Monthly Archives: May 2011

5/31 Digest – Information Overload & Individual vs. Organizational Effectiveness

I read quite a few articles a day both for ministry as well as for personal informing or enrichment. Some articles are better than others, either in their practicality or in their thought provoking-ness. My goal is to pass these along when I see them so that I can get your thoughts on these articles as well. 

Disclaimer: Just because I post something doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with the conclusion the author makes. It may be that I disagree, but find their argument to be interesting enough to warrant showcasing and discussing. 

Data Overload: From the Workplace to Home – As Google’s Eric Schmidt has been quoted, from the beginning of time to 2003, we created 5 Exabytes of data. We’re now creating that every two days–and it’s accelerating. 

Organizational Effectiveness vs. Personal Effectiveness: Which one should win? – Interesting thoughs on church productivity. Are we primarily seeking to be individually effective or organizationally effective? 



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Facebook: Revisited

Last week I mentioned I was deleting my Facebook account here. All the reasons I had for deleting it are still valid, but I have had a change of heart with some newly imposed parameters.

This past weekend I was at my brother’s wedding so I got to see a lot of family. It’s always good to see family, and it’s rare that we all get together. We’ve been fortunate to be able to do that the past 2 years because of my wedding and now Sam’s. However, I am able to stay updated on their lives via Facebook, and I don’t want to miss out on that connection. The same can be said for really good friends of mine. It’s no mystery that as you get older and life situations change it’s harder to stay in touch with what’s going on with everyone, their kids, etc. Facebook provides a forum for that to happen. My beef has been with knowing that about 200+ people I don’t really know. Getting sucked in to all their status updates and photos was a time consumer. Call me a sell out, but I don’t mind getting sucked into those things when it involves real life friends and family.

So, what are my new parameters? I narrowed my friend list down from 270+ to 23. 14 of those I’m related to. The other 9 are former roommates or people I communicate with regularly in real life. If you’re reading this and were a friend on facebook and aren’t now it’s not that you’re not a real friend. You are more than likely reading this because you saw the link on Twitter. I tried to remove duplicates because if we connect on Twitter we don’t need to connect on Facebook.

I also made my Facebook profile unsearchable. This will hopefully allow me to avoid having to deny someone’s friend request. I’m not sure if this will work or not, but I can already say it’s been nice. I made this change yesterday and I had 2 new status updates from friends all day. Perfect.

If you don’t want to delete all your facebook friends like I did, but still want to avoid wasting time on it, consider LeechBlock (H/T @challies).

LeechBlock is a kind of auto-nanny: it’s a free Firefox add-on that blocks chosen Web sites at certain times on certain days and for different time periods. The idea is to automatically block time-wasting sites at times when you’re supposed to be getting some work done.

Happy social networking!


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Grace and Conviction

I read a devotional this morning on Proverbs 27:6 that has made me examine the way I respond to people. 

Look at these quotes from this morning’s Experiencing God Day By Day reading:

1) “Jesus never gave relief to people who were under conviction.”

2) ‘When Zacchaeus, who was in remorse for his sin, shared his generous plans for restitution, Jesus did not say, “Now Zacchaeus, the important thing is that you feel sorry for what you did.”‘

3) ‘Neither did Jesus excuse disbelief. We never find Jesus saying, “Well, that’s all right. I know I’m asking you to believe a lot, and that’s not easy.”‘

4) “Don’t ever try to ease the discomfort of someone whom the Holy Spirit is making uncomfortable!”

What are your thoughts on this? Do we err in trying to bring comfort?


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Farewell Facebook: An Ode To Twitter

That was my ode to John Piper’s famous tweet: “Farewell Rob Bell.” But, I digress. This is actually an ode to Twitter which sounds nicer than saying it’s a dirge for Facebook.

I really dislike Facebook, but it tends to have this power over me to keep checking my news feed. Twitter has the same power over me, but it’s different, and I’ll tell you why. Very rarely do I find facebook to be edifying. That’s not a slight against my “friends,” but just the reality of what is on there. It’s invitations to events and causes I’m not going to attend, games I’m not going to play, and the false notion of friendship. It’s not a total waste as it has allowed me to reconnect with people from years ago as well as see photos of friends and their kids. However, generally speaking I find it to be a mind numbing waste of time in my day. That doesn’t mean it’s the same for you. I speak for only myself and the way I have used facebook. 

Twitter, on the other hand, is valuable to me. If Facebook is generally a mind numbing waste of time in my day with a few glimmering spots of value, Twitter is the exact opposite. Sure, there are tweets that are dumb and hold no value (probably mine), but, on the whole, I find it to be edifiying, informative, or humorous. They’re both social networking sites so why the difference? I propose 3 reasons:

1) Unilateral Relationships – I use Twitter for a lot of utilitarian reasons. It’s a news feed and blogroll for me. I follow John Piper, for example, not because I want to be his friend, but because I find spiritual value in a lot of his resources. I can follow him without him following me, unlike Facebook’s “friend request” protocol.

2) Selectivity – It’s virtually impossible to deny someone’s friend request on Facebook if you’ve actually met them face to face. So, most people end up with a long list of “friends” who are more than likely acquaintances at best. I limit the people I follow on Twitter to people I know relatively well or to people/sites which edify, inform, or humor me. If I find a person/site I follow is not meeting these criteria I unfollow them so that I don’t clog up my timeline with wasteful things.

3) Conciseness – Someone on Facebook can post 200 photos of their dog’s birthday which I will click through for some unknown reason. I suppose because they are there. Twitter allows me to look at no more than 140 characters and be done. People have to get their point/idea across concisely which I love. 

All that said, I’m going to delete my facebook account. It’ll take some time to break the habit of trying to log on to that site, but I doubt I’ll miss the content. Perhaps it will motivate me to pick up the phone more and ask about friends’ lives. Perhaps I’ll shoot a personal email on birthdays. The possibilities are endless.

So, facebook we need to talk. it’s not you, it’s me. Actually it is you. Not only are we breaking up, but it’ll be easier if we’re not friends anymore.


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Success vs. Presence

Tuesday's thought provoking quote:

It is possible to experience success and yet be void of God’s presence. If success is what is important to you, you may be tempted to choose accomplishments over your relationship with God.*

Most Christians, if asked, whether they value success or God's presence more would answer, "God's presence." We are smart enough to know that is the right answer. But, operationally that question is not so easy to answer.

In ministry, full-time or lay, it's easy to fall into this trap. We like the sense of accomplishment success brings. Soon ticking a box begins to replace intimacy of relationship. Self-reliance begins to be the norm as opposed to Holy Spirit-reliance.

Realistically answer these questions today:

Would you be satisfied to have success, power, and wealth, but not a relationship with God? Do you value God’s presence in your life more than the greatest achievements you could experience in the world?*

*Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby, Experiencing God Day-by-Day (Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), n.p.

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When Obedience & Common Sense Conflict

Obedience to God is a good thing. Using common sense is also a good thing. What happens when they conflict?

I was reading this weekend in 1 Kings and came across this nugget in 1 Kings 20:35-37 (NLT)

Meanwhile, the LORD instructed one of the group of prophets to say to another man, “Hit me!” But the man refused to hit the prophet. 36 Then the prophet told him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, a lion will kill you as soon as you leave me.” And when he had gone, a lion did attack and kill him.

1Kings 20:37   Then the prophet turned to another man and said, “Hit me!” So he struck the prophet and wounded him.

Honestly I would be hesitant to hit a person I knew to be a prophet of the Lord. It doesn't seem like a great idea. However, God had a purpose in this (v.38-43) that the guy who refused to hit the prophet couldn't see. The end he saw was hitting a prophet. My guess is he wanted to see how this would actually be a good idea before landing his haymaker. I like to be obedient when it makes sense. When it doesn't make sense I want to come up with a good Christian reason to cover my disobedience. Something along the lines of a contemporary "Surely God wouldn't have me hit a prophet!"

God takes our obedience to Him very seriously. We should value that obedience greater than our common sense.

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Comfortable In Our Bondage

One of the benefits of my attempts to get up earlier in the morning has been the opportunity to expand my quiet time to include some daily devotionals. Today’s entry was a thought provoking one. I was immediately drawn in by the title – “Comfortable In Our Bondage.” Look at a few of these quotes that the author posed from a study of Exodus 5:

“It is possible for people to become so accustomed to their bondage that they resist efforts to free them.”

“When God sets out to free us, there will often be a price we will have to pay. Grief can be a terrible form of bondage, yet we can become comfortable with it. We can grow so comfortable with fear that we don’t know how to live without it.”

We should all ask ourselves the questions this devotional ended with:

1) Have you been lulled into a comfortable relationship with your bondage?
2) Do you fear change more than you fear God?
3) Are you willing to allow God to do what is necessary in order to free you?

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