This Blog Will Sunset June 30, 2018

I’ve already announced this, but wanted to get it in a headline for those who did not read my blog post from yesterday (Simplifying) which explains it.

The sunsetting will also include my YouTube channel, which was the last remaining social media channel I was using for ministry.  The rest had been previously sunsetted (as described in Contact).

My exclusive web presence is now this website, which focuses on the digital books that I have written and plan to continue writing.

Simplifying

The administrative task of keeping up five blogs and the over 12,000 posts that comprise them (see related post below) is taking too much time away from my writing, studying, and praying.  Social media is great, but I’m using it for the purpose of delivering content.  Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to let the demands of “administrivia” detract from the production of content.

I am not going to bore you with the details of how the demands of maintaining blogs are increasing with each passing year.  However, you have probably heard enough about cyber attacks, malware, and other security issues to recognize that blog owners are having to do more and more to protect their blogs.  I am inundated with warnings and suggestions for solutions that I am ill-equipped to choose between.  The demands for proper site maintenance have become overwhelming to this non-technical site owner.  And this is just one example of increasing administrative demands.

More importantly, my sense of being overwhelmed has sensitized me to what any new reader of my blogs must feel.  Forget about technical issues – just think about navigating all the content.  I have put myself in the shoes of a first-time visitor to my blogs and it makes me feel like a dump truck has just backed up and emptied its load on top of me.

Without going into more detail, and there is much more I could say, I have decided to simplify my ministry by focusing exclusively on writing books.  Again, there are many reasons behind this, but it is not worth troubling you with all that information.  Here is the new website about the books.

My transition begins immediately.  Other than the daily Old Testament podcasts, I will not be posting anymore to any of the existing blogs.  All my writing from today forward will be for books.

Though I won’t be posting anymore to these existing five blogs, I will maintain them for you for another year.  I did not feel right about letting them go without an extensive notice period.  Therefore, they will not go dark until June 30, 2018 – coinciding with the end of my podcasting (related post below).

If you are concerned about a loss of content, consider that my books and new blog will be continuing the same message that I have been delivering since 2009.  When a garden becomes completely overgrown, the thing to do is remove all the old growth so that God can give new growth.  I am highly confident that my simplified focus on my books will convey the truth to new readers more effectively than the thousands of accumulated posts sitting there now.  Trading in the temple, with all that comprised its service, for the carpenter-turned-rabbi from Nazareth may have seemed a poor bargain to some 1st-century Jews, but others saw that this was the wisdom of God.

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
–  2 Corinthians 11:3

Similarly, I’m going for simplicity and purity in my writing.  I want to point people to the King.  It’s not the multitude of my words that will accomplish this, but rather my more focused words.  Moreover, what needs to be put in permanent form I believe is better put into books rather than left on a blog.  Once a book is downloaded to someone’s device, it remains with them as long as they want it – perhaps well past my lifetime.  Its preservation would be much more precarious if it were remained on a blog which required an owner, and time, and money…indefinitely.

I believe in this new simplified approach, and I will be pouring every bit as much effort into it as I have poured into all my efforts to this point.  This is not about my giving less effort; it’s about my producing better and more long-lasting expressions of His truth.

Related posts:

My Podcasts Can Now Be Downloaded in Bulk

I presume that you’ve already read The End of My Podcasting.  I did not initially think it was possible to store and download the audio files in bulk, but have since found out that there is a way to do it.  Therefore, I have prepared them for bulk download (in addition to the other means I described in Downloading My Podcasts) and you can access the bulk files at Downloading My Podcasts in Bulk until June 30, 2018.

If you plan to download these podcasts, however, I suggest you go ahead and do so now rather than putting it off.  As I wrote before, if you want to know you’ll have access to any of these podcasts at any time after the middle of next year, you need to be sure to get them on your own computer well before then.

The End of My Podcasting

My current podcast is titled Reading the Old Testament with Jesus in Mind.  It’s a chapter-a-day approach, covering the entire Old Testament from Genesis 1 through Malachi 4, and I’m currently in the Psalms.  (I completed a similar podcast of the entire New Testament in 2015.)  On the current pace, I’ll get to Malachi 4 on May 22, 2018 and thus will have completed the entire Bible at that time – a process that will have taken just over three years.  (I have already completed the recording of the remaining Old Testament episodes, so it is just a mechanical matter for me to publish the episodes one each day between now and then.)

The reason I am telling you this is that I have decided that Reading the Old Testament with Jesus in Mind will be my last podcast.  I could always decide to start another one, but I don’t foresee that.  There are several reasons for my decision, but most of them have to do with simplifying my work day and being more productive with the time God has given me to devote to His word.  There are a lot of mechanics and technical issues involved in podcasting and it’s time-consuming to keep up with them, especially because technology keeps changing.  I feel that the time has come to stop giving so much of my time to those sorts of process issues, and to spend that time on actual study and writing.

By May 2018, I will have been podcasting for over four years, having produced 1,442 episodes in five different podcasts, as well as audio versions of three books.  This amounts to an average of one podcast a day for almost all of that 4+ year period (1,529 days), and totals between 200 and 300 hours of audio.  Thus I think I made the most of the podcasting function while I had it available to me, and have gone to considerable time and expense to make these podcasts publicly available for this extended period of time.  In other words, if I haven’t squeezed all the juice out of the podcasting orange, I’ve at least come close.

There is a reason that I am telling you about the conclusion of my podcasting career over a year before it happens.  For reasons too complicated to explain – economical, mechanical, and technical – none of the podcasts will be accessible from my sites after June 30, 2018.  For me to continuing making them accessible online indefinitely is not an efficient use of the resources God has given me.  However, you are welcome to download any or all of them between now and then – which is why I’m giving such a long advance notice.  You have over a year to freely download whatever you want.  This option has been available to you from the beginning; I’m only emphasizing it now because that option will no longer be available July 1, 2018 and afterward.

Again, if you want access to any of these podcasts after June 2018, you’ll need to make sure you have them stored on a device you own by that date.  (I don’t even plan on keeping a copy of them for myself as I produced all these podcasts for your sake, not mine.)  Once you’ve accomplished your desired downloads, you will have them for as long as you want.  They are yours, they will sit on your device as long as you want to keep them, and you will no longer need to access any of them on the Internet.

For any of you who might want to download some of these podcasts, but aren’t sure how, see this.

In concluding, remember always that the point of the podcasts is the point of the Bible…and the point of the Bible is Jesus Christ – Creator, Sustainer, and Savior of the world.  May we all increase in our devotion to Him every day that He gives us to live.  He is more than worthy of a fully-devoted heart.

Accounting for Seven Years of Ministry

Seven years.  Yes, I’ve been doing this for seven years.  I began blogging for the Lord Jesus in December 2009.  Therefore, this month completes seven full years of doing this work.

I began the seven years with this blog, added another blog from time to time, and currently have five.  (I was up to six at one point, but quickly realized that was too much.)  All of the blogs are about the Lord Jesus; each just has a different focus, which is encapsulated in the different title of each blog.  The five blogs are:

A Scriptural Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom (this blog; the main one)

Bible Study Notes for the Kingdom of God

Christian Leaders and the Kingdom of God

Current Events in Light of the Kingdom of God

Reference Shelf for the Kingdom of God

During the 2,557 days that made up the last seven years, I published at least one post each day.  That means that there was not a single day in the last seven years that I did not publish at least one post.  And, of course, many days I posted more than one.  The total number of posts I wrote and published during the seven years reaches 12,503 with this one this morning.

As for feedback to these many posts, I have received a total 14,242 comments on my blogs.  I am guessing that about a third of these comments are my responses to questions and challenges from commenters.  That would mean there are about 10,000 comments from readers of the blogs.  Of course, many commenters wrote more than one comment.  I don’t know how to easily find out how many different people are responsible for those roughly ten thousand comments.

Of course, there are always more people who read a blog post than there are people who comment on it.  In total, the five blogs are currently receiving an average of 503 daily page views.  The software I use (WordPress) does not track (that I know of) the number of people who read the blog regularly versus those who read it once and never look at it again.  Therefore, it could be one person looking at 503 different pages or 503 people looking at one page each but is, more than likely, something well in between those two extremes.  In addition, there are 204 subscriptions to the three blogs that allow them (which means a subscriber receives the post by e-mail rather than having to view it through a browser).  But again, I just know that the post went to their e-mail inbox; I don’t know how many subscribers actually read it each time it is sent.

In addition to the written material I have published, I have also published through these blogs during these seven years various audio and video teachings.  They amount to almost one thousand of the 12,503 posts: that is, 924 audio teachings (podcast episodes) and 74 video teachings (YouTube videos).  For example, I am currently publishing a daily podcast of the Old Testament, reading a chapter a day and focusing on Jesus.  It will take me another year and three months of daily episodes to complete that podcast, having completed the New Testament in 2015.

Listeners currently download about 90-100 podcast episodes each day; that’s a combination of current and past episodes.  As for video teachings, each video has received, on average, less than 40 views.  Videos, therefore, are the least accessed of any material I’ve produced – by far.  For this reason, I have ceased, at least for the time being, producing them.  Like any reasonable person, I want to allocate my time where it can be most productively spent.

As for books, I have published 7 of them during the last seven years.  At first, I loaded three books (all written years before, but only distributed as photo copies to a few people) to my blogs along with an audio version (which was simply me reading the book).  People could read any of these three books online and/or listen to it as a podcast.  During the last year, I figured out how to publish a book to any standard digital reader (Kindle, iPad, Nook, etc.) and then wrote four more books.  Thus, all 7 books now exist in digital editions and are now available from seven different digital bookstores.  Since making these digital editions available, readers have downloaded 306 copies of these books to their digital devices.

As you may already know, I don’t charge for the books or for any of this work; nor do I solicit or accept donations.  Neither do I copyright any of the material.  I am happy to freely give out of what God has given me, and I am happy for people to share it with others however they wish.  I do not begrudge any minister of the gospel the right to earn a living from his ministry, but I am retired from business and God has allowed me to fund this ministry myself…and so I do.  I am blessed to have learned truth and I want to share it as widely as possible as quickly as possible.

This is how I have spent the last seven years – part-time at first, increasing the time with each year, and full-time for the last couple of years.  I’m going to take some time off for family during the holidays, but will, of course, continue posting a podcast episode from the Old Testament series each day.  I will also take some time to pray and think through how I should conduct ministry going forward.  Seven years is a good time to take stock.

By the way, when I use the word “minister” or “ministry,” I do not mean in an ecclesiastical sense.  Rather, I am using the words in their biblical sense, which is, respectively, “servant” and “service.”  My writing and speaking is my way of serving others.  I am your servant; my work is my service to you for the Lord’s sake.  I don’t do weddings, funerals, or any of the traditional duties people often ascribe to a minister.  I pastor no church; I represent no organization, institution, or group of any kind.  My commission is simply the conviction of my conscience that this is what the Lord Himself wants me to do for others – that He would be displeased with me if I didn’t share with others what He has revealed to me.  I’m just a sinner with a hunger for righteousness, sharing with others the bread he’s found.

What do I think about these last seven years?  I think I can begin to understand how Isaiah felt when he wondered “Who has believed our message?” (Isaiah 53:1).  I can just see him scratching his head.  No one wants to labor in vain, and I must admit that I have been greatly surprised – and disappointed – that the things that I have proclaimed (especially as outlined in the overview of this blog) have not had more of an impact.  It seems to me almost like water off a duck’s back.  I don’t wonder why more people haven’t followed me, but rather why my work hasn’t encouraged more teachers to proclaim this message.  Surely, I cannot be the only one to whom God has revealed these truths.

I have not been skimpy with my explanations, and I have taken great pains to show where these ideas reside in the Scriptures.  I have let opponents have their say and I have answered every question and objection raised.  Though other people could have explained things better than I have, I don’t think anyone could say that my message has been unclear or that my explanations have been incoherent.  I never expected everyone to believe me, but I did expect more to believe me than apparently have.

Be assured that I don’t measure the success of my work by how many followers I may have, but rather by my contribution to how many followers He has and how well those followers are doing.  Granted, that’s harder to measure, but it’s the only measurement that counts.  May God grant that my labor not have been in vain, but rather that it bring a harvest for Him.  The seed is good.

Believe what I have reported to you from my reading and study of the Bible, for I have not spoken thoughtlessly…and I certainly have not lied.  Rather, I have spoken soberly and in the fear of God…and after extended periods of study, prayer, and practice.  I have spoken of important matters and not of trivial things.  And in everything I have sought to be faithful to the Bible and to the Lord of all creation who inspired it and stands behind it.  You can believe what I say because the Lord bears witness to your heart that it is true, or you can read the Scriptures for yourself and see that I have been true to them.  Either way, let God’s word be trusted.  I’m just passing along what I’ve learned from Him.

As for me, like the old song says:

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

Apostolic Apologetics – Corrected Version

Based on reader input, I’ve corrected some typos in the book Apostolic Apologetics.  Therefore, if you’ve downloaded the book, but not begun reading it yet, you’ll probably want to get the revised version.  I know it’s distracting and frustrating to read material with typos.

For those not familiar with the book, here’s a description:

Apostolic Apologetics: An Efficient and Sufficient Warrant for Faith in Christ – This book is written for the person who wants a faith in Christ he can defend – not just to others, but to himself in the sight of God. Christian apologetics is a burgeoning field – so much so that it can be overwhelming to survey, much less to master. Apostolic apologetics, a simple and straightforward alternative, is a way to establish and defend your faith not on the testimony of modern experts – be they philosophers, scientists, or even biblical scholars – but rather on the testimony of the apostles themselves. Approximately 38,000 words.

Directions on how the obtain the book can be found at the “Books” link in the menu bar near the top of this page.

New Book Announcement: The Honor of Marriage

I’ve just completed another book.  Here’s its description:

This book is for those who want to understand marriage as God has designed it – which is to say family as God designed it.  Modern American culture has lost sight of true marriage and thus no longer supports it, even turning hostile to it.  Christians must show the way to repentance by restoring honor to marriage – fulfilling its responsibilities, enjoying its benefits, and defending its unique character and central importance to human well-being.  Approximately 50,000 words.

To either download this book to a digital reader or to read it online through your browser click on the link in the menu bar above “Books” or click here.  Be aware that it is not yet available at all of the seven outlets that stock my other digital books.  It is, however,  currently available at the main ones:  iBooks and Barnes&Noble (nook).  Also, if you want a mobi file for a Kindle device, that is available now, too.  You can find your way to all these at the link.

New Book Announcement: Apostolic Apologetics

I have a new book available for you:

Apostolic Apologetics:
An Efficient and Sufficient Warrant for Faith in Christ

Here is a description of the book:

This book is written for the person who wants a faith in Christ he can defend – not just to others, but to himself in the sight of God. Christian apologetics is a burgeoning field – so much so that it can be overwhelming to survey, much less to master. Apostolic apologetics, a simple and straightforward alternative, is a way to establish and defend your faith not on the testimony of modern experts – be they philosophers, scientists, or even biblical scholars – but rather on the testimony of the apostles themselves. Approximately 38,000 words.

The book is now available at the following two primary digital retailers.  (As always, the book is priced at $0.00.)

at iBooks (Apple)

at Barnes&Noble (nook)

Some of the other retailers may have it up by now, too; but I am not sure.  If they don’t, it should only be a day or two before they do.  If you want links to the other retailers, or if you need a Kindle version, click on “Books” in the menu bar above or here.

My Books Now Available for Kindle Readers

The retailers through whom I’ve made my books available to people who want to read them on digital devices do not serve Kindle readers.  As a result, I’ve been having to send out mobi files by e-mail on request.  However, I’ve figured out a way that you can download them directly.  To get the link for this, go to the menu bar above and click on “Books” and when you get there, scroll to the bottom of the page where you will find a separate link for each book.  When you click on it, you should be taken directly to a download page for that book.

I tested it on my own Kindle device.  The only glitch I experienced is a minor one.  It is that, once downloaded to the device, the book cover doesn’t display on the Kindle “carousel.”  Instead, it’s replaced by a generic Kindle icon which displays a few words of the book’s title.  I have occasionally experienced this with other mobi files when they were downloaded from a source other than Amazon.  It’s not desirable, but it is bearable.

6 Outlets for Downloadable Versions of My Books

Recently, I listed two places where you can get my books in digital form for an e-book reader.  The list of retail outlets is now up to six.

Here then are the six places where you can get any or all of my three books:

24symbols

iBooks

Barnes&Noble

Kobo

Page Foundry (Inktera)

Scribd