Month: November 2010

Why I’m Deleting My Facebook

When I announced I’m deleting my Facebook account this week, the inquiries started flooding in: “Why are you deleting it?” “Isn’t it good for ministry contacts?” “Can you elaborate on this?” I figured I would share my reasoning at greater length than 140 characters (shocker, I know). Honestly, I find it kind of weird that people were so curious about this, but maybe that reflects my ignorance of the merits of FB. One warning, my reasons may not be your reasons. In other words, I’m not advocating that everyone “quit FB.” Like anything, it can be used for good or for ill, responsibly or irresponsibly. Here are my reasons for quitting FB (in no particular order):

#1 Reason I Quit Facebook

I want to streamline my communication an use my time wisely. Although I’m not an avid user of FB, I have noticed that it asks me for a lot of time: 1) Accept Friends (that I will never talk to) 2) Join Events (that I rarely go to) 3) Participate in Causes (i know nothing about) 4) Correspond with people (who I can email) 5) Comment on someone’s status, etc. As a regular emailer, Blogger and Twitter user, I have enough outlets for communication and correspondence. Add to that the growing social community sites that require my time (Acts 29, GCM Collective, Austin City Life), and I’ll probably be eliminating something else very soon.

#2 Reason I Quit FB

I see through the facade of multitasking and am concerned about its effect on my mind. A number of years ago I read a helpful article in Time on the illusion of multitasking. The article argued that it is neurally impossible to multitask. The brain can only focus on one thing at one time. When we multitask, we are actually dividing mental energy in lots of little bits, which slowly downgrades attention span and focused reflection:

“Decades of research (not to mention common sense) indicate that the quality of one’s output and depth of thought deteriorate as one attends to ever more tasks.”

If you don’t think this is true, just compare your pre-social media and post-social media devotional life. I want to cultivate a mind that can focus well on reading, writing, meditating, and thinking well and for the glory of God.

#3 Reason I Quit FB

I will be judged and rewarded (not rejected or accepted) by God on my use of time. The Scriptures are clear about our use of time, that is should be weighed (Lk 14:28), redeemed (Col 4:5), and not squandered (1 Cor 3). The older I get, the more I want to use my time for what matters most. I want to build rewards in heaven, not accumulate praise on earth. I do not want to be governed by efficiency but by love, a love compels me to eliminate some social media so that I can spend more undivided time with my family, church, and friends. I want to steward well the grace God has entrusted to me. This means a more focused life.

#4 Reason I Quit FB

I want to deepen in real friendship and community not chase dopamine bursts of false significance. After seeing The Social Network, I wrote a post about the The Social Network & the Decline of Friendship. In it confessed my tendency towards preferring the convenience of friends we can turn off over the inconvenience of friends we can’t. We prefer the dopamine rush of a virtual friend’s text, tweet, or FB message over the sacrifice and love of investing in a real friend’s joys, hardships, and concerns.

In summary, this is probably a decision that is part of new line of decision-making that will spill over into next year, a slow year. A year (and hopefully many years) of rich community, significant friendships, relished family life, deep thinking and devotion, and a more rewarding life all the way round.

The Gadarene, a graphic novel

This morning I read The Gadarene to my kids. The Gadarene is a graphic novel written by John Piper and illustrated by Drew Blom . It’s an excellent first launch into an uncharted genre for DG books.

As I read through the book, I thought to myself: “This is believable and a good example of making great culture.” The design is excellent.

Piper’s theologically fictionalized account of a demon-possessed man brings into focus Jesus real concerns in his healing ministry—social restoration and divine reconciliation.

I’ll be referring to this novel this Sunday as I preach from Luke 8 and 9!

Our Poverty in this Year’s Christmas

As the holidays approach, many of us are increasingly aware of our budget limitations. We nod at the hope Retailers offer through early bird incentives, knowing its just not enough for Christmas this year. There’s an acute national sense that we just won’t be able to give as many Christmas gifts (or as expensive ones) this year. My family is drawing names to give one gift to a family member instead of showering one another with gifts from everyone this year.

Giving the Gospel to the Poor

But wait a minute. This isn’t what Christmas is about at all. Spending lots of money one another in order to have lots of things we don’t need. The original Christmas was quite the opposite. In Christmas, God poured out his deepest wealth to those of neediest poverty. He brought the gospel to the poor. Jesus’ birth was prophesied, delivered, and honored by the poor (Luke 1-3). When he was grown, baptized and ready to begin his ministry, he announced that his greatest gift, the gospel, would be for the poor. How did we get so far away from the actual gift of Christmas and its intended recipients?

Jesus was sent and anointed by the Holy Spirit to “preach the good news to the poor” (Lk 4:18-19). Following this tremendous sermon, Jesus immediately began to care for the poor (a word that head several lists of marginalized people in Luke). He came to preach and to prove the gospel to the socially marginalized: a mentally ill/demon possessed man and Peter’s mother-in-law who had a high fever. The Gospels chronicle Jesus’ joint ministry of preaching and proving the gospel, of announcing the age of salvation and accomplishing physical/spiritual salvation among the marginalized. But was this call unique to Jesus? Must all Christians care for the poor? Is it the responsibility of the Church or individuals?

Tim Keller’s article “The Gospel and the Poor” is tremendously helpful in addressing these and many other questions about ministry to the poor. Consider the following excerpts:

Must all Christians Care for the Poor?

The principle: a sensitive social conscience and a life poured out in deeds of service to the needy is the inevitable outcome of true faith. By deeds of service, God can judge true love of himself from lip-service (cf. Isa 1:10–17). Matt 25, in which Jesus identifies himself with the poor (“as you did it to the least of them, you did it to me”) can be compared to Prov 14:31 and 19:17, in which we are told that to be gracious to the poor is to lend to God himself and to trample on the poor is to trample on God himself.

Are the Poor the Responsibility of the Church or Within the Church?

God gave Israel many laws of social responsibility that were to be carried out corporately. The covenant community was obligated to give to the poor member until his need was gone (Deut 15:8–10). Tithes went to the poor (Deut 14:28–29). The poor were not to be given simply a “handout,” but tools, grain (Deut 15:12–15), and land (Lev 25) so that they could become productive and self-sufficient. Later, the prophets condemned Israel’s insensitivity to the poor as covenant-breaking. They taught that materialism and ignoring the poor are sins as repugnant as idolatry and adultery (Amos 2:6–7). Mercy to the poor is an evidence of true heart-commitment to God (Isa l:10–17; 58:6–7; Amos 4:1–6; 5:21–24). The great accumulation of wealth, “adding of house to house and field to field till no space is left” (Isa 5:8–9), even though it is by legal means, may be sinful if the rich are proud and callous toward the poor (Isa 3:16–26; Amos 6:4–7). The seventy-year exile itself was a punishment for the unobserved Sabbath and jubilee years (2 Chron 36:20–21). In these years the well-to-do were to cancel debts, but the wealthy refused to do this.

But that was Israel. What about the church? The church reflects the social righteousness of the old covenant community, but with the greater vigor and power of the new age. Christians too are called are to open their hand to the needy as far as there is need (1 John 3:16–17; cf. Deut 15:7–8). Within the church, wealth is to be shared very generously between rich and poor (2 Cor 8:13–15; cf. Lev 25). Following the prophets, the apostles teach that true faith will inevitably show itself through deeds of mercy (Jas 2:1–23). Materialism is still a grievous sin (Jas 5:1–6; 1 Tim 6:17–19). Not only do individual believers have these responsibilities, but a special class of officers–deacons–is established to coordinate the church’s ministry of mercy.

What to Give for Christmas

The Gospel shows us that God gave the most expensive gift to the least likely recipients. It reminds us that God poured out his deepest wealth to those who had very little. When we miss this, we become the poor, those who mistake many gifts for the meaning of Christmas. God calls both the individual and church to Christlike love and generosity. How can you recover the meaning of Christmas this season? Instead of hunting for early bird specials, look out for the poor, the marginalized. And don’t just give them materialism. Give the gospel hope that lasts well beyond the latest fashion and fading Disney toys.

How NOT to be a Missional Church

This three part series explores three common errors people fall into when trying to become a missional church. It dovetails nicely with the recent series Transitioning to Missional Church.