Gospel of Change

Today I sat in on an apologetics session at the Queensland Theological College. The guest speaker was Bill Edgar from Westminster Theological Seminary. The key point picked up by my ears on the opening hour was that the Gospel has an inherent attribute of ‘change’. First let me say that I agree with the statement but I can’t leave it in that state without the addendum of definition.

This wasn’t a failing of the address I sat under as it had a different discussion to address, being ‘the dynamics of cultural change’. However my mind was racing to work this one through as the approach of some members of the emerging church use the premise of ‘change’ to “reimagine Christianity”.

In my mind the pursuit of change is demanded and appropriate in the pursuit of truth. The concern in rising to the goal or the capturing of the flag is that we don’t overshoot the mark. If we achieve the goal surely the role should transform from advance to one of maintenance and defence. Even more as the Gospel has been revealed the very works of the Gospel writers, Paul and writers like Jude call us to this response.

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.   Matthew 24:24

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.  Jude 1:3

So how does the attribute of ‘change’ outwork itself in our lives? I believe we primarily enjoy change because of the Gospel in two directions. In the horizontal we are drawn or run to the Lord bringing change to our lives in a positional sense. From the vertical perspective our relationship with God develops over time and experience bringing change to our intimacy and to our maturity as we learn to bathe in the heart and presence of God.

Another construct of the dimensions of change maybe in terms of the accumulation of knowledge. This aspect of growth provides ‘depth’ but we would be well warned to concentrate on our upward call to maturity in the faith as a first reliance.

I’m aware I have opened up the doors on my own thoughts so we will revisit this one further at a later date.

Jump in with some comments below, send me resource links and ideas. I’d love to hear some additional thinking.

PayPal has your best interest at heart. Not! Well maybe!?

image This weekend I received an email from PayPal advising me they had found and stopped someone fraudulently using my PayPal account. This ranged from them buying goods on eBay to making a donation to an American literacy organisation. Hmmm crooks with a conscience!

Now let me start by saying, "Thanks PayPal"! They did stop the naughty wee crooks and their system did identify a trait and acted on it immediately. Without this kind of attention, it is fare to say we could have had a bigger problem. So to a certain extent I was impressed that the protection was there.

So why am I upset with PayPal and writing this blog. Well it goes back to an age old adage of marketing that is about the word ‘communication’. Here is where PayPal dropped the ball. They delivered me impressive service without me even knowing about it and then couldn’t communicate to me what had happened in order to leave me in a state of jaw-dropping awe.

First I get an email on the weekend to say ‘we stopped the bad guys’. Who communicates this kind of issue via email. Whenever I am overseas and start buying souvenirs on my credit card my wife gets a phone call from our friendly Westpac bank to say ‘we’ve identified an unusual transaction in Singapore’. WOW! We assure them its OK for Mr Pitchford to be buying trinkets in the markets and life moves on with us feeling more secure in the knowledge the ‘Bank Guys’ really do care 😉 .

Second, when I respond to PayPal’s email I find that a web form is all that is available to me. What!? They find a problem, want me to communicate with them to clarify if this is valid or not and I have to work through their help system, FAQs to a web form. Come on! Finally I find a 1800 number only to discover the following hours of use.

  • 08:00 AM to 6:30 PM AEST Monday to Thursday
  • 08:00 AM to 4:00 PM AEST Friday and Saturday

Now, I could have thought this was due to our overworked Australian workers but ‘no’ that isn’t an excuse as I find when I call at 12noon on Monday and wait on hold for 20minutes before speaking to the US based call centre.

Finally, the nice guy in the US explains to me that I really shouldn’t worry. They guarantee my funds and I won’t lose out because if my PayPal account or card has been used fraudulently they will reimburse me my funds.

Now that’s nice but they also tell me over the phone that my credit card was never compromised as even when logging in as a user you can’t see the full credit card number so the wombats who compromised my account should have stopped at PayPal. GREAT! Why didn’t someone tell me by email or phone this information before I cancelled my credit card for what will cost quite a bit of time to redeploy new information through my network of consumerism!

Bottom line PayPal, you could have made a winner of your performance by looking at the communication trail. Don’t just "do it", make sure you tell the consumer "how you did it" and "how well". We will feel more secure and not spend time wondering if when the guy at the call centre tells me "No one will ever crack PayPal" whether its hype or substance.

We are an iPhone friendly site!! – Really nice!!

imageHey, I’m the first to agree I lurv (you read it correctly ‘love’) my 32GB iPod Touch and the idea of an iPhone is quickly setting in as well. I’ve found that since using my iPod touch I will spend more time keeping abreast of email or updating my Facebook status via this device than starting up my laptop or rushing to login on the family PC.

It just feels easy for mail but now where do I stand when it comes to using Safari for browsing? Its kind of a bit of give and take. I know sites that are easy to browse to and others I think, ‘stuff it’ I’ll wait until I’m in front of a real screen. But will you or I lose people on the same basis of their choice when coming to our blog sites?

Now I have the answer for my blog and using a great plugin from the team at Bravenewcode we have upgraded our WordPress based blog to be a iPhone friendly (and for that matter iPod Touch friendly) website. This plugin has just received an update to version 1.2 and in the process overcome some issues to do with its initial use of Prototype Java. Now its all go, super fast over 3G/Edge as well as your WiFi home browsing of our Blog.

Congrats to the team at Bravenewcode. They give you great options like changing colour sets and being able to personalise the base look and feel through icon assignments to your pages or categories.  As well as this you can choose which pages appear in your menu system if you want your static content or contact details to appear in this recompiled presentation. Then if your friends change their mind and want to flip back into your regular ‘full screen’ presentation they can click on ‘Normal View’ at the bottom of the page and let Safari do its thing.

Painless, quick and super smart.

Pandora can you feel my frustration!

It’s hard to explain but there is a pain deep in my soul that longs for Pandora in the colonies. ‘What are you going on about‘ I hear you cry. Well, for me and my antipodean friends here in the likes of Australia, New Zealand and many other ‘forgotten lands’ we are crying out to be set free.

There seems to be a cry going out from many countries as to why agreements with global rights holders for music, video and the like can’t be deployed as fast as an iPhone’s app can be a 1,000,000 hit wonder on iTunes and available around the globe.

I introduced my 65 year old father to Pandora three years ago. He like others quickly accepted the amazing ability to become his own ‘in da house’ DJ as he mixed a bit of Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra to soothe away the night with his own online radio staton.  Pandora quickly became the most virally accepted site I had referred to friends until that fateful day when I like many other ‘addicted‘ users received an email to say ‘Ooops!’ the DRM boys have caught up and we’re closing down access to any non-US identified IP addresses.

Come on people, this isn’t rocket science! What amazes me is that this issue has become relevant for everything from YouTube to MTV streaming. The amazing thing is we don’t seem to be able to solve it. Or for that matter, we don’t seem to be able to communicate with hungry consumers either the timeline or the problem.

I was amazed recently by the news that China has sufficient Internet use penetration to see it overtake the USA with over 230 million users online. Not quite the percentage of population with the USA still having around 70% of its population online, but never the less its all about the ‘bums on seats’ model. If the US wants to fix its economy and get some US dollars flowing the other way, and away from China, it may want to fix a system that prevents the consumer from purchasing the product.

It doesn’t make sense when you turn the ‘cash in hand‘ buyer away does it!??

Squarespace – It could be worth it

Like anyone I’m interested in ‘ease of use’ when it comes to the online blogging and publishing arena. Oh and give me the ability to make it ‘my space’ not a poorly constructed corporate template. The newly launched ‘SquareSpace‘ could answer many of the issues of simplicity in online publishing with this new release. Take a trip through the demo and be impressed at the realtime editing of styles, format and look that can be driven into your site. The demo indicates developers will be able to integrate CSS styles but is it the "be all and end all" of a solution for those who want to maintain content control.

While a 14 day free trial version is available (without credit card details) the real test for me won’t be in ease of use, but rather control. The monthly pricing start at USD$7 for 0.5GB of storage 6GB of bandwidth. You would agree its quite expensive for what you get in terms of ‘storage’ but you are obviously paying for the ‘smarts‘. My concern is that the ‘smarts’ are only a little further down the track than other online publishing options and may not be worth the long term cost.

We all move through technology steps, yesterday some HTML site in ‘Hotdog‘, today WordPress or Blogger and tomorrow!? Well thats another story. Will Squarespace be there and if not how do I move my content? Like any managed service the promise needs to be backed up by keeping our precious thoughts close to our chest in the sense of BACKING UP your content at HOME!

Build a Website – Create a Blog – Squarespace

WordPress from iPod Touch

Just successfully loaded the WordPress app from the Apple App store via iTunes. So far it looks a dream for the blogger on the run. You can check it out at http://iPhone.wordpress.com or via the App store.

A Cardboard Testimony

A friend on Facebook sent me this video and its a knockout. I couldn’t believe how powerful ‘two’ statements could be in one short refrain. Take a look at this presentation and ask yourself what would I put on the front and back of one piece of broken down cardboard grocery box. The leader at the end asks a beautiful question; ‘What if we were your welcoming committee in Heaven’?

 

For me there was a real challenge here, thanks, conviction and a realisation I hide my cardboard to often. Enjoy!