It has been my desire to bring glory to God and praise to Jesus through this blog. I want to start this post by thanking you for following the blog. It gives me a chance to serve God in a special way, and you are a huge part of that.
According to my statistics page, though the site has been steadily growing in visitors over the past months, there was a huge leap in visitors in February! If 25 more people come to the site, I will have broken 1000 views in a month (the highest ever!) That’s all because you have been liking and sharing the articles with your friends. I am humbled and so very thankful! Glory to God!
Starting this week I’ve added a new feature to the blog — a podcast! You may have already noticed that the past few posts have had audio attached to the top. The podcast will be an easy way to get access to all of these audio clips from multiple devices. Most often these clips will be from my preaching and teaching ministry, but I also want to include audio book reviews, devotionals and other special features. I’m definitely open to suggestions for content!
There are lots of ways to listen:
- On the Blog: The audio will be at the top of the post, so you can listen at your computer.
- On your Favourite Device: Take AOTCN with you on your favourite device. Click here for instructions.
- On iTunes: If you like to use iTunes to organize your music and podcasts, click the banner above, or this link.
- On Almost Anything Else: I’ve set up the podcast using Feedburner so no matter what you want to use, you’ll probably find it here.
How You Can Help
It would be great if you would keep up the good work of liking and sharing the Art of the Christian Ninja. Here’s some ways to pass it around:
- Like & Share on Facebook
- Retweet on Twitter.
- Use the “Share This:” feature at the bottom of each post (which gives you 14 different ways to share including E-Mail, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Google+!)
Another way you can help is to give me feedback! I love hearing from you:
- What was your favourite post? Least favourite?
- What do you think of the length and style of the posts?
- What topics would you like covered that you haven’t seen already?
- What would you like to hear on the podcast?
- What are you curious about?
- How can I minister to you best through AOTCN?
Thank you again for all of your support and I hope to keep serving you in the future.
I bought some dark coffee — Starbucks Christmas Blend (super yummy!) and Muskoka Roastery’s Black Bear (which is so dark it’s like drinking ink… delicious, delicious, ink. It even seems to argue with the milk saying, “No, we won’t be turning mocha-coloured today. We’re shooting for a dark-grey.”)
I went through a dark mood — I occasionally battle depression. It’s not as bad or as long as it used to be, but it happens and I know how to deal with it.
And, I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but I went dark online — no Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linked-In, WordPress…
The last one was the biggest challenge. I’m so active online these days that it was really hard to unplug. I almost think in “status updates” now! When I’m having fun I think, “I should post this…”. When my kids do something cute I think, “I should post this…”. When I have a funny or deep thought I think, “I should post this…”.
Al, It’s Time To Go Dark
About 10 days ago I felt God tell me that I had a problem, so I went dark. Now that I’m back I want to pass along to you what He said and what I learned. Perhaps you’ve been listening to God and He’s been saying something similar.
(No, this isn’t word-for-word what He said (it doesn’t work like that — at least not for me), but it is certainly the impression He gave me.)
“It’s becoming about you again, Al. You want attention, accolades, ‘likes’, hits, comments, praise and glory. You should know better by now, but you keep setting yourself up for this temptation and therefore you keep falling for it! Remember, I didn’t give you a voice so you could squander your words on trivial, mundane, uninspired tripe. I gave you your voice to bring Me glory. I didn’t allow this technology to be created so you can feed your pride-monster, but so that you can teach, learn from, support, encourage, and point people toward me. I’m fine with you using these things if you use them to grow closer to me and serve my people, but if they get in the way, I will have to remove them from you for your own good. Be careful not to replace My voice with someone else’s or seek affirmation from worldly sources — it will lead you into trouble. I want you to shut them down for a while. Don’t post a status saying you will be stopping — that focuses the attention on you — just stop. I’ll let you know when you can go back on.”
Lessons From The Dark
Now, this wasn’t easy. When I went dark:
– I lost that constant stream of worldly affirmation I was getting through hits, retweets, reposts, comments, likes, and the rest.
– I wasn’t getting immediate feedback and had to wait for God to speak rather than seek the voice of others.
– The constant flow of digital information stopped and I felt out of touch. When the only voice inputting new information was the voice of God through scripture, worship music, meditation and prayer, I found that it wasn’t enough, which was quite scary for me to realize.
– I found myself craving media. In fact, there were times that I just wanted to see the glowing light of a screen — I didn’t even care what was on it. There’s something seriously wrong with that.
– I learned that I multitask way too much and don’t focus my activities for any length of time, so not stopping to check e-mail, Twitter and Facebook feeds right in the middle of reading a book was actually difficult.
Now That I’m Back
It took at least 7 days before my mind stopped saying “Hey, post that” or “Go check Twitter”, but after that time, things started to get so much better. I felt closer to God, less stressed, less pressed, more focused. I picked up a book and read page after page, and was able to really get into it and take the journey with the author. Going dark became a joyful and learning experience for me.
I almost didn’t come back. I almost closed all my accounts and stayed dark. The only reason I didn’t was because of God saying that He gave me this voice, and the technology to get it out there, for His glory and He wants me to use it. So, I’m back and hoping to bring you better, more focused, deeper and more helpful content than ever. After all, the mission of this blog is to be “Passionately dedicated to helping you find the tools and inspiration you need to pursue a deeper, consistent and more meaningful relationship with God.”
If there is any way I can do that, please let me know!*
*Yes, I realize that writing this post and ending it by asking for feedback drips with irony.