New year

Why blog in 2011?

Apparently the 4th of May is the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in Jamaica, the start of Napoleon’s exile in Elba, and Margaret Thatcher’s election victory which made her the first (and so far, only) female prime minister of the United Kingdom. And it is of course Star Wars day – May the 4th be with you, and all that.

But for me the 4th of May 2009 marked the start of something, namely this blog. I kicked things off with my reasons for blogging. Then I entered a flurry of activity, posting 17 more entries in the rest of the month. Then, once my initial enthusiasm settled down, I sporadically posted whatever rubbish sprang to mind at a rather slower rate.

A year and a half later, the blog is still here, and in recent months I seem to have settled into a comfortable rhythm of scheduling my thoughts to go online at 3pm every Saturday, with only occasional midweek entries. Why am I doing it?

The main reason for writing a blog is that, quite simply, I enjoy it. It’s not a chore but a pleasure to produce a moderate amount of writing. It’s not a high priority for me, which is why I couldn’t sustain blogging much more frequently, but I do enjoy a bit of writing. It’s been pleasant to put my thoughts on various issues into words, and it has forced me to think some of them through more.

I hope that my writing has become more interesting over the last year and a half. I’m not an especially creative person, but perhaps writing is something that gets the creative juices flowing just a little. Very occasionally I’ll produce a sentence I think rolls of the tongue well, or is particularly apt for capturing a certain thought. Hopefully the sentences themselves are ignored, their construction subsumed by their meaning, but I appreciate the mental effort of producing them.

I don’t really use the blog to keep friends up to date, which was one of my original intentions. Partly I suspect this is because most of my friends don’t read it, but mainly because I think when I write about what I’m doing without any opinion it is boring to write. Presumably it is also boring to read. If you don’t believe me, check out the ill-fated ‘week in retrospective’ series.

The last of my original intentions was to share by thoughts about God. It’s fair to say this has become more dominant than I intended, with this being the first post in several months to not have much relevance to Christianity. Thinking through my faith in more depth has been an especially big part of my life in the last few months and clearly this overflows into my choice of blog topics. I don’t see this as a problem though, and I daresay I will continue to draw blog posts from my thinking about the Christian God. I hope that in doing so I stimulate your thoughts.

Why do you enjoy blogs (whether you read them or write one)?

Another new resolution

Last year I explained why, despite my scepticism, I made a new year’s resolution. It seems to have been beneficial, so this year I intend to make another.

Last year my concerns with making a resolution focused on them either being naively optimistic or being made without any expectation of change. Throughout this year I’ve seen that my last resolution was neither of those things. However, my resolution this year is quite different, and my concern now is more along the lines that it may encourage me to be a functional legalist.

My resolution is to memorise some scripture every week. Some weeks this may only be a verse, other weeks it may be a longer passage. That’s not the point. The point is that memorising the Bible is a valuable habit to develop. It’s been recommended to me by mature Christians, I’ve read books advocating it, but more to the point it’s a very Biblical thing to do. Psalm 119:11, for example, indicates memorising God’s word is a way to combat sin.

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

I hope to make it a regular discipline to memorise portions of the Bible, but I also hope to avoid acting as if it’s something which somehow makes me a better Christian, or is necessary for God to love me. It’s neither of those things, but it is something which I’m sure God will use to shower His grace on me.

Happy new year to you, may it be filled with grace and peace!

What new year’s resolutions (if any) have you set yourself, and why?

Resolutions for a new year

It’s coming up to a new year, and as is traditional millions of people will no doubt make resolutions for the coming year. The nation will decide to give up smoking, go on a diet, and make use of their gym memberships. Until half-way through January, at which point it will all seem like rather too much effort. Prices of gym equipment will, as usual, be lowest during February as realistic people get rid of their purchases from a more optimistic moment.

I’ve always been a cynic with regards to new years resolutions. People seem to enter into them with either a ludicrous optimism, genuinely thinking that making a resolution at the start of a new year will enable them to do something they’ve been failing to do for months; or they make a resolution with the expectation of failing. A nominal resolution, I suppose you could say, for there is no actual resolve behind such ideas.

But this is what a resolution is. Having resolve. And this seems to me to be incredibly appropriate for each and every Christian. If we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling are we not to have resolve? Not with an optimism which ignores our past failures, and certainly not with an expectation of failing to keep the resolution, but with faith in God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Christians should resolve to work out our salvation in the knowledge that God is at work in us.

So with this in mind, I have (for probably the first time since my mother forbade me from resolving not to go to school) decided to commit to some new years resolutions. Actually, only one. I could list any number of ways in which I wish to change to enable me to serve God more, but such a broad focus would defeat the objective. Instead it seems better to focus on one area in which I wish to make particular progress over the coming months. That’s a piece of advice which comes in at number 5 in this list of ten tips for keeping new years resolutions.

The list also recommends sharing one’s resolution, so I will. I resolve to get into a habit of going to bed around 11pm.

Some people may wonder why this is the resolution I chose after talking about God. Wouldn’t it be better to resolve to spend more time praying, or reading the Bible, or telling people about Jesus’ death? Maybe. But I chose this resolution very deliberately. Anyone who knows me would tell you that I typically go to bed in the early hours of the morning, and consequentially struggle to get out of bed in time for the next day. The knock-on effects of a bedtime are huge. Someone said that the battle for tomorrow is fought tonight, and I agree with them wholeheartedly. Going to bed late usually causes me to get up late, be grumpy, have a less productive day, cut out spending time with God to try and get some work done, waste the evening out of frustration, then go to bed late again. Thinking that an early bed time will fix all these problems would be another example of the simple optimism I was scathing about earlier, but I see it as a step in the right direction.

And it’s a direction which goes against nature. I’m not an early person. To adapt to a later day (i.e. getting up and going to bed later) is easy – simply stay up late, be tired, and sleep in. The reverse is harder, because going to bed early doesn’t help, as your body isn’t yet ready for sleep. Going to bed early and getting up early will (experience has taught me) reduce the amount of sleep I have. But (I hope!) only for a short time. Once in the routine of getting up early and working throughout the day, I hope an early bedtime will be more reasonable. We’ll see.