Archives For Blogging

Imagine you were privileged to be at a place where you were going to be introduced to the greatest person alive today. His reputation is one where the most influential people in the world would all agree that there is no greater. Imagine what his introductions would be like? We have all heard the hyped up intros, haven’t we? The keynote speakers at conferences, the guest preacher at the church service, the honorary guest at a reception . . . we have been there.

God, through the Apostle John, gave an introduction to a man named John the Baptist. Jesus said of this man “among those born of a woman there has arisen no one greater” (Matt. 11:11). When he entered the scene of human history, certainly there would be a introduction fitting for such a supreme title.

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.”

Wait, what? That’s it? “A man.” Okay. What kind of man? Just a man? I thought he was the man. “His name was John.” Could you have picked a more unique, more memorable, more fitting name for such an individual? There is nothing here in this introduction that tips us off to the extraordinary person John the Baptist was in human history.

You think that, following such an ordinary introduction, his list of accomplishments would soon follow to make up for a bland beginning. And yet, it seems to be all the more paradoxical. The Apostle John says John the Baptist “was not the light.” This was confirmed through the testimony of John the Baptist who, at every point, told people who he was not. “I am not the Christ.” “I am not Elijah.” “I am not the Prophet.” Finally, when asked to explain who he was, John could only describe himself as a voice in the wilderness. And when his followers pressed him to be more aggressive and increase his influence, John could only respond by saying, “I must decrease.”

So there you have it. The man who Jesus said was without comparison (Jesus excluded of course). His life did not end with him on a throne but in prison. He did not have a crown on his head but ended with his head on platter. How could it really be true what Jesus said about John the Baptist? Is there really none greater?

Of course, those who have read the Bible know the rest of the story. But this is instructive to us in the age of self-promotion and platform-building, is it not? The paradox of greatness according to Jesus runs on a totally different set of tracks than the world of raw, selfish ambition. What can we learn from the life of John the Baptist, since, after all, he did it better than anyone else?

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We are just days away from the upcoming 2014 Band of Bloggers gathering. The last update I received is that we have just a few spaces left before the event is sold out. You can still register here. One of the things that I try to do with each Band of Bloggers gathering is connect publishers with this audience of bloggers, authors, and Christian leaders from around the world and give away some of their most recent or forthcoming titles. It’s a challenging task to get all of it together, and as recent as a few weeks ago, only a few books had been secured for the event. But then things just started to fall in place as many publishers and organizations responded generously to support our gathering.

This year, I am excited to share that we are giving away 29 books for every person who attends, for a total of 7,250 books. That’s the largest number we have ever given away. There are 20 physical titles and 8 e-books in all, for a total of $425 (retail price). If you do the math, we are giving away $106,250 worth of books at our event this year that costs only $15 to register. I hope that those who receive these titles below will enjoy them greatly and let the publishers know that by reading, plugging, and/or reviewing them so that others too can be directed to these great resources.

Here are the titles for this year’s book giveaways:

Physical Titles:

  1. Gospel-Centered Teaching: Showing Christ in All of Scripture by Trevin Wax (LifeWay)
  2. Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples by Robby Gallaty (Cross Books)
  3. Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confused World by Andreas Kostenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw (B&H)
  4. Transformational Groups: Creating a New Scorecard for Groups by Eric Geiger and Ed Stetzer (B&H)
  5. Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change by Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer (B&H)
  6. Facing Leviathan: Leadership, Influence, and Creating in a Cultural Storm by Mark Sayers (Moody)
  7. Neighborhood Mapping: How to Make Your Church Invaluable to Your Community by John Fuder (Moody)
  8. United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity by Trillia Newbell (Moody)
  9. Torn to Heal: God’s Good Purpose in Suffering by Mike Leake (Cruciform)
  10. Contend: Defending Your Faith in a Fallen World by Aaron Armstrong (Cruciform)
  11. Eternity Changes Everything: How to Live Now in Light of Your Future by Stephen Witmer Good Book Company
  12. What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman (Zondervan)
  13. Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Illness by Brian Croft (Zondervan)
  14. Know The Heretics by Justin Holcomb (Zondervan)
  15. Proof: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones (Zondervan)
  16. Magnificent Obsession: Why Jesus Is Great by David Robertson (Christian Focus)
  17. The Gospel According to Daniel: A Christ-Centered Approach by Bryan Chapell (Baker)
  18. The New Calvinism Considered: A Personal and Pastoral Assessment by Jeremy Walker (Evangelical Press)
  19. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Paul Tripp (Crossway)
  20. Five Views of Inerrancy (Zondervan)

E-Book Titles:

  1. Reformed Means Missional: Following Jesus into the World by Samuel T. Logan (New Growth Press)
  2. Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever by Michael Horton (Crossway)
  3. Joy for the World: How Christianity Lost its Cultural Influence and Can Begin Rebuilding It by Greg Foster (Crossway)
  4. A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships by Paul Miller (Crossway)
  5. everPresent: How the Gospel Relocates Us in the Present by Jeremy Writebol (GCD)
  6. Captive to Glory: Celebrating the Vision and Influence of Jonathan Edwards by John Piper (Desiring God)
  7. Doctrine Matters: Ten Theological Trademarks from a Lifetime of Preaching by John Piper (Desiring God)
  8. Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God’s Grace by John Piper (Christian Focus)
  9. Losing Your People Without Losing Your Mind by Dustin Neeley
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Why I Started Blogging

Tim Brister —  June 28, 2012 — 15 Comments

I’ve been blogging now for over seven years. I’ve logged 2,457 blogposts during that span of time that has, to some degree, become quite biographical. Having now upgraded the blog, I thought a little re-introduction was in order. People have various reasons for starting a blog. Most of those reasons don’t last as more blogs go into nonexistence each year than get started. Having hung around for seven years now, I thought this would be as good of a time than ever to share why I started blogging in the first place.

How I Was Introduced to Blogging

I first heard about blogging as a mainstream form of media in 2004 during “Rathergate“. Bloggers were able to do the job mainstream media would not and could not do in exposing the falsified documents regarding then President George W. Bush’s supposed avoidance in going to serve in the Vietnam War. I remember reflecting on this phenomenon–how some no name people can have the opportunity in a flattened world to influence an entire nation with this new online platform. I was intrigued to say the least, but it was not enough to get me into the world of blogging.

In the Spring of 2005, a good friend of mine was “researching” in the first floor of Boyce Centennial Library (Southern Seminary’s library) on what was then called a “Xanga blogring.” For those of you around back in 2005, you remember Xanga and Blogger were quite popular. My friend encouraged me to check them out, and so I decided to join both. One was going to be comedic in nature (Xanga), and the other was going to be devotional in nature (Blogger). I had a communications dilemma because my monthly online newsletter fell upon hard times as I lost all the contact information of hundreds of friends and family who were interested in keeping in touch while I was in seminary. I figured a viable solution was to transition from an online newsletter to a digital journal of sorts through blogging.

In the beginning, I shared my experiences in seminary and mostly my devotional thoughts from personal study and Bible intake. I honestly did not know what I was doing and had never heard of the word “hyperlink” before in my life. I also did not have a name for my blog and felt that at least I could do that. Without much thought (literally less than five minutes), I tentatively called it “Provocations and Pantings”, and here’s the reason why.

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I’ve been saying I will do this for over four years. I finally did it. I switched to wordpress.org from the same theme I’ve had since 2006! I don’t know if you can be old school when it comes to blogging, but I feel like I am “traditional” in that sense. But alas, the itch got the best of me, and now I’ve upgraded to a new look with new features thanks to help of my good friend Josh Shank.

For those who don’t know Josh, he’s the guy behind Rocket Republic and who I’ve used for the majority of my design work, including all of PLNTD’s logos, conferences, and websites as well as Band of Bloggers. I have been sitting on this Standard theme for almost a year, and I wiped the dust off so that Josh could do his thing and create this custom template happily taking the place of the old sapphire theme. If you are looking for help in the area of website design, print work, branding, or any other form of signage, I encourage you to check out Rocket Republic.

So what’s new with version 2.0 of P&P? As far as features go, I have:

  • Provided a way to subscribe via email
  • Enhanced social media sharing
  • Incorporated Instagram into the sidebar
  • Opportunity for advertising
  • Included Kindle notes
  • New, easier way to contact me
  • New navigation header

Some of the reasons or goals I hope for this new online home for me include:

  • Greater versatility and customization of content
  • Cleaner, simpler format for reading, whether on site or RSS
  • Options for podcasting and/or web conferencing (or live-blogging)
  • Streamlined content from my work in the various roles I fulfill

I still have a few kinks I’m working out on the site, but I’m glad to have finally made the switch! I do have a request to make for those of you who read my blog (and perhaps have never commented before). Could you offer some feedback about the new look and format? Do you see anything I can make better? I will be tweaking it in the coming days, so your thoughts would be really helpful in that process.

Lastly, if you don’t mind, would you be willing to share this with your friends either on Facebook or Twitter? I’m hoping to connect with new folks who might be interested or helped by the things I am writing on the gospel, the church, and our mission to make disciples, train leaders, and plant churches. Thanks!

Subscribe to Provocations & Pantings | Contact Timmy Brister

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One Shining Moment

Tim Brister —  April 5, 2011 — 3 Comments

There have been some great moments over the past six years of blogging here at P&P.  The Ask Anything 9th inning rally comes to my mind.  So does the Puritan Reading Challenge.   Then again there is P2R Memory Moleskine.  And now there is one more to add, thanks to so many of you who worked the social networks of Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.

Last night, it was declared that I was the winner of the 2011 SBC Voices Blog Madness.  It was a lot of fun, and I was really encouraged to see friends and family root my little blog on.  In order to even make it to the final round, I needed a substantial comeback in the 2nd round to edge out Dr. Russell Moore much to the chagrin of some folks.  But alas, the madness is over, and I realize what a great community of folks I have to connect with online.

This little win marks six years to the month that I started blogging.  2,100 posts later, P&P is still chugging along, and it seems like now that so much of that has become biographical.  Thanks for joining me in the journey and encouraging you in the gospel. It has always been my desire to make much of Jesus here.

For all of us, the best seat is the back seat.
For all of us, the best ground is the background.

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Five Years and Counting

Tim Brister —  March 18, 2010 — 4 Comments

Five years ago this week, I walked into Boyce Centennial Library to find my friend Zach Mabry getting on a Xanga blog-ring which made absolutely no sense to me.  I had heard about blogging because of what had recently happened to Dan Rather, and I knew the potential influence they would have in our culture, but I can assure you that I had no idea that getting into blogging would result in over 2,000 blogposts and still kicking five years later.  That’s just crazy.

So I just want to take a minute to say thanks to all of you who have encouraged me with your comments, emails, and personal meet-ups over the years.  I can honestly say that over 90% of the people I know in the evangelical world have come either through blogging or Twitter.  This journey has been marked by some wonderful blessings, not the least of which are the people who have entered my life and are now some of my closest friends–guys like Joe Thorn, Nathan Finn, and Tom Ascol who, through blogging became a mentor and spiritual father to me and with whom I have the privilege to partner with in gospel ministry.

During this journey, there has been the development of Band of Bloggers (now going on the 4th year), the Puritan Reading Challenge (which was engaged by over 20,000 people),  the amazing ninth inning rally to catapult my crazy regulative principle question to #1 on Mark Driscoll’s “Ask Anything” website (which turned into a sermon series and book by Crossway), and somehow making it into the top 100 church blog listing.  But more meaningful to all this has been the faithful reading of so many of you who haven’t been dialing in to the latest controversy or sexy topic but rather have embraced the metanarrative I have sought to cultivate around the gospel of Jesus Christ and the mission of the church.  To hear of how some of the things I have written have personally encouraged you or proved beneficial in your church amazes and humbles me, knowing that this is God’s grace at work.

I don’t know how much longer I will be blogging in the future, but without hesitation I can say that it has been a rich and rewarding blessing to be able to share my thoughts, learn from yours, and seek to facilitate healthy conversation on important matters in the Christian life.  So thank you. And I hope that whatever contributions I attempt to make in the future will honor Jesus, advance the gospel, build His church, and encourage His people.  Grace and peace.

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After having been prodded by several folks, I have been working over the past months to put together another Band of Bloggers gathering in conjunction with the 2010 Together for the Gospel Conference.  I say prodded because the amount of work placed on one person with limited time and no budget is challenging to pull off each year.  What began as a wild idea in 2006 as a seminary student has morphed into our fourth gathering with hundreds of gospel-centered bloggers being networked for encouragement, fellowship, and discussion of issues related to new media and the gospel.

The theme for the 2010 Band of Bloggers is “Internet Idolatry and Gospel Fidelity” and I have asked Justin Taylor, Trevin Wax, Jonathan McIntosh, and Jared Wilson to address this theme with short talks and a panel discussion.  I am really excited about addressing this theme and the group of guys who have agreed to lead us in thinking how our lives on the internet face idolatrous temptations such as identity, power, acceptance, etc. and how we can remain faithful to the gospel in not only the substance of what we say but the form in which we write.

The gathering will take place on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 beginning at 11:00am at The Galt House in downtown Louisville, KY.  The $25 registration simply covers the cost of the catered lunch (which is not optional), and given the large numbers of people attending T4G and relatively few places to eat, this will be one meal easy to determine. 🙂  However, due to limited space I encourage you to register early.  There has yet to be a Band of Bloggers that did not sell out.

For those down with BoB, please consider helping us promote our gathering with embedding an ad, blog button, or banner to your website or blog.  In the coming weeks, I will be sharing on the BoB website those who are sponsoring this year’s gathering with free books and resources.  I hope to see you there!

Internet Idolatry and Gospel Fidelity”
2010 Band of Bloggers Fellowship
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 :: 11:00am

The Galt House, Downtown Louisville, KY
(in conjunction with Together for the Gospel)

REGISTER | PROMOTE | BOB DIRECTORY

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In case some of you may be wondering why I’m writing these posts, I’ve been asked to give a little presentation today on the use of social media and online networking for church planters in SW Florida.  I don’t consider myself an expert, but if there are some ideas that I could pass along that would be helpful to a fellow minister, I’m glad to serve in that way. 🙂

What I want to bring out in this post is the process or flow between your blog, twitter, and Facebook and more specifically their integration.  My setup may be different from others, so consider this as one of perhaps several ways to integrate these mediums.

Step One: Writing

Home base is your blog.  It’s where your most substantive articles are going to be posted, your best ideas (hey, like this blogpost!) are shared, and ultimately develop a solid readership in the process.  Your blog posts should be well written grammatically, easy to read aesthetically (such as paragraph breaks, no crazy font colors, etc.), and capable of being read within five minutes (general rule is 500-1000 words; more than 1200 words need to be broken down into two parts).  You can have great things to say, but if it is not presented well, potential readers will be turned off.  Write well, format well, and present well.

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POTW :: firsthaircut

Tim Brister —  March 13, 2009 — 2 Comments

View in Flickr (see it LARGE)

View in Flickr (see it LARGE)

View in Flickr (see it LARGE)

A couple of weeks ago, we took Nolan for his first haircut.  As you could imagine from the photos, it lasted all but of maybe five minutes.  The first and last photos are a before and after shot from the backseat of the car.  Things are going well on the family front, and Dusti is now 31 weeks in on baby Brister #2.  We still haven’t decided on a name, although several friends have proudly nominated their names in honorary fashion.

Tomorrow is a big day for me.  It’s my first attempt to complete a triathlon.  I’m generally in decent shape, but I have not trained regularly at all for this race, so I’m really nervous about how my body will perform.  The race starts Saturday morning at 8:00AM, and I am in the third wave to hit the water (@ 8:15am).  Plans are to leave Cape Coral at 2:00AM and drive four hours to Orlando and arrive just in time for registration, body marking, and walking through transitions.  I believe there will be a live-streaming of the race available here starting at 7:30AM.  And while I’m tempted to live-tweet the race, I think I will pass because I will be in survival mode most of the time. 🙂

Last but not least, I’ve got a favor to ask of you.  SBC Voices (actually Tony Kummer) is putting on the SBC Blog Madness where you vote for your favorite SBC blogs.  I’m in the “Eastern Division” and have to compete against the world-renowned iMonk.  So if you would be so kind as to go over there and vote for me, I’d really appreciate it!  Have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll try to post some pics of the race soon.

Grace and peace.

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Why I Use Twitter

Tim Brister —  November 12, 2008 — 6 Comments

twitter-logo-6When Twitter first came on the scene, I was really skeptical of this medium (I still have a few reservations).  According to the Twitter FAQ page, Twitter is “a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

I began to tweet at the beginning of the summer (early June), and since then I have over 1,300 updates and 190 followers.  Since then, a number of friends, family, and fellow church members have joined as well.  Others that I have hardly known have developed into frequent correspondence.  Recently, I thought about writing down some of the reasons why I found Twitter to be a profitable medium, and here are six that I came up with.

1.  Networking

90% of the people I know in evangelical and Baptist circles, I know through the blogosphere.  Several them I have come to know better through Twitter, and others I am getting to know for the first time.  Twitter is allowing me an opportunity to connect with people whom I otherwise would have little to no interaction.

2.  Journaling (Instant Photo-Journalism)

twitter-logo-5I love photography, but one of the things I hate about shooting with a professional camera is all the post-production processing.  By the time I am through, the images feel outdated.  Twitter has afforded me the ability to instantly post pics via Twitpic in a photo-journalistic manner (albeit the images are not that great).  If you have a camera phone, this is really easy and fun to do.

When I originally started my blog, it was intended to be a journalistic update of my life and our family.  When it turned into an issues/topic driven blog, I minimalized the personal touch.  Twitter allows me to communicate with friends and family more about the ins and outs of my life, how they can pray, etc.  With the iPhone, I am able to Twitter in almost any location and any time of the day.

3.  Learning (A La Carte News)

Another cool thing about Twitter is the ability to get news and information about things from those in the Twitter network.  I guess you could say that it acts like a live RSS Reader of sorts.  I also post links and info to others I find important or worth reading.  In addition, I sometimes post quips or notes from my study that I hope are encouraging to those who “follow” me (much of which later finds its way on the blog).

4.  Plugging (Blog Redirection)

I use Twitter to plug new blog posts (from P&P & Sowing Grace) and Flickr pics when they are posted.  The ability to shorten URL’s through SnipURL, TinyURL, ln.cr, and is.dg, makes it easy to maximize the 140 characters and provide a brief annotation about the link.  I usually generate 10-15 visitors from the Twitter plugging (not much, but I’ll take it).

5.  Listening (Dialogue)

One of critiques about Twitter is how narcissistic it feels.  I think, in general, this is true.  But Twitter can also be a great listening medium.  For instance, while drafting this post, I asked those who Twitter why they chose to do so, and I immediately received over a dozen responses.  I find that I learn a lot by listening to the responses of others in a two-way conversation where I am the inquirer and they are the informers.

6.  Laughing

twitter-logo-1I’m for the most part a pretty intense and serious-minded person, but I really enjoy a good laugh.  The commentary of friends, the goofy pictures, the witticisms, and totally random statements often serve as a pick-me-up or timely decompression valve.  For instance, here’s one that I thought was hilarious (Kevin has the weirdest and funniest tweets of anyone I know).

A little over a month ago, I created a Twitter account for Grace Baptist (we currently have 27 members on Twitter) as well as a Facebook group.  I use Twitter to make announcements, remind them of upcoming activities/events, provide urgent prayer requests, review outline from previous Sunday’s message(s), plug blogposts from church blog(s), express thanksgiving and appreciation, and share message title and text for upcoming sermons.

There are several applications I use in conjuction with Twitter.  Here they are:

Twitter/Facebook Integration – Tweets automatically posted on Facebook status
Tweetdeck – Desktop Interface for Twittering (nice because I have multiple accounts)
Twitpic – Photo sharing on Twitter
Twittelator – iPhone third-party application for Twitter
Tweet Scan – Twitter Search tool
TweetStats – Analyze statistics on Twitter

A new website called Twitip was created by Darren Rowse, author of Problogger, is a great resource for anyone wanting to get additional information about Twitter.

I am not a social media expert, nor do I pretend to know what the future holds for blogging and/or Twitter.  My guess is that those who used blogging as an internet journal will likely turn to Twitter, while those who use blogs as their main source for commentary and substantive dialogue will use Twitter to enhance their blog impact.  One thing that blogging has that Twitter does not is the SEO (search engine optimization).  Traffic to Twitter is basically inherent, while a well-established blog can generate accidental and intentional traffic from various sources, not the least of which is Googling. Nevertheless, it is accurate to say that blogging has taken a hit in 2008 while social media applications like Twitter and Facebook have seen exponential growth.

Some notable friends on Twitter include: Tom Ascol, Joe Thorn, Andy Crouch, Ed Stetzer, Thom Rainer, Steve McCoy, Jared Wilson, Daniel Montgomery, Mark Driscoll, Ligonier, Desiring God, and Tim Challies. There many other good Twitterers, but these are some you might recognize.

If you are looking to start, this post by Problogger might be helpful.  If you would like to connect with me on Twitter, here are the links:

* My Twitter (@timmybrister)
* GBC Twitter (@gracebaptist)

For those of you who do Twitter, why? What benefits are you receiving from this medium?  Has it replaced your blogging (if you have one)?  Any other reasons why you Twitter that I have not mentioned above?

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