Monthly Archives: February 2011

Browser automation with iMacros

I’m a fan of iMacros from Iopus.  I use it with Firefox but there are also versions for IE and Chrome.  Basically iMacros will automate web activities.  I use it as part of writing my daily devotional blog, letting iMacros fill in some of the blanks that have to be filled in each time.  I’ve also used it to check the camping reservation system for last minute cancellations when I want to go camping but they have no vacancies.  And, I have an iMacro to check air fares on a future trip I’m planning (saved $30 just the other day)!  Firefox and iMacros work together beautifully. There are professional versions, but I’m happy as a clam with the freeby.  I go to the website, start the recorder and do what I’m there to do.   After that I save it as a bookmark.  The next time, all I have to do is click on the bookmark and watch as the macro navigates it’s way through to it’s conclusion.

Some more robust add-ons aren’t worth the learning curve, but I think this one is and I recommend it to you.

Keeping your Android church friendly

You’re sitting in church, enjoying the service.  Then, just as the service reaches a quiet, contemplative moment, your Andriod phone cuts loose with your “Who let the dogs out” ringtone.  Oh man, you’ve forgotten to silence the phone again!  The Android app “Silent Time” will keep regular church attenders from becoming the unwelcome center of attention during the pastoral prayer.  Using the app you can set the phone up to go silent by day and time.  I use the app to schedule silent time during weekly church times and overnight each night.  It’s a popular and free app and one church attending Android users will appreciate. 

Common ground on Biblical inerrancy

After a day of more watching than participating in (yet) another round of Scripture inerrancy debates on the internet I’m more convinced than ever that it’s an unwinnable (on either side) debate that, in the end, leaves people pretty much where they started, howbeit, likely with raised blood pressure. Since I hold to the established “all things necessary to our salvation” stance of my denomination, I lean away from the “if Creation didn’t take a literal 6 days we can’t believe anything in the Bible” approach. Still, I’m not unsympathetic to reading the great stories of the Bible as literally true.

One problem I see is that those who caution against a fundamentalist inerrant position end up pointing out what they see to be “errors” in the Bible and, frankly, there’s plenty of ammunition. It’s obvious to me that the writers of Scripture generally wrote from their own limited view of the world. The Lord gave them terrific insights into how God works in the world, but, apparently, he didn’t mind it if the writers continued in their lack of knowledge of how the world works (round and not flat, etc.).

The problem for me is that I have no interest in being the person in a debate about the Bible who is pointing out “errors.” I have a high view of Scripture and believe I find in the Bible everything I need to know to be saved.

The answer, for me, is to decline to be a part of the debate at that level. Since our denomination believes the Bible inerrantly teaches us how to be saved I insist that the measure of its validity has to be whether or not it accomplishes its task. I firmly believe it does. To say it more simply, I think the purpose of the Bible is to teach us how to be saved and I believe the Bible accomplishes that task perfectly because its divinely inspired.

This approach actually helps me find common ground with my fundamentalist friends. They too believe that the Bible “inerrantly reveals the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation.” They go farther than that, but at least we agree at this, the most important point. Who knows, maybe we can build on that and avoid squabbling about our differences and do something for God instead?

Pastor’s day off and other pastor/time issues

I have four things to say to pastors about “days off” and how, in general, a pastor spends his or her time.

First, unless you ditch the cell phone and head for parts unknown there’s no literal day “off.” Rather, they’re just days “on call.” In this case, it’s no different for pastors than it is for many other professionals and business people. Rather, it’s just the way it is.

Second, you’re in this for the long haul. The dedicated, burning-the-candle-at-both-ends kind of pastor will get lots of applause from some in the congregation and maybe will even be “honored” by being asked to take on yet more responsibilities at the community, district, or denominational level. It’s important to remember that some of these good people will applaud you right into the grave. If your ministry is going to last a lifetime, it needs to be run at a jog rather than at a sprint.

Third, life is short and there’s no rewind button. Your kids (and then grandkids) grow up quickly. Your relationship with your loved ones needs attention. Also, while a quiet lifestyle is practically unheard of these days, for a person seeking God’s heart it’s vitally important. A less intense lifestyle may produce a spiritual depth that will flow in natural ways into your ministry…accomplishing more genuine ministry to others than a frantic run on some church schedule treadmill seven days a week.

Fourth, beware of letting others set your schedule. One group thinks you need to attend every church event (years ago the ladies at the womens meeting actually asked Jackie if I was coming – after all the previous pastor had always stuck his head in the door for their meetings – she laughed and said they had better not expect me). A certain age group would be happy if you took on the role specifically given to the laypeople of the church and spent a lot of time ministering to the “widows.” Others will make you their father confessor and lock you into a brutal counseling session schedule. If you like that stuff, okay, maybe. However, the pastor needs to have a strong sense of self identity and not let others control the schedule. (By the way, I don’t think the pastor should give a detailed time report to the board for just that reason – you’ll never win because they all think they know what you’re supposed to do with your time.)

As I’ve already mentioned, I don’t think the pastor’s situation is greatly different than that of many other professionals and business owners. I guess a case could be made that since we’re dealing with people at a spiritual level and since we believe eternity is, indeed, forever, that there’s a bit more pressure, but I’m not sure that’s actually in play at a practical level.

Take some time off…not just for vacation time, or even a day or two a week “off,” but every day. Don’t be ashamed or apologetic. Go toss the ball around with your kids. You and your spouse go for a long no-church-business-discussed walk. Watch some TV or read a nothing-to-do-with-church book. Sit around thinking about the things of God, not for a sermon, but just so you’ll understand such things better.   In the long run, you’ll likely do more for the Kingdom that way.