Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Paltalk Express: the Skypecast Alternative

At last, a replacement for Skypecasts that seems to work!

I learned about Paltalk a few years ago but couldn't stand the advertisements and I didn't want to pay for the ad-free version. Today, a Muslim friend showed me that the browser-based version of Paltalk (called Paltalk Express) doesn't have advertisements. For a browser-based communication program, it works extremely well. I was able both to hear and speak with no breakup or garbling.

Here's a quick run-down on advantages of Paltalk:
  • Large crowds (I've seen over 700 in the Muslim-Christian Dialogue room I was in)
  • No software installed (just use your browser)
  • No advertisements
  • Paltalk rooms are clearly organized by category (and you can block seeing any adult rooms, unlike Skypecasts).
  • Room "owners" can designate other friends as "administrators" to keep the room moderated while the owner is away.
  • You can play MP3 files to your "audience".
My Paltalk ID is "Godismyjudge". Feel free to add me as a "Pal".

And to Tony and Milio who tried to get me into Paltalk a long time ago: sorry guys, it looks like you were right!

Monday, September 28, 2009

24 Years Ago, Our Trip Across the Country!

In retrospect, I had an almost idyllic childhood. The only thing bad about it was that it was so pleasant. This perhaps made "growing up" harder and slower for me. But yet, when I hear of and see children so much less fortunate than I was, I thank God for the parents He gave me and the upbringing they gave me.

Here is a recording we made on cassette while driving across the country in 1985. Dad worked for IBM, and IBM gave him the chance to work for 3 months at the tech support center in IBM's "birthplace", the Endicott, New York area. He scheduled his vacation time around the temporary assignment, and we took several weeks driving each direction, stopping often at educational and historical sites. If my memory is correct, by the time I was 8 I had been in over 30 states.

Enjoy listening to the "younger" Bartsches! (If you have trouble with the embedded link, click here.)

The only thing more amazing than this trip was that God gave us the opportunity to do the same thing again (taking different routes each time) in 1987 and 1990. We also returned to Endicott in 1992 but took a plane both ways. I've now been in 43 states.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ichabod Spencer's Blight

The best of men are men at best. One example of this sad truth is Pastor Ichabod Spencer, whose stories I featured in a blog post last week.

Ichabod Spencer was a wonderful and caring shepherd who sought lost people with a carefulness seldom seen today. And yet, he had a blight. Not a blind spot. Not a blemish. This was a blight.

For when the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was passed, Ichabod Spencer preached, and later published as a booklet, a sermon denouncing those who resisted this law. Building his case solely on Romans 13:1-7 and Titus 3:1, he adamantly insisted that obedience to the rule of the law of the land, including the Fugitive Slave Law, was every Christian's duty.

The Fugitive Slave Law severely penalized anyone caught helping an escaped slave. It was part of the Compromise of 1850 that Congress passed in a Neville Chamberlain-style attempt to preserve peace at the expense of righteousness. The Fugitive Slave Law actually backfired and greatly contributed to the outbreak of Civil War, because it forced every Northerner to decide between helping escaped slaves and breaking the law, or obeying the law and allowing escaped slaves to be captured and returned to the South.

And Pastor Spencer came down on the wrong side of this, the most serious social issue of his day. His sermon never once mentions Deuteronomy 23:15, which clearly commands, "You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you". This is unconscionable. He was not alone. Sounding Forth the Trumpet cites a statistic from a secular abolitionist of the day who said that less than 1% of the North's 30,000 clergymen stood up against the Fugitive Slave Law. Even Abraham Lincoln, when running for president, agreed with Stephen Douglas that the Fugitive Slave Law should be enforced.

Rather than causing us to become angry, this ought to frighten us into humility and self-examination. These men were sincerely standing up for the truth as they saw it. Pastor Spencer did a great deal of good in his life. He was a better pastor than many pastors today. And yet, he failed on this major issue. Instead of examining his culture through the grid of Scripture, he used the Bible to justify his cultural presuppositions about slavery.

The frightening thing is that it is probable that each of us has imbibed some serious error from our own culture today. Future generations will look back upon us, as we look back upon the Spencers of the 1850s, and wonder, "How could they ever have justified this?" This in turn will cause them to doubt the veracity of even the things that we were right about.

What are some specific issues in your culture today where you think Christians have "missed the mark"?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I Could Have Saved More

Ray Comfort wrote in a recent bulletin:
Recently, I watched a (clean) version of the movie, “Schindler’s List.” Schindler used his wealth to purchase 1500 Jews from Nazi death camps. At the end of the movie, he broke down in tears because he wasted much of his wealth on vanities, and said, “I could have saved more!”
Mom said she could relate. Her health crisis is causing her to review her life's priorities more closely. She says, "If I live through this, I will be a different person."

May honoring Jesus by saving people from hell be our passion too.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Evangelism Tips from Georgia Tech

Enjoy some practical tips on evangelism in a zany segment from Wretched Radio! (Click link to listen.)
The Wretched Segment of the Day - September 16, 2009: " Todd hits the campus with some Aussie help."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Two Powerful Stories from 19th Century Pastor

These two true stories from the memoirs of Brooklyn pastor Ichabod Spencer (1798-1854) are gripping. In them he recounts two of his pastoral visits to people in his community. Oh, that God would once again give us Americans such a deep awareness of the seriousness of sin!

If you don't see the embedded audio player, you can click here to listen:

By the way, if you enjoy these excerpts, you can read the complete book online for free. Google has digitized an ancient copy of it (obviously, the copyright has expired). You can also buy printed copy, thanks to Solid Ground Christian Books taking the trouble to reprint it in recent years.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Don't Waste Your Workplace

Over the years, some have questioned my motives in using my business as a tool to promote Jesus.  Initially it was my Dad's idea but I have done it long enough now that I recommend it to anyone.  Don't let the pressure of political correctness rob you of the use of 40 of your best hours each week to share the good news!  Here are a few of the emails (both pro and con) I've received over the years.  (Spelling has not been corrected.)  I thank the Lord for the opportunity to respond to each of them.

Keep up the good work; now if only most of the declared Christians only lived up the human/humane side of the story of Jesus' life, rather than the hyperconservative belief that only Christianity provides a means for the salvation from man's innate (and incorrigible) defects.

Again, remain optimistic.  Some Christians are indeed human.  There is yet hope for humanity.  I don't know if there is yet hope for Christianity.

your way to young to worry so much about god he resides in all of us we are god god is us give it a rest and get a girl friend
 No thanks!
I was about to purchase 10 reman toner cartridges from you, when I noticed the "Lord Jesus Christ" link at the top of the page.  I have nothing against your beliefs, but am very offended at the fact that you try to push those beliefs onto your customers. Therefore, I will not order, and will not visit your site again.
Its amazing to me how lost people in life can just latch onto this incredile book of fables, written for one reaon only. To keep HUMANS in line. Written by other humans, to keep HUMANS in line. It was the only natural response to intelligent HUMANS of the time, in order to devise a way to control, maintain order of, and threaten HUMANS.

And one note on conscience. If you were to take 55 infant babies, put them isolated on a desert island, with no contact, no religion, nothing at all but their companions. They inherently would NOT have a conscience in any way shape or form.  Would they think it was wrong to kill another? No, they would not. They might realize after killing another, that now that person is gone, and not able to help them hunt, or what have you, but they would not know it was "wrong", and they certainly would not have any idea they are going to "hell" because of it.
I am not endorsing murder in any way shape or form, just using it as an example.
I realize that you are probably sitting there reading this with a smile, thinking "this poor person is going to hell".
Well, I have studied religion for the past 17 years, and these are just my opinions.
Yet again, You have lost my business by making your public views of religion available on your website.
Its ridiculous and unprofessional....Especially because anyone that really has researched your so called "religion", knows that its laughable, and that the only reason it exsists is because in the day it was written, it was the only tool in which to keep HUMANS in line.
Its just a shame its still keeping HUMANS inline, and wasting peoples lives here in 2002.
do you think salvation can ever be lost, i have heard so many conflicting answers to this question.
 Open and thankful
Yes your fax ribbon arrived on schedule. I got it on Saturday. Just as you said it should arrive.  Thanks for all your help! As I said before you will see more of my business. Word of mouth s a very good tool.

I feel that I must be honest with you. I am a firm believer in God! As well as having the highest respect for the individual as the person that they are (being a person that has values in life). I am not a person that goes to church every weekend. From the  leaflet that you sent me, which I saw shortly after 9-11-01. I firmly believer that the devil has been release from his pit ( the trade center pit)! I fell into tears when I first read this leaflet because it soooooo true. God has blessed me in so many way's & I am so thankful for that. I feel so strange saying all this to you........
It is something that I do not speak to many people about. (Maybe I should ) Let alone someone I buy a product from.  I was brought up with no word of God. Other than the entity exist & you should be a good person. My parents were from India & brought me up with good values & change religion in the middle of my life growing up.

If it seems as though I am a bit confused ... it is because I am. I guess we all are or should be ... with everything Humanity has to offer it's very genus .... everything will be lost! Take care Daniel! Best of luck to you.
Please email me anytime!
Thank You once again for your expedient assistance!
Temple Moneychanger?
I just wanted to say that you putting that quote on the top of your webpage "Seeking to honor the Lord Jesus Christ in all our business dealings" is totally offensive.
Not only to the atheists out there, but also to the Christians. Didn't Christ throw out the merchants that were in his temple? And now you're doing the same thing the merchants were.
Shame on you.
Well done!
 Nice Job, Well done, what a surprise in a world that either ignores Christ or that uses their Christianity for some deceptive reason to find one that simply offers the truth with no apparent gain than to honor Him.
May He bless you abundantly
I have been in business for over 27 years and have seen many things. But I wanted to take a moment to let you know how enlightened I was to see you proclaim your love for Jesus in your business website. I commend you on your openness and pray that your disclosure will help those who question the existence of God.
 Seeking prayer
Hello, I was browsing PayPal and you printer ink cartridge business was featured at their website after I logged out. Since I have started a small computer business and since last March-2003, I enter your website and found a link to your site. I hit the link to request a prayer and happen that I need God to help me. I have another job, working hard to grow my computer business so that I can leave the other job and devote all my time to my small company. Things are getting tough at my full time job, I am not ready to lose it but things are getting tough for the company and some layoff may happen that affects me. If this happen, it will be too premature for me to deal only with my computer business to make a living. I have also a  girl 3 years old and my wife is 7 months pregnant and I am the only one working at home. Please say a prayer for me and my family. I read the bible every night and I recognized that I have forget my christainity since I was born and raised i n a christian home. I need guidance, hope, more self esteem, motivation and faith.

I came looking for an answer to a Toshiba question and found myself inspired by your direction of thought and energy to older folks and our lord.
Made me forget what I was looking for..... anyhow, happy new year
Remove it?

Mr. Bartsch,
It has been brought to our attention that email's sent by your company contain material that may not be considered appropriate by certain individuals here at our company. We respectfully request that you remove any reference to religion or solicitations for your personal website from any future correspondence you have with our company.
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
Business on the side? (A good way to live, actually!)
hi dan-
i found your webpage by doing a search for cheap epson C40 ink or something like that.  i needed some more ink!  i did some price comparisons, you were not the cheapest, but the cheapest ink is a bit scary anyways.  then i saw you were a christian, and i am a christian too, so praise God.  anyway i figured better to do business with a christian, so thats what i did.  what a strange web-presence you seem to have... a lot of christian evangalism, and then you sell ink on the side???? how does that work!?  have you heard from anyone who has been challenged by some of the things you have posted on your webpage?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mom's Tough Road

It's been a while since I've updated you on Mom's health struggles. That isn't because she hasn't been suffering, but because the news seems to change with bewildering frequency. One nutritionist told her she should go on IV nutrition, but that's not as simple or risk-free an option as one might think. And (praise God) she was actually able to somehow put two pounds back on last week. We thought we were finally getting somewhere last week when a state of the art urine test revealed high levels of byproducts of intestinal bacteria and yeast. We eagerly awaited the results of a stool test (from the same lab) to find out specifically which bacteria and yeast were causing the problem, eager to begin "attacking" them. The stool test results came back today -- and to our surprise, showed essentially nothing wrong! So, in effect, the stool test and the urine test contradict each other. So do her symptoms. Occasionally now she's having diarrhea, but it reverts back to painful constipation with amazing speed. Keep praying. She's walking a tough road. Thank God every day that your intestines work halfway normal!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Normal Christian Life

Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. -- Hebrews 11:35-40 (NASB)
This YouTube video is quite graphic, especially toward the end. I don't recommend young children watch it. The combination of scenes of Christian martyrdom with a beautiful performance of "For All The Saints" is striking and sobering. On a day when we remember 19 misguided hijackers who thought they would be considered "martyrs" by God for their actions, it's helpful to be reminded of what martyrdom really looks like.

Here are the complete set of words to "For All the Saints" (the video is so engrossing that it's easy to miss the words).
For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!
When we look back at those who have gone before us, we see what an amazing privilege and responsibility it is to be called a Christian.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

20 Observations after 9 Years in the Village

This post is from a recent email by Nathaniel Dunigan. He is a remarkable man not much older than myself, who grew up about half a mile from where I live. He has spent the last 9 years of his life caring for children with AIDS in Uganda. His work has grown incredibly during that time into an organization called AIDchild. A full scholarship to Harvard has brought him back to get his Master's Degree. Enjoy his comments below on what it's like to (temporarily) re-enter American culture.

"20 Observations after 9 Years in the Village"

From Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts

  1. It's so quiet here. Waiting for the subway, or walking down the street, or standing in line -- no one talks to each other. It's just QUIET. In Uganda, everyone is constantly chatting, honking horns, and shouting out greetings. Kind of strange to walk down a street anonymously after so many years. At home in Uganda, people call out "Mzungu, how are you?" or "Hello, Big Man!" Constantly.
  2. Speaking of walking down the street, I try to keep up. I really do. I walk as fast as I can possibly imagine, and still people overtake (err "pass") me on both sides. Even old people! In Uganda, we just stroll at a super slow pace. Always.
  3. And speaking of speed-walking, my feet hurt. I haven't worn shoes in nine years (only sandals). Turns out I have increased a whole shoe size, and need extra, extra wide shoes. They say your feet spread out with time. That's just weird.
  4. It's 56 degrees at the moment, and I am cold! The thought of winter still scares me.
  5. I can't stop singing: "Eight hundred five eight eight, two three hundred, EMPIRE!" and "Stanley Steamer makes your home cleaner!"
  6. Convenience and abundance. Oh my goodness. Anything I could possible need or want is just a few steps away. My, my, my. I am finding it hard to make choices in the shops. Whatever I am looking for, there are at least 15 choices. It's mentally exhausting (but at the same time tres marvelous). I can go to websites, enter my food order, and within minutes a delivery person is standing at my door with Hot & Sour Soup, or Pizza, or Enchiladas, or anything I want. Truly miraculous.
  7. I still haven't taken a hot shower. I find even warm water to be scalding and uncomfortable. We DO have hot water heaters in Uganda, but power is out so often, and we're always focused on saving money, so I hardly ever switch mine on. When I do, the water only trickles out, so here the huge RUSH of hot water is unpleasant. (PS I know that WILL change as winter sets in.)
  8. It's unnerving to be alone in my apartment. Am thankful that I am not in a house -- at least there are other people in this building. I have not been alone in years! It's doubly unnerving to have only a little deadbolt between me and the world. In Uganda we have multiple gates, plus hardcore locks on the doors -- not to mention the armed guards who patrol. I find it uncomfortable that I do NOT see riflemen walking past my windows when I awake in the night.
  9. I found a table and a chair at the Goodwill! Was so excited. Super nice, and so cheap. Then I called a taxi to pick me (and furniture) up. The driver said that we could not fit the table, chair and passenger (myself) into his cab. I laughed, and said, "My dear sir, where I live, not only would we get all of this in, but we would add seven more people, two babies, three chickens, and four 20-kilo-sacks of beans." He finally agreed, and I gave him a nice tip. The table and chair look so nice in my space.
  10. My apartment has a refrigerator! While I have a tiny one where I stay in Kampala, I do not have one where I live in Masaka. I don't have anything in the freezer here yet. Am still worried power will go off, and everything will melt. I had a guest the other day, and they wanted ice in their drink. Oops.
  11. Speaking of ice, I keep ordering my water at restaurants, and I ask for NO ICE. The servers look at me funny, ask for clarification, and then agree. It still comes super cold. The chill is unpleasant on my throat.
  12. No toothpicks. In Uganda, as soon as dinner is finished, people sit around and pick their teeth. Here, I guess that is done in private, so I sit very uncomfortably after meals, just wishing I could clean my teeth straight away.
  13. Machines. So much of what happens here is done by a machine. I don't buy tickets from a salesperson, but a machine. I don't give my subway pass to a conductor, but to a machine. I don't stand in line at the bank, but rather I slide a card into a machine. I don't buy stamps from a person, but from a machine. I don't even hand my credit card to a cashier. I have to swipe it myself, and then sign my name with a little pretend pen on a computer screen. When someone comes to see me, they don't chat with a gatekeeper who then comes to tell me they are here. Instead, they push a button on a machine at the building's front door, it then BUZZES nastily at me here in my apartment, and then I press a button, and we talk to each other like magic through the two machines, and then I BUZZ the door open and in they come. Then, they don't walk down the stairs to my basement apartment, instead they get into a machine (elevator) that brings them down. Even toothbrushes are machines! I went to buy a simple, plain ole toothbrush, and found that they now have batteries and switches. Very cool.
  14. I don't know what to do with trash. In Uganda, trash is just tossed out the car window, or dumped at the edge of the property. Here, there are all these fancy, plastic contraptions, with specially shaped holes in the tops. The round one is for bottles, the slots are for paper, etc, etc, etc. It takes me like six minutes just to sort out my tray after lunch in a cafeteria. Let's see, what is the square slot for again?
  15. Timekeeping. On Friday, I hosted a reception for all the grad students in my program (Human Development and Psychology). The start time was scheduled for 5pm. People were here as early as 4:50pm, and no one came later than 5:15! I was astonished (and not ready).
  16. It amazes me that our professors enter our classrooms lugging their own briefcases and materials. This would NEVER happen in Uganda. Someone respected like that would simply NEVER lift their own things. Even walking from their home to their car, a housekeeper or nephew or gardener or someone would be there, and would INSIST on carrying the items for them. And all the more so in a University-like setting. I struggle to know what I should do for fear of offending the professor if I offer to help him or her ("Are you suggesting that I am too old and frail to do so myself?!!").
  17. People keep asking me to speak up. In Africa, we are most polite when we speak very softly. I forget that here it can be seen as rude -- or at least as non-communicative.
  18. Similarly, I continue to answer "yes" simply by raising my eyebrows (as we do in Uganda) -- only to have the question repeated again and again until I realize that I must actually speak my answer -- and loudly.
  19. One thing is the same. I feel like a foreigner here -- just as I felt when I first went to Africa. But just as they did there, people here are welcoming me very warmly, and seem extremely happy that I am here. For that, I am most grateful.
  20. No one calls me Daddy here. = (

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Roy Does Right

I've been in business for over 8 years, and I've had surprisingly few people rip me off. A few customers sent me hot checks and then never responded to requests for replacements. A few others simply refused to pay their invoices. I just consider these occasionally losses a part of my ongoing "college education" in business and thank God that I can do business in America where fraud is still relatively rare. (Don't think so? Try doing business in Africa!)

Back in June 2007 I sold $43.50 worth of products to a man in Pennsylvania. He had bought from me before so I didn't think twice about shipping it to him without getting paid in advance. However, this time he didn't pay. I sent reminder emails several times and still never heard back. I didn't have a phone number for him.

Eventually I gave up and just assumed he was a deadbeat. Imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago I got an email from him:

Daniel....I came across this invoice, which I forwarded to the office manager of that company to pay....did you ever get paid for this order?
Of course I told him I hadn't. He wrote back again:
My sincere apology, I had a contract with that company and I had passed the invoice over to their accounts payable person.....long story short, I got a call from someone else owed money by them, who also had not ever been paid even though I had "passed" the invoice to them.....I will personally send the payment when I return back to my office in New Mexico next week.
Roy Metcalf was as good as his word. And even better. Not only did he send payment, he rounded it up to $50 (even though I told him he didn't have to). So you can see why I'm smiling. So if you ever get a chance to do business with Roy Metcalf of Alpha Management and Consulting in Hobbs, NM (he's moved from PA), I can tell you he's done right by me.

Even more astonishing: in all of time, God has never cheated anyone of a penny. Why not trust Him with everything you've got?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mom on YouTube

Mom is still struggling greatly physically, but yesterday she recorded some short YouTube videos designed to help parents disciple their kids. These are very practical and homey. We hope you enjoy them. Keep praying for her. We hope to add more videos to this collection as God allows.