Sunday, November 28, 2010

God Waits Patiently

I thought it apt for the first day of Advent - a season traditionally about waiting - when at church this morning Helen spoke about how God waits patiently. It was part of a series on the characteristics of God and the series just brought us to God’s patience today but this really struck me both because of the season and because of how it spoke personally to me.

Among many verses Helen quoted 2 Peter 3:9:
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”

God is patient with his people. When we sin he could respond with anger but actually ‘he is slow to anger’ and bears with us patiently. Yes God’s timing is impeccable. He came to this earth at the right time, he will come again at the right time and he comes to us to meet our needs just at the right time - whatever we may say.

Patience is rare. We get so wound up when things don’t go fast enough or when we are driving and another driver cuts in front of us forcing us to slow down. We now live at such a pace that we cannot wait for the sort of “slow food” that was common a century or more ago. Helen gave the illustration that someone might even say “hurry up” to the microwave. By the way you might be interested Helen that there is a trend to recapture that idea of slow food. You can find out about slow food movement here and here.

God isn’t like us. His patience is unlimited. It is his nature to calmly endure delay without complaining; to wait with calmness and endurance. But amazingly as Christians we can actually be carriers of God’s patience to others – just as we can carry many of his other characteristics such as his mercy and grace to others. One memorable point was that the fact we are told in Colossians 3:12 to clothe ourselves with, amongst other things, patience indicates that it must be in our wardrobe. I also liked the little insight that we get impatient when we see a lack, a lack of time, a lack of ability, a lack of power but God doesn’t lack anything - yes of course - and with God neither do we.

So when people try our patience – as our children often do – it is to see if our patience is any good. At first it might not be but don’t be afraid they will keep giving you opportunities to develop it!

This really spoke to me not just because I am reading about advent in my own devotions but also because I becoming aware just how impatient I have sometimes been and sense that God is beginning to build this character strength in me.

Thanks for that word Helen.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Christian Perspective on Positive Psychology

Recently I have been reading through some books on Positive Psychology and trying to get my head round these from a Christian viewpoint. In doing so I found this series of talks by John Van Sloten from New Hope Church Calgary. You can find Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 on YouTube. I found these talks really helpful as he looks at one of these books that I have been reading in the light of the Bible. Van Sloten appears to talk regularly on cultural issues relating them to the Bible. I am finding these talks very inspiring and relevant.

Van Sloten’s starting point is that an optimistic outlook gives you more confidence for life – life feels more do-able when we feel positive. He argues that positive emotions and thoughts are a gift from God who made us with positive psychological capacities to give us a full life – to be fully human and to know God fully. For instance, in Martin Seligman’s book Authentic Happiness we find this capacity inside of us whereas in the Bible we find this capacity outside of us – from God – whose Spirit has come to live within us.

John Van Sloten looks at what this worldwide phenomena of positive psychology and he looks at what one particular this key book Authentic Happiness has to say to the Bible and visa versa. I can identify with the way that Van Sloten felt he had to overcome a prejudice that ‘positive thinking’ was denial of truth. But I would tend to agree that there is a deeper understanding in Seligman’s book than I have found with positive thinking or positive confession teaching.

Van Sloten goes on to draw some interesting parallels between the signature strengths outlined and spiritual gifts and fruit of the spirit as defining characteristics that God has given us to enable us to live out of God’s love including loving ourselves – not in a selfish way – but in order to love others.

He relates the psychology phenomena of flow – when you are totally lost in a moment and time stops for you – to the Biblical idea of joy. He sees both of these as being times when we are doing what we are here to do when we are working to overcome a challenge by making things right. Perhaps worship when we are in this flow with God in mind?

He quoted Seligman “Flow occurs when the challenges you face perfectly mesh with your abilities to meet them” He then compares this to something he had often heard Christian preachers say, “Your calling is where your greatest gifts and talents meet the worlds greatest needs.”

As I have been listening to these talks I am getting more and more convinced that there is a lot to be gained from looking at books like Authentic Happiness and other books on positive psychology and examining them from a Christian perspective. Of course it is important to do this with discernment and I am particularly wary of a superficial positive perspective.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

How To Make Money Blogging

Darren Rowse’s blog ProBlogger is an excellent blog that tells you how to make money by blogging and I have just noticed a recent post that tells me he has also started running on online course. Such bloggers the latest types infopreneurs – entrepreneurs who trade in information. Infopreneurs are not new. They used to sell there own books and recordings of their talks and conferences. Now they blog.

So how can writing a blog make you money? According to blogs and books like Problogger the basic idea is that you write some good stuff – “killer content” and attract readers to your blog and get them to keep coming back for more. You need to understand who you are writing for and develop one or more niche markets but basically you write about what you know or are interested in and find others that are also interested in those things. It sounds like an ideal job!

The money comes from adding adverts with links. AdSense being one of the most common but there are also partnerships with, for example, Amazon and even Ebay that you can develop so that you make referrals to them. This is called “monetizing” your blog. When people click through the ads it earns you money.

You can also sell things over the internet that will interest your niche market. This will probably be books or ebooks based on the content of your blog. Darren says that you shouldn’t worry too much about the fact that you give so much information away for free on your blog – as surprising people do still pay for a repackaged version of your blog with that 10% that you held back. He calls this the bikini effect. The more you reveal just increases the desire for small parts that are hidden!

Looking at Amazon the book ProBlogger by Darren Rowse and Chris Garret (updated to it’s second edition this year) is the best selling book on this subject. But I still think you should take the subtitle of Darren & Chris’s book with a pinch of salt – ‘Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income’! It sounds like a lot of work to even attempt to make it that successful and they don’t recommend giving up you day job until you are getting a reasonable income to live on.

Neverless I might have a go!