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Give me Your Blog Tips!

29 September, 2004 5:19 PM

Calling all bloggers - lay your top 5 blog tips on me. I've been asked to write 200-300 words on blogging for a national publication with a few blog tips for beginners in it. I'm going to put 5 short and simple tips to help people who have little or no idea about blogging together and would love your input. So give me your top few - keep them short, simple and sweet. Will write the piece (and post it here) tomorrow so you've got 12 or so hours! Thanks

Holidays

28 September, 2004 9:16 AM

I had a day yesterday when I realized just how much I need a holiday. Its been a year - which in the scheme of life isn't that long - but it has been a big year of change and exploration. I am learning that when you work for yourself and when you work part time in one of these Emerging Church type things that its tempting to overfill one's life.

V and I are heading over to New Zealand in a few weeks which I'm starting to really find myself hanging out for. I'll be going over a few days earlier than her to do a little business stuff but the rest of our time will be traveling (North Island), meeting and catching up with friends (a few bloggers will feature in our trip), taking photos - but most of all just relaxing and enjoying the beauty of a country I've heard so much about but never seen.

Sonrie: finding Jesus in a pixelized reality -- internet evangelism

25 September, 2004 12:26 PM

Josué from Sonrie emailed me today about a piece he'd written about the internet and evangelism which I've taken a look at and would recommend as a good read. Head over and add your thoughts.

'Should we say that internet is evil? Far from it. Should we burn our computers and go to the mountains? Not yet! We just need to look at the reality (pixelized or not) and face it. We cannot go around the bushes. There is too much at stake.

Not everything new is bad—it is just different and… new. The best-seller printed book is the Bible. Millions of people have turned their lives to God by reading the pages of the Holy Book. However, there are so many evil books on circulation! We don’t ban publishing houses, though—we choose what we read.

If God had to start the Bible all over again, chances are that He would inspire a group of committed webmasters. The internet is the medium of today as the publishing material was the one of yesterday.'

Read more at Sonrie: finding Jesus in a pixelized reality -- internet evangelism

Compassion

24 September, 2004 7:34 PM

compassion.jpg

On Sunday I'm speaking at a church and I've been drawn to the idea of 'Compassion' as a topic. I'm not really sure why - I just can't get it out of my head. I'm particularly drawn to the story in Mark 6:30-44 - the Feeding of the 5000. Taking into consideration the context of this story I'm quite challenged by the response of Jesus to the hoards of people around him that day.

Jesus and his disciples have had a real roller coaster of a ride the previous few chapters - the highs of his calming the storm, healing the paralytic, bleeding woman, the raising of a young girl from the dead but also the lows of his time in Nazareth and the news of the death of John the Baptist.

It is no wonder in Mark 6:30 that Jesus suggests that they get away to a solitary place for a bit to get some rest. I'd be positively exhausted by that point - the introvert that I am - and to be confronted by a crowd of over 5000 at that solitary place would have probably tipped me right over the edge. I'd probably have either curled up in the fetal position and done some rocking back and forwards or just gotten straight back into the boat and kept sailing on. At the very most I would have grudgingly gotten out of the boat to do a few token healings and maybe tell a rote learned sermon - only to disappear immediately after.

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I can't imagine 5000 people all showing up to see me - and not just to see me but wanting something from me - its pretty likely that these would have been needy and demanding people - you see thats who seemed to be attracted to Jesus. Some would have been asking for teaching, others healing, others blessings, other a touch, others trying to trick him. Quite honestly (and I'm a bit ashamed to say it) - its my worst nightmare.

But despite his own exhaustion and grief - Jesus reacts a little differently to my imagined reactions - and its his response to the needy hoards that surrounded him that sunny day (ok - I'm taking some poetic license - sunny days are always nicer for picnics).

'When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.' v34.

Compassion - sounds nice doesn't it. Makes one feel all warm and fuzzy. Memories flood my mind of laying sick in bed as a child and mum laying her cool hand on my head to comfort me in my distress. Compassion - nice.

The problem is that the word for compassion in Greek isn't really a nice warm and fuzzy feeling kind of word. 'Splanchna' is the little beast I'm referring to and (there is really no nice way to put this) it seems that the word probably had more to do with bowel movements than anything else. The verse in question could almost be translated:

bowels.jpg''When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, his stomach turned..... his bowels moved..... it was gut wrenching..... he was sick to his stomach....'

The reaction to the lost, bewildered, needy crowd before him that day was gut wrenching for Jesus. He was moved in a very deep - almost physical kind of way. Perhaps today we might say 'his heart ached'. Pretty intense stuff.

And its not just a one off experience for Jesus - it seems that he often has this tummy trouble - he has it when meeting two blind men, a leper, a mother grieving her child, a demon possessed man - to name just a few instances.

Interesting in Colossians 3:12 we see Paul endorses this kind of reaction to those in need around us but saying 'clothe yourself with Compassion'.

Doh! I was hoping this was just the kind of stuff Jesus did and that we could leave it at that. Alas poor Reader we cannot. Clothe yourself with compassion has something of intentionality about it.

I watched my wife prepare for work this morning as I lazed in bed attempting to wake up (I'm a bit slower off the mark than her) and I realized how much effort some people put into clothing themselves. Whilst I tend to just clothe myself with whatever is clean, close to hand and temperature appropriate 'V' has a wonderful way of carefully considering what she puts on.

clothes.png
Sometimes V's 'clothing' process can take 20 minutes (or more) as she lays out an outfit (often more than one) after considering not only the day's weather, but also her days schedule, what she's previously worn to work, the season's colors, matching shoes and accessories, what colleagues are likely to wear etc etc etc (ok, I might be exaggerating slightly - but you get my point - V is quite intentional about the clothing process).

This is the kind of image I have when I hear Paul's call to clothe ourselves in Compassion. Clothes don't just leap on our bodies - we consider what we wear - we have to put them on - its an intentional process. In the same way, something like compassion doesn't just accidently jump into our lives. It takes consideration, effort and intentionality to live in a way that causes your stomach to turn.

So how do we 'put on compassion' anyway? This is the question I've been pondering today. You see I think I'm a compassionate kind of guy most of the time. I feel a bit of a stomach flip when I watch the world news. I've written my fair share of cheques to a wide range of charities - I've even got a sponsor child! Hmmm....

Let me share four aspects of the way I see Jesus interacting with people that make me wonder if I really have any idea at all what compassion is.

1. Jesus went to places where he would encounter people with real needs. Strange how he kept bumping into the blind, paralyzed, leprer and dead. It hit me today that whilst perhaps there was a higher incidence of people with these types of afflictions in Jesus day that these were not the kind of people who are that mobile. Without wanting to make light of their predicament - it isn't that hard to avoid a blind, paralyzed or dead person. Lepers might have been a little harder to avoid - but they were generally kept away from the rest of the population. I suspect that Jesus didn't cross to the other side of the road when he saw needy people - in fact I suspect he may have made a beeline directly for them.

The day at the pool of bethesda comes to mind (John 5). This was a place where the sick went. It was an ancient hospital of sorts. What was Jesus doing in a place like that - did he just stumble upon it one day? I doubt it - Jesus hung out in places where compassion was actually needed.

So do we allow ourselves to go to such places? I know in my life it is pretty easy to avoid needy people. The choices we make each day can either put us in their path or not. Choices about who we will be friends with - where we will live - where we will socialize - what parts of the newspaper we'll read. Unless we're willing to go to these places we drastically decrease the ability we have to put on compassion.

2. Jesus really saw people - deeply. He didn't see people's problems but their potential. He had this way of looking at people and seeing deep into them. He saw them as people, not objects. He saw them as made in God's image not as failures. He didn't label people but saw into them in a deep way. He saw their true issues and needs - not just the ones on the surface that we often look at when we interact with others. He really saw people.

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Again I think we often fail in this area too. You see one of the ways I (we?) cope with the needs of those around us is to see them as objects. Often we do this by labeling people - grouping them together and making gross generalizations about them. We think we know them because we've read about that type of person - we think we know their issues because we see the symptoms or some of their behavior - but do we really see them? Do we see their potential? Do we really see them as humans or do we cope with their neediness with a quick glance rather than a deep soul searching look.

3. Jesus allowed what he saw to impact how he felt. This is where the 'stomach turning' comes into it. We see Jesus react to situations and people with emotion. We see him weep, we see him angry, we see him fired up, we see him respond with pity. There was no keeping people at an arms length with Jesus - his response to people was heart felt.

Again I am confronted by this. Too often I think we keep people at an arms length. We disengage our emotions from the hurt and brokenness we see in the lives of other because we don't want to feel the pain that might result in being impacted by others. Perhaps its fear, perhaps its our own insecurities or disfunction - but often its just easier to be clinical and removed from people than to actually let our guard down a little.

4. Jesus allowed what he saw and felt to move him into action. In the situation in Mark 6 he responds first with words and teaching and then with food. At other times where we see the 'compassion' word feature to describe his response to people he's moved to heal, cast out demons, comfort, raise from the dead, touch and defend.

True compassion cannot remain an internalized feeling - it must work itself out and respond in some tangible way. Someone once said to me - 'compassion is a feeling of pity that causes one to want to help or show mercy.' I'd probably want to put it a little stronger than that - but its heading in the right direction.

If we actually get to the stage of responding to the needs of others (and more often than not I suspect I've already bought out of compassion in one of the earlier stages) this can be the place where it all just gets too hard. Sometimes there is a hopelessness that can paralyze us from responding, other times its fear, other times plain laziness. We also live in a world where its becoming more and more normal to pay someone else to respond to the needs of the world - whatever the case the temptation is often to leave the feelings we have as just feelings and not to respond.

So - this has turned into quite a rave - unexpected really - I got a little carried away. The question remains though - are we compassionate people? Do we allow ourselves to go to places where there are needy people - do we really see them - do we allow ourselves to be impacted by what we see - are we willing to be moved to action?

ProBlogger

24 September, 2004 4:26 PM

I know one or two of your out there are going to think I've completely lost it now but I've started another blog.

One of the constant pieces of criticism/feedback that I've had here on this blog is that I tend to talk too much about blogging - especially blogging to make revenue. I personally don't see the problem with having that topic covered in the fuller mix of this blog (which is a reflection of who I am and what I do) but I can understand that the topic doesn't appeal at all to some of you.

As a result I've started a more focussed blog for those of us interested in creating revenue streams from our blogs and finding ways to make them self sustainable and even income earners. It is called ProBlogger and it is currently very blue (forgive my basic webdesign skills - I'm still working on it).

This will allow me to post more freely on the topic without worrying what impact doing so is having on some of my readership. This will allow posting on this blog to be more focused upon my own life and that of the LivingRoom - with a mixture of other general silliness from around the web. All my old Blog Tips are now both here on this blog and over there - but all new future ones will only appear on the new site.

Net profits - Blogging for Dollars

23 September, 2004 11:49 AM

An article in today's the Age caught my attention today. The headline is Net profits: Your don't have to be a dotcom heavyweight to make money on the web.

Its a good article that scratches the surface of what is becoming more and more common for people wanting to make a few dollars on the side. I did a bit of an anecdotal survey a few months back on some of the top, middle and lower bloggers on the blog ecosystem and found that in all categories a significant number of bloggers have some form of income stream (or at least are attempting to have one) on their site - whether that be Ads, Affiliates, Tip Jars or directly selling products.

Of course some say that this is destroying blogging - and there are some examples of some who are selling their souls to make a few dollars - but I suspect it will become more and more common in the future. One of the things I'm toying with as an idea is to form some sort of a co-operative/network of bloggers who want to do some more commercial blogging. One of the hardest things about making a blog a viable source of income is that it can take a lot of time to build your domain's page ranking. To make it worth your time you need to be able to attract significant numbers of readers to your site and that means a high ranking of Google. This is hard to do alone but I suspect if we worked together - sharing a domain and know how it would be a lot easier.

Anyway - just thinking it all through at the moment and would be interested from hearing from anyone who was interested in the experiment.

Back to the article I quoted above - here is a taster:

'Fancy a work-from-home lifestyle or just a little spare cash on the side? The days of the dotcom bonanza are over, but dreams of making money from the internet live on.

Online riches may be just an illusion used to trap the unwary - an inventive array of get-rich-quick schemes, including the infamous Nigerian money scam, will quickly see the gullible fleeced - but for those willing to dabble in less lucrative, albeit legal, ventures, there are modest gains to be made.

Some people sign up for webpage ads, fill out surveys and join online marketing programs. Others turn their trash into treasure on eBay and put PayPal on their websites, hoping for tips and donations.'
Read more at Net profits

Mexican churches using cellphone jammers

23 September, 2004 8:57 AM

As someone whose been interrupted while preaching my fair share of times - I think this is a great idea!

'Four churches in Mexico have resorted to illegally jamming cellphone signals using devices smuggled in from Israel to stop parishoners’ phones from ringing during services.'


Read More at Mexican churches using cellphone jammers

Digital Imaging Blogging Madness

22 September, 2004 10:23 AM

Life has been very busy for me in my blogging ventures in the past few weeks. There is a big digital camera trade show happening in Germany in the next few days and all the major manufacturers have decided the lead up to it would be a great time to release new cameras which is exciting and daunting at the same time. So far I've added 60 new digital cameras to the blog with more expected in the next couple of days. Add to that all the new printers, scanners, lenses, flashes and other digital imaging products and its been a busy time.

Oh - and I've also started another couple of related blogs to the Digital Camera one. Now in the growing stable of Digital Imaging blogs that I'm running are also a Camera Phone Blog and Printer Blog. They are both in testing mode to see if it is worth its while - hence the basic design/layout at this point. Feel free to stop by and to linkup if they take your fancy.

What is the Emerging Church II

21 September, 2004 6:44 PM

In response to an older article post that I'd written in January titled What is the Emerging Church? - a reader (Drew) has kindly left his thoughts on the question. He went to a bit of effort to leave his answer so I thought I'd highlight it here in the hope that it might re-stimulate the conversation. Here is what he wrote: (Thanks Drew!)

'Having just debated the whole 'What is the emerging church?' with a work colleague (who then directed me to this site as he felt he couldn't adequately argue the point), I would have to say three things:

1) Don't think this hasn't been done before. Disillusionment with any human attempt to nut out and put into practice what Jesus taught and lived is age old.

Everything is a pendulum swing. The disillusionment with the fundamentalism of my parents generation (I'm 34) brought about the Pentecostal movement. Disillusionment with that is bringing about a group who believe it's time we got back to some solid Bible study and move away from emotional 'lobstering'. Disillusionment towards both perchance forms something of the 'emerging church' movement.

2) Whatever the 'emerging church' movement brings to fruition will become, over time, institutional itself, whether that be cafe churches, home churches, small groups, community based meetings, etc.

Such is the nature of social (even spiritual) communities. Like-minded people band together and settle on structure and format. This is not a bad thing. This is a way of ensuring growth (however empirical you want that to be) and also encouraging maturity and depth. (Jesus didn't pick 12 new apostles every day!)

Of course, there will be some who then become disillusioned with the 'emerging church' movement and what it is attempting to achieve, and they will form the 'post-emerging church' movement.

But... and this leads me to point 3...

3) Be encouraged. Dissatisfaction is what moves along the hyperbole of change. And a constant evaluation of our spirituality and our institutions in light of what we understand Jesus was on about is essential to the continuing life of the Church.

Just as youth, by its very nature, seeks to test the boundaries of the social and parental structure it grows up in, so too should we continually evaluate our spirituality--without, and I stress this, necessarily condemning or feeling the need to tear down what currently stands (a point argued with my work friend).

Seek the new. Chart new territories. Discover who Jesus is to you and the community you live in.

And while some may condemn a belief in spiritual things (as evidenced in this blog), I must confess that I will applaud any person's attempt to find a truth that calls them to a higher understanding of love, mercy, grace, hope, peace and the part they play in the greater community. When the Bible talks about the Fruits of the Spirit (the best attributes we can have as humans) it was said, Against these there is no law.

Once again, be encouraged. Debate. Stretch. Grow. Create. Embody.'

How to Get your Blog Discovered

20 September, 2004 10:52 AM

Scobleizer has a good post on how to get your blog discovered. Most of it is the kind I've stuff I've already got in the Blog tips section but this one was a tad different:

The rest of this post has been relocated to Pro Blogger - How to Get your Blog Discovered.

Priest Idol

20 September, 2004 9:37 AM

Friends and I have often joked about pitching a reality tv show to network producers that would be based around churches. We figure in most churches there are enough dramas and scandals to fill in 60 minutes of television every month. Of course we weren't serious - these are the sorts of ideas that come out when group of guys with too much time on their hands get together.

It seems that there must be a similar group of guys are because someone has come up with the idea of Priest Idol.

'Channel 4 will screen a new series which aims to boost a congregation in a parish with poor church attendance.

With the working title Priest Idol, the show will give a vicar 12 months to boost the church's turnout.

Backed by advisors, the vicar will be able to spend an undisclosed sum of money on anything he or she thinks will appeal to parishioners.

Being filmed in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, the three-part series is due to be broadcast at the end of 2005.'

Melbourne Cup Results

18 September, 2004 2:03 PM

Get all the latest news on a variety of topics at Breaking News Blog.

The Melbourne Cup 2004 results are:

1. Makybe Diva
2. Vinnie Roe
3. Zazzman
4. Elvstroem
5. Hugs Dancer
6. Distinction
7. Mamool
8. Catchmeifyoucan
9. Razkalla
10. Strasbourg
11. On A Jeune
12. Media Puzzle
13. Grey Song
14. Roman Arch
15. Upsetthym
16. Another Warrior
17. Winning Belle
18. Lashed
19. Mummify
20. Don Raphael
21. Pacific Dancer
22. Hard To Get
23. Delzao
24. She's Archie.

The Melbourne Cup is being run at 3.10pm on Tuesday 2nd November in 2004. It's the 'race that stops the nation'. What will the results of the 2004 Melbourne Cup be?

Following is a list of Melbourne Cup information, articles, tips and llinks to help you prepare for your Melbourne cup day.

- Melbourne Cup - Official Site - 'The Melbourne Cup, it is the race that defines Australian horse racing, it's the race that stops a nation, people from all around Australia stop for the spring carnival. They engage in betting on the Australia spring carnival and it is also a huge part in the Australian racing history. Held at the Flemington race track in Melbourne and organised by the VRC the Melbourne Cup is definately a horse racing bookies dream.'

- Field for Melbourne Cup - all the horses listed with odds. Barrier draw will be added as it comes to hand.

- Melbourne Cup Jockeys - A list of the 2004 Melbourne Cup Jockeys - with their previous records.

- The Age - Horse Racing Page - with all the latest Melbourne Cup news, information on horses, jockeys, lead up races, tips etc.

- Culture and Recreation - Melbourne Cup - Australian Government page descibing the event.

- Melbourne Cup Blog - a blog with the latest Melbourne Cup news, tips, articles and gossip.

- About.com - Melbourne cup - the Countdown begins.

- Ozeform - Melbourne Cup. 'The Melbourne Cup is Australia's most famous horse race, and is truly the "race, which stops a nation".

All over Australia, millions of people tune in to watch or listen to the famous race - even proceedings in Parliament cease so that Members can hear it.

In Melbourne it is the reason for a Public Holiday and is considered the biggest tourist attraction in its home state of Victoria.

In many ways the Melbourne Cup is an anachronism - being a handicap and run over the unfashionable distance of 3200m - when in other countries the feature events are more likely to be run at weight-for-age and over 2000m to 2400m....'

- Racenet - Melbourne Cup - Melbourne Cup Stats including past winners, jockeys, horses, colors, barriers etc.

Melbourne Cup Winner

18 September, 2004 2:00 PM

Get all the latest news on a variety of topics at Breaking News Blog

The Melbourne Cup 2004 results are:

1. Makybe Diva
2. Vinnie Roe
3. Zazzman
4. Elvstroem
5. Hugs Dancer
6. Distinction
7. Mamool
8. Catchmeifyoucan
9. Razkalla
10. Strasbourg
11. On A Jeune
12. Media Puzzle
13. Grey Song
14. Roman Arch
15. Upsetthym
16. Another Warrior
17. Winning Belle
18. Lashed
19. Mummify
20. Don Raphael
21. Pacific Dancer
22. Hard To Get
23. Delzao
24. She's Archie.

The Melbourne Cup is being run at 3.10pm on Tuesday 2nd November in 2004. It's the 'race that stops the nation'. Who will the winner of the Melbourne Cup be in 2004?

Following is a list of Melbourne Cup information, articles, tips and llinks to help you prepare for your Melbourne cup day.

- Melbourne Cup - Official Site - 'The Melbourne Cup, it is the race that defines Australian horse racing, it's the race that stops a nation, people from all around Australia stop for the spring carnival. They engage in betting on the Australia spring carnival and it is also a huge part in the Australian racing history. Held at the Flemington race track in Melbourne and organised by the VRC the Melbourne Cup is definately a horse racing bookies dream.'

- Field for Melbourne Cup - all the horses listed with odds. Barrier draw will be added as it comes to hand.

- Melbourne Cup Jockeys - A list of the 2004 Melbourne Cup Jockeys - with their previous records.

- The Age - Horse Racing Page - with all the latest Melbourne Cup news, information on horses, jockeys, lead up races, tips etc.

- Culture and Recreation - Melbourne Cup - Australian Government page descibing the event.

- Melbourne Cup Blog - a blog with the latest Melbourne Cup news, tips, articles and gossip.

- About.com - Melbourne cup - the Countdown begins.

- Ozeform - Melbourne Cup. 'The Melbourne Cup is Australia's most famous horse race, and is truly the "race, which stops a nation".

All over Australia, millions of people tune in to watch or listen to the famous race - even proceedings in Parliament cease so that Members can hear it.

In Melbourne it is the reason for a Public Holiday and is considered the biggest tourist attraction in its home state of Victoria.

In many ways the Melbourne Cup is an anachronism - being a handicap and run over the unfashionable distance of 3200m - when in other countries the feature events are more likely to be run at weight-for-age and over 2000m to 2400m....'

- Racenet - Melbourne Cup - Melbourne Cup Stats including past winners, jockeys, horses, colors, barriers etc.

Emerging Church Gatherings

17 September, 2004 6:09 PM

Have been working today on the Liquid conference that a group of us are helping to run between 9-11 February next year.

It will be 3 days focussing upon giving insight and training across the three interconnected streams of Christian mission
- Engaging culture & community
- Spiritual formation & discipleship
- Compassionate living & social justice

'Liquid will help you create a holistic framework of faith that integrates your entire life.� At the one event you�ll be encouraged to go deeper in your personal relationship with Jesus, actively care for the poor, and connect with people from various cultures.� It�s about learning how the spiritual, social and culture streams can work together.'

This will be a great gathering that is being put on by a number of groups here in Melbourne including Forge Missional Training Network, Frontier Servants, Living Room, Northern Community Church of Christ, Scripture Union, Soul Survivor, Tabor College and TEAR.

Also running in February is an intensive week looking at themes of emerging church run by Forge. It would be a good few weeks to be in Melbourne if you're interested in a trip. Maybe some of your northern hemisphere readers could escape your winter for a few weeks of networking, learning and sun! Let me know if you want more information.

2 New Blogs on the Block

17 September, 2004 2:34 PM

I've got a couple of new blogs on my regular blog rounds that I'd love to share with you. One is tribe m - which is written by a good mate 'D'. Knowing who he is and what he does - I'm sure it will be an interesting read.

The other is AgeWatch which is an interesting concept written by 'NorthcoteKnob' who will be taking a bit of a critical look at Melbourne's newspaper - 'The Age'. Aussie might know the show 'Media Watch' this is a blog version focused upon one newspaper. Interesting.

Both will be blogs worth following, both are by Aussies - drop by and say G'day!

Jesus, Food, Mission and Learning

16 September, 2004 10:36 AM

Last night at LivingRoom we took a look at the topic of Jesus and Food (as mentioned a couple of posts ago). I ended up going with the messy/chaotic/overwhelming approach of tackling 25 passages of Gospel Scripture on the topic rather than just picking out one or two to examine. The way we did was to divide into groups of three and to divide the following list of passages up. Each group read their passages and spent a few minutes on each teasing out the implications/meaning/themes as a group. The groups then came back together to share their musings which we noted on a big sheet of paper or two. The passages we looked at were:

Jesus and Food
- Temptation Story – Matthew 4:1-4
- Salt of the Earth – Matthew 5:13
- Do not worry – Matthew 6:25-27
- Jesus Questioned about Fasting – Matthew 9:14-17
- Parable of the Yeast – Matthew 13:33
- Feeding 5000 – Matthew 14:13, Mark 6:30-44
- Yeast of the Pharisees – Matthew 16:5-12
- Wedding Feast Parable – Matthew 22:1-14, Luke 14:15-24
- Sheep and Goats – Matthew 25:31-46
- Lords Supper – Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-23
- Matthews Party – Mark 2:13-17, Luke 5:27-32
- Lord of the Sabbath – Mark 2:23-27
- Unclean Hands – Mark 7:1-23 - Feeding 4000 – Mark 8:1-13
- Jesus Anointed at Bethany – Luke 7:36-50 - Beatitudes – Luke – 6:20-26
- Fasting – Luke 6:33-39 - Glutton and Drunk – Luke 7:33-35
- Jesus at a Pharisee’s House – Luke14:1-14
- Parable of the Lost Son – Luke 15:11-32
- Zacchaeus – Luke 19:1-10
- Jesus Turns Water into Wine – John 2:1-10
- Samaritan Woman at the Well – John 4:1-26
- I am the Bread of Life – John 6:25-59
- Jesus feeds his Disciples Breakfast – John 21:1-14

I was interested to see the discussion that unfolded after our time in smaller groups. I won't attempt to summarize it here (do the exercise with a group and see where it leads you) but a couple of things stick in my mind today...they are related to one another...

1. Food and Mission - A number of times last night I found myself marveling at how Jesus used food/eating in his interactions with people. From feeding the 4000/5000 and turning water into wine (no wonder people followed him - free food and drink!) through to his interaction with Zacchaeus who turns his whole life around in a pretty staggering way simply because Jesus invited himself to dinner (we noted there is no recorded 'preaching' advice from Jesus to Zacchaeus to do what he did - just a meal. I've always known the power of eating with and providing food and hospitality to others - but I wonder if we're just scratching the surface - especially in the area where we live which is one of the foodie centers of our city.

2. Food and Learning - One of the things that I read someone yesterday in my preparation for last night (it might have been in the article below) was the way in which in New Testament times the meal/table was often a place of learning. A dinner party was not always just a social get together but a time for sharing of ideas. Jesus would have been invited to many of the meals we see him at not just to be polite to him but as something resembling our modern day 'guest speaker'. It was the done thing to have a rabbi or expert in some field to come and espouse their latest ideas/theories etc.

We got talking a little about this last night and realized that in different settings this is still a relevant thing in today's culture. Apart from bible college most of the learning sessions I go to these days (whether for church or business) incorporate food and drink in some form or another. Most of the meetings I go to happen over a meal - a cup of coffee at the least. The way we do church is around a meal and I always find it to be a great environment to explore ideas and learn.

We didn't really flesh this out last night in terms of implications or ways forward but I think I sensed that some in the group were interested in exploring ways in which we could have times of more public/outward focused learning over food. I've often toyed with running a series workshops in a local cafe - not overtly Christian in their nature but rather focussing upon some kingdom values that connect with issues that our immediate context is grappling with. Issues like organic food, justice issues (refugees/environment), creative arts and even on meditative techniques and nights on spirituality.

I guess I've avoided these sorts of 'events' to this point because we've been much more focused upon our established networks and relationships in terms of mission - but perhaps we're moving towards exploring something along these lines.

Anyway - the night last night has continued to stimulate my thinking in a number of directions Jesus' eating transgressions and social impropriety in the gospel of Mark: a social scientific approach is a good online essay on Jesus and Food in the book of Mark that was good background reading for the night. I read a couple of paragraphs from it as an introduction to the discussion.

xtreme faith

15 September, 2004 12:56 PM

I really like Steve's post on xtreme ways. He talks about having seen xtreme worship, xtreme community but wants to see xtreme discipleship. He writes:

'I want to see xtreme discipleship. In a world where the passion of Islam includes a willingness to take up one's cross to death do us part, it is time for xtreme worship and extreme community to be entwined with xtreme discipleship. It is time for radical peacemaking and keen environmental concern and social justice to enter the regular praxis of the emerging church.'

I especially like his statement:

'xtreme worship + xtreme community + xtreme discipleship = xtreme ways of the Kingdom of God'

I've been thinking the same sorts of things lately. In my travels through the wider Christian community over the years I've seen individuals/groups/me concentrate our efforts upon one or two aspects of the life and teachings of Jesus. To some degree I think that that is natural - sometimes God chooses to work on us one step at a time - but I worry at times when I see lopsided looking churches that have a long history of only exploring one thing.

To use our DNA/Core Values to put language to this - I've been involved in groups that have almost solely focused upon the Inner Journey, others who have almost exclusively worked at the Outer Journey - and others who focus on the Together journey almost to the exclusion of the others. In my experience it is when we allow the journeys to collide that we actually find that the sparks fly - one journey impacts and enlivens the other - to remove one is to limit the potential we have to know, experience and respond to God.

What I'm feeling a renewed call to at the moment is a place of balance between all three. I'm talking on a personal level here - its easy to be side-tracked.

However I've also noticed something else - sometimes (and I stress sometimes) in aiming for 'balance' or a holistic approach it is tempting to lose the edge, to become complacent and to be a little 'wishy washy'.

I wonder if perhaps its easier to be 'xtreme' in one area than it is to be in two - and even harder to be 'xtreme' in three?

I wonder if it is easier to keep one's 'edginess' if there is only one cutting edge rather than three? (hmmm..... that makes me think of a knife - can a knife stay sharp with more than two cutting edges?... I'm getting side tracked now).

Now I'm not wanting to make excuses here to just focus upon mission, or worship, or community or whatever aspect of the call of Jesus we feel predisposed to respond to. I'm convinced that the commands of Jesus to love 'God', 'Neighbor' (and self), 'One Another' were not three options but rather something of an intertwined package. And the example that he gave us to do so was 'xtreme' to say the least.

However I think we have to acknowledge that its a complex thing we're striving for (although at times - in moments of clarity - its remarkably simple) in the midst of a chaotic world of change. How it manifests itself in each of our lives and communities will also be remarkably different from one another due to our contexts.

I'm thinking out loud here again - writing on the fly again so please forgive me while I attempt something resembling a point.

I'm wondering if we need to learn to see the call of Jesus as a more integrated, single focused call again? Whilst using language like, 'Inner, Outer and Together' journeys can be helpful to unpack his message and help us respond - perhaps they also limit us in someway. Maybe our knife does have three edges, perhaps even more? Maybe its time to try to get our head around a more integrated life of faith again.

Interested in your thoughts - feelings - reactions - experiences to some of this.

Headaches - Sleeplessness - Digestive Problems - Social awkwardness - the Bloggers Curse

14 September, 2004 7:25 PM

The Greenman has an interesting post titled That Blog Is Bad For Your Health which looks at a study into characteristics of people who write diaries (which can't be that dissimilar to bloggers). Should be some uplifting findings shouldn't it? After all blogs are great aren't they!? So what are these findings?

'They are more likely to suffer from headaches, sleeplessness, digestive problems and social awkwardness than people who do not maintain a diary, on line or otherwise.'

Hmmm - ok. So how many of you bloggers out there does that describe?

Here is my response over at the Greenman

'eerrr....

- headaches....only generally before morning coffee....
- sleeplessness.....ok - now you're talking about me
- digestive problems....peppermint tea is a wonderful thing
- social awkwardness.....MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS - STOP PRESSING MY BUTTONS - WHO ARE YOU TO MAKE JUDGEMENT CALLS ABOUT ME - I'VE GOT FRIENDS....A COUPLE OF THEM I'VE EVEN MET IN PERSON!....'

So the question remains - does blogging give us these ailments or do we blog because we have them?

Jesus and Food

14 September, 2004 7:01 PM

food.jpgAs part of our 'Food Spirituality Series' at LivingRoom (I have mentioned it here havn't I?) tomorrow night we're going to be taking a look at 'Jesus and Food'. When I started thinking about it earlier in the week I naively thought it would be a pretty simple and contained topic - but of course I should have known that nothing is that easy. This is one of those topics that gets bigger and bigger the more you pick at it.

Jesus talks about food (it permeates his parables) - he performs miracles with it (handy - you'd never have to pack a lunch with him as your mate) - he uses it to describe himself (bread of life) - he eats it (perhaps too much - described as a glutton and a drunk) - he prepares it for his disciples (fish on the BBQ on the beach) - he attends feasts (weddings, parties, anything) - he's tempted with it (stones into bread) - he teaches about it (fasting/cleanliness of food) - he got into trouble over it (he ate with the 'wrong people' constantly) - and he uses it to help his disciples to remember him (Last supper).

And that's just scratching the surface. Question remains - how does one tackle a topic this big in an evening? Hmmmm

Emerging Church Resonance

14 September, 2004 6:44 PM

The last few months I've seen an increased interest from a number of groups that are searching for information on and learning about Emerging Church. Today Kim and I from Forge had the privilege of sharing a session about our respective churches at a bible college that has a whole subject dedicated to 'Emerging Missional Church' this year. Last week I did a phone conference call with a class of pastors from another bible college. Its so fantastic to see people genuinely interested in what we're doing.

When we first started I'd had a few weird reactions to what we're trying with LivingRoom from other churchy types - I'm not sure if we were perceived at heretics, threats or just plain crazy - but as time is going on I'm finding more and more people resonating and comfortable with what we're doing. Of course there are still some who give a bit of a quizzical look or who ask questions that seem to be attached to iceberg like agendas (not much showing but loads under the surface) - but in general people are incredibly supportive and encouraging.

Interesting times.

Discipleship Workshop - Melbourne

13 September, 2004 10:09 PM

FOR005 Postcard 0904-2.pdf

Here are the details of an upcoming event that Melbournian readers might be interested in that Forge (who I work for part time) is running in October.

John Jensen (formerly from California - now part of the Forge team in Victoria) will be sharing on the theme of Discipleship in a New World. We've chosen this theme as a result of having a number of requests for a more practical night of sharing some tips and strategies for helping people to grow in their faith in the chaotic world we live in.

John is a gifted communicator and will share some material that he's actually used and seen implemented very successfully in a number of contexts. This would be a great night to bring a small group or community to so feel free to invite anyone who might be interested.

You'll see the details below in the brochure above (click to download pdf - feel free to print it and use it in inviting others). The basics are:

Where: Retro Cafe (upstairs) - 413 Brunswick St Fitzroy.
When: 7th October
Time: Either 6pm (ish) for dinner (an informal dinner in the cafe downstairs with some of the Forge people) or come at 7.30pm for the start of the night upstairs.
Cost: $10 for students/pension and $15 for everyone else. There will also be food and drinks available for purchase during the night at normal cafe prices.

lukephillips.com

11 September, 2004 10:49 AM

Fellow Melbournian blogger, Luke Phillips, has finally gone and registered a domain name for his blog - very nice one too. I think I should be able to remember lukephillips.com
Nice.

"They are not a church!"

9 September, 2004 5:46 PM

Phil over at signposts has an interesting post that sounds vaguely familiar. Its a comment that someone made about his church....

""They are not a Church. They do things in a cafe and in homes. They do it during the week too and not just on Sunday. At some of these things that they call 'worship' they have a meal together and they call that communion! Jesus told us to meet on Sunday and to go to Church. They are not a Church!""

Read more at signposts: what they think:

Blast hits central Jakarta - Australian Embassy Targeted ?

9 September, 2004 4:13 PM

It looks like the Australian Embassy in Jakarta may have been the target of a bomb in the last few hours. Will follow the story here on this post - more to come.

update - Australian news reports are now reporting 7 now dead with over 50 wounded. Pictures of the buildings around the blast show evidence of a massive explosion. It is being called a terrorist attack.

Eye witnesses say that it was a car bomb.

'I am now a couple of hundred metres back from the bomb site. It really is a chaotic scene. There are sirens going off in the background - fire engines, ambulances and police are everywhere. A huge crowd has gathered here to try to find out what happened. There is a massive crater outside the Australian embassy. There is a green security fence and the crater is the other side of that.... There are mangled remains of cars and motorbikes that were thrown up into the air by the force of the blast. Eyewitnesses saw two bodies being carried away. I have seen body parts on the ground.' Read more at Eyewitness: Jakarta blast

"A powerful blast has hit Jakarta's central business district near the Australian Embassy, killing at least three people and wounding many more.

Several bodies" were seen just outside the Australian Embassy's 6- meter (20-foot) high steel gate, which was mangled in the blast, CNN's Maria Ressa reported.

The blast -- which Ressa said was "far larger" than a blast which killed 12 in the JW Marriot Hotel in the same district last year -- shattered nearly all the windows in seven surrounding buildings, including several high-rises.

Witnesses reported hearing the blast as far as 10 kilometers (6 miles) away." Read more at CNN.com - Blast hits central Jakarta

A powerful bomb exploded near the Australian Embassy in Jakarta on Thursday, killing at least three people and wounding 50, witnesses and officials said.

No one inside the heavily fortified embassy was wounded in the blast, though windows were shattered, said Lyndall "Sachs, a spokeswoman for the Australian foreign ministry in Canberra. Local security officials said that an Indonesian security guard manning a post outside the gate was among the three dead.

In the same neighborhood last year, a suicide attack at the JW Marriott hotel killed 12 people. Australia, the United States and several other countries have recently warned that Muslim militants may be planning new attacks in Indonesia.

Hospital officials said that more than 50 people were wounded." Read more at Bomb at Australian Embassy Kills Three, Wounds 50

'Six people are believed to have died in a massive blast outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta, the Australian prime minister has said. John Howard said it was thought the explosion was a car bomb. The BBC's Rachel Harvey in Jakarta says the blast left a large crater in the ground and damaged nearby buildings and motor vehicles. Helicopters, ambulances and police units are at the site, in Kuningen, a district to the south of the city.' Read more at Massive blast at Jakarta embassy

Read more at: - Huge Blast in Jakarta, at Least Three Dead
- Terrorists behind fatal bomb blast
- No Australians killed in bomb blast
- Australia not intimidated by bomb: PM
- Jakarta Blast Pictures
- Bomb blast rocks Australian embassy
- Bombing at Australian Embassy in Indonesia Kills Seven, Wounds 98 - Indonesia shares slip after blast
- Australian Embassy in Jakarta Shattered by Blast
- Australian embassy evacuated in Jakarta
- Howard sends envoy, bomb experts
- Bomb blast heard 2km away
- Travel warning issued for Indonesia

Where do your Blog Readers Look?

9 September, 2004 9:20 AM

I just found this fascinating article that has been written about some research into where web page readers eyes go when reading online news sources. I need to digest it a little more yet - however there are some interesting findings in the research that I'm sure would apply to us as bloggers as we consider the layout of our blogs. Here are a couple of snippets from the article.

The remainder of this post has been relocated to Where do your Blog Readers Look?.

Food Ethics

8 September, 2004 11:54 PM

Tonight at LivingRoom we did a little excursion to Melbourne's 'Food and Wine Festival' to see a panel discuss the topic of 'Food Ethics'. We're currently doing a series on the 'spirituality of food' and this panel came at the perfect time. Last week we had a similar discussion as a group around issues of organic food, chemicals in food, biblical references to diet (mainly in Genesis and Daniel) etc.

It has been a really rich topic to explore and one which is particularly relevant to our local context where vegetarianism, organic food and healthy living is hugely popular in our area. Next week I think we'll be

Why we react more to a few hundred deaths in Russia than thousands of deaths in Sudan

8 September, 2004 3:59 PM

The following article has just been submitted by a good friend of mine - Mark Sayers - who is responding to my Beslan - Sudan - Perspective? post.

For the last several months I have been trying to get over a virus and so have spent many hours in front of the TV. I have followed the tragedy in Sudan and the Russian School siege closely for the most of the day as I recuperate. Thus I have come up with a few observations for me to make sense of these events.

The recent situation in Sudan was brought to the world�s attention by the visit of Colin Powell. Since then there has been large-scale reportage from networks such as CNN and the BBC. But recent events in Russia seem to have captured the attention of the west more than the terrible situation in Sudan. Fascinatingly the Muslim media has virtually ignored the situation, preferring to report on Iraq and Palestine where the perpetrators are non-Muslim. Aid is struggling to get through because the Janjaweed militias are still covertly operating, thus the situation might need a military intervention or peacekeepers, a prospect which the Sudanese Govt has promised to resist militarily.

So much of the response to the situations in Darfur and in Beslan concerns the freshness of media imagery. When the world first saw the tragedies in Biafra in the late 60�s there was reaction, as people saw for the first time starving African children on the nightly news as they ate their dinners. We saw this again in the Ethiopian famine in the 80�s which saw a massive outpouring of aid (live aid/band aid etc) But the problem of starvation in Africa did not end, and a collective feeling of disempowerment has set in for Western people who have grown up with images of African children with swollen bellies in dusty refugee camps. When we see a situation like Darfur we feel that we can do nothing. We see a sweating BBC reporter telling us what has already happened, and what will happen and we feel hopeless.

The difference with events in Sudan and those such as Sept 11 and Beslan is that we view them in real time, we see the second plane hit the tower, we see the WTC fall, we see a basketball court rigged with explosives and packed with children. Images unlike starving children because we have never seen them before. They are fresh images, which strike us with horror, because we must find somewhere to place them and interpret them.

My wife and I watched the whole end of the tragedy in Beslan in RealTime, we saw the naked, bloodied children running for their lives. We heard the ITV reporter on his mobile phone inside the compound metres from the Russian troops tell us that a bullet had just missed his head and that a soldier had been felled near him. Those like me watching cable coverage heard of events even quicker than those watching Russian TV nearby (who did not interrupt programming to cross to the scene). We were not just people hearing a report after the event, rather we were participants in a media event.

Al-Qaeda and terrorists of their ilk are not just staging attacks, rather they are creating media events. When I hear that 50,000 people have been killed I feel terrible and I try and comprehend the fact but I find it difficult. However when I see as I did the other night, the footage of an Iraqi insurgent grab the head of a dirt poor Nepalese truck driver, who�s eyes are filled with fear, and then slowly cut his throat with a knife and then witness the horrible gush of blood pouring out into the dirt as life ebbs away. When I saw that image, I felt a physical shock go through my body and I had to turn away, I kept thinking about that poor man and I felt sick for the rest of the night. I can�t help thinking what if that truck driver was my loved one or even me. Why? Because imagery and sound will always affect us in a deeper way. Figures and numbers and words can never reach us at the human level the way that terrified driver eyes did or the way the sight of people jumping to their deaths before us from the WTC did, or the Korean Christian missionary did pleading for his life in Iraq. I am sure that if there had been cameras capturing the rapes and massacres of Darfur , there would have been a similar response from people in the West. Sadly African desert in the middle of nowhere is not a good stage for the media savvy terrorists. The difference between the siege in Beslan and the ethnic cleansing in Sudan is that one is crafted by its perpetrators to be seen by the world, the other was designed to be hidden from the world. I think it is unrealistic to believe that we don�t care about Sudanese victims because they are black and poor, I have higher hopes for humanity. We need to offer people ways of helping them interpret what they see, and encourage people to help issues like Sudan.

As soon as I saw the tragedy in Sudan I got online, within seconds I found a Christian aid group who I could donate to, I got our Church to pray about the situation in Sudan at our prayer meeting, I explained the situation to those who had not heard about it. Out of that prayer meeting a conversation has begun in our church about what we can do to help the many Sudanese refugee families that are settling in our area, there is talk of people volunteering to help in many ways. As I watched the horror unfold in Beslan, I chose not to just be a passive voyeur, instead I offered my humble prayers for those caught up in the battle and for their families. Maybe one of the roles of the emerging church leader is to be an interpreter of media to wade through the spin of the Left/Right/Radical Islamic/Nationalist/US/European lenses which distribute the reality of life on this planet, to help people to promote the kingdom of God and help in real ways, not remaining paralysed by terror or pinned down by apathy. I think it was the US Christian activist Ched Myers who said something like, �now that we have all this media technology we can no longer say we did not know�.

Happy Birthday Google

8 September, 2004 9:28 AM

6th_birthday.gif
I'd like to wish Google a happy 6th Birthday. I love Google - it is rare that a company has such a massive impact so quickly. It is hard to imagine a world without Google (well it is for me) - they have really achieved do much in their 6 years - I find it difficult to believe that they've come so far so quickly.

When they first started I remembered thinking that their search engine was pretty cool - but I had no idea how it (and their other services) would change the way I use the internet - and ultimately earn an income.

So the question remains - what does one buy an international successful business that seems to have everything for their birthday?

Tragedy - Beslan - Sudan - Perspective?

7 September, 2004 6:22 PM

Along with most of the world this week I've followed the tragic story of the siege and massacre in Beslan Russia. I've refrained from posting about it largely because in these situations I find that there are not really words to respond to the devastation that this event has caused in the lives of hundreds of people in that country. I've watched the news reports with horror, sadness and despair. The media here in Australia have covered the story from many angles - our papers and evening news services have been filled with disturbing pictures and footage and thousands of words describing the goings ons of the days leading up to and after the peak of the crisis.

I listened this afternoon to talk back radio and was amazed to see the impact that an event on the other side of the world from us can have upon so many people. In our town hall in the centre of our city they have set up a condolence book for Melbournians to sign - people have turned out in their hundreds and thousands to express their sympathy for the people of Beslan. Apparently a number of Russian groups here in Melbourne have been overwhelmed by the show of support and compassion from the general public here. Other opportunities to give financially have also been launched through various charities.

Without wanting to decrease the magnitude of the Beslan situation it has gotten me thinking a little about the way in which some tragic events (like the one in Beslan) capture our attention and yet others seem to slip by with barely a mention in our media.

For example the situation in Sudan is critical at the moment.

'Despite a recent peace agreement in Sudan, conflict continues in the western province of Darfur where an 18-month-old war is creating a major humanitarian crisis. The fighting has killed 50,000, displaced more than 1 million people in Darfur and forced nearly 200,000 to seek refuge in neighboring Chad. More than 2 million Sudanese are now in urgent need of food and medical attention.'

Again - I'm not saying Beslan isn't worthy of media attention, I'm not wanting to draw direct comparisons between Beslan and Sudan - they are different situations which are both horrific - it grieves me to see what is happening in Beslan - however the situation in Sudan is positively terrifying. Did you read that quote?

- 50,000 killed
- 1 million displaced from their homes
- 200,000 fleeing the country
- 2 million in danger of death due to lack of food and medical attention.

Now I can only speak for what is happening in Australia - perhaps other countries are featuring this in their news headlines, filling their newspapers with pictures of the Sudanese, starting campaigns to send messages of condolence and more importantly relief to those working to meet the needs in that region - but from what I see here in Australia the issue has barely been a blip on the radar. I've seen a few mentions about it in the back pages of papers and once on the news - but I wonder if we've got things in perspective?

Why is it that some tragic situations capture our attention whilst others go largely ignored? Is it because it is all just too overwhelming? Is it that the Sudan crisis, and others like the AIDS epidemic in parts of Africa and Asia are ongoing and long term problems? Is it that live pictures of starving children doesn't make as riveting TV as a hostage drama? Is it because Africa is somehow less accessible to our media than Europe?

I'm really not sure what the answer is - but I wish there was something we could do to get some perspective. As I sit here tonight watching the late night news I wonder what I (we?) can do about it?

Read more about the Sudan crisis at:
- Oxfam: Sudan Crisis
- Amnesty: Sudan crisis- In our silence we are complicit
- Deadline looms in Sudan crisis
- Human Rights Watch - Sudan: Darfur Destroyed
- In Sudan crisis, a duty to intervene?

The great Blog Ad debate

5 September, 2004 11:30 PM

Douglas Rushkoff and Jeff Jarvis are having an interesting 'discussion' on whether advertisements on blogs can corrupt a blogger's work.

Douglas Rushkoff writes - 'there might be a value in ad-free blogging; that doing it for money, for ads, may not change our writing on a conscious level, but that we may be changed - yes, corrupted - by the ads we're endorsing, er, displaying....' Douglas adds another post here.

Jeff Jarvis replies - 'But if you want ads to help support yourself in this new medium -- and thus support the growth of this medium with more contributions from more voices and more perspectives with more information and conversation and value, then you can do that. Maybe you can even quit working for The Man; what could be more counterculture than that?

The beauty of this medium -- yes, the rave quality of it -- is that I can do what I want to do and you can do what you want to do and our freedom is not zero-sum. It ain't a slam dance, man.'

Ken Layne enters the debate writing - 'In the media world, rejecting Capitalism is the exclusive realm of those who have succeeded as capitalists. I'd love to be rich and not give a damn about those BlogAds or Google ad strips. I'd be real happy to have CBS and BBC and a bunch of publishers sending me checks. But they don't. I work on the Web. And telling me I shouldn't be able to make a living as you do -- not that there's any chance in hell of that happening -- is like telling starving kids in Sudan how lucky they are not to be corrupted by McDonald's.'

Whilst I've always acknowledged that blogging for dollars has the potential to compromise bloggers I tend to come down on Jeff's side of this debate. Really it comes down to choice. I agree with Douglas (and Jeff) that putting ads on one's site does lead to some interesting decisions and choices - but I'd argue that this is true for all bloggers as they navigate the medium of blogging.

You see I think a blogger can be 'compromised' simply in who they link to. How many bloggers out there link regularly to A list bloggers with the hope that it might get them noticed by that blogger? How many bloggers have left comments on other blogs with the hope of others surfing back to their blog from the link? How many bloggers write about a topic they are not really interested in with the hope of creating some controversy to generate hits?

Of course not all bloggers blog this way - but they are some of the issues/temptations that most bloggers face - especially when starting out.

I guess whether it comes to these issues - or putting ads on your site - it all comes down to character, being aware of the possibility of compromise, staying true to yourself and being transparent. I'm also a big believer in being honest in your blogging. I have no issue with the fact that this blog has a few ads and they earn me a few dollars. My other blogs earn me more and are emerging into something of a business - and I think that that is pretty clear from their set up. If however I posted about books that I'd never read or movies I'd never seen just to put ads for them up (without a disclaimer) I'd be compromising myself somewhat.

Fathers Day 2004

5 September, 2004 5:12 PM

Big day today with lots of dads stuff (V and I have three between us). It is always a nice opportunity to see the whole family in just a few hours - although its a little tiring especially having to drive from one side of the city to the other. Anyway - I'm feeling rather full and sleepy this afternoon.

Tonight I'm heading out to a local pub to see the band of a guy I've met in a local cafe (which I frequent most mornings as part of my daily rhythm). Will be good to see them again. Some of the LivingRoom gang are coming out too - should be fun.

Discipleship in a New World

3 September, 2004 11:53 AM

As part of the Forge network I'm helping to put on an event exploring the theme of 'Discipleship in a New World'. Many of us have experimented with emerging forms of worship, mission, communication, community etc - but one of the questions I'm hearing more and more being asked is 'how do you disciple people in this postmodern context?'

The world is in a rapid state of change - at times it feels pretty chaotic - people can be so transient, dysfunctional, busy - how do we actually take seriously the command of Jesus to 'make disciples' in this context?

Well we don't have all the answers, but it is a theme that we'll be exploring in an evening in October here in Melbourne. If it is a theme you'd be interested in exploring check out the details below. One of our team, John Jensen, will facilitate the night and present a way forward that I've found to be quite simple yet profound.

So come along to:

Retro Cafe (upper room) - 413 Brunswick St Fitzroy (Melbourne Australia - sorry you overseas bods!)
Thursday 7th October 7.30-9.30pm
Bring $15 or $10 if you are a student/unemployed
Food and drink will be available for purchase during the evening at the bar.

Come early (6pm) to grab a bite to eat with us in the cafe downstairs. Dinner will be a pretty informal time but you're more than welcome to drop by and have a bowl of risotto or pasta with us.

Contact me if you want any more information.

This would be an ideal night to bring a group to - We'll be bringing LivingRoom instead of having our regular Wednesday night meeting that week - so cancel your small group/church meeting and come along for what should be a great night of learning and networking.

Blog Plagiarism - How would you respond?

2 September, 2004 4:36 PM

You're cruising the internet - searching Google on some of your pet topics of interest to see if you can find anything new and interesting. One search result catches your eye - there is something about the title that triggers something in your mind - it looks like something you'd be interested in - could be that perfect site that will answer all your questions on the topic at hand.

You click the link and wait for the site to load. It is a pretty simple web page - uncluttered - just an article and some ads. The first sentence or two of the article are intriguing - they resonate with your experience - the person who has written this article is really coming from a similar perspective to you. In fact as you read you discover that they really really have had a similar experience to you - its like they are reading your mind even.

But then you come to a puzzling sentence - the author of this article makes reference to a couple of blogs that THEY run - blogs which REALLY resonate with your own experience - because they are your blogs!

It suddenly dawns upon you as to why title of the article grabbed you so quickly on Google - it was because you'd written that title a few months before. In fact you'd spent a whole morning writing this article (posted in its entirety) - researching, thinking, planning and writing it out.

Someone has lifted it straight off your site - including the title, personal comments and even internal links to other articles on your own blog. There is no attribution to your work, no crediting link to your blog and no acknowledgment that this is not original content. You've never seen or heard of this site before - no permission has been sought or given and what's more the site is commercial in nature and making money from your work.

So how does one respond in such a situation? An email to the site concerned asking for an explanation and removal of content raises no response initially.

Update: I'm happy to report that the threat of shame seemed to work. I appreciate the advice and encouragement set out below. The site in question emailed to say that they'd made a mistake in publishing my article - it was a 'test page' they say (despite them having it linked from their footer on every other page in their site). Anyway - dilemma over - until next time - this about the 10th time this has happened to me in 18 months (just the instances I've found).

Adsense for Blogger Bloggers

1 September, 2004 11:24 PM

Well it seems that Google have decided to let bloggers who use the Blogger system actually earn a few dollars from their blogs using the Adsense program. These are the ads that I've been running on my blogs for some time now - but they were previously not allowed on Blogger blogs. Before this latest development Blogger blogs had ads run on them which Google/Blogger took all the revenue from - now they are willing to share it with you as is outlined here. This is an interesting, and I suspect smart, move from Google/Blogger - don't think that they will lose out from giving you a cut of the ads - they will be counting on blogger who sign up being motivated by the reward to blog in larger numbers, quantity of content and about topics that pay higher paying ads which will not only bring bloggers money but increase the cut that Google take.

Those of you considering using the Adsense system on your blog should know that its not a get rich quick scheme but it does add a new dimension to your blogging experience. As I've written previously, there are ways of maximizing your adsense income. Have fun with it - you might find it pays for your blog hosting costs, ISP fees or even provide you with a bit of pocket money.

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