Posts Tagged With: blogging101

The Liebster Award

Thomas, from Motivation of Christian Love and Christenfindenruhe, has nominated my blog for the Liebster Award. It is an interesting prize that bloggers on WordPress have been awarding each other recently: We take the opportunity to acknowledge the blogs we read, and give each other an opportunity to share a little bit about what makes us tick. Danke schön, Thomas. (His post is available here.)

Here is the badge and the rules.

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Here are the 10 questions he asked:

  1. Why did you start blogging? I mainly began blogging as a continuation or extension of my ministry, and especially as an outlet for my writing. I have always loved writing, and blogging gives me an opportunity to put my ideas out there.
  2. For how long have you been blogging? I’m not sure: I started blogging on WordPress in 2009, but I had one or two blogs on other sites before that. It might be 12 years or so.
  3. What are your hobbies other than blogging? I enjoy music and reading; I sing, play guitar and bass, and used to write a lot of songs. I also enjoy watching soccer.
  4. Is English your mother tongue? Yes. My mother was born in Germany, so I studied German for about seven years. I can still survive in a German conversation, although I may occasionally have to ask a native German speaker to “Sprechen Sie langsam, bitte.” (“Please speak slower.”) I also studied Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic in seminary, although I’m pretty rusty in all three. (I cannot speak any of them, but I can read biblical Greek. Hebrew and Aramaic are another story.)
  5. What are you writing about (on your blog)? “Darkened Glass Reflections” is devoted primarily to spiritual devotions, reflections about Scripture, and applying the Bible to daily life. Occasionally, I address current events from a biblical perspective. As part of Blogging 101, I signed up to participate in a “Sabbath Scripture Challenge” (writing a brief devotional every Sunday about a passage that spoke to my heart that week), and I am slowly working my way through a series about what we can learn from the life and ministry of Elijah: “Modern-Day Elijahs.” (You can find a link on my home page, under “Categories.”)
  6. How frequently are you posting? I have picked up the pace this year. I am posting about two times per week right now. In previous years, I would try to post “at least once per month,” and that would not happen. One lesson I have learned, and I share it with any new bloggers out there: You never will find time for anything; if you want time to blog, you must make it a priority.
  7. What is your favourite post? That is a difficult question. I think “Lent: A Time of Renewal” is up there among my favorites. I wrote it around Ash Wednesday 2011, and it’s probably the closest my blog ever got to “going viral.” It got around 150 hits within 24 hours. “Teaching, Reproof, Correction, and Training in Righteousness” (a commentary on 2 Timothy 3:16-17) has been my most popular post ever, with 1955 views since it was posted; its lasting success is a big reason why I like to focus on articles about prayer, Bible study, and other spiritual disciplines.
  8. How much time do you spend reading or viewing other blogs? I try to devote 15-30 minutes per evening. There are a lot of interesting posts out there; I wish I could devote more time.
  9. What other questions would you like to answer? Some of the other bloggers out there have asked some great questions. One I saw on others’ posts was “How did you come up with the name for your blog?” The title of “Darkened Glass Reflections” is inspired by 1 Corinthians 13:12, which reads “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
  10. What do you like or maybe dislike about the ‘Liebster Award’? I like the opportunity bloggers get to give other writers a little attention and respect. I have a feeling I will find it challenging to find 10 blogs, with less than 200 followers, who have not already been nominated.

Ten Random Facts about Me

  1. My favorite secular musicians are the Bee Gees and the Electric Light Orchestra. Yes, I am a child of the ’70s.
  2. My favorite Christian musicians include Petra, David Meece, Avalon, MercyMe, Daniel Amos, etc. I think my Christian musical tastes may be a lot broader than my secular tastes!
  3. C. S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors. I read Mere Christianity early in my Christian walk and it influenced my thinking more than any book, besides the Bible.
  4. I prefer the “Christian classics” to most modern Christian books. I will take The Imitation of Christ or The Practice of the Presence of God over almost anything on the current bestsellers list any day!
  5. I am a huge soccer fan.
  6. I attend a church that has an interesting mix of liturgical (almost Catholic) worship, with a blend of evangelical and charismatic elements. I like to think of myself as a “Christian in a blender.” (Our church likes to think of itself as “three streams” or “convergent.”)
  7. I am a notorious doughnut-junkie and caffeine addict. I have admitted that I am powerless over coffee and, if I don’t get it, everybody else’s life becomes unmanageable.
  8. I have a few ideas for books and hope to publish a full-fledged book one of these days.
  9. A few of my “Christian role models” from history include Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Saint Patrick. I find the real Saint Patrick to be even more fascinating than the myths and legends that have grown around him.
  10. Related to #9 and #10: I am part German and part Irish, and hope to visit both of my ancestral homelands one of these days.

My Ten Nominees:

I know it’s supposed to be blogs with less than 200 followers. However, I don’t follow a lot of blogs, and some have already been nominated. So, I may have to keep it below 1000 or something like that.

  1. Through Him, With Him, In Him
  2. Eurydice Howell
  3. My Paint Splattered Life
  4. Two Are Better Than One
  5. Daniel Abram
  6. Caffeine Epiphanies
  7. Take Me to Church

Sorry, I guess I could not come up with 10. Every WordPress blog I follow, besides these, has either already been nominated for a Liebster or is simply too big to consider nominating.

My Ten Questions:

I am going to ask the same ten questions Thomas asked me:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. For how long have you been blogging?
  3. What  are your hobbies other than  blogging?
  4. Is English your mother tongue?
  5. What are you writing about (on your blog)?
  6. How frequently are you posting?
  7. What is your favourite post?
  8. How much time do you spend reading or viewing other blogs?
  9. What other questions would you like to answer?
  10. What do you like or maybe dislike about the ‘Liebster Award’?
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Scripture Sabbath Challenge—Matthew 16:13–19

The Holy Bible

 

During the Blogging 101 course I recently completed on WordPress, one of our assignments was to take part in a “blogging event”; another was to create a regular feature on our blogs. So, to kill two birds with one stone, today I am introducing what I hope will be a weekly feature. Participating in the “Scripture Sabbath Challenge,” I will share some thoughts on a Bible passage that spoke to me during the week. I pray that these meditations will be a blessing to all who read them.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13–19. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.)

This is one of those verses that generates much controversy between Christians and churches, because many people do not read it in its context. We need to remember that Jesus speaks as a first-century Jew, not as a 21st-century American. Particularly, many Christians misunderstand what Jesus means by “binding and loosing.” In many churches, we talk about “binding Satan” and “loosing God’s blessings” or “loosing healing” upon ourselves or those we care for.

In rabbinic Judaism, “binding and loosing” meant essentially “forbidding and permitting” (see the Jewish Encyclopedia). As Lonnie Lane observes, “The people to whom {Jesus} spoke understood that He was talking about what was consistent with Torah and what wasn’t. This matter of binding and loosing wasn’t unique to Yeshua. It was entirely familiar to them all because it was how the rabbis would sanction something or ban it according to the teachings in Torah.” For example, the Old Testament law told Jews that they cannot boil a kid in its mother’s milk; rabbis, by binding and loosing, extended this rule to prohibit eating cheeseburgers.

In other words, Jesus is giving Peter divine authority to speak and proclaim God’s will on His behalf. Jesus extended much of this authority to the rest of the disciples later, in Matthew 18:15–20: There, “binding and loosing” is directly connected with fellowship in the church. It is as if Jesus is telling the disciples, “When someone shows no sign of remorse or repentance, treat them like they don’t know Me.”

It is true that this can be abused. Some will use Matthew 18 as an excuse to decide that other people are going to hell. Some will follow Matthew 18’s prescriptions as a checklist: you followed these steps, now you are free to excommunicate this person, to ostracize them, and to call them heretics and pagans.

However, we should always consider the full context of the mission Jesus gave His disciples: “repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations” (Luke 24:47).

Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples involved authority to proclaim the Gospel to the world. In Matthew 28:18–20, He authorizes them to make disciples and baptize. In John 20:21–23, it is an offer of authority to forgive sins: “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.’”

This is the believer’s authority: To offer God’s forgiveness to a lost and dying world. To proclaim to sinners that Jesus died for them and offers eternal life to all who will come to Him. We are not called to proclaim condemnation, but to offer life and hope.

This post copyright © 2016 Michael E.
Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Christian Life, Scripture Sabbath | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Learning and Teaching

With_His_Disciples020

Jesus teaches His disciples.

As I continue to take the Blogging 101 course on WordPress, today’s task was to write a post based on a prompt from the Daily Post. Today’s prompt asked us to write about our learning styles:

What’s your learning style? Do you prefer learning in a group and in an interactive setting? Or one-on-one? Do you retain information best through lectures, or visuals, or simply by reading books?

I will write about this in two ways: First, by answering the question briefly; second, by discussing how this relates to Jesus’ teaching methods and the Bible itself.

My learning style is simple: I am very much a solo self-teaching type of student. I can learn well in a group, but I tend to thrive when I am allowed to follow my own curiosity wherever it may lead. I thrive most with books, although web pages work as well. (For me, web pages work best if I am looking for step-by-step instructions for completing a task or troubleshooting a problem, like when I recently bought a new printer and needed to connect it to my computer. Books are ideal for gathering information or learning about a topic.)

Like I said, that is my learning style. Yours may be completely different.

An in-depth discussion of learning styles can cover a lot of other territory. Some people learn best by pondering abstract concepts. Others learn best by following step-by-step instructions. Others enjoy stories.

Our learning styles evolve throughout our lives. Small children learn best by hearing stories or being given strict rules. You might tell a six-year-old boy, “It’s not nice to hit other children” (rule) or remind him how he felt when another child hit him (story). Ethical and philosophical discussions about the just use of violence and force (abstract concepts) should be saved for a few years later, when the child is more mature. (This is why most Sunday-school curricula for younger children focus on Bible stories. Discussion of broad application of the Book of Proverbs are best saved for the older grades.)

This may seem trivial, but it is a lesson we need to remember when studying the Bible. Several years ago, I wrote an article about how to study the Bible. One of the key points I made was that we must “{i}nterpret the Bible wisely,” and I pointed out the importance of recognizing a passage’s genre. History, poetry, prophecy (especially apocalyptic literature, like Revelation), laws, and letters teach different things, use different “rules,” and should be interpreted differently. The person who treats every symbol in Revelation literally, as if it is a historical book, will make mistakes as silly as the person who thinks a Peanuts cartoon is reporting current events since it is in the newspaper.

Thank God that He has provided diverse means of speaking to us through His Word. Some days, we will need to hear from a parable. Other days, He may need to set the law down for us. Let us embrace the grace He has shown by meeting us at our various points of need.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Words: The Writer’s Tools

For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well” (James 3:2, NASB).

To revitalize my blogging, I have been taking a course on “Blogging 101” on WordPress this month. This post is in response to a pair of assignments in that class: A few nights ago, we were instructed to comment on a few other blogs; now, we should write a post related to one of our comments.

Recently, the author of “Ramblings of a Writer” posted about bloggers and other writers who use profanity. In the anarchy of the Internet, it was a refreshing observation. She had decided against following a fellow blogger because of his use of coarse and foul language in his posts.

The Internet has sparked a revolution in publishing. When I attended college, becoming a published writer was an accomplishment. You had to get hired by a newspaper, or have your book accepted by a publishing house, etc. You did not just wake up one morning, decide “I’m going to be a writer,” and make it happen by the end of the day. You might think you are a talented writer, or that you have something important to say; but if you could not find an editor or publisher who recognized your viability as a writer, too bad.

Today, anybody with an Internet connection can publish a blog. That opens new doors for authors: professional writers can have another outlet for their work; people like myself, whose training has brought them into careers where they work “behind the scenes” of publishing can find an arena to share their thoughts and ideas; creatively-minded people looking for a chance to be heard can find an audience.

Unfortunately, it also means that shallow persons with big egos and no talent can put words on a page. It also means that some writers operate without a sense of professionalism or class.

In response to the post on “Ramblings of a Writer,” I wrote the following:

I feel the same way. I think that profanity is not only unnecessarily offensive: It’s just plain lazy speech. It’s easy to pull one of George Carlin’s “seven words you can’t say on television” out of the hat to express an emotion: It’s more clever to choose a unique combination of words that people will remember.
REAL WRITERS are artists who use words as their medium. Potty-mouth profanity perpetrators sound like overgrown children trying to convince the world that they should be heard.

You would not hire an auto mechanic who does not know the difference between a lug wrench and a screwdriver. You should flee a medical doctor who does not know how to use a stethoscope. You expect a professional or skilled laborer to know how to use the tools of his trade.

Writers use words. These are our tools. We craft them into sentences, ideas, paragraphs, chapters, and articles. On a good day, we can agonize over five different synonyms, trying to find the one that most effectively expresses our thoughts and emotions.

I understand that some writers may have a valid use for profanity. An author of fiction wants to make his characters sound real. There are some people in literature who will not sound believable if the worst thing they say is “Fiddle-diddle-dee.”

As a Christian writer, my goal is to use words as a gift from God. One of my goals should  be to write in a way that honors Christ. That goes beyond avoiding George Carlin’s “seven words you can’t say on television” (a few of which have found their way onto network programming). Saint Paul writes,

“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6, NASB).

Words matter. The spirit and heart behind the words matter. I admit, I can do better in my choice of words, especially in conversation when I’m under stress. As a writer, though, my goal is to build people up with the gift God has given me, not to use my tongue (or my pen, or computer keyboard) as a weapon to harm others.

Categories: Character and Values | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

God With Us, and Us With God

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us'” (Matthew 1:22-23, NASB).

Seven days into the New Year, and I am finally writing my first new blog post of the year. I wish I could find more time to write, but other responsibilities crop up. My last post was Part II of my series, “Modern-Day Elijahs.” That series may be delayed, but it has not been cancelled: the rest of the series is in the works.

Many people view the new year as the chance to make a fresh start. Some people make “New Year’s Resolutions.” On January 1, my Facebook feed reminded me that, about six years ago, I resolved to publish a book by the end of the year. It did not happen: Since then, my only New Year’s resolution is to avoid making New Year’s resolutions. Every now and then, I will take some time for self-examination, seeing where my life is and how my relationship with Christ is developing. While that often occurs around the changing of the years, it is not limited to that.

Still, it is hard to avoid making new starts with a new year. At work, we begin establishing goals for the new year. Why? Because it is January. In fact, part of the reason I took a few minutes to write tonight is because I signed up for an online course, “Blogging 101,” which offered the opportunity to kick-start a year of writing. Once again, I think there is only one reason why the organizers thought now would be a good time to have this course: It’s January.

For many Americans, New Year’s Day signals the end of the “holiday season,” which begins around Thanksgiving and climaxes on Christmas. However, the Christmas season proper does not end until Epiphany (January 6), ending the “12 days of Christmas.”

In some ways, this makes it a fitting time to consider ways that your life can change in the coming months and year. We commemorate a time when God became human, so that He could redeem us and restore us.

Over the last two weeks, I have been brought back to the verse at the top of this post several times. Matthew’s Gospel begins with the proclamation that Mary’s baby would be Immanuel, God-with-us. It ends with Jesus’ promise that He will remain with us, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He came to become a man, to live among us, so that we could abide with Him and His Father forever. He promised to stay with us. The only question that remains is this: Will we stay with Him?

Jesus is “God-with-us.” My mission in 2016 is to be “Mike-with-God.” I hope to write more in 2016. I would love to finally publish that book. I have other goals and dreams for the coming year. However, all of that depends on where God leads me. If I remain “Mike-with-God,” I can be certain that “God-with-us” will lead me to accomplish His perfect will.

This post copyright © 2016 Michael E.
Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Christian Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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