To blog or not to blog

Reasons not to blog

In the past year I have been nibbling on the idea of a blog funeral for  One reason was my burnout. My blog entries went downhill and I wrote less often. My heart was not there and inspiration waned. Another was the temptation to follow the crowd. Many blogs have in recent months idled into the grave. Even popular ones I have followed like Real Live Preacher and Internet Monk. This was disheartening. The buzz also seemed to have migrated to Facebook. Furthermore, I was disturbed by the pleasure I had from online approval. It fed my ego.

Reasons to continue to blog

Today I read Dr Tony Siew’s 10 reasons to blog and I agreed with all of them. Then I asked myself, What are my own reasons to continue blogging? And I found 4 main reasons for me to continue.

1. Its an incredible space to address an audience that’s potentially global. The world is my parish is no longer a cliche. It is made possible by the internet. Readers from 71 countries visited this blog in the last month and this has to be the Lord’s doing for I do not write mind-bending stuff.

2. My blog is a good platform for me to clarify my thoughts, practise writing, and express my personal views. It also acts as a  resource folder: insights and lessons, a record of events and experiences and stories, which I sometimes turn to when I prepare talks or do my assignments or just reminisce.

3. My desire is that the posts I write will be to the greater service and glory of God. Promoting unity and understanding among churches and appreciating what is good, praiseworthy, true and just is one way to do this. Another is to help lay people understand their pastors better and increase their appreciation of them. I also enjoy highlighting the glory of the small church and their pastors and the vital role they play in the kingdom.

4. It is also my digital legacy for my children and children’s children. When I became interested about my grandparents all of them had gone and all I had were faded black and white photos and personal anecdotes of unreliable memories of surviving relatives. My digital store will give a more three dimensional picture of who I am and what I believed and what I lived through.

Keep me in your prayers and thoughts.

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Nestled in His arms, rested in His love

trusting loveMore sleep

Freed from regular work, I have given myself permission to sleep more than I have slept before. When I feel drowsy or tired, I would just go to bed and lie down for a nap. So in addition to my regular sleep I have been sleeping at any hour of the morning, or afternoon or evening. A pastor friend on long leave told me he slept at ten at night, and woke up at about ten every morning for several weeks. Another pastor friend on sabbatical dreamt of church work every night for several months. It’s like the ignition key was removed but the engine was still running….or slowly winding down.

More writing, more prayer

child thrown by fatherEvery morning I wake up and go straight to the laptop and power it on. Then its straight to the 4EverJournal, my online journal. Password. Click on the day and start writing and praying whatever comes to mind without censorship. It has been a pleasure to get into this habit. It doesn’t go beyond 500 words. At least not yet. It is peppered with prayers to Pa. Sometimes I would go to e-Sword and read a verse from Psalm 42 and meditate and then write my response in the notes. And then it is back to the journal.

Being like a little child trusting the Father’s love has been an experience that has been growing on me. Sometimes my sanctified imagination sees the Father swooping me up and throwing me into the air and catching me in his hug. Many squeals of delight later, I find myself nestled in His arms and rested in His love.

More trusting

The Lord has been guiding my paths and making each day so pleasant to the taste. To see His hand of love in the little detailing of life’s unfolding has been such a delight. Even the date due reading assignments seemed light and pleasant. The project work was done in a breeze. The Lord has been giving me some inspiration for Sunday’s message in the New Covenant Church.

Tomorrow I take a coach to Kuala Lumpur, and by God’s providence I take the same coach as pastor Mary Tham, my colleague, who is completing her Elijah House ministry journey. Lord you are so kind with the little details. It’s always nice to have good company.

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Philip Yancey’s secrets of successful writing

Seminar with author Philip Yancey

Over 450 fans of Philip Yancey, popular Christian author, filled the ACS Junior School auditorium with lively anticipation. Each seminar participant held a plastic file of notes titled “3 Keys to Quality Writing” and each clutched a two-in-one gift book by the author,” The Jesus I Never Knew” and “Disappointment with God”. I spotted Conrad Raj, Jenni Huan, Alfred Yeo, Stillhaventfound, Sarah, and sat with Didi. Hmmm…so Conrad Raj, the journalist, is a Christian. Present also were several acquaintances from last year’s Armour writing workshop: Ricky, Ali Smith, Lindsay, Linda and a few other familiar faces. Two of them have finished writing their books.

Philip Yancey and wife receiving gifts

Authentic and inspiring

Philip Yancey looked as though he came out of Shenton Way, neatly dressed in a long sleeve grey shirt (without a tie) and black pants with black belt. Everything was in place – including his Afro hairsytle and trimmed beard. He reminded me of Garfunkel, the singer. His two talks were conversational and folksy and his anecdotes and advice had an attractiveness that’s charming and almost hypnotic. This is one accomplished author who is an inspiring speaker too. From 9am to 12pm with a fifteen minute break, he taught, dialogued, and carried an Q and A time. Listening him was like watching a good movie.

How much money?

During the Q &A time, I waited for my inquisitive question to be asked. “How much money do you make as a writer?” His answer was that he has been very blessed in that respect and that he could even start a foundation to channel royalties to charities.

The secrets

Movement, he said, was one of the 3 important keys to quality writing.  Good writing keeps the people moving forward like a gravitational pull. He identified one the three gravitaional pulls as “suspense” such as is found in most good stories.  The passage of time, a sense of mortality and materiality are elements that make a story seem real, and the suspense taut.

A piece of writing that has movement is one that discloses movement taking place within the writer. He spoke of a book he read, “Yellow Wind” and how it moved him as he identified with the Israeli author’s emotional conversion as he interviewed suffering Palestinians. The author documented his feelings and how he was moved to a different point of view, and it moved Yancey too. This is the second and third gravitational forces: movement within the author and reader.

Besides movement, the other two keys he touched on was: “Finding your unique voice”, and “Finding a form that fits your message”.

One tip I picked up was to not use the verbs to be. Weak. Avoid it like a virus. This should require my diligent application, until it becomes second nature. Good writing requires good sentences. Mine are sloppy.

Blogpastor jia yu!

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Hacked blogpastor posts in thumbdrive

archivesMemories in a thumbdrive.

I took it from Vee San, my website designer, and thanked her profusely. At least the files of all my archived posts were intact. Some were precious because they were the fruit of research and risk. Others were sentimental in value. Not only were all the files intact, but they looked and ran exactly like the old blog . Vee did well. It looked so boomz!

Strangely the Great Hack did not upset or worry me. Knowing the files were intact was a relief. I had taken a long break from blogging and so it did not matter that the website was knocked out of service. Yes I felt like a poor host. It probably irritated visitors who clicked the search list and got an error statement instead of a blogpastor post. It also damaged the readership. But it couldn’t be helped.

I am just happy today that I have my archived “memories” back. I want to edit and reintroduce into this new blog some of the significant and meaningful archived posts and pages. Improving the impact of the old stuff will also make me more conscious of the secret of writing: rewriting!

I trust the revised posts will bless visitors of my blog.

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A Christian blogger’s prayer

This was a prayer written by William Barclay for use by writers, authors, journalists or speakers. I find it useful for bloggers like myself so I have mounted it on my ABOUT page as a prayer and reminder for myself.

O God, you gave me the gift and the responsibility of using words. Help me in all my writing and my speaking to be the servant of goodness, of beauty and of truth. Help me never to write or to say anything which would injure another’s innocence or take another’s faith away.

Help me never to write or say anything which would make that which is wrong more attractive, or which would soil the mind of anyone who reads or hears it.

Help me never to pander to that which is low, never to seek popularity at the expense of truth, never to be more concerned with sensations than with facts, and always to respect the feelings and the rights of other people.

Grant that all that I write or say be such that it can stand the scrutiny of my own conscience, and such that I could with a clear conscience offer it to you. This I ask for your love’s sake. Amen.

-William Barclay

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