May 12, 2006

Tickets Booked - We're Going to Europe!

Well, I got real nervous earlier this week when I checked the price of tickets to Hungary. I supposed because of the price of gasoline/petrol, the ticket price went up by almost $500. We'll need to add a couple of hours to the flight time, but we'll still be within the original price I was looking at. Now comes the last minute shopping to make sure we have all the stuff we need for the trip including something to cover the eyes so I can try to sleep on the plane.

I would ask those who are reading this to pray for our trip to Europe. PK continues to reiterate that God is moving in our congregation. And I think our visit to Europe is part of the movement underway. I think its the beginning of many more years of outreach using our young adults as the vessels of that outreach. Although this is a short-term missions trip (2 weeks), I think some of the principles that Neal Pirolo outlines in his book Serving as Senders still apply to a degree. As I did when I first helped a missionary family (the Eagans) I would invite you to read Pirolo's book and then pray how God can use you to assist our effort. The blessing will be yours for participating in what we think is God's plan for our congregation.

Peace like a river...

Preparations Underway

Well, I'm sort of excited about this. We've (CCS) been invited to visit two missionary families that we sponsor this summer. The first part of the trip will put us in Cakovec, Croatia for a week with Dmir and his family. The second week will take us to Eger, Hungary to participate in an "English Camp" with another family that transplated themselves to Hungary. I could bore you with more detail but I'll spare you for now.

When Pastor Ken (PK) first announced this in church I was excited. When my wife wispered "you should go" I thought we couldn't do it financially, but I was more excited. Or that being gone for two weeks would be not be feasible with Vickie and all my crazy children. But it looks like this is going to happen. Yeah!

My kids are ok with it. Drew thinks its alot of money. And it is when you think about all the meals/clothing or other necessities that could be funded for what it costs to send just one of us to Europe for two weeks. But I think of it as tuition in God's School of Ministry. I know that I will learn many things in those two weeks that I could never learn by reading a book or attaining an M.Div. I pray that I can blaze the trail for my children and others to venture out into what God would have for them. Some things you simply cannot learn in a classroom...

Nearing the conclusion of His earthly ministry, Christ commissioned his disciples in Matthew 28:19 to "...Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...". Sometimes "go" is writing a check. Sometimes its going across the aisle/neighborhood/town to pray or visit someone who is sick. And for others at times, "go" means get a passport, pack your bags, and GO to the airport/train station. I think I'll get a taste for the latter later this summer when I venture to Europe.

If you think of it, please pray for PK and I as we plan this adventure. I pray that our two weeks in Eastern Europe will bring glory to Jesus Christ and provide encouragement to His servants already "stationed" there.

January 21, 2006

Task Management

I've always considered myself rather disciplined regarding task management. I'm not boasting that I'm some productivity machine, but nonetheless I'd like to think I've made the attempt over the course of my professional career. I started with miscellaneous calendards in college and then ventured into the world of Franklin Covey when working at (then) Mutual of New York. If you weren't carrying a Franklin around, you just weren't hip enough. But it was more than status. The general philosophy of "dumping one's brain" into the book made alot of sense. Get all that minutae out of the gray matter so it can be used for more useful work. Like cranking out line after line of COBOL or Rexx or Powerbuilder as I did "back in the day".

As I ventured into the dot-com era, my fetish with the Franklin systems continued. I downsized the planner but still kept going with it. Then the Palm came around. I stayed true to the system but went electronic.

After the dot-com meltdown I still was Palming along but the use of the device became less and less, especially because I now had a laptop with the Franklin software. Why bother with the PDA when the laptop is surgically attached to me? Right? Well, that worked for a while and then I ditched that and used some online stuff and then Lotus Notes. That worked for a while, but about a month or two ago I discovered the Getting Things Done (GTD) cult.

After reading just enough articles on the web to be dangerous, I ran out to the bookstore and bought the book. I skim/read it over the course of a weekend (sorry for ignoring you, kids) and it resonated with me. The system held some of the same core values that Franklin did. "Dump the brain" was still there and I really liked that. The idea of the context took me a moment but once I got it, it made alot of sense to me.

I first tried GTD with Tracks. It was an odd Google experience. I searched for "moleskine gtd rails" and found the software package. Then I found GTDTiddlyWiki. I tried Tracks for a few weeks and that seemed to work. But then I upgraded Rails and it crashed out on me. No serious loss of data (select * from tasks...) and I didn't have the cycles to tweak the Tracks install. (BTW - I think BSAG is working on the fixes). So a manual conversion to GTDTiddlyWiki was performed and I was off to the races. Then I discovered that I wanted (needed?) to manage my whole life, not just at the office, with GTD. So I started down the high-tech path of using 3x5 cards. Now, I realize index cards are hard to find :-), but I started scribbling some of the contexts on them. I realize that with all the time I spend tethered to technology (e.g. laptop, Blackberry) I need some analog time to decompress so I'm human again. Hence why I like my Moleskines with a nice fountain pen for notetaking and personal journaling. So I made the plunge and moved all my GTD data to paper. Crazy, huh?

So I guess I'm using GTD with a modified Hipster PDA implementation. That is the nice thing about GTD; one can change the implementation but retain the mind set and the micro-workflow for dealing with one's inbox.

Instead of the clip of cards, I went with the Moleskine Memo Pocket (MMP). I like the smart look of the Moleskine and this seemed to fit my needs. I saw this somewhere on the web - I think a Mennonite pastor's blog. Anyhoo - here is the current configuration starting with the front slot:

  1. Next Actions - one-to-many cards per context
  2. Read/Review - one card for now, may grow
  3. Agenda - one card per person, including a prayer card.
  4. Projects - one or more cards per area of my life (Church, Work, Teaching, Personal)
  5. Work receipts
  6. Spare cards
As you may anticipate, this configuration will change. In fact, its changed already since I bought the book. I thought I would have a slot for each context, but then I would need a huge book. The one risk with this MMP implementation of GTD (GTD::MMP) is that one could fumble with the cards when looking to scribble a note. One friend of mine requested a coupon from my "planner" today while I was fumbling for a card. Yeah - you know who you are!!! :-)

July 14, 2005

VBS Musings

This has been a rather busy week. Originally, I thought I was schleping out to Rochester all five days. But found out just today via my handy dandy Blackberry (yeah boy!) that the meeting was cancelled. The admin was nice enough to call but its always nice to have the real-time sync of the calendar.

This week is consumed with Vacation Bible School (VBS) over at Calvary Chapel Syracuse. Originally I was a group leader for the Mighty Meteors (4-5 yrs) but I got so wrapped up in the audio stuff that I had to let others handle it. It all worked out in the end. Brian and I had WAY too much fun putting together video and audio for the kids to enjoy. If only I would remember to SAVE files after editing them :-). We had lots of kids show up that we normally don't see so that is really good.

I remember learning about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ at a VBS meeting at a neighbor's house in Fayetteville, NY. Actually, it was two families putting this together. The one family's mom passed away suddenly some 2 years ago. It was a big blow to me because I knew this woman had something to do with my salvation and our families sort of grew up together. I and some other ladies worked with her over one summer while I was in college. Once she left the office to run errands, it was mayhem - no work was accomplished. And the owner was there! She is truely missed and was the rock for us in the office as well as for so many other people she touched in her life which included some Sudanese refugees just before her untimely death. Which, in this case, her death was merely a change in neighborhoods. She beat us home...

I guess that is why I like VBS so much...

April 05, 2005

As Seen on a Minivan's Bumper

March 28, 2005

Evidence of Christ's Resurrection

PK shared this the other day when I was absent from church and he was kind enough to pass it along. Its taken from “The Historical Jesus, Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ”, G.R. Habermas, College Press, Joplin, 1996.

  1. Jesus was buried.
  2. Jesus’ death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope believing that his life had ended.
  3. Although not widely accepted, many scholars believe that the tomb that Jesus was buried in was found empty just a few days later.
  4. The disciples had experiences that they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus.
  5. The disciples were transformed from doubters, who were afraid to identify themselves with Jesus, to bold proclaimers of his death and resurrection.
  6. This message was the center of preaching in the early church.
  7. This message was proclaimed in Jerusalem where Jesus died and was buried shortly before.
  8. The Church was born and grew.
  9. Sunday became the primary day of worship in the early Jewish led Church.
  10. James, who was a skeptic, was converted to the faith when he believed he saw the resurrected Jesus.
  11. Paul, an enemy of the church, was converted by an experience where he believed that he saw the resurrected Jesus.

March 05, 2005

Its all about Dirt

I had the pleasure of sharing lunch with Katrina Engle during her visit to Syracuse. Katrina and her husband run an orphanage or sorts in Puerto Limpira (PL), Honduras. She is a ball of energy who has a deep and profound love for Christ and for the kids in PL. You can read more about the Engles at their blog.

During lunch (Vietnamese restaurant of my brother-in-law's choice) she was describing the different races/ethnicities of children in her care. Like the song goes, " and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight..." she explained that we are all different colors because we come from the dirt. Dirt has different colors. The pale sand of near the oceans or desert, crimson clay, or richest dark soil are all the canvas that the Creator has used to form us in His Image.

I thought that her analysis was so cool. Thanks Katrina!

January 29, 2005

Where is Christ in the Message?

I stumbled across this article about one of those happy happy preachers we see on TV from time to time. I tend to agree with the Monk on his latest rant. We have an obligation as Christians to fulfill the great commission as stated in Matthew 28:18-19 and stick to the basics.

Sola Fide