Joey Sparks
25Apr/130

Writing Well and Writing How

I've been told I write well.

College professors complimented my writing style when grading my assignments. Rarely do I write a bulletin article that someone doesn't tell me "good job," or "I liked that one." Amanda probably praises my writing ability and style more than any single strength of mine. I've even had a childhood friend praise my writing style, though he disagrees with much of what I've written.

I wouldn't dare suggest that praise is proof that I'm a good writer. But I do think I've learned throughout the years how to communicate in a clear, smooth, and enjoyable style. On that level, my on-again/off-again blogging habits are irresponsible stewardship of an ability with which the Lord has blessed me.

But this alleged "writing well" also provides a different dimension in the world of blogging. I know a lot of good writers who write blogs that stink. There are very few blogs--including popular ones--that I actually enjoy.

The blogs I enjoy most communicate a specific purpose, but are not predictable and formulaic. I can think of at least one such blog by someone I don't consider a great writer. But he (or she) is a fantastic blogger.

So it's possible part of my struggle with maintaining consistency at blogging (to a lesser degree than this) is that I've never approached this space with a sense of purpose.

I still don't know what my exact purpose for blogging should be. I know a few things I don't want it to be. And I have some ideas about what I might like for it to be.

Above all, I want to be helpful.

I have no desire to get another "Thanks for that post," "great job," or "someone needed to say this" about posts here. But my prayer is that from time-to-time, someone does something based on what they read here and it influences the kingdom, the community, or the world for good.

Our greatest struggles often aren't determining what to do. But a lot of us struggle with figuring out how. So I want to write not to write well, but to write how. Writing well easily becomes about me; but I want to write how so that it's about you. And about that someone you can help.

Again, I thank you for reading. Let's commit to helping one another. It is difficult to purposefully and consistently be helpful. But we all need it.

22Apr/132

Why I Don’t Blog More Often

"Joey has a good blog, but he doesn't update it often enough. Is that fair?" 

Words from a good friend while he was teaching ministers about blogging. It was and is a fair statement. I'm certainly aware that I don't post regularly. Not as regularly as I want. Nor as regularly as I should.

I'm not writing to apologize. And I'm not writing to make excuses. All I'm doing is telling you why:

I lack the self-discipline required to write and publish regularly.

That's not a new problem for me. And it's not reserved just for of blogging.

Like you, I'm well aware of both my strengths and weaknesses. I love to create. I love being artistic and how technology makes it easier to create art than ever before. And I enjoy writing because, for me, it is art. This is why I want to maintain a blog.

But I struggle to create the self-discipline I need to make it happen.

And I'm pretty certain God doesn't want me to stay this way. "The slacker does not plow during planting season; at harvest time he looks, and there is nothing." Proverbs 20:4

I'm not committing to doing anything in this post. I'm simply stating why I don't update it enough.

I know the Lord continues to open doors of opportunity and influence and I pray I use godly courage to commit to them. For now, it's my prayer this space continues to be such a door.

Thanks for your encouragement and for reading.

7Feb/130

Short, Helpful, and Transformational

In 20,000 Days And Counting: The Crash Course for Mastering Your Life Now, Robert D. Smith gives us a short book so as not to waste much of our time, and what's better, he also writes in an entertaining style that makes the content digestible. I love that Smith's focus is upon practical, actionable steps to help us make the most of our days. I'm still getting comfortable reading books on my Kindle Fire, but the style and formatting made it an enjoyable experience

20000Days&CountingCover

I resonated most with the section about starting the day off with forward momentum and energy. Making the most of the morning really does have the power to transform the rest of the day. I am more of a "night" person instead of a "morning" person. Smith's encouragement challenged me to reconsider *how* I start my days instead of focusing upon (and coming up short) *how early* I start them. I especially love the idea of asking, "What does God have to say to me today?" to focus in the morning with Scripture.

I also appreciate how Smith opens up into his own life without being too prideful about himself or his successes. He earns your permission and builds his case so that it benefits you, not a personal agenda of his own.

You would do well to read the book. Even better to highlight helpful thoughts & quotes. Best to put into action his advice. But even if you don't read it, be sure to count your days (Psalm 90:12).

By the way, I've lived 10,846 days thus far.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

28Nov/082

Trey Morgan: Sex, Porn, & Marriage Links

Over the past several months, Trey Morgan has published what has become a good series on men, sex, pornography, and marriage. These issues need to be addressed from a Biblical perspective much more often than they currently are. I figured linking to his articles was the least I could do for the present. Don't miss the two chilling emails from female readers. Powerful stuff. Most recent posts are listed first.

Pornography in Marriage (November 25, 2008)

Pornography and Marriage (October 22, 2008)

Men and Sex (October 15, 2008)

The Porn Myth (August 4, 2007)

Free Porn or Porn Free (January 23, 2007)

Thanks to God for the beauty of a holy marriage and thanks to Trey for these helpful posts...

20Nov/080

What If Starbucks Marketed Like the Church?

I'm not a fan of those who are constantly negative about the church. Just as my wife exercises patience with me, I hope Christ exercises patience with His bride as we overcome our faults and outgrow our immature complaining (Eph. 5:22-33).

In the process of growing and improving, there are some interesting things to consider. Over the past several years, discussion has increased concerning how to welcome guests/visitors to our assemblies. This video highlights how some of our good-intentioned efforts likely fall short at welcoming those who might be new to our assemblies. I've seen it on several blogs recently and felt it worthy of passing on.

I think there are some things worth considering. Ultimately, I think guests can easily detect whether our actions (whether or not they are considered the most "guest friendly") are growths of love and warmth.

9Jun/080

But It’s the Prom!

This is one of the best reads I've ran across in a while. I appreciate all that Brother Steve Higginbotham does in the kingdom; I'm especially grateful for his handling of this issue. I'll be running this in our bulletin next spring.

Well, dancing certainly has not become any more moral over the years. If anything, the modern dance is more sensuous today than it ever was...So then, what then has changed? What has changed are the attitudes and respect (or lack of) God’s people have for His will. Some apparently seem to be more willing to justify their “pet” sins than they are willing to justify God’s high moral standard.

But It's the Prom! (preachinghelp.org)

2Jun/080

Stuff Christians Like

Stuff Christians Like (SCL) is one of my favorite blog reads of the moment. It is a humorous approach to the daily lives of those who profess to follow Christ. Essentially, it is an attempt to "make fun" of some of the eccentricities of Christians. Some of them reflect important truths while some are about as random as it seems possible. Obviously, I don't agree with all of the conclusions and "theology" found within the posts, and it's likely you won't as well. Nevertheless, it is refreshing and worth contemplating...and laughing at.

A recent favorite: #250, The unicorn hymn or worship song.