Showing posts with label questions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label questions. Show all posts

14 November 2012

Blog post links and questions

There are a variety of ways to make blog articles more useful and interesting. These include the addition of a question section and a links section. Questions stimulate thought and discussion. Links make an article part of a wider network on a particular theme.

Typical 'Questions' and 'See also'
I've begun regularly adding 'Questions' and 'See also' sections at the end of blog posts. Both are intended to make the articles more useful.

An invitation to respond - I've noticed how some other bloggers include open questions at the end of their articles and it's been really helpful.

For one thing it encourages me to think for myself when I've finished reading. It's so easy to read something and then move straight on, but the questions interrupt that automatic urge to see what's next and instead provoke me to think through the implications of what has been written.

Sometimes I leave a comment purely because one of the questions has helped me to agree or disagree with something the author has written, or has taken me beyond what is mentioned in the article.

A list of links - I've also noticed 'See also' sections in some blogs, but this seems less widespread than the inclusion of questions. However, from now on my intention is to provide links in the 'See also' section for every post.

Some bloggers only post links to their own articles, but I'm going to try to link to other blogs and websites too. Expect to find links to other relevant blog articles, Wikipedia articles for topic overviews, recent articles from news organisations, and other stuff that seems relevant from time to time. For completeness the list always includes the links provided in the main body of the blog post.

It's my hope that readers will use the links to explore a trail from one blog post to another, not just within my own blog but much more widely.

I encourage other bloggers to pick up this idea and run with it. If enough of us engage in this rich linking all our blog articles will act as entry points into the wider discussion. It would be very helpful to our readers and it would also bind us into a wide and deep community of writers, commentators and commenters. Along with chain blogs and synchroblogs it would help us transcend the boundaries of individual blogging.

Organic Wine - Some time ago I set up an area on this site called 'Organic Wine'. It has its own tab below the banner. The idea was that this would list links to specific topics that are important to me, specifically around the subject of church in general and organic church in particular.

I haven't kept this up-to-date recently and I hope that the lists of links in articles will be a more flexible way of achieving the same end - linking to relevant material elsewhere in the blogosphere.

We'll see how it goes. If, over a period of time, the new linking arrangement seems successful I may freeze the 'Organic Wine' feature permanently and eventually take the dedicated tab away.

Previous, Next and Index - I have always added these links to the top and bottom of articles where they're part of a series. These links always refer to other posts on 'Journeys of heart and mind'.

When I write a series on a particular theme it's particularly useful for readers to be able to skip to the previous and next articles in the series. It's also useful to see a list of the entire series on a single page (the index). Doing it this way also means the series does not need to be continuous, I can intersperse stand-alone articles that have nothing to do with the series.

To see this in action, here's a list of the series index pages on this blog.

Questions:

  • Do you find the 'Questions' section useful? How? Why?
  • Do you find the 'See also' section useful? How? Why?
  • Do you think I should continue with 'Organic Wine' or not?
  • If you're a blogger, do you think you might begin cross-linking in a similar way?
  • Are there other ways we could make blog articles more useful to our readers?

See also:

03 October 2012

Surprises open us to change

< Where he treads I must follow | Index | No later items >

Here is a second set of answers to some questions about how Papa is dealing with his people in our generation. You might like to consider your own answers which may be quite different from mine. See what you think.

Full of surprisesThis is part two of of a series in which I'm sharing my answers to some questions posted on the 'Missional Challenge' blog. See the first part for the background.

Here are the next three questions, then we'll work through them one at a time.

  • How is God coming to this generation?
  • How is that different than any other generation?
  • Are you under God’s authority? How do you know?

How is God coming to this generation? - That is a huge question, and the answers we find are going to be game changing. If we get this wrong we will constantly struggle because we'll be working against the grain of everything he is doing. If we get it right we will be in tune with his purpose and swept along effortlessly by the wide, deep river of living water.

Also, it would be foolish to think we will all hear the same thing from him. It's entirely possible I might be right for myself but wrong for you. Caveat emptor! It's also possible I might be wrong for you and wrong for myself.

But here's my best effort to express the way I see this right now. I think he's coming to this generation in ways far outside our normal expectations. He is blessing people from every kind of church background - whether you're Catholic or Orthodox, Baptist or Anglican, Messianic Jew or Lutheran. I'd go further. He's blessing Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and Christian Scientists. He's blessing Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, even Agnostics and Atheists. His heart is always to bless and the Holy Spirit needs only the tiniest crack of obedience to begin his work.

I just don't think we can overestimate his grace and willingness to overlook error. Let's face it, if he didn't come to find lost sheep, we would all be permanently... well, lost!

We'd better begin to expect the unexpected, because he is always full of surprises. That is how he is coming to this generation.

How is that different than any other generation? - I don't think it is. He's always surprised us. He surprised Abraham and Sarah with Isaac. (He surprised Abraham with Isaac twice. Think about it). He surprised Jacob's sons with Joseph. He surprised Jacob with a dislocated hip, Moses with a burning bush, a divided sea, manna and quails. He surprised Saul with David and Solomon with wisdom... Need I go on? He surprised Saul on the way to Damascus. We should never be surprised to be surprised!

All of that means that any rules I come up, methods, structures, hierarchies may at best be rendered inappropriate by the next surprise to come my way. And at worst they were already inappropriate. Nothing I plan or design or set in motion is of any real kingdom value. Only the things that the Father, Son and Spirit plan, design and set in motion are of real use. Doing it my way can only make things worse.

I think the church at large has so far failed to grasp this simple but fundamental truth. To that extent, how he is coming to this generation may be different. I have the sense that he's sowing the seeds of this understanding in the hearts of people here and there, and that the growth these seeds produce will change much in the way we are and in what we do (and don't do).

Sometimes we think in terms of modernism, post-modernism and so forth. I dare say Papa deals with us differently according to our thinking and culture, but what I wrote above remains true. He will always find ways to surprise us. I think he likes to catch us off guard. Perhaps he can better reach us when we're a little off balance.

Are you under God’s authority? How do you know? - Sometimes, yes. Often, no. I have the opportunity to be under his authority at all times. But sometimes I allow myself to fall under the authority of others, or worse I seize the reins myself. I think I'm (very gradually) getting better at it. I sense that I notice more quickly when I do come off the rails. I'm more aware of the dangers and more eager to avoid them.

When I'm in the right place I'm usually aware of it - he shows me things - he speaks with me - I can walk in silence with him - there is a deep peace in my heart - I'm untroubled by problems and issues.

But I'm rarely (if ever) aware of the many times I do it my way. Sometimes I spend days, weeks or months, even years struggling along before it dawns on me that I'm alone. He's still at the centre of his purpose, I've wandered off on some side-mission of my own devising. When I do realise my mistake it's most often because I suddenly realise he's not there. I don't mean he abandons me, but he's far off because I've abandoned him. I think he comes to find me and I think 'Why am I struggling with this when the King is here?'

I hope this answers the 'how do I know' question as well.

Were these the sort of answers you expected to read? If not, why not?

< Where he treads I must follow | Index | No later items >

30 September 2012

Where he treads I must follow

< No earlier items | Index | Surprises open us to change >

We take a look at three questions about mission and our lives in Christ. Do we know what he is doing in us and around us? Are we playing our part in the things he is doing? How can we find out? How can we begin to do better?

A mediaeval baker and apprenticeIn his 'Missional Challenge' blog, Dave DeVries reposts some questions posed originally by Don Snell. The questions are intended for coaching. In particular the aim is to help people 'align [their lives] with Jesus' disciplemaking mission'.

I think these questions are so good that I've decided to take them a few at a time and  share my answers, at least in outline form. Here are the first three.

  • What is God doing right now?
  • Are you aware of what God is doing?
  • How are you part of what God is doing?

Notice first that the old English word 'disciple' has the sense of  'apprentice'. It's about learning by working alongside an expert. Jesus is the expert. 

What is God doing right now? - The simple answer is 'many things'! But for this question to help me align my life I will need to consider what he is doing in my own life and in the area where I live and among the people I might be called to influence.

We might usefully ask whether Jesus has any other mission or agenda than making disciples. My answer is that making disciples covers it pretty well. If Jesus intends to heal the sick he will do it through his followers. If he wants to teach us, or guide us, or encourage us he will do so through our brothers and sisters who are his followers. He told the Twelve to 'make followers of all nations' and to 'teach them all the things I have taught you' (Matthew 28:18-20). And that includes making disciples.

So what is he doing in me right now? I think he's showing me that his way is very simple, so simple a small child could do it. It involves listening to what he says and doing it. It involves loving the Father, loving his other followers, loving my neighbours, and loving my enemies. That'll be love everyone then! He's showing me that it's not about learning methods but about moment by moment obedience. It's not a matter of authority but of humility.

And what is he doing around me? He is preparing people to hear, to ask questions, to respond to him. He is trying to reach everyone. Not everyone is ready to listen - yet. I need to know the difference.

Are you aware of what God is doing? - Sometimes. I try to be, but I'm not always hearing and seeing. Often I'm just too dim-witted to understand what he's doing while he's doing it. Later it dawns on me, 'That was Jesus at work', 'Father had a hand in that', 'The Holy Spirit showed me that for a reason'.

Sometimes I manage, somehow, to cooperate with him. Sometimes he works through me and in me even while I don't realise it.

I'm simple and foolish; he is all wise, all knowing, and very, very capable of getting over, under or around my mistakes.

How are you part of what God is doing? -  Mostly by accident, it seems. But in truth it's by his design. He is not accident-prone even though I am.

And I know he wants me to be part of what he is doing. He doesn't need me, but it's his delight to involve me; what a priviledge! I certainly have to become a better and more constant listener and responder. I am part of what he is doing when I'm obedient.

He uses me to begin conversations with people who don't yet know him. He also uses me to encourage others who are on this journey with me. And he uses me on this blog, to touch people in a variety of ways. He uses me to care for others like a shepherd, guiding them to places where there is spiritual refreshment and nourishment. He gave me Isaiah 61 as a description of some of the things he wants me to do - proclaiming good news, binding up the broken hearted, speaking of freedom, light and his favour. There's a lot more in that chapter and it was all fulfilled in Jesus. But he wants to engage me in some of those activities with him, using me as his hands and feet and voice.

I did not choose to be part of this; he chose me!

And what about you? - How would you answer these three questions? We're all different and father has unique plans for each of us. Your answers may be very different from mine.

Do you find the questions useful? What is he doing in and around your life? How is he using you in his work? 

< No earlier items | Index | Surprises open us to change >

29 September 2012

Don Snell's Questions - INDEX

(See indexes on other topics)

We take a look at some interesting questions on mission and disciple-making and have a stab at some answers.

Don Snell's questionsIn his 'Missional Challenge' blog, Dave DeVries reposts some questions posed originally by Don Snell. These questions were originally intended for coaching. In particular the aim is to help people 'align [their lives] with Jesus' disciplemaking mission'.

I think these questions are so good that I'm taking them a few at a time and sharing my own answers in outline form.

I hope this will be helpful to others. Don't expect my answers to agree with your own, but do be encouraged to go through the questions yourself and think about them carefully.

  1. Where he treads I must follow
  2. Surprises open us to change

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