Friday, December 31, 2010

Top Ten Lists 2010 (Part 2)

    As I mentioned before, a top ten of my ten blog posts was almost pointless but it does perhaps shed some light on what sorts of things interest the people that are reading my blog.  On the other hand, I have been posting sermons on the web for much longer and the audience for that is, surprisingly, much bigger.  If you don’t know the back-story, this whole Internet ministry is all a series of accidents anyway.  It never would have occurred to me when I began two years ago that I would have 49 online subscribers, two or three dozen email subscribers and that some of these messages would be ‘read’ (or at least opened) almost four hundred times.  It is still simply amazing and the only way that I can make any sense of it at all is to remember 2 Corinthians 12:8-10.  There, God spoke to Paul saying

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    I began typing out manuscripts of my messages because I lacked the skills and the confidence to speak for twenty minutes from a few notes on a card.  I’m doing better but most of the time I still wouldn’t want to if I didn’t have to.  From my weakness and insecurity God is doing something amazing and his word is going out around the world in ways that none of us can ever know.  In any case, (as you might suspect) this year, some messages were far more popular than others.  Just as obvious, the sermons from the end of the year didn’t really have the same chance as the ones from the beginning of the year.  In any case, here are…

Your top ten sermons for 2010

This is a message about how we can find safety and comfort in a scary world.  Obviously a lot of people were looking for that.

This #2 was actually the fourth in a series that I preached on the Five Quests of the Christian life and the first of several that made the top ten.

It was interesting to see how this became popular with readers.  It was our introduction to our new church and contains a part of our family testimony.  If you think that it is interesting, you can’t imagine what it was like to live through it.

The first Facebook inspired sermon (at least for me).  I had far too many of my online friends reading and posting horoscopes and it occurred to me that a lot of other folk were probably just as unaware of how stupid and dangerous they can really be.

Last year’s Epiphany message (The Sunday we remember the Wise Men).  We fall short when our mortal and finite minds try to explain the immortal and infinite.  That’s why we call it a mystery.

A message dealing with failure and how Jesus tells us to see the world when life slaps us down.

The second from the series on the Five Quests of the Christian Life.

A precautionary tale that we don’t always know what God is doing from the lips of Peter, who, like us, also tried to tell Jesus what to do.

Just as #3 was our introduction to our new church, this was our goodbye to our friends at the Johnsville and Steam Corners churches after six years of ministry there.

God answers prayer but he is not a genie in a bottle.  What does God require of us?

Honorable mention:

    As I mentioned, the year is short and sermons from the end of the year hardly have a chance against others that had many more months to accumulate ‘votes.’  These messages wouldn’t have won any awards last year, but would have made the list this time… if they hadn’t been from 2009.

God invites Joe Average to change the world.

Doom and gloom are everywhere. What do we to do in the face of disaster?

How well do we wear Jesus’ coat?

What obstacles must we overcome to be the people God has called us to be?

Who is worthy of your trust?

Top Ten Lists 2010 (Part 1)

This is the time of year that many blogs are posting a list of the top ten blog posts of the year. Since I have exactly ten blog posts since I started in July, posting a top ten list would really be kind of pointless except that it might be interesting to note what people found interesting and what they did not.

So for what it’s worth, here are all ten blog posts in order of your interest…

1) An Open Letter to Our Nation's Leaders

Nov 4, 2010 (35 Pageviews)

2) NaNoWriMo - Beaten by a Little Girl

Dec 24, 2010 (34 Pageviews)

3) Mosques in New York, Discrimination or Deliberate Manipulation

Aug 16, 2010 (34 Pageviews)

4) Who Can We Blame?

Aug 3, 2010 (21 Pageviews)

5) Why the Church should be on the Internet

Sep 20, 2010 (20 Pageviews)

6) Would Jesus be burning the Koran?

Sep 10, 2010 (16 Pageviews)

7) You Can Change the World

Jul 26, 2010 (13 Pageviews)

8) The Death of the Moderate Class?

Aug 24, 2010 (12 Pageviews)

9) Why is the Church MIA?

Aug 31, 2010 (12 Pageviews)

10) A Deeper New Year

Dec 27, 2010 (4 Pageviews)

So why do I keep writing this stuff if no one is reading it? I'm not sure exactly, except that I know that there are people who are reading and who have told me that they like it. It is possible that lives can be changed and that open and honest dialog can happen. Sure it takes effort and represents a certain amount of risk, but in the end, I believe that it's still worth it. Hopefully this little thing will grow next year.

Also of interest are the top ten sermons that I posted in 2010 and the top ten sermons of all time (again mine). But that will have to wait for my next post…

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Deeper New Year

As we approach the New Year, many in our culture have a tradition of making resolutions.  We make a list of things that we hope to do better or ways in which we hope to improve ourselves.  We resolve to lose weight, go back to school, read that book we always meant to read, exercise more and host of other things.  As we approach this New Year however, I hope you will consider one thing more.

As we enter this New Year, I hope you will join me in deepening our relationship with Jesus.  That may be a new idea for some, you may not really grasp what I am trying to say, and that’s okay, I’ll explain.  Jesus desires to be friends with us at the deepest levels of our heart, he is said to be the friend that sticks closer than a brother and we are, in fact, adopted as brothers and sisters of Jesus.  Too often, our relationship with Jesus looks more like that of a casual acquaintance.  We know who they are, we recognize them on the street and we nod and wave when we see them.  The problem is that Jesus wants more than that.  Jesus wants us to know him, really know him so that we can be “closer than a brother.” 

How well do you know your best friend?  You spend time with them.  You spend a lot of time with them.  You can finish each other’s sentences.  You know what food they like, what makes them happy, or sad, or angry.  Without calling them to ask, you can often tell others just what they will think about a certain subject or how they will react to a particular situation.  Jesus wants us to know him like that.  He doesn’t just want us to know who he is in the way we know a casual acquaintance, but he wants us to have a real, deep, meaningful relationship with him.

But how do we do that?  Obviously, building a relationship like that isn’t something that happens overnight.  You didn’t get to know all about your best friend in a single day, a month, or even a year but spent time, regularly, building your friendship together.  Building your relationship with Jesus will be the same.  It will take time and it will take some commitment.  This year I hope that you will join me in making a commitment to building and deepening your relationship with Jesus.  Spend time in church but also make time to pray, to read the Bible, or attend a Bible study.  Do any or all of these things, do something more than you have done before, and you will begin to know Jesus better.

Jesus wants to be more than the acquaintance that you wave at in church once a week. 
         He wants more.    

                      He wants your relationship to go deeper.   

                                         Will you join me in this grand adventure?

Friday, December 24, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Beaten by a Little Girl

I bet most of you didn’t know that November was National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  I didn’t participate, shoot, I didn’t know it existed until it had already started but my niece Hannah sure did.  Okay, this is really about a month later than I wanted to write it and I really ought to be writing something about Christmas, but so what?  

Anyway, the idea of NaNoWriMo is that during the month of November, all those folks who aspire to be writers and novelists (and who accept the challenge) write daily to accomplish the goal of writing 50,000 words.  Some like Christian blogger Kevin Hendricks failed in a very public way.  Others, like Hannah, persisted.  

 Even after I heard about the project and Hannah’s involvement in it, I wondered how I might stack up.  I don’t know if I’m cut out for novel writing.  I do have a few book ideas but I wouldn’t call any of them novels.  In any case, during the month of November I was writing my fool head off trying to answer a host of questions required for my ordination.  I was writing what felt like volumes, and on top of that,I was writing a sermon every week and visiting a model rocketry forum where I am a moderator.  With all this writing I thought I would compare favorably to this novel writing project so at the end of the month I added up all the words that I had written on various projects (it’s nice that MS Word does that for me or I probably wouldn’t have bothered).

Here is my tally:

Case Study: 1,788 words
Teaching Plan: 980 words
Autobiography: 1,168 words
Position papers: 7,168 words
                11/7: 1,581
                11/14 2,350
                11/21 2,230
                11/28 1,794

This gives me a grand total of 19,059 words for the month of November and not even half of Hannah’s total.  Even worse, I borrowed most of my autobiography from when I had written another one three years ago and my sermons are composed of at least a third to a half (if not more) scripture (which I certainly did not write).  End result, I got done what needed to be done but got skunked by a little girl that’s barely old enough to be in high school.

Well done Hannah.

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