bookmark_borderEgg Sandwich

Ingredients Needed

  • 2x Large Egg
  • 2x Slices of Your Favorite Bread
  • 1/4 Cup of Finely Shredded Cheese
  • 1/8 Cup of Chopped Bacon (Bacon Bits Work As Well)
  • Duke’s Mayonnaise

Tools Needed

  • Small Ceramic Bowl (Fiestaware Works Well)
  • Small Fork
  • Silicone or Rubber Scraper Spatula

Steps

  1. Crack your eggs into the bowl.
  2. Scramble the eggs with your fork until both eggs are thoroughly blended.
  3. Add shredded cheese.
  4. Add bacon bits.
  5. Scramble the mixture further until the cheese and bacon are equally distributed.
  6. Put the bowl into a standard microwave, cover it with a paper towel, and cook for 2.5 minutes.
  7. While the eggs are cooking, toast your bread for one minute. It should be just toasted enough to increase the bread’s structural integrity but not sufficient that it has begun to brown, unless you like that sort of thing.
  8. Once the bread is finished toasting, add a thin layer of Duke’s mayonnaise to each side of the bread.
  9. When the eggs are finished cooking, remove the paper towel from the bowl; the eggs should be pretty fluffy. If they’re still a little runny, cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  10. Gently place the scraper spatula between the eggs and the side of the bowl. Move the spatula 360 degrees around the bowl to detach the eggs from the side of the bowl.
  11. Again, using the spatula, lift the eggs out of the bowl and place them on a piece of bread. It’s at this point that I use the spatula to shape the eggs so they cover the bread a little better.
  12. Place the other piece of bread on top of the eggs and let the sandwich cool for two to three minutes.
  13. Enjoy!

bookmark_borderThe AI I’m Looking For

I use WordPress to keep track of all my writing and have for more than a decade. I have more than 3,000 blog posts, most of them private, stored on my WordPress site. I also have letters to my family, information on what to do once I’m gone, and similar such information. I think my WordPress site, especially the private content, is a good snapshot of who I am over the years, good days and bad. I would like to train an AI model on that content, and then have a chatbot serve as the front end of the content, taking on a persona that is essentially me. I would like someone to be able to type “What would James think about $this?” and have the chatbot spit out an answer that is how I would respond to the query. I know that we’re getting close to that type of AI personalization, and honestly, it may be here now. From a technical perspective, it doesn’t seem like it would be difficult to set up something like this, I’m just at a loss on how to do it.

bookmark_borderAn Improvement to NFC and Contactless Payment Systems

A few days ago, I was at a grocery store that allows me to tap a credit card to pay, or I can use Apple Pay via my iPhone or Apple Watch. But at the end of the transaction, the machine spits out a paper receipt that will eventually go into the trash. The idea of a paper receipt, especially given how common digital payment transactions have become, seems a little archaic. I started to think about it, and it seems like this should be a reasonably easy fix. First, the NFC protocols should be updated to support sending receipt information back to a mobile device using the XML or JSON formats. Second, Apple and Google should update their devices to natively receive this information at the end of the transaction and include the information in some sort of secure document space. On the Apple side, it seems like a “receipts” section could be added to the Wallet app to facilitate this.

The only downside I see is that you’d have to keep your mobile device close to the NFC reader for a few seconds longer, as you’d need to wait for the transaction to be authorized with the bank, and come back as “Approved”. Maybe there should be another prompt after the transaction is approved that asks the customer if they’d like a receipt and gives them the options of:

  1. Yes, Printed
  2. Yes, Digital
  3. No

If the customer selects option number 2, they’d be prompted to hold their mobile device up to the payment terminal again so that the receipt information could be transferred.

I think this would allow more opportunities for budgeting apps as well because you’d be able to import the receipt information into your list of transactions, enriching the data already gained by being connected to your bank account.

bookmark_borderOctober 6th, 2023

I’ve been reading a book called The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer as part of a class that I’m taking. Usually, I try to write my own devotionals, but in chapter five of the book, a few paragraphs stood out to me as something that was in my heart, but I was not a competent enough writer to express it with my own words.

Source: Tozer, A. W. “Chapter V, The Universal Presence.” The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine, Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2015. — Originally published in 1948.

The idea of cultivation and exercise, so dear to the saints of old, has now no place in our total religious picture. It is too slow, too common. We now demand glamour and fast flowing dramatic action. A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar.

The tragic results of this spirit are all about us. Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit: these and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul.

For this great sickness that is upon us no one person is responsible, and no Christian is wholly free from blame. We have all contributed, directly or indirectly, to this sad state of affairs. We have been too blind to see, or too timid to speak out, or too self-satisfied to desire anything better than the poor average diet with which others appear satisfied. To put it differently, we have accepted one another’s notions, copied one another’s lives and made one another’s experiences the model for our own. And for a generation the trend has been downward. Now we have reached a low place of sand and burnt wire grass and, worst of all, we have made the Word of Truth conform to our experience and accepted this low plane as the very pasture of the blessed.

It will require a determined heart and more than a little courage to wrench ourselves loose from the grip of our times and return to Biblical ways. But it can be done. Every now and then in the past Christians have had to do it. History has recorded several large-scale returns led by such men as St. Francis, Martin Luther and George Fox. Unfortunately there seems to be no Luther or Fox on the horizon at present. Whether or not another such return may be expected before the coming of Christ is a question upon which Christians are not fully agreed, but that is not of too great importance to us now.

What God in His sovereignty may yet do on a world-scale I do not claim to know: but what He will do for the plain man or woman who seeks His face I believe I do know and can tell others. Let any man turn to God in earnest, let him begin to exercise himself unto godliness, let him seek to develop his powers of spiritual receptivity by trust and obedience and humility, and the results will exceed anything he may have hoped in his leaner and weaker days.

Any man who by repentance and a sincere return to God will break himself out of the mold in which he has been held, and will go to the Bible itself for his spiritual standards, will be delighted with what he finds there.

Let us say it again: The Universal Presence is a fact. God is here. The whole universe is alive with His life. And He is no strange or foreign God, but the familiar Father of our Lord Jesus Christ whose love has for these thousands of years enfolded the sinful race of men. And always He is trying to get our attention, to reveal Himself to us, to communicate with us. We have within us the ability to know Him if we will but respond to His overtures. (And this we call pursuing God!) We will know Him in increasing degree as our receptivity becomes more perfect by faith and love and practice.

O God and Father, I repent of my sinful preoccupation with visible things. The world has been too much with me. Thou hast been here and I knew it not. I have been blind to Thy Presence. Open my eyes that I may behold Thee in and around me. For Christ’s sake, Amen.

bookmark_borderAugust 25th, 2023

Luke 6:35-36 CSB – But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High. For he is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

Galatians 6:9-10 CSB – Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.

As you all well know, the political landscape is incredibly contentious. Each side has a person that they support, and it seems like if you support person A, then you are required to hate person B, and vice versa. Politics has become black and white with no room for gray, no room for debate, compromise, or even acknowledgment that the other side may have a good idea or two. But what does our God say about this? If you read the above verses, you can see that he’s pretty clear on how we should respond to the “other side”. We are to love them, and work for their betterment, for the good of ALL. Not just those you agree with.

I want to be very clear on my next point. If you are putting your politics above your lord, then you are guilty of sin. When God says “Love your enemies” and you post something on Facebook making fun of the person you don’t agree with, or making fun of their family member’s struggles, or calling them derogatory names, or slandering them, you are sinning. It’s not just lighthearted fun, it’s sin.

Here’s another command:

Romans 13:1-2 CSB – Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.

Another:

1 Peter 2:13-15 CSB – Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the emperor as the supreme authority or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good.

If you combine those two sets of commands, you get a very clear directive. Love the people whom God has placed over you and respect them, even if you disagree with them. Love them, help them, and do good to them. They are placed there by God, for his purpose, and for his glory. By submitting to those who are above you, you honor God. Putting another man or woman above Christ, and letting that motivate you to sin towards another human being, is idle worship, which is something that angers God more than just about anything else. Work to honor God by how you treat others, even politicians, and you will be blessed.

 

bookmark_borderAugust 18th, 2023

Matthew 6:6 CSB – But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6 contains the famous scene where Jesus taught his disciples how to pray (Our Father, who art in Heaven…) Immediately prior to his example prayer, he makes an interesting statement, as referenced in the verse above. He tells us to go to a private place, with the door closed, so that we may pray to the Father in secrecy. And if you do that, your Father, who knows and sees all, will reward you.

There are a couple of reasons why Jesus commands us to pray in this way. First, it allows us to leave our egos at the door and sincerely pray to our maker without having to worry about what everyone else thinks. In those hidden places, it’s just you and the Father in unity in prayer, and no one else is there to pass any kind of judgment on what you’re facing. Second, it shows the Father that you have faith in him and in him alone. When you pray to him in secret, it means that you’re relying on him and him alone to help you with your problems. You are acknowledging that the Father is the only one who has total power over your life, and you are submitting any control that you may have to him, in faith.

Jesus commands us to do a lot of things. We’re commanded to go make disciples of all nations and peoples, we’re commanded to take care of those who cannot help themselves, and we’re commanded to turn the other cheek when someone hurts us. However, some commands, such as this one, often go overlooked but are just as vital, maybe even more so because the command also contains a promise. If you go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to the Father in secret, he will reward you. What will he reward you with? More of himself.

bookmark_borderJuly 28th, 2023

Luke 15:1-2 CSB – All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to him. And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

I think this verse often gets overlooked, but it’s a powerful summary of how Jesus intended us to be in relationships with others. The Pharisees and scribes were complaining that Jesus was *gasp* treating people with respect and dignity, even though those people were sinners. The attitude of the day, especially in Pharisee culture, was to reject anyone with any outward signs of sin. Somehow, that same attitude of the Pharisees has permeated modern Christian culture, and often times we’re enabling that attitude by not emulating Christ.

Several years ago, I was in a church where, about ten minutes before the service was to begin, a homeless man walked through the doors looking for help. His clothes were ragged, he wasn’t clean, and he was carrying a lot of his belongings with him in a backpack. Instead of welcoming the man with open arms and asking how we could help, he was treated with suspicion and led to a back room where one of the pastors could talk to him without the congregation having to involve themselves in the issue. I later found out that the man was just looking to go to church, and because of the suspicion of nearly everyone in the building, he was denied an opportunity to worship. We never saw him again. Honestly, though, and I’m not too proud to admit, I was suspicious of the man as well. He wasn’t someone we’d seen around, he didn’t look like one of us, and we were all thinking “Oh my, what will everyone think?” I was an enabler of this behavior, a behavior which I think is our default reaction a lot of times to things that aren’t familiar to us. However, Jesus, in the verse above, clearly shows us, by his own example, how we’re to form relationships with folks. We’re to welcome them and share what we have with them, whether it be our time, clothing, a meal, money, or whatever. By doing that, and with an attitude of hospitality, we are truly acting in the same grace and spirit of Christ.

bookmark_borderJuly 21st, 2023

Colossians 3:21 CSB – Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they won’t become discouraged.

As the father of two boys, this is a verse that I think of often, especially with them being so young. Anneke and I talk a lot about how to parent without breaking our children’s spirits because we want them to be strong adults. We’ve both seen too many instances of children whose parents have had them under their thumbs their entire lives resulting in the children not knowing how to live on their own or think for themselves. We want to be an encouragement to our children and give them an environment where they can thrive and feel safe to talk to us about anything, even if it’s something that may be taboo.

We’re still learning how to find the balance of discipline and freedom so that we don’t become parents who discourage or exasperate their children but also don’t allow our children to walk over us. When we grow older, and our kids are adults, we want them to want to hang out with us, do things with us, and share their lives with us. To that end, we include our children as much as possible in the mundane things in our lives, like emptying the dishwasher or cleaning a bathroom. They’re naturally interested in what we’re doing, and if we include them in those things, later, they’ll include us in their mundane things. Anneke is better at this than I am. I still sometimes get in a rush and will push Jack away when he wants to help with something. Six months ago, I was pushing him away every time and now it’s more like 1 in 4 times. So I’m getting better and it’s teaching me a level of patience that I didn’t know existed.

bookmark_borderJune 30th, 2023

Mark 6:30-31 CSB – The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.

It’s easy for us to justify spending our entire week working as hard as we possibly can. There are so many people that are depending on us, and we know that if we don’t deliver on a promise, we’ll be letting someone down. However, Jesus wanted us to take time to rest. He knew that we can’t endure forever without a break from our work. In the verse above, I don’t read it so much as a suggestion, but as a gentle command. “Come away by yourselves… and rest.” God instituted the Sabbath, not so much because he needed to rest, but because he knew that his people needed rest. Somehow in our modern Christian age, we’ve moved away from that idea, but I still think it’s something that God would have us do. Many of the Old Testament laws revealed the heart of God for his people, and that heart doesn’t change because Jesus came and created a new covenant. God still cares deeply about us and our well-being is of great concern to him. So, we should rest from our labors periodically so that we may be better able to do God’s work in the future. That is the twofold purpose of rest, first, for our own sake so that we may better serve Him, but also for His sake, so we may honor him.

I hope you all get some time for rest this weekend and on the 4th.