Why believe the devil?

“Why believe the devil instead of believing God? Rise up and realize the truth about yourself – that all the past has gone, and you are one with Christ, and all your sins have been blotted out once and for ever. O let us remember that it is sin to doubt God’s Word. It is sin to allow the past, which God has dealt with, to rob us of our joy and our usefulness in the present and in the future.” —Martyn Lloyd-Jones

2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge

This year I am attempting to read a number of books. I plan to follow Tim Challies 2017 reading challenge and currently have 13 books picked out for the light reading list. Last year I ended up reading 25 books which I could possibly do again and hopefully more, which would fit into his avid reading list. I wanted to share the working list I have so far of my planned books following the light reading plan. I’ve chosen “The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters” by Sinclair Ferguson to start out with. Here is my full list:

Are you participating in this challenge? If so, what are you planning to read?

Books I read in 2016

Books Read in 2016

2016 was a big reading year for me. My wife and I moved overseas and the distractions of TV and Netflix had been reduced quite a bit because of poor internet connections, adjusting to life and transition, and it was good and important for me to fill my time doing something healthy to help in this adjustment of new ways of doing life. So I started reading a lot and found joy in doing so. I’m thankful for my Amazon Kindle that let’s me get books without having to haul physical books half-way around the world. I read 25 books this year (the last one was finished nearly 12 hours before the clock struck midnight on Dec 31st), which is more than I’ve probably read in the past 20+ years of my life. Some where short and some where long, but they all count, right? So without further ado, here is my list (from most recent to past):

  1. Christless Christianity by Michael Horton
  2. What is Repentance by R.C. Sproul
  3. What Does it Mean to Be Born Again? by R.C. Sproul
  4. All is Calm by Nathan Birr
  5. The Next Target by Nikki Arana
  6. What missionaries need to know about Burnout and Depression by Esther Shubert
  7. Honor & Shame by Roland Muller
  8. Shot List by Nathan Birr
  9. Three Weeks in Washington by Luana Ehrlich
  10. Two Days in Caracas by Luana Ehrlich
  11. One Night in Tehran by Luana Ehrlich
  12. Project Liberatio by Allison Maruska
  13. Project Renovatio by Allison Maruska
  14. Spiritual Depression (It’s Causes and Cure) by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones
  15. All an Illusion by Nathan Birr
  16. The Bamboo Cross by Homer E. Dowdy
  17. Three’s a Crowd by Nathan Birr
  18. WinterKill by Nathan Birr
  19. Overnight Delivery by Nathan Birr
  20. Black Male by Nathan Birr
  21. CultureShock! Laos by Robert Cooper
  22. Arden House (Book 2 – Town) by R.M. Bryan
  23. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
  24. Arden House (Book 1 – Flight) by R.M. Bryan
  25. Judge Not by Todd Friel

I started several books but haven’t finished them yet:

  1. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud
  2. Knowing the Living God by Paul Washer
  3. Lily Was the Valley by Dann Robert Johnson
  4. You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity
    by Francis Chan

The author I’d recommend reading: Nathan Birr

The book I’d recommend reading: Christless Christianity (I plan to read this one again I think, very heavy and lots to digest). What have you read this year past year?

Change your defaults..

This is why you should change your default password.

During a meeting tonight our digital projector went into a screensaver mode and displayed the wireless network it was broadcasting (Shame on you Epson). It eventually went to another screen save that gave me the brand. With a little DuckDuckGo searching I was able to log in with the default password and username. I was able to log in and access the projector interface. As you can see, there is a lot of control. I didn’t even screenshot the config page! It was during the end of the meeting so I thought I’d try shutting it down. After I hit the button twice the projector shut down before the meeting. No one really seem to take notice. Bizarre. I wonder if someone did and if the password will change soon.

Sadly many places here where I live in SE Asia don’t bother to change the default passwords to wireless access points, or other network devices. If someone wanted to, the could shut down the legitimate wireless network, change the password and start broadcasting the SSID with a device that captures all the traffic and do a man in the middle attack. Or they could just be a pesk and continually reboot the device to frustrate others. Additionally could gather info on other devices and attempt to gain access or exploit them. Either way it’s a good reason to change your default passwords.

Bloodshed that follows bloodshed…

I’ve recently started a study on ‘Knowing the Living God’ and came across a passage in Hosea that has been a bit on my mind lately. For me I think it’s been timely as I am viewing my past life from thousands of miles away and realizing that much of our problems of today are because we as believers our weak in faith and our desire to know the true living God is lacking and it shows.

Hosea 4:1-2 says, “Listen to the word of the Lord O sons of Israel, For the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.” The Lord rebukes the nation of Israel for its outright ignorance of God and because of that Israel falls into a spiraling bout of sin and lawlessness.

It’s amazing the finger pointing of all the surface issues which is something pointing to a much deeper issue that needs to be dealt with. Like the nation of Israel, we to have abandoned our knowledge of God and we have become ignorant and lawless. We kill thousands of babies each and every day and are ok with it, the ethnic hate and fear of different skin types and nationalities are not only splitting our nation apart, but our churches, we fight for gun control and putting laws in place to cover other laws that haven’t lived up to their promise, the government has defined what marriage is and has no business doing so since it was God that created it, our so called pastors our tickling our ears and speaking words that we want to hear to make us happy and feel good, and the list goes on…

I think these two verses speaks loudly to where we find ourselves today and the mess we live in. What does it mean to pursue knowledge of God and coming under submission of His law in obedience and trusting faith but also the grace and love He gives us? In Proverbs 29:18, a verse widely taken out of context, I believe, says “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law.” Those who don’t know God will run amuck with sin and act as self-appointed leaders and do what is right in their own lives. I believe these two verse serve as a warning to us all. It goes on later in that chapter to say that God destroys the people of Israel because they rejected knowledge. May we know the only true and living God. May we pursue Him with our whole heart.

Installing Modoboa, Let’s Encrypt & Ubuntu 16.04

Over the past month or so I’ve been trying out running my own email server. This has come about due to warnings from Mailchimp giving warnings about our newsletter emails potentially being marked as spam because we used a Gmail account and they could not verify the domain or identity of our email address. Thus the desire to try one of these self-hosted solutions that I could potentially use for friends and family needing email. Obviously I could have gone with a hosted solution and just setup my DNS per Mailchimps requirements, but what is the fun of that.

My first choice was using mailinabox.email which runs well and is fairly easy to setup.  It consists of Postfix, Dovecot, Z-Push, Roundcube, ownCloud, Spamassassin, PostgreyNginx and runs on Ubuntu 14.04. I opted to run this on Digital Ocean. The server handles all DNS for the domain you specify as the root domain to handle your email. It allows you to also setup many domains on the server with unlimited users, issuing of Let’s Encrypt certificates, etc. For me a couple of things were lacking in regards to user management. Mailinabox website recommended two other platforms that had a little more advanced feature set so I checked them both out. I chose Modoboa I honestly liked the admin and user interface and management a little bit better as well as the statistics for traffic and spam.

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Customizing WooCommerce Product Pages

I’ve been working on an online store for a business I work for here in SE Asia and trying to find ways to customize WooCommerce to meet my needs. One setting that I don’t care for is the listing to the categories on individual product pages as it was redundant and irrelevant to the product.  There wasn’t much formatting options I could find to remove it, or adjust its location as it seemed to not want to line break right after the SKU.  I didn’t find much searching Google, but found a few forums on WooCommerce site that indicated how to do this.  However, these forums are in the process of being shutdown for whatever reason, so I wanted to make this available to anyone else looking for such a solution.

You need to modify your CSS to disable the elements you want to hide.  Using your web browser page inspector or another tool, you can find the CSS class to control this.  The code you need to insert into your CSS is as follows:

The .posted_in is the element that lists the product category on a product. Using the display:none hides this from the product page.  You can hide this individually on each product, or site wide. You would follow this for other css elements that you want to hide. If you are looking for a great WordPress theme, GeneratePress is pretty amazing and lets you simply modify CSS without having to hack your CSS.

Tracking Cellular Data Usage [Update]

Living in South East Asia cell phone ‘plans’ are a bit different then they are in the States. Here you can buy ‘top-up’ cards for certain amounts for a set amount of data and use data on a continual basis as long as you keep ‘toping up’. This can be quite convenient and easy to use and cheaper than set plans. However, its somewhat difficult to track data usage without calling a 3 digit number all the time.  This is where the phone app comes in.

Two apps that I’ve stumbled upon recently are Data Widget and Data Usage Pro. Both apps are $1.99, but I happen to get them for free. (Data Usage Pro currently is still free at the time of this writing).


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Protonmail and 1Password

I was an earlier adopter of Protonmail and have had my account maybe for a year or so now.  Protonmail is a swiss based email provider that offers true secure email through your web browser (and mobile app). This email service lets you send encrypted emails and attachments to others on other email systems like Gmail, yahoo, etc. They are a little slow in releasing new features but are methodical in their development and provide a solid product. They have started offering some great tools like custom domain names and iOS and Android Apps, and providing additional storage and a great user interface.

A good friend of mine always says security and convenience are always in tension – it is very difficult to have both. We must evaluate the level of security needed in relation to the ease of use which is often diminished.  Protonmail would likely be troublesome for some as they requires two (2) passwords. One for account login and one to decrypt your mailbox. This means you should use two unique passwords that you don’t use for any other website logins…right?

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Being in the IT world for the past 8 years, I’ve tried to form a good habit of locking my computer when I step away. This is particularly true if I am in a public area, like a coffee shop, and want to step away to order another coffee or use the bathroom, etc.

Windows operating system has always had a lock-desktop feature at least since I can remember (correct me if I am wrong. :)) However, as my website might indicate, I am also a Mac user and as far as I can remember, Mac’s never had such a feature to lock the desktop. The closest thing you could find was to enable to screen saver with a hot-corner and then require a password to come out of a screen saver. However, as of recent, I found a short cut key on how to lock your Mac easily. The key command is:


This is a quick and easy way to lock your Mac when you walk away. Don’t walk away from your computer and let anyone access it because you didn’t lock it. I wish I could remember where I found them, so I could thank them.