When I got comfortable enough I started commenting regularly on the above blogs along with some of the others on my blogroll. I've really enjoyed the interaction that comes from the discussions in the comment threads. It's led to the formation of some relationships that have been enriching for me, even if I've never seen any of my blogger friends face-to-face.
So... reading, commenting, sharpening, good relationships. But no blog of my own. For the most part that was because there was no convincing me that I had the time. But now I'm writing the first official post for my blog. Why now?
Well, if my reason for not blogging up till now was because of my lack of time, you'd think that the reason I'd start blogging would be because I came into some extra free time. That's not entirely true. It's not entirely false, though, either. You see, at this point in my life I'm a middle school teacher, and my school year is coming close to ending. So I suppose I will have more time than I've had. But that's not my only reason. Why else?
I've often wanted to journal through some of my life's experiences, but never really had the self-discipline (or maybe just the interest) to do it. Besides, if I barely have the time to write it, who's going to have the time to read it? Besides me, that is. And if me only, well, knowing myself that'd be just a snare for self-indulgence.
But in these next couple of months my life is going to change dramatically, and I thought it'd be cool to keep a record of some of those experiences of change.
Going to seminary. I guess the first big (huge!) change is that I'm going to be starting an M. Div. program at The Master's Seminary this fall. I'm really looking forward to what God has for me there. I expect it to be a time of learning, growth, stretching, and joy. And as I think about it, it seems to be a good idea to keep a record of some major events that come my way and lessons I learn throughout that experience. It'd be one way not to forget stuff I'll be learning at a very critical time in my life and ministry.
Moving. Going to seminary won't just be a life change for Janna (my lovely wife of almost a year) and me. It will also mean a geographical change. We live in New Jersey. TMS is in California. So we're swapping coasts this summer, and in the process leaving everything both of us have ever known in the way of home, family, and friends. Our feelings about that are the standard: sad to leave the great things God's blessed us with here, but excited to see what He has for us there. But I also thought now would be a cool time to start jotting down some thoughts here and there as we make this other big change.
Skeletons. (That heading get your attention?) I've thought blogging would also just be a great way not to forget various thoughts on the Bible and the Christian life that have proven to be beneficial to me and others -- thoughts for which I have no other outlet and don't want to lose. And in that vein, I think it would be a great way to document some reference material for future ministry opportunities. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his fabulous book Preaching and Preachers, calls such a process "making sermon skeletons." He advises preachers to always write down the thoughts they have about a particular passage of Scripture or a particular theme in the Bible, and give those skeletons "flesh" at a later time when a teaching opportunity presents itself. I've had a lot of "random" thoughts while reading, listening to a sermon or conference message, or talking to brothers and sisters. And I think, "I should write that down!" or "I should flesh that out more!" But I never do. Now I'll hope to have a place to do that.
Ministry. In this past year, I've begun to regularly teach the adult Sunday School class at my church. My pastor also asked me to give a Thanksgiving Eve mini-sermon. And I've also been given the opportunity (for the first time) to guest preach at a friend's church on two separate Sunday mornings. So the Lord has recently increased my opportunities to teach His people. And as I've labored in His Word, walked with Him, enjoyed Him, and grown by His Spirit, I've really learned the joy of ministering to the people of God by teaching, preaching, and exhortation. I've seen the fruit of such efforts, and it is remarkably humbling. And I've often thought that it might be beneficial to others (even those not in our Sunday School class) to hear/read about some of the things God has been teaching me.
And that last reason is largely the reason I named the blog "For Our Benefit." Summed up, that's really the goal in recording and sharing my thoughts on these matters: our benefit. In an upcoming post or two, I"ll look into that idea of benefit a bit more, and share with you in depth about why I named the blog the way I did. (I'll even share a few names that didn't make the cut!)
So, that's why I'm blogging now. Maybe I'll see you in the comment thread some time soon.