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My thoughts, exactly
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Jim's Brain Online
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Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
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odd blog link by jtr · miscellaneous - 8 September 2009, 14:39

It is rather obvious that I am not a faithful blogger. I’ve only posted a few times in the past year. I am often amazed at who reads my blog, but even more amazed at who links to my blog. Apparently “cerita” needed help with a browser in text mode (I think). “fatur” found an article I wrote to be helpful so he (she?) passed on a link to it to the forum. I have no idea what language this forum is in, but the site administrator is in Indonesia. Whatever the language, it seems there is a need for viewing images from a console.

I’m glad to help.

Then again, maybe that isn’t what fatur was posting. Maybe fatur was really saying, “Whatever you do, don’t do what this guy did!”

Either way, the interweb has made this world smaller. Much, much smaller.

Your thoughts, too [3]

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Debian Linux and a Hauppage HVR-950 by jtr · linux - 18 August 2009, 13:00

Ah. Success. A year or so ago my wife and I purchased a Hauppauge HVR-950 it’s a USB hi-def TV tuner. It is not officially supported under Linux and I was unable to get sound working. This week I tried again and was successful. I am running Debian Lenny but installed kernel 2.6.30 from Debian Testing (the very day it moved into Testing).

The steps to get it working are remarkably simple (okay…that’s probably relative). The 2.6.30 kernel recognizes the tuner automatically. In order for the television application of your choice to work properly, you must get the closed-source firmware for it. You can download it here. After downloading this ZIP file, you need to extract one file. Use this command:

unzip -j HVR-12×0-14×0-17× Driver85/hcw85bda.sys

You need to perform one more step on this file, to extract the firmware from it. The tool necessary is found in the kernel source tree, so you must have the source installed for your kernel. The file is Your path should be like the following:


Use this perl script against the file you extracted: hcw85bda.sys

This will produce a file named xc3028-v27.fw. Copy this file to /lib/firmware. Start your favorite television viewing application (I use tvtime.) This will get video. The problem is you will not have sound. For that you must install a few packages (they may already be installed): sox, libsox-fmt-oss, libsox-fmt-alsa, libsox-fmt-base, libsox1. Then run this command:

sox -r 48000 -w -c 2 -t ossdsp /dev/dsp1 -t ossdsp /dev/dsp

This worked for me. Of course, I made this into a shell script so I don’t have to remember all the details.

Your thoughts, too

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how far we've come by jtr · politics - 5 November 2008, 09:59

My children know I did not vote for Senator Obama. However, this morning I had a wonderful conversation with them about the election yesterday. I told them that when Senator Obama was a little boy, black folk could not use the same drinking fountains or public restrooms as white folk. They could not attend the same schools as white students or eat in the same restaurants. Next January, Senator Obama will become President of the United States.

How far we have come.

God bless America.

Your thoughts, too

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well of course it was! by jtr · miscellaneous - 29 March 2008, 19:38

I have mentioned on a few occasions that my children are able to attend a classical school. The classical model of education is truly a superior model. I am often amazed at the depth of knowledge and understanding my first and fourth graders have. My son recently told me of Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. After telling me a number of interesting facts about Gutenberg and his financial difficulties (and many other such facts I did not know) related to his invention, I asked the only semi-intelligent question I could ask.

“Do you know what was the first book printed on his printing press?”

I was hoping that minor little factoid was not covered in class.

He answered, “The Bible. It was printed in two volumes of 300 pages. In Latin.”

I just quoted my son verbatim.

Part of me wanted to simply say, “Well, duh… Everyone knows that.” I was unable to, though, due to the rather large smile on my face.

I love classical education.

Your thoughts, too

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like Lydia by jtr · personal - 27 March 2008, 15:07

Our ten-year-old son Trey has been struggling with spiritual things for a couple years. When he was eight he wondered how we know that “our God” is the one true God. He did not have the vocabulary at the time but what he said was that since he could not know for sure, he could not worship any god for fear he would worship the wrong one. (Trey was not an ordinary eight-year-old, anymore than he is an “ordinary” ten-year-old.) His mother and I told him he needed to believe that Jesus is the one true God, but that his mother and I could not convince him this is so. We told him that only God could reveal Himself to Trey but that if Trey truly sought Him, God would do just that. In the past year Trey became convinced that all other gods are false, though he still did not know if he believed in the God of the Bible.

Several months ago Trey asked me if he died and did not believe in Jesus, would he go to hell. The only loving answer was to tell him that apart from faith in Jesus, he would go to hell when he dies. (That was the most difficult answer to a question I have ever given.)

Trey sat with us during the second service Easter morning. That night around 8:00PM Trey came to us and asked how a person can be saved, “like that guy in church this morning.” (A member of our church had given his testimony of how he came to faith very late in life.) We told Trey the same thing we have been telling him since he was learning to talk. We told him he must trust God to save him. He must believe that Jesus died to pay the penalty for his sins and that He rose again. He wanted to know what he had to DO. We told him there are no magic words or special prayer or anything that he can do – he simply must believe. In response he said, “Oh. Okay. I’m going to bed now.”

That was not quite the response for which we have hoped and prayed.

About a half hour later Trey came downstairs to ask if his mother and I would wake him early the next morning so we could pray with him. I asked him why. He told us that he had prayed to ask God to give him faith to believe in Him so he can be saved. At that Trey burst into tears and jumped into my arms. I asked him why he was crying and he said, “Because I am so happy.”

The next morning when I took my two school-age children to school, Trey and I spoke to his teacher in the hallway (he attends a Christian, classical school) to tell her the great news that God had converted him. Trey raised his arms as if he had just won a gold medal and exclaimed, “I have new life!”

Our God is so very kind.

Your thoughts, too [1]

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update on Dell laptop by jtr · review - 13 March 2008, 18:01

After the delay for my wife’s new laptop, we received a telephone call from a real, live Dell customer service representative (from “Dell Canada”…weird, that) who called to tell us the laptop would ship the following morning. Okay. That is fine. I feel better in spite of the delay. The laptop is built and will be shipped the next morning.

The next morning (this past Tuesday) my wife checked Dell’s website to find out if the laptop had, indeed, been shipped. Much to her surprise (and chagrin) the laptop was delayed. A note was added to our account informing us that according to FCC guidelines we must called Dell to affirm the order. If we did not, the order must automatically be canceled. I am not sure how a laptop that has already been built (according to the Dell rep who called) and is ready to be shipped is delayed from shipping, so I called Dell’s tech support to ask why.

I was assured the problem was not due to back orders on parts. The rep stopped just short of saying Dell was just slow. (Seriously.) The conversation ended with the rep indicating the laptop was now scheduled to ship on 18 March. Fine. We would have the laptop nearly a month after ordering it, but we would have it.

Later that day my wife discovered that the order had been canceled. The Dell support rep I called told me I canceled the order. I assured him I did not. Too bad, however. A canceled order that is mistakenly canceled (by Dell) cannot be uncanceled.

I bought my wife an HP laptop from Best Buy. It runs Vista.

I just threw up in my mouth a little.

I need to shower.

Your thoughts, too [2]

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they build-to-order, right? by jtr · review - 5 March 2008, 19:12

I have been planning to buy one of those fancy, newfangled Linux laptops from Dell Computer for about a year or so. Actually, I promised my dear wife a laptop about two Christmases (a year and a half ago-ish). However, due to my extended “summer vacation” and the corresponding budgetary constraints thereof, I have been unable to do so. Being an intern and therefore having similar budgetary constraints have prevented me from purchasing a laptop for my darling bride. When we discovered we had overpaid Uncle Sam an extraordinary amount via federal income tax steali withholding (for my refund is several times the amount withheld), I decided it was time to actually purchase her gift. So I ordered a laptop from Dell with Ubuntu Linux preinstalled.

Dell is, you may know, a computer company that builds to order. In other words, Dell builds computers as they are ordered, rather than building a large pile of ready-built computers. When I ordered the laptop online, I expected Dell to take a few days or so to build the laptop and ship it. I was surprised to discover they would take ten days to ship it. With 3-5 day shipping, I would have the laptop within two weeks. One would think that a company that is structured as a build-to-order company would be rather efficient at building to order. On the day it was supposed to ship Dell “discovered” (apparently) they do not have the necessary parts to build this laptop. It is being delayed almost two weeks. I ordered the computer in February. I do not think February is a busy month for ordering computers. Christmas is several months away. The new school year is several months away. The current semester is almost a couple months underway. So why the delay? Why should it take a company that specializes in build-to-order computer systems take nearly a month to build-to-order?

So far, I am not impressed. Perhaps when I receive it, I will be.


I would tell you that I will post a review of the laptop after I receive it. Given the frequency of my posts, that may be lying, so I will not deign to tell you this.

Your thoughts, too [2]

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a Building Services dude - for three weeks by jtr · internship - 17 October 2007, 13:43

There is something inherently good about work – especially physical labor. God created work as part of his perfect environment for Adam. And it was very good. But Adam sinned and so came sweat, sore muscles, myriad aches and pains, and a general aversion to hard work because of the consequences thereof. Yet there is something inherently good about work. For most of my life I have performed work that produced a different sort of sweat, sore muscles, and myriad aches and pains. Working with one’s mind in many ways is “easier” than working with one’s hands. For example, after a hard day’s work with the mind, one can play a game of basketball and feel refreshed, energetic. After a hard day’s work with the hands, one needs sleep to feel refreshed. I have never bruised my leg or smashed a thumbnail while thinking through a problem. However, in many ways working with one’s mind is more difficult than working with one’s hands. For example, it is unlikely that one will begin building sandcastles while digging ditches. While sitting in an office in near silence it is quite easy to become distracted and think of things other than work. At the end of the day a farmer can see how many rows he has plowed. It is rather difficult to quantify how many problems were solved or ideas were formed by the end of the day.

When I learned I was going to be a Pastoral Intern I was ecstatic. I had trouble sleeping for a week. I had not been that giddy since my wedding day. I had been longing for work that was significant and meaningful. Writing another loan to help someone refinance or even purchase a home – while important – probably would not significantly change someone’s life. I finally had the opportunity to earn a living while doing meaningful work, work with eternal significance.

Generally when one thinks of pastoral work images of the other kind of work do not come to mind. Sweat. Bruises. Sore muscles. My first three weeks as a Pastoral Intern were filled with these things. Part of it may simply be from not having worked (either kind) for four months. A large part of it is from not having done extensive manual labor (beyond yard work) for almost fifteen years.

In college I read of the Puritan understanding of work. They believed that every calling is a holy calling, whether plowing a field or preaching a sermon. I have long believed this to be true, but this belief was more theoretical in nature. I believe that I can honor and glorify the Lord by writing loans for a living – intellectually.

Having spent three weeks stacking and unstacking chairs, moving tables, vacuuming pews, cleaning toilets, and taking out the trash, I think I have a much better understanding of what it means to serve God in a holy calling. The Sunday after I vacuumed the auditorium I walked in with a very strong recognition that those who were sitting in the pews had little knowledge of what it had taken to prepare the facility for the church to gather that morning. They did not need to think of it on Sunday morning. (This is not to say they should not be grateful, rather, the facility was not a distraction to their worship of God.) When they stopped by the restrooms it probably did not occur to them that someone had cleaned that restroom, perhaps several times that week. They did not have to think about it.

It seems to me that true ministry is engaging in any activity that assists someone else in worship. Whether someone actually worships the Lord because of a clean toilet seat is not the issue. That issue is between the person and God. The issue is if one is helping another find a parking spot, or handing out a bulletin, or preaching a sermon, or emptying the trash, and if the task is facilitating worship of our great God, ministry is taking place. Paul seems to indicate this when he told the Philippians that even if Christ is preached out of wrong motives, we can rejoice that Christ is preached. The act of preaching in this case was assisting others in worshiping God. If preaching Christ out of a wrong motivation is something to rejoice in, how much more the act of cleaning a building done out of a right motive! I am very grateful for the privilege to be part of ministry at Calvary by setting up chairs for children so they can hear the good news that is Jesus. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to take out the trash so that our pastor can spend his time studying and praying.

This opportunity has been very enlightening for church planting. Calvary is a large church with many people dedicated to specific tasks in the work of the ministry. Our pastoral staff does not need to be concerned with the readiness of our building for the church to meet together on Sunday. There are many wonderful and godly people who handle this. When we launch our new plant, I know of at least one person who will be available to set up chairs: me. I know of one person who will be available to clean up after the service or fill the communion cups or make sure the lights are off and the doors are locked. I am sure there will be others but I am certain of this one person’s availability. In some ways this frightens me, if only because it well illustrates the enormity of my calling. Paul wondered who is sufficient for the burden of preaching the Gospel – being the odor of death to the dying and the odor of life to the living. Not only will I be exhausted from the emotional and intellectual and spiritual burden of the work God called me to, but I will be physically exhausted as well. I read recently that a church planter should never do something that someone else can do. For example, a church planter should not set up chairs when another person can (and should) do it. This is clearly not because the planter is above such a thing. Rather, the planter is called to do other things and CANNOT do all things. The church is called to act as a body, doing the work of the ministry as a body. It has become incredibly clear to me that I cannot plant a church on my own. The importance of recruiting fellow laborers has been stamped on my mind with large, bold print.

Indeed, who is sufficient for these things? I am not, but he who has overcome death is more than sufficient.

Your thoughts, too

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an intern by jtr · internship - 17 October 2007, 13:26

In August I mentioned that I had been fired over politics last May. My first thought when I was let go was that perhaps this was God’s nudge toward pursuing church planting more vigorously. My biggest concern was providing for my family.

In early June (about a week or so later), at our last Leadership Development Forum meeting I told the group I was unemployed but was struggling with pursuing employment versus pursuing church planting full time. My heart was not in the 9-to-5 world anymore – it had not been for some time. A job had long been a means to provide for my family rather than a source of fulfillment as it had been years ago.

Throughout June I sent out numerous resumes to a wide variety of businesses and positions as the mortgage industry continues to sour. I had three interviews. Out of dozens of resumes, I had three interviews. One interview should not count as it turned out to be with some sleazy, two-bit collections company that admittedly employs illegal tactics to collect on delinquent accounts (the interviewer bragged about it during the interview; it was bizarre). I walked out of the interview. So I had two legitimate interviews. The first interview was with a very large financial services company. I could be working there now had I accepted the position. The problem is I am quite sure my future involves church planting. I can only imagine asking potential clients to allow me to aid them with their financial futures…for the next couple years. Good ethics demands that one offering long-term financial services intends to be in the financial services field long-term. I had no such intention so I declined the job. I also had no real desire for that type of work, especially since it was 100% commission.

The other interview I had was with a successful janitorial services company that was creating a new Director of Operations position. The requirements of the job appealed to me and would utilize my skills and experience directly. The interview went well. I was told I would either receive a letter saying, “Thanks, but no thanks” or a telephone call requesting a second interview. I was assured to receive one or the other within a week. A week later I sent an email to the interviewer to point out I had received neither. I have yet to receive a response.

That was the last response I received to a resume.

In July my pastor mentioned to me after service one Sunday that he wanted to talk to me about church planting. When I met with him in late July he told me that when he heard (in early June at the LDF meeting) that I was unemployed, his first thought was, “Here is a guy who wants to plant a church and is no longer burdened with a job.” He thought that perhaps the church could help me somehow.

After several more weeks of no response to resumes (during which time I could not bear to send any more as my heart was sold on working at my church), I met with one of my pastors who told me the church wanted to bring me on staff as an intern. Four months after losing a job, I have a new one: Pastoral Intern.

As part of my responsibilties, I have to record my journey as an intern. I will blog it. starting this afternoon.

Your thoughts, too

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Ouch! Hurts so good??? by djr · truth - 22 August 2007, 19:24

Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.—Charles Spurgeon

Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of. —Charles Spurgeon

I have done it. I, after much nudging from an unnamed source, am going to presuppose that there are enough of you out there who are interested in the view from my window. Please be gentle: I cry easily.

So what do I share in my inaugural blog post? Just some thoughts I have been challenged with this season. Most of you know that my husband, er, blog host has been jobless this whole summer. While it has been nice having him home this change sets a whole new tone in our home. In the past, during the day I am usually the primary disciplinarian (unless it is a felony offense and then they get the one phone call to DAD). He will take the duty in the evenings so I can gain my voice and sanity back. This summer changed everything. Instead of two parents being on active duty (which would seem more effective) we ended up being more lax in rules and attitudes. Usually the responsibility fell to the parent in closest proximity to the offending child. So sometimes the guilty party would end up being reprimanded twice before we realized the other parent had dealt with the offense sufficiently and other times nothing would end up being done thinking that the other one had already taken care of the issue. You can probably tell which scenario pleased our children more. I am hoping it will all work itself out in the end and therapy will not be a costly consequence for our children.

My rambling aside, I will now get to the meat of this post. Hebrews 12 is filled with the riches of grace that come through the discipline of our heavenly Father. My discipline at its best can at times be haphazard and confusing for a 4 year-old (who has just given herself matching mullet hairstyles with her Barbie) but falls short in being an accurate reflection of his purpose and wisdom in that discipline.

I am greatly encouraged by the endless testimonies that are in Hebrews 11. I love being reminded through the mini-biographies of so many of my “heroes”. We are consistently reminded of their faith in the One who is Faithful. We bear witness to this fact by an old woman and her husband who is described as being as good as dead birthing a promised child, a stuttering leader who led a chosen people through a sea, a prostitute who risked befriending strangers, bold prophets, lions’ mouths being closed, women receiving back their dead, many, according to verse 38, “…of whom the world was not worthy”. Why do I bring up Chapter 11 in my discourse on discipline? Because I believe chapters 11 and 12 are intrinsically tied together. It is their stories used to urge us on in perseverance and endurance in the beginning of 12. It is through this gift of discipline that these heroes are strengthened for their challenges. Hebrews 12:7-13 states, “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and are not sons. . .but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and makes paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.”

Discipline is vastly different from punishment (though at the time they feel eerily similar). According to Merriam-Webster the definition of Discipline is training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character and the definition of Punishment is suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution. As a follower of Christ my sins were paid for 2000 years ago on the cross. I can’t be held accountable for past, present, and future because of the atoning work of Jesus Christ at Calvary. I can and hopefully am consistently being disciplined in the sense that God is continually molding and shaping me into the image of Christ through a variety of methods which can include trials, testings, and sufferings. Discipline arrives in all forms: illness, relationship woes, financial stresses, and unplanned obstacles. Is this cause for concern or worry? According to some well-known popular preachers God would rather I have My best Life Now. That trials are from unwise choices – God’s way of getting our attention so we return to him, unavoidable in that he (God) has no control over certain circumstances. I wholeheartedly disagree with this philosophy. His discipline is evidence of my place in the family. So rejoice in the discipline and revel in the love your Father is showing you. It is, after all, in His enduring strength that you will persevere. Stand firm in the knowledge of grace, fix your eyes on the goal. He is using these testings to draw you nearer to your source of strength. He is revealing his character to you in remarkable ways. He is giving you evidence of your sonship. So while the summer winds down and routine takes over, hopefully my discipline will be viewed in a more positive light. While my children have yet to thank me for disciplining them, I hope I can take my own advice and take time to praise my Provider both for material blessings as well as spiritual blessings he has so richly bestowed upon me even in the unexpected form of job loss.

Your thoughts, too [1]

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