Free Gun With Every Dish Network Purchase

Here’s an interesting article about a Montana store that is offering a free gun with every Dish Network purchase. Innovative!

“Protect yourself with Dish Network. Sign up now, get free gun,” the sign reads.

“We have people literally stop in to take pictures of the sign,” Levy said.

Qualifying customers have the choice between a Hi Point 380 pistol or a 20-gauge shotgun.

(via [H])

Qualifications of a Pastor: Single or Married?

I recently stumbled across an article discussing the qualifications of pastors with the emphasis on a pastor being married or single. While the issue at hand isn’t one of grave importance, I think it’s an interesting topic.

There are three main articles I read:

1) A New York Times article about a single pastor being unable to find a pastoral position.
2) A response to the article by Steve Dewitt, a single pastor I’d never previously heard of. I think he offers some good insight, though (and actually, I added his blog to my reader as a result). I originally found this article on The Gospel Coalition blog.
3) Al Mohler’s response to the NYT article. Al Mohler is a guy whose opinion I greatly respect. He’s the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and he has a radio program–The Briefing–that I listen to (can be found on his site or in podcast form on his feed or on iTunes). He brings a very knowledgeable and biblical perspective to topics.

Here are some not-so-brief thoughts I have on the whole topic at hand. I encourage you to read the articles above prior to reading the following.

1) I don’t think Scripture is excluding single men from being pastors. I don’t see it saying that only married men are qualified.

2) I do, however, think that Scripture alludes that most pastors will be married. I think that this is by intent. Now, for what intent I am not sure. It could simply be that because more people are married than stay single, the easy conclusion is that numbers will lead to more married pastors than single pastors. I personally believe that there a little more intent than just that. The fact that the authors of the New Testament books that discuss the topic (most of whom are regarded as being single) chose to speak in terms of a married pastor says something.

3) While this may be what the authors of the bible felt as well (though I cannot claim that), I think that in terms of ministering to a whole congregation, a married pastor has an advantage. I clearly can’t speak from experience but being married and having children puts a pastor through what the majority of people in his church will experience–and I definitely think this would be beneficial. Single pastors are likewise advantaged in certain ways, which Steve Dewitt does an excellent job of describing. Now, this obviously leads to the discussion of what a pastor’s main role is and I think that is a different discussion (especially when some pastors, like Mark Driscoll for example, are basically solely teaching pastors). So again the passages in the NT aren’t indicative enough to only choose a married pastor because it will depend on the needs of a church.

4) Speaking of, when it comes to the role of a church looking for a pastor, I think that it is wrong to discriminate a candidate just because they are single. This, of course, should be followed by my belief that if a church is looking for someone that is heavy into shepherding and ministering to the flock (see point 3), not accepting a single pastor candidate is not discrimination.

5) However sad it is, there is definitely some extra weight of society’s baggage that those who remain single will have to carry with them. By this, I mean things such as the regard that older single men might be homosexual or people jumping to conclusions about a single man’s interaction with women. Ultimately, the church and all believers are still marked with sin and live in a sinful world. These thoughts and stereotypes probably play a factor when churches are deciding on a future pastor.

When it comes down to it, God is the one who ultimately appoints pastors–married or single. A pastoral ability is a special gifting granted to certain people. God can and does choose to equip pastors as He sees fit. This reminds me of part of a John Piper tweet I saw the other day that said “It is the breath of the Almighty that gives wisdom not the burden of age (Job 32:8-9).” This really made me think; and it also relates to this discussion. Just because someone hasn’t had the experience of marriage doesn’t mean God can’t equip them with extra-ordinary wisdom in such matters.

Also important to keep in mind here is the fact that marriage, eternally speaking, is a fleeting thing. It is a gift of God that is meant for this lifetime but won’t be important in the next. This point is brought up in the above articles, but I think it is worth reiterating. A few months ago I was loaned Piper’s book This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence. He does a great job of reminding married couples of this and his chapter on singleness was very insightful for me. Don’t get me wrong–I think marriage is a very special covenant. But it isn’t as important as the new covenant through Jesus. Being the only single person in my group of friends from church, I hope and pray that my example of singleness is a “walking sermon.” I’m not often vocal about it, but I hope to convey my beliefs on marriage being an important thing with the addition that it is very clearly not of eternal importance. It’s a matter that as a single person I need to be careful to approach with humility and delicateness.

All in all, this is an issue that isn’t worth dividing over but does bring up some good discussion.

Nightsounds Radio RSS Feed

Nightsounds Radio is a pretty special radio program that was started and ran by Bill Pearce for over 35 years. Though Pearce has since passed away, the show is still in syndication both on the Nightsounds Radio website and on many, many radio stations all around the world.

The show is special because of its format. Pearce’s aim was to provide a relaxing broadcast show for those working late hours OR (the reason I use it) for falling asleep to. The tone of the broadcast is very slow paced. Pearce has a very deep, slow-speaking voice and manner of speech that help facilitate this. Intermixed throughout the broadcast are musical selections; some of which are performed by Pearce himself.

I really can’t speak highly enough of the program, so if you’ve never heard of it, check it out. Even better, if you are able to donate to them, they have a way to do so on the left hand side of their homepage.

I got to looking at the Nightsounds Radio website and I noticed they have a little widget where they post a new show every weekday. While that’s great, I would love this in RSS or podcast form, so I could more easily download and listen to the show. So I set out to do a little scraping to provide an RSS feed that can be used by others. I’ve been using this project every night since Christmas 2010 (thanks for pointing me to Nightsounds, Dan!).

Technically, the project turned out to be pretty fun for a few reasons. I’ve done HTML scraping in PHP before, but I found a neat plugin that allows me to easily traverse the DOM with jQuery-like syntax/selectors. The plugin, PHP Simple HTML DOM Parser, is one I’m sure I’ll use more of in the future. It works great, but for this scenario I still had to combine the plugin with some RegEx to pull the specific information I needed.

Second of all, though it’s not super difficult, I’d never done any RSS generation before. The XML syntax of RSS is pretty easy to learn, too.

All I had to do was write a little script to generate an RSS file based off of the Nightsounds homepage widget and voila! I set the PHP script up as a cron job to run daily so that the RSS is always up-to-date.

The code isn’t the most elegant (it’s usually not when HTML scraping), but here it is:

find('#daily_display table') as $posting) {		//each broadcast posting
		$elems = $posting->find('td');
		//elems[0] contains file location
		preg_match('%theFile\=(clips.*\.mp3)%', $elems[0], $matches);
		$files[] = $matches[1];
		
		//elems[1] contains file name and date posted
		preg_match('%(.*)%', $elems[1], $matches);
		$values = explode("
", $matches[1]); //
splits [0] date and [1] name $date = str_replace("/", "", $values[0]); //mmddyyyy $date = substr($date, 4, 4) . substr($date, 0, 2) . substr($date, 2, 2); //yyyymmdd $dates[] = $date; $names[] = $values[1]; } //memory release needed for DOM traversal plugin $html->clear(); unset($html); //generate rss file $lastBuildDate = date("D, d M Y H:i:s") . " CST"; //can be "CDT" at times but it's not worth checking $output .= ""; $output .= ""; $output .= ""; $output .= "Nightsounds"; $output .= "$url"; $output .= "Nightsounds with Bill Pearce"; $output .= "en-us"; $output .= "$lastBuildDate"; $num_items = (sizeof($files) < $num_items) ? sizeof($files) : $num_items; //this loop assumes that all arrays were populated with the same amount of data (and in parallel) for ($i = 0; $i < sizeof($files); $i++) { $file = $url . str_replace("\\", "/", $files[$i]); //remote location: ...clips/dddddd.mp3 $date = $dates[$i]; //date captured: yyyymmdd $name = htmlentities($names[$i]); //name of broadcast $filesize = remote_file_size($file); $pub_date = date("D, d M Y H:i:s", mktime(12, 0, 0, substr($date, 4, 2), substr($date, 6, 2), substr($date, 0, 4))) . " CST"; $output .= ""; $output .= "$name"; $output .= "$file"; $output .= "$file"; $output .= "$name"; $output .= "$pub_date"; $output .= ""; $output .= "\n"; } $output .= ""; $output .= ""; //save the file to public server $write_handle = fopen("public_html/nightsounds/rss.xml", "wb"); fwrite($write_handle, $output); fclose($write_handle); } //only retrieves headers of the remote file - will NOT download //http://www.php.net/manual/en/function.filesize.php#92462 function remote_file_size($file_location) { $ch = curl_init($file_location); curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_NOBODY, true); curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, true); curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADER, true); $data = curl_exec($ch); curl_close($ch); if ($data === false) { echo 'cURL failed'; exit; } $content_length = 'unknown'; if (preg_match('/Content-Length: (\d+)/', $data, $matches)) { $content_length = (int) $matches[1]; } return $content_length; } ?>

Download nightsounds_rss.php.txt

And the finished product? A fully functioning RSS feed: http://rossbender.com/nightsounds/rss.xml

Though I can’t promise the RSS feed won’t break if Nightsounds were to change the layout of their page, feel free to subscribe and start enjoying the benefits of its ministry!

Tembo Trunks – Portable Earbud Speakers

Here’s a pretty neat idea that’s in the works (not by me):

Tembo Trunks are the speakers that aren’t speakers. They are the first collapsible earbud speakers for iPods and iPhones.

All you need to do is attach your Apple earbuds to Tembo Trunks in order to transform them into a set of portable, non-electrical, virtually indestructible stereo speakers. Amplify your tunes. Anywhere. Anytime.

More information can be found at the project home on Kickstarter.