Sharing Sunday – Sunday Suggestion

For this week’s Sunday Suggestion, I want to encourage you to share.

Paul writes in Galatians:

But let him who is taught in the word share all good things with him who teaches.

Galatians 6:6 (WEB)

In particular, I want to encourage you to share a blog post which has uplifted or informed you in some way. Here on WordPress, there are many wonderful blogs offering Christian exhortation and teaching, and so do share them on so others can reap the benefit.

I am not sure if it is common on all blogs, but my own tends to have slightly less traffic on a Sunday., I suppose this is because many Christians are heading to church, spending time with family or just having a well-earned day of rest. If that is true of all Christian bloggers, then sharing one of their posts today would give them a real boost.

There are two major positives about sharing quality Christian blogs. Firstly, it widens the audience of the blog and so more people can enjoy the writer’s words. Secondly, it acts as a real encouragement to the blogger themselves. I’ve written about success before, and page views are by no means the best or only measure, but they are a tangible way for the author to get feedback on their work.

I hesitate to mention some of my favourite blogs here, as there are so many and I am bound to miss one out! I try to share posts from those favoured authors fairly regularly, and do hope it passes on their work to more people.

Don’t forget though that WordPress (and other sites too) offer search facilities to discover new authors and blogs you might not otherwise have heard of.

Today, share one of your favourites. Others will be grateful. Take a few minutes to scan a new blog you’ve not looked at before. You never know what treasure you might uncover!

Have a great Sunday!

Is it worth it?

Blogging is extremely rewarding, but can also be quite frustrating. You pour your heart into a post, and it gets only single-digit views. When you can lean out of your window, shout your words and reach a larger audience, it is natural to ask yourself… is it worth it?

I have mused about the fickleness of blogging in a previous post called – On (Christian) Blogging.

Sometimes a blog post comes together quickly, while other times it is a real effort and takes much time. On those days when it takes extra exertion, it can be disheartening to look at your stats and realise that hardly anyone has read it.

Just prior to the new year, I hit a new record on my site and exceeded the best views I had received in a single day. Such things are really encouraging, and it has pushed me forward to posting daily once again. On the back of that “success” though, it can feel like a great fall to drop down to low views once again.

I am guilty of being a bit stats obsessed, it has to be said. I do like to check on views and the performance of my post, and spend much time figuring out the algorithm and wondering why one post attracts lots of views while another does not. It comes from my day job – did you know I have a day job? In “real life” I am a statistician, and spend a lot of my life reviewing data and drawing conclusions. It is therefore hardly surprising that I start to do the same thing on my blog.

Taking an interest in your stats is not wrong, but too much can be unhealthy.

So, on the days where a post gets only a few views (or none at all!) – is it worth it?

If the Lord has called you to write, then do it faithfully. It matters not how many people read it, although of course that helps, but the important thing is to do what Jesus has instructed you. I feel led to write, and so I am going to keep doing it. If even one person reads it, then it is worth it.

If the Lord has called you to write, then do it faithfully #Bible #Writing #Blog #Christianity

I recall hearing a preacher once giving their testimony. They felt as though God was calling them to speak, and that the message would reach people all over the world. Naturally, they were extremely excited by this notion. Too soon though, they became obsessed with the idea and tried and tried again to make their ministry grow. It only did when they finally laid it down before the Lord. God asked them if He called them to speak to a handful of people in a small church for the rest of their life, would they do it? Only when they could said yes, and mean it, did their ministry start to increase.

I have no lofty ambition for my words to be read by thousands across the globe – although I would not turn it down you understand! But I also know that the bigger my audience, the bigger my responsibility.

The bigger your audience, the bigger your responsibility #Bible #Ministry #Blog #Christianity

What is God calling you to do? If it is to teach a half dozen children in a Sunday School for forty years, do it gladly. If it is to write a blog and have it read by ten people a day, then do that. Nearly everyone I know has a blog or a website or some form of content, but we can’t all be creators or there would be no one left to consume!

I will leave you with this thought. Every time you write a Christian blog post, it is there for people to find when they are ready. Maybe no one will read it today or tomorrow, but perhaps next year when the time is right, they will click that link and give their lives to Jesus. On that day, you will be able to say – it was  worth it!

We may never know on this side of heaven what our faithfulness to God will achieve. Imagine someone swinging past your place in heaven and saying thank you! Perhaps God used your words, actions or ministry to reach them, and you will be glad you did it.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 #Bible #faith #Christianity

Word Count

WordPress helpfully keeps a total of the words you have written on your blog each year. Although we are only about a week into 2022, I am reliably informed that I have written nearly 4500 words so far.

This is good for me to know, because I really do want to make good progress on some unfinished books I am writing this year.

One project has around 10,000 words written, and another approximately 17,000 words completed.

Knowing that I’ve already written 4500 words on the blog this year, helps me to believe that it may even be possible to complete both projects in the coming 12 months!

why am I telling you this? Simply for accountability!

I want to try to post regular updates on how the books are progressing, as a way of keeping myself honest! Do pull me up dear reader, if I do not do this!

I also ask for your prayers, and that my writing would be fruitful. Please ask the Lord to help me complete these projects this year, but more importantly that they will be a vehicle for him to bless those who read them.

Word count is not the best way to measure the quality of a book… But in this stage of the project, it sure does help me keep track!

Thank you for your ongoing support and prayers!

On (Christian) Blogging – Andy Brown (repost)

I remember writing this post from a few years ago, and the algorithms which drive traffic to one’s blog still baffle me today!

For me, what remains true, is that even if one person read my blog and is blessed by it, it was all worthwhile.

I hope you enjoy this repost

-

This post lands on Tuesday 31st March, and I think is the 15th day in a row where I have posted. That is a pretty good run, and although I did not start this because of COVID-19, I am carrying on because of it. There is so much negative news going around, and I just…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/03/31/on-christian-blogging/

Success – (Best of 2021 sort of…)

I have just received a notification from WordPress to say that today I have had a new record – most views in a day! For this, I can only say a massive thank you to all of my readers.

 I am not certain why the site has attracted so many visitors today, but I am humbled by every single page view. Thank you!

And thanks go to Jesus for all of this. I could not write one word about him where it not for his wonderful grace. May he continue to take these imperfect words of mine and use them for his kingdom and glory.

I have been re-running a series of “best of “posts from this past year. Although not the most viewed, this one entitled “success “is particularly apt on the back of what I’ve just said.

I hope you enjoy reading it, whether it’s the first time you have seen it or not.

—

This week, WordPress notified me of two particular milestones my site has reached. It does not matter exactly what they are, and you will understand later why I choose not to share the specifics. In addition to that, my site also managed to exceed total views for 2020, also something of an achievement. Are these…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2021/06/26/success/

End of Another Year

As we approach the end of another year, it has become my practice to review what has been, and to look ahead to what may come.

2021 has been a tough year for many people, and likewise, my own family has seen a number of struggles. In early January, my grandmother (who we affectionately called the “Queen” of our family) went home to be with the Lord. She held the Word of God on her lips and held it in her heart as she left us, and this Christmas was not the same without her.

On the day of my grandmother’s funeral, we learned that my mother-in-law had again been diagnosed with cancer, and this awful disease took her from us in July.

It would be all too easy to focus on the negatives of this year, and by doing so start to believe that it was a “bad” year. There were many things to be thankful for however, such as our family moving into a wonderful new home in late summer, and my eldest daughter making the transition into secondary school.

Every year is a mix of tears and laughter, joy and pain. Sometimes the balance feels one way or the other, but I thank God that He walks with us through each and every step.

I am not big on “regrets” as it seems unproductive to waste energy on things that cannot be changed. Had I my time again though, I would have liked to prioritise this blog and my writing projects more. It was probably my most successful year on the blog, depending on how you measure success and yet I had little time to give to it in the latter part of this year. Even less time was given to my two unfinished books, and I want to put that right in 2022.

Like most other people I know, I only have 24 hours a days and seven days per week. It is what you do with those hours that matters. I cannot give this blog or my book projects more time by turning days into 26 or 28 hours… instead, I need to prioritise what is important. Lord, help me to do this right! As a starting point, I intend to cut back on a few other commitments so that I can focus on writing more.

I am particularly excited about a project my wife and I are starting. While that may sound contradictory to what I said above about cutting back, this project won’t take a huge amount of time for me, but do pray for my wife! I am keen to talk more about it, but will save the details for another post in future once it takes shape. Watch this space!

I want to close out this post by thinking about something God has been speaking to me about. The Lord drew my attention to these verses from the book of James:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James 1:22-25 (NIV)

God wants me to be a “doer” this coming year, and not just a “hearer.”

I frequently listen to Christian teaching in the form of podcasts. My feed has over a hundred different episodes to be listened to. This stems from pre-COVID days when I used to commute daily. I would spend my time on the train listening to various things. Now, working from home mostly, I have less time to consume content like this.

I believe God has been showing me that while listening to such materials is great, the aim of the exercise is not to reduce the length of my feed and delete another completed episode, rather it is to learn something. I think God wants me to listen to fewer messages, but to really engage with the ones that I do.

James encourages believers to not just listen to the Bible, but to do what it says. Don’t just attend church, nod along to your pastor’s sermon, and then forget all about it by Monday morning. Take notes. Write down some actions. Ask yourself what you will do differently because of what you have heard. Only then will we be “doers of the Word.”

I hope and pray that you will have a blessed 2022. I know that the Lord has a good plan for your life, and His love for you has no limits. That does not mean 2022 won’t have its fair share of problems, but you can face them with Jesus by your side.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for reading any of my posts this year. I remain truly humbled that anyone wants to read my words, and your comments and messages of encouragement are such a blessing to me. I thank the Lord for each of you.

You cannot change the things of 2021, but you can walk into 2022 determined to serve the Lord.

I leave you with these verses from Revelation:

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.

12 In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

Revelation 5:11-13 (NIV)

He is indeed worthy! Praise His holy Name! Amen!

Success

This week, WordPress notified me of two particular milestones my site has reached. It does not matter exactly what they are, and you will understand later why I choose not to share the specifics. In addition to that, my site also managed to exceed total views for 2020, also something of an achievement.

Are these successes though?

In some ways, of course they are. It is encouraging to me as a writer to know that my posts are being read. That’s sort of the point, right? But take my blog and sit it next to a social media giant or retail conglomerate and suddenly my handful of views does not look quite so successful.

Page views, likes and shares are just one small way to measure success. For the Christian writer, blogger or author aiming to share the Gospel, they are not the best measure.

So what is success in God’s eyes? As ever, Paul has wisdom to share.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NIV)

In particular, my attention is drawn to verse seven above. Paul, as he approached the end of his life, was able to say that he fought the good fight, finished his race, and kept the faith. While i am sure he had regrets, he was able to say that he did what God had called him to. Surely that is the greatest success a person can achieve.

Whether you are a writer, pastor or anything else. Are you able to say that you are doing what God has called you to? If so, then you are a success. It does not matter what awards you do or do not win in this life, for you will be rewarded with the crown of righteousness by the Righteous Judge.

When I stand before God at the end of all things, He will not ask me how many views my site got. He will ask what I did with Jesus, and then He will examine my works to see if they stand the test. Salvation is unquestioningly found in Jesus alone, but our good works in His Name will also be recognised.

A blog with a thousand followers is not more successful than one with a hundred, if both are seeking the glory of the Lord. The same is true for churches. Worldly success is fleeting so strive for God’s success which is eternal.

What race are you running? Let it be the one that leads to Christ. Once you have made sure that it is, run it with all you can. If you can say, at the end of your life, that you followed the Lord and kept the faith, you will be a true success. Don’t chase after follows or promote yourself, do it all for Jesus. He is the only One that matters.

Review: Mostly Nonsense

As it is Father’s Day, I thought I would share the content of a conversation I had with my nine year old earlier today.

We were chatting about my blog, and she kindly offered to take a look for me. I sent her the link and she came back with the following review.

It was mostly nonsense…

Gwen – age 9

What can I say? It’s perhaps the best review I’ve ever had!

Have a wonderful Father’s Day everyone!

Life Happens

It has been a few days since I last posted to the blog, and sadly I have broken my daily posting streak I started when lockdown began. I am a bit disappointed that I didn’t reach 100 posts in a row, but, as the title suggests, life happens!

Sincere apologies to anyone who came looking for a post and couldn’t find one!

On 17th March, I put up a post called Coronavirus, and that seems a very long time ago now! I posted each day for a few days, and that turned into an ambition to post something to the blog every day. Three months in, I did not miss a day until the weekend just gone.

It wasn’t a bad weekend or anything, but there were a lot of things going on in life and I just did not have the time to sit down and write. Something had to give in the end and I’m genuinely sorry it was the blog.

I am sure I am not alone in this. I suppose we have all had times where life just happened, and prevented us doing one thing or another. We love to plan our lives, and yet our plans so rarely work out! I praise God that He is in total control.

Writing a blog is actually quite time consuming – I’m sure fellow bloggers will agree. I don’t tend to write opinion pieces and largely try to focus on biblical topics. That requires a bit of thought and study, and so it may take a bit of time to prepare and write a post. While on lockdown, I gained a fair bit of time not spent on commuting to work, volunteering, and helping get children to and from various events. Now the lockdown is starting to ease in the UK, some of those things are coming back and my time is becoming more limited.

For example, I volunteer with our village’s local magazine which was suspended during COVID-19 restrictions. We are now hoping it can return in the summer, and so I am starting to pick up that volunteering again.

I’m sure the same is true for you. All that time you gained during lockdown is now starting to reduce as life – hopefully – begins to return to some new normal.

It is probably now a little ambitious for me to try and post every single day, as much as I would like to. I have seen some growth in blog readers and followers over the last few months and I do not want to let anyone down. I have to be realistic about my time however, and I certainly don’t want to put out posts which are not up to scratch!

After some thought and prayer, I will aim to post on weekdays, leaving weekends off. As well as my usual writing, I will try to incorporate an audio podcast and video as well each week (so perhaps three written blogs, a video and a podcast each week). That is still a fair time commitment, but I am hopeful I can maintain this in the coming weeks. If I return to the office any time soon, then I may have to review!

I am always happy to get constructive feedback, so do tell me what you think. I love writing this blog, and I really want to complete writing another book. Knowing the demands on my time, I need to create space in order to do that.

How are you finding the transition through the lockdown? Life changed dramatically when the restrictions came in, and I feel it will change again as it is reversed. What have you learned from this time of life? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Have a great day!

Welcome to All New Followers

Here is a brief video thanking all the new followers to the blog and Facebook page. It really is wonderful to be able to share these words with you, and I genuinely hope and pray it blesses and encourages you.

It would help if you would share any posts that you enjoy with anyone you think might benefit from it. I also love getting comments from readers, so again, please do share your thoughts below.

Perhaps most importantly, I would love to have the privilege of praying for you. If you have any requests you want me to pray over, then please do send them in. You can do so by commenting or via the Prayerpage.

May I also ask you to pray for me and other readers of the blog. Believers are meant to support one another, and even if we never meet in person, it will be great to meet you one day in Heaven and thank you for your prayers.

Have a blessed day!

On (Christian) Blogging

This post lands on Tuesday 31st March, and I think is the 15th day in a row where I have posted. That is a pretty good run, and although I did not start this because of COVID-19, I am carrying on because of it. There is so much negative news going around, and I just want to put a bit of positive material out there!

And so encourage one another and help one another, just as you are now doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (Good News Bible)

Blogging is a funny business, and even more so when you are a Christian blogger! As I mentioned above, I’ve been blogging daily for a couple of weeks now. My post last Friday – A Jealous God– has not been read by anyone at all, as far as I know… and yet a day later, Saturday’s post – Lessons from the Supermarket– has been one of the most read posts I’ve ever put out!

Why? Not a clue! Was it because Friday’s post was terrible and Saturday’s was amazing? I suspect not. It is just one of those things.

When I hit the publish button, I generally have no idea what kind of reception a post might get. Comments are a little few and far between, but that’s ok. I try to trust God to put out the right words at the right time, and let Him do the rest.

One reason Saturday’s post was more successful than others was because someone shared it on their social media feed. It is surprising how effective that can be at geting the word out. I know there are algorithms managing social media in the background, and just because I post it does not mean you get to see it, but occasionally it all comes together.

If you enjoy a particular post or the whole blog in general, please do share it. The sharing buttons are right at the bottom, so it’s easy to do.

Likewise, literally LIKE-wise, please do hit the “like” button if you enjoy what you read. It keeps me, and any writer, encouraged. If we see responses to what we are putting out, then it gives us that little push we need to keep on going.

In a similar way, follow the blogs or channels that you like. Subscribing is not like a marriage; it’s not a big commitment!

I know that at times my posts are a little hit and miss. I might go weeks without posting, and then suddenly I’ll release posts daily for a long period. Life just happens on this side of the keyboard, and as much as I’d like to commit to posting every day without fail, I do just that – fail – at times.

I am not the most accomplished writer in the world, nor am I the perfect theologian. I write about Jesus and the Bible because they are important. In fact, there’s nothing more important.

I keep going because of verses like the one above. In that verse, Paul tells us to encourage one another. That’s what I hope to achieve with this blog. I make no money from it, and it is unlikely fame will follow either (not that I want that!). I do it because of every single reader. If even just one person reads a post and is inspired to build up their relationship with God, then it is worth it.

What can you do to encourage someone today? If you live somewhere where you are forced to be at home at the moment because of COVID, then you might need to be a little more creative. Thank God for the telephone!

My wife is rather good at encouraging people. Just this morning she left a note of encouragement and a chocolate bar out for the postman. As a key worker, he is not isolated at home but out and about, making deliveries and in some ways actually risking himself to ensure we keep getting letters and parcels. Just a little note may give him that boost during this tough time.

So what can you do?

Phone or text every person in your contact list. Send a PM to all of your Facebook friends – individually. Write a letter, the old fashioned way. Send someone a Bible verse and pray for them.

If you are stuck for ideas, then pray about it. The Holy Spirit is excellent at coming up with new ways of doing things. He can certainly point you in the right direction!

Failing all else, click the like button below… that will really encourage me!

Thanks and God bless

Lent is Coming

It’s only about a month until Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

I know that Christians mark Lent in many ways. Some observe fasting, while others start a spiritual habit.  I knw many who like to read a new book or follow Lent study throughout the period. And here comes the shameless plug…

If you are looking for something to read and study over Lent, then please consider getting a copy of my 40-day devotional – A Journey with Jesus.

It is available from your local Amazon store, both in paperback and Kindle.

It’s also available in large print for those who prefer.

I hope you enjoy it, but more importantly, I hope you grow closer to God as a result.