Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why I Write

Dorothy Sayers was probably speaking for herself when in one of her mystery stories Harriet Vane says of writing prose, “When you get the thing dead right, and know it’s dead right, there’s no excitement like it.  It’s marvelous.  It makes you feel like God on the Seventh Day.”

Looking over my blog, I noticed that I’m closing in on the completion of four years of blog posts.  While I don’t fashion myself a great writer by any means, the quote above from a Dorothy Sayers novel captures my feeling when I write and preach (which, since I write my sermons, are like two peas in the same pod).

When I began the blog, I wasn’t sure how long I’d do it or if I’d like doing it.  Perhaps I was just putting pressure on myself to prepare yet something else in a life already full of preparations.  I determined from the get-go that I would only write when I had something to say (not a luxury I have in preaching unfortunately).  For the most part, I’ve honored that, and, by God’s grace, I’ve stuck with it. 

Not long ago, a friend of mine, who reads my blog from time to time, was thinking about starting a blog of her own.  She wanted to be sure, though, that cranking out blog posts would be worth the time it took her to write them.  “Do you have a lot a lot of people read your stuff?” she asked.

“No, not many,” I replied.  “If I post on a controversial issue, I get a bigger readership.   But I don’t do much posting like that.  My regular posts get an average read of 150-200 people.”

“That’s it?” she said.  “Then why do you do it?”

“I do it for me,” I said.  “I do it because I love to write.  It’s cathartic and therapeutic for me to get my thoughts out in front of me in black and white.  It helps me process life.  And I also do it as an offering to God.  That’s why I call my blog Life at the Altar.  I enjoy looking for traces of God in the everyday experiences of life: family, work, current events, church, death.  Sometimes God is so thick in things I can’t see anything else.  And sometimes I have to grab my magnifying glass and fingerprint kit, put on my Sherlock Holmes hat, and sleuth Him out.  But I enjoy the process and I enjoy writing about it.”

“You mean you’d blog even if no one read your stuff?”

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish I had more readers, but I’m pretty sure I’d keep it up even if nobody read it all.  Besides, God reads it, I think, and if it brings a smile to His face, that’s good enough for me.”

So far as I know, my friend has yet to begin a blog.

I began mine in 2009, and 188 posts later, thank you for taking a few minutes two or three times a month to read Life at the Altar.  Thanks for sharing posts that touch you on Facebook and for inviting others to read it too.  The subtitle at the top of the page reads, “Altars are places where people meet God, and because God is everywhere, we can meet Him anywhere.”  I hope you’ve met God in my posts.  I think that, too, would put a smile on God’s face.  And I know it puts a smile on mine.


  1. Love your blogs and read them every time I see on FB where you have posted one. I have also shared them with my co-workers. Keep on preaching and keep on blogging!
    Vicki Stanley

  2. Appreciate every article that you write John because I believe that it truly comes from a heart that wants to please God and help your fellow man. And yes, I have been brought closer to the Master from your articles. Keep writing and lifting up our sweet Savior. Charles <>< Phil. 1:3

  3. We love your blogs. They are always interesting and thought provoking. More importantly, they always have a message! Tommy & charlene

  4. I am a regular reader....always enjoy, always learn. Many Thanks!

    John Murphy

  5. John, the reason your blog (and your sermons) are so well received are that "you do your work as to the Lord". Excellence is excellence, regardless of the size of the audience.

    Merry Christmas!