Entitlement is a silent killer. It creeps in through your mind, nestles down in your heart, and slowly eats you alive from the inside. Entitlement is a virus of the soul. It puts you at odds with God. It stridently shouts at heaven, “What you have given me is insufficient. I must have more!” Entitlement prays blasphemously, “Give me today my daily bread all that You owe me.”

Entitlement takes many forms, but it is always destructive. Shopping entitlement will impoverish you. Food entitlement will wreck your health. Emotional entitlement will ruin your relationships. Spiritual entitlement will shipwreck your faith.


We don’t recognize our entitlements for the soul-assassins that they are because we have bought into their lie.
My first year of seminary was a difficult time for me, emotionally. I had just left a thriving young adult ministry and a wide circle of friends in Ohio to enroll at a well-respected evangelical seminary in Boston. Moving from the Midwest to New England gave me a serious dose of culture shock. Everything is so much different on the East Coast. As the darkness of winter dominated my days, I sank deeper and deeper into depression. (I hesitate to use that word because I don’t know if I was clinically depressed, but I don’t know what else to call it.) By way of medicating myself, I began to collect DVDs – as in, I would go to the store and buy five or ten DVDs at a time. Shopping became a form of emotional medication, and my DVD collection quickly turned into a source of pride and a sense of entitlement. “I deserve to buy these DVDs,” I told myself. But I was wasting money and feeding a monster by giving into my entitlement. The more you feed your entitlement, the harder it becomes to kill it.

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The Experience of God by David Bentley Hart

What the Book Is About

In The Experience of God, David Bentley Hart makes a compelling case for classical theism. Drawing from a wide array of sources, including Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu thinkers, Hart weaves together their most basic theological strands into a beautiful tapestry of the divine. With tremendous respect for the past, he reaches back into the Middle Ages and the classical period to to pull together a grand vision of God who is “the unity of infinite being and infinite consciousness, and the reason for the reciprocal transparency of finite being and finite consciousness each to the other, and the ground of all existence and all knowledge.” (p. 324)

As well as Hart makes the case for classical theism, he also builds a powerful case against atheistic materialism and Naturalism. He asserts that “materialism is among the most problematic of philosophical standpoints, the most impoverished in its explanatory range, and among the most willful and (for want of a better word) magical in its logic, even if it has been in fashion for a couple of centuries or more.” (p. 48) There are many reasons for this in Hart’s mind, but perhaps none more potent than the need for a “necessary reality,” or in other words, something that does not depend on anything else for its existence.

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The Year of No is predicated on the idea that you can only overcome the temptation you are faced with right now. You can’t resist the sins and temptations that are going to face you in six months. You can’t tackle your entire entitlement-mountain today, but you can take one step in the right direction. You can say “No” to what’s tempting you right now.


Small acts of self-denial make room for larger acts of God’s kingdom.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” In my experience, the way out is simply to say, “No.” Granted, this isn’t always easy. We are tempted by things we desire, and most of us are not used to denying ourselves what we desire. We want what we want, and our culture has taught us that self-indulgence is not simply normative, but a moral good. I’m convinced that this is destructive, both to our souls and to our society, and the only way to right the wrongs of self-indulgence is through self-denial. As I wrote last year, small acts of self-denial make room for larger acts of God’s kingdom.

Now it’s time to focus. Just as you can’t overcome today the sin you’ll be tempted by in the future, you can’t tackle every issue in your life all at once. You need to narrow the scope. There are a lot of areas in my life where I want to grow, but I can’t deal with them all at the same time. I need to focus on a few problem areas in order to experience real victory in my life. This means naming the two or three things you want to work on saying “No” to this year. The first step of self-denial is naming that which you feel entitled to or the sins to which you regularly succumb. As I said in the original Year of No post, “clarity is the first step toward victory.” We can only overcome that which we clearly and continually name.

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At about this time last year I had an idea that I thought would help people make lasting changes in their lives. I called it The Year of No. The idea took hold with some folks, myself included, but my life took a very hard turn last winter with my son Zekey’s health, and I quickly lost focus of everything except for him. When he went home to Jesus in March, my family was devastated, and the rest of this year has been spent adjusting to our new normal.

Losing my son has been traumatic, and I will walk with a limp for the rest of my life. But Zekey has also inspired me to try to become the best version of myself I can be, and that’s what The Year of No is all about. So as 2015 stares us in the face, I want to give this thing another shot. Here’s what I wrote about it last year.

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The zombie phenomenon is fascinating. Our culture has become obsessed with the undead, and no show on television is capitalizing off of this phenomenon – or driving it – more than The Walking Dead. At first blush The Walking Dead appears to be nothing more than a serialized monster movie, a sprawling scare fest creeping its way into a fifth season. But I believe that the show is so much more than it appears.

Underneath that scary, monster movie exterior, is a host of deep questions that are being asked with sincerity and earnestness: Questions of the limits of science and the trajectory of society; Questions of God, faith, and the end of all things; Questions of humanity and what it means to be human – and not just to be human, but to also be good.

The zombie phenomenon in general, and The Walking Dead in particular, represents a dramatic shift in our culture toward something I call PostScience. Like postmodernism, PostScience is the belief (or perhaps the fear) that all of our scientific knowledge and technological advancement is either destroying us or will be powerless to save us from disaster. A zombie represents postmodernism’s greatest suspicion that we are doing irreversible damage to ourselves.

Beneath the suspicion of science, technology, and modernism is the terrifying idea that we cannot trust either ourselves or one another. We are postmodern not so much because modernism itself failed, but because we failed to live up to its ideals. We are PostScience not because we don’t believe in science, but because we cannot be trusted with the power science allows us to wield. It is we who have failed, and the subtle message of The Walking Dead and other zombie movies is that, with all of this great power we possess, in the end we have managed only to make monsters of ourselves.

What is the Christian response to this? Find out in my sermon from The Netflix Gospel on The Walking Dead.

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