An Apple App Store Missionary

A couple of weeks ago, David Blake contacted me via Facebook to tell me the inspiring and encouraging story of how he is using God’s technology for God’s glory. I asked David to write his story and here it is.

Since my ‘second conversion’ – the one from PC to Mac – I’ve been intrigued by the way that Apple are always breaking new ground. As a result I became a follower of all things Mac, and in particular their ‘apps’ for iPhone and iPads. So last October I set myself a challenge to write an app. Up until then I had never possessed an iPhone or iPad and I can honestly say that the mobile phone scene had passed me by. The number of text messages I had ever sent up until then could be counted on about half the fingers of my left hand and if you had asked me for my mobile phone number I could not have given it to you. Phones were for my emergency use only. So writing an app for an iPhone was a pretty tall challenge.

Three weeks later I submitted my app to the Apple store for their approval and about 8 days later it was approved and went ‘live’.

So what has all this got to do with serving the Lord?

Well the first app I chose to develop was something akin to an ebook and since there are plenty of apps of books around I figured that this fitted well with my ideas. My first app was Psalm 1 with four accompanying commentaries. The user can read the Psalm, select any verse from the commentaries and additionally make their own notes. To this I added a link out to SermonAudio.

About 4 or 5 days after it went live I happened to look at the downlaod statistics which Apple can track, along with country and city. I was amazed to see that in a few days, with no advertising or promotion of any kind, that this app had been downloaded nearly 75 times. As of today, some 9 weeks later, there have been more than 550 downloads from 51 countries and 299 cities – again with no promotion whatsoever. The app is free to download.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China, Japan, Ethiopia, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, India to name but a few as well as the US and many European countries.

As soon as I began to see what was happening I decided to make the offer of 2 booklets free of charge – ‘How can I find God today? and ‘How can I become a real Christian?’. This has resulted in a steady stream of requests and I can use this opportunity to write to the user and send them the free literature. Having their contact details will also allow me to keep in touch with them if they so wish.

One of the most encouraging requests was from a lady in the US who wanted to know if I could supply her with 50 copies each of these two booklets for her outreach work. Bulk orders!

I have since created apps for Psalm 2 and 3 and these are attracting similar attention – please don’t ask what I will do with Psalm 119 – that will be a real challenge!! I have just completed an app specifically aimed at seekers, atheists, cults and Muslims and that should go live a few weeks time. It is linked to an established website and ministry here in the UK and includes video and audio material.

The apps will run on iPhones and iPads and I have since converted them to run on the Android platform. Thus the complete smartphone and iPad market is covered.

So what started out as a bit of a personal challenge has developed into a little outreach ministry and has opened my eyes the potential of how technology can be used for the spreading of the Word. It may be that many of the users are the Lord’s people, but that doesn’t matter, if it helps to build the Lord’s people up in their faith then that is a great goal to work for. However, since these booklets are being requested it leads me to think that there are seekers out there who are downloading it.

I see this as no different to standing on the street corner handing out Christian literature, except that here the world is passing by and which one of would ever have the opportunity of reaching into some of the countries mentioned above. Plus, I capture their contact details, not the easiest thing to to do on the street corner.

Needless to say I now have more ideas than I can possibly cope with. I would value any thoughts you may have on how this work could be developed and of course your prayers, especially that I would not be deflected from the work I have to do in my local church with outreach and among the young people. It is so easy to let technology become an idol as opposed to an effective tool in the service of our Lord.

The iphone/iPad download can be found here and the Android www.androlib.com/android.application.com-databeuro-psalm1-zjwnw.aspx” target=”_blank”>here. Searching in Google under Psalm 1 app will bring various store links up in the top 3 or 4

David is a member of Westoning Baptist Church. He lives in the heart of Bunyan country – the oak tree he preached from is just a few yards along the road and he was arrested about a mile away. If you wish to contact him about this work his email address is jaquacanga@gmail.com


Are you a pusher or a puller?

Ever wonder why you can’t get anyone in your congregation to do anything?

Maybe it’s because you’re pushing people with immobilizing threats rather than pulling people with an inspiring mission. To illustrate, here’s an extract from Neil Fiore’s The Now Habit:

“Charles Garfield, in his book Peak Performance, writes of the power of commitment and the shared mission of the Apollo moon-shot program:

What sparked everyone’s imagination and harnessed powers few had known they possessed was the realization that they were taking part in a project that would fulfill one of mankind’s oldest dreams. They had a mission. I saw men and women of average capabilities tapping resources of personal energy and creativity that resulted in extraordinary human accomplishments. I saw their excitement and pride come alive, affecting everyone around them, kindling imaginations with the possibilities that arose from what we were trying to accomplish. One thing became very clear to me – it is not the goal, but the ultimate mission that kindles the imagination, motivating us toward ever higher levels of human achievement.

This sense of mission is really the “pull method” of motivation that draws you toward your goal with positive energy, rather than trying to push you by using fear and threats. In this positive work atmosphere, you are more likely to demonstrate extraordinary capabilities and motivation.”

The Now Habit by Neil Fiore (page 94).


Seven Important Men

Let me introduce you to seven men who will give us a guided tour of Romans 3v19-31.

Mr Goodness
Mr Goodness hardly needs an introduction. We are all born hand in hand with him, know him well, and like him. After all, he tells us how good we are. And if we have any doubts, he helps us to find excuses, blame others, or find others that we can still look good beside.

As Mr Goodness is extremely experienced, persuasive, and skillful, Paul spends the first few chapters of Romans attacking him with the sharp sword of Scripture. And in Romans 3:9-18 he “goes for the jugular” with thrust after thrust of multiple verses proving universal human sinfulness: “None righteous, no not onenone who understands…none who seeks after God…they have all turned aside…etc.”

Mr Guilty
With Mr Goodness slumped on the floor, Mr Guilty enters the room. And when Mr Guilty enters the room, every mouth is stopped (3:19). Without defense, alibi, or excuse, we stop arguing with God.

Mr Guilty drags us again and again to Mr Law (we’ll look at him a bit later), who presents us with two documents: precepts to be obeyed and penalties to be suffered. And what can we say there but ,“Guilty, guilty, guilty.” The precepts I have not obeyed. The penalties I cannot suffer.

Mr Righteousness
Into this dark and gloomy room walks Mr Righteousness. “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed” (v. 21). Mr Righteousness has a nickname – Mr Law Satisfier. He comes to law, looks at the precepts to be obeyed and the penalties to be suffered, and says, “I can do both. I can obey these precepts and suffer these penalties until there is nothing left to be paid.”

But how come Mr Righteousness has a righteousness “apart from the law”? How can he be a law-satisfier apart from the law? It’s like saying red tomatoes are not red. This cannot mean what it seems to mean – a law satisfaction without satisfying the law. Rather it is a law satisfaction without any regard to our attempted law-satisfying.

Imagine if Mr Righteousness walked into your yard with a wheelbarrow. Instead of admiring his perfection you start trying to put some of your own imagined law-keeping into his wheelbarrow. But he says “NO! I don’t want any contribution from you. I’m not interested in your law-satisfaction. I offer a law-satisfaction that is completely separate and independent from your attempted law-satisfying.”

It is also a “righteousness of God” (v. 21, 22). This is not a mere human righteousness but a divine righteousness. This is not a mere man that has obeyed the precepts and suffered the penalties. It is God himself.  Can you imagine the value of that law-satisfaction!

We might conceive of a man who obeyed the precepts, suffered the penalties, and survived. That’s conceivable; but what good is that for anyone else? How can his righteousness extend beyond himself to any other human being. It might be enough for himself; he might be able to hand it over to someone else; but as it is only one human righteousness, it can only cover one human being. But divine righteousness is infinitely valuable and can extend to a multitude greater than any man can number.

Mr Righteousness was witnessed to by the law and the prophets and has now been revealed even more clearly. Both Old and New Testaments point towards Mr Righteousness. Who is Mr Righteousness? It’s Mr Jesus Christ. He can obey the precepts and suffer the penalties until they are exhausted. He is “the righteousness of God.”

Mr Faith
So, here’s this soul chained to Mr Guilty. And there’s Mr Righteousness who can meet this soul’s deepest needs. But how to get rid Mr Guilty and connect with Mr Righteousness? That’s where Mr Faith comes in. The righteousness of God is “through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe” (v. 22).

Mr Faith comes to the soul, severs it from its guilt and connects it with Mr Righteousness. As soon as this soul believes, faith smashes the chain of guilt and connects the soul with perfect righteousness (v. 25). All my guilt gone. His whole righteousness mine.

And this is not just for special believers, for those with special faith, or even strong faith. It’s “to all and on all who believe.” Instead of hearing, “Guilty, guilty, guilty!” the believing soul now hears not just, “Innocent, innocent, innocent!” but “Perfect, perfect, perfect!” All precepts obeyed, all penalties met.

Mr Boasting
The light has gone on, the dust is settling, and the soul is enjoying this salvation. Paul looks around and says, “Now, where is Mr Boasting?” (v. 27). Mr Boasting and Mr Goodness were great allies. But with Mr Goodness gone, Mr Boasting is friendless. In fact, he’s very angry, especially with Mr Faith. Because faith looks away from self to Christ. Faith turns the spotlight from self to Christ. Boasting is now evicted and runs away, cursing Mr Faith. O, to be sure, he sometimes gets back together with Mr Goodness and they stick their heads in the window  again from time to time. But with the help of chapters like Romans 3 they are kept outside and at a safe distance.

Mr Law
So faith has chased away Mr Goodness, Mr Guilt, and Mr Boasting. What about Mr Law? Does Mr Faith chase him away too. Let Paul answer: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (v. 31).

Every other pretended way of salvation diminishes the law in one way or another: it’s requirements, it’s penalties, or it’s inner-penetration. In one way or another it makes void and diminishes the law. It helps people be saved by lowering the barrier, or by compromising justice. But this way of salvation strengthens and confirms the law. Mr Righteousness reached the standard perfectly, and suffered the penalties fully. That’s why Paul says God is both “just and justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (v. 26). He is “a just God and a Savior.”

Mr Joy
Mr Goodness has gone. Mr Guilt has gone. Mr Boasting has gone. Who do we have left? Mr Righteousness, Mr Faith and Mr Law. And then walks in our seventh man, Mr Joy.

Mr Joy says to Mr Law “Are you happy?” “I’m happy,” he replies, “my demands have been met, my penalties satisfied. Rejoice!”

“Mr Righteousness, you happy?” “Of course! I still have a perfect complete righteousness.”

“Mr Faith, you happy?” “Sure, I’ve severed another soul from sin and united it with perfect righteousness!”

“And what about you, Soul?” asks Mr Joy.

“Me?” says the soul, “Who could be happier! The law is satisfied. Guilt has gone. Righteousness is mine. And all by faith, without any contribution from me.” What a happy scene. What a happy soul!

“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”


I just sit…and google. Its terrible, I wish I was a fireman.

Is working with your hands better than working with your head? More and more depressed office workers are answering yes, reversing the decades-long trend away from manual labor.

Columnist and broadcaster Giles Coren recently swapped his PC and keyboard for working on a small farm with vegetables and chickens – and found it “immensely satisfying.” In a BBC report he complains that “modern life has been blighted by a series of alienating processes, often carried out on mobile phone, laptop and e-mail. In this way, his chosen career – journalism – has been stripped of its sense of adventure and human contact.” He says:

“Even 15 years ago when I started as a reporter, you left the office to do a story. You went to investigate, visited people and used the cuttings library. Now I just sit… and Google. It’s terrible, I wish I was a fireman.”

 

Despite his columnist’s salary, he is jealous of those whose jobs have a clear purpose like the gardener and cleaner.

 

“My gardener Brian comes in to do the garden every two weeks. He takes his shirt off in the summer and smokes a rollie. I can see him through the window, but I’m sitting indoors, staring at the screen to pay for this guy – it’s the classic middle-class paradox.”

Pastors often feel something similar, especially those who have entered pastoral ministry after working in industry, or engineering, or such like. “So many hours, and so much effort, for so little evident return. Think I’ll go back to laying bricks, mending engines, or sweeping floors. At least I would have a wall, or a car, or a pile of dust to point to at the end of the day!”

But whether we work with our heads or our hands we will never find full satisfaction in our work – even ministry work. The divine curse on our labor affects both head-workers and hand-workers (Gen. 3:17-19). We will encounter thorns and thistles in our offices as well as on our farms, in our cubicles as well as in our yards.

And in a way we should be thankful for that. God cursed the labor he provided for us so that we would not make it a god and find our satisfaction in it rather than in Him.

However, I think it’s still a great idea for knowledge workers, like pastors, to have a hands-on project, something involving manual labor, on the side. It does give the mind a break, and it does give a sense of accomplishment in the midst of often discouraging circumstances. So why not plant a vegetable garden, take woodwork classes, paint a room, or make tents (Acts 18:3).

I even knew a pastor (who shall remain nameless) who took flower-arranging classes…and showed his handiwork to visitors! Hmmm…I think I’ll stick with Tae Kwon Do. I prefer breaking boards to plucking petals.