Random Nerd 8.28.09: Is Social Media a Fad

•August 28, 2009 6:04 am • Leave a Comment

Is social media a fad or is it a fundamental shift in how we communicate? I vote for the latter.

The Prodigal God

•August 25, 2009 6:11 am • Leave a Comment

prodigal god

I recently picked up and devoured Tim Keller’s little book titled The Prodigal God: Rediscovering the Heart of the Christian Faith.  What I found was one of the most concise, succinct, and engaging depictions of the gospel that I’ve ever encountered.

Working from the Parable of the Two Sons (which he uniquely twists into his title of the prodigal God), Keller unpacks the gospel while hitting you smack in the face with your own self-righteousness.  If you’re new to Christianity, if you’re stale in Christianity, or if you’re simply wrestling with trying to know God better, give this book a read.  Below is a quote from the book which I highly commend.

“Through this parable Jesus challenges what nearly everyone has ever thought about God, sin, and salvation. His story reveals the destructive self-centeredness of the younger brother, but is also condemns the elder brother’s moralistic life in the strongest terms.  Jesus is saying that both the irreligious and the religious are spiritually lost, both life-paths are dead ends, and that every thought the human race has had about how to connect to God has been wrong.”

Random Nerd 8.21.09 – There’s an App for That

•August 21, 2009 6:23 am • Leave a Comment

Need to call in an airstrike?  There’s an app for that:

Via Gizmodo:

MIT Professor Missy Cummings (a former F-18 Hornet Navy Pilot), and her team of 30 students and undergrads, have successfully demonstrated how an iPhone could be used to control an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or UAV.

As part of their work at MIT’s Humans and Automation Lab (HAL, heh), the team thought about ways to improve on the suitcase-sized controller that soldiers must currently lug around to control hand-thrown Raven UAVs.

The iPhone app they developed sends GPS coordinates to the craft, which then in turn can send photos and video back to the iPhone.

Make Your Soul Dance with Joy

•August 20, 2009 6:57 am • Leave a Comment

Charles_Spurgeon

“Why, man, it ought to make your soul dance for joy within you to think that sin is pardoned, and righteousness is imputed to you.  This is an unchanging fact, that Christ has saved you.  If it was ever a fact, it is always a fact.  If it was ever true, it is always true, and always alike true, as true now that you are depressed as yesterday when you were rejoicing.  Jesus’ blood does not change like your poor heart.  It does not go up and down in value, like the markets, and fluctuate like your faith.  If you are saved, you are saved.  If you are resting in the blood, you are as safe to-day as you were yesterday, and you are as safe for ever.  Remember that his is true of all the saints alike.  It is true to great saints, but equally so to little ones.  They all stand under this crimson canopy, and are alike protected by its blessed shadow from the beams of divine justice.  It is true to you now.”

-Charles Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 56: #3203.

Random Nerd 8.7.09 – Twitter Stats

•August 7, 2009 12:37 pm • Leave a Comment

Ogar

For the past couple of weeks, I have been doing a lot of critical and strategic thinking about the use of social media (namely blogging, Facebook, and Twitter).  In doing some research, I stumbled across these stats on Twitter from the Influential Marketing Blog. The data originated via a Sysomos report issued on the usage of Twitter.  You can find a link to that report in the Influential Marketing Blog post titled, 10 Stunning (and Useful) Stats About Twitter.

I found #3 and #5 to be the most stunning; #4 and #7 to be the most helpful. Here are the stats:

twitter_logo

  1. 21% (One Fifth) of Twitter accounts are empty placeholders. These are the percentage of Twitter accounts that have never posted a single tweet. They may either be registered simply to hold a username for later use, or be experimental accounts started up but never used.
  2. Nearly 94% of all Twitter accounts have less than 100 followers. In a finding perhaps consistent with the newness of the tool as well as the fact that many people may currently have an account simply to start experimenting with the tool, Sysomos found the vast majority of Twitter users have an extremely low followership.
  3. March and April of 2009 were the tipping point for Twitter. During these months, Ashton Kutcher launched his quest to get to 1 million followers faster than CNN, Oprah started using Twitter, and the steady flow of new users to the site continued. For many, it offered a safer and easier way to get their feet wet with social media, 140 characters at a time.
  4. 150 followers is the magic number. In a particularly interesting data point from the survey, Sysomos found that Twitter users tended to “follow back” all their followers up until about 150 connections. Then the reciprocation rate fell off dramatically, which seems to indicate that this number may be the crossover point where people shift from using Twitter for more personal use to using it more for “lifecasting” their thoughts and actions to a community of people who they feel varying levels of connection to.
  5. A small minority creates most of the activity. A steep curve of a small minority of actively engaged content creators generating most of the activity on a site is common among social networks, but it is steeper and more pronounced on Twitter. 5% of users account for 75% of all activity, and 10% of users account for 86%. This seems to suggest that the site has managed to engage a mass audience beyond those who typically engage with social media.
  6. Half of all Twitter users are not “active.” If you take a general description of being “active” on Twitter to mean that you have posted a tweet at some point in the last 7 days (1 week), then the survey learned that 50.4% of all Twitter users fit this category. If you remove the 21% from point #1, this leaves about 30% of users who have an account and have tweeted before, but happen to be inactive now.
  7. Tuesday is the most active Twitter day. One of the most useful data points from the report is that it clears up the common question of which day of the week is the best day to tweet something. Sysomos found that Tuesday stood out as the most popular day for tweets and retweets, followed by Wednesday and then Friday.
  8. APIs have been the key to Twitter’s growth & utility. In terms of tools that people are using for Twitter, Sysomos found that more than half (55%) of all Twitter users use something other than Twitter.com to tweet, search and connect with others. This may, in part, be due to Twitter’s notorious reputation of failing/crashing, but also is a credit to all the third party applications that have been built on top of Twitter and do their fair share to bring new users to the service.
  9. English still dominates Twitter. When exploring Russia as part of a class that I am teaching this summer at Georgetown, one of the barriers we learned about was the difficulty of fitting some Russian language words into just 140 characters. Twitter is, however, extremely English-friendly. As the Sysomos report found, the top four countries on Twitter are all English speaking (US, UK, Canada, Australia). Of these, US makes up 62% of all Twitter users, followed by UK with nearly 8% and Canada and Australia with 5.7% and 2.8% respectively. The largest non-English speaking country on Twitter? Brazil with 2%.
  10. Twitter is being led by the social media geeks. This particular finding should likely come as no surprise, but 15% of Twitter users who follow more than 2000 people identify themselves as social media marketers. These individuals are more likely to post updates every day (sometimes more than once per day) and also use Twitter more actively for direct communication.

Seminary Intensive Week

•August 6, 2009 6:16 am • Leave a Comment

CTS-logo

This week I’m at Covenant Theological Seminary for a summer intensive course titled “Spiritual and Ministry Formation” taught by Dr. Phil Douglass.  This was originally a course that I had somewhat poo-poo’d, but as I’m learning, it is probably one of the most important classes of my degree program focusing in so hard on what it means to be in union with Christ and drawing from historical examples of heroes of the past (Schaeffer, Edwards, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Owen, Taylor, Bunyan, and Baxter among others) to illuminate the concept of sanctification.

Below is the reading list for the course:

  • Transforming Grace, Jerry Bridges
  • Children of the Living God, Sinclair Ferguson
  • The Call, Os Guinness
  • Christian Spirituality, Donald Alexander ed.
  • Several readings on the union with Christ including pieces from:
    • A. A. Hodge
    • John Murray
    • John Stott
    • Michael Horton
    • Mark Saucy

Social Media Saturation?

•July 21, 2009 6:20 pm • Leave a Comment

social-media-waste-of-time

Is there a saturation point that can be reached with social media?  How do you make use of social media?  How do you use Facebook?  Do you use it personally?  Does your organization use it?  How do you use Twitter?  Do you use it personally?  Does your organization use it?  How is your use of Twitter different than your use of Facebook? Do you post more often on one with respect to the other?  Why?  Do your tweets feed to your Facebook status? Why?  How are these two different?  Are they?

Do you blog? Do you blog personally?  Does your organization have a blog? Do you post new content on your blog and feed it to Facebook and Twitter?  Do you drive Facebook and Twitter exclusively from your blog or do you add additional content on top of blog feeds?  If so, is there a saturation point?  Do you bother yourself with asking whether or not someone that follows your blog gets hit with your auto-fed Twitter updates and also has to scroll past them in their Facebook feeder?

If there was a way to filter out of Facebook and Twitter auto feeds from blogs you follow, would that be useful?  If there was a way to filter out of Facebook auto-fed Twitter updates of people you follow on Twitter, would that be useful?

In addition to Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, what other forms of social media do you use (Delicious, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube)?  How are they different than these three?  How do you use them differently than these three?

Where is the saturation point?  What sort of strategies exist? Do you have a social media strategy or to you just vomit information all over the web?

Comment away.  I’m eager for feedback.

For the record: I have no strategy and am guilty of spewing info onto all three of these mediums.  Currently I have a personal blog, an organizational blog, personal FB, and personal Twitter and they’ve all go varying linkages and feed one another.  I’m considering adding an organizational FB and Twitter, but need to get some sort of organized strategy down before the internet puke police arrest me.  This post originated in WordPress but will feed to Twitter via Twitterfeed and it also will feed to Facebook via Yahoo Pipes.  If you make it back here to comment, let me know where you started (blog reader, FB, or Twitter).

Greatest Capacity, Yet Without a Clue

•July 13, 2009 6:33 am • 1 Comment

thecall[E]ven if we can do what we want, the question remains: What do we want? The near-omnipotence of our means of freedom doubles back to join hands with the near-emptiness of our ends.  We do not have a purpose to match our technique.  So, ironically, we have the greatest capacity when we have the least clue what it is for. Which makes us vulnerable to all the “expert services” whose “self help” methods promise us everything we crave, but end in delivering to us new forms of constraint – and charging us for them.

–Os Guinness, The Call (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson), pp 22-23.


Bridging the Chasm

•July 9, 2009 6:09 am • Leave a Comment

thecall

If the chasm is to be bridged, God must bridge it.  If we are to desire the highest good, the highest good must come down and draw us so that it may become a reality we desire.  From this perspective there is no merit in either seeking or finding.  All is grace. The secret of seeking is not in our human ascent to God, but in God’s descent to us.  We start out searching, but we end up being discovered.  We think we are looking for something; we realized we are found by Someone…What brings us home is not our discovery of the way home but the call of the Father who has been waiting there for us all along, whose presence there makes home home.

–Os Guinness, The Call (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson), p 14.

Delicious Blogs

•July 7, 2009 5:51 am • Leave a Comment

delicious_preview

I spent a bunch of time over the holiday weekend getting caught up on some blog reading.  I use Google Reader to take in all of my blog content and lately have been feeling the back-pressure build.  Going into the weekend, there were over 1000 unread blog posts piled up.  Slowly but surely I chipped away at them by quickly scanning through them, starring the ones I want to read, and trashing those I don’t.  I’m now making my way back through all of the starred posts.  As I do so, you’ll see the “From My Reader” list on my left sidebar update as I tag many of them via my Delicious account which is linked in via WordPress.  Stay tuned to that list for links to some great blog posts.

The Inescapable Question of Biography

•July 3, 2009 6:50 am • Leave a Comment

thecallPart of our contemporary crisis of identity can be summed up by saying that modern people are haunted by an inescapable question of biography: Who am I?  From magazine covers to psychiatrists’ couches to popular seminars, we are awash with self-styled answers to this question.  But many people are dissatisfied with the answers peddled because they have a terrible deficiency: They don’t explain what to each of us is the heart of our yearning–to know why we are each unique, utterly exceptional, and therefore significant as human beings

–Os Guinness, The Call (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson), p 20.

Schlafly Gets Props in the L.A. Times

•July 1, 2009 6:20 am • Leave a Comment

schlafly_3color

My favorite local brew gets props in the L.A. Times.  Read the article, Saint Louis Brewery Leads Microbrew Market. My favorite is their Pale Ale.

The Avett Brothers

•June 29, 2009 6:05 am • Leave a Comment

This past Thursday night, my lovely wife and I had the opportunity to go see one of our favorite bands live in concert at the Pageant here in St. Louis.  If you’ve never heard of the Avett Brothers, it’s time you do.  We’ve been captured by their music for about a year now, and seeing them live was amazing.

2007_0616TheAvettBrothers0023

Where else can you see one dude playing a cello, another the upright bass, while one of the two guys on lead vocals plays (simultaneously mind you) the banjo and bass drum while the other lead plays the acoustic guitar and a high-hat.  Incredible.  These guys have talent.  The two leads also took turns on the piano and one them would occasionally jump back to a full-up drum set or strap on the harmonica.  Crazy fun.

In addition to their great musical talent, these guys can write songs and they seem to have a gift for capturing a sense of emotion in their songwriting.  They’re storytellers and so some of their stories express grief and the challenges or hurts or pangs we experience in this life while mixing it all together in a very unique blue-grassy harmony that keeps you on your toes.

Final word – check ’em out.  I understand they have a new album coming out at the end of September.  You’ll want to buy it.

Random Nerd 6.27.09 – iPhone Teardown

•June 26, 2009 5:35 am • Leave a Comment

iphone-3g-s-fully-disassembled

iPhone teardown articles are now out.  Be sure to checkout the iSuppli teardown article which concludes a $172.46 bill of materials and a mere $6.50 in assembly costs.  Crazy low assembly cost if you ask me.  EDN has an article that draws on the iSuppli report while GigaOM has a nice picture and writeup themselves.

Finally, if you’re into the tech stuff, stop over at Gizmodo and read Bill Nye’s layman’s description of the oleophobic touchscreen.  Go ahead…get your nerd on.

Ogar

Music of Late

•June 25, 2009 12:40 pm • Leave a Comment

myspace_music_logo

My wife and I are very excited to be heading down to the Pageant tonight to check out the Avett Brothers.  If you haven’t ever heard of them, please give them a sample listen via their MySpace page.

In other music of late news, I’ve been sneaking some time checking out (and enjoying) the following bands on MySpace thanks to some recommendations from various blogs and tweets,

Relevant Mag on Our Generation

•June 24, 2009 5:22 am • Leave a Comment

relevant-black

Have you ever asked the question, or been asked the question, “who are you trying to impress?”  Relevant mag writer Adam Smith addresses the hipster culture in an interest piquing article, Who Are We Trying to Impress.  A snippet:

Our generation, the 18-to-34 set, tend to share a common characteristic. We are remarkably self-satisfied. We are socially aware, politically sensitive and culturally savvy, and we like this about ourselves. The question it raises, however, is if all our sensitivity, savviness and awareness has led anywhere. Certainly, social justice campaigns abound within our generation. One would be loathe to be identified within the subculture without a keen passion for grassroots, countercultural movements. However, where have these movements led? Is ours a generation that is quietly changing the world, or is social conscience just one more accoutrement of fashion for us? An accessory we wear with our Chuck Taylors and horn-rimmed glasses? It seems we’re out not just to change the world, but to impress. The question is, who exactly are we trying to impress?

:

:

Moreover, we’re certainly not blind to the problem. In surveys conducted by cable network The N, our own generation described itself as lazy, materialistic and self-absorbed. So, if we know this about ourselves, what are we doing to change it? The problem, I think, comes in the fact that it’s easy to apply these epithets to our generation without applying them to ourselves as individuals. Let me be the first to say, I embody these traits as much as any of us. It’s time for us to take responsibility, not as a generation, but as individuals to live the kind of outwardly focused life we hold in such esteem. Who are we trying to impress with our cultural savvy, our rebellious fashion sense and political awareness? Essentially, it’s each other. On a whole, we’re trying to impress our peers, strangers we pass on the street who—in reality—notice us no more than we do them.

None of these things (cultural awareness, political activism, mode and standard of dress) are bad in and of themselves. The problem comes when we elevate the veneer behind our efforts above the causes we claim to stand for. I adamantly believe that this is a fantastic generation, capable of amazing things. Not only capable of amazing things, mind you, but in reality already doing amazing things. It is time, though, that all of us (myself included) take a deep look at our motives and priorities. It’s time we stop trying to impress, and start making a difference for the sake of making a difference.

Read the whole thing here. (HT: HB)

Random Nerd 6.19.09 – It Will Be Mine..Oh Yes

•June 19, 2009 6:15 am • Leave a Comment

3gs(4)

My 3GS should arrive later today.  For you iPhone junkies out there – what are your favorite apps?

The Gospel-Centered Life

•June 18, 2009 5:42 am • Leave a Comment

From the Coram Deo Blog:

GCLWe are excited to announce that The Gospel-Centered Life is now available for purchase worldwide! To go directly to the ordering/publicity website, click here. For the back-story on GCL, keep reading.

When we planted Coram Deo four years ago, we structured the entire church around missional communities. The ideal missional community consists of a small band of Christians living on mission together and inviting their non-Christian friends to join in conversation and interaction about the gospel of Jesus. This seemed like a really great idea. Until we started doing it. We quickly discovered two significant problems:

  1. Most traditional “church small group” material was written for a Christian audience, and therefore non-Christians relate to it about as well as a cattle rancher relates to vegetarians.
  2. Many Christians have a weak and anemic understanding of the gospel, so asking them to talk about how the gospel is transforming them is like asking a teenage boy band to talk about the finer elements of Mozart’s work.

So in order to shape “gospel DNA” in our church in a way that was accessible to both Christians and non-Christians, Will and I locked ourselves in a room for a couple weeks in the summer of 2007 and wrote a nine-week small-group study called The Gospel-Centered Life. Much of the content for GCL was adapted from older material published by World Harvest Mission which had been instrumental in our own gospel formation. WHM is a mission sending agency in the Reformed tradition that was started by a pastor and missional leader named Jack Miller, who influenced many of our own teachers and mentors (Tim Keller, John Frame, and Steve Childers, just to name a few).

God used GCL to bring about a mini-renewal in our church. New Christians, older Christians, and non-Christians all began to “get” the gospel in deep and powerful ways. People began asking if they could send copies to their parents, their family members, the pastor at the church they grew up in. Which put us in a dilemma, since many of the concepts we used for GCL were the intellectual property of WHM.

So I wrote a cold-turkey letter to WHM asking if they’d be willing to look over the material and consider working with us to publish it. In God’s providence, the folks at WHM were beginning to think about developing some new gospel renewal resources. So we began forging a partnership to edit and re-launch GCL for a wider audience. The crew at WHM has been great to work with, giving us tons of creative control in everything from writing to graphic design. Most importantly, they’ve been careful to preserve the missional ethos of GCL that makes it so accessible to non-Christians and new Christians.

WHM is selling the material as a digital download, which will shrink the overhead (no publishing or warehousing costs) and literally make GCL available worldwide. We’re excited about being part of God’s means to help spur gospel renewal in churches everywhere. Please do what you can to help us get the word out so that churches and Christians everywhere can experience the transforming power of the gospel. The direct link for ordering and publicity is http://www.whm.org/gcl.

Until July 31, you can receive a free sample of GCL via email! Just follow the directions at the WHM site.

Myth: God Wants the Best for You

•June 17, 2009 12:08 pm • Leave a Comment

This past Sunday I had the privilege of preaching at Summit Community Church here in O’Fallon.

summit

The sermon was on the myth (or half-truth) that God wants the best for you.  You can find links to the audio here.

Spurgeon on Thorns

•June 15, 2009 10:18 pm • Leave a Comment

charles-spurgeon

Preaching on 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

“A thorn is but a little thing, and indicates a painful but not a killing trial — not a huge, crushing, overwhelming affliction, but a common matter; none the less painful, however, because common and insignificant.  A thorn is a sharp thing, which pricks, pierces, irritates, lacerates, festers, and causes endless pain and inconvenience.  Yet it is almost a secret thing, not very apparent to anyone but the sufferer.”

-Charles Spurgeon, sermon “The Thorn in the Flesh” delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle on December 8, 1872.

Great New Website

•June 13, 2009 6:50 am • Leave a Comment

Here’s a new website I’m excited about – Re:Sound.org.  I downloaded the Rain City Hymnal and have not been disappointed.resound-rain-city-hymnal copy

Random Nerd 6.12.2009 – iPhone 3GS

•June 12, 2009 6:35 am • 1 Comment

OgarFour long months ago, my current wireless contract with Verizon expired.  With all of my sinful coveting desires in full swing, I was ready to jump ship to AT&T and the iPhone which I had been longing after for quite some time.  What held me back however, were rumors.

Rumors of a new iPhone.  One that would upgrade the processing power, double the memory, increase the resolution of the camera, amongst other improvements.

The time has now come.

Osteen Vs. Jesus

•June 10, 2009 6:26 am • 2 Comments

I’m preaching this week on the myth/half truth that God wants the best for you.  As part of my preparation, I did something I would typically never do: buy a book by Joel Osteen.  Now I have his smiley face staring at me from my desk and it is creepy.

Here’s a quote that I’ve honed in on as fodder for this Sunday:

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“If you will keep the right attitude, God will take care of all your disappointments, broken dreams, the hurts and pains, and He’ll add up all the trouble and sorrow that’s been inflicted on you, and He will pay you back with twice as much peace, joy, happiness, and success.”

–Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now (New York, NY: Faith Words), p 77.

Now, contrast that with Jesus’ words to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Jesus_Crown_Thorns_Passion

This Should Be Interesting

•June 9, 2009 5:08 am • Leave a Comment

This:

driscoll_angryPlus this:

crystal-cathedral-interiorEquals: must see TV (and a real hour of power).

Read more here.  Then pray.

228 Million Pounds of Coffee?

•June 8, 2009 6:29 am • Leave a Comment

starbucks-venti-cup-748821

I don’t remember drinking 228 million pounds of coffee this past year, according to the side of my recent tall, black coffee:

I bought 228 million pounds of responsibly grown, ethically traded coffee last year.  Everything Starbucks does, I do.  I stop by for a coffee.  And just by doing that, I let Starbucks buy more coffee from farmers who are good to their workers, community, and planet.  Starbucks bought 65% of their coffee this way last year — 228 million pounds–and they’re working with farmers to make it 100%.  It’s using their size for good, and I make it all possible.  Way to go, me.