Amazon Is Awesome

I’ve been a fan of Amazon.com for a long time…

  • Each December, I do as much of my Christmas shopping there as possible.
  • For several years, Amazon has been ahead of the curve with cool features like creating your own wish list and providing recommendations for you based on your previous purchases.
  • I’ve always been a big fan of Free Super Saver Shipping, and last year, I took advantage of Amazon Student, which provided me with a year of free 2-day shipping.
One of the only problems I’ve ever had with Amazon occurred last week when I tried to get a refund. I had wanted to order ESV Bibles for my High School graduates but I stupidly messed up the order and ended up with three Bibles that I needed to send back.

The mistake was my fault, so when I found out that although I could get a refund I would have to pay the return shipping, it was no problem. Then, a couple days later, I got an email from Amazon customer service saying that I had been credited with 50% partial refunds on each of the Bibles. There was no explanation as to why I was only getting a partial refund, so I was frustrated and sent an email complaining about the situation to customer service. How does Amazon respond?

Within 3 hours (I got the email at 11 PM on a Friday night), I got a response apologizing for the inconvenience and offering me a full refund, including the price of shipping (which I should’ve had to pay since it was my fault in the first place).

When I got the official notice of the refund, it was notated as a “Goodwill Refund,” presumably because rather than arguing with me, they just refunded the whole price in order to foster goodwill with me for the future. It certainly worked.

Well done, Amazon, and Customer Service Representative Afshan Khanam…I will remain a loyal customer for a long time.*

*I have heard of some potentially shady business related to Amazon removing books from peoples’ Kindles, but as a non-Kindle user, I have no experience with this. If people would just read books in the proper, traditional, bound, printed, and papercut-risking way, it wouldn’t be an issue.


David McCullough on George Washington

From the book 1776 (which is quite good, by the way):
“He was not a brilliant strategist or tactician, not a gifted orator, not an intellectual. At several crucial moments he had shown marked indecisiveness. He had made serious mistakes in judgment. But experience had been his great teacher from boyhood, and in this his greatest test, he learned steadily from experience. Above all, Washington never forgot what was at stake and he never gave up.”
Clearly, there’s a lot to be said for never giving up.


Using Our Blessings To Bless Others

As Americans, how blessed are we?

Here’s a staggering statistic: each year, Americans spend roughly $20 billion on ice cream. That sounds like a lot of money (because it is), but it’s such a big number that it’s hard to understand or quantify. So what could you do with $20 billion, the amount that Americans spend each year on ice cream?

That amount of money would be enough to provide everyone in the world with food and clean water for a year.1

Wow. That blows me away (and makes me feel a little sick to my stomach).

Recently, I read Crazy Love by Francis Chan—you may have heard of it because it’s a super trendy Christian book at the moment. Honestly, I wasn’t all that impressed (which is my general reaction to super trendy Christian books), but Chan did have some good things to say, and this quotation alone may have been worth the price of the whole book:
“Remember the story where Jesus fed thousands of people with one boy’s lunch? In that story, according to Mathew, Jesus gave the loaves to His disciples and then the disciples passed them out to the crowd. Imagine if the disciples had simply held onto the food Jesus gave them, continually thanking Him for providing lunch for them. That would’ve been stupid when there was enough food to feed the thousands who were gathered and hungry.

But that is exactly what we do when we fail to give freely and joyfully. We are loaded down with too many good things, more than we could ever need, while others are desperate for a small loaf. The good things we cling to are more than money; we hoard our resources, our gifts, our time, our families, our friends. As we begin to practice regular giving, we see how ludicrous it is to hold on to the abundance God has given us and merely repeat the words thank you.”
As Christians, we’re pretty good about being thankful for what we have, but probably not as good as we should be at sharing what we have with others—and it should be pretty obvious that just saying “thank you” falls short of the standard that Jesus sets for His followers when there are others around us in desperate need (see James 2.14-17).

As Rob Bell puts it:
“The best question isn’t, ‘What can I get?’ To take the way of Jesus seriously, is to realize that the best question is, ‘What can I give?’ Because all of us can give something—here, now, today, and then tomorrow and then the next day. What can you do to be more generous? What is the next step for you? You have been blessed. What can you give? Who are you going to bless?”3
It is imperative that we as Christians learn to move beyond saying “thank you” to getting to the point where we consciously and intentionally think about how we can use what we have to bless others.

• • •

1Rob Bell, “Rich,” NOOMA 13 (2006).
2Francis Chan, Crazy Love (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2008), 120-21.
3Bell, “Rich.”


The Death of the Wicked

I had intended to write a different post today, but when I woke up this morning, the news regarding the death of Osama bin Laden dominated my Facebook feed. Many of the statuses I read from my Facebook friends and acquaintances were characterized by joyous celebration, which got me to thinking.

Specifically, the question on my mind was, “How should a Christian respond to the death of someone like Osama bin Laden?”

The words of Ezekiel 18.23 seem relevant:
“Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?”
On a day like today, I think it is entirely appropriate to be thankful for the hard work of those in the armed forces who risk their lives for the safety of those of us back at home. I also think it is appropriate to be thankful that a man who spent his life planning and carrying out acts of terror will no longer be able to do such things.

But as a Christian, I don’t think it is appropriate to celebrate bin Laden’s death—a wicked man who lived a violent life opposed to Jesus and His teachings has reached a violent end and will one day face judgment. That’s a tragedy, and I don’t think it should be celebrated.

In short, if the Lord GOD takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, probably His followers shouldn’t either.

The Doc File © 2006-2012 by Luke Dockery

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