Good Grief! 5 MORE tips for Christian WordPress bloggers?!

Alright…I think I might finally be out of ideas. I’ve enjoyed writing this series. I pray for and wish you all the best of luck in your God-glorifying blogging endeavors. (You can find the previous installments here, here, here, and here).

 

21. Don’t give up

It will take time to get a following. If someone told you to expect quick results, they tricked you. There’s a certain “critical mass” to be reached after a few months, at which a new visitors find enough content on your blog to spend a while clicking through and recommending your site, in turn boosting your metrics. You’ll need a good backdrop of solid content to get there, and that takes time. Keep it up!

 

22. Weigh visitors more than views

That said, eventually views start to level off. But I’ve found that my visitor count is still slowly growing. Those and comments are probably the best metrics to judge whether you’re doing well. Viewcount might be the worst. It’s distorted by all kinds of things.

 

23. Copyright yourself

Find a generic copyright statement somewhere on the internet and put it on your blog. You don’t want other bloggers, random sites, or most embareassingly, some actual online publication coming along and unscrupulously claiming your words as theirs. It can be surprisingly hard to prove otherwise.

 

24. Use a variety of platforms

This should probably have come earlier in the series, but…

Don’t rely solely on your WordPress audience to bring you attention. Spread out to Facebook and Twitter. Join Christian blogging groups on those platforms. There are auto-posting options (or third-party software, like Hootsuite or Sprout) that you can use to automatically post your links there (though you’ll have to do it manually in groups).

And don’t count out picture-oriented platforms like Pinterest or Instagram. I haven’t updated it in a while, but Pinterest provides a GREAT way to use images as blog links AND lets you categorize them.

 

25. Write good, unique content

One of the first criticisms I received on my blog went something like, “You express yourself well, but your content is common.”

Ouch.

It was a benign comment, but it still felt unfair. It’s hard enough just to get a blog post up. You’re saying I have to make it stand out, too?

You probably already know that there are no clever shortcuts, SEO tricks, marketing strategies, or magic bullets that will get you around the need to write solid content. The blog has to be relevant and well-written or people won’t come back. That’s all there is to it.

But uniqueness is another level of challenge. And it’s a special challenge for Christian bloggers because, as believers in timeless truths, there’s only so much room for change and novelty. The truths of Scripture bear repeating, over and over, until they are firmly rooted in the bedrock of our souls. The Christian life. How do you get fresh and unique with something that isn’t supposed to be new?

There is some good news here. First of all, Scripture tends to stay fresh all on its own. Scholars down through the ages have commented on how the perennial pep and immediacy of the Bible make it stand out from other literature (a hint as to who wrote it).

Second, our own daily apostasy and falling away from God, or our need for daily guidance, creates a constant need for even the most “boring” Scriptural truth. This week, God unexpectedly used one of my blog posts, something I thought would be old hat to its audience, to guide a viewer into his will (or so she claims). God is really the one at the controls here, so post! You never know what he’ll use.

Thirdly, plenty of God’s truth gets lost over time. Ever written one of those posts that countered a distortion or half-truth that Christians use? Those posts are fun and exciting to write, especially for us against-the-grainers and envelope-pushers. Look for those opportunities.

In the end, though, do try to make things fresh. Write from your own life. That’s always unique, because you’re unique. Use examples from daily life as metaphors for some Scriptural truth (if they lend themselves well…don’t strain it). Come up with new turns of phrase. Read a lot, both Scripture and otherwise – it adds to your vocabulary. Write a first draft, walk away, and come back to it – you might find new ways to express what you’ve already written.

 

 

 

“Locker Room Talk” Isn’t Okay, Young Men of God – It Is Your Enemy

wastelandIn light of the heart-rending revelations of sexual assault sweeping our nation this fall, it seemed an ideal time to trot this old post back out.

I’m no better.

I have, in the past, engaged in sexual sin. That I’ve never actually touched a woman or behaved like the celebrities currently under society’s microscope? That’s irrelevant. We cannot boast of “lesser sin”. We can only repent and strive.

Fortunately, God and I are winning. At this moment, lust is being held at bay in my life through his power. Praise be to him. And only him.

It is from this freedom that I write to you, young men of God, for you on my heart, and I want you warned.

I’m no stranger to locker room talk. I spent four years in the Air Force, where I spent time in dormitories, hangars, and launch trucks with rough, hard-living men.

Some things don’t necessarily stick. F-bombs roll off my back now; I barely notice.

But their degrading talk of women – the graphic descriptions of pornographic material, the exploits they carried out in college, their contempt for their wives – has been harder to forget. I remain a virgin, but my ears aren’t. I learned way more about the birds and the bees in that truck than I should have. Then it was three years teaching at a rural high school, where the kids had been raised rough and their tongues rougher. Even they knew more about sex than I (and they weren’t afraid to share, even if it cost them a detention). I’m sincerely glad that the blood of Christ and the passing of time are cleansing those memories.

Now, as a youth leader, I’ve been charged with helping to train young men of God, and part of that is instilling respect for your sisters in Christ.

Does respect sound boring?

It’s not. It is a campaign. 

You must be set against the world from an early age, for the world does not play nice. It all may start subtly, a quiet normalization of the sexually charged talk about women. The camaraderie of men in a “safe environment” can grab at you like a riptide, pulling on you before you realize it, especially in a new setting – a new sports team, a new college, a new job where you need to make inroads. Loneliness only intensifies the pull.

It’s harmless, you might hear, because of course those guys would “never” actually do anything to the women they know. Why make a big deal of talk, they may ask? Especially if it takes place outside the hearing of any women (insert joke about tree falling in the woods here)?

The Word shatters the apathy with its answer.

If Jesus tells us that even anger towards your brother is no less destructive than murder (Matthew 5:21-22)…

If Jesus tells us that even looking at a woman lustfully is the same in his eyes as adultery (Matthew 5:27-28)……

If Jesus tells us that what comes from within is what defiles a man (Matthew 15:18-20)…

…then our words have no place in God’s universe.

 

There is a vast operation underway in the spiritual realm. A coordinated effort by our Enemy to destroy the very image of God in the world.

“Now his heart for revenge is to assault beauty.  He destroys it in the natural world wherever he can. Strip mines, oil spills, fires, Chernobyl. He wreaks destruction on the glory of God in the earth like a psychopath committed to destroying great works of art.

But most of all, he hates Eve. Because she is captivating, uniquely glorious, and he cannot be. She is the incarnation of the Beauty of God. More than anything else in all creation, she embodies the glory of God. She allures the world of God. He hates it with a jealousy we can only imagine. (John and Stasi Eldredge, Captivating)

Shall we dirty and sully this reflection of God, young Christian men? Would we tarnish it, treat it as an object for our fulfillment, callously ignore the heart and soul of these precious sisters?

We shall not.

… Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. (1 Timothy 5:2)

Timothy was a young man, tender-hearted, possibly feeling out of his depth as pastor of the Ephesus church. Paul assigned him a dizzying standard: absolute purity. It was a standard that would cost him:

…they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:4-5)

Purity would cost him. But Paul knew immorality would cost him more. So he charged him, without apology, with a high but holy calling.

Was this standard unfair? No. It was an honor. We cannot be party to the activities of the enemy. The beauty of woman is under assault, and so is our righteousness as men. The days are short. Life and death are on the tongue.

My refusal to leap into the dissipation in that launch truck wrought a cost upon me. I was mocked, dismissed with a chuckle and a shake of the head. We all know virgins have a stigma in the world.

But I fought. As the jokes rolled on, I fought the corners of my mouth as they tried to raise themselves into an accommodating tweak. Every day. Sometimes I faltered, to the grief of God. But I kept fighting.

I do not say this to brag – merely to offer hope that victory is possible. God can master us, if we let him.

Locker room talk is Satanic. There’s just no other word for it. Look around you at the hearts of women, at the state of marriage in this world. It all looks like Mordor. Desolation everywhere. Did you think locker room talk plays no part in this? Whether it ever permutes into actual sexual assault or not, this talk is unjust, destructive, and sickening in God’s eyes.

I have known young men who brought courage, character, and conviction into their locker rooms. They became leaders there. Sure, they paid a price at first. But they also shone. Do the same. Quietly, grudgingly, but undoubtedly, the world will see you shine, and it will draw them towards Christ.

Let us instead be defenders of our sisters. Let us pay the price in their defense. You want to play the knight? Be prepared to bleed.

Doubt Your Doubts

You’ve got to see this video. A powerful shot of faith, straight to the heart. That is all.

6 Spouse-Related Reasons You Need Jesus More Than a Spouse

I had the chance to clean this article up quite a bit. May Jesus pull all of us closer to him.

Brandon J. Adams

ringI’ve never been married. But I have been very interested in marriage.

The divorce of my parents led me to one of the most fervent prayers I’ve ever made – “God, don’t let me end up there.” It’s the kind of prayer God is eager to answer. His first lesson? Much of the answer takes place before any vows do.

And the greatest answer of all is…Jesus.

I know. I can hear you sigh. You’ve heard for years that you need Jesus more than a spouse. But he just seems so boring compared to romance and white picket fences and sex and babies. He honestly seems unrelated, other than saying “no” to your longing.

But indulge me for a second. The fall of my family prompted me to keep my eyes and ears open for “what it takes” for a thriving marriage. It got me watching older couples, gleaning from them, reading every…

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One of My Favorite Scriptures

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
 that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:8-9)

Why We Might Not Want to Live Without Suffering

The other day, I learned the physiological mechanics of a mosquito bite.

Yee-haw.

Some of you might have seen the same animated video that I did as it makes the rounds on Facebook. I learned that it’s really all about the mosquito’s saliva (ick) – it acts as both an anesthetic and anticoagulant, allowing the female to get the blood she needs (what a wonderful provider God is!….I think…).

Then the video concluded with an interesting point: the actual swelling and itching of a mosquito bite isn’t directly caused by the saliva. It’s caused by the body’s immune  response to the bite. The saliva is an allergen, which triggers antibodies to attack the foreign intrusion, and that causes the swelling and itching we’re all familiar with as we writhe around upon the grassy ground, scratching like gangbusters.

I was reminded of other bodily responses. A lot of symptoms we experience to various problems aren’t actually caused by the problem: they’re the result of our body fighting the virus or the infection or whatever.

We would not want to live without physical pain.

Continue reading

Power in Weakness

I don’t want to have weakness. I want it gone. But God is thinking on a higher plane.

Hard Times Ministries

My grace is sufficient unto you in thy weakness

Paul teaches us here in this lesson that our greatest strength involves surrendering our entire person to God.  As humans, we struggle to maintain control over our will=–a will that is mostly for self-determinism. Self-determinism is opposite to God’s calling so thus, we must practice at times to obtain this status.

Even casual studies of the bible indicate that the Lord calls upon broken vessels for His purposes. Where we might wish we were strong, our strength should come from submission to God’s will for us.

This is counter to common sense, yet this biblical truth empowers us as spiritual creatures for our spirit man to grow.

So then, it is really not us who is performing the acting fighting of the spiritual wars on this earth, it is our Lord Jesus.

Our task then becomes simple: we are to submit…

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