Category Archives: Uncategorized

New call (no pun intended) for help

Okay, here’s the deal: I need a caller ID hacker.  No, this isn’t bad.  I’ll explain why:

In my last post I mentioned I’ve been putting out much more frequent updates on Facebook and Twitter.  I’m getting ready to head to Mexico City tonight to spend a couple of days exploring a business opportunity that could bring some new jobs into our area.  (We’ve been praying a long time for God to bring new jobs here so families wouldn’t be torn apart as husbands move to the U.S. to work and in many cases don’t return.)  While in Mexico City, I would like to have my phone configured such that I can post updates to Twitter and Facebook by sending text messages.

The problem is this: In order to post updates by text message, I have to be able to dial +44 762 4801423 to send them to Twitter.  My phone is an old model that will not let me enter the ‘+’ character at the front of a number I’m dialing.  Without the ‘+’, I can’t send updates from my phone.

I know some of you know how to hack around in caller ID and show your call as coming from whatever number you like.  Could someone please call me phone and show it coming from the number above?  Or it could be from any number, really, just as long as it starts with a ‘+’.  Once I have a number in my phone that starts with ‘+’, I think I can save it as the Twitter number and be good to go.  I hope.

So if anyone is able to help me out and do that today, that would be awesome, and I’ll give you public recognition right here on my blog.  (How’s that for an incentive?)  My cell number is [my number].  To dial it from the U.S., it should be [like this].  Or if that doesn’t work, try doing it [like this].

Thanks!

Update: After trying a host of different things, I couldn’t come up with any way to get a ‘+’ into my phone.  Thanks for everyone who tried to help, including a former MTS student who called me from North Africa!  Chino was the one who came up with the solution, even though we didn’t have the plus sign – turns out that dialing ’00’ is the same as dialing a ‘+’.  Problem solved!

Connect with me through Facebook and Twitter

Those viewing the home page of this blog will see I have added buttons at the top of the sidebar allowing you to connect with me through Facebook and Twitter.

I have taken advantage of now having internet service at home to post a handful of Tweets/Facebook status updates each day.  These include prayer requests and little tidbits on things I’m doing and thinking about.  For those who use Facebook or Twitter a lot, it’s a good way to get a more constant stream of updates from us and a better idea of what our day-to-day lives are like.

So if you’re not part of it already, this is your invitation to friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.  We’d love to have you as part of the community!

Note: I have protected my Twitter updates so they’re not visible on the public timeline.  You’ll have to request to follow me, then once I confirm you’re a real person who is interested in our family or our work, I will approve the request.

Top 10 Posts of 2008

Below are my 10 blog posts that had the most individual views in 2008:

  1. How to make disciples – the simple way, part 1 and part 2
  2. What really happened to John James of the Newsboys
  3. Contextualization: Can a Muslim or a Hindu be a Christian?
  4. The most important spiritual discipline for new disciples
  5. I’m quitting church planting
  6. Interesting cultural distinctives of India
  7. A crisis of identity
  8. Hugh Gallagher’s college application essay
  9. Lauryn and Molly in the 20th of November parade
  10. Ways to get around in India

I’ll be back with more blogging in 2009. Have a happy New Year!

Want to know where your income ranks you in world wealth?

Below, I’ll share the tool for finding out where you rank. Read on…

I don’t know if you knew this, but the Bible only mentions one topic more times than money, and that topic is love. The Bible talks more about money and wealth than it talks about heaven and hell combined. Can we safely say that our handling of wealth is a priority issue for God? Our stewardship says a tremendous lot about the condition of our hearts. If you’re not convinced, check out the following passages of Scripture:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21)

No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Luke 16:13)

I thought this post might be appropriate, given the hard economic times right now. Some of you may already be feeling like you’re on a fast track to the poor house. I have always found it very powerful how the Macedonian believers reacted when money was tight. The Bible says that their “extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity“. They gave “as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability”. (2 Cor. 8:2,3; emphases mine) God makes it clear in Scripture that our stewardship is not tied to how many resources we have available. In other words, we don’t have license to be selfish when we don’t have a lot and only have to honor God with our resources when we have an abundance. Our stewardship is always revealing the state of our hearts.

So in comparison with everyone else, are you and I actually headed for the poor house? If you want to know the answer, open the Global Rich List real quick (opens in a new window). Enter your annual gross income, be sure to select the correct currency, and then click ‘Show me the money!’. The website will show you where you rank in relation to the rest of the world. The first time I did this, I was astounded to learn that my income at a couple of different summer jobs around 18 or 19 years old, as well as my current missionary support, put me in the top 10% of the world’s richest people.

I’ve heard the average college graduate in the U.S. makes $48,000 a year once they graduate. College students, plug this number in if you want to see where you’ll probably rank once you’re out of school.

The following statement by Jesus should probably cause us to pause and reflect a little bit:

I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:23,24)

Convicting? Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Help for getting your email under control

This post is for anyone who, like me, has been overwhelmed by your email inbox. I keep two inboxes, one for work and one for personal stuff. My work one doesn’t usually pile up beyond about 150 messages (which still takes several hours to clear out), but I finished a busy summer in August with over 1700 messages sitting in my personal box (no, I’m not that popular–it included lots of Facebook notifications and things I subscribe to). For friends and family who wonder why you sometimes write me and then never hear back, this is why.

Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero series ended up being very timely. His tips have helped me keep my email somewhat at bay for the first time in years. Here are a couple of simple things that have helped the most:

  1. More than anything, a new attitude towards my inbox. Rather than letting things sit in there forever, I try to only look at a message once and then do something with it.
  2. Absolving myself of the guilt of not having returned messages friends and family wrote me six months ago. Not that I didn’t want to return those messages, but I had to accept that I was never going to get to it, and keeping those messages sitting in my box was hindering me from responding to the new stuff coming in from friends and family.
  3. I dumped Microsoft Outlook and moved to Mozilla Thunderbird as my new (free, open source!) email client. Microsoft isn’t to be blamed for my email woes, but Thunderbird does have a couple of plugins that have really helped out, and I have also learned Thunderbird’s features and shortcuts better than I ever learned Outlook’s. The jury’s still out, because it’s a little quirky with a couple of things, and it could be that Outlook can actually do everything I’m now doing with Thunderbird, but open source provides a couple of advantages you just don’t get with Microsoft.(By the way, I’m continually amazed at how many of my missionary friends still do all their email online and don’t even use an email client like Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Eudora, etc. My advice: Get an email client! Once you do, you’ll wonder why you ever went so long without one. Picture not having to wait for an entire web page to load in order to read each message and never again having internet hiccups make you lose a message. Download all your email to read offline, quickly read it by click, click, clicking on the different messages, and then send all your new stuff at once as soon as you go online again.)

If you’re in need of an email rescue operation, check out the Inbox Zero series and see what Merlin’s advice can do for you.

16 questions to see if you’re living a wasteful life

Check out these questions shared by Jaeson Ma from the book Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom by Thomas Dubay.

How to Know if You are Wasting Your Life

Read the below questions from Happy Are Your Poor and check your heart to see if you are living a superfluous & wasteful life?

1. By what standards do I determine what is necessary?
2. Do I collect unneeded things? Do I hoard possessions?
3. May I, on Gospel principles, buy clothes at the dictates of fashion designers in Paris and New York? Am I a slave to fashion? Do I live in other people’s minds? Why really do I have all the clothes I have: shirts, blouses, suits, dresses, shoes, gloves?
4. Am I an inveterate nibbler? Do I eat because I am bored? Do the weight charts convict me of superfluity in eating and drinking? Do I take second helpings simply for the pleasure they afford?
5. Do I keep unneeded books and papers and periodicals and notes?
6. Do I retain two or three identical items (clocks, watches, scarves)of which I really need only one?
7. Do I spend money on trinkets an unnecessary conveniences?
8. In the winter, do we keep our thermostat at a setting higher than health experts advise: 68 degrees?
9. When I think of my needs, do I also think of the far more drastic needs of the teeming millions in the third world?
10. Do I need the traveling I do more than the poor need food and clothing and medical care?
11. Am I right in contributing to the billions of dollars spent each year on cosmetics? How much of this can be called necessary?
12. Is smoking necessary for me?
13. Is drinking necessary for me?
14. Do I need to examine exactly what I mean by saying to myself, “I need this”?
15. Can I honestly say that all I use or possess is used or possessed for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31)? Would He be given more glory by some other use?
16. Do I in the pauline sense “mind the things above, not those on earth” (Col 3:1-2)
(pg 112)

Testimony from Student Church Planting Experience (CPX)

This is old, but it was too cool not to share. Jaeson Ma blogged about the Student CPX, a month-long training that took place this summer to equip college students to plant churches on their campuses. Here is an excerpt from his post:

When we first got there we found out the dormitory we were staying at had a horrible history. Over 700 Native American children were starved to death with disease/famine in the basement in relationship to the American government nearly 70 years ago. The first day, our student missionaries were getting sick, doubting their purpose there, others were hearing voices in the hallways and some even encountered evil spirits in the dormitory. We knew it would be a spiritual battle between light and darkness. We had to come in an opposite spirit of faith, hope and love. So we set up a 24-7 prayer room in the dormitory and began prayer watches on the campus…

Keep reading on Jaeson’s blog to hear the outcome.

College students, watch for another Student CPX next summer! If they do one, the only good excuse for not going is that you’re coming to do a summer internship with GFM :)

Can a movie really save a life?

Jaeson Ma points us to the Bella 10 movement. I have not had the opportunity to see the movie Bella, but I know just a bit about it from my dad, who works with Dennis Rainey’s organization, Family Life. It’s exciting to hear how God is using this movie for His purposes. Check it out and spread the word!

Check out Jaeson’s blog to hear about a number of other exciting things that God is doing. On that note, for those who are burned out, disillusioned, or worried that the Christian movement is very slowly dying in North America, don’t despair! God is moving in many powerful ways, although He’s not always using the traditional structures that we might expect. You might have to look in some unconventional places to find Him. Instead of griping about His bride, pray hard, seek His face, and find out what He wants to do for His kingdom through YOU!

Sorry for the downtime

I apologize for the downtime experienced on this blog overnight on February 23 and into the morning of February 24. I was upgrading my installation of WordPress, the blogging software this website uses. I think everything is all set to go now. If you notice anything that doesn’t seem to be working correctly, though, leave a comment on this post and let me know. Thanks!

Random thoughts from the Houston airport

It’s been, what, a week and a half since I’ve posted?  That’s kind of the way the past couple of weeks have been; I’ve been really busy.  They have also been a couple of the most difficult weeks in recent memory.  I’ll try and explain more in another post.

I’m quickly realizing that I don’t have nearly enough time to blog all the things that I want to blog.  I’d say I have a couple of good ideas a day of things I would like to share, but too many other priorities keep me from writing the posts I would like to.  It’s kind of hard to decide which posts to write.  The ones I most want to write are often ones that would take more time, so it’s easy to just write the posts I can get up more quickly.

I’m traveling right now…our family just flew up to the U.S. this morning from Mexico City.  Erin and the girls are now driving to see some friends in Texas, while I’m getting ready to fly to Tampa, FL and drive back a minivan we bought.  We spent the last couple of days in Mexico City just relaxing and seeing some things.  It was pretty cool.  I took a few good photos, but then realized that we did not bring the computer cable for the camera.  So I guess it’ll be a few days before I can get photos on the blog…

Then I was planning on taking some photos of my road trip from Tampa back to Houston, but I just realized I forgot to get the camera from Erin.  Rats!  A picture is worth a thousand words, and it seems I’m having trouble sitting down to write a thousand words about all the different things we’ve seen.

Stinkin’ Broncos.  I hate it when I have to wait a whole nother offseason for a shot at a return to glory.  As a Bronco fan, you start the season so hopeful, and then this…It’s especially painful as I’m sitting here in Houston, the city where just a few days ago they had their playoff hopes dashed.  I just got caught up reading Andrew Mason’s blog, the editor of the Broncos news, so that didn’t help.  Reading the fans’ comments, it looks like everyone is pretty optimistic about next season, and I am too, but that’s just the problem–I was optimistic about this season, too.  The offseason just seems so long when your team hasn’t lived up to expectations…

About the expression ‘a whole nother’…How on earth are you supposed to write that?  I say it all the time, but it sure looks bad when its written.

Well, it looks like that’s about all the random thoughts I can fit in for now, because we’ll be boarding in a few minutes.  So until the next one, I’m signing off.

Maybe next season, Broncos…yeah, next season will be better…Cutler will be an All-Pro, we won’t have so many injuries, we’ll fill in holes in the offensive line, a couple good new players on defense, maybe the defensive line will finally be good like we say every year.  Oh, and hopefully special teams won’t be so atrocious.  Yep, next year will be better!  Just over seven months until training camp starts…