Archive for the ‘ Here’s a Tip ’ Category

Courageous, The Movie

A new movie is coming to theaters this weekend from the producers of Facing the Giants & Fireprood.

It’s called Courageous.

And, it focuses on a series of events in the lives of four law enforcement officers. These four men face incredible challenges that force them to evaluate their lives and to make decisions about what’s really important.

Here’s the trailer for the film.

We showed it on Sunday at my church. Yep, we pitched a movie in church. Pretty cool, huh? And, we even gave away free tickets. You see, we really believe that if we support films like this then more will be made. If we fail to support the few faith-based films that are made, then less will be made. Plus, we actually believe that a film like this can change lives. So, we’re encouraging our whole church to go together on Sunday night (opening weekend). We’re even making the movie event replace our evening service. Great idea, huh!

For more info on the movie, visit

Is My Password Strong Enough? (Infographic)

Have you ever asked yourself that question before?  Is my password strong enough?

Have you noticed how much tougher it is getting when it comes to choosing passwords?  Back in the day, all you had to remember was a basic 3-4 digit code.  The lock on your bike had three numbers.  The lock on your locker…three numbers.  Your ATM pin code…four numbers.  It was simple back then.  Now, some site require lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and even symbols!  We are being forced to choose stronger passwords to make sure our information is safe.

So… are you having a hard time remembering them yet?  If so, I have a solution.  Stop trying to remember three, four, or five different passwords (and which ones are used on which sites), and instead develop one system for remembering countless passwords.  Let me share with you what I learned from this article at

Remember 100 different passwords with 1 rule set.

You don’t need to remember 100 passwords if you have 1 rule set for generating them. One way to generate unique passwords is to choose a base password and then apply a rule that mashes in some form of the service name with it. For example, you may use your base password with the first two consonants and the first two vowels of the service name. Say your base password is “asdf.” (See how easy those keys are to type?). Then your password for Yahoo would be ASDFYHAO, and your password for eBay would be ASDFBYEA.

Something simpler – but along the same lines – might involve the same letters to start (say, your initials and a favorite number) plus the first 3 letters of a service name. In that case, my password for Amazon would be GMLT10AMA and for GMLT10LIF. (Include obscure middle initials – like your mother’s maiden name or a childhood nickname – that not many people know about for extra security.)

Before you decide on your single password generation rule, keep in mind that while password requirements are different for each service in terms of length and characters allowed and required, a good guideline is a password at least 8 characters long that includes both letters and numbers. To make a password even more secure – or applicable for services that require special characters – add them around it, like #GMLT10LIF#.

Good good idea, huh?  Now, go start implementing it in your life.  It’ll really simplify things.

And, just in case you aren’t convinced of the weakness of your current password scheme, check out this infographic about passwords generated by ZoneAlarm. (Click the infographic to see a larger version)

Password Strength Infographic

Now, go protect yourself.

(Via ChurchCrunch, Lifehacker, & ZoneAlarm)

Dealing with Criticism

Have you ever gotten a small fleck of dust in your eye that you just couldn’t seem to get out?  It’s there.  It hurts.  It’s annoying, and because of it, you can hardly see.  You keep blinking and rubbing just trying to get it out.  You know, it really doesn’t take much to mess up your eye, huh?  Well, that’s the way criticism is sometimes.  It doesn’t take much criticism to really mess up your day and make it hard to see clearly.

Criticism is like that.  It can really be annoying.  It can really hurt.  And, it can really make it hard to think or see things clearly.  To combat the power of the flecks of criticism in your life, let me offer you several things to consider:

1. Consider the Source
Some people are just complainers by nature.  It’s not okay that they are, but since they are complainers, you can expect them to complain.  Dogs bark.  You expect it.  Complainers complain.  Expect it.  So then, the weight of a complainers complaint should be diminished in the same way that the cries of the boy who cried wolf were ignored over time.  Consider the source, and if appropriate ignore it!

2. Consider the Consensus
The majority can be wrong.  (Especially when it comes to politics).  But sometimes, the consensus opinion has truth in it.  So, the consensus opinion is treated a little more weightily.  Consider the consensus opinion.  If most people are pleased with your work, attitude, performance, efforts, product, service, etc., then embrace the consensus.  You’re probably doing just fine.  If the consensus isn’t with you, give things a really hard look to make sure you’re on the right track.

3. Consider the Expert
Some opinions matter more than others.   For example, the opinion of an expert in a field matters more than the opinion of a novice or than the opinion of someone from a different field.  Think about it, if Tiger Woods comes along and gives you advice on how to improve your golf game, you should probably take his advice.  But, if Charles Barkley comes along and gives you some tips…well, I think you know where this is going.  Consider the expert.  He just might have something good or important to say.

4. Consider the Caring
We all have people in our lives who really care about us and have our best interests at heart.  They care about us, and we care about them.  They might be friends, family, co-workers, or whoever.  Though some people who care about us may try to shield us from the truth, those who truly want what’s best for us will shoot straight with us.  They will tell us the truth because they care.  So, we should consider the thoughts of those who really care about us.

5. Consider the Father
Ultimately, the opinion that really counts is God’s.  He is the One whose approval is most valuable.  In reality, in everything we do, we are performing for an audience of One.  We must consider whether or not the Bible endorses what we are doing and consider what God thinks about our efforts.  At the end of the day, we should be striving to glorify God and to please Him.  The other opinions don’t really matter as much.

One Final Note
Sometimes it can be really hard to combat that fleck of criticism.  It can get the best of us.  Even though we try really hard to consider the right things, bad thoughts and feelings can creep in.  The solution: live out Philippians 4:6-9.  Don’t worry.  Think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  And this, we must do all of the time.  Constantly tell yourself the truth.  Sometimes, you’ll have to be firm with yourself.  You might have to give yourself a little jolt to get your thoughts in the right place.  It’s going to take some work, but if we live this out, God will grant us what the passage promises…PEACE!

Are You Tired of Being Tired?

Some of us really look tired all of the time.   Are you one of the tired masses? Dark circles under the eyes.  Trouble focusing.  Dragging from place to place.  Falling asleep at the computer.  Nearly dosing off at red lights.  Getting home at night but not remembering anything about the drive home.  Difficulty remembering the day’s events.  Does any of this sound familiar?  Are you tired of being tired?  I know I am.

Well, studies continue to show that we are more productive when we are well rested.  And yet, many of us think that our schedules are working.  So, what can we do to get more rest so that we can be more productive (get more done)?

Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and one of the busiest guys around, recommends seven action steps for getting more rest.  I’ve included them here for your consideration, along with a few of my own at the bottom.  Read on…

Here’s how I (Michael Hyatt) make sure I get a good night’s sleep:

  1. Avoid caffeinated drinks in the evening. When I was younger, I could drink coffee after dinner. No more. I cannot drink caffeine after 4:00 p.m.
  2. Eliminate all negative input. I am a worrier by nature. If I watch or talk about anything negative after about 6:00 p.m., I will stew on it all night.
  3. Go to bed on time. This is huge. I have to be strict with myself. For me, this means no later than 10:00 p.m., unless it’s a weekend.
  4. Make sure the room is dark. We have blinds on the windows that cut out 95 percent of the outside light.
  5. Keep the temperature cool. In the winter, we keep it at about 68°. In the summer, about 70°. I sleep more soundly if the room is cool enough to require a blanket.
  6. Listen to relaxing music. This doesn’t work for everyone, but I listen to the same exact music every night. It’s become an audio queue that says to my subconscious mind and body, “It’s time to go to sleep now.”
  7. Run a fan. The “white noise” mutes outside noise and puts me to sleep. When I am on the road, I loop “Ambient White Noise for Sleep,” which I downloaded from iTunes.

To Michael’s list, I would also like to add a few more action steps:

8. Get a good pillow. Everyone has different tastes here, and that’s okay, but you really need a pillow suited for the way you sleep.  Back, side, and stomach sleepers all need different pillows.  I just got a new pillow from Ikea.  It’s amazing.  You spend a good portion of your day in bed so make sure you have good stuff, and replace it when needed.

9. Get a good bed. Like #8, this one varies person to person, but if you’re bed is saggy in the middle or if you’ve had it since the 3rd grade, it’s probably time for an upgrade.  Like I said earlier, you spend between a quarter and half of your life in bed…get a good one!

10. Get a CPAP machine. Some individuals will never get a good night’s rest until they get a CPAP machine to regulate their breathing.  If you snore badly and wake yourself up in the middle of the night because of it, you might be a candidate.  Go take part in a sleep study to find out.

So Questions:

How much do you average a night?
How important is sleep to you?
Can you add to this list?

The Danger of Defensiveness

Defensive driving is good.  Defense on the football field is also good.  But, defensiveness in our interactions with others can be dangerous.  In the same way that a picnic draws ants, defensiveness allows problems to enter into the communication process, ruining the picnic.

Defensiveness at its root is our attempt to protect ourselves from feeling badly.  It has been something we’ve used to help us cope since our childhood.  Consciously or subconsciously, we don’t want to feel like a failure, a loser, a problem, a burden, a liar, a mean person … and the list goes on.  Defensiveness is the mechanism of human nature where we say or do things that temporarily shield us from feelings or anxiety that we don’t want to experience.  The problem of course is that this only works temporarily and has unhelpful, relational side effects.

Now, we can easily spot defensiveness in others, and we know how annoying, impeding, and unproductive it can be.  But, since it’s harder to spot within ourselves, here’s a short list of markers that can alert us to defensiveness in our own lives:

  • Sarcasm
  • Rigidity
  • Blaming
  • Shaming
  • Catastrophizing
  • Trivializing
  • Whining
  • Endless explaining
  • Withdrawing into silence
  • Loss of humor
  • All-or-nothing thinking

(A list of markers can be found in Jim Tamm’s book Radical Collaboration.)

Okay, so how do we fix our defensiveness and what’s the long term solution?

Ultimately and as unusual as it may sound, experiencing and absorbing the “bad” feelings is the only way to free ourselves permanently from the feelings that defensiveness seeks to prevent.  More specifically, though, we can suggest four actions steps to help along the way.

1. Spot Your Defensiveness – As with any personality flaw, you must admit that you do it in order to get better.  So admit it.  And then, learn your particular type of defensiveness, and identify your triggers.  That way, you know when it’s about to happen.

2. Slow Down – As with anything, we get dumb when our feelings start to get hurt.  That’s when the guard comes up and the gloves come off, and we say and do things that we later regret. So, slow down.  Take a few deep breaths, and proceed with caution, making a specific effort not to get defensive.

3. Self-talk – You talk to yourself.  Everyone does.  Maybe not out loud, but everyone does it.  The key here is to make sure you’re telling yourself good stuff.  Like Philippians 4:8 teaches, replace the bad thoughts with good ones.  This will further help you not to get defensive.  You must tell yourself the truth.

4. Step Toward the Goal – You didn’t become defensive overnight so don’t expect to be healed overnight.  But, take it one step at a time.  You can recover!  You need to!  It’s a necessity to experiencing a happier, healthier you.  And, it will facilitate more productive and Christ-honoring communication.

So get to it … start today!

A Christian’s Guide to the Twitterverse

Twitter is supposed to be an open and honest window into the daily lives of the people we know.  But sometimes, that transparency can be dangerous…especially for Christians.  Rick Warren got some heat from fellow Christians just a couple of weeks ago because of this very thing.  In the process of expressing the spiritual strength of his church, he stirred up the Christian twittersphere.  His comments were misunderstood.  That said, it almost seems like someone should put together a Christian guide to the twitterverse.

Well, in the absence of an official, agreed-upon, nominated, voted-for, ratified, all-inclusive, God-breathed Twitter handbook for Christians, Jon Acuff from Stuff Christians Like has put together a list of 32 helpful guidelines.  While Jon’s stuff is usually meant to be half-serious and humorous, I think he’s on to something here.  These are his thoughts:

Christian Twitter Guidelines

1. Beware “the boy who cried retweet.” If you retweet everyone, you might as well retweet no one.

2. A photo online is forever. Don’t tweet a picture unless you’re ready for it to exist forever online.

3. If their Twitter profile lists “tickle fights” and “wearing bikinis” as their hobbies, they’re not real.

4. Complaining that someone you follow “tweets too much,” is the peak of Twitter selfishness.

What you’re saying is, “I know you have 200 followers, but I feel like you should have checked with me on the number of tweets I tolerate a day. It’s 7. And you just tweeted your eighth time of the day.”

5. If you’re a pastor, you are contractually obligated to tweet how hott your wife is or that you married up or out of your league.

6. When you write a rude tweet to tell someone they were rude, you create such a forcefield of irony it makes Alanis Morissette’s teeth hurt

7. Worrying about someone hating you is like chasing down a car that gave you the middle finger on the highway. Let it go.

8. Don’t make grand claims you won’t fulfill. I once promised to tweet through a section of the Bible. I didn’t. Epic fail on me.

9. Always, always double check that you’re sending a private direct message not a public tweet. Switching the two is not so awesome.

10. If a tweet gets retweeted a bunch, avoid the temptation to write 47 versions of that tweet. Quit tweeting a dead horse.

11. “Do what you love and you will find someone who loves the same thing; don’t look for love. Don’t beg for love, or suffer for love.”

You know who write that positive message? Snooki from the Jersey Shore show on MTV. Everyone and their grandmother tweets affirmations. Be careful that your amount of positive messages don’t make other people feel negative. I’m not above writing the odd positive tweet myself, but when you rainbow it all day, it can feel fake.

12. Don’t tweet holier than you normally talk. Don’t get seminary mouth all of the sudden when you get on Twitter.

13. Asking for a retweet is a bad way to first introduce yourself to someone. Make friends, not favors on twitter.

14. A smiley face is twitter’s version of “bless her heart.” You can’t tweet a jerk statement and then think ending it with a :) erases it.

15. If you’re married, you have 2 options for your photo: you kissing your spouse or a photo from your wedding.

16. Keep your name short. Your email address might be “GodismykingIpraisehiminthemorning777” but that’s too long to retweet.

17. Twitter has a 2 to 1 sarcasm ratio. For every 2 people who get your sarcasm, 1 person will take you seriously and think you’re a jerk.

18. Sending a link is like sending a piece of your reputation, send it carefully.

19. Don’t be 2 different people on twitter. Tweet the way you live. If you wouldn’t say something flirty in “real life,” don’t on Twitter.

20. Twitter is tone deaf. Be hyper careful about trying to speak subtly on Twitter. Words can be misinterpreted very, very easily.

21. Don’t become a “Christian Provocateur.” That’s great your church is doing a sermon on sex. Just don’t create fake sexy tweets for “buzz”

22. Focus on tweeting something vital, not something viral.

23. Don’t “twudge,” which is just twitter’s version of judging someone’s entire soul based on a 140-character tweet.

24. Don’t create silly words using the tw prefix. That goes for me too, “twudge?” Good grief! It’s so tempting though or twempting.

25. Don’t mistake number of followers on twitter for success on twitter. Measure quality of interactions not quantity of interactions.

26. Twitter is just a medium. Don’t fall so deeply in love that you think it won’t disappear or evolve like every other medium.

27. Resist the temptation to “turn on a speaker” during a conference. Public tweets are great for compliments, but bad for criticism.

I’ve seen this happen with hashtags, the way people can collectively see tweets about a certain subject. As a speaker, I love feedback from people in the crowd about what I’m talking about. But I think you should email or direct message your criticism and publically tweet your compliments. The ability to sway a crowd into a negative space is pretty massive. And let’s be honest, if during the middle of a conference speech you verbally screamed out, “That last point was whack!” your friends would sit somewhere else.

28. There needs to be some international sign that means, “I’m tweeting lines from the sermon during church.”

Right now, people think you’re playing Angry Birds if you use your iPhone during church. Until we have that sign, just do what I do and yell, “I’m tweeting the sermon!”

29. Look at a whole web page before you send a link to one thing you like on it.

A number of times I’ll be about to use twitpic and realize there’s a half naked photo for American Apparel on the page that is hosting the photo. I use the direct link option on image shack. You can’t be held accountable for the whole web, but be careful.

30. Twitter time is different from real time. Responding to a tweet from last week is like referencing the 1840s. Stay current or stay quiet

31. Unfortunately, 140 characters will not allow you to use a Christian email signature like, “In his grip,” in each tweet.

32. Be careful about sending someone an automatic direct message when they follow you. I’ve never had a good experience with one of those.

Pretty good start at our handbook, huh?  So, what more should we add?

Connect to Your Computer…From Anywhere

Have you ever found yourself on vacation and in need of a file that’s on your home computer?  Or maybe, you’d just like to be able to access your multiple computers from multiple places.  Forget expensive services like GoToMyPC.  Instead, opt for a free alternative.  This service can really help you get more done.

For about a year now, I’ve been using a free (as in FREE) service from a company named LogMeIn.  And that’s pronouned Log…Me…In, by the way.  It’s not some new dish at the local Chinese takeout.

LogMeIn has a full suite of services, but two in particular are likely to offer the free functionality that you’ll find helpful.  Here’s a rundown on the two services.

LogMeIn Free
The first service allows you to securely connect to your PC through any web browser.  In essence, it will open up your desktop in a browser window.  What you see through the browser is what you’d see if you were sitting right in front of the PC in your home.

LogMeIn Hamachi2
The second service links your various PCs so that they appear to be in the same network group…meaning you can share files and use your remote desktop client.  They are linked as if they were all at the same site.

5 Reasons Your Should Use LogMeIn
So, let me sum up the top five reasons you should use one of the flavors of LogMeIn.

  1. It’s Free – You pay nothing for personal use of these services.
  2. It’s Secure – Your data is encrypted. It’s safe.
  3. It’s Simple – Although LogMeIn may sound geeky, anyone can use it!
  4. It’s Convenient – You will save time.  You can work on files from anywhere.  No more driving back to the house to get the files you need.
  5. It’s Cross-Compatible – The browser-based version can be used on PC & Mac.

So, check it out!  This could be just the thing you’ve been waiting for.  No complicated port forwarding or other advanced router stuff.  Just a great product that’s simple to use.

Here’s a video clip that shows how easy it is to set up LogMeIn Free.

God Is Already Working

Have you ever found yourself thinking that it’s been a while since God has done anything “cool” for you?  Or perhaps more spiritually, that you haven’t seen God move in a discernible way lately?

Well, the truth is that God is always working in the world, doing amazing and miraculous things.

Now perhaps, God is moving in our lives, but we are just too distracted by our own desires to see Him working.  But for today, we’ll suppose that God really hasn’t done a lot of visible things in your neck of the woods here lately (I say visible because He is undoubtedly doing things behind the scenes).

If that’s the case, here is my suggestion.  Consider praying this prayer…

God, I know that you are doing amazing things today.  Please put me in a place where I can see where You are already working so that when You are finished doing the miraculous I can rejoice, too.

This prayer will work.  I promise you.

But let’s be clear, I am not recommending that you ask God to bless you outright because He’s been “holding back” on you lately.  I’m encouraging you to ask God to guide you to a place where you can see and be a part of what He’s already doing.  He’s already working.  You’re just asking Him to let you be a part of it so that you can give Him glory when He’s done.

Google Voice…You Need It…Trust Me.

Google Voice Logo

For about a year now, I’ve been using Google Voice, a phone service from our friends at Google.  Last summer, I got in on the ground floor with a special invite (remember when Gmail was invite-only?).  But now, Google has just announced that Google Voice is available to anyone!  My take: you need it…go get it.

Let me give you my top 5 reasons you should use Google Voice:

1. Pick Your Number
With Google Voice, you get to pick your own number.  You can even search for number combinations that you like.  That’s pretty slick.  Plus, you can pick any area code you want.  So, if you’re like me and got a cell phone number while in college that you’re kind of attached to, you can pick a new number that’s local to where you live now so that landline users don’t have to dial long distance to reach you.  This is the biggest benefit to me.

2. Transcribed Voicemails
Although the transcription isn’t perfect (yet), it’s very convenient to have a copy of your voicemails emailed or even texted to you.  That way, you can read them, even when you can’t call up your voicemail.  Also, Google Voice can handle the voicemail that comes in through your standard cell number.

3. Forward Calls
When a call comes in on the Google Voice number, you can have it ring any phone you want.  You can even have certain callers ring to certain phones.  At my church, this is helpful for special events.  I can give out one number as an event hotline, and then it will ring to specific team leaders so that the call isn’t missed.  This also protects the “real” numbers of our team leaders.

4. Screen or Block Calls
There’s no nice way to say it, but let’s face it, we all have certain people that we’d rather not receive calls from.  With Google Voice, just send ’em straight to voicemail or block them altogether.  You can also screen calls that are from private or unknown numbers.  This make them announce who’s calling.

5. Do Not Disturb
Going on vacation? Well, you gotta take your phone, but you probably don’t want just everyone and their brother calling you.  With Google Voice, you can send your calls directly to voicemail while you enjoy your vacation. 🙂

Bonus: It’s Free!
Free is good.  It makes this very appealing. You have nothing to loose.  Try it.  If you don’t like it, you’ve lost nothing, right?

So, that’s my top 5ish reasons to use Google Voice.  And, I didn’t even mention the other features like: conference calls, low international rates (as low as 2 cents per minute), web widgets, call recording, special voicemail greetings for special callers, ring certain calls to certain phones, and more.  Click here for Google’s feature page.  Click here and here for reviews from other bloggers.

For those who are inherently suspicious of new techie things, here are the supposed cautions to Google Voice.

So, are you persuaded yet?  Or maybe, you’ve been using it for a while.  Let me know in the comments.  In the meantime, watch this clip from Google to learn more.

Do find yourself visiting two or three social media sites over and over again every day?  Do you end up with three windows (tabs if you’ve moved into 2010) open at the same time so that you can stay on top of your social networking?  I have a solution that will make your life much easier.  Hootsuite!  It’s a true time-saver.

Hootsuite allows you to see all of your favorite social networking sites in one place – on one page!  You can update and be updated all from one site instead of visiting and logging into several different ones.  Now for those of you who are techies, I know that you already know that Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and Seesmic exist, and you probably already have a favorite.  But, for everyone else, let me tell you why I like Hootsuite, and encourage you to use it.

  1. Hootsuite brings all of the major social networking sites into one place.
  2. Hootsuite allows me to manage multiple profiles and pages.
  3. Hootsuite allows me to customize the look and placement of my feeds from social networking sites.
  4. Hootsuite allows me to shrink URLs easily.
  5. Hootsuite runs remotely (no software to install), which means I can access the same info from any computer.
  6. Hootsuite allows me to schedule tweets and status updates to be sent later.
  7. Hootsuite allows me to share control of certain social media profile with other users.

Well, that pretty much sums it up.  If you want to see a comparison between Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, visit here.

Now, don’t wait any longer.  Go make your life easier (

So, what are your thoughts?  Do you use one of these services?  Will you?  Let me know.