Sunday, September 30, 2018

Rejoicing in Being Forgotten

It is related that Yao, the type of an unselfish monarch, while on a tour of inspection in the disguise of a peasant, heard an old man singing this song to the notes of his guitar:

"I plough my ground and eat my own bread,
I dig my well and drink my own water:
What use have I for king or court?"

Yao returned to his palace, rejoicing that the state of his country was such that his people were able to forget him.
Martin, W. A. P. (William Alexander Parsons). The Awakening of China (p. 50). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Commitments

I am grateful for friends from whom I can seek wise counsel about how to handle a situation.

Sometimes it's better to forgo short-term gain in order to maintain previous commitments, especially when a change would be on short notice and could frustrate someone else's plans for a significant life event.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Wagons

Have you ever had one of those situations where you think in meeting up with someone you'll have a chance to hitch your wagon on to their train, and instead come to find out they may want to hitch on to yours?

I had a bit of that kind of experience this evening. Turns out we may just try to hitch on to someone else's wagon for a couple weeks to see how it goes first.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Awakening of China

Said the High Commissioner Tuan Fang, in an address to the Mission Boards at New York, February 2, 1906:

“We take pleasure this evening in bearing testimony to the part taken by American missionaries in promoting the progress of the Chinese people.

“They have borne the light of Western civilisation into every nook and corner of the Empire. They have rendered inestimable service to China by the laborious task of translating into the Chinese language religious and scientific works of the West. They help us to bring happiness and comfort to the poor and the suffering by the establishment of hospitals and schools.

“The awakening of China which now seems to be at hand may be traced in no small measure to the hand of the missionary. For this service you will find China not ungrateful."

Martin, W. A. P. (William Alexander Parsons). The Awakening of China (pp. 263-264). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Make the Building Ring

One man's experience listening to George Whitefield preach:
An American gentleman once went to hear him, for the first time, in consequence of the report he heard of his preaching powers. The day was rainy, the congregation comparatively thin, and the beginning of the sermon rather heavy.

Our American friend began to say to himself, "This man is no great wonder, after all." He looked round, and saw the congregation as little interested as himself.

One old man, in front of the pulpit, had fallen asleep.

But all at once Whitefield stopped short. His countenance changed. And then he suddenly broke forth in an altered tone: "If I had come to speak to you in my own name, you might well rest your elbows on your knees, and your heads on your hands, and sleep; and once in a while look up and say, What is this babbler talking of? But I have not come to you in my own name. No! I have come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts," (here he brought down his hand and foot with a force that made the building ring,) "and I must and will be heard."

The congregation started. The old man woke up at once.

"Ay, ay!" cried Whitefield, fixing his eyes on him, "I have waked you up, have I? I meant to do it. I am not come here to preach to stocks and stones: I have come to you in the name of the Lord God of Hosts, and I must and will have an audience."

The hearers were stripped of their apathy at once. Every word of the sermon was attended to. And the American gentleman never forgot it.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Kindle Paperwhite

I bought a Kindle off Craigslist this weekend.

Reading on the Kindle Windows app was using too much battery. I wanted to be able to read at length without affecting how much time I could using my laptop on battery. Yes, old laptop battery.

I also like reading without light shining directly in my eyes.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Awake to Righteousness

In that great chapter on the resurrection, Paul wrote, “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God” (1 Corinthians 15:34).

Did you catch that? There's literally a trade-off between our sin and the eternal destiny of souls around us.

When we take our eyes off our mission—a rescue mission—to participate in sin instead, that puts not just people's lives, but their destination for eternity at risk.

Evangelism, witnessing, and telling people the Good News are all about saving people from their sin. It's hard to show and tell people they need saving from sin if we're joining them in sin.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Equinox

Today is the last day of 2018 with more daytime than nighttime in the northern hemisphere. Tomorrow is the autumn equinox. There are two of these each year, one in the spring, one in the fall.

The equinox is a date with equal parts day and night. Sunrise and sunset are separated by 12 hours.

A few years back I realized this is true everywhere in the world. Even Alaska, the land of the midnight sun during the summertime, has 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness on the equinox.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Launching Social

Gab claims it is “adding an average of 100,000 new users each month and becoming one of the top 10,000 websites.”

I would have thought that having hundreds of thousands of users would have meant a higher ranking such as in the top 1,000 Web sites. Note, they don't say how many of those users are active.

In looking at a list of the top 500 Web sites, I only have to get to number 23 before I see the name of a site I've never heard of before.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Schuller & State

I recently spent an hour reading through Robert Schuller's book, Prayer: My Soul's Adventure With God, A Spiritual Autobiography. I didn't approach it with any expectations, nor to spend a lot of time on the book.

There were three sections that caught my attention, and they all were at the intersection of church and state.

First, Members of Congress from both parties were members of his church. They and others advised him to steer clear of politics, advice he heeded. He noted criticism he took for limiting his ability to be a prophetic voice on issues of the day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Father > Hero

I finished reading Rocket Boys this morning. While he never got to meet his hero, Wernher von Braun, his hero at one point had been by his exhibit at the national science fair and had picked up and appreciated his rocket parts.

Hickam realized that the person most important to him at his last amateur rocket launch was his father. He never got the fatherly encouragement he wanted, but then decided to give encouragement to his father instead. I found it to be a very powerful ending.

Monday, September 17, 2018

iOS 12 Out

iOS 12 is out today.

I downloaded it. Things I noticed:

  • Bedtime can now also trigger DND.
  • DND has a separate setting to be invoked by Bedtime that is not in sync with Bedtime's setting.
  • Measure looks like fun.
  • Screen time looks useful, though it will take some time to tell. It doesn't look like it tells me when I use my phone or apps, only how much.
  • Screen time has a today widget. It's on my default, and I'll probably leave it that way.
  • Cursor functionality looks useful, though is not active in all apps.
  • Voice memos has some new editing features, though my first pass in trimming a clip was not successful.
Things that didn't change:
  • Bedtime still confuses me. I'm not sure if I can get it to track bedtime without also waking me up in the morning.
  • Auto-shutoff still has nothing in between staying on for 5 minutes and staying on forever.
I've been wondering when Wall Street is going to notice that Apple is offering everyone on the previously latest devices a free upgrade. There's no upgrade supercycle this time around. Then again, apparently it was already dead.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

“What do you want to do?”

I've been enjoying reading Rocket Boys lately. Homer Hickam was a fish out of water shooting off rockets in a coal mining town. As he was growing up, and with input from his father, deviating from the town norm of coal mining was not without its moments of insecurity. The part where I left off today ended with him having won multiple science fairs and having been recognized at school his senior year. His day ended with him finally realizing his path was clear. He now was sure of who he was and what he was to do.

I was having breakfast with someone a while back who asked me, “What do you want to do?” Having virtually no experience with this person, and them knowing little of mine, that made this question easier than it usually is for me.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Greatest Difficulty for the Rich

Jeff Bezos was in town recently.

This prompted “a supremely well-attended dinner marking The Economic Club of Washington, D.C.’s 32nd anniversary.” This has the Washington Business Journal gushing about how “Never had so many business leaders packed into the massive ballroom at the Washington Hilton” with “about 1,400 business leaders, politicians and local celebrities and 130 credentialed members of the media.” The event “was so large it required multiple levels of the Washington Hilton to fit it. A pre-event reception was so packed that organizers held a smaller, but equally packed, separate reception for sponsors and the biggest VIPs in a crowd of VIPs.” The praise for the crowd continued from there.

Some people make their money just studying people who have lots of money and assets. There's no shortage of articles on things rich people do, have in common, etc.

I don't remember the exact headline or title now, but I once saw something on Business Insider, if I remember correctly, that identified the most fundamental common thing among people of means or wealth.

They had all hit bottom at some point, and then they had all decided not to be at the bottom anymore. They put their hunger or desire to use, and became extremely self-reliant. Of course, they need to hire a lot of people along the way, but there is a transforming fundamental drive to succeed that is what truly sets them on a different trajectory than the rest of us.

With that understanding, and even with all their riches and assets, there is still something that is extremely hard for them to do.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Diversion or Delving Deeper?

I was reading in John 4 the other day, and a couple things really struck me from the comments of the woman. This is the story of Jesus and the woman at the well.

She refers to “our father” in verse 12, and “our fathers” in verse 20. “Our” is in both the father of the Jews and the father of the Samaritans—they both had the same father.

This may be a passing comment, but it also makes the point there's no real difference for the Jews to consider Samaritans as different or as other from them as they did.

When Jesus told the woman to call her husband, I had always read her response as being one of changing the subject. However, as I look at this again in the context of her “our” references, instead of this being a change of subject, it seems like it instead may be an attempt to uncover and address an underlying issue and barrier that she and her people have been facing—one that had been used to consider Samaritans as different or other.

She may have seen this time with a prophet as an opportunity to ask a lingering question. After all, she had been looking for Him (4:25-26).

Before we judge people, it's a good idea to listen to people fully, even if something seems like a diversion. Their comments are in context for them and may not be a diversion at all. It may simply be hidden to us that the person is more on topic than ever.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Freedom

I once asked my friend Michael Schwartz to define freedom. He had one ready. “Freedom is the power to do right.” And with his typical confidence he added, “You won't find a better definition than that.”

Asked how he came up with that, his explanation started with a couple questions. (1) Is God free? Yes. (2) Does God do anything but right? No. Therefore freedom is the power to do right. It sounded reasonable, and I also wanted something based more directly on Scripture.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

It was a crisp fall morning in Washington, D.C. I love those kind of refreshing days. One time a cousin of mine who grew up in Chicago told me she thought the perfect day starts around 70° and gets up to around 90°. Having grown up in Florida, I think the perfect day starts around 50° and gets up to around 70°. That Tuesday started like one of those days.

I was working three blocks north of the White House at the time. The first indication we got that something unusual was afoot was an office-wide email about 8:45 a.m. informing us a small plane had hit the World Trade Center. It sounded unusual, like an accident, but having had an incident there eight years before, it didn't seem like much more than something that would be an item on the evening news.

About 20 minutes later, another office-wide email went around saying another plane had hit the other tower. At that moment, I instantly knew we were no longer talking about an accident. Since one plane had already hit one tower, live cameras were trained on the scene and picked up the full scale of the second collision. It was clear these were not small planes, but full-size commercial jetliners.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sunday, September 9, 2018

11 Things you can do with a Bible

The Bible is the Word of God. There are a lot of good things you can do with it.

1. Read the Word. See for yourself what's in it by reading it.

2. Own the Word. Have your own copy. It's one thing to be able to read it online, but there's value in having your own copy that does not limit what you can see to the size of your screen or window. Underline it. Highlight it. It's yours.

3. Study the Word. If there are things that are hard to understand, keep reading, dig into it, look up original words, and overall don't give up. Ask God for help and wisdom in understanding it.

4. Pray the Word. Ever feel like you don't know how to pray? Ever not sure what the will of God is? His Word is consistent with His will, and we can pray His words back to Him. We can personalize them to our own situations as well.

5. Hide the Word. Hide it in your heart; memorize it. Do this in large chunks, too—at least chapters at a time. You never know what theology or encouragement you might find in the opening or closing of a letter.

6. Share the Word. Tell someone about what you've found in it. Introduce them to your friend Jesus. What have you learned? Who do you look forward to meeting someday? What does the Bible say about your situation right now, or things you see happening around you?

7. Share the Gospel. Learn the passages that explain the Good News to people and share it with them. Put tabs on pages to make them easy to find.

8. Teach the Word. New believers and young people especially need people who can show them what's in the Word, what does it mean, how does it fit together, what's next, etc.

9. Live the Word. Don't just apply it to your life, but apply your life to the Word. Seek to see what the Bible possibly says about every area of your life.

10. Give the Word. Buy extra copies to give away to people. The Gideons do this a lot. ChristianBook.com has sales now and then.

11. Translate the Word. While there are only around 200 countries in the world, there are about 6,000 active languages. Most of these do not have a copy of the Word of God.

What other good things can you do with the Word of God?

Friday, September 7, 2018

How to search Walmart.com efficiently

When I search on a shopping Web site, I usually don't find the vendor's sort by “relevance” to be all that helpful. I mainly want what I'm search for at the best quality for the lowest price.

If you know how to parse a URL, there's an easy way to do this. Here's an example for Chrome.

Go to search engine settings:
chrome://settings/searchEngines
Then add a “Walmart.com” search engine, pick a shortcut (I use “wm”), and then put this in as the URL:
https://www.walmart.com/search/?facet=customer_rating:4+-+5+Stars&sort=price_low&query=%s
Then in your address bar type “wm”, a space, and your search.

It will now search Walmart.com for your product sorting by lowest price first, and only showing products rated with at least 4 stars.

I've been pleasantly surprised more than once to find actually relevant results on my first try by using this search method/url.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Future of Money

There were several high-profile hearings in Congress yesterday. One that got less attention, but that may be of more consequence than others is one entitled “The Future of Money: Coins and Banknotes.”



Things I found most interesting:

Going cashless is not seen as wise or viable for society and other countries.

Up to two thirds of the value of U.S. currency is held overseas. With a total value of $1.7 trillion, that could be up to $1.13 trillion in U.S. currency not in the U.S.

Due to the success of thwarting counterfeit $100 notes, the timetable for upgrading the $50 note has been accelerated because it has become an increased target.

A penny now costs more than twice what it is worth.

In 10 years the number of people purchasing collector coins has dropped from 1.2 million to 500,000. That number could go back up next year with the coin program for the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Andrew

First a disciple of John, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Andrew was an explorer, eager to hear the Word of the Lord wherever he might hear it. When John pointed his disciples to Jesus, Andrew upgraded his mission.

Jesus greets Andrew and his friend with a question, His very first question recorded in the Scriptures: “What do you want?” It’s a great question and one Jesus asked people often.

Andrew had the first answer: he wanted to be where Jesus was.

Andrew quickly recruited his brother, who became one of the better-known of all the apostles.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Killer Robots

In taking a glance at the headlines ending a long weekend, one caught my attention about the US and Russia blocking a ban by killer robots.

The rest of the story is that the US and Russia were also joined by Israel, South Korea, and Australia in opposing a treaty toward this end at the UN.

The outrage machine is kicking into high gear implying anyone not in favor of more entangling alliances, even without a clear definition of a killer robot, must insanely be in favor killer robots.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Think like a Futurist

Early last year Ari Wallach wrote a short piece on “How to think like a futurist.” He lists three ways:
  1. Transgenerational thinking. Think beyond yourself.
  2. Futures thinking. As in plural. There's more than one way to think about the future.
  3. Telos thinking. What is the ultimate purpose?
I've been numbering my days for more than 4,000 days now—since the beginning of 2006. This is based on Psalm 90:12 that draws a specific connection between wisdom and time. One thing I've noticed is how few references to wisdom one can find in the Bible that do not have a reference to time nearby.

Therefore, there's a lot to agree with in thinking like a futurist, and there is wisdom to be found in considering the times in which we live and the times into which we are headed.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Labor Day Sunday

After graduating from college and settling into the workplace, I think every 20-something at some point faces the disappointing reality that work does not live up to everything for which they had prepared.

There are various ways of dealing with this disappointment, and as people discover a little free time in their lives, they do things like read books to affordably continue their personal development. Oftentimes this means there comes a book that answers a lot of their questions or addresses their frustrations.

For me, this book was Joy at Work by Dennis Bakke. One of the first things he talks about in their is the purpose of business. It's not just to make money, but to provide a useful service to society.

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