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Thanks for visiting! Here are some new places to visit after looking around

Thanks for visiting! How on earth could I have been blogging since 2003! 12 years! This site has been dormant since 2007, but people still come by, so here are some updated places you can find me.
On the web:
Social media:
Twitter @30thirteen
See ‘ya soon!

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It takes time

I’ve put a lot of time into trying to organize my world and read a lot about personal productivity. Always with the mindset that I am not accomplishing all I could, and am dropping balls. But this quote from Howard Thurman on the Inward/Outward site says that there is something else to be gained from ordering our lives.

It Takes Time

It is true that for many people the demands of their lives are so great that only careful planning in terms of a workable time table can see them through. Even where the demands are not great and overwhelming, the economy, the efficiency of an established way of functioning, is undeniable. The purpose of such a pattern is not merely to accomplish more work and with dispatch, but it is to increase the margin of one’s self that is available for the cultivation of the inner life. It takes time to cultivate the mind. It takes time to grow in wisdom. It takes time to savor the qualities of living. It takes time to feel one’s way into one’s self. It takes time to walk with God. – Howard Thurman

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Nearly 90% of all email is spam

From website "stuff" comes this startling bit of news.

It may come as no surprise, but almost every email sent in 2007 was spam.

About 95 per cent of emails this year – up from 70 per cent
in 2006 – were classified as junk messages, according to a report from
US security firm Barracuda, Agence France Presse reported.

Most of this is deleted by email filters run by Internet providers before it hits inboxes.

Barracuda analysed more than a billion emails received each day by its 50,000 customers for the report, AFP said.

A few months ago I was trying to find free sheet music online of which there is plenty of copyright free texts available. I went to a website that offered me music but I had to fill out a survey. It asked for my email address so I gave it the one I use only for registering at sites and gave it a bogus mailing address. Thank heavens for this. I have never seen such an onslaught of spam. We’re talking anywhere between 20 and 40 messages per day.

Fortunately, I have really good spam filtering. My mail provider dreamhost runs Spam Assassin on their server which gets a lot. Then my second line of defense is Spam Sieve on the Mac. As a result I only see a spam email once ever couple days. But I think anywhere between 20 and 50 are being filtered daily from my multiple accounts. Thank heavens for good filters. 


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Adventures in Devonthink or “Where do you put it all?”

I remember my first latte. A pretty remarkable feat given the proliferation of espresso stands. But I lived in King County 20 years ago when Starbucks was just getting its start in downtown Seattle. I was still going to school at Northwest College in Kirkland, studying to be a pastor. Newly married, living in the married student housing and with newborn baby Alexis in the house, I would sometimes escape downtown to walk through the art gallery. I soon discovered the new coffee shop across the parking lot. I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker… I got most of my caffeine from Mountain Dew. So I tried one of these newfangled lattes and was pleasantly surprised. I found the coffee shop a stimulating location so I began taking a small notebook with me and would journal ideas I had about God and ministry.

This was my first latte. But it was also my first notebook. I’ve been writing ever since. When I moved back to Ephrata and started planting a new church, I graduated to legal pads and three ring binders. I researched and wrote, and brainstormed and wrote some more. When the church closed five years later, I had five 3-inch 3 ring binders full of ideas. I still have them.

About 4 years ago I graduated to a program called Devonthink. It is one of many digital junk drawer applications for the Mac. I’ve written about it here and thought it was time for an update. Here are some things that I’ve changed about how I work with it.

I no longer use Devonthink as my all-in-one repository of all things digital. Instead, I use it to archive either my own writing or articles that I have researched. There are tools in Devon to suck in your contents from your address book, email, bookmarks and pretty much any digital scrap that you have lying around your computer. At first I faithfully imported all this stuff. But when I went through and organized my database today this no longer made sense.

For starters, I had imported my bookmarks in awhile ago. And had ferreted away various links in groups. As I was going through, this didn’t make sense to me anymore. When I am bookmarking a page, I am on the internet. And I bookmark in Keeping links in two places made no sense because it requires constant gardening to keep both places synchronized. And I discovered from the Devon Technologies forum that links don’t impact the artificial intelligence used for finding similar results via “see also.”

So, new procedure #1. I deleted all links from my groups. But I still wanted to be able to access them when I was in that group. So in their place I created a single link to my tag for that group. For example, instead of a list of links in my lifehacks group, I now have a single link to Much cleaner, and no syncing required.

Devonthink first came out when Mac was running Panther. This was pre-Spotlight. So one of DT’s claims to fame was its ability to search inside documents, not just the document name. This was a wonder at the time but then along came Tiger and Spotlight and suddenly we were able to do this to every document on our computer, with the exception, unfortunately, of what was in DT’s database. At the time, this made it advantageous to move everything you wanted searchable into DT. So I dutifully sucked in all my mail from certain people. But as I went through my database, I found that I had a bunch of stupid correspondence that really wasn’t worth keeping. And like bookmarks it is redundant to keep the data in two different places. With Spotlight I can no put my fingers on any pertinent email I need to.

Another area that got purged was my archive of websites. When I first got Devonthink, I was all gee-golly-whiz! about this thing that could suck in entire websites. I was big into the magazine Credenda Agenda at the time, so I thought “wouldn’t it be great to have every issue searchable in my database? So I sucked the whole website in. Pretty cool. Except it made my search results utterly useless. I was constantly getting hits to articles that really had nothing to do with what I was looking for.

So procedure number #2 was to purge this entire archive. Now I am going to be much more selective about what I archive.

The bottom line purpose of this post that I want to end with is that I no longer believe it is useful to import everything into Devonthink. It requires too much gardening. When I need a contact, I’m going to go to address book, not DT. Mail stays in Links in What _does_ go into devonthink is all my writing. I use the personal wiki program Voodoopad for brainstorming, journler as my Getting Things Done project and task management system, and Bean or Google Docs for writing. Every program has the ability to export as either html or .doc so periodically I export what I want to keep and import it into its appropriate group in my database. This has cleaned up my search results and has also made “see also” far more useful. Hope you find this useful.

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Writer’s guild strike and new media

The writer’s guild strike hasn’t hit us where it hurts yet, i.e. the interruption of new episodes of our favorite shows. If it does, I will lose some favorites. NBC seems to have suddenly discovered that there is a market for science fiction and given us shows like “Bionic Woman,” “Journeyman,” and my favorite, “Heroes.” Fortunately, Heroes is written in Britain so even if the writer’s strike eventually causes an interruption, “Heroes” will go on. And I think the final season of my ultimate favorite “Battlestar Galactica” has already been written. For some God-awful reason they are making us wait until March for that.

Anyway, I’m already in a world where the writer’s guild strike will not have as much of an impact on my entertainment as it will on others. Sure I’ll miss “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Numb3rs.” But really, since moving my TV watching to my computer, I am less dependent on network programming. With Joost I can start watching “Babylon 5,” an old science fiction TV show that I didn’t catch the first time around. On Miro I can watch “The Lab with Leo,” a tech TV show that originates in Canada. And while I won’t get any drama via video podcasts, losing network shows would free up my time for net shows like “Tekzilla” and “Cranky Geeks.” Netflix will also come in handy if the writer’s strike goes on. I’m currently watching the Fox cartoon “The Critic” and have queued up old shows that I didn’t watch like the first time they aired, like the first seasons of “Alias,” and “24.” And finally, lets not forget audio books from Audible and the good old fashioned paperback and hardcover.

All told, I think the networks are going to be hurt more by this writer’s strike then the writer’s themselves. They are going to discover that through the avenues of new media we have plenty of things to entertain us besides network television. I know I do.

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I Rise Today

I’m not big on mornings, but it seems this famous Celtic prayer could get things off on the right foot.

I Rise Today

I rise today

in the power’s strength, invoking the Trinity

believing in threeness,

confessing the oneness,

of creation’s Creator.

I rise today

in the power of Christ’s birth and baptism,

in the power of his crucifixion and burial,

in the power of his rising and ascending,

in the power of his descending and judging.

I rise today

in the power of the love of cherubim,

in the obedience of angels

and service of archangels,

in hope of rising to receive the reward,

in the prayers of patriarchs,

in the predictions of the prophets,

in the preaching of apostles,

in the faith of confessors,

in the innocence of holy virgins,

in the deeds of the righteous.

I rise today

in heaven’s might,

in sun’s brightness,

in moon’s radiance,

in fire’s glory,

in lightning’s quickness,

in wind’s swiftness,

in sea’s depth,

in earth’s stability,

in rock’s fixity.

I rise today

with the power of God to pilot me,

God’s strength to sustain me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look ahead for me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to protect me,

God’s way before me,

God’s shield to defend me,

God’s host to deliver me,

from snares of devils,

from evil temptations,

from nature’s failings,

from all who wish to harm me,

far or near,

alone and in a crowd.

Around me I gather today all these powers

against every cruel and merciless force

to attack body and soul,

against the charms of false prophets,

the black laws of paganism,

the false laws of heretics,

the deceptions of idolatry,

against spells cast by women, smiths, and druids,

and all unlawful knowledge that harms the body and soul.

May Christ protect me today

against poison and burning,

against drowning and wounding,

so that I may have abundant reward;

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me;

Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me;

Christ to the right of me, Christ to the left of me;

Christ in lying, Christ in sitting, Christ in rising;

Christ in the heart of all who think of me,

Christ on the tongue of all who speak to me,

Christ in the eye of all who see me,

Christ in the ear of all who hear me.

I rise today

in power’s strength, invoking the Trinity,

believing in threeness,

confessing the oneness,

of creation’s Creator.

For to the Lord belongs


and to the Lord belongs salvation

and to Christ belongs salvation.

May your salvation, Lord, be with us always.

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Years ago I acquired the domain which I use for my website and email. From the beginning, for some reason you haven’t been able to get here by simply typing without the www. It is interesting when I look at my stats to see how many people get here by doing a search for “jeffrey c long” in google. And then there is the occasional misspelling “jeffEry c long.” All seem to get here. But it is now just a little easier to find me. You may simply type without the www and you’ll get here fine.

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Sermons from Elijah, Part 1: Should we be hostile or hospitable to people of other faiths?

Towards the end of my time of ministry at Filer Mennonite Church I did a series of sermons on Elijah the prophet. I really felt like it was some of my best work but decided that I wanted to edit them some more before I posted them online. Today I had the privilege of preaching at Aberdeen Mennonite Church and decided to take the opportunity to edit my first in the series and repreach it. I think it went really well. So here it is, part one of my series on the ministry of Elijah the prophet.

I used to work at a high school in my home town of ephrata. I was a jack of all trades musician and teacher assistant. One of the hallmarks of that season of my life was all the lifechanging relationships I built with the students, parents and adult volunteers there. We sang together. We played together. We went on trips together. We ate together. We slept together.

But I was more then a teacher’s assistant. I was a former youth minister and pastor. I was a Christian interested in ministering to these students at a level deeper then their musical accomplishments. As a result, I became acutely aware that while a large number of my students were in fact practicing religion, it was not Christianity. It was not faith in the salvation by grace alone made available through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Those students who were in fact Christians each interacted with these students of another faith differently. They enjoyed each other, became friends, and worked well on music together. But most wanted to convert them and so they generally wound up in debates. And every year there was tension around the Baccalaureate because it was sponsored by the Protestant and Catholic churches. While these students of another faith were welcome to attend they were sometimes not included in the planning and participation of the Baccalaureate.

Each of us has had occasion to have relationships with people of other faith. Whether Buddhism, B’Hai, Mormonism or Christian Science. We need guidance from the Word of God for how to approach these relationships. I think that we have something to learn from the prophet Elijah about how to interact with people of other faiths. Elijah like us was a firm believer in Yahweh, the God of Israel. But the time he lived in was much more hostile to his faith then ours is. It is safe for us to go to church. We won’t be arrested for sharing our faith with someone. We do not have to register with the authorities if we want to have a bible study in our home. We can even speak out against our president without risking our life as Elijah did. But most of our neighbors do not worship Jesus. In fact many of them worship other gods.

Whereas Christianity is still the dominant religion in America, Israel had become influenced by Baal worship. Israel’s citizens had originally covenanted with Yahweh but then turned away from Him to Baal. And the citizens of the nations surrounding Israel had served Baal from the beginning. And so Elijah had to decide what kind of relationship he was going to have with these people who did not serve his God. Today we are looking at two instances and how he chose whether or not to be hostile or hospitable.

Continue reading Sermons from Elijah, Part 1: Should we be hostile or hospitable to people of other faiths?

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Fishin’ for religion

This song by Arrested Development says a lot about how I feel about religion these days. I haven’t been free to talk about it here while pastoring Filer Mennonite. And not surprisingly that experience had a negative impact on my faith. I’m finally making a turn around. But it’s remarkable how ridiculous the whole enterprise (organized religion… not faith in general) looks once you become an outsider. I think that’s why emergent church authors and churches are so appealing to me. Anyway… here’s the song. The words go by pretty fast so the lyrics are available if you click the “read more” link.

Download arrested_development_01_04_fishin_4_religion.mp3

Continue reading Fishin’ for religion

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Now this is a clock

I have no idea how to bookmark this.

Initial launch, those are the number of births in the year, deaths in the year, etc. You can click on now, day, month and get those statistics in smaller doses. Check out the other clocks too.

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