry.

I could say that with the new work at my local Church, I’ve gotten busier, or that the last semester of classwork has been more diffficult than expected. Both would be true, but honestly not the reason I haven’t blogged.

Nor is it really that I haven’t thought of it. I have often had the experience of thinking “gee, that’d make a great post”, and in some cases even written something down.

Nope, the fact is, I’ve been lazy.

That said, I’m hoping I’ll get a better handle on things soon. I’ve been going through some interesting things, and having some interesting thoughts. I would like to talk some about struggles I have had, give advice about reading articles, talk about some of the things I’ve been learning as a grad student, but most importantly, learning to use the gifts God has given me to bless his Church.

Watch this space, and pray I use some discipline.

The Discipline of Letting Go

I like to be busy.

There are a lot of reasons for this. It makes me feel like I’m needed, as if the world can’t function without me. It means that I do not have to think about future and plans and vision and such, because I’m wrapped up in the now, and of course this is only compounded by the fact that I’m single.

If I spend the day busy, I don’t need to worry about my own questions and insecurities, that I am somehow now too old to start a family, or that I may be failing in part of what God calls me to in not actually finding a family. That’s not to say that I believe I am a lesser pastor or a lesser Christian guy because I’m single, but it’s easier to ignore my doubts when I’m too busy to face them.

As a pastor, it is easy to remain sinfully busy. Yes, I mean that. Sometimes we can be so busy it’s sinful, and as a pastor, it’s actually much worse.

Personally, from what I’ve just admitted about my own doubts and questions and needs, and the desire to avoid them, I’m making my busyness my salvation. Instead of bringing my requests before the Lord, or facing the problems I have squarely, thinking and praying on them, and repenting of where my opinions are sinful, I instead focus on preparing too many Bible studies.

Worse, as the busyness becomes where I get  my value, I place my value less and less in the person and work of Christ. As what I do becomes the measure of my own importance, I am placing less value on God, and that is a form of idolatry. My work, even godly work, becomes the measure of who I am rather than my status as beloved of God, an heir of Christ, and fearfully and wonderfully made by a good God.

And in each of these things, I am training those who watch me to think the same.

So today I’m seeking to let go.

I’m going to do less “churchy” work, and spend more time reflecting and getting to know the God I serve. I’m going to place some responsibility in the gifts of people in my congregation, gifts that God has drawn here in His own sovereign will.

Hopefully, dear readers, this also means I’ll get back to semi-regular postings.  We’ll see how this goes. You’re welcome to call me to account, by asking me if my posts again become too sporadic. :-)

Is Brit Hume out of line?

Many people on the blogosphere have been commenting on the statements of Brit Hume on Fox News Sunday, where he said essentially that Tiger Woods should turn to faith in Jesus Christ.

Now, most will recognize that I would agree with that statement (though I might quibble with Hume’s phrasing). I agree that Buddhism is insufficient to provide redemption of a person in the position of Tiger Woods at the moment. Funnily, since Buddhism would advocate the elimination of attachment to worldly (and hence illusory) desires, it seems that some Buddhists would agree. Redemption for a Buddhist, is unnecessary, as the desire for that would be grasping at illusion, and so the wrong move for a Buddhist. I think Buddhism is incorrect, and so would most Christians. Is that a surprise? No. At least not if you have any idea about either Christianity or Buddhism.

The problem that Hume has though, is not the many Buddhists in the world, his problem is actually secularists in the media. As far as I can get the problem, it is that a commentator should not mix their field (providing commentary based on their opinion) with religion. Besides being patent nonsense (religious opinion is opinion, and thus fodder for commentators….. the reason I don’t freak out at Christopher Hitchens slagging my belief… he has a right to his opinion, and I have the right to publicly disagree), the assumption itself seems very hypocritical.

The secularist belief is that religion is best left to the private sphere. Secularists are entitled to that belief, but they should not be surprised when Brit Hume and many other Christians (and many other religionists) disagree with that assumption. The opinion the secularists hold is not universal, so it behooves them to convince others of their position, not simply attempt to bully people into adhering to their (minority) position.  Join the marketplace of ideas, and (as Hunter Baker said on a radio show recently) stop playing the game of public opinion

while simultaneously pretending to be umpires.

Brit Hume is not out of line, but his secularist detractors are.

A Word on (comment) Etiquette

With the positive things dealt with over the last 2 days, it’s now a good time to give the basic rules for the (now fully moderated) comments section. I get to choose whether or not I post your comments.

I reserve the right to edit your comment (usually if your ideas are worthwhile, but you’re using language not acceptable for a family blog). Both publishing and editing are at my discretion (I choose). I cannot be appealed, and abusive followups will be met with blacklisting. I know that sounds harsh,

but after a few years talking about the topics I’m told polite people never discuss, I have had too much experience to be light on that. Following are the guidelines I’m going to use in grading comments. I will try my best to hold to these myself as well.

1) Don’t swear. Usually, I don’t demand this of people around me, but there are a variety of readers to this website, and some do not appreciate frequent f-bombs. Besides, it makes you sound like you can’t express yourself without an appeal to your possibly astounding command of the profane vernacular. Since I also have many readers for whom English is not their first language, I also don’t want to explain many of the terms, especially to members of the board of deacons.

2) Don’t be rude. This is a harder one to gauge, but still a hard rule. I do not want to have comments that you wouldn’t say to someone if they were sitting across from you, and neither of you were drunk or stoned. This means I don’t want you to call people names.

3) Don’t get snooty. Again, a bit subjective, but I know that I’m not a complete idiot, and I know that many of my readers are much smarter than I am. On the internet, you don’t know which ones are which. (“kutiepi314” might actually be a triple PhD in topics related to the one you’re trying to lecture them on). I also don’t want to clean up the mess if the J-School grad word-ninjas decide to take you down a peg using their finely sharpened lexical skills. Take the linguistic fisticuffs outside.

4) Respect others. Even if people don’t use the best words, and even if they seem less intelligent, they may still be right in their comments. We live in a universe in which intelligence does not guarantee truth. Smart people can be wrong, morons can be right. Assume the best of those that disagree with you, and you might be surprised and learn something.

5) Explain yourself. In this I mean, try to avoid using terms of art, or words that not everybody understands. I’ll explain further tomorrow when I do “a word on using logic”. For now, however, just remember that non-sequiter and ad hominium are latin, and very few people speak latin these days. It’s more fruitful if you actually tell us why a given statement is illogical than using the phrase “that’s a clear non-sequiter”. You can still use the term, but I’ll need to hear why you think the statement in question has no bearing on the argument.

I pray this will keep our conversations civil. :-)

What is this blog?

Yesterday I explained the reasons for my return to wordpress, and the fact that I’m going to have a slightly different ethos for the posts I create. I figured that before I set the (negative) ground rules for the blog, and especially for comments, that I should tell you, my dear readers, what to expect as you read here.

In the first place, I am a preacher, so I spend an awful lot of time studying Christian scriptures. As a result, that’s going to come up a fair bit. I am also a Christian, and rather unapologetic about it, so I’m going to write about that sometimes too.

That said, this is not an official Church blog, but it’s the blog of someone who works in the Church. As a result, there’re going to be some non-religious things talked about, like frustrations of being a white guy expat, with little Korean ability living in South Korea, or the joy of finding a decent hamburger, or my opinions on political stories I hear about, and even about how a confirmed bachelor like myself cannot understand women. The only unifying factor is that all of these things are things important to me.

I can’t imagine many would find my ideas fun to read, but then, I am not trying to gain readers, but just express what I think, and offer it to broader consideration.

Soli Deo Gloria

A Return to Wordpress (and to blogging)

Well, seems that the mobileme hosting of my website is messed up, so now that I’m deciding to return to blogging, I’m also returning to using wordpress for my blogging. So here I am back blogging on my wordpress account.

In any case, my wordpress account has always had more traffic, so it’s probably best to stay here (cheaper too).

That said, I’m not the naive person who first started blogging years ago. I know that the internet has some strange people, and many who would never say a bad word to you in person can be downright mean from behind their iphones; especially when I use bad grammar or talk about politics or religion (my favorite topics) For that reason, over the next couple of days I’m going to write a few basic posts to explain the ground rules. They aren’t going to be up for debate, and I’m going to hold to them.

You may also notice a slight shift in focus over the next few months. I guess I am mellowing in my old age, and diversifying a little. I’m going to talk about whatever interests me, which will be wider than the Christian theological and apologetic rants. Those won’t vanish, but I’m going to talk about favorite hamburgers, experiences as a foreign pastor in Korea, and the frustrations of being a mid-30s single guy. If you are interested in the sermons I was posting on the mobileme website, you can get them via podcast from my Church website here.

Hope you all enjoy the new year with me!

In Him,

– Steve <><