Friday, October 23, 2009

Need a Google Voice Account?

I've been using Google Voice for a while now, and it is really quite nice. It has a lot of very helpful features (click here for a list).

Google is only slowly allowing new users to get Google Voice, so that the service is not overwhelmed all at once. However, they've given me three (3) Google Voice "invitations" (like a free ticket) that I can give away to three friends. If you feel Google Voice would be handy for you, let me know. I'll try to give away my invitations to those of you who can use it best.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Two Videos to Simplify Life's Priorities

Thanks to my friend Arne for sending me these two short, sobering YouTube clips:

Jackie Pullinger (not sure if orphan stuff is related):

K.P. Yohannan (more passionate than I've ever heard him):

Saturday, October 17, 2009

12 Reasons to Support the Persecuted Church

1. Astounding rewards! Isaiah 58:10 (read whole chapter for more!) (NKJV)

If you extend your soul to the hungry

And satisfy the afflicted soul,

Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,

And your darkness shall be as the noonday.

2. Important recipient! Matthew 25:44-45 (NKJV)

“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’”

3. Your turn is coming! (Right?) 2 Timothy 3:12 (NIV)

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted

4. “They” did! Acts 12:5 (NASB)

So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.

5. Support ‘family’ first! Galatians 6:10 (NKJV)

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

6. You live in a body too! Hebrews 13:3 (NKJV)

Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.

7. Impacted prayer life! Acts 4:23-31 (NASB)

When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord… And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.

8. It’s a privilege! 2 Corinthians 8:3-4 (NIV)

Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.

9. God gets glory! 2 Corinthians 9:13 (NIV)

Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

10. You get prayer! 2 Corinthians 9:14 (NIV)

And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.

11. You get encouraged! Philippians 1:14 (NASB)

Most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

12. We’re connected! 1 Corinthians 12:26 (NKJV)

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is November 8 this year.

For free IDOP downloads, visit:

For more ideas on designing an IDOP segment for your November 8th service, or if you would like a VOM speaker to come to your Sunday School class, Bible study, or worship service, please contact me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rifaximin Slightly Helpful

Mom finished her week of intensive Rifaximin antibiotic therapy on Sunday. We've been waiting to see the long term results. We can definitely say that Rifaximin caused no negative side effects, which is a blessing in itself.

About the same time she started taking a product called Fruit-Eze, which is a blend of prunes, dates, raisins, and prune juice. Although she had (of course) tried prunes before, for some reason this particular blend seems to work better.

She has also discovered that magnesium oxide seems to work better for her constipation than other forms of magnesium such as magnesium citrate or milk of magnesia. (All magnesium, when taken in large enough quantities, draws water into the colon, which for normal people at least results in a bowel movement.)

Lastly, she's found that if she spends more time in her recliner chair it seems to take pressure off her colon and allow food to move around somewhat more freely.

So all of that to say that for approximately the last week and a half she's been able to go to the bathroom more regularly, although still not normally. Exactly how much is due to the Rifaximin, the Fruit-Eze, the Mag Oxide, or the recliner we don't know for sure. We're grateful to God for the improvement, however slight. Your continued prayers are greatly appreciated!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Value of Math

I had a bone density test done last week at a mobile health clinic. (I have low bone density.) At the end the technician, a man in his mid-40s, was unable to calculate the following expression:


I quickly came up with -2.96 using my cell phone calculator and basic math skills. Even though I tried to explain to the tech how I did it he didn't trust my figure, and even though he had a very nice scientific calculator he still couldn't figure it out himself.

Eventually the poor guy got some help from another tech, who after several minutes found how to use the scientific calculator to arrive at the same -2.96 figure. They actually gave me my money back, which I thought was nice. My heart went out to them.

To any kids who might read this: obey your parents and learn your math. Not learning it may someday cost you money (or perhaps even your job). Thousands of third world kids would love to have the educational opportunities you squander. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the countless hours of math teaching you gave me!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Save on Prescription Drugs!

When Dad was at Wal-Mart last Saturday picking up the antibiotics for Mom, the cashier told him, "If you go to, you can print out a free prescription drug savings card. I've seen people save up to $100 using it."

Well, that sounded a bit incredible, but when he got home we looked it up and sure enough! The site is ridiculously simple to use. You don't have to fill out any form or give them any information. Any US resident can use it, regardless of age or insurance status. Over 80% of American pharmacies accept it. You just print out a card, which looks something like this:

The next question was whether the card actually would work. Fortunately, Dad only picked up a few pills on Saturday, enough for Mom to try to see if she would have an adverse reaction to them. She tolerated the pills well, so on Monday he went back to Walmart to get a bunch more of them. He presented the card, and it cut the bill by about $20, which was about 10%. Amazing... and disconcerting! The more I thought about this, the more disturbed I became about our health care system. If you can get 10% (or more) off the cost of drugs just by having a free piece of paper, why not just give everyone the 10% discount?

Then I started wondering how many people think Jesus is like this card. They think God is an eccentric deity who charges a ridiculously high price (perfection) to get into heaven. But because He knows the price is too high, He offers a free "Jesus card" that gets anyone in. Sort of like a car dealer who inflates the sticker price so he can give you a "deal". Such a distorted view eventually makes God seem gimmicky for the "saved" and unjust to the "unsaved" (how could God send anyone to hell just for not having a "Jesus card"?).

How would you explain the real Jesus to someone who thinks He's a "pass card"?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

VOM Team Members Share How God Stokes their Enthusiasm

There is a tendency to entropy in all of us. We grow bored quickly. This can happen in our relationship with God, in work, in marriage, and in ministry. I recently hosted a conference call of some of my colleagues at VOM, asking them "How has God kept your heart warm for the persecuted church?" Some aspects of the conference will not be of interest to people who aren't VOM reps. But at least you'll get to hear for yourself what great people I get to work with! (If you don't see the embedded player below, you can click here to listen.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Will Rifaximin Help Mom?

On Saturday Mom started on the antibiotic Rifaximin as a treatment for small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

We are making something of a guess that she has SIBO. We have a few clues that point that way: the urine test which showed waste byproducts of clostridium and other “bad” bacteria; the stool test which showed no bad bacteria in the large intestine, and the presence of unusual amounts of gas, which is a bacterial byproduct. She also got results back on a very comprehensive food allergy test last week which shows that she is only allergic to surprisingly few foods (dairy, peanuts, broccoli, and a few others). She hasn’t been eating any of those things anyways.

Since she’s given the herbal antibacterials a couple weeks to work already (without much results), and since she is getting so weak, she has decided to try a high dosage 7-day round of Rifaximin. If you are really interested in medicine, you can click here and then click the "full text" link to read a study describing its use in treating small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

There is still the possibility that her intestinal problems are neurological rather than bacterial. We know she has some kind of spinal compressions going on in her spine – her spine has curved noticeably in the last few months. It could be that this spinal deterioration is resulting in intermittent signals making it to or from the intestines. This could cause lack of movement (peristalsis) of the intestines. This, in turn, could have allowed the right conditions for the bacterial overgrowth. If so, there is essentially nothing that can be done, and this round of antibiotics will provide only temporary relief, if any.

However, it certainly seems to be worth a try. This drug reportedly has few side effects and is quite effective at knocking out a broad range of bad bugs. So far, it is too soon to know but we should know within a few more days. Thanks for your prayers.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

P.S. about PalTalk

Well, I just learned one bad thing about PalTalk. They only allow you to use Paltalk Express for 5 times for free. Then you either have to either live with the advertisements in Paltalk Scene, or pay $39.95 a year for ad-free access to Paltalk Scene and Paltalk Express. I think I may go ahead and pay the money. Paltalk seems to be a powerful tool for communication; despite the cost, it is still better than Skypecasts in many ways.