Five signs you need to quit blogging

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I’ve been at this whole blogging thing for about five years now. One thing I learned very quickly: blogging can be tricky business. Although it’s not actually all that hard to get attention in the Christian blogosphere, it can be fleeting. Deadlines can weigh on you. Life gets busy, and you have to ask: should I still be doing this?

(And for those wondering, no this isn’t my subtle way of saying I’m giving up the ghost.)

So when do you know you need to quit? Here are five signs:

1. You hear your wife making “jokes” about being a blog widow. Repeatedly. Within earshot. On purpose. This is usually a good sign that you’re spending too much time on the interwebs instead of ministering with and to your family. (And my wife wants you to know she doesn’t feel this way, for which I’m grateful.)

2. Your website is the sum-total of your ministry. Brother and sister bloggers, please hear me: I love you very much. I appreciate much of what you write. But your website is not your ministry. It should be an extension of your ministry, but if you’re not serving in a local church and being involved with flesh-and-blood people in any way, then can you please shut it down?

3. You’re always going to war—and usually over the wrong things. You might say you’re “truth-teller,” a “contender for the faith,” or some other such thing, I’ve got a news flash for you, Walter Cronkite: you aren’t.1 Seriously, building an audience on controversy isn’t hard. It’s probably the easiest thing to do, regardless of where you live on the theological spectrum. Evangelical “celebrities” make it really easy for you, too.

But you know what? It’s lame.

If your whole bag is saying The Gospel Coalition is full of gospel-compromisers, the “New Calvinism” is leading people back to Rome or drinking decaf leads you to liberalism, you need to get your head straight.2 You might feel tough using the word “heretic,” but you’ve got to take it easy. It’s a big word and can’t be taken back easily (the same goes for those who liberally toss about “fundamentalist” by the way). There are times when it’s definitely necessary, but you know when you should use it? When it’s really necessary.3

“For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:2). If you’re always on the warpath, do you really think that’s not going to come back to bite you?

4. You turn every issue to your pet cause. I’ve seen radical egalitarian types lose their beans when a man says husbands should help around the house (because “helping” isn’t good enough), and pundits desperately search for a calvinistic conspiracy theory shaped needle in a haystack, but c’mon. Sometimes a comment is just a comment. If you’re always looking for the “thing” to justify your position, it’s a good sign you need to shut things down.

5. Your online persona and who you are in reality are unrecognizable. Confession: everybody’s got a little bit of this.4 Many bloggers find it easier to communicate their thoughts through words on a screen than words from their mouths. I get it. I’m like that, too. But if you’re a raging firebrand online and are about as gentle as a kitten offline, if being behind a domain name makes you feel mighty when you normally feel weak, you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself.

If you travel around the Christian blog world at all, you’ll almost certainly recognize a few things I’ve listed here (which is also why I’ve chosen to forego naming specific sites). Heck, I’ve been guilty of a number of them myself (particularly being a bit too liberal with the h-word). Keeping the main thing (Jesus) the main thing can be tricky, but it’s worth it. And if you can’t, it’s okay to admit it. Just be willing to do something about it.

I’m Looking for A Few Good (Guest) Bloggers

This summer I’m doing something I don’t do very well—I’m taking a vacation in August!

My wife still doesn’t believe me, but it’s true (although I might still be working on my book depending on how things go). One of the things I’ve been convicted of recently is the need to actually unplug a bit from Facebook, Twitter and even the blog. I’m a bit nervous about it, but I think it’ll be a good thing.

That said, there are a few things to consider: There are a lot of new folks reading who weren’t here last summer and I’ve got a few folks who have kindly begun advertising to help me keep this site running. So here’s what I’d like to do for two weeks in August:

I’d like to provide a platform for some other bloggers with 10-15 posts in the month of August. If you’d like to submit something, here are a few details you need to know:

  1. You should have an active blog (I’d like to link to your site)
  2. You need to be familiar with the flavor of Blogging Theologically and be willing to write material that will be in line thematically
  3. Your content needs to be encouraging to God’s people and glorifying to God
  4. Your guest posts must be submitted to me by July 18

Think you’re up for it? Send me an email, tell me what you want to write about and we’ll talk about what collaborating looks like.

Looking forward to your responses!

Around the Interweb

Give Them Grace

Tullian Tchividjian shares his foreword to the new book, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus:

It may come as a surprise to you, but God wants much more for your children…and you should to. God wants them to get the gospel. And this means that we’re responsible to teach them about the drastic, uncontrollable nature of amazing grace.

The biggest lie about grace that Satan wants Christian parents to buy is the idea that grace is dangerous and therefore needs to be “kept it in check.” By believing this we not only prove we don’t understand grace, but we violate gospel advancement in the lives of our children. A “yes, grace…but” disposition is the kind of fearful posture that keeps moralism swirling around in their hearts. And if there’s anything God hates, it’s moralism!

I understand the fear of grace. As a parent of three children (Gabe is 16, Nate is 14, and Genna is 9), one of my responsibilities is to disciple them into a deeper understanding of obedience—teaching them to say “no” to the things God hates and “yes” to the things God loves. But all too often I have (wrongly) concluded that the only way to keep licentious hearts in line is to give more rules. The fact is, however, that the only way licentious people start to obey is when they get a taste of God’s radical unconditional acceptance of sinners.

The irony of gospel-based sanctification is that those who end up obeying more are those who increasingly realize that their standing with God is not based on their obedience, but Christ’s. In other words, the children who actually end up performing better are those who understand that their relationship with God doesn’t depend on their performance for Jesus, but Jesus’ performance for them.

Read the rest and order a copy of the book.

Also Worth Reading

Books: Francis Chan is writing new book, Erasing Hell. (If you’re wondering, yes, I will be reviewing the book.) Here’s a video explaining the book:

Giveaways: Tim Challies is giving away Iain Murray’s new biography on John MacArthur. Enter here.

Theology: Reading the Bible Backwards

Announcement: The winner of the Note to Self giveaway is Jesse Benack!

Ministry: Hiring Questions for Pastors

Teaching: Download Audio from All 38 TGC11 Workshops

Funny: Jon Acuff on referencing locusts whenever two or more bugs are present

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Everyday Theology: You Need To Feed Yourself

Book Reviews: But God by Casey Lute and Note to Self by Joe Thorn

What Are You Reading this Summer?

Richard Phillips: Shall Not The Judge Of All The Earth Do What Is Just?

John Flavel on The Sincerity of Our Profession and the State of Our Hearts

Around the Interweb

Fearful Might, Majestic Love

My first article for The Gospel Coalition Voices blog:

When a natural disaster strikes, whether last week’s tornadoes or last month’s earthquake and subsequent tsunamis in Japan, we are confronted by a terrible truth: Despite our best efforts, this idea that we have mastered creation is just an illusion.

We cannot tame the weather any more than we can make the sun shine in Seattle or make it stop snowing in Canada. And when the illusion is shattered, we are left horrified.

Then there’s this awe that comes from witnessing the power of the whirlwind as I am forced to stop and consider the unfathomable power of God. And I fear that many of us, myself included, have taken for granted the Lord’s might.

Read the rest at TGC

Also Worth Reading

Ministry: Matt Chandler asks “Is Church Membership Biblical?”

Life: My friend Amber shares the woes of prenatal consumption

Technology: The Christian Email Signoffs Debate

Books: Have you heard about Crossway Impact yet? Check out the video:

In Case You Missed It

The Promise of Change and the False Hope of Politics

John Flavel: Self is the Poise of the Unrenewed Heart

My Memory Moleskine: Wash, Rinse, Repeat…

Tim Keller: The Death of the Mushy Middle (video)

Book Reviews:

  1. The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms
  2. Voices of the True Woman Movement

Matt Chandler: Following God May End Badly (video)

D.A. Carson: Genuine Love is Odd

The Backlist: The Top Ten Posts on Blogging Theologically

Let’s take a look back in time and see the most-read posts from April. Go check them out:

  1. Book Review: Love Wins by Rob Bell
  2. Everyday Theology: God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle
  3. Everyday Theology: God helps those who help themselves
  4. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur
  5. Tim Keller: Getting Out #TGC11
  6. Matt Chandler: Youth #TGC11
  7. D.A. Carson: Getting Excited about Melchizedek #TGC11
  8. Book Reviews
  9. Al Mohler: Studying the Scriptures and Finding Jesus #TGC11
  10. Who Writes This?

And just for fun, here’s the next ten:

  1. James MacDonald: Not According to Our Sins #TGC11
  2. #TGC11 Day 1 Reflections—Plus Free Stuff!
  3. What Good Will Come From the Bell Brouhaha?
  4. Alistair Begg: From a Foreigner to King Jesus #TGC11
  5. Book Review: Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James
  6. What’s On Your To-Read Pile?
  7. What Was Once Narrow and Deep Has Become Wide and Shallow
  8. Everyday Theology: Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words
  9. So, What is Universalism, Anyway?
  10. Book Review: The Organized Heart by Staci Eastin

April was one of my favorite months to write here at the blog. Lots of good books to review and my wife parachuted in for a vlog or two. Probably the biggest highlight was live-blogging The Gospel Coalition (incidentally, I’ve gone back and updated all the posts to include the video from each plenary). I was somewhat surprised to see Love Wins continue to be a topic of keen interest now that we’re six weeks out from the books release, but we’ll see what happens there. Also, people really seem to resonate with J.C. Ryle, don’t they?

That’s it for me. Now it’s your turn: If you have a blog, what were a couple of the highlights for you in the past month?

Around the Interweb

Urban Legends: Preacher’s Edition

Trevin Wax:

Those of us who are entrusted with the task of expositing the Scriptures in a local church must take care to verify our sources, illustrations, and stories. No matter how helpful an illustration may be, it is dishonoring to God if it is untrue.

Here are a number of urban legends that get repeated in sermons. Some are more pervasive than others, even appearing in commentaries and scholarly works.

Here’s one example he shares:

The high priest tied a rope around his ankle so that others could drag him out of the Holy of Holies in case God struck him dead.

Various versions of this claim have been repeated by pastors, but it is a legend. It started in the Middle Ages and keeps getting repeated. There is no evidence for the claim in the Bible, the Apocrypha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, the Pseudepigrapha, the Talmud, Mishna or any other source. Furthermore, the thickness of the veil (three feet) would have precluded the possibility of a priest being dragged out anyway.

Read the rest.

Also Worth Reading:

Preaching: Practical Tips for Expository Preachers

Faith, Life & Ministry: Some Potential Solutions to the Celebrity Pastor Critique

Blogging: Do You Have to Respond to Every Blog Comment?

John Piper: What Happens When You Turn 65

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Luther on the children of the Law vs the children of the Gospel

The Books I’m Not Proposing

J.C. Ryle: What Was Once Narrow and Deep Has Become Wide and Shallow

Gun Collectors, Not Soldiers

Book Reviews:

Worldliness by C.J. Mahaney

The Greener Grass Conspiracy by Stephen Altrogge

 

Around the Interweb

Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?

Insightful videos featuring Dr. William Lane Craig:

 

HT: Justin Taylor

Also Worth Reading

Controversy: Adrian Warnock had a face-to-face conversation with Rob Bell about Love Wins. It’s a very interesting listen (albeit incredibly frustrating at times).

Easter: Jesus and the Martyrs

Business Ethics: The 4 P’s of Business

The Persecuted Church in China“If This is What God Intended, So Be It”

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

He Will Be Holy To Make You Holy

Book Review: Redemption by Mike Wilkerson

Fully, Finally, Unquestionably, and Irrevocably Vindicated

The Power of The Resurrection

Only If A Substitute is Provided

Let the Law, Sin, and the Devil Cry Out Against Us

Around the Interweb

Tempted and Tried by Russell D. Moore

Crossway just released the trailer for Russell D. Moore’s new book, Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ. Take a look:

 

(HT: Crossway Blog)

Introducing ESV GreekTools

This is a phenomenal new add-on to ESVonline.org that allows you to interact with the Greek text of the New Testament. Here’s a video explaining:

 

Crossway is offering this new tool at an introductory price of $9.99 (regular price $14.99). This is a tremendous deal for such a great resource. I’ve got it and am really enjoying it.

Also Worth Reading

TGC Bonus Session: Listen to the audio from the panel discussion, God: Abounding in Love, Punishing the Guilty

Adoption Story: There was a girl, fifteen years old…

Spiritual Growth: The Tragedy of a Self-Centered Life

Contest Winners: The winners of the Don’t Call It a Comeback giveaway are Andrew Hall and Ben Thorp. Congratulations, gentlemen!

In Case You Missed It

Book Review: Don’t Call It a Comeback edited by Kevin DeYoung

This week I was at the Gospel Coalition’s 2010 National Conference and had the opportunity to live blog the event. Here are my notes from eight of the plenary sessions:

Al Mohler: Studying the Scriptures and Finding Jesus

Tim Keller: Getting Out

Alistair Begg: From a Foreigner to King Jesus

James MacDonald: Not According to Our Sins

Conrad Mbewe: The Righteous Branch

Matt Chandler: Youth

Mike Bullmore: God’s Great Heart of Love Toward His Own

D.A. Carson: Getting Excited About Melchizedek

Emily and I also took some time to reflect on our experiences at the conference: day one, day two and day three

#TGC11 Day 3 Reflections

Emily and I took a few minutes last night to talk about the final day of The Gospel Coalition’s 2011 National Conference:

 

The last few days have been fantastic for Emily and I. We’ve been greatly encouraged by our time in Chicago and were blessed to talk with so many great people.

More from us when we get home!

#TGC11 Day 1 Reflections—Plus Free Stuff!

Emily and I took a few minutes last night to chat about the first day of The Gospel Coalition’s national conference. Sufficed to say, we had an awesome time. But for a few details on why we felt this way, as well as some info on a book giveaway that starts today, watch the video:

Update: As I mentioned in the video, I hadTWO copies of Don’t Call It a Comeback to give away (reviewed here Monday).

The winners have now been selected and notified via email. Thanks for entering!

Around the Interweb

Would You Die For Doctrine?

Matthew Barrett offers some helpful insights from the testimonies of Tyndale, Rogers, Latimer, and Ridley:

If these men were willing to die for such truths how much more should I be willing to stand for them today? Many examples come to mind. If you are a pastor, ministering in a difficult church, do not waver in your commitment to the truth even when those in your congregation criticize the doctrines you are proclaiming. Or perhaps you are a teacher at a school where you are surrounded by more liberal colleagues. Be resolved and steadfast in affirming sound doctrine, even if it be at the expense of your own career. Maybe you are a student being criticized because you believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. Remain determined and immutable in your affirmation of God’s Word. You might be a Christian who is tempted to reject the biblical doctrine of eternal punishment or the exclusivity of the gospel. Be on guard, less you also fall prey to false doctrine and fail to heed Paul’s admonishment and warning to only agree with sound words (1 Tim 6:3-4; cf. 1 Tim 4:6; 2 Tim 4:2-3; Titus 1:9; 2:1).

Read the whole thing.

Also Worth Reading

TGC: Emily and I are at The Gospel Coalition’s 2011 National Conference this week. We’ll be part of the vast Canadian contingent. How will you recognize us? Just listen for the folks who say“Aboat.” Seriously, though, if you’re around and want to connect, shoot me a message via Twitter (@AaronStrongarm). Look for regular updates throughout each day.

Books: Check out the list for the 2011 BoB Book Giveaways. I’m going to this and am pretty excited! (I also have a few of these books, so expect a giveaway or two in the coming weeks!)

Women: Confessions of a Conflicted Complementarian

Funny: Are you a child of the 90s? If so, you’ll find this funny.

The Number One Reason To Buy The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence

 

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

My Memory Moleskine: Panting and Provision

He Delights in the Asking

Book reviews:

Cruciform by Jimmy Davis

Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James

The Organized Heart by Staci Eastin

The Backlist: The Top Ten Posts on Blogging Theologically

Let’s take a look back in time and see the most-read posts from March. Go check them out:

  1. Book Review: Love Wins by Rob Bell
  2. Everyday Theology: God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle
  3. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur
  4. Book Reviews
  5. Who Writes This?
  6. Everyday Theology: God helps those who help themselves
  7. Book Review: Rid of My Disgrace by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb
  8. Rob Bell + Universalism = Fireworks
  9. Book Review: Unplanned by Abby Johnson
  10. What Good Will Come From the Bell Brouhaha?

And just for fun, here’s the next ten:

  1. So, What is Universalism, Anyway?
  2. My Memory Moleskine: Do Not Be Anxious
  3. Countering the Counterfeits: Trevin Wax on Counterfeit Gospels
  4. Think Hard, Stay Humble: Francis Chan on the Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride
  5. Reading A Book
  6. Everyday Theology (series page)
  7. Book Review: Counterfeit Gospels by Trevin Wax
  8. Twisted: Reviewing Andy Stanley’s Twisting the Truth
  9. Everyday Theology: Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words
  10. Studies & Series

March was a huge month for a variety of reasons. One of the best books I’ve read in 2011 (Rid of My Disgrace) made it into the top ten and received very favorable feedback from its author. The Rob Bell hoo-ha and the reviews of Unplanned and Counterfeit Gospels were hot topic among readers. I was also happy that this month I finally was able to unveil the new Book Reviews page after several delays.

If you have a blog, what were a couple of the highlights for you in the past month?

Around the Interweb

“Do We Really Believe What We’re Saying?”

David Platt offers a powerful challenge to fight not only intellectual universalism, but also functional universalism:

HT: JT

Also Worth Reading

Satire: A Recently Discovered Letter of Critique Written to the Apostle Paul

Encouragement: No longer a slave

Quote: “Why do bad things happen to good people? That only happened once, and He volunteered.” R.C. Sproul (via Twitter)

Thought-Provoking: The New Evangelical Virtues

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Perspicuity and Presuppositions

The Excellency That Not Everyone Saw

Book Review: Unplanned by Abby Johnson

So, What is Universalism, Anyway? (from John Piper’s Jesus: The Only Way to God)

My Memory Moleskine: Do Not Be Anxious

Thomas Watson: A Sickbed Often Teaches More Than A Sermon

Around the Interweb

The Only Hope We Have, And It Is Hope Enough

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14)

R.C. Sproul from Together for the Gospel 2008 on the curse motif of the atonement:

HT: Kevin DeYoung

Also Worth Reading:

Controversy: Michael Krahn on what he thinks John Piper meant when he tweeted, “Farewell, Rob Bell.” (Incidentally, Piper responded: “Pretty close.”)

Men: A Bigger Problem Than “Boys Will Be Boys”

Bible: What About the Issues Scripture Doesn’t Address?

Documentary: The Life of George Whitefield as told by The Doctor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Apparently this video will no longer be available after March 31, so watch it while you can. It’s fascinating stuff:

In Case You Missed It:

Book Review: Rid of My Disgrace by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb

Husbands, Date Your Wives

What Good Will Come From the Bell Brouhaha?

Richard D. Phillips: Your Witness Matters

Meet My Friend Deni Gauthier

Thomas Watson: Let Us Imitate Our Father