Don Miller says that this is the best writing advice: Love your Reader.The golden rule is also a good blogging precept: Write the kind of posts you would really like to read. Ask yourself: Would I like to read this? What would reading this do to me? If you wouldn’t care to read it on someone else’s blog, chances are nobody will want to read it on yours.
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I can’t get enough of grace, of the deep love and mercy of God. And that’s fortunate—because grace and the love of God are some of the few things I can’t get too much of which are actually good for me. All the others things involve spending too much, or eating too much, or sitting too much, or…you get the picture.
And this is one way to blog daily without exhausting oneself, without boring oneself, without repeating oneself. By dipping one’s cup into the deep wells of the loving creativity of God: God’s stream of thoughts, which outnumbers the stars. (Psalm 139:18).
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How exactly do we love our readers?
Well, for starters, we give them grace, rather than the law. Peter, who knew the disgrace of failing—lying, betraying, being pushy and envious–in public, eventually had little time for the law. Didn’t work for him; won’t work for us. The question he asks the council of Jerusalem changes the course of church history: Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” (Acts 15:10).
Grace rather than the law. The positive rather than the negative. There is a place for negativity and opposition, of course. If Christians hadn’t bitterly opposed other Christians, slavery might still exist because of the scriptural injunction, “Slaves, submit to your masters.” Women would not be ordained because of “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.” And how unfair for one gender to always be preached at by the other!
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And speaking of preaching: Don’t do it in blogs. People do not come to blogs to be told what is good to do. They come because they are bored, they feel a little empty, a little depressed, perhaps; they come seeking stimulation and interest, inspiration and fullness.
If they are Christians, they probably have shelves of Bibles and Christian books, telling them what is good to be done. They do not come to your blog for that. They know the many good things they could be doing instead of reading blogs—housework, exercise, Bible study, prayer.
But they come to your blog for a little bit of beauty, a little bit of grace, a little bit of comfort, the energy to go on, perhaps.
So what is this reader offered? Law or grace? Preaching or the honey of the Holy Spirit? If a reader came to your blog weary and heavy-laden, harassed and helpless, exhausted and overwhelmed, would this be an energizing hope-filled post or make their shoulders sag deeper?
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As I grow older, I dislike what smacks of the law and burden-loading. I dislike preachiness, and tacking-on additional burdens to simple faith and grace.
I like hope-filled blogs, full of the wonder of the spiritual life and spiritual discoveries. Because Christianity is really a hopeful religion, full of Can-do and God’s infinite power, which is available for us who believe. Full of the power of prayer, and the infinity of grace. It’s annoying when it becomes a soul-shrinking, guilt-inducing To Do list.
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Sometimes I feel we need to hear “Relax, God loves you,” in a hundred different ways. Relax, God is your Father. Trust God. Consider the lilies. In everything, give thanks.
Is that all Christianity is? No, of course, not. But if it takes seven compliments to undo one negative word, then we need to hear that God loves us, and delights in us seven times for every time we are reminded of the good Christian things we fail to do.
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There are two yardsticks for our endeavours: temporal and eternal. One might succeed brilliantly (or not) by temporal measures, which in blogging would be the quality of writing, readers, followers, ranking, and all that jazz.
But there is also an eternal standard. My friend, singer-songwriter Debby Barnes, ends her haunting song, In the End, by asking,
Was there any love there in the end?
And that is a scary and chastening question we will all be asked one day.
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My blog post was first published in the Big Bible’s Digidisciple project.