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Not Just the Flu

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:12 AM

This is a really good piece on where the coronavirus stands, particularly in comparison to the flu.

Friends, please keep trying to #flattenthecurve. It is working and we can be ingenious to find ways to keep life, ministry and work moving along — I’m seeing so many people being so creative already. I think for the Christian this truly does come under “loving your neighbor.” Even if, say, I get a mild case, what if the person I give it to doesn’t? I know a number of people sent to ICU by this and one who has died so far.

The flu can be bad, but I have never known so many people severely afflicted during a single flu season and those run for six months. This is the situation in sum: even with drastic response unlike anything we do for the flu, in just one month, this has killed more people than a bad flu season of six months. That is sobering and calls us to carefulness as we value the preciousness of each life God has made.

A Sad Update

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:50 PM

Those of you who are involved with FaithTree likely know that George Haynes, who had been very involved with FaithTree for much of its story as part of the worship team (percussion), a behind the scenes helper and simply a smiling presence, had been battling brain cancer since last fall. While the brain cancer had paralyzed George on his one side and forced him into a skilled care facility, he had continued to be active via online means and was largely physically OK. Sadly, despite his facility going into lockdown towards the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, George somehow contracted it and had spent the past few weeks in the hospital; the last few days his situation had grown worse and — it still feels hard to believe I am writing this — George went into the presence of his Savior this morning.

NBC Reports Zoom Usernames and Passwords for Sale on the Dark Web

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:31 PM

Seriously, friends, it’s time to move on from Zoom. They seriously don’t know how to do security and, if you reused a password from elsewhere with Zoom, now you are at higher risk of identity theft. No one who takes security seriously should even consider installing Zoom on their computer at this point or using it for any communication.

NBC News’ Ezra Kaplan and Kevin Collier report:

Zoom users who reuse the same passwords from other accounts can face an ugly unintended consequence — having their login information sold on the dark web.

Personal account information including email addresses, passwords and the web addresses for Zoom meetings are both being posted freely and sold for pennies. One dataset for sale on a dark web marketplace, discovered by an independent security firm and verified by NBC News, includes about 530,000 accounts.

(HT: Christopher Wright)

The Death Toll

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:32 AM

Since the first reported death from COVID-19 in the United States on March 2, we’ve averaged about 550 deaths per day (if you average it out over those 42 days), though the average in April is much higher. If that overall average were to continue for six months like a flu season, we would be looking at over 100,000 deaths; if the higher present rate continued, it would be more like a quarter million. Let’s hope our efforts to #FlattenTheCurve help and, more than that, let’s keep praying to the God who has power over death that he would heal our world and comfort those for whom those averages aren’t average at all, because they include their loved ones.

Zoom is Past Three Strikes...

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:14 AM

Here’s more motivation to consider Microsoft Teams, Skype, Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, etc., in lieu of Zoom. Days after the company was caught for a second time within a year using the same tactics as malware to install its software on computers, and days after it turned out it was leaking recorded calls online, it also admits to routing calls “accidentally” and insecurely through China. Facebook isn’t the epitome of privacy and security, but Facebook Messenger is end-to-end encrypted; Zoom is not.

Zack Whittaker for TechCrunch:

Hours after security researchers at Citizen Lab reported that some Zoom calls were routed through China, the video conferencing platform has offered an apology and a partial explanation.

To recap, Zoom has faced a barrage of headlines this week over its security policies and privacy practices, as hundreds of millions forced to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic still need to communicate with each other.

A Wife Writes About Her Husband's Coronavirus

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:29 PM

Jessica Lustig writing in the New York Times:

The few people walking past us on the sidewalk don’t know that we are visitors from the future. A vision, a premonition, a walking visitation. This will be them: Either T, in the mask, or — if they’re lucky — me, tending to him.

Chilling. Praying for her husband’s recovery and for the recovery of so many others.

Loving Our Neighbors in a Pandemic

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:16 PM

I have heard a number of wise pastors rightly point out that we need to consider the implications of loving our neighbors as a guide to how we act in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. This quote gets to the point in the midst of a very interesting article:

Collins also spoke about civic responsibility and the importance of selflessness in the midst of a pandemic. “I think we as a nation have to get into a place of not just thinking about ourselves, but thinking about everybody else around us, and particularly the most vulnerable people—those who are older and those people with chronic diseases.”

Unlike ordinary times, loving our neighbors right now may very well involve not being present (physically, at least).

Bible Study Unhindered

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:42 AM

In line with my blog post from last night, the photo below is another example of technology being a blessing that allows us to continue ministry unhindered: doing Bible study over FaceTime. It felt a little weird at first, but it worked!

If you are doing Bible study or other group meetings in this manner, what platform are you using? We used FaceTime, as I said, which worked great for a group that happened to be all iPhone users, but next time I anticipate needing something cross platform and, ideally, still free. Facebook Messenger looks the most suitable, but is there another alternative you are using to good effect?

Little Hills "Launches"

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:54 PM

It was not anything like the circumstance I had imagined for so long, but Little Hills Church had its very first message last night. Not in the midst of a celebratory launch service with joyful music and a packed crowd, but with me sitting in front of my desk facing a camera.

Live streaming is a very different thing from public worship, but I find myself grateful as I watch churches and individuals all across the nation using the technology we have at our disposal today to encourage a hurting world with hope from God’s Word. Like the roads of the an oppressive empire two thousand years ago that, in spite of that empire, served to convey the Gospel, I believe we are watching the Gospel go unhindered in new ways in the midst of of the oppression of an invisible little virus.

Tip for Getting Live Streaming Up Quickly

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:10 PM

A know a lot of churches all over are scrambling to implement live streaming thanks to the coronavirus situation. I thought I would share a suggestion that may not help for tomorrow’s services, but will help for the weeks ahead when live streaming remains an unusually important part of worship. In a word: Mevo.

We have been using a Mevo live streaming camera at FaithTree for several years now for our worship nights and will also be using one at Little Hills (including for a live stream event this Monday). You can see FaithTree’s Mevo in the photo above — it’s the tiny white and red camera on the tripod. I had been intrigued by the concept and nabbed one for a great price on Prime Day 2017. The great thing about it is that all it requires of you is that you put it on a tripod (or something else of appropriate height) and connect to it via an app on a phone (your phone or an old phone you don’t use any more but that can connect to Wi-Fi) or iPad.

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