Archives For Blogging

Awhile back I noticed a troubling trend. Most of the keywords that were drawing people to this site were related to controversial or critical posts.

It is, of course, no surprise that a blog that is critical or known for controversy generates far more traffic and conversation than a blog that is more tepid. However, I didn’t like the trend.

The main reason is that I don’t want to be the guy who is always critical. I don’t want to be known for that. It is better to be known for what you are for than what you against.

Also, I hold out hope that writing devotional articles about the gospel or interfacing with living a gospel-centered life or writing book reviews will actually be popular. That type of blogging atmosphere is my personal preference—even without the stats.

This is why I am especially excited today. I happened to lift up the hood on the site and see that there are far more Continue Reading…

As a father of three girls under the age of 10 I know that they are an interesting, entertaining, and creative lot. I am consistently caught off-guard with their cuteness and humor only to be left responding with belly laughs. A main cause for this is the unexpected way that they see and respond to the world around them.

In light of this, I am happy to recommend my little girl Alaynah’s blog for other little girls. The blog is called Birdy’s Nest. On it, Alaynah, or Birdy (nickname–think Larry Bird), writes about crafts, recipes, her devotions, being a big sister or whatever happens to come across her view.

As parents we are pleased that she is watching, thinking, writing, and working on her blog. We don’t really correct her spelling or grammar, as she is learning. We just gently guide and help as she goes. We have seen it really help her writing. It is also fun for her to talk with her friends locally about the articles while also meeting other kids. If you have young kids who are looking for a fun and safe blog to read consider Birdy’s Nest.

As a teaser consider this article: A Day in the Life of a Tea Bag

sad side
Have you ever wounder what it would be like if you were a tea bag?well i have(i am a fan of hot tea) but you have to push it back down cuz it always wants to float back up but you have to get all the flavor out of the tea bag.But i always feel so bad for it:(.Another fact is that it has to drown in VARY! HOT WATER.

happy side
The other side is that maybe the tea bag is happy to be pushed down in HOT WATER.:)

like maybe when it was in a garden it loved being in the sun.But one day the gardener took the plant and put him in a tea bag.So the tea bag was so sad.When he went to the store to be bought it was sad:( but you bought it so it though there was a chance to be hot.So when you push down the tea bag it likes it very much.

When you make your tea have you ever wondered that?

You will also want to check out her recipes, like Birdie’s Favorite Reece’s Peanut Butter Bars as well as her latest post on the epic battle between the dragon fly and a baby spider.

Share it on Facebook or pass it on to others, but you may find yourself enjoying the read too!

I am now allowing some advertising on Ordinary Pastor. While this has become more or less standard in the blogging world, the decision to do so for me comes after some considerable reflection. One of the bottom line reasons for doing so is the amount of time it takes to run a blog with fresh content. Another big reason is the number of children we have who wear braces. To be honest, deferring that cost a bit would be great. This seems like an opportunity to do that. I also was concerned about ads overwhelming readers and becoming a distraction. The company that will run my ads takes care of this to make sure this won’t be an issue.

Who Should Advertise: Book Publishers, Web/Content Management Sites, Ministries, Seminaries and Bible Colleges, and Bible/Tech Companies would all benefit from ads on Ordinary Pastor. And, the readers would benefit from your organizations.

What you get: We are running between 40-50k page views a month. There are over 2,000 readers through Twitter, Facebook, and RSS. This is about a 60% increase from last year at the same time. The blog’s readership continues to expand.

Who reads: Many of my readers are pastors, even church planters like myself. But there is also a wide variety; readers range from college students to retirees as well as home school Moms to military officers. The uniting draw is a desire to better understand and apply the gospel.

Here’s how to get signed up: Click here and get signed up. Ads are pretty cheap at this point (by advertising standards) so take advantage of this opportunity to expand your reach.

As I mentioned in my review yesterday I have a couple of copies of Slave by John MacArthur available for giveaway. The contest will run this week and I will plan to announce the winners and get the copies out in the mail by Friday afternoon.

Here is how you can get enter:

1. Subscribe to Ordinary Pastor’s Feed & leave a comment below stating that you want the book.

2. Follow the Ordinary Pastor blog on Twitter

3. Retweet this post on Twitter

If you do all 3 then you obviously have a better chance to win.

(note: due to a low budget operation here, I have to limit this to ‘contest’ to readers in the US or international folks with an APO.)

Here is the promotional video from MacArthur…

I have not kept up a blog roll on this site. This is nothing personal, just that I have not had the time to research very many sites; I have the ones I use and then, well, I don’t spend too much more time on blogs. I am however, very thankful to the kind folks who have linked to this site in the past. You have helped this site grow far better than I could have.

Now with the renewed emphasis on this blog, in particular trying to serve pastors, I want to establish a helpful blogroll to try to help serve others.

So, here is what I am asking for:

(1) Please comment and provide your favorite blog(s), and if possible, why they are helpful. I am looking for blogs that are a) gospel-centered, b) devotional, c) informational, d) teaching, e) refreshingly funny (these are neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive terms)

(2) If you would like me to include your site on this blogroll and you think it is consistent with what I am trying to do here, leave a comment with a link and provide a link back to Ordinary Pastor. I’ll take a look and then begin updating the blog roll shortly thereafter.

BONUS: At the end of the month (or so) I will randomly pick three commentors and send out a gift (book) to each. At this point I have an ESV Study Bible and some Edwards material to give. Maybe a sponsor will pony up some more.

There, you have the skinny. Now, help me help you (and others).

Blogging is a strange thing. You write your thoughts down. Sometimes people read them. Sometimes people comment. Sometimes people email you. Over time, if you have struck a chord, you get some traction. More people are reading, commenting, linking, emailing, etc. The blog grows.

A LITTLE HISTORY
I was largely unaware of this whole process back in early 2006. My senior pastor and boss told me to write. So I did. He also told me to impact people with the gospel. And so I tried to. I would meet with guys and talk about what I was learning in the Scriptures. We would talk about the gospel and how we need to be more impressed with Jesus. I repeated myself often to these guys. They seemed to like it. So, in listening to Pat (my boss, mentor, & senior pastor) I wrote. My goal was to encourage these guys. I picked a funny moniker for the site, “Irish Calvinist”. This is funny because I am not from Ireland. I am from Massachusetts. In fact it is only my father’s side that is Irish (my mom is Polish—but, the jokes would be just too easy there).

Continue Reading…

Recently this blog has been resuscitated.

The reason for my previous blog coma was twofold: a busy schedule (large family and church planting) and a lack of material.

I write this post with the intention of helping busy people be more effective with writing (insert your busy life for mine if applicable). I was helped by my loving wife. One day in August she lovingly kicked me in the rear end and encouraged me to get off the bench and get back in the game. In light of this I was forced to think a bit about writing in general and this blog in particular. Here are some napkin scribbles to that end.

1. Writing is unquantifiably beneficial to me: A friend recently gave me a book on the super foods. In reading about the foods I read repeatedly of how difficult it is to quantify the impact of eating this stuff long term. Similarly, the impact of disciplined writing is tough to quantify.

In 4+ years of blogging (wow, that’s a long time) I have been forced to gather thoughts, chew on them and then drive them to completion. There have been countless times that I have had an idea or thought that I was going to write about but then hit eject when I was about two paragraphs in. Some experts might want to flog me for that, but I think it was probably a good decision in light of where things were going.

At any rate, I have many random thoughts throughout a day. These thoughts pass in and stick around for a time and then leave. If that is all they do, then they don’t help me. They just come and go like commercials. However, if I am disciplined to grab onto them as they stream by, then I may be able to learn something as I walk through them and wrestle with implications. Writing helps me to do that.

2. Writing Reminds me of my weakness. Prior to starting this blog a friend told me that it would be a good idea for me to spend some time writing. He thought that since I was brand new in ministry and had not gone to seminary that it would be good for me to chase down some of the theological jackels that leave footprints in my study. He told me that writing would help me ‘own’ things.

He was right.

I have realized repeatedly that not only do I have issues with communication in general, but thinking, grammar, spelling, and content. Further, I don’t have all of my theological i’s dotted and t’s crossed either. I may think I own something on paper but owning it with the pen is a different ballgame. If you grab a topic and aim to write on it you quickly see your weakness. I wonder if my friend ever thought I would start blogging. He probably figured I’d start a diary or something. I am thankful for his encouragement.

3. Writing Reminds me of what is on the front burner. There are times that I think about what to write and I realize quickly that my heart is cold or bitter or angry. The pen reflects the pulse of the heart. In so many ways I hate that I don’t write more. There should be gallons of edifying material flowing out of my heart. Why is there not more? Writing helps me to see what is (or is not) bubbling up at the surface.

4. Ways to Write more amid a busy schedule. In this latest revival of my blog I have made some changes to help myself write more and do so more efficiently. Here is are some of the more effective items.

  • Write down ideas in a notebook. I have a couple of  pages in my Moleskine journal that I have specifically dedicated as a basket for ideas. I try to write down these ideas when they come and then think through them on occassion. If I don’t do this I am left with fading memories of thoughts and topics that are at best fragmented. For some reason, if I write them down in my notebook it is like writing them down in my head. This has really worked. I have about 30 articles/topics in the magazine clip ready to either steep in my mind or find their way out onto this blog or other forums where I write.
  • Read more books. Even amid a busy schedule I have found that the best way to engender more writing is to read more writing. Reading does something amazing to our minds. It leaves all kinds of untraceable cookies in there that we access behind the scenes when we aren’t paying attention. This has really helped.
  • Set a goal. I am trying to write a few articles a week. The goal is reasonable and helpful (but not oppressive nor unflexing).
  • Write about what you enjoy. I would hate to write about repairing an engine (any type) or sewing. But theology, ministry, family, books, sports, life, etc are all things I enjoy.
  • Write for yourself. This sounds strange but it’s not. In light of what I wrote above, writing is a very helpful tool. Write for yourself to get better and enjoy it. If other people benefit that is great too. Don’t get discouraged, the discipline works.

Feel free to add other tips that you have found helpful. Learning from others, particularly good commenters, has been an enduring benefit of this blog.

I talked recently with friend and fellow pastor Mike Abendroth about preaching (specifically preaching Leviticus), blogging, Massachusetts, legalism and other stuff on his provocative radio show / podcast entitled No Compromise Radio.

It was a good time and an encouragement.  The radio show plays in region where I grew up, so it was a double blessing to do the show.

No Compromise is a relatively new ministry and is seriously worth your subscription.  I do not have a ton of time to listen to podcasts but this is one of the ones I make time for.  Mike is a faithful pastor who loves the Word and the church.  His interviews are solid and his topics are most usually provocative (evangelically spicy).  Furthermore, he is hilarious so he will regularly have you laughing.

In this interview Mike got me talking about some of my favorite things: the glory of Christ, gospel, & expository preaching.  He also got me going on the reverse legalism promoted by many of the 25+ guys who enjoy their liberties and may look down their nose at those who don’t (this is an issue I’ve written on here)

Here is the audio from the interview (link)

Also here:

Interview on No Compromise Radio

Help me…Help you

Erik Raymond —  March 5, 2009

One of the regrets over the last 3 years of running this site is the small number of times that I have posted links to other helpful articles and resources.  I have often benefited from other resources but have not had the format to share them.

In effort to change this I have decided to have a regular tab right on the right of the most current post that points to resources that I have found helpful.  This means that RSS readers would actually have to visit the site on occasion to see the updated resources.  This is unless someone is able to help me hack WordPresss and allow my widgets to act like a post and distribute an RSS feed.

I also need help on a name.  Currently I am stuck on two titles but they may not be the most suitable.  So for now we are going with the very vanilla “Notable Links”.  If someone comes up with a good name I’ll go to the Irish Calvinist warehouse and send out some goods.

So to review: news and notes in a widget, need rss from this, and also need a name.

Check out what is in there now:

My Halloween Costume

Erik Raymond —  October 31, 2008

Boo!

Site / Template Issues

Erik Raymond —  October 25, 2008

I apologize if you have had difficulty reading or accessing the site over the last couple of weeks.  I have received several emails from folks saying that posts, pictures and pages were not loading.  I use Firefox and found no issues, however, Internet Explorer apparently has its fair share.  Since the diagnosis and fix is above my pay grade, I have just reverted back to an older template in effort to make things more accessible.  Hopefully this takes care of any issues that you may have been encountering.

This is also a good time to reiterate my thanks to those who regularly read this site.  You are a great encouragement to me.  My aim is that the site continues to do the same for you.

I have been writing on this blog now for slightly over two years and there has been one thing has continued to be a burr in my blog-saddle. I am referring to the delight in controversy and by comparison, the inferior zeal towards the simple promotion of biblical truth in the gospel.

For example, according to my tags I have 111 posts tagged ‘affections‘, 158 ‘gospel‘, 47 in ‘evangelism‘ and 31 in ‘expository preaching‘. However, as of today do you know what the most popular posts are?

#1 My review of Don Piper’s book

#2 My review of Mark Driscoll’s recent book

#3 The recent review (by my Senior Pastor) on Velvet Bell

I remember getting emails for my stance on the Luis Palau crusade in Omaha or Rick Warren and people were acting like this was one of the negative blogs on the web. The sum and substance of this site has been promoting, enjoying and defending the gospel. This is done by writing articles or promoting (or demoting) books.

My point in all of this is that this blog intends to point people to be more impressed with Christ while interacting with life. However, in this process I have found that what seems to get people fired up is not Jesus and his word but us and our firmly held traditions, identities, and delights. This makes me want to keep studying, praying, writing, and longing for the kingdom to come, that the King’s name would be hallowed and his will would be done.

Comment Issue Fixed

Erik Raymond —  March 28, 2008

It seems that the comment demon has been exercised from this blog. Many folks have emailed me and asked if I had a problem with them and why their comments were always flagged as spam or prevented from being posted. (although Rick Warren apparently was able to get loose in a comment thread).  I have tried various things, all to no avail, however, now it seems that things are right. I am excited about the release of WordPress 2.5 and its suring up of a few details here in WordPress.

Thanks for your patience!

Spam is a result of the Fall

Erik Raymond —  January 23, 2008

I have been plagued by a defunct spam filter for the better part of two months. Today is the day that I tossed a spear at the old plug in and installed a new one. In my estimate the plague has been checked.

To all who have had their comments deleted, ignored or otherwise not handled, please accept my apologies (if you are still reading this site). I had not been wading very meticulously through the hundreds of Spam comments and ping-backs that were obscuring the genuine comments.

If you happen to have this problem on your blog or website I strongly suggest Spam Karma. It seems like the real deal and is working great thus far.

OK…back to business

[update: ok…the spam karma went Jack Bauer and roughed up a few of you, sorry about that.  I think I have it worked out now.]

 

I recently discovered that my spam filter on the blog is on steroids. Apparently it has been capturing a lot of genuine comments. I just want you to know that if your comment has not shown up it is nothing personal, more than likely you were bundled together with some pharmacy spam or something.

A cool thing happened this week in the life of this blog. Timmy Brister of Provocations and Pantings selected Irish Calvinist as one of his top Gospel-Centered Blogs. To me this is very encouraging because gospel-centeredness is precisely what I am aiming to do here on the site, and for Timmy, an SBC guy whom I respect, to throw some love this way is very encouraging.

I am enjoying having being buffeted with severe body blows while reading a couple of books right now. One is the new book by Ted Tripp, entitled A Quest for More, and the other is The Exemplary Husband, by Stewart Scott. My pride has been taking a beating by these two guys and I am just trying to share with you. I cannot recommend these highly enough at this point, especially if you are a husband or want to be a husband some day…your wife will thank you. It is amazing to see the manifestations of pride in our respective cupboards; I scarcely recall feeling so moldy.

tom-brady.jpgFinally, in case you missed it, Tom Brady, went Solomon in Ecclesiastes in a recent 60 minutes interview (actually I think the interview was from quite awhile back but only recently aired). Brady is a guy who, by the world’s standards, has it all, plenty of money, fame, without question the best player at his position, on his way to a perfect season and more accolades. However, he talks like a guy who just watched an overhyped movie. Notice what he says:

“Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, ‘God, it’s got to be more than this.’ I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.”

When the interviewer followed up with a question as to what the answer was, Brady responded,

“I wish I knew. I wish I knew. I love playing football and I love being quarterback for this team. But at the same time, I think there are a lot of other parts about me that I’m trying to find.”

Life is a vapor and the glories of this life are indeed empty and fleeting, just ask Tom Brady. Brady is searching for something better than and outside of himself, he is searching for purpose, meaning, and direction through transcendent delight. He is searching for the Lord Jesus Christ, who himself is the source, sustainer and ultimate object of joy. It is through knowing and enjoying the gloriously beautiful and infinitely valuable king Jesus that the soul’s innermost cravings are satisfied with Christ-centered refreshment. Until the eyes of the soul are illumined to behold the beauty of Christ we will, with frustration and hopelessness, traverse the cul-de-sacs of this world only to see that we have not moved out of our own neighborhoods of futility without every actually breathing and living. It is through knowing Christ and the forgiveness of sins in Christ that one lives.

Let’s heed Paul command to pray for all (types of) men, including pro-bowl quarterbacks, that he might have his cravings and questions answered by the only one who can truly satisfy and provide everlasting joy and delight, our Lord Jesus Christ. (Prov. 16.10).

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Over the last year and a half of writing this blog I have thought often about its goal, readership, and the various opportunities that it could present. I have concluded, based upon conversations, emails, comments, etc, that most of the people who read this site are a lot like me, whether that be age, theology, preferences, life-stations, hobbies, or any combination of these. However, what has consistently intrigued me is how to reach those who are different than me. In other words, how can my blog be evangelistic? I want my blog to do a better job reaching unreached people with the gospel.

The struggle for me has been how to do this without making this site all about reaching a particular people group (thereby making the blog something that it is not intended to be) but instead taking opportunities to be strategic and intentional with the gospel.

After the shootings in Omaha last week I found myself praying and asking God how to use me to try to help folks. I called a friend who is on the Omaha Police force, who was among the first into the mall, and advised him that I was able to counsel folks, he was, as you can imagine, quite busy. So I prayerfully decided to write a post that would interact with the shooting from a God-centered, gospel-proclaiming perspective. The next day I took a look at my blog stats to consider if the article was getting any attention (as an aside, I am not a stat guy, I generally do not write to get ‘hits’ but in this case it was different). Upon reviewing the stats I found that from the afternoon until midnight there were hundreds of search engine hits querying on any combination of terms relating to the shootings. So being encouraged and thankful, I wrote another article. This produced the same results. I’ll tell you what, I get much more excited about hits from people searching “Westroads Mall” or “Omaha Shooting” than I do “Irish Calvinist +Luis Palau” or something like that. It is cool to find the article ending up on unbeliever’s blogs.

Now it is a week later and I am feeling like I learned something about blogging. Perhaps you already knew this and have been doing it yourself, but for me I am excited. It is good and right to have the gospel clearly proclaimed on your site, it is good to have articles that exalt Christ, interact with the Reformed circles and promote good books. However, in my view, I can do better. I can work to interact a bit more with my world around me with a Christian worldview and promote Christ’s gospel through it.

I am excited that many people who do not know Christ are asking questions and being directed to my site. This motivates me and makes me want to think and work harder to try to creatively ‘do evangelism’.

My encouragement to you if you blog is to try to make your blog more strategically evangelistic. I will not pretend to have this figured out but I am thinking about it and am burdened and determined to be a good steward of this opportunity. For this purpose, I have recently found myself paying more attention to the Technorati top searches.

If you blog, I’d love to interact a bit with you on this subject. What do you do in terms of ‘blog-evangelism’?

A Blog Update

Erik Raymond —  October 15, 2007

Over the last year and a half the dynamics of this blog have changed a bit. It originally had a relatively small audience of mostly Omaha Bible Church readers and some friends from around the web. I would regularly get loose with a rant or two per week while also balancing it out with regular devotional stuff. As the readership has grown substantially I have begun to feel more of a sense of responsibility and stewardship for the site. I have always enjoyed interacting with theological truth, examining personal application and trying to stir my heart and yours with cross-saturated devotion; however, when ministry and personal responsibilities increase writing new stuff often takes a back seat.

As a result, I have decided to provide more book reviews to point readers to good resources and attempted to be more intentional with scheduling blog posts. I have also asked some of the guys that do ministry with me to provide reviews on some specific books. This is great because it gets other guys reading, writing, and directing others to good materials. The guys (Fudge, Tyler, Brian, Matt, & Justin) are frequent readers & commenters who are hungry young reformed guys who love Jesus. Feel free to interact with the reviews they post.

I have been greatly encouraged in the way that God has used the discipline of writing and interacting with truth to grow me personally. Furthermore, the many friends that I have met via comments and emails from around the world have also been an encouragement. So I am more committed to a balanced, faithful, and realistic approach to this stewardship by working hard to keep up the site with quality posts that aid us in becoming more impressed with Jesus Christ.

Thanks for the encouragement you bring as you read this site.

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Back

Erik Raymond —  August 22, 2007

My family and I returned home from a most relaxing and refreshing summer vacation. It was so good to spend so much time with the five most important people in my life. We traveled 3,000 miles in our van and saw many sites throughout the South-Eastern US. It is good though to be back in Omaha.

I am preaching two times this Friday and then again on Sunday night so needless to say I have some work to do. I do aim to write a couple of posts here this week though.

Here are a couple of pics of the kiddos…(the ocean pics are from the Gulf of Mexico; about 20 mi east of Destin, FL)

Alaynah finding her first shell (of many)…

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Luke being Luke…

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Alexis after making some fried chicken on the beach…

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Bryce doing some live hurricane reporting

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You may have noticed that we have reverted back to the old blog template. This is because I (the wannabe techie) did something in the stylesheet that was not good. Honestly I am not really down with this template and I have not been able to find anything that I really like out there.

So here is the challenge: a new template contest. If you have access to templates (either design or downloads) and want to suggest them I would love to see them. I will look at them and the winning template suggested will be mailed a bag of goodies from Omaha. It will most certainly involve a book or two and some audio and perhaps an ear of Nebraska corn (joke).

Here is what I am looking for: classy grunge. Something sharp, clean, and edgy.

So what do you think?

I am just coming back from Boston and am headed down to the South for our family vacation. This is going to be great. I have just gotten my Boston accent tuned up and nearly restored to normal and now I get to travel to the South. I love visiting the South (MS, TN, AL, FL), there are typically a few times when some sweet Southerner will give me the confused and startled look as they cock their head like a Lab who just heard a whistle. Those moments are priceless.

We are planning on having a lot of fun and really enjoying some good family time. I love these intentional trips where we can just put stuff aside and have an uninterrupted streak of family refreshment.

We are also going to visit my sister in law who is in prison in MS. We have not seen her in a year and pray that she would be encouraged and comforted by our visit. She is also now professing faith in Christ so this should be a special time as well.

If any of you are in the Nashville area my family and I will be attending Community Bible Church in Nashville on 8.19. I have the privilege of preaching during the am services. I am looking forward to that. We also are planning on trying to attend Ligon Duncan’s church in Jackson, MS and perhaps, if the schedule works out, Steve Lawson’s church in Mobile. God is kind to give me a wife who loves to hear good preaching and respects the ministries of these men as well.

With respect to the blog: I have a number of posts loaded and scheduled to within the next days. Feel free to comment, however my interaction will be, as it has been, limited. With that said, if someone gets loose with a whacked-out rant feel free to jump in and police the post. Most of what will be posted will be pretty low in terms of the controversy-o-meter.

Thanks!!

erik