Sunshine Blogger Award 2 (and 3)

Inumerous sunflowers in a field at sunset which is the image used to indicate the Sunshine Blogger Award

I'm happy to announce I was nominated again for this Sunshine Blogger Award, this time by 2 different fellow bloggers whom I appreciate greatly.  They are terrific writers, both dedicated to bringing the truth of God's Word into the real lives of people like us. They have done much for the sake of Christ, the gospel, and God's kingdom and I only scratch the surface of who they are here. Please visit their sites to learn more about them and to read their fantastic blog posts. They are:

The Sunshine Blogger Award is a peer recognition for bloggers across all genres who inspire "positivity and joy." (Doesn't that branded image above really capture that?)

While there is no formal evaluation or vetting process, and no tangible prize, I am truly honored to receive this award again because it is special when it comes from fellow bloggers who know and appreciate the craft.  So, much thanks to you both, Jessica and Yvonne, for nominating me.

   Now, a few things I need to document for the Sunshine Blogger Award  

Sunshine Blogger Award rules:
  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you. (I answer both sets of 11 questions from Jessica and Yvonne below, in order of nomination date.)
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions. (Since I've done this before, I only include 11 blogs here. I'd love to highlight more, but my blogger friendships are still developing.)
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

My answers to the 11 questions from Jessica:

1.   Who is the first person who taught you about Jesus?

I have fond memories of my Sunday School teacher when I was in the lower elementary school grades. I don't remember her name or the lessons she taught, but I remember I enjoyed her as a teacher and person. But as far as who first taught me specifically about Jesus, I'm too old to explore that corner of my memory. I imagine it was my father.

2.   Who is the last person you recently had a face-to-face conversation with about Jesus?

A conversation I had last week wasn't really about Jesus, but I think it carried the same tenor. I was in a small break-out group at a larger meeting/work party. Each person had to share a fun fact about themselves. Hoping it would prompt questions about my faith, I shared that I attended 12 colleges and universities. One of them was a Bible college that closed before I could graduate. Another person shared that she is a blogger for a university in Colorado, so I was also able to share about my "Christian blog." By the end of the conversation, 5 people learned I am a Christian interested in Bible study and Bible teaching, and I attend church at a place where one of them participated in a cheering competition back in the day.

3.   If you lost your ability to communicate with words (e.g. writing, speaking, full sign language), how would you share the Gospel with someone else?

Hmm... I can't even say, "er, um,...," without words. I can show love, but I think I really would need words. How can they call on Jesus and believe in Him and hear about Him without someone preaching to them...with words (Romans 10:14)? Did anyone else answer this one yet? I would like suggestions.

4.   What are some things you do to find the Light again when you feel like you are in a time of dark or sadness?

I'm not frequently sad, so I'll answer about darkness. When the darkness is sin, my Step 1 is definitely confession and acknowledgement of my sin, along with sorrow. Then, whether it's sin or not, as hard as it is, I get back into Bible study or writing. I feel emotionally distant and undeserving in the process, but I know it's the right thing to do. Something that helps is the worship music I listen to when I'm driving. This car-time worship is a constant in my life and it offers perspective and proper focus for all the ups and downs.

5.   What are your three favorite spiritual practices right now?

1)   For sure, personal Bible reading and meditation, a.k.a., devotions or quiet time;
2)   Blog or Bible study writing/studying, since it is a happy place for me and it is always Bible-based (and doing it in a coffee cafe is definitely a personal fave); and
3)   Worshipful singing during church service (I love music and singing and who better to sing about?).

6.   What is your favorite Bible verse right now?

I don't really have a favorite or a life verse, but here is one that I think about often: "Not many of you should become teachers...because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly" (James 3:1). God gave me the gift of teaching and usually when I prepare or lead a Bible study or write a blog post, I step back with fear that I may influence someone in error - that I may not teach correctly or adequately. Teaching is serious business and we need to treat it as such. I have seen some people approach the challenge flippantly, and I have done so as well, but we need to carefully and intentionally study and teach with humility.

7.   What do you do for a living/vocation?

I'm an Information Technology Manager for a local public health department. I've been with this same organization for almost 25 years and it is probably the last place I will work in a secular vocation. In this role, I have my hand in data systems and in the privacy and security of client information. It's not a bad place to be, but I'd rather be writing full time.

8.   Who are three Christian authors who inspire you and why?

I'm not a prolific reader. In fact, I'm pretty unprolific, and if I read more, I'd probably know that unprolific isn't really a word, sort of. But, ever since God called me to write, I’ve been reading more. (You can read more about my reading deficiency here.)

(Just a note that I have found some blogs to be truly inspiring and there can be a place for them in our reading plans.)

Here are a few authors who have inspired me:

- Steve Farrar: He is not the deeply quotable type (and I love quotes as much as the next guy), but he is a straight talker for men and his words were very meaningful for me during my early marriage years.

- Max Lucado: Do his shorter works count? I'm a sucker for short, artistic, meditative thought. (Hmm. What's meditative thought?) I like how Max captures life with his words, which in turn draws us in to the truth of God's Words.

- And can I mention a book instead? Great for navigating differences between husband and wife: His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, by Willard F. Harley, Jr. It's been decades since I read it, but I remember the clarity I gained and how much it helped both of us.

9.   How did you become a blogger/writer?

I began writing regularly when I started preparing Bible studies. I lead a weekly Bible study at work and bi-monthly at home and most of the time, I develop the study material. After several months, I developed a template for presenting the study material, and I produced series after series. What we studied at work, I refined into study guides that my home Bible study members were able to take turns leading. So my material was at least twice tested and refined before becoming published works. I have published 2 series so far and hope to publish one new series each year. This is what God is asking me to do at this time: publish my studies so others outside my circles can benefit from them. You can read about why I started blogging later in Yvonne's Question 11.

10. How did you become a Christian?

I grew up in church (early childhood), but never personally knew the Savior until high school. Midway through elementary school, after moving to the suburbs, I stopped going to church, but I told myself (or maybe I told God?) that I will be saved someday, just not at the moment. Of course, that day was never going to come if it was up to me, so God ushered me in to a high school youth group where a couple of my friends had become involved before inviting me. By the 2nd week in, I trusted Christ as my Savior and never stopped serving since. God is faithful and is not willing to let even one sheep run his own way.

11. If you could choose any vocation (other than your current), what would it be?

I would become a full-time writer, but I think I would also be involved in some sort of in-person teaching endeavor, perhaps in the Bible study arena. I haven't given this a lot of thought yet because I have a typical day job that consumes a greater part of my days, and I expect to continue in this day job for another 10 years.

My answers to the 11 questions from Yvonne:

1.   Who would you like to visit with in heaven?

I'd like to sit down with King Josiah for a while. I'd ask him what it was like being thrust into kingship as a child and how he managed to honor God when all prior kings led the nation deep into idolatry and the worship of foreign gods. I'd also ask him what he did to maintain the respect of his advisers and officers.

2.   Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, both in a busy city neighborhood and later in a suburb. The suburb was safe enough for me to walk 1/2 a mile to elementary school and later 1/2 a mile to junior high school (middle school was not a thing back then). I carried my cornet to junior high every day, and one year I carried a baritone instead as I tried it out that year. (I recommend getting a ride to cart your larger instruments!)

3.   What is your favorite subject to blog about?

This is hard to answer. I'm a faith blogger and I write to Christians who are dedicated to honoring and sacrificing for God. Within the world of Christian living, I don't really have a favorite topic. I write about what I believe God places on my heart for the specific purpose of posting on my blog. The same goes for Bible studies. I prepare what I believe God wants to deliver through me. Sometimes I'm not in tune enough to know the topic or section of Scripture, but when I am, I am amazed at how God directs my heart when I prepare and ponder throughout the day, and even as I type. It is very cool.

4.   What is your biggest obstacle to your Christian walk?

It is probably my nagging desire for self-gratification and self-preservation. This is not to say I'm involved in unsavory activities. What gets in the way is just the idea of not always having the presence of mind and heart to exclude myself from the equation at hand. Selflessness doesn't always win and that often equates to several backward steps.

5.   What author inspires you the most?

See my answer to Jessica's Question 8 above.

6.   What is your biggest regret in life so far?

I'm not big on regrets and I don't really have any (I mean, short of egregious sins). I'm a just-keep-stepping-forward kind of guy and I don't really wish that things were different. But in the 1st half of my life, I used to wish I hadn't quit piano lessons because I know I could've been a pretty good pianist and it would've meshed well during a time when I was writing songs. Later in life, maybe I wish I had continued my pursuit of a Bible degree of some sort. Long story short, my Bible college closed before I could graduate, and I went straight to the working world (see also my answer to Jessica's Question 2 and the link I added in Jessica's Question 8.)

7.   How has your relationship with God changed over the years?

In my youth, I was arrogant and carefree (including caring only about myself). These negative qualities were not so blatant or necessarily ugly (and I was generally likable), but they were not godly traits and they did hurt my relationships and testimony at times. As I read and studied the Bible over the decades, I noticed that the truth of God's Word needs to be accompanied by the love of Jesus, and that I really wasn't as great as I thought myself to be. God is supreme and He cares about people. This has slowly become my focus. God and people matter more than anything, and I am learning to invest in them by following the truth of God's Word.

8.   What is your favorite Bible verse?

See Jessica's Question 6.

9.   What Apostle do you most relate to and why?

I identify with many of the disciples but I can relate to Peter in a way. In Acts 4, Peter and John were questioned by the religious leaders. Peter, being filled with the Holy Spirit, taught with courage. The key quality for me is that Peter was uneducated, yet he astonished the religious leaders with his teaching. I came into the writing scene without any credentials or letters after my name, but God gives me the words. I am not the teacher. God is. This is an amazing truth and it means God can use anybody, including the untrained.

10. If you could do or be anything in life, what would it be?

See my answer to Jessica's Question 11.

11. Why do you blog?

Finally, an easy question! This, along with some of the other questions above, really take me back to my blog post linked above in Answer 5. The post is called Why I Write, Part 1 (or, Knowing God's Specific Plan for Our Lives). I think this should be the next post you read, if you haven't already. It will fill in some of the gaps. But to answer the question, I started blogging to introduce myself to readers and to assure them my content is Bible-based and trustworthy. I am an unknown author and I wouldn't pick up my book if I'd never heard of me. So, here I am. I want people to understand and respond to God's truth, and to not rely so much on feelings, passions, and even guts. We need people who will read God's Word and allow it to transform their personal vision and mission. That is my hope for all of my content, whether in my blog or in my Bible study guides. Originally, I hoped that my blog would lead people to my books. Now I believe God wants my blog to be my central teaching platform, and my books secondary.

My nominees (see my previous Sunshine Blogger Award post for 11 more amazing, sunshiny bloggers):
The questions for my nominees:
  1. If you were given a totally free day where the minutes were never to be counted and time actually wouldn't elapse, what would you do?
  2. Which of your own blog posts is your favorite and why?  Please provide the link.
  3. With whom, what, or where did you shoot your strangest selfie?
  4. What was your biggest hurdle to overcome before you began writing?
  5. What celebrity do you famously impersonate?
  6. What characteristic of God is most special to you?
  7. What was your favorite extra-curricular activity during your K-12 days?
  8. Assuming you attend a local church, what do you like most about it?
  9. Besides writing, and your "day job" (if it's not writing), what is your favorite regular activity?
  10. With what Christian notable outside of your personal circles would you most like to have lunch?
  11. What is your favorite reality or lifestyle TV show?

Thank you readers and bloggers for your continued support.  You are all awesome!

Read more blog posts here.


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