My current 5 favorite Android apps

I love my Android phone. (HTC Evo)  One of the things I love about the phone is that it is an internet-connected computer that is always in my pocket.  So when I’m stuck at the DMV for a couple of hours, I have something to entertain myself.  There are currently over 20,000 apps.  This post today is simply to share my favorite 5 with you.

  1. Appbrain – An app for managing your apps?  Yes.  The appbrain website is wonderful.  You can manage your apps from the full-sized screen of your computer.  The site has reviews and recommendations.  You can install and uninstall from there and just sync with your phone.  It is pretty much everything I could hope for in an app manager
  2. IMDB – In my previous post about my phone I complained about the lack of an IMDB app for Android, then a week later the official one came out.  It is exactly what you expect, and it is incredibly useful.  My only complaint is that search is not default on the home screen.
  3. Alchemy – So unbelievably addictive.  It is amazing how rewarding it is to open up a new icon.  Each one is like a little treat that makes you want to play more.
  4. Air Control Lite – In my opinion, the best game on Android.  It’s just landing planes without crashing them, but it is addictive and fun.
  5. Google maps – The GPS and turn-by-turn directions in Google maps are excellent and one of the reasons to get Android.  They work as well as any GPS I have ever used and come free with your phone.  What's not to like?

Bonus pick: Seesmic – I am a very regular Twitter user, and this is my favorite Twitter app.  It gives you icons for every tweet, previews pictures and informs you of @s.  It works wonderfully.

Best Web Junk (August 13)

This is an awesome and creative win I'm obviously not a woman, and I don't even know what Ann Taylor is, so I have a hard time getting terribly outraged.  But if the woman on the left in this picture is not acceptable to that company, then nobody on earth should buy their clothes because nobody on earth will look good enough to wear them properly.

I know I say this often, but I love my Android phone.  However, I really enjoyed this list of things that droid does not do.

This is not the typical kind of video I post in Best Web Junk. It's a little more artsy than my usual video game or Star Wars related stuff, but it found it to be really neat[youtube=]

This parody of The Social Network trailer is more like the stuff I usually link to.  It's funny and awesome.[youtube=]

Best Web Junk (November 6)

This is probably the neatest Halloween costume I've sen this year Here is the first runner up


Whoever thinks that Twitter is a waste of time should look at this list of people to follow.  This tweet from @common_squirrel alone is worth joining

Here is some useful knowledge for you

This could possibly be the best commercial I've ever seen


I enjoyed this very much

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2009 SBC Recap

This is simply a recap of the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention from my point of view.  Although this was only my third convention, this one was unique for me in that it was so devotional.  Now that we have adjourned I genuinely feel revived.  There is no question that the theme from the platform was one of revival.  But I will say that for me, all this talk of the great commission has made me assess the way I relate to people and realize that I need to be more intentional about sharing the gospel.  I witness often to those in my path, but I do not go out of my way enough to put others in my path.  I really believe in a real hell and it is selfish, or lazy or hateful not to make evangelism a priority in my life even if it is inconvenient. Now to my observations from Wednesday

The first thing of the morning was the executive committee’s report on the motions from yesterday.  The majority of the motions were ruled out of order.  All the ones regarding Mark Driscoll and Acts 29 were, of course, out of order, but also the ones regarding the HCSB and anything restricting the freedom of any individual member were out of order as well.

Then it was time to pass resolutions.  We thanked Louisville for hosting and recognized the sesquicentennial of Southern Seminary.  The only resolution with any discussion at all was the one about President Obama, recognizing his historic election and praying that he would have some godly counsel.  But it passed as it was printed.

Johnny Hunt named his GCR task force in the morning session as well.  Much of that task force had already been named, though I didn’t know the entire list.  To me the only surprise was that there was just one woman.  I found that odd.  One is not even enough to be considered a token appointment.  I was also a bit curious about Ronnie Floyd being named chair.  His cooperative program number is why he lost in Greensboro so I just find it curious as well.

The Southeastern luncheon was undoubtedly the worst service I have ever received at a banquet of any kind.  This was the fault of the Kentucky Exposition center and not SEBTS.  The speech from the president was enlightening and made the banquet worth attending.  Dr Akin addressed the Mark Driscoll hullabaloo by saying that he is teaching his students to think and that they can learn to glean the useful and discard the bad.  He, of course, said a lot more than that, but that was the gist.  It was both enlightening and necessary.  He was also asked why he thought executive committee president Morris Chapman is so clearly opposed to the GCR.  His answer was that he hasn’t spoken with Chapman about it.

When time for questions in the SEBTS report came up he had to answer the Driscoll / Acts 29 question again.  He was much more brief and less thorough, but said SEBTS is an open book and has nothing to hide.  He also addressed the pamphlet from the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association by saying that if you have questions ask me rather than listening to others.  He then repeated that students need to learn to think, and that having a guest speaker does not endorse every belief of that speaker.

The Theme interpretation in the evening session by Jeff Crook was the best message I heard all week.  (That is saying something too, because I’m pretty sure I heard 15 from Sunday morning through Wednesday night.)  It is a shame that there were so few people remaining by that final session.  Go to the archives and listen to it.  It was about 7:30 pm Wednesday.

The NAMB report and presentation was inspiring and moving.  It made me proud to be a former summer missionary and proud of my cooperative program gifts.  Also, Mandisa is a great singer.

I’ll conclude this with some spare thoughts that don’t fit into the recap above.

First, although last year I did not vote for Johnny Hunt, I am impressed with his leadership.  To me it is obvious that he is not one of the good ol’ boys.  He truly does not seem to be a part of the old guard.

Secondly, Twitter added a lot to the convention.  It is very interesting and enlightening to see that thoughts of others as you all experience that same thing.  It was a running commentary that included hundreds of people you didn’t know and the thoughts of the convention’s movers and shakers.  The reward for best tweet of the week undoubtedly was this one “Almohler could really use a hug today.  SBCers just come up and hug his neck” –obviously Russ Moore got his hands on Al Mohler’s phone.

Finally, one of the real fun things about the convention is seeing all the people you only rarely see.  This year I saw:

Don Mathis – Evangelist and my great-uncle Lee Merck – a pastor formerly from NSRBA Chp. James Deason – a former member of LaGrange who is now stationed at Ft. Campbell.  I wish I had taken his picture so that people from my church could see him with some hair. Stephen Wilson – My former college professor Glen Warner – Youth pastor from NSRBA Greg Taylor – Who I last saw as a part of the UK BSU 11 or so years ago Tim Burdon and family Also some of Former Pastors Rod Groff Don Embry

I’ll say this again.  I am genuinely inspired and proud of our convention now that we are headed home.  There was much more harmony than in my previous conventions, and I for one am convicted about my need to make the Great Commission central to my life and not just my ministry.  As Johnny Hunt said. Talk is cheap and passing a task force is not witnessing. (I wrote that quote down at the time but can’t find my notes so I have messed it up pretty bad.)

CNN responds to TWIT

Last week on This Week in Tech the panel had a prolonged discussion about how the "24 hour" cable news networks didn't cover the uprising over the Iranian elections whatsoever.  Twitter, however, had a lot of first-person information.  (Just have a look at the hashtag #Iranelection) Then today I saw this clip from the Daily Show

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John Stewart is busy making fun of CNN for never being accurate.  (I'm no CNN fan, but it's not quite a fair characterization.)  However, to me the story is that CNN is reacting to the criticism levelled against them by TWIT.  Namely that they have slipped into irrelevance and that the real news breaks on Twitter.  CNN is attempting to be relevant and timely.  They are also simultaneously trying to discredit Twitter and using it as their only source.  Any user of Twitter knows that it is really the quickest place to see breaking news.  It needs to be used as a reference rather than as a source, but when something happens (just look at Iran) you will see it there first.

At least CNN pretends to recognize this fact.  Even if they are being snarky about it, they know that there is news getting out of Iran mainly via Twitter.

My Recent Redesign pt. 2

Yesterday I began writing about the recent redesign of our church website, what platforms I considered and how I chose Joomla as our CMS.  Today I thought I’d write about the actual process of the redesign and move to Joomla.*  I will share the challenges and the things that made the move easier. Challenges

I should say that most of the challenges didn’t remain challenges for long, because the support for Joomla is truly amazing.  On 2 occasions I twittered about my frustration before I went to bed and when I woke up, there were @ reply answers.

Installing Joomla – I didn’t really know what I was doing and had never used Joomla at all.  So I started with the “Getting Started” articles on and I read the absolute beginner’s guide.  It was helpful.  I was originally planning to move our host, so I was reading up on other shared hosting when I happened across this article.  This made installing Joomla so simple it was unbelievable so I stuck with Go Daddy.  It would have been easy to do manually, but a bit more time consuming.  My only real fear was setting up the MySQL database.  The moral of the story is, Go Daddy set up Joomla for me.  All I had to do was tell it what directory.

Choosing a template – I said yesterday that there is a staggering number of free templates available for Joomla.  And there are several that cost just a few dollars.  I chose the template called Jamba from Joomlashack because I liked the modules and because it seemed very flexible.

Learning my way around the template – This was really the most difficult part of the entire process for me, things were just not quite as intuitive as I expected.  Mostly it was an exercise in trial and error.  I would change one parameter and reload the page to see what it did.

In particular I had great difficulty figuring out how to edit the footer.  Reply #5 on this post was helpful to solve that problem.

The only outstanding problem I have is in the twitter feed module.  It makes improper line breaks within web addresses and often flows over the boundaries of its enclosure.  I’d be glad to accept any help I can get for that one

Making iFrames and javascript work – This was by far the most frustrating issue I dealt with during the redesign.  Our messages page has a javascript player built in to each entry.  Joomla’s default was not to allow any code.  So the code of the script and the player’s parameters were just showing up as text on the page.  I read great things about a plugin called jumi.  All I can say is that it didn’t work for me.  It would hide the code from the script, but it didn’t actually process the code.  One night I twittered about this and went to bed.  When I got up I had a reply from @saadiallan recommending a plugin called Sourcerer.  It worked perfectly allowing me to embed the javascript player as well as the google map and calendar.

Installing plugins – I did not realize just how powerful joomla really is.  There are plugins to allow almost anything I desire and it is amazingly customizable.  If you use the dashboard, then installing plugins could not be simpler

Moving to the root directory – This was by far the most frightening thing to me in the site build.  Once I got to the point that I was ready for the public to see the new site I needed to move it all from the test directory to the root.  I copied everything to my hard drive then I moved the entire database to the root directory.  Then I edited the configuration.php file.  (there are many instructions in many forums about how to do this, but basically I edited every line that had http://domain/olddirectory to just say http://domain/)  It was also necessary to clear the cache, but with only one small panic I got it working.

Helpers – This is where I received the help that made everything do-able and pretty smooth

  • The forums at are teh awesome
  • Ryan Thomas who designed our logo and generally gave design guidance
  • Paula Durand our church secretary who is keeping the Google calendar up to date and keeping content current
  • The readers of this blog who gave me editorial advice.  Especially Caroline who gave me 4 pages of copy edits which I am still not finished with
  • who did a review of the site.  I haven’t implemented all his suggestions yet, but the review was very helpful and it was free.

* I know that much of this post is written in gibberish for most of my readers.  I'll try to get back to writing in English tomorrow.

Technology and the Church (part 2)

I said that today's post would discuss some specific ways you or your church can use technology to enhance your ministry.  But since I have already written about RSS and Twitter, you can just go back and read those posts.  I will focus today on your church website. So here's the question - Is your church website important?

The answer is yes and no.

Yes it is important, because it demonstrates to both your church members and prospective members that you are not complete luddites.  Why on earth would people assume that the church is made up of luddites?  Let's have a look at David Kinnaman's unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters.  This book is written around a survey of the unchurched and their views of the church.

Number 6 on the list is that the church is out of touch with reality. Now, we know this not to be true, every member of every church lives in the real world.  We have the same struggles and difficulties as everyone else.  We just have our faith to carry us through these difficulties.   But the fact is, everything has a website.  Every book, movie, elementary school, hospital and teenager has a website.  If a church does not have one, they are somehow disconnected from the reality of the world.

Number 4 on the list is that the church is old-fashioned.  Read the previous paragraph.  What better way to prove the old-fashionedness of your church than to be stuck in an era before the internet.

I said that the answer to this question was yes and no, so let's briefly deal with the no.  In reality, no website is going to bring hordes of people to your church.  The lack of a website will certainly turn people off, but even the greatest church website ever will not bring people to your church.

Interested people will visit your website and they will want to learn as much about you as possible.  I personally believe that they would rather visit your website and learn about you anonymously than to be visited on Tuesday night as part of church visitation.

Here you can see the most popular pages for

So what must any good church website include?

Who we are What we believe Info on Church programs Directions Staff information Current Information

By far, the most important of these is current info. Having a badly out of date church website may be worse than not having a church website.

Feel free to tell me in the comments how wrong I am. That your church is awesome without a website, or that the church website is directly responsible for doubling your church size.

Using twitter for church

Monday I am speaking to the NSRBA minster's meeting.  I have been attending those meetings for 4 years, but usually keep my mouth shut.  I finally feel like I have something to contribute so I asked to speak.  I am speaking about technology and how churches can use the internet, and other technology to enhance and simplify their ministries.   One of the technologies I plan to speak about is Twitter.  I know that some of my readers are tired of hearing me talk about it, but I want to run my thoughts by my blog before I talk about it at the minster's meting.  I would appreciate your feedback. This is a wordle of 200 recent tweets

It is my belief that for most people in a church, the pastor is a bit of an unknown.  This phenomenon has two causes.  One is that people view the pastor as some sort of superman, not at all like them, with the same struggles and sins.  The other is that in many churches the pastor changes so often that the people don't get a chance to know him.  This goes both ways, because many pastors change churches often enough that they don't develop deep friendships within the church body.

What does this have to do with Twitter?  I believe that Twitter is a great tool for fellowship  (or community, if you prefer cool-church language;.)  Why is Twitter great for fellowship?  Because it allows people to see into your life, combine it with a camera phone and it enhances this.

One of the great things about Twtter is that you can keep up with a multitude of people at once and it takes almost no effort on your part.  For example, I have a  friend whom I haven't seen in almost 3 years, that I follow on twitter and I feel like I know as much about what goes on with him now as I did when we were riding to school together once a week.

If you are on Facebook you understand the power of the status update to keep you informed about people.  Twitter is like the status report on steroids.

I follow about 50 people and I have absolutely no trouble keeping up with that number.  I'm sure that somewhere around 200 people the ability to feel like you have a grip on everybody fails, but with some sort of client and just reading regularly it is easy to keep up with many people.

Recently, our church has even created a Twitter page.  It contains announcements, web links and prayer requests.  A very different use than a personal feed but still valid.

If you just want to test out Twitter and are not sure you are ready to commit and begin doing so yourself, you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed of any account.

Do you find Twitter to be a useful tool for fellowship?


Despite Ryan's overwhelming negativity, today I will present my third and final (at least for a while) post about Twitter.  Oddly enough I have seen a half a dozen posts about it in the last week.  I think this phenomenon is because actual celebrities are now beginning to use it. Today's post is about some of the many websites that use the Twitter apps for a multitude of purposes.

I'll start with Twitterholic which shows you the top twitterers of all.  Even though President Obama hasn't twittered since the election he is #1.  largely because his campaign promised to announce his running mate by twitter first, he has a 60% lead over #2 Kevin Rose, the founder of

According to twitterholic I am the third most popular twitterer in Fayetteville NC. Behind this guy and this lady.

Next up is twitter grader.  It ranks twitterers using some fancy secret formula in order to judge your influence and power among the community.  It is no surprise that the twitter elite turns out to be a bunch of tech bloggers, because currently twitter is mostly used by techies.

According to twitter grader, I have a grade of 83* and am #2 on the elite list for Fayetteville NC.  Again I am behind this lady.

Then there is twittemperature.  This one is supposed to judge the relevancy of what you twitter.

I have no idea how this one works because I have gone from smoking hot to freezing cold in just a couple of weeks.  Currently I'm 13° F whatever that means

Then there is tweetscan.  It allows you to type in a word and see all recent tweets containing that word.  Give it a try, it's pretty neat. Type in Brian Regan, or Obama, or Macaroni, or explosion.

Here's a list of real and fake celebrities on twitter

Try out some of these tools and tell me your scores and ranks.

*Obviously that's 83 girth units

Twitter part 2

A while ago, I posted about the very useful tool that I believe Twitter to be. Obviously, based on the comments, most of you still don't get why it is worth a try, or how it is different from the other social networks.  Let me see if I can address that with this post.

The real difference in Twitter and the other social networks like Facebook is that it is portable.   There is a facebook mobile, meaning I can use it on my phone.  But Twitter can be fully experienced from a non-internet phone that gets SMS.  (If you don't have to pay for individual texts.)  Although my favorite way to use twitter on my phone is using  Also, with a camera phone you can post pictures just like sending MMS.

Even on your computer, it is portable.  If I use twhirl, I never even have to visit the website and I still see all my friends' tweets and am able to post my own.  As much as I love RSS, it is not two-way like twhirl.

Facebook, myspace et al, are all about your profile, Twitter is about the updates.  In fact, you only get a very barebones profile on twitter.  It is assumed that you know who you are following .

Twitter is a bit like an IM to multiple people all at once.  So if I'm driving home, I can update people in NC and KY all at the same time.  Everyone can know when I arrive and when I left.  And all my followers who just don't ccare, they can disregard those twitters.  We have all become very good at ignoring what we re not interested in.  I'll prove it.  Look at your inbox right now.  You will see 3 categories of things there, stuff that gets immediately deleted because you don't care, stuff you are genuinely interested in that you will take the time to read, and stuff that you only have a mild interest in that you will glance over but give no real thought to.  Your twitterfeed is like that.

There is one more twitter-related post coming.  It will be tomorrow, then I'll try to get back to blogging about more substantive things like fishing.

Twitter For the Masses

In predictions for 2009 I said that I thought Twitter would catch on and finally become popular with "the kids".  What I mean is that non-geeks will begin seeing it for the incredible tool that it is.  Later when listening to the Buzz Out Loud prediction show, I heard Tom Merritt make the same prediction. I know a lot of my regular readers read my twitters (they are supposed to be called tweets, but that is just so stupid that I refuse to) because I can see when you click on the links from my feed in the sidebar.  So my goal today is to get you to try out Twitter, and explain what it is exactly.  Next week I will post about different ways of using it, cool apps and stats, and some ways not to use it.

Twitter is microblogging, for lack of a better term.  You get 140 characters to say whatever you want.  Here's how it works.  You sign up, choose people to follow, then participate.  Your page will automatically show you all the updates of the people you follow.  Likewise, everyone who follows you will see all your updates.

You can update it from the web or by text message.  You can also post pics to twitter using  It allows people to see into the lives of those you follow.  And in turn your followers can see what you are up to.  You can use it for prayer requests, to send out information or to keep up with old friends.  I follow people I know from college and from seminary.  And if you sign up, let me know and I'll follow you as well.

You can keep track of your twitter feed on the website, but  the best way to use twitter on your computer is Twhirl works with Mac & PC and is a very handy tool.  (You will also need to install adobe air)

Here's a list of a few cool people to follow to get you started.  (I don't follow the last few)

me - Ed Stetzer - Mark Hall (from Casting Crowns) - Tom Rainer (Pres. of Lifeway) - Alvin Reid - Darth Vader - Natalie Grant - MC Hammer (Can't touch this) - Shaquille O'Neil - Greg Grunberg (Weiss from Alias) -

You can always just sign up and try it out. Let me know how you feel about it in the comments.

Big News at the BSCNC

Earlier today I twittered that I think I'm voting to split our convention.  Here is why. Actually, I think I’ll start with a bit of background for those of my readers who have no idea what I’m talking about.

The Southern Baptist Convention underwent a theological shift during the 1970s through mid-1990s. Before this period, the convention was headed in the same direction as the mainline protestant denominations. This theological shift took place over the inerrancy of scripture, although it manifest itself in many different ways. Let me say that differently. On the 1970’s the SBC leadership was strongly leaning away from a view of scripture as inerrant. During this period, conservatives, those who would say that the Bible is true in all that it declares, began an effort to return the convention to its roots. They were ultimately successful, and today the Southern Baptist Convention is a thoroughly conservative denomination. And I, for one, am grateful to those who were involved in that process. At the end of this process, many theological moderates left the SBC and formed their own convention, known as the CBF.

This same battle took place in the vast majority of state conventions as well. However, for a variety of reasons, it had differing success in different places. In Virginia, Texas, and Missouri, the conventions actually split and the conservatives left to form their own state conventions. North Carolina has been able to remain united partially because of giving plans.

What are giving plans? In 1925, Southern Baptists developed the Cooperative Program. (CP) The CP is simply a method of sharing in mission work by pooling money from the 42,000 SBC churches. Each church sends a portion of its gifts to its respective state convention, the conventions in turn, use a portion for missions and ministry and send a portion to the SBC for missions and ministry. This combined amount makes the SBC able to send some 12,000 missionaries around the world, operate 6 seminaries, and do more than I can list in this paragraph.

Within North Carolina there were churches along the theological spectrum that wanted to contribute to state missions but not to SBC missions. Some want to send part of their money to the SBC and part to the CBF. Giving plans were created in order to facilitate the desires of everyone, and they essentially created confusion.

So today, the last item of business was to get rid of all of the giving plans and replace them with a single plan which had options. A church could still designate funds to the CBF, or it could exclude the SBC, but it was all done under one plan. It was essentially the same thing, but done in a much less convoluted way.

Sorry about that lengthy background passage, here is the news of the day:

When the motion was presented, messenger Matt Williamson, pastor of Oak Forest Baptist in Fletcher (ht - Biblical Recorder for that info) immediately asked it be amended to exclude the CBF. (Actually there was some confusion, but that was the point of his ammendment) That means that if the amendment passed, there is no way for a church to give to the CBF through the BSCNC. In other words, CBF churches would be effectively shut out of the state convention. If they still wish to give to both CBF and BSCNC they would have to write two checks. No big deal it sounds like, but they would now have to go out of their way to support the state convention and the CBF. It would be a formal severing. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of discussion both for and against the amendment.

What did I do? My heart was definitely with the amendment, but I had a fear that it the amendment passed, the unified giving plan would fail and we would be exactly in the same place as we began; a largely divided convention with a horrible system of giving.

Someone finally called the question and it came time to vote. We took two sight-votes (raise your ballots and see if any side clearly wins), but it was obviously very close. So we cast ballots. The amendment passed four-hundred sixty-something to three-hundred-something. Less than 1,000 total. If anyone had suspected that would occur there would have been many more messengers.

Oh yeah; What did I do? I voted for the amendment.

After the amendment passed, the motion to move to one, CBF-less giving plan passed overwhelmingly.

I don’t want to get into prophecy, but this seems to have been the death-knell of the CBF in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Here is the Baptist Press story about the convention

When I was Twelve I used to sing "La Bamba" in Español

I'm so glad nobody was recording me so the entire hispanic world could laugh at me on youtube. This is completely hilarious. I present the famous Mariah Carey Song, "Ken Lee"


"Tulibu dibu douchoo"

got this from Molly Wood via Twitter

update: It was also featured in this week's Buzz Report

Finished...I hope

I think, after a couple of hours work this morning, I finally finished the website for Drop Tine & Spurs Outfitters. Feel free to visit and point out any corrections that still need to be made.

Also, thanks for your help from this post.

I think my next project will be to either cleanup or redesign the church website. Feel free to vote here. should it be a redesign, (probably still a sidebar navigation) or just clean it up so it looks right on IE and Opera? I'm leaning toward a redesign. I've leaned so much about web design since I built it, that it won't take much work to improve.

Also, follow me on twitter. I'll try to pass along interesting stuff when I see it.