Another New Direction
Every few months, my life changes and so it seems necessary to provide some words of redirection my blog, to keep people up-to-date on what I am thinking, and where this blog is headed.
Here’s a few words, to those who are interested:
A TURNING TO THE CENTER
Several weeks ago, during a rare morning swim, it all became so clear to me. Why had I been so focused on the peripheral matters of Christianity? Gender roles, Pentecostalism, Hell, homosexuality, etc.? As important as these issues are, they are not central. In fact, they are more like the border-line issues, the peripheral issues.
Of course, it was necessary for me to spend time on these. These (and issues like them) are issues which divide Christian from non, and divide the Christians along denominational lines. As I wrote in another post, (Searching For Home in a Post-Denominational Context) being born into a post-denominational context requires that many informed Christians must go through a period of soul-searching, to decide where in the wide world of modern Evangelicalism they fit.
However, I now know that I kind of fit somewhere between the Reformed and Mennonite camps. Although I can’t say I have worked out all the difficulties, I have more or less made peace with this stance (see post here).
Now that I know where I « fit, » and where I stand on Hell, homosexuality, gender-roles, Liberalism, Calvinism, pacifism, etc., why continue to focus on them? They are not my delight, my joy, my aim, my song. They are important, but not central. Only Jesus is central.
Also, there is a danger in focusing too much on these disputed points. Paul warns strongly against a « contentious person »: they are to be « rejected after a second and third warning, » (Titus 3:10). Especially now that I am leading people, I do not want to be responsible for divisions within the body of Christ.
For that reason, I have been feeling God’s leading to leave some of these peripheral, contentious issues behind me and to focus more on the essentials, the things which all Christians agree on. It seems to be more important to focus now on building up the church than to focus on deciding which part of the church I belong in, or to evaluate which portion of the church is right, and which is wrong.
I have felt that this turning to the center has effectively closed out the journey I set out on about eight months ago (see here), to answer the final questions outstanding in my Christian Worldview. Yes, there are still a few minor questions I don’t have a clear position on – but they can wait. I have put them on the shelf until such a time as I have to really deal with them. For now, deciding a position on various debated topics will no longer be my focus.
(This means that I will rewrite the « about » section on this blog, probably in the next couple of weeks)
A TIME TO DO
Several years ago, I wrote a poem which concluded, « No time to talk, it’s time to do. » The irony of this is that this poem was written only halfway through my degree. I still had several years left of talk!
Now, however, it really is a time to do. A bustling house of two energetic boys and a lovely wife keep my days busy and my heart full. Then, as most of you know, we are going to Africa to teach in a Bible school with SIM (see missions blog here). Although I am still working full time, my weekend schedule is filling up with preaching and deputation assignments, and there is a small mountain of work associated with getting ready to go overseas with missions. Aside from all this, I still serve in my local church as worship director, as well as other roles.
The bottom line is that there is just not much time to blog – even though I enjoy it so!
THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
In the past, my blog has been the home of all or most of my thoughts and musings about God, life, philosophy, school and politics. However, there are various reasons why this cannot be the case anymore.
1) I finally know what this blog is about! My mission is to « Propagate right knowledge about the only true God. » But having a purpose statement means that I can’t write just whatever comes into my mind. For example, if I come upon a new idea, this idea must be tested first before I can in good conscience put it on my blog, which is supposed to be about leading people to God through the knowledge of the truth.
2) More of a teacher, less of a student. I am almost done my Masters in Theology. And for once, a graduation actually means something to me, because I don’t plan on going back for my PhD anytime soon – so this is it! I am finally (at 28!) leaving school! One of the things that graduation has changed is that I cannot see myself only as a seeker of truth, and a question-asker. People are looking to me for answers, and I must look at myself as someone who is prepared to do the work of finding answers. For this reason, you may have noticed a shift on my blog from searching and wandering to teaching and walking purposefully. Expect more of this.
3) I am busy. I only have time to write maybe 30% of the posts I would like to write.
4) I keep a journal now. It’s really retro. I use a pen, write on paper, then set it on the shelf for my grand-kids to read. I have decided that a lot of material which previously made its way onto the blog belongs in my journals now.
5) People are reading my blog. It used to be just a few friends and family who read my blog. Now many people read my blog before they meet me in person. There are actually hundreds of people who have read one or other post that I have written. This is a great responsibility! I have been gradually taking my blog more and more seriously over the past years, and this has resulted in fewer and more focused posts. I have purposed to always write with the same care and precisions I would use if I were speaking to a packed audience in a lecture-hall or church – because I very well may have that size of an audience listening in, and teachers are subjected to a stricter judgment (Jas. 3:1).
6) I am in « full-time ministry » now. Sometime in the fall God told me I was in « full-time ministry. » Since then, I have been making the mental shifts away from being a student, and towards being a minister of God. Part of this has been thinking about the organizations and churches I represent – or would like to represent – and whether my words would make them look good, or cause a mark on their reputation. I have also considered that Satan often tries to derail a work of God in someone’s life by causing some sort of theological scandal around them. I have tried not to write in a loose or disorganized way, in which Satan – or someone who (knowingly or not) may be « captive to Satan, forced to do his bidding, » (2 Tim. 2:26) – will not have an opportunity to embroil me in some sort of controversy which would be unprofitable to me and hurtful to the body.
For all these reasons and more, you can expect that my blog will now only comprise a few tidbits of my thoughts and writings. I would expect that this will mean that I will post less, but longer and higher-quality and more focused posts.
It also means that I will sometimes be very sad because I have this great post to write, but no time to write it! And by the time I get around to writing it, the fire is gone. But that is life!
At this time, I still have more time to dictate than to write, and so you can expect that the podcast will be the location of my more recent and candid thoughts, while the blog will contain only those thoughts which I find time to transpose.
I tend to be quite sporadic in my writing. I would expect this to get worse as my life gets crazier. Really the best way to follow me is to sign up for e-mail updates or subscribe to my blog. That way, when I finally get around to posting – even if it’s the only post that month – you will be able to see it. Also, if I post three times in a week, you can keep track of those and read them gradually, as you have time.
I want to conclude by giving my more faithful readers a tip: if you want me to write, tell me my blog is meaningful to you. Blogging is a lonely art – it’s not at all like preaching, where I can see you and almost watch the exact moment when God touches your heart through His Word coming out of my mouth. When I blog, it just « goes out there. » I take a look at the stats and say, « oh. 20 people read what I had to say. That’s nice. » and I go on. When I hear nothing, I assume that my words are falling on deaf ears, and I go about my day, focusing on more exciting matters.
Charles Spurgeon said that he could go a week on one good compliment. I think I am similar. Sam Bates told me three days ago that he was loving my blog, and especially of late was really blessed by what he was reading. And now? Here I am, three days later – three posts written, several more drafts on the way. Excited about blogging.
I’m not fishing for a compliment, and I resent flattery and forced pleasantries. I am perhaps laying out a principle that will be helpful to you in all of Christianity: if you appreciate what someone does, tell them so. They are probably doing if for free, so if they know they are being appreciated, they may do it more!
It’s just good time-management to drop those activities which don’t seem to be appreciated, or useful to the Kingdom, and to focus on those things which really seem to bless people.
So if you are sad that I’m not writing much anymore…send me a compliment! You may just find that when you prime the pump with praise, a flood of posts will come gushing out!