Month: February 2012

A Selfish Post

I have to share something that happened to me today and it was kind of a big deal; I got my first famous person retweet. Now I know what you are think, “Seriously, you have over a thousand tweets and this is the first time that you have been retweeted by someone famous?” It is true though, today was the first time. What made this so interesting was that I have been thinking about social media and have read some things in the news recently about them. I was struck with how wrapped up I have gotten with getting myself heard, read, retweeted or followed. I was even complaining to a friend the other day about having a blog that no one reads. I write all this stuff and does it really just disappear into the digital void of Al Gore’s creation? I have been thinking all about me, social media has become another way to indulge in my proclivity for selfiness. In fact a new study about Facebook shows that we are more apt to be selfish on Facebook than giving (I know shocker).

The way this plays out is that the average user is more “liked” than they click “like” on other’s posts. They receive more friend requests than they send. On average, 63% of Facebook users studied received friend requests in the survey month while only 40 percent made a friend request.

The result? It feels good to be on Facebook. It might even feel better than life off Facebook. After all, there’s no dislike button, and friends are unlikely to post harsh comments on your page. Instead, people you might not have seen in years bombard you with positive affirmations day after day, year after year.

“You keep getting all these wonderful positive rewards,” said Keith Hampton, the study’s main author and a Rutgers University professor. “That’s pretty hard to give up.”

Getting more than you are giving, in terms of emotional support, “is kind of what you are looking for,” he added.

This might be the lure of Facebook, the reason it could be worth $100 billion and the reason it has 845 million users who are not leaving even if they’ve been on the site for years. The study found no evidence of “Facebook fatigue,” the idea that people get tired of Facebook after they’ve been on it for a long time.

In fact it was the opposite. The longer someone had been using Facebook, the more frequently they posted status updates, pressed “like” and commented on friends’ content. (Source)

I am finding this to be completely true. I want people to like my comments or read the articles I post and yet I am unwilling to engage them and their postings. So it’s not really social media because the social part is not happening; it’s more a affirmation hub where I can look for people to tell me that I am funny, witty and the like. This sense of entitlement that I have and that my earlier comments portray is dangerous and can be seen all over our world. I have this idea that I deserve to be heard that,

No one looks the way I do.
I have noticed that it’s true.
No one walks the way I walk.
No one talks the way I talk.
No one plays the way I play.
No one says the things I say.
I am special.
I am me. (Source)

This hit me today, I don’t have any right to be heard, read or liked. I am no different than the millions of other people that have blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and all the other myriad ways that we have created to make ourselves heard. Tim Challies summed it up nicely the other day on his blog when he said;

I’m entitled to Hell. That’s the only entitlement I have. That’s all I deserve, because of my sin. Anything else is grace, an unmerited bonus from the God of all grace. I don’t deserve a breath of life, a crumb of food, a drop of water, a stitch of clothing, a cent in my wallet, or an hour of education. I’m not entitled to one friend, one vacation, one verse of Scripture, or even one sermon. I’m certainly not entitled to salvation and heaven. I’m entitled to damnation and Hell.

That sense of entitlement makes me seek mercy, receive mercy, enjoy mercy, and be merciful to others. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, “What have I that I did not receive as a free gift of divine grace? How therefore can I ever boast as if I had actually been entitled to it or earned it?”

So, there are basically only two ways to live: with a proud and angry sense of entitlement or with a humble and thankful sense of responsibility.

To summarize, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). (Source)

Owl Post 2-20-2012


As You Wish: The Princess Bride: 

I asked our readers what I should watch (and review) for Valentine’s Day, and The Princess Bride was nominated. Some people in my college dorm watched the film back in 1991 ad nauseum and put a bad taste in my mouth for this 1987 Rob Reiner movie, but the reality remains that the fanciful film is an enduring classic for men and women, boys and girls of all ages in all ages. Examining the narrative, is it any wonder why? Link

Learning to Stand: 

My recent studies of Ephesians have marked me deeply. It may be that the most important application to my life has been in the awareness of Satan’s work around me and, on that basis, learning how to stand firm. Ephesians 6 is a powerful call to be aware of the enemy and his army; it teaches that there is an enemy who devotes his entire existence to the destruction of God’s work and God’s people. Every Christian is engaged in battle against him. Link

The ‘Safe, Legal, Rare’ Illusion: 

AMID the sound and fury of the latest culture-war battles — first over breast cancer dollars and Planned Parenthood, and then over the White House’s attempt to require that religious employers cover contraception and potential abortifacients — it’s easy to forget that there is at least some common ground in American politics on sex, pregnancy, marriage and abortion. Link

An Open Letter to Praise Bands: 

“Dear Praise Band,
I so appreciate your willingness and desire to offer up your gifts to God in worship. I appreciate your devotion and celebrate your faithfulness–schlepping to church early, Sunday after Sunday, making time for practice mid-week, learning and writing new songs, and so much more. Like those skilled artists and artisans that God used to create the tabernacle (Exodus 36), you are willing to put your artistic gifts in service to the Triune God.” Link

Owl Post 2-17-12

Why Jesus Wants You to Lose Hope:

“In Mark 10, a young rich man eagerly comes to Jesus. He is a winner who does not want to give up trying to win. The good thing about him is that he has a desire for something more, something beyond worldly winning. He asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Link

Film Nerd 2.0 looks at Star Wars on Blu-Ray:

“This day has been a long time coming.
We all have landmarks by which we measure our lives and our accomplishments, goals you’ve set for yourself that you’ve either accomplished or not, and I’m certainly someone who holds film experiences very dear. The moment I knew I’d spend the rest of my life somehow involved in movies took place in a dark movie theater when I was seven years old, and it was one of those lightning bolt occasions. I felt pinned to the back of my chair as I watched a tiny blockade runner fleeing from a seemingly endless Star Destroyer that just kept coming out and over, more real than anything I had ever seen, and I’ve never wavered in my determination to be involved in storytelling somewhere, somehow.” Each one of these entries is a priceless look at sharing the things that we grew up with, with our children. Very much worth reading the read. I, II, III, IV, V, VI

Bad Art Doesn’t Exist Apart from the Good:

”I’m not trying to draw badly. I’m just trying to draw without any consideration of craft,” says David Shrigley, whose “unsteady freehand” drawings were recently featured in The New York Times Magazine. I could hear Tom Wolfe whisper in my ear, “That’s the sound of a man who wants you to think he’s unconscious of his own brilliance.” Link

The Problem With Going Green:

“A favorite trick of people who consider themselves friends of the environment is reframing luxury consumption preferences as gifts to humanity. A new car, a solar-powered swimming-pool heater, a 200-mile-an-hour train that makes intercity travel more pleasant and less expensive, better-tasting tomatoes—these are the sacrifices we’re prepared to make for the future of the planet.” Link

Cormac McCarthy: Judges in the American Canon:

David Powlison, Russell Moore, and Eugene Peterson are just a few church leaders who have recognized how literature helps us understand relationships, stories, and language. Reading opens us to worlds, experiences, and perspectives that simply can’t be explored any other way. Link

Forgiving Don Draper: 

“A laudably contrarian view of Mad Men appeared in the recent issue of The New York Review of Books by Daniel Mendelsohn, “The Mad Men Account,” raising a number of important questions before making a remarkable and even rather touching conclusion, namely, that the real subtext of the show is an attempt by boomer children to come to terms with, and maybe even forgive, their parents.” Be sure to check out the article they linked from the The New York Review of Books. Link

Komen, Planned Parenthood and You: 

“The uproar over the Komen Foundation/Planned Parenthood debacle from a few weeks ago has led to a lot of dialogue about abortion, women’s health, and conscience. Few have provided better or more thoughtful analysis than Russell Moore or Ross Douthat.” Link

Marilynne Robinson, The Art of Fiction No. 198:

“When Marilynne Robinson published her first novel, Housekeeping, in 1980, she was unknown in the literary world. But an early review in The New York Times ensured that the book would be noticed. “It’s as if, in writing it, she broke through the ordinary human condition with all its dissatisfactions, and achieved a kind of transfiguration,” wrote Anatole Broyard, with an enthusiasm and awe that was shared by many critics and readers. The book became a classic, and Robinson was hailed as one of the defining American writers of our time. Yet it would be more than twenty years before she wrote another novel.” Just an amazing interview with one of America’s premiere authors. Link

Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books:

“I ended by liking Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books. I came to the conclusion, well before the final chapters, that this book has something helpful in it for all kinds of people.” I have not read this book yet, but I hope too. It does seem to promote all the things that I believe about Christians and literature. Link

Jesus+Nothing=Everything – Review


Tullian Tchividjian
Wheaton: Crossway, 2011 220 pages$18.99

To follow Jesus and grow as aChristian, to give up all the world offers us, we must see the overwhelming value of the gospel and what God hasdone through Christ. We cannot truly change unless we understand the weight of the gospel in our lives. This is the focused message of Jesus+Nothing=Everything.
Tchividjian uses this formula as the backbone of the book; looking at each part, starting with everything and working to Jesus, then backtracking to talk through it all again. This means that he drives home his point effectively by giving us the time to digest what he is saying because we hear it again and again. The main thrust of the book is that our lives need to be gospel focused and centered and that it is only by gaining a deeper and richer understanding of what Christ has done that one can truly grow.

“The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of ourselves and our performance and more of Jesus and hisperformance for us. Ironically, when we focus mostly on our need to get better,we actually get worse. We become neurotic and self absorbed. Preoccupation with our effort instead of with God’s effort for us makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective.”(95)

It is only when we believe and trust in the new identity that God has given us, through the life and work of Christ, that we can let go of our self and actually grow.
The natural question that arises from all this talk of grace is, “What about the law and the commands of God?” Tchividjian answers this way:

“Therefore, it’s the gospel (what Jesus has done) that alone can give God-honoring animation to our obedience. The power to obey comes from being moved and motivated by the complete work of Jesus for us. The fuel to do good flows from what’s already been done. So again, while the law directs us, only the gospel can drive us.”(192)

Considering this topic is foundational to the Christian faith, the author doesn’t expect hisbook to be exhaustive on the topic. He provides a list of twenty-six books on the gospel for further study. At the end of the book Tchividjian says, “So relax and rejoice. Jesus plus nothing equals everything; everything minus Jesus equals nothing.” This reminds us of what Jesus said, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”(Matthew10:39 ESV) 

Owl Post: 2-3-2012

More great links from this week. Hope you enjoy!


Searching for Paradise in the Descendants:

“Ever since the events of Genesis 3, we’ve hungered to return home. It’s the impulse that sent explorers out to the ends of the earth. It’s what Ponce de Leon looked for in Florida, what Cortez searched for amongst the Aztecs, and what sent Cheng Ho out from China into the Indian Ocean. It was promised to Israel as a land of milk and honey, and promised again to the church as the city of God.” Link

The Elephant Room:

“There was a lot of controversy and fall out from this years Elephant Room; (if you don’t know what I’m talking about you can check it out here. This has added to the number of links for this section. So here are some the best that I read this last week.” Tim Raymond, Justin TaylorKevin DeYoungThabiti Anyabwileand Don Carson and Tim Keller 

Respecting the (Enemy) Dead:

“Much has been made lately of the video circulated the Web that purportedly shows U.S. Marines urinating on dead men, presumably Taliban fighters killed by the Marines.” Link 

West Toward Home:

“IN HER NOVELS AND in her nonfiction essays, Marilynne Robinson’s questions are always roughly the same: Who are we, and where did we come from? The first is a matter of metaphysics, the second of history. At least since the publication of her first collection of essays, The Death of Adam (1998), Robinson has been making it her business to remind us that these questions are not yet settled.” Link

Citing Attacks, Christians Fear Losing Freedoms:

“CAIRO – From her home in a labyrinth of stonewalled alleyways, Samia Ramsis holds a key chain bearing the face of the Virgin Mary as she sits in her yellow pajamas on the morning of Orthodox Christmas.” Link

Watch Your Conjunctions in Parenting:

“I love you, but you need to obey.” 

Every English-speaking parent has said that phrase at some point or another. It’s our attempt as parents to express commitment to our children even as we require them to obey: “I love you despite anything you do, but you also need to obey what I tell you.” Link

The Coming Tech Boom…Or Babel:

“There’s a technological transformation coming that will revolutionize this century the way the telephone, electricity and automobiles altered the one before.” Link

Gender Liberation:

“Numerous stories have emerged recently about parents who have chosen to raise their children as “gender neutral.” The parents have received widespread criticism with many questioning whether they have a political motive and are just using their children to enforce their own agendas.” Link

The Media’s Abortion Blinders:

IN the most recent Gallup poll on abortion, as many Americans described themselves as pro-life as called themselves pro-choice. A combined 58 percent of Americans stated that abortion should either be “illegal in all circumstances” or “legal in only a few circumstances.” These results do not vary appreciably by gender: in the first Gallup poll to show a slight pro-life majority, conducted in May 2009, half of American women described themselves as pro-life. Link

Missional Life

I just finished this book and I find myself having to think through the issues it brought up a lot. I was going to write out a review, but I feel that this review on The Gospel Coalition website does a much better job than I could. 


What is funny, is that this review is what prompted me to read the book in the first place. My work is to helping people find missions opportunities and I thought that this would be a good read. So, I recommend this book; it is going to make you think and challenge you. Revel in that challenge, because how we portray the gospel to the world will benefit from deep thought and in rethinking our presuppositions to make sure that we are in line with the reign and will of God.    


Also please visit RightNow Trader Stories to learn more about missions opportunities.