Looking for Posts in 2019?

tl;dr. Check out http://davidjsa.com.

Long version: I’ve moved my blog over to Ghost. However, exporting from WordPress to Ghost is apparently a nightmare as of 2019. Ghost development is moving quickly, and the two platforms just don’t offer the same functionality. So there’s no easy way to do it.

I even started trying to manually copy my posts one-by-one. Until I found out that, in order to back date posts, you have to use the datepicker they include, which only lets you move back in time in one month increments. So I’d be clicking a left-arrow 100-plus times in order to migrate just ONE POST from the late 2000’s.

Ain’t nobody got time for ‘dat.

Can’t connect to Google Starbucks? See if this helps.

Next time you get stuck at Starbucks and your computer can’t connect to an internet connection because it never lets you get to the sign in screen, try typing into your browser’s address bar. Just worked for me.

If that doesn’t work, try the following:

  • Check the properties of your wireless network. On Windows, open the Network and Sharing Center and click on the connection name (“e.g, Google Starbucks”) in the following window.
  • Find your computer’s local IP Address, sometimes referred to as an IPV4 address. Mine was
  • Remember the first 2 numbers in the IP Address. e.g, 172.31
  • Replace the second 2 numbers in your IP Address with 0 and 1. So, becomes
  • Type the resulting address into your browser bar. You should get the login screen.

I used to think if this was happening to me that it was a problem with my computer, and I was just SOL. Turns out, even Google’s routers get stuck sometimes, and targeting the router directly using an IP address can shake it up enough for it to actually let you in.

Go figure.

I’m Ditching My iPhone and Switching to Android Because…

I’ve loved my iPhone for a long time, but it’s time to move on. I can give you at least ten reasons.

  • iTunes. TerribleSlow. Bloatware I would never use if it weren’t for Apple forcing me to. I plan on uninstalling it immediately.
  • There is zero customizability of background functions for developers. This means an app must be OPENED in order to really take advantage of advanced features. Case in point: IFTTT. Fantastic app that allows you to do cool things like sync photos to Dropbox that you take from your phone camera! …for ten minutes after you exit the app. Want to just snap and know it’ll be on Dropbox no matter when you take it? Sorry no can do. Unless you use Apple iCloud. The lack of flexibility from Apple’s developer API makes automation almost impossble.
  • Speaking of developer API, I have to pay to develop for Apple and iOS. Sigh. Not even Microsoft does that. This isn’t a reason to lose the phone, I just don’t like it.
  • In case you haven’t noticed, Apple tries to corner users into using their ecosystem (iTunes, iCloud, and a host of other i-Whatever). If you want to use just about anything outside their ecosystem, (like I want to use Dropbox for example,) tough. It is difficult by design to work outside of their ecosystem because this is how Apple 2014 tries to keep their competitive advantage: not cooperating or compromising with others and closing their ecosystem. Sound like a CEO you used to know?
  • I can’t just drag and drop files on or off my iPhone. Why?
  • I can’t move text messages, voicemails, or anything else off without paying for software whose SOLE function is to get stuff off my phone.
  • Only one computer can be synced to my phone at a time???
  • Google Now is just better than Siri. Better voice recognition because Google just has better engineers. Let’s be real.
  • iTunes Store only allows me 5 computers per Apple ID. What if I have a computer for home and computer for work, replace each every five years? In 10 years I’m out of computers to use. Sounds unlikely but I’ve had an Apple ID for 7 years and I’m running out of computers I can use with it.
  • Everyone and their mom has an iPhone. Seriously. Well, except my mom. She just got a Galaxy Note 3.
  • Product Innovation has stalled. iOS 7 really doesn’t offer much iOS 6 didn’t except a fresh coat of paint. Just ask my wife who’s still happily using iOS 6 and doesn’t feel a thing.
  • The competition has improved too much. Apple thrived in product categories that didn’t exist before. Now the competition’s too stiff and Apple’s price is just too high for products that, let’s face it, are just not that premium anymore.
  • Did I mention iTunes?

So there it is. I’m leaving. Hellloooo Droid Maxx!!

A Ringtone for all you Brooklyn Nine Nine fans out there…

Need the Brooklyn Nine Nine Ringtone? Look no further.

iOS (look below for Android)

I give you the Brooklyn Nine-Nine Theme iPhone Ringtone, for all your action-packed, wise-cracking, bad-guy-busting needs. Now when duty calls, you can spring into action just like the world-class detectives of the 99th precinct.

Yes this is what I spent my Thanksgiving Break doing. Thank you for judging me.

You can just drag this file onto your phone using iTunes. If you accidentally drag it into just iTunes and can’t find it, go to the “Tones” part of iTunes. You should find it there and it should be a snap to move to your phone from there.

Upload iTunes Ringtones here
Upload iTunes Ringtones here

For Android:

Put this mp3 on your phone. Change your ringtone to it. Done. I love android.

If you really need a tutorial for Android ringtones, here’s a good one.


Today is Thanksgiving

But amidst it all I tend to forget that I should be thankful for everything. However, every moment, every second of suffering, is absolutely meaningful, because, after all, John Piper says so.

Today I took a moment to read Nehemiah and Ezra, and the message of the books began to clear up for me: the restoration of Jerusalem did not rest on one man’s shoulders, and was incredibly frail but for the grace of God. I’ve been tempted to think in the past that “I want to be a Nehemiah,” or “I want to be an Ezra,” or Zerubbabel or whoever else stands out from the crowd in the story, but the story is so strange because it just jumps from character to character and no one’s story really fully takes center stage. Even Nehemiah, for whom the entire book of Nehemiah is named, is assisted by what seems like an unending stream of faithful men and their families. Almost to make the point, both Ezra and Nehemiah record the lineage of the returning exiles, so the reader is forced to read name after name after name of exile who, to my recollection, no one in my life has really ever talked to me about or mentioned to me. They were never relevant, they didn’t really matter. They were one of the masses.

Meaning they were just like me.

And, unless you are a governor or of royal blood or are a Levitical priest who happens to be head over whatever initiative God has handed to your people, they’re just like you. Faceless names in a sea of faithful witness.

Today I’m thankful for the kindness that God has given to me and my family in that we get to know so many faithful witnesses. I’m also thankful that we get to see so many stories of those who hurt, who suffer, even those who are far from the God I love, because from the ones that history might ignore come some of the deepest lessons, the greatest victories, the grandest of glorious significance. I’m thankful for the ways that every single life I have met has contributed to my own and deepened my relationship with God, regardless of how short our interactions have been.

I’m thankful to be counted in the ranks of the faceless together with all of you. May we one day see Him face to face.

The Next Generation

It’s easy to begin feeling out of the spotlight after a few years of being out of undergrad ministry, out of being seen as a leader. It’s a feeling I’m sure many vain young people like me struggle with, no longer having my own advice seen as important, no longer feeling as if my contribution “matters.” It’s not always that I feel this way, but it comes in waves. Here and there I feel disconnected, less significant. And it doesn’t help that with Xanga’s seemingly immanent demise, I’ve been pushed almost involuntarily to look at a slew of posts from years past.

The energy and passion I used to have, and with it, naivete, seemed to think of the world as a much smaller place than I do now, and it was much easier to conquer.

Makes me wonder what king Hezekiah was thinking as his sun was setting. After having witnessed a miraculous deliverance of his kingdom from the king of Assyria, and having experienced a miraculous healing and God adding 15 years to his life recently, Hezekiah was faced with a chilling prophecy from Isaiah, whose words had served largely to comfort and encourage him to this point:

The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

Hezekiah had himself experienced a terrible siege in his younger days, and he reacted by pleading with God for rescue. At the prospect that it should happen again in years to come, however, he utters these words:

The word of the Lord you have spoken is good.

What could possibly have give him this viewpoint about the impending disaster that would come? God was telling him that his kingdom would be invaded, the wall of Jerusalem broken down, his very palace sacked, and his children enslaved and emasculated! How could he have been so matter of fact? Scripture gives only this answer:

He thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?

“In my lifetime.” He knew that he would not live to see it, and so he decided that pleading with God one more time wasn’t worth it. He had done so a few times in his life, and had even seen God change his fortunes and the fortunes of Israel miraculously, but because he would not live to see the terror that was being spoken of, he acquiesced to it without so much as asking that his own family be spared.

What could have been going through his mind? When he looked at his children, his kingdom for the final fifteen or so years that he had remaining? How could he justify letting this prophecy pass without protest, even as he watched his sons grow up to be young men before his eyes, knowing that one day they would certainly be enslaved and taken away?

“What can I do?” “It will be all right.” “If God says they will suffer, then it must be so.”

A central mark of a king is concern for his people. Every leader that has failed to have genuine concern for his people and their welfare has been labeled as a tyrant, an abuser of authority. That concern is to extend beyond a king’s own lifetime, a king’s own moment of glory. A king whose concern for his family’s foreseeable future fails, that man has failed as king.

Hezekiah was remembered as a good king, but he was not sufficient. Only the true king could, and would, ensure the safety and prosperity of his people before the impending justice of the Almighty. The latter half of Isaiah’s book would center around this coming figure whose life, suffering, and sacrifice would achieve a lasting salvation. Meanwhile, Hezekiah would join the ranks of kings whose lives were good, even noteworthy, but whose flaws disqualified them from becoming Israel’s salvation.

Hezekiah’s self-centered view of his life silenced his intercession. While he probably did not have the power of to stop the judgment of God, that needn’t have prevented him from at least praying for mercy. His eyes were not towards the glory of God in Israel, nor towards the welfare of his people, but simply towards his own life, his own moment in the limelight, and the experiences he would himself have. He was satisfied with his life, and his satisfaction led to complacency.

There is a new generation of children whose lives will be impacted by my life and prayers. Some I have met, others I will meet soon, still others will be born after I am long gone. It is easy at times to wallow in self-centered pity, feeling dissatisfied with my impact, my experiences, but such thoughts only blind me to the truth: Jesus knew of the impending justice that was coming for me, but he did not remain silent. He not only interceded, but he intervened, laying down his own life so that I would not be carried off by death into eternal torment. His heart was for his children who would be born thousands of years after his own departure, even for one as far away and insignificant as me. He is the king that I love and I serve, the one who I follow.

By his grace, I pray that I might live to serve, speak to, and pray for a generation not yet born.

GnuCash, PNC, OFX and Opportunity Cost

Recently I started using GnuCash, an open to manage my PNC accounts and expenses. While mint.com does a decent job of categorizing expenses, I wanted to have a little more control over my accounting and to have a place to start keeping track of investments, etc, and I didn’t want to pay for Quicken.

GnuCash is a true double-entry accounting software that allows you to keep track your assets, income, expenses, credit cards, etc. all in one place. While I wouldn’t recommend it for pure beginners (you might need to have taken some basic accounting to get the hang of it), it’s pretty powerful for being open-source, and it’s helped me to have a much better handle on the way I should be thinking about my finances.

However, being open-source, it came with its headaches. Getting PNC and GnuCash to play with each other was a chore; there were a few times I wanted to just quit and buy Quicken, but I’m glad I stuck it out, if only for the sake of my ego and feeling like I accomplished something. For any of you struggling with getting PNC and Quicken to work with each other, you need to know the following:

1. You have to get a PIN and Account Number from PNC.

You can apply for one via Online Banking and get it in the mail later.

2. You actually can’t just use the PIN number they give you.

You have to change the PIN number, and the only software which has the backend for this is, guess what, Quicken. Quicken doesn’t offer free trials, so you can’t just download it temporarily, and don’t bother using those free trials that international versions of Quicken offer, since they don’t integrate with US banks. Your best best is to torrent a copy of Quicken to temporarily use in order to change your PIN. Once your PIN is changed, you can use GnuCash to access your accounts with the new PIN number.

By the way, don’t enter your PIN number wrong too many times like I did, or else PNC will lock your account down and you’ll have to call them to get it working again.

3. PNC’s correct OFX banking URL is https://www.oasis.cfree.com/4501.ofxgp.

This was NOT the one listed in GnuCash’s documentation as of this writing, or in the following links, which all claim to have the right URL.

I’m planning on sending requests to these sites to change their listings, but in the meantime, use https://www.oasis.cfree.com/4501.ofxgp.

Speaking of documentation, GnuCash’s documentation is really sparse for trying to get Online Banking working.

4. You can’t download credit card transactions via PNC’s “Direct Connect”

I discovered from this old Moneydance support ticket that PNC doesn’t allow for credit card information download via their OFX backend. You’ll have to download OFX files from PNC and import them into GnuCash manually. Why they don’t allow credit cards to be connected via Direct Connect I have no idea. American Express allows for downloading transactions using a similar backend, and you don’t even have to get a special account number or password. PNC and other banks ought to open this up; there’s really no reason why users shouldn’t be able to download their transaction data from some kind of endpoint.

I think Quicken has a special deal with a large number of banks that allow them to use something called “Web Connect,” which I think uses the same technology Mint.com (which Quicken recently bought out) used to download transaction data. I used tcpView to figure out what IP addresses Quicken and GnuCash were hitting as I wanted to attempt to emulate the “Web Connect” request via GnuCash; however all of the traffic out of Quicken, surprise surprise, goes straight to their server, not to PNC, so I’m out of luck analyzing the data; without Quicken’s keys, the data they send out of their app is pretty useless. From what I’ve read, Quicken more or less has a monopoly on these things, setting up contracts with the banks to get special, highly convenient read-only access to their accounts (someone up there in government please take notice because this is ridiculous). “So much for ‘Open Standards'”.

5. You should probably set up a script to download transactions.

As a last resort for automating these downloads, I discovered CasperJS, which is a headless browser built on top of PhantomJS. I couldn’t get it working when I was dealing with this earlier, so I’ll have to look into it again sometime, or just use PhantomJS itself. In any case, in the future I hope to be able to just run a script to download the OFX files from PNC.

Or maybe I’ll just have to find a bank that allows me to automatically download my credit card transactions.

A final lesson

So, was it worth the $70 I saved not buying Quicken? I probably lost about 8 spare hours just messing with GnuCash and getting things to work. That’s 8 hours I could have spent reading Scripture, spending time with my wife, meeting up with people. I’d be happy to pay $70 for that. However, Lord willing I have a better understanding of financial software and have a good foundation set for the future management of our family’s finances.


I often wonder what eternity will be like. What will it be like to have no more tears, no more pain, no more struggles? What will it look like to see God face-to-face, not just through eyes of faith? What kinds of activity will I fill my day with?

Whatever the answer to these questions and more, I know that now and only now is there an opportunity to bring people to hear the kind voice of the savior. Now and only now can I tell people the wondrous news about Jesus and offer to them the opportunity to receive that gift. Now and only now can I suffer for the sake of Christ, for who will suffer for his name when all sufferings cease?

Now and only now do I have a life to live for eternity. Lord help me!

Hope thick enough you can cut it with a knife

The Michigan Daily recently published an article on professor Ralph Williams, who used to be a popular professor here. If I remember correctly, he taught a class on Jesus and the Gospels (I just looked it up. I didn’t remember correctly. He taught some classes on the English Bible and many others on a variety of religious and linguistic topics). However, being at the U, I was certain that the class treated Scripture from a more secular viewpoint, so when my friends in college told me that their faith was more often than not shaken by their time in his and similar courses, it was disappointing, but it wasn’t surprising.

The article shed some light on his past, his upbringing, and made a little more obvious why he would find himself struggling with faith, and, ultimately, abandoning it, according to the article and its tone.

While I disagree with Prof. Williams’ viewpoints on faith and justice in the world, I think I can understand why he would see things the way he does. After all, from the point of view of a human living in the world, the sheer amount of injustice and evil in the world is staggering, leaving far more questions than can be answered. Yet, to see these as a rationale for abandoning a belief in God is, I believe, an abandoning of substantial hope.

Now, a man is free to hope in anything; indeed, Prof. Williams himself is quoted as taking his joy in the good that humanity can do, despite the atrocities humans have committed. Substantial hope, however, means that there must be some body of evidence that enables a person to confidently say that their hope will be fulfilled. A hope in the triumphant human spirit apart from God, which is peddled by many of today’s academics, is an unsubstantiated hope that could easily be broken down simply by looking at the evils perpetrated by mankind across the world. Slavery, racism, rape, murder, avarice, and evils unparalleled are rampant outside the ivory towers of academia, and it is a demonic lie for a person to think or teach that kind sentiments about the human spirit can defeat the savagery that is too easily found among even the most “civilized” of people. Such a hope is bound to put those who trust in it to shame.

The alternative is substantial hope, hope that has substance, that you can cut with a knife and stick your teeth into and stake your life on. This is the kind of hope that is abandoned by secular and postmodern thinking, but the hope that is the most desperately needed in a world where life and all things fade so quickly. It is suitable, then, that the most substantial hope is not hope for this world, which is passing away, but hope for the world to come. This hope says that death was not the last word, and that, if Prof  Williams’ brother believed in Christ on the day of his death, then when he kissed his mother goodbye, he was greeted with the kisses, affection, security, and unending love of his heavenly Father who bought him with Christ’s blood.

This hope says that one day, evil will be vanquished, that those responsible for evil, for the Holocaust, for death, for all these and worse will be brought to eternal justice, and that there will be no more outrage, no more anger, no more depression, for peace will be made by the hammer of God’s righteous judgment and there will be eternal blessings for all those who love him and call on their redeemer’s name. The substance of this hope comes from the evidence that still stands irrefutable to this day, that Jesus Christ was slain for all the evils of humanity, and, three days later, rose from the dead victorious over the grave. This is substantial hope, not hope in fickle human strength, but hope in the power of the God who can reverse death and revive souls.

I do believe that God loves Prof. Williams, and has a reason why he has put him into the position of teaching that he is in. I do not believe that people are given their roles in the world as an accident, but that God has appointed times and places for every human, given the history that they have had, so that they might have their eyes opened to him and call upon him for salvation, and that others also might hear and be rescued from an eternity apart from God. Despite how Prof. Williams has discouraged some of my friends from believing what I hold to as the one and only hope, I pray that he will one day find his hope not in the spirit of man, which is blown about like a wave in the wind, but in the Spirit of God, whose steadily unfolding plan will spell certain love and redemption for those who hold on to him and persevere.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.


I’ve been praying through what it means to “let what you heard from the beginning abide in you” (1 Jn 2:24) and it reminded me of an excellent explanation given by Mack Stiles in an article he wrote about how easy it is to lose our grip on the Gospel.

Second, you don’t need much more than a cursory scan of history to see that solid Christian organizations can easily lose the gospel if they are not attentive. Losing the gospel doesn’t happen all at once; it’s more like a four-generation process.

The gospel is accepted –>

The gospel is assumed –>

The gospel is confused –>

The gospel is lost

It is tragic for any generation to lose the gospel. But, as Philip Jensen says, the generation that assumes the gospel is the generation most responsible for the loss of the gospel.

My church is getting ready to seek our direction through prayer and fasting in the coming year, which I’m somewhat ambivalent about (who is really ever excited to fast??), but I am looking forward to sharpening my focus on the beautiful good news I’ve been given. I pray that God will keep me from assuming the Gospel in my life, and that Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection will take root at the center of my heart, my marriage, and my church.