Google Is On A Roll This Week

Lots of good things came out of Google recently. OK, 2 things. One is interesting, and the other should be highly useful.

One of the reasons I stick with gmail is for the storage space and the world-class spam filter. I rarely have a problem with spam thanks to gmail. I also like that I can get my mail just about anywhere: on the web, in Outlook, on my iPhone, or on just about any other device I might have. The convenience is great.

The interesting thing Google rolled out is the ability to make calls from gmail. I say it’s interesting because I’m not sure I’ll use it much. I can’t get Christina to test it with me. I called my iPhone from gmail and had the boys take it into another room, but they started fighting over who was going to hold the phone and ruined the experiment.

The next thing Google rolled out is called Priority Inbox. This is based on gmail’s spam filter and addresses a very real problem: email overload.

Gmail already has a heavy filtering system built in. You can create folders (or labels) and then filters based on those labels. I probably have 200 filters already, and it seems like I’m creating several more each week. I hate when I’m out, and expecting an email. Every time my iPhone tells me I have a new email, I rip it out of my pocket, enter the passcode, go to email, and find the whole experience anti-climactic. Rather than the important email I’m waiting for, it’s only  the 14th special offer GoDaddy has sent me this afternoon. Like I buy that many websites from them. Or it’s the AFA whining about another secular news organ being biased against Christian interests. Or it’s an automated reminder telling me my cable or cell phone bill is due in 3 weeks. Nothing important, and definitely not the email I was waiting for.

It seems that no matter how aggressively I filter my email, I still have to deal with tons of non-important “bac’n” in my inbox taking up time. I prefer to filter those into other folders then deal with them when I feel like it.

Because I handle email similar to the principles taught in “Getting Things Done”, I don’t mark an email as read or delete it (gmail archive) unless all actions required by that email have been completed. So while I’m out for a while, I can build up a ton of email in my inbox until I get home and can set up new filters so those kinds of emails will skip my inbox in the future.

I’m looking forward to the Priority Inbox. It would be nice to spend less time setting up filters in gmail.

BlackBerry Blog: The First 5 Things I Do When I Get a New BlackBerry

It’s amazing how different the main smartphone platforms are. I came across a post on the BlackBerry Blog about the first 5 things the writer does when setting up a new BlackBerry.

I’m a dedicated iPhone user by this point. I’m not saying iPhone is the best out there, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best for me.

I almost laughed at the first thing this person does: Check to see if the device runs the latest software. When Christina and I got BlackJack II’s in 2008, they were running Windows Mobile 6.0. I learned that Windows Mobile 6.1 was out, so I spent most of that evening updating our new phones to the newest operating system.

I couldn’t even imagine Apple doing that. If you buy ANY iPhone from Apple, it will come out of the box with the newest version of the operating system. That makes me want to laugh at the other smartphone platforms. I’m pretty sure any new Mac comes with the latest software, although I don’t have much experience with buying new macs. I know I’ve never gotten a new Windows PC that didn’t have to download buttloads of updates right away. I’ve also never installed Linux without having to install tons of updates either.

That’s one of the things I like about the iPhone. I can get a new one, plug it into my laptop, and tell it to restore from my last backup. Then I have essentially the same phone without skipping a beat.

Is Accident Forgiveness Simply a Pre-Paid Insurance Increase?

I’ve had my insurance with Allstate New Jersey for the last 11 years. It’s not a bad relationship. They don’t bother me, I don’t bother them, and I guess we’re both happy.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to talk to Allstate. We sold a car last year, and I had to call to take it off the policy. I don’t remember how long it was before that when I had to talk to them last.

One of the last two times I had to call Allstate was right after Accident Forgiveness was rolled out. I thought that was a great idea. I’ve paid tens of thousands or more of dollars for car insurance, and so far I have not had to make a single claim. So by this point, after 20 years of driving (and paying insurance), being forgiven for an accident sounds like a great idea. I could probably have bought several cars for what I’ve paid in insurance, especially in the early years when it cost me a fortune to insure a car simply because I was young, single, and male.

But when they asked me if I wanted to add accident forgiveness to my policy, they explained that it would raise the cost of my policy. I politely declined.

I have to ask, if you’ve talked to your insurance company about accident forgiveness: isn’t this just another banking/insurance scam? Is this little more than pre-paying a policy increase? Or am I missing something?

How Twilight Works

Originally a comic by The Oatmeal, this has been turned into a YouTube video. Watch to see how Twilight works, and why the women in our lives go nuts over this cheesy fiction, featuring an immortal who has chosen to spend his immortality as a junior in high school, a fate worse than death.

 

What It’s Like To Own An Apple Product

I came across this cartoon. I think it’s accurate enough.

Apple has got to be the only company on Earth to have a product that is barely 2 years old and still under warranty (my iPhone 3G), but is 2 generations behind and functionally obsolete.

Book Review: Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

This book took me a long time to read. That’s partly because I was busy, and mostly because I didn’t like it. But, I felt duty-bound to finish it and post a review, although way too late for the book’s launch.

I got an email from somebody inside Thomas Nelson. This person got my name from somewhere else, and asked if I’d like an advanced copy of the book. I emailed back to say that I would, and I’d be glad to read the book and post a review. This book didn’t come from Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze program. I thought I was finally becoming important enough to have books come to me. Some bloggers get books unsolicited. I was hoping that some day, that would be me.

The authors of the book are Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. I don’t think I’ve read anything from either author before. I’m not familiar with them, but I think I’ve heard good things about them.


The subtitle of the book is “Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ”.

I’m not sure who the audience for this book is. Obviously, there is one. Thomas Nelson wouldn’t publish and distribute and promote a book that isn’t going to sell. So obviously, they expect it to sell.

The premise of the book seems to be “The church almost as a whole has drifted away from the simplicity of the Gospel, and we need to restore everything the church does to just that: just Jesus.” If you’ve read many of my blog posts, you know what I think about that line of reasoning. If we’re going to say “the church has drifted”, that means there was a point in time when the church hadn’t drifted. Read the Book of Acts! The church struggled with these same issues right out of the gate! It’s always battled with this kind of thing. I’m not sure why so many authors think “I’m just the man God needs to right this ship! I can write a book that’ll fix everything”. Sure, Paul and Peter and James and John couldn’t do it. But a 21st century author can do it.

Lest you think I’m putting words in the author’s mouths, let’s look at a few things. On page xx of the introduction is the following:

The Lord Jesus Christ is far beyond what most of us could ever dream or imagine. His greatness, His beauty, and His splendor are unknown to many Christians today (My note: does this imply they were known to Christians at some point in the past, since we’re “getting worse all the time”?)This is why a fresh look at him –a fresh Christology- is so vital. To put it in a sentence: To faithfully represent Jesus in our time requires re-presenting Him. And that’s why we are attempting to write this book.

In the margin, I wrote “But is this new?” I think Solomon would disagree with the authors:

[Ec 1:1] The words of *the Preacher,* the son of David, *king in Jerusalem.

[2] *Vanity* of vanities, says *the Preacher,
*vanity of vanities! *All is vanity.

[3] *What *does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?

[4] A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but *the earth remains forever.

[5] *The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens* to the place where it rises.

[6] *The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.

[7] All *streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.

[8] All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
*the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.

[9] *What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun
. (ESV)

On page xxii, the authors write: “we believe that the major disease of today’s church is JDD: Jesus Deficit Disorder.” And “But increasingly, the church likes the church, yet they don’t like Jesus.”

On page 14 in chapter 1 is the following:

Both of us have developed the habit of counting the number of times the preachers we hear mention the Lord Jesus. Sadly, in many cases, contemporary preachers and teachers who spend an hour speaking on a subject, mention the Lord just once or twice. Sometimes the number of mentions is zero. Compare that with how many times Paul referred to Christ in the opening chapters of some of his letters:

My wife and another woman were joking about a habit the children have picked up. Ask any child in Sunday school at our church what they learned about, and they’ll reply “Jesus”. It doesn’t matter what the lesson is. In any case, I wrote in the margin around this paragraph that I’d like to know what churches and preachers the authors listen to. I’d like to invite them to listen to a few of Pastor Bill’s sermons and tell me he doesn’t preach the name of Jesus regularly.

I could keep going. Once the introduction is out of the way, the authors spend 8 more chapters breast feeding their audience what the writer of Hebrews called “milk”.

I’m sure both writers are great people. But this book made me angry. The only reason I bothered to finish it is because I told Thomas Nelson’s representative I’d post a review of the book. Books like this seem to have an “Elijah Complex”.

1 KI 19:[14] He said, *“I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, *thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” [15] And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. [16] *And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and *Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. [17] And the one who escapes from *the sword of Hazael *shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu *shall Elisha put to death. [18] *Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not *kissed him.”

In other words, “Oh, woe is me! The entire church has strayed away into Purpose Driven and Best Life stuff. We’re the only two left! How can we hope to restore the church?

Almost 2 years ago, I wrote a post called “Christian Heuristics”. In it, I asked why we comment that Jesus Christ is written on every page of the Bible, yet we restrict ourselves to so few pages of the Bible, especially when visitors are present. I wrote the post about the time we started taking the kids to AWANA at the church we’re now with. I sat through the adult class. The elder teaching, who is a good friend of mine now, seemed to make the assumption that as a visitor, I wasn’t saved and spent the entire class reviewing some very basic material.

How can anybody expect to learn and grow (i.e.. discipleship) when our books and sermons are little more than an exposition of “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”?

My verdict: read Jesus Manifesto if you have no idea who Jesus Christ is. Or read it if you’re one of those people who is well studied, but still gets off reading about how stupid and far behind everybody else is. Some people really enjoy that for some reason.

Otherwise, get out there and meet a few people. Stop assuming that the entire church is apostate. Find a place to serve. Find needs to meet. Find a class to teach, or another way to use your God-given gifts. I’m tired of books that do little more than assume everybody but the authors and their little circle has drifted away from the truth of Jesus, and is either stupid or apostate.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

One of My Listings Was Just Reduced and is Waiting for You

2010-08-08 Doughtery House-0108

We just reduced the price on one of my listings. If you’re looking for a fine home in Deptford, NJ, this could be yours.

This fine 3 bedroom, 2 bath home was completely renovated in 2003. It features an open plan living/dining/kitchen area. The kitchen has skylights that provide plenty of natural light. The master suite is on the first floor and includes a sitting room or office or whatever you may need to use it for. Upstairs are 2 bedrooms with huge closets and a spacious loft with built-in bookcase.

The detached 2 car garage is air conditioned.

This home is centrally located to shopping and major highways.

Contact me for details and a personal tour of this fine home. You can also visit the home’s website for more information.