LUP029 – Pray, And I’ll Say No

Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll hear in Episode 29:

  • Update: Reprise of Trello for shared projects.
  • Encouragement: Will God ask us to pray for something that He doesn’t intend to accomplish? Prayer can be frustrating and confusing when it seems that’s what He is doing. But that’s not going to be the end of the story.
  • Tech. Tip: Send an email now, and have it arrive when it’s convenient for your recipient. And get a reminder to follow up if they don’t reply.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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  • Development environment.  Yep, still working on it.
  • But now I know how big the project is.   It’s big!
  • I once wrote a blog post called Big Project, Many Tasks – How to Stay Sane.
  • This qualifies. Didn’t realize it until Joshua came home and I started trying to get his help. Went back to our old standby, Trello – mentioned in that blog post. ((Also link to that in show notes))
  • Realized that the list of tasks to accomplish was actually quite huge – trying to automate installation of all of the tools and configurations and Edify Hub parts and pieces that Joshua had built manually on his laptop over the last few years of working for Edify hub.
  • Isolate out the small handful that are absolutely required before someone new can do the very first project.
  • Dividing the work between the two of us.
  • Still quite a bit, and running into dead ends, where the automation strategy I tried didn’t work the way I expected it to, so an entire evening’s work has to be thrown away, to start again later in the week.
  • But, hey — that’s what it’s like to program computers. I’ve been doing it professionally for more than 20 years, and this is how it goes. Should be no surprise.
  • I’ll stop predicting when it’s going to be done, and just keep plodding along.  Stop measuring how far I am from completing, and measure instead how many roadblocks I’ve been able to get past.


“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
Jeremiah 33:3

That verse is quite an encouragement. It’s used often to give boldness when we feel called to do as William Carey said, and “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

I spent my teenage years in the late 1980s growing up at Northside Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. The center of that church building is a circular auditorium large enough for something like 3,500 people more or less. On top of the auditorium is a white, domed roof with a tall steeple jutting up right from the center. I have heard that before that steeple was put in place, the founding pastor took a nail and scratched on the very top one-square-inch tip of the steeple the reference, Jeremiah 33:3.  The official address of the church is even 333 Jeremiah Blvd.

This call to trust God for big things has been a recurring theme in my life.

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to put that verse to the test – to call on God to see what great and mighty things He would do.

That experience sure would have been a lot more fun if I could have had a story like my missionary friend, “How about that! What do you think of a God who can answer a prayer like that!” But that wasn’t what God intended.

I mentioned Jeremiah, with the call of God to preach, but also with the foreknowledge that the people would not listen. This is that same Jeremiah who wrote those words, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

I guess there’s a part of that verse that I missed – those last four words.  “…which thou knowest not.”

I thought I knew what great and mighty thing God was going to do. I expected great things from God – a very specific great thing.

But that wasn’t the great thing He had in mind.

How about you? Have you been attempting great things for God, only to find that He seems to have something else in mind? Are you wondering if maybe you’ve misunderstood His call? Does He seem to have changed his mind by sending you in a different direction?

I’ve often found that the instructions for me from my unchanging God seem to point in different directions at different times. But I have to remember that God directs steps. I’m the one who infers a destination. I’m the one who’s trying to evaluate the instruction and guess what God’s planning to do. He doesn’t reveal his plans to us. His ways aren’t our ways.

I shouldn’t be surprised or disappointed when new instructions come that seem to lead in a different direction. As my pastor pointed out, it is the obedience that is important. And obedience comes step by step.

Those steps may not lead to the outcomes you or I expect. And that’s OK.

As God leads, take the specific steps He gives you. Even if they seem like they’re going in a different direction than you expected. Call unto Him, and he will answer you, and show you great and mighty things …. which thou knowest not.

Tech. Tip

Send Email Later with Boomerang

You’re writing an email to several friends and pastors, but you know that one of them will be out of town until next week. You could send that email now, but by the time he comes back, your message will be buried in a pile of noise. You’d rather have it on the top of his inbox the day after he returns.

And you’d also like to be reminded to follow up with him if he doesn’t reply to your message within a few days after he gets it.

If that’s a situation you’ve faced and you use Gmail to send your email, then today’s Tech Tip is for you.

Boomerang is a plugin for Chrome and Firefox that connects to your Google account. When you open Gmail in Chrome or Firefox with the Boomerang plugin, you’ll see extra options in the bottom of the compose window you use to send mail.

Below the Send button, Boomerang adds a “Send Later” button. Click that and choose something like 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday to put your message in front of the pastor after he has had a chance to recover from his trip.

Next to the “Send Later” button is another option to “Boomerang this” message. Checking that option will have the email you’re about to send show up again in your own inbox at a set time under certain conditions.  You can choose to have the email returned to your inbox no matter what, or only if the recipient doesn’t open it, or only if they don’t click a link in your email, or only if they don’t reply to your email.  You can also choose exactly what day and time you’ll want the email to show up back in your inbox.

Besides the “Send Later” and the “Boomerang to my inbox” features you can also attach a read receipt request to have Boomerang let you know when the recipient opens the email.

One other new feature that just showed up in the last few weeks is a little meter, labeled “Boomerang Respondable”. This meter shows how likely your email is to receive a response, based on its subject length, word count, question count, and reading level.

Everything I’ve described so far is available completely for free. They do have a premium plan, which allows you to schedule or boomerang an unlimited number of emails. The free version has a limit of ten per month. The premium plan also adds some more advanced computer-learning analysis of things like positivity, politeness, and subjectivity when it tries to figure out how likely your email is to get a response.

There’s also a Boomerang for Outlook, currently in beta at the time I’m recording. I haven’t used it to know how well it works, but I’ll also have a specific Boomerang for Outlook link in the show notes in case you’d like to try that out.

If you sign up for Boomerang for Gmail and you someday choose to upgrade to premium, then you and I will both get one month of Boomerang Premium features. So far, I’ve never needed Premium, and you may not either, unless you plan to do a lot of “Send Later” emails.

But if you do want to send emails later, or get reminded to follow up on emails you’ve already sent, why not try Boomerang for Gmail or Outlook.


Today, you’ve learned how to send email now but have it arrive when you want, to be reminded if the recipient doesn’t reply, and to figure out how likely your email is to get a reply using Boomerang for Gmail. We also saw how God may indeed ask us to pray for something that he does not intend to perform, but when He does, there is likely a deeper work going on. And I was reminded, at least, how helpful Trello can be to keep track of work when there are several people working together on a project at different times.

Have you been praying for something that it seems God is never going to answer, or that He has already answered “No?” Do you feel confused that the instructions of yesterday seem to be very different from those that come today? There’s almost certainly more going on than what you can see. Or do you know of someone with an unanswered prayer, or with an answer that’s hard to accept? Why not share the Lift Up Podcast with them. With an encouraging word, you can follow Hebrews 12:12 to lift up someone today.

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