Facebook Timeline: narcissism or spiritual formation?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

So, I just activated the new Timeline today, and it was a fascinating experience. Primarily, I noticed that my 15 minutes of allowed social web time on Chrome ran out very quickly.* I wasn't spending a lot more time looking at others' pages, new Twitter accounts, recommended friends, or any of the other normal rabbit trails that make you lose 15 minutes in the blink of an eye. Instead, I was deep in the historical archives of my own Facebook page.

When the message popped up, Shouldn't you be working?!* I was forced to think, what have I been doing for 15 minutes? I was looking through old photographs. Oh yes, I remember meeting up with those girls at the Japanese place for Rachel's birthday? or was it Erin's? I was perusing old Facebook wall messages. Apparently my college roommate, Roomie, and I were very concerned about graduating and not seeing each other all the time. There's plenty of What will I do without you? going back and forth. Ha!

Then I wondered, is this narcissistic? I certainly could get lost in the annuls of the past 7 years of my life and spend plenty of time passing judgment on myself for past relationships or dumb pictures that are now permanently on the web. Or I could relish so much in past trips and graduations that I fail to lose myself in where I am right now.

Or, could this even be a spiritual formation exercise? Larry and I have been spending the past few months in a series of self-evaluation activities. We've developed rules of life, a la St. Benedict. We've drawn timelines to trace education, relationships, moves, victories. We've analyzed core lies and designs. By Tuesday, I'll have written more than 90 pages on myself. (Don't worry, I'm not going to post it or anything.) The point is, all that looking back with the guidance of the Holy Spirit has helped me to see where God was providentially moving in the places of opposition and of rest in my life. It's helped me to see that I've been designed uniquely in such a way that my giftings are revealed whether I was working as a telemarketer, a seminarian, or a project manager. I function in relationships similarly whether we're talking about my marriage, my friendships, or my family. All this has been a spiritual formation exercise. It has helped me to understand where I am right now and how the Lord is currently teaching me.

So I'm thankful for the question, Shouldn't you be working?* It called me to attention. And I think that's the point. You could waste endless hours reflecting on highs and lows of past places in your life. Or you could look back in order to see where God is moving you now. You might just find that you enjoy yourself and can even look back at that 21st birthday party with a grin and a prayer of thanksgiving.

*If you want to discipline yourself, too, you can add the Chrome extension Stay Focusd. You can set a time limit, and it'll cut you off from any site you want after a certain amount of time.

follower of Jesus, can you live apart from him?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A word from Jean at Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church for Advent. And very timely for me.

December 8 The True Vine

I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.”

John 15:5

Perhaps the reason I love this name of Jesus so much is the beautiful word picture it paints. It’s probable that when Jesus spoke these words to His disciples they had just left the upper room and were walking through a vineyard on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was the night of His betrayal. He was preparing His followers for life without His physical presence. How could they conceive that it would be better for them for Jesus to go away? What could be better than the flesh-and-blood nearness of their Master, hearing His voice, looking into His eyes, feeling the warmth of His touch, following in His footsteps as together they walked the dusty roads? How could they live apart from Him?

As Jesus had done with His disciples so often, He again chose to use something in the earthy physical realm to illustrate something in the spiritual realm. From this time forward, the sight of vines and branches heavy with clusters of grapes would hold new meaning. They would see what happened to the branches that were attached to the vine; they would bear fruit. As well, they would see what happened to the branches that were no longer attached to the vine; they would not bear fruit.

Jesus’ use of this simple metaphor has provided a profound truth for all those who would follow Him from that time forward. Just as the branch is completely dependent upon the vine to provide everything needed to produce its fruit; so are Jesus’ disciples completely dependent upon Him to provide everything needed to produce the fruit of lives that bring glory to His name.

Was it better for His disciples that Jesus would no longer be with them in the flesh? Yes, for though He would walk beside them no longer, through His Holy Spirit He would soon be within them. They would then experience the life of the True Vine flowing through them, infusing them with power and enabling them to live fruitfully for Him. Time and again in my own life I have experienced the dismal results of attempting life on my own, apart from Him. Thankfully however, because of His mercy and grace, He is using those times to teach me this timeless truth – apart from Him I cannot do a thing of eternal value!

Follower of Jesus, can you live apart from Him?

Jean Smith

Heavenly Father, help me to stay, to remain, to abide in vital union with Jesus, the One True Vine, knowing that without Him I can do nothing. AMEN

more than the gift

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I truly love buying presents for people, all times of the year. So here's a round up of places I've come across where you bless people on both sides of the buying. I encourage you to consider purchasing with purpose!

(note from Amy: Kyle and I are pursuing a lofty goal, but we know with YOUR help we can do it! Our goal is to raise $2,000 in 7 DAYS through the sale of these t-shirts. We have a huge chunk of money due SOON so it is full on fundraising around here! Purchase a shirt, $25 adult $15 kids, and help us bring Hannah Cate home forever!!! Email me amytippens@gmail.com to place your order. Guy and boy version is the gray and red, ladies and girl version is the navy and light coral.)

I'm still shopping, too. Are there any other places you'd want to add?