Monday, March 24, 2008

Why I blog - Part 1

A while back in a conversation with Aida (I think via our blogs and via email), I mentioned to her that perhaps I'd post a blog about why I blog, or my purposes for blogging. Weblogs (the actual word for which the abbreviated word "blogs" has become far more common) have been around for quite a while but have gained popularity only within the past few years. I've enjoyed sharing the message of God's grace for several years now in various formats including web forums and chat rooms, radio, church settings, etc, but during the almost two years that I've been blogging, I've found this to be what I've enjoyed the most.

What I love discussing with others
I love discussing all kinds of things in life with others, although there are two things in particular that I absolutely love discussing. I think I've put it this way before: If life were college, I'd have a major and a minor. My major would be Grace/Exchanged Life and my minor would be The body of Christ.

I slowly discovered my 'minor' about two or three years ago when I was writing articles for a church publication. My main purpose was to write about grace, and in doing so I found myself being naturally drawn to thinking and writing about how we are all individual and unique members of the body of Christ, and how the body is a unit that is fit together by God's grace to form One body.

I've been discussing my 'major' with others since somewhere around 1995. Through my friend Mike, with whom I co-host Growing in Grace, and through the church he was attending (which my wife and I eventually began attending near the end of 1996), I began to be set free in my relationship with God, through His grace. Being free, I naturally wanted to share this with others! I took every opportunity to talk about this with others. Sometimes this was for the good, and sometimes, looking back, I can see that I've been quite a "Grace Pharisee" at times! (Religiously trying to shove grace down people's throats).

How I began discussing grace with others
My wife and I were first hooked up to the internet (well our computer was, anyway) somewhere around the beginning of 1997. AOL was our internet provider, and with the AOL platform came many chat rooms, including various Christian chat rooms. Before long I found myself addicted to those chat rooms, because I found them to be a wonderful outlet for me to share the message of grace. We were soon able to ditch AOL for a broadband connection (back when broadband was still new), and I was saddened to lose the AOL chat rooms but I quickly discovered Yahoo! Chat. I also found various Christian Usenet forums. While not the same as instant chat, I very much enjoyed having ongoing conversations with others in these forums.

In these chat rooms and forums, I debated, discussed, had fun, made friends... and even made "enemies." I did not debate just for the sake of debate. Like most people, I'm not a huge fan of tension - especially for the sake of tension. But I would debate and discuss, and get myself involved in deep and complex conversations, for the purpose of sharing what I believed to be truth - and for the purpose of learning from others. I considered myself to be quite the diplomat, and other people - even those who disagreed with me - would tell me the same thing. When I say "diplomat," I don't mean it in the sense that I would work to find common ground or "balance" between legalism and grace (because there is none!), but rather in the sense that I would work to build dialog between disagreeing parties rather than simply shutting out people who didn't agree with me. I made friends with homosexuals, atheists, legalists, you name it, and I had many great conversations with them.

No, it wasn't always a peachy bed of roses! Some people can be very vicious in their interactions with others, especially online! But all in all I enjoyed my decade or so of forum and chat room discussions. I still pop in to some of them from time to time to 'promote' the message of God's grace and unconditional love, but it's rare.

As I said, I've also been involved in various face to face discussions in church and small group settings over the years. Most of these discussions have been pleasant, but there have been a few times when it's gotten a little hairy.

I don't know how many millions of words I've exchanged with others over the years in discussions about grace and the exchanged life, but I do know that I've been edified and built up in the Lord through them. Opposition has caused me to dig deep into what I believe and why I believe it, and to seek God for answers, and truth. I've learned a great deal from others and I've learned a great deal through my own research that has resulted from my interactions with others.

I knew that this would be long, and I'm ultimately leading up to my own personal purposes for blogging, so I guess I'll make this into a two part post!


  1. I'm glad you blog... Keep it up!

    I usually don't comment because I would just be repeating what you said so well. But I do read all the time and appreciate it.


    ps - I think we have the same Major and Minor.

  2. By the way, may I add you to my blog list?


  3. I don't always get a chance to interact in your great discussion but am very greatful that you are a blogger.

    And just for your info, I never felt like the grace thing was being shoved down my throat. :)

    One more thing, I have always appreciated your honesty. If you know it or not you have encouraged me to be a person who finds out for herself what the Word says before I just assume a "church" has it right. Thank you for that...

    Keep blogging, we love it!!

  4. Your story sounds very familiar to me.... :) I think blogging is a wonderful way to encourage and inform and share the revelations of Jesus with each other. Never thought of you as a pushy kind of pharisee but that is your "stuff", I always saw your unfailing ability to always say the thing that one maybe needed to hear most, to give a piece of your heart (Jesus) to all and any who would listen and always to throw in an occasional "huh" moment of your unusual past and love of some of the most interesting music out there. :) We have been in contact off and on for quite a bit now, Joel, and I know that I could meet with you in a gathering of saints and have that Oneness, that Unity in Christ that is so treasured because I see that in your posts and from your videos...Thanks for sharing ....anxiously waiting for part two.
    You have always been encouraging to me and I thank God for you and your life that is Christ in and through you. It is all good.

    In Him,

  5. Derek... I've got your Branch Life blog in my feed reader so I also read all your posts. It's about time for me to update my own blog list, so I'd truly enjoy putting our links on one another's blogs! :)

  6. Angela... you've been part of many of the same "live" discussions as I have, with us having been part of the same small group, and I always enjoyed your and Ted's interactions within the group and I know the group as a whole misses you guys! I've been taking a break from the small group for a little while now, for various reasons (although Trace and the kids are still with them).

    Thanks for stopping by, and I have to say that what you said in your comment is truly one reason why I blog! I think we all need to pause and not just accept everything we hear in church. So many times, through discussions and through hearing many perspectives, we arrive at a better understanding of truth, as the Spirit leads.

  7. I can't even imagine a life without blogging :)

    Yours is one of the blog I read all posts and I enjoy the many things you write. So keep writing, even if I am the only one reading :)

    This reminds me of one post I wrote last year about why I blog. I believe God invented blogs, don't you?

  8. ICA... yep, we go back probably 3 years or so (?). I joined the Grace Walk forum around the beginning of 2005 (which I'll briefly mention in Part 2 I think), and I'm sure you weren't far behind. I've always enjoyed the discussions on the forum.

    We've truly had that spirit of unity and oneness and I agree that it would easily carry over into live gatherings of the saints. That's one reason why I felt so bad that it didn't work out for me to drive there and meet you and the gang last October when PAW was there. Someday, God willing, it will happen! If not, we'll meet together in the air, as the old saying goes.

  9. Bino... Yes, I remember that blog post of yours! I hadn't realized I was copying the title of your post. :)

    It does seem strange that two years ago I hadn't given much thought to the word "blog," but now it is such a normal part of everyday life! I've got around 50 blog feeds in my reader, and I can't possibly keep up with them all, but yours is one I always read, as well as the others who are part of this little "community." Like you said in your post from November, I love how we're able to share the love of God with each other and be mutually encouraged through our blogs.