Quiet Times

9 PM January 31, 2003

A ‘quiet time’ is a time set aside each day to talk to God (pray) and hear what God has to say back (read the Bible). Christians know that Quiet times are a Good Thing, but we struggle to find the time for them, and when we do find the time, we struggle to stay focussed while we pray and read.

Lately I’ve been fortunate. The past few months I’ve had two hours each working day on the train, so I don’t really have to “find the time”. Never the less it’s only been since the beginning of the year that I’ve finally started to use this time wisely. I had plenty of excuses for not making time for something so important, but they were all pretty weak in retrospect.

Here are my tips for a habit-forming quiet time. I’m putting them up here as much for myself as others. I know I’ll be struggling with quiet times again in the future.

  • Plan to have quiet times. If I don’t plan to have them, I don’t have them – time just slips away doing other important and/or fun stuff.
  • Be honest with God. If I feel like I can’t talk to God because I am anxious, angry or feeling down, then I tell God all about that. He really does care. Phillipians 4:6.
  • Set realistic goals. I’ve found ten minutes four times a week a good starting point.
  • Plan the time. Have a system, or agenda to follow. I can’t always think of what I could be praying about, and using a system helps focus my thoughts.
  • Finally, get emotional with God! Yelling at God is OK, or it would be if I wasn't on the trains, so I have to yell “on the inside”. This guy was good at it, and so was this guy.

The system I use in my quiet time is to first pray, and then read some from the Bible. I pray by writing down ‘A’, ‘C’, ‘T’ and ‘S’ on a piece of paper, three lines apart each. I then list 3 items for Adoring God, Confessing sin, Thanking God and Supplication. This site explains these four categories. As I list each item, I pray through it. The discipline of thinking of 12 things to tell God is helpful.

As for reading the Bible, I’m a bit more haphazard and tend to dart off and look up different passages depending on what is on my mind that day. After reading through the passage, I meditate on it a little. Come to think of it, I’m going to start explicitly asking God to help me understand what he is saying before I read a bible passage, and then thoughtfully pray through the passage afterward. Ask me how I’m going with that next week.

Quiet times are really a Good Thing. Talking to someone is the best way to maintain your relationship with them, and God really wants to talk to you.

By alang | # | Comments (0)
(Posted to Christian Life)

Personality Test

9 PM January 30, 2003

Charles recently took a personality test and got the usual dreadful psycho-babble:

Others see you as fresh, lively, [...]

Well, here's a real personality test for computer geeks from BBSpot. I was assesed and found to be:

Now, If BBSpot can do it, why can't other nerdy websites be more like women's magazines?

By alang | # | Comments (0)
(Posted to Stuff)

Confessions of an Opinionated Software Developer

8 PM January 30, 2003

Hi. My name’s Alan and I’m an Opionated Software Developer.

(Together: Hi, Alan!)

It’s been five minutes since I last pontificated on a subject for which I have no more than second-hand, anecdotal evidence.

You see, I’ve been building commercial software for more than 15 years. My first job used an IBM 4381 mainframe for development. It had 16 Megabytes of memory, cost a million dollars and ran DOS/VSE. DOS stood for Disk Operating System and it meant it, because it wasn’t too long previously that there had been other kinds of operating systems. The old-timers would point out where the card-punches had once been installed whenever anyone complained about the block-mode line editor. For programming you had a choice of COBOL or assembler. You could tell when the assembler programmers tried to write COBOL, because they used 77 levels instead of structuring their data.

We used a 4341 for production. The 4341 was half a 4381 because it had only half the memory and cost half as much. It was half the height too. If you don’t believe me, here’s a picture of a 4381 and a 4341. But our 4381 was a nice, deep, IBM blue.

With experience like that, I can cite irrelevant anecdotes from a dozen technologies not even tangentially related to the topic at hand, thereby fortifying my opinion and sealing any argument to my satisfaction.

Looking back over the years, I can see that the one thing all computer programmers develop is opinions, and I am not exempt.
For instance: I have a preferred hardware vendor, operating system, computer language, graphics card, text editor, IDE, brace position, tab stop setting, maximum line length, software development process, bug tracking system, testing tool, magazine, newspaper, web browser, email format, font size, monitor resolution and colour scheme. I can spend all day telling you why mine’s better than any other one you may choose, and I find no lack of peers willing to engage in such a conversation.

Well enough is enough! No longer will Alan spout his conjectures at random. All of his speculations, theories and thoughts now have a home, safely out of the verbal realm, right here on this blog.

My family, friends and co-workers will be pleased.

By alang | # | Comments (0)
(Posted to Software Development)

No Angst

9 PM January 28, 2003

I've decided. No angst on this blog. Sure, if I'm upset, I'll say so. But no whinging.

Every second blog seems to have some at least one whiny, angst-ridden message of personal unhappiness. Some of them are really quite funny but all-in-all it ends up quite petty, so I'll be avoiding that.

That is all.

By alang | # | Comments (0)
(Posted to Stuff)

Alan the Christian

8 PM January 28, 2003

I'm a "Christian". But what does that mean?

On one level it's an easy question to answer. "Christian" literally means that I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus is God, I believe God made the universe, and I believe that the Bible is God's word.

Now, all kinds of people have claimed to Christian and believe as much. All kinds - some cruel, some kind, some generous, some mean, some foolish, some wise, some likeable and some truly ugly indeed. And you can multiply that by number of different denominations. "Christian" is not a narrow label.

For me "Christian" is this: I have a relationship with the Planner, Builder and Shepherd of the Universe. The relationship is precious to me, but it must be even more precious to God, since he bought it with his own death. And I am extremely grateful to him.

God lovingly uses me to advance his good purposes in the universe. Important things are happening and God is letting me be part of it. The whole deal is so amazingly huge that I know I'll never get my head around it. And I'm going to heaven.

Being a follower of Jesus is hard too. God doesn't promise an easy life for his followers. I wrestle with my nature so as not to slip into disrespect for God. Choices I make in life are not necessarily wise from a worldly wise point of view. Jesus doesn't magically take away all the pain and bad things in life. I often fail God, my family and myself. God is always waiting for me though, patient, kind and loving.

So that's me. One foot on Earth, the other in Heaven.

This blog chronicles my one-foot-in-each-camp "Christian Life". Feel free to ask questions and challenge my writing and attitudes.

By alang | # | Comments (1)
(Posted to Christian Life)

The Dullest Blog in The World

7 PM January 27, 2003

I used to be worried about whether or not I could write anything interesting enough to be read. In fact, I was concerned that I was heading toward winning the vote for the most mind-numbingly mundane blog ever.

Fortunately, I then found what claims to be the dullest blog in the world .

Now I can rest easy. No point imagining that I could ever compete.

By alang | # | Comments (0)
(Posted to Stuff)

Cardboard Schedule Is Dead

9 AM January 27, 2003

After many years now looking after Cardboard Schedule, I've decided to really, really call it a day. This is more of a change of mental state than anything else, since nothing has been happening with CS for a few months.

The main catalyst for this was an abrupt change of employment conditions (retrenched, off-boarded, pink-slipped, ...) last year, which led to me taking a new job in the city. The new job is interesting and demanding, and it's time to give up on the thought of Cardboard Schedule amounting to much more than it already has.

On the plus side, I now have some energy left over for a spot of blogging. The train trip to work gives me plenty of time to think, and blogging gives me a reason to organise these thoughts. Enjoy!

By alang | # | Comments (0)
(Posted to Stuff)
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