Attention Frustrated Apple Computer Users: A Fix for the Horrible Brown Background

Attention,  all you Apple Computer Users

I don’t know how many dozens of you have written notes to me complaining about the horrible brownish background and the tiny font in the emailed version of my INsights & OUTbursts blog posts .

Many of you have written, some–horror of horrors–even asking me to delete them from my mailing list, and my response has always been, IT ISN’T ME, IT’S YOUR APPLE COMPUTER!

I send out my blog posts in perfectly good Christian black print on white background, but somehow it turns into something relatively unreadable by the time it gets to your Apple device.

Here’s the fix:

Please click on the link at the very top of every INsight and OUTburst blog post and read it on my blog, NOT in your email.

I know for some of you who are overseas, this will be a hardship, since you pay dearly for every second you are on line. I am really sorry. I have consulted experts and paid them good money, but all they can say is,

“It’s something to do with a setting in Apple computers, some are set differently and can read your blogs fine, others cannot. There is nothing we can do from this end.”

I’m on the road right now, driving for six days to get home, and will not be posting a regular blog post.

See you next week,







How to Raise a Missions Support Partnership Team

It’s a welcome trend in churches. People of all ages are following a vision for ministry and are spending their savings, vacations, and sometimes more, to meet critical needs outside the church.

The ministries that spark these visions vary widely. Some are in the inner city, some are overseas. Some require special skills, others just willing hearts and hands. Some require a few weeks, others could take a lifetime. The ministries differ, and so do the workers. But there is one thing common to these situations—the workers need prayer and financial support from those who stay home.

Occasionally someone, from grandchildren to fellow missionaries, ask me if I have any ideas on how to raise the support team they need. I usually tell them that in the same way God prepared them to get involved in this ministry, He has also prepared people to support them through prayer and gifts.

“Ask God to lead you to meet these prepared people.” I say, “Then be ready to share your vision with them.” So how do you share your vision?

A pastor’s wife used to kiss her husband as he was about mount the platform to preach, and whisper in his ear, “K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Sweetie.”

Excellent advice for anyone who wants to communicate something important. A simple outline, and one clear, plain story to paint a picture. Nothing complicated that might confuse, or distract the hearer’s attention. I usually advise the worker to simply answer the following questions and illustrate with a little story:

  1. Need: What is the deepest need wherever it is that you are going to work?
  2. Vision: What makes you the perfect person to help meet this need?
  3. Obstacles: What are the obstacles that stand in your way of meeting the need?
  4. Action: What do you want your hearer to do?

Here’s an example that can be adapted to any other support-raising scenario:

The Need.

Country X has very few Christians and almost none of the women can read, write, or do simple arithmetic. Some of those that can read, run small businesses from their homes, making things and selling them. Their families prosper in comparison to the families of women who are illiterate.

(I heard of Lita, mother of four who tried to run a small store from her home. The business failed within months because the merchants who sold her the goods cheated her, she couldn’t read the simple instructions that came with some of the items to be sold, and she had no way of keeping records except in her head.)

There is a deep need, therefore, for a teaching ministry among illiterate women, coupled with evangelism through the Word of God.

My Vision

I am an experienced schoolteacher and, through an outreach ministry of my home church, have worked for years with women who dropped out of school but want to go back and graduate. I loved coaching and teaching them, and led many women to Jesus. I enjoyed a good salary and pleasant working conditions. My life was great, but as I prayed, I felt I could do more to advance God’s Kingdom if I worked in an area of greater need. So I quit my job, sold my furniture, gave up my apartment lease, and am now ready to leave. I will be working under the direction of mission agency X which will keep me accountable, orient me to the local culture, and guide me as I improve my language skills.

The Obstacles

Satan opposes Christ’s Kingdom and is certain to counterattack. Just as David had 30 mighty men in his army, so I need 30 men, women and children in my prayer protection team to pray for me daily informed by my regular emailed updates. I also need $X to cover travel, as well as financial partners who will commit to send enough money each month to cover my personal and ministry expenses, which will be about $X.

I long to go right now and help hundreds of women like Lita learn the skills she needs to provide for her family. Unfortunately neither the prayer protection team, nor the financial partnerships are yet complete. These are the only obstacles to my going.

The Action

Please consider joining me in this critical, Kingdom-building ministry by becoming part of my prayer protection team, or one of my financial partners, or both. (In the rack in front of you is a small envelope, please take it out and look at it now. Please check the appropriate boxes on the envelope, fill in your contact information and drop it into the offering plate. Or, better yet, hand it to me sometime later. I’m ready to answer any other questions privately at any time.)

counselA simple four-minute speech like this, covers everything a potential partner needs to know. The example was in the setting of a speech to a group, but can, of course, be used in a one-on-one conversation as well.

By dropping the story about Lita and the references to the envelope, (in parentheses) the whole presentation is only two minutes long. It is what writer’s call an “elevator pitch” where the writer presents the idea for an article to an editor while riding in an elevator.

You may not need this advice personally, but I’m pretty sure you know someone who does. Feel free to forward it to them.

A Valentine Bouquet: Seven Ways to Improve Your Marriage

Jo and I were so poor when we got married in March of 1962 that we couldn’t afford a lifetime marriage license. We opted for the cheaper 50-year short-term marriage license instead. I am pleased to say that a few years ago, when our 50-year-term license expired, I was able to persuade Jo to sign up for another 50 years.

J&J wedding car copyNow to be serious for a moment. It’s Valentine’s Day and an ideal time for you to think about your relationships. Since Jo and I are approaching our 54th wedding anniversary, and presumably know something about staying married, younger couples sometimes ask us for advice.

We usually respond by asking, “Do you read the Bible to each other and pray together?” That’s basic. After all, God invented marriage and He wants yours to prosper. But here are six more bits of marital advice for you all:

2. Ask for advice. Ask long-marrieds how they handle the kind of problems you are struggling with currently.

3. Read books on marriage. There weren’t many up-to-date, helpful ones when we got married. Later, as Jo and I read and discussed books on various aspects of marriage during our last decade in Brazil, we often exclaimed, “Where was this book twenty years ago?”

4. After returning to Canada, we participated in a prayer soaked weekend marriage enrichment seminar. It resulted in putting us on a high plateau of marriage. Jo and I both felt loved and cared for by each other as never before.

5. After nine months of bliss, however, we made a fatal mistake. Three unexpected, high-stress situations impacted us almost simultaneously. Coping with them drained our energy and diverted our attention. We were foolish; instead of keeping these emotionally exhausting stresses outside our relationship, we allowed them to come between us and our marriage deteriorated. Eventually we made those stressful pressures push us closer together and our marriage improved. The whole experience, however, left me wondering.

6. We get thorough medical checkups every year, we take our vehicles in for routine maintenance and inspections, and we ask financial advisors to look over our financial situation. Shouldn’t we routinely go to a marriage counselor and ask him for a marriage checkup? So we did.
“What’s the problem?” the counsellor asked.
“We don’t know.” I said, “We want you to tell us what our problems are and how to resolve them.”

He asked us a number of questions, and got us talking about ourselves, and each other. He then recommended a course of a dozen or more actions. For instance: I needed to tell Jo, not just my thoughts, but my feelings. Jo needed to be my coach to help me get in touch with my feelings and share them. When Jo had something she wanted to talk over with me, I needed to “vacuum my mind” clearing it of all ideas and thoughts, and, with full eye contact, focus on Jo and listen to her.

7. The counsellor also recommended a new book by Dr.GaryChapmanThe Five Love Languages, now a classic. It speaks to relationships of every kind, not just to people in a marriage relationship. The basic idea is that every person has one or two ways in which he or she receives love.

For some people Words of Affirmation make them feel loved.
Others respond best to Acts of Service,
still others to Receiving of Gifts,
others to Quality Time,
and others to Physical Touch.
Each of these is like a language. The lover must speak the language his beloved understands. No use giving gifts to someone who wants to hear some affirming words. No use hugging a wife who would prefer that you showed your love by doing the dishes.

These are the seven ways Jo and I stayed happily married.

What are yours?


In Search of Beauty

boyThey looked neat and tidy. We noticed it when we moved into the village to live with the Canela people of Brazil. Their appearance was clean and sharp and it wasn’t their clothes—they wore hardly any. Their faces, hair and bodies were striking, even beautiful. We had been in contact with other indigenous people groups who, in comparison to the Canelas, were unkempt, messy and scruffy looking.

One of the principal reasons the Canelas look so good is the way they wore their hair. Both men and women cut their hair into bangs across the forehead, and then cut around the sides of the head leaving just a few centimetres at the back uncut. The hair below the cut is left to grow long. The result is that their faces are always free of hair. They also bathe at least twice a day and, for special occasions, they decorate their bodies with intricate red and black designs.

spear manThe net effect is beauty. This drive for beauty extends to other areas of Canela life too. When our mud and thatch house was almost finished, one of our Canela neighbours came along with a sharp bush knife and trimmed the overhanging palm thatch so that it would be neat and straight. It didn’t make the roof any better able to shed rain or provide shade, it just looked better. He needed it to look beautiful.

God needs things to look beautiful too. An inspiring story comes from the history of Israel after Moses had led the Israelites out of their 400 years of slavery in Egypt. God wanted a portable temple, a place where the people could meet Him. He provided the design and the finishing details. Exodus 35 and 36 tell the story of its construction. Only the finest materials and the very best work were acceptable.

God picked two men, Bezalel and Oholiab, filled them with His Holy Spirit, not to preach, not to speak in tongues or do miraculous healings, but to create beauty and teach others to do so. “God filled them with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills, to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts.” (Exodus 35:31) He also gave them the ability to teach others to work as engravers, designers, and embroiderers.

JohnKeats said it well, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.” Bazalel and Ohaliab would agree.

Human creativity comes from God. Our imagination, from which flows good things—inventions, solutions to problems, works of beauty—was built into us by God. He means for us to use it to make beauty around us. He means for us to use the beauty that comes from Him to bring Him glory.

Satan, of course, seeks to pervert our abilities to create beauty for our own glory. Or worse yet, to do evil and produce ugliness instead. There was a time, long after the creation of Adam and Eve, that God saw that “every imagination of human hearts was only evil continually,” so He sent a flood to wipe them out and start over again with Noah and his family.

I see God given creativity in relatives all around me. An architect nephew who designs skyscrapers. A carpenter brother who builds houses. An artist niece who, although housebound because of a chronic illness, produces amazing creations out of old socks. Check out her creativity here. Others are skilled painters, interior decorators, designers, artists, and carvers. Each member of my family has skills to create beauty around them. By the way, we are not an exceptional family, all families have the potential to create beauty.

And God has given me, the old grandpa, the ability to write stories and blog posts, putting words together in creative ways, to produce new and distinctly different writings. All this creativity to bring glory to the God who gave it.