Have You Already Had Your Reward?

Blogs, tweets, Facebook pages, and the internet generally have changed our lives in dramatic ways. Wise believers have embraced our new technologies and have used them to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ in ways inconceivable just ten years ago. Much of what we do here at the Institute for Nouthetic Studies would be impossible without these new tools.

Some creative believers, however, have also found new and inventive ways to use the internet to dishonor both Christ and themselves. Consider our Lord’s words in the Sermon on the Mount—

Be careful not to do your righteous acts in front of people, so that you will be seen by them. Otherwise you will have no reward from your Father Who is in the heavens. Therefore, when you give to charity, don’t blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may be praised by people. Let me assure you, they have their reward.

Today, there is a growing trend to replace trumpeting with tweeting and the streets with the digital highway. Facebook and Twitter have become places for many to advertise their good works and promote their own spirituality. This past week I have read reports of how may counseling sessions a particular counselor has conducted (and how many overwhelmed pastors he has bailed out by his wisdom), how many tracts one individual has passed out, how much time one person has spent in prayer, and how many hours a pastor spent in sermon preparation for one sermon (which caused me to wonder about his sermon preparation skills). This morning I just defriended an individual who thought all his friends would appreciate knowing how much he loves the people in his church, the unique worship experience he feels only when he is with these wonderful people, and how much of this is caused by the ministry he is having there.

What about you? Do you use the internet and the many new social networking tools to communicate effectively and profitably with friends and family, or is it a means to promote your own personal piety?

Why So Many?

“I suppose it’s a fair question—if not, tell me so.  But, why are you writing so many blogs?”

I could answer facetiously by saying that I’m hoping that eventually I might write a good one.  But that wouldn’t be true.

The reason is that I have found such writing free, satisfying and (I hope) helpful.  On that last point, I have had some feedback in the affirmative.

“Why so free and satisfying, as you put it?”

“Look. I’ve been writing for centuries.  But always before it was editors, revisions, delays interminable in getting materials published.  But this—mirable dictu—I can write what I want, without editing, and get it published the same or the next day.  You don’t know what freedom that is until you’ve become a published author.

Moreover, I can write briefly, say what I want, and quit. Recently, I was asked to write something  8300 words long.  That’s restrictive.  I did, but I begrudged the fact that I was being constrained to take that many words to say what I could have said much more briefly.  I didn’t pad it [much]; but tried to make most of the words count.

Blogging is also an up-to-date medium.  If something happens today, I can comment on it and be published tomorrow.  I haven’t used this capability yet, but I’m aware of the potential that there is to do it. The day probably will come.

Finally, in answer to your question, I have more time on my hands now, and I thought I’d use it in what I hope will be profitable to others who read.  I used to travel and speak.  Now, my traveling days are over.  So, instead of traveling, my fingers are traveling over the keys.

I hope I’ve answered your question satisfactorily.  If you have any more to ask—check in with Donn.  And if he deems it worthwhile, he’ll tell me about it.


Simplistic? . . . or Simple

OK. So you’ve become an avid reader of this blog. Good. We appreciate it. But have you profited from any of the articles? Now, you don’t have to, you understand—we don’t want you working at it too hard. And some of it is more joshing around than it is instruction. But the former is usually attached to some point, and the latter may even be pretty heavy.

Though—it is a settled maxim with me that no matter how complex, how profound, how difficult to understand, it can be made intelligible. Indeed, I would go so far as to say simple. That which is simple is not necessarily simplistic. Simplicity often takes more effort to achieve than obfuscation. Some of us who have spend our entire writing and speaking lives working at simplicity will testify to that fact. So, when you hear someone say, “That’s simplistic,” pause and ask yourself “Is what he is commenting about really simplistic, or is his understanding of it so?”

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Falling Asleep

Ever fall asleep at your computer? It’s a lot easier to do so now than when I was a vigorous young man—I can attest to the fact. And, that’s not just because at that time I didn’t have a computer! One of the things that’s likely to happen when you do is mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm or something like mcs’iapfu[bnge[r9 bk/gyyouib. Your hand may remain on a key for the fraction of a second, then slide its way along the keyboard as you drift off—with the above results. When you wake up, you wonder whether or not it might have been the most intelligent thing that you’ve written in the manuscript so far [do we have manuscripts any longer since we rarely do anything manually?].

At any rate, you may think that many of my blogs are written while half asleep. Let me assure you that if there are any blogs like that, they’re probably my very best. But when I write what I’m about to say in this one today, I can tell you, without qualification, that I’m wide awake! And mean every word of it. And I think I know what I’m saying.

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No Blogs Left in Me Today

DSC00600Today, it seems as though there isn’t single blog left in me. I can’t even come up with a subject, let alone get started. I guess there are just days like that. The fact that pain today is at a high level may have something to do with it, but I usually write in spite of the pain that is always with me, and even try to inject a little humor—so I’m not sure that makes the difference.

Obviously, you don’t want to go on reading this non-blog, I’m sure, so I advise you to simply turn back to our home page and take another look at the firm, but pleasant expression on Donn Arms’ face. Now, isn’t that better?

OK, so you want me to say something worthwhile—but I still can’t come up with it. Let me suggest instead that you attempt to write your own blog. Send me a dozen or so of these, and if there is one that we think printable we’ll do so. How’s that?

Well, I guess I’ve filled up a minimum of space, so I’d better say “So long.”

So long.



There are many reasons for writing a blog. I have two. One, I think that in spite of old age, I am physically able to do so, even though it seems that it would be difficult to actually produce a new book-length piece of writing. Physical problems, at my age, can “get to you” in such a way that you have to take too many breaks to unstiffen the joints, get up off a chair that seems to be getting harder every minute, etc. Though I think there is still a book or two in me, I doubt if they’ll ever see daylight.

The second reason is that, with a blog, I can have a ministry that I am still capable of carrying on. Since I believe I should minister—in one way or another—until I can do so no longer, this is one of the several ways that I have been able to find an outlet for ministry. There may be others that I haven’t yet discovered, but possibly will yet arise. For the moment, this seems the most productive. INS receives enough letters in response to my blogs that it seems that this is definitely a ministry. So, do two things for me, if you will: (1) pray for God’s use of these blogs; (2) let us hear from you about matters you’d like me to discuss in them.


Why Write?

Why am I bothering to write this blog?

“Don’t ask me. I can‘t get inside of your head.”

I know. I know. But you see . . . Oh, what’s the use?

“Well, since I haven’t the slightest inkling about what your question is, but you’ve got me intrigued, I think it’s only right for you, at least, to explain what your problem is.”

I guess you’re right. OK. Here goes. I write and write and I sometimes get responses, but they are often entirely off the point. People are interested in themselves—in what is uppermost in their own minds at the moment. They may or may think what I write has relevance to them—and that seems to make the difference in how they respond.

“But you have no idea how many people read what you’re saying and say, ‘That’s just what I needed to hear,’ do you?”

Only generally. So why write, then? I may be communicating with a mud wall, for all I know.

“Listen. Don’t get discouraged. I have a thought.”

Good. What is it?

“We have an archives section to this website with blogs on scores of topics. If people would only read these they’d find something that meets their current situation, I’m sure.”

Great suggestion—and they’re (i.e., the topics—not the people) all sorted out under different heading for easy access.

“Right. Now get back to work.”

Yes sir!


Update on Dr. Adams

Jay was in the hospital again over the weekend. He is home but is very weak. Please continue to pray for both Jay and Betty Jane. If you would like to send a greeting you may do so at feedback@nouthetic.org and I will forward it on to Jay. I know he will be encouraged to hear from friends but he will not be able to respond to anyone personally.

Jay is still blogging, however. The blog post that appears Monday was written upon his return from the hospital!



“How do you prepare and write a blog regularly?”

I have found two ways that enable me to regularly prepare for this column:

  1. to deal with a current (or perpetual) problem to which people need to find some solution
  2. to sit down at the computer and begin to write. Most of the time that triggers a topic and then—off I go!

“Do you ever head in on direction and then end up going in another one?”

Sometimes. But, usually, as soon as I strike my major theme, I’ll continue with it until the end.


I admit that I do unintentionally leave typos now and then—I never learned to type correctly—have my own system. But it will cause me to make a number of mistakes that I have to go back and correct [there were 2 in this line]. Most typos come from the fact that I write during time that I’ve snatched away from something else. So I may fail to take the time to go back and check for them [3 in this line!].

“How did this blog begin?”

The second way. I just began to write, and out it came. The word “prepare” appeared and I was off with the blog.


Writing stimulates writing. That’s the best way to get going—You put something down, and, first thing you know, you’re off. Simply striking a key can do it too. But, I must admit, it’s getting harder. Because of poor circulation, my finger tips are numb, so it feels weird.