Interactive Flash presentation of the Gospel:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Me, Journalism & God

I am a Christian.
I am a journalist.
Ever since I was a child I have had an interest in writing and in helping others - particularly along the lines of medicine.
Before I entered college I considered pursuing physical therapy. When I was in high school I volunteered as a candy striper at a local hospital. I enjoyed writing short stories and poetry.

After two years of college I determined my grades were not good enough to get me into a specialized field of medicine. Another year, I wasn't sure where to go. I lived in a secular world. I had no relationship with Jesus Christ, so there was no special calling to a chosen field - at least not one I was aware.

I selected journalism, but I took courses in fiction writing and poetry. I pursued journalism, yet I wasn't fully into it. I struggled with the courses offered and my abilities to grasp the meanings of all that was taught.

I graduated, receiving a B.A. in journalism.

I still wrote stories and poetry, still kept a journal, filling pages upon pages with my thoughts, desires, dreams, joys and sadnesses.

I sharpened my skills - learned advertising layout at weekly newspapers and printing companies. I discovered what I enjoyed and what I did not. I published a weekly newspaper for two years. I covered all aspects. I worked all ends. My weeks were often 100 hours rather than 40. It was tiring, often thankless. Yet I enjoyed it and I pushed on. I took picture after picture, covering sports, school events, school board and city council meetings.

I had no mentor. I never knew if what I was doing was right, fair. Yet I pushed on.

Most of my experience in journalism was obtained at weekly newspapers. Each place had a distinct way of doing things, so I was always learning something new.

In 1982, a new dimension was added - I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.

I moved from reporting the news on weeklies to becoming part of the daily newspaper. I moved away from reporting and photography to newsroom assistant to obituary editor.

I again became a publisher - for a few months I put together, wrote stories and sold ads for a senior citizen newsletter, in addition to my full-time job.

Time went by. I occasionally thought about writing news obituaries. I thought it was my heart's desire. I knocked on doors, but the opportunity never was realized. I knocked three times, always it was wait-and-see, always maybe, never Yes.

God gave me an idea for a Christian magazine. Originally considering a print format, it became a web presence. Window to Christian Ministries ... in Iowa was born in 2001. My first blog, In...Sight was added in 2004. My current blog, Journeys was started in 2008.

For over 20 years now I have edited obituaries. Sometimes I have considered it a ministry - a way to reach out to those who have lost loved ones. It is another avenue of the many facets of journalism.

The occupations we hold can be our chosen field or it can be a place of arrival that may become our chosen field. But not necessarily. Sometimes our occupations are merely jobs that we do day in and day out, with no thought as to where they might lead.

I chose journalism, principally because I enjoy writing. But I have not written, as in newspaper reporting, for many years.
But I do have a Web presence -- a Web site and blogs. So I am still a journalist.

And I am a Christian.

Do they go hand-in-hand?

This past week, on April 14, I attended a Christian Journalism Conference in Jefferson City, Mo. Sponsored by the Missouri Southern Baptist Convention and its publication arm, The Pathway, it was the first such event.

I chose to attend the conference with hopes I would gain some new insights as to my future as a Christian journalist/writer.

My first realization was that a Christian journalist and in Christian journalism, you can not be neutral. In secular journalism, it has always been about being objective vs. subjective, being fair, looking at all sides, reporting the facts, not falsehoods. In Christian journalism, it is the same, yet different. If you say you are neutral, then you are also saying you don't believe in God's word, that His truths don't mean anything to you. If you say you are subjective, then you are saying it is only your opinion, there is no truth or fact to what you report.

There is another way to consider, that of biblical objectivity. We must be willing to recognize certain fixed truths, such as God's word being the standard, according to Andy Chambers, vice president for Student Development and associate professor of Bible at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis. We must recognize and abide by why God says in His word as we interpret and report on the world around us.

A me-centered worldview fails to see this truth. Me-centered lives under false pretenses, false gods, false hopes. A Christian worldview knows the God of Abraham is the only true God, knows God is sovereign.

In pursuing a Christian worldview of journalism, Chambers said we must
(1) draw out the theological dimension of the news
(2) keep readers' spiritual needs in view as we research and report the news
(3) help readers see their need for a Savior.

We must keep in mind just whose we are. We must consider the fruits of the spirit in all of our dealings. As we report and write about others, we must be honest, fair, humble, patient, trustworthy, and so on. It must be God's platform that we are obedient to first and foremost.

"Does a story need to be told?" was posed by Will Hall, executive editor of Baptist Press. It is a question worth asking, as we seriously consider all aspects of a story we're thinking of writing for publication. Is it factual? Is it true? Will it harm another? Are we being fair?

When we profess to being Christian and a Christian journalist to boot, we MUST follow Biblical instruction all the time. Not haphazardly, not only when we think it is beneficial to us. If we follow that reasoning, we've fallen to a me-centered worldview and missed the mark. We need to hold ourselves up to a higher power and consider what Jesus would do in any activity we consider being a participant.

I think of the instructions in Psalm 37 -- "Trust in the Lord ... Do good .... feed on His faithfulness ... delight yourself in the Lord ... Commit your way to the Lord ... Rest in the Lord ... wait patient for Him ... Do not fret ... Cease from anger ... forsake wrath ... wait on the Lord ... keep His way..."

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)

We are to serve God at all times anywhere and everywhere, delight in Him. Even when inconvenient, when we're not where we want to be, when life is in turmoil. Even in the workplace.

"Delight yourself in the Lord" - seek my pleasure in You. Seek the desires of my heart in You, through prayer, Bible study, meditation, serving. When I continually follow through and am obedient to You and your word, your peace will settle in me and your desires for me will become part of me and those desires will be my desires, Your plans my plans.

God, His word and His ways are the focus and foundation of the Christian life.

"Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." (Psalm 37:5)

We can bloom and bear fruit wherever God places us, if we are committed to Him and His leadership.

Does He have a new plan for me?

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"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6