Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why I blog - Part 2

Since many of us don't actually know each other (in the sense of being physically located near one another), and since many of us have 'met' each other only in recent months or years, I thought I'd give a little bit of background about myself in Part 1, and continuing into Part 2. None of this is necessary, and I don't mean to focus on myself just for the sake of focusing on myself, but I thought it would be neat to share some of my life with my friends here since we don't have the benefit of daily face-to-face, in-person interaction with each other. This is essentially a 'testimony' of what God has done in my life over the years. And all of this does eventually lead to the title of the post!

Built up through engagement with others
I've already shared how I used to spend a great deal of time in Christian forums and chat rooms on the internet. Part of this was addiction, I admit. Sometimes, especially during those early days, I would be online till 2 or 3 am, talking about God's love and grace with anybody who would carry on a conversation with me! It was very rare if I didn't quickly find people with opposing views who I could hash things out with! I'm exaggerating a bit by using the phrase "hash things out." :) I really simply sought to talk about God's grace and I would share lots of scripture, and after I had eventually gotten over my Grace Pharisee stage, I was able to simply leave people to decide for themselves.

Much larger than the addiction aspect of this, however, is that this was also a truly beneficial and formative time for me as I grew in the grace message myself and as I learned more about where other people are coming from in their religious backgrounds. Due to the anonymity of the internet, people are often not so shy to say what they really think! And as I said, some people can be vicious in their interactions with others. Also, some people are good at building straw arguments that leave you either questioning what you've firmly believed, or at least that make it harder to make your own case for what you believe. Many times over the years, I've been cut to the heart. Not so much due to my 'pride' being hurt, but much more often because of my deeply held beliefs being challenged by others, at times in very convincing ways, which would leave me confused about the truth. But through all this, and because of all this, I was sharpened and I was built up in my own understanding of grace and how to share the pure gospel message.

I also found out that to be strong in my beliefs about who I am in Christ I don't need thick skin. Rather, I need a heart of compassion, surrender and humility. When faced with opposition, the temptation is to build walls and to defend your beliefs to the core. But walls keep people out, when really your whole purpose in engaging with others is because you're wanting to invite them in.

My desires have evolved

I can't say that I don't still enjoy having deep, ongoing discussions with people of opposing views from time to time, but something has truly changed in me over the years. Although I still find those types of conversations to be very stimulating, I no longer have a deep desire to "hash things out" over extended periods of time, like I used to.

I'm in more of a place, at this time in life, in which I'm looking more for mutual encouragement in the grace of God with like-minded believers, and I have more of a heart to share the message of the exchanged life* with people who are actually seeking to learn more, rather than with those who are seeking to oppose it. Some might say this is a matter of me having matured, but I'd say it's more of a matter of me having been involved in each of these various activities and stages during the normal course of life. Yes, there's been a maturation process, but who's to say that each stage wasn't exactly where God purposely had me? Just think, in ten years, when we're able to appear to each other in hologram form via our robots (like in Star Wars!), will we look back on our blogging days and say we were simply immature because we weren't interacting with each other in the way we will then? ;)

Anyway, all of this leads to:

How I started blogging
Up until three years ago, I'd had plenty of interaction with people who disagreed with me about what the Christian life is all about. I'm now looking to engage with like-minded believers. I had been praying about this for a long time, and then in early 2005 I came across the Grace Walk Forum. I had known about Grace Walk Ministries since the mid to late 90's, and had visited the website from time to time, but the forum hadn't come into existence until December 2004. Discussing the grace walk openly with like-minded people was like a breath of fresh air for me! Instead of steadfast opposition, I found mutual encouragement and freedom. I met some of you through the forum, and I imagine it's been a great source of encouragement and edification for you too.

It was also through the forum that I met Dave Lesniak, who is the station manager for Grace Walk Internet Radio and who is also the administrator of the forum. It would take a whole 'nother blog post to list all the other things Dave does in regards to networking people within the grace community! In June 2006, Dave posted a question on the forum, asking if anyone had a blog. At the time, I had been prepared to start blogging at myccm.org, but they hadn't launched their site yet. So... with Dave's inspiration I went on over to blogger.com and began blogging!

During the previous year I had been writing formal articles for a church publication, but yet in those articles I was kind of being politically correct. Not that I had gone against what I believed, but I was holding back a lot of what was truly in my heart. But when I began blogging... it was my blog, and for the first time I was free to write about anything I wanted, whether any pastor or church member or anybody agreed with me or not! And I wasn't limited in length. I could write as much or as little as I wanted. I had also previously created the website graceroots.org, and in my mind I was going to use that site for the purpose of writing about grace. However, it wasn't until I came across Blogger, a site created specifically for people to "journal," so to speak, that I was truly inspired to update my writings regularly.

My purpose for blogging
Now that I've been blogging for almost two years, I can see how all that I've shared in this post and in Part 1 have worked together to form my purpose for ongoing blogging. I'm not here to "debate" the message of grace, and I'm not here with any real agenda except to find mutual encouragement in the message of God's grace and unconditional love. I'm here to stand up against legalism, and my hope and prayer (really, it's been my prayer) is to be able to connect like-minded people with each other and to provide a way for those previously caught up in legalism to find some freedom and rest!

I'm also here to learn. Over the years I've become established in the "big picture" of grace and in some of the finer elements too. But I realize I have a lot more learning to do, and one benefit of blogging is that it provides a way for interaction to take place. I'm looking for encouragement, and I also welcome correction and clarification from others within the context of the exchanged life.* That is, if and when you think I'm "off" in some of the finer (or larger) details of what the exchange life* means, I'd love to hear from you because iron sharpens iron.

Not exactly a nutshell here... but this at least explains in general why I blog and why I love reading other "grace" blogs!


*In case you're not familiar with the term "exchanged life," to me it is simply a term that describes the reality and the fullness of the life in Christ that all Christians partake in, whether they fully realize it or not. See this link from the Association of Exchanged Life Ministries (AELM) for an explanation of the origin of the term and the meaning of the term. See also my post from last summer, "10 Exchanged Life truths that will change your life." (I realize that the title of the post is a contradiction of terms!). ;)

A short explanation could be summed up in two things that have been exchanged:

1) I have died, and my life has been exchanged for the very life of Christ.

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Col 3:4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

2) My sin has been taken away and has been exchanged for the very righteousness of God.

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

2 Cor 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us , that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.


  1. Two great posts, Joel. I'm glad you've shared. I can relate to so much that you said.

    "When faced with opposition, the temptation is to build walls and to defend your beliefs to the core. But walls keep people out, when really your whole purpose in engaging with others is because you're wanting to invite them in."

    That's really good. I still can get defensive or not know what to say when challenged. Sunday morning, we left "church" early and, on the way out, met a member who asked where we were going so I told him we were going home. He started to say, "Why did you bother coming if you weren't going to stay for the whole thing." Fortunately, he stopped in mid-sentence because it was on the tip of my tongue to tell him it was none of his business.

    I'm glad Father stopped me because I'm sure that would have built some really BIG walls. Instead of trying to defend my position, I want to get to the place where I just live it and can give an account of my freedom to those who are attracted by it. Who knows? That guy might some day be one of them. I'm glad I didn't shut him out.

    I love what you wrote about having the freedom to write whatever you want in your blog. I can sure relate to that. The freedom to express Christ in our own unique way has been taken from us by religion and I'm glad Father is using the internet to restore that freedom.

    Iron does sharpen iron but, if the voice of the mass majority of believers is being silenced, that sharpening can't take place.

    I've only been involved in blogging a few months. I found all of you in late summer or early fall and started my own blog in January. Although we gather as believers online and not face to face, I've found that this community of believers has provided me with a wonderful source of fellowship which I really haven't experienced much in the relgious world. It's wonderful having a place where I can share freely without worrying about what others may be thinking about me.

    Also, the wisdom that is in this group is refreshing and each day I'm challenged and strengthened. Joel, I'm glad you're blogging since you've been a great source of encouragement for me.

    I've heard Bino say that he wishes everyone would blog about Father's grace. I echo that desire and hope that more people will being willing to take the plunge and blog about this wonderful exchanged life that we've been given.


  2. I, too, wish there would be a lot more people who were established in grace, writing about grace!

    My previous experience in not being completely free to write about everything I wanted to write about was essentially my own fault, although I have a feeling that if I had cut loose (as I do on this blog), my writings wouldn't have been welcome for too long at my church. I never want to be controversial for the sake of being controversial, but if the truth is controversial (which really means that it's simply not what is taught in churches), then I want to be free to write about the truth.

    In the case of those church writings perhaps it was a good thing that I was trying to be tactful and that I didn't just cut loose. I wrote about stuff in a way that most people would be able to digest. Stuff that perhaps they already 'wanted' to believe and truly accept, but that their religious minds hadn't allowed to get deep into their system. Had I gone too far in my writings, perhaps I would have cut off the flow right then and there.

    So, I think tact had its place there, but yet I soooo much longed to be able to be free to write about what was truly on my heart, and blogging has really provided that outlet for me. I'm not trying to please the majority and I'm not needing to tip toe around issues. I just blog about what's on my heart and if people like it, fine. If not, that's ok too!

    It's really about mutual encouragement in a rock solid message of grace, and Christ in us, our hope of glory.

  3. I agree with what you said about tact having its place although I really don't think it's tact so much as wisdom.

    I believe if you hit people with too much before they're ready, it could discourage them from wanting more. It's wise to give them what they can handle at that point and then, if they're interested, you can give them more. Not everybody is ready for solid food right away. Sometimes you just have to give them milk for a while.