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autumn moments

Yesterday I got a screen shot in the form of a text message from Chris Loach, a good friend and one of our volunteer staff at Two Cities Church. It was an email sent from… me. Only it wasn’t from me and I immediately thought, “OH NO! I’VE BEEN HACKED! WHO ELSE IS GETTING THESE?!!!” I’m sure you can relate to those kinds of panic moments. I haven’t had a hacking situation like this since MySpace was a real social media option. Here’s a screenshot of the email Chris received.

email1

After a few minutes of digging around, I realized I wasn’t hacked, I was Spoofed.

There’s different kinds of spoofing attacks, but mine was fairly simple and just about anyone can do it explains askleo.com. My spoofer simply sent an email from what looked like me, but when you press reply, it showed his real address. He or she was not using a very complicated method. However, sometimes they’re a bit more complicated as lifehacker.com explains. So what did I do about it? The following is how I seem to have spooked my spoofer from spoofing me again.

5 Steps to Spooking your Spoofer

Step 1: Know When it Hits
In order to go from spoofed to spooker, you’ve got to know when it happens and you need to know fast because the chances are, they’re not stopping with one email. That means you need your contacts not to just delete the email, but to actually inform you that it happened, like my buddy Chris did for me. (Thanks man!) Once you know, you need to take immediate action to avoid fall out from your contacts.

Step 2: Hit Reply
I asked Chris to click on the name and make sure it says my email. He did and it did. Then I said, “I wonder what would happen if you hit reply” and boom. There it was, the real email that the spoofer was spoofing from.

IMG_6790 email 3

Step 3: Research
Once I had the real email this person was sending from, I went on a hunt for information about that person and that email. First stop, google.com. Google had nothing to say about that email address. No social media accounts. No other usages in forums. No previous articles, websites or blog posts mentioning the email (ceomanagement9@gmail.com). So I decided to figure out what I could about the user via the gmail account recovery process. I went to gmail.com and plugged in the address, then I clicked on “forgot my password” and chose the text me option. In order to actually get the password you’d need a lot more information, but I wasn’t trying to hack them. I was trying to get information about them. It revealed that their phone number associated with their account is **********77. Here’s what that tells me, their number ends in 77 and it’s one digit too long to be a number from the USA. So they are international.

Step 4: Invite Them to a GoogleTalk Video Chat
I invited them to a video chat. Imagine, what if they had actually accepted my invitation and I could video chat with this person? Wouldn’t that be shockingly amazing?! But they didn’t. But I’m sure that’s when they started getting a little spooked.

Step 5: Email Them and Block Them
I sent two emails to the address and explained that their attempts to scam my contacts would not work. They’re much too smart. People doing these kinds of scams are looking for low-hanging fruit, people who are frazzled by emergencies and many of whom are elderly. As soon as they realize they aren’t going to profit from scamming you or your friends, they’ll move on. In the email I sent, the point was not to make them angry, it was to scare them…hopefully enough to abandon or close the email they used completely and or out of the business. I’m hoping by the end of the time that they realized someone tried to log in to their real email, the person they were spoofing tried to video chat them and they were found out that they were spooked.

Bonus Step: Don’t Get Spoofed Again
I am the administrator of our church domain, twocitieschurch.com, and so I have the ability to go into the admin console and block them from emailing anyone within the organization. I took great pleasure in that step.

Here’s the deal, you can’t stop people from being dumb and trying to scam you, but you can make it difficult for them and you can spook them. So let’s make it difficult for the spoofers who are trying to take money from your contacts. Have you ever been hacked, spoofed or scammed? What was your experience and how did you deal with it?

Discovering Periscope
Twitter recently acquired a small live-streaming app called Periscope. It basically allows anybody to live-stream anything from their phone at anytime, anywhere you can get wifi or cell service. It’s an infant, as far as apps go, but it’s pretty powerful. Instead of continuing to explain it… I’ll let Ellen show you:

I didn’t think it would be something I’d get into, but then I read a blog post from my friend Carey all about the possible ministry uses of Periscope and he named several recommendations for people to follow. So, being the early adopter I am, I downloaded the app and tried it out and immediately was struck by the real-time interactive element.

One of the first “scopes” I participated in was from a TV producer who was looking for pitches for shows to produce. I was only on for a couple of minutes, but I wrote in the comment box, “Celebrity Uber Drivers.” And he started talking about that. I was shocked by the feeling I felt when he mentioned my name live and starting interacting and thought, “This is pretty powerful.” I’ve been experimenting with it ever since and even egging on Paul Haugen in doing scopes with cover songs.

I also really enjoy that you can see a world map and jump on any scope you want, but I love that I can zoom in and see if anyone is doing that in my area. I want to make an impact in my area and that means connecting with people I wasn’t previously connected with and this makes it easy to have real-time interaction in a very unique way.

I’ve done several different kind of scopes:
  • Talking about what I’m reading and asking for recommendations — in this one I gave away a book
  • Talking about favorite music and asking for recommendations
  • Streaming some baby birds being fed by their mama in my dad’s backyard
  • Interviewing my son, Josiah (big hit)
  • Brainstorming for message preparation (since I am a Pastor)
  • Showing rehearsal on Sunday morning with our band (@2Cities_Church)

I’m still trying to figure it all out, but I think it’s a platform that will only grow. I know they’re working on an app for desktop and landscape view, which are in high demand.

One guy, Scott Williams, scopes several times a day and he says the key to Periscope is this… You R.O.C.K. it.

Real: Be Real
Often: Be Often
Calculated: Be calculated in what you scope about, where you scope, etc.
Kind: Be Kind

Here’s the infographic that really intrigued me.

PeriscopeTips_Carey_unSeminary

You can download the app here and follow @micahfoster, @haugenpaul and @2cities_church to see how we begin to use it.

What do you think about this new platform?

givingtuesday

Today is #GivingTuesday, a National Day of Giving. Take the #Unselfie challenge by choosing to be generous today. There’s no better way than doing that by giving to Two Cities Church.

“Why should I give to Two Cities Church?”
We’re glad you asked. It’s simple really. We exist to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ because we believe it’s the most important mission in the entire world. Lives and eternities are being changed. 

Here’s a text from someone who just two Sundays ago waived the White Flag and gave their life to Christ: 

“It’s so nice because everyone is soo soo welcoming. They aren’t judging me because I am just now deciding to be a Christian. I always thought I would be judged for that. I am glad that I took a leap of faith and joined Two Cities. BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE. HANDS DOWN. :-)))”
Thank you, Two Cities, for being a place that is “soo soo welcoming” and nonjudgmental.

Will you take the #Unselfie challenge today and help us kick start our end-of-year giving goal by contributing to #GivingTuesday?

All you have to do is text “WATC” to 559.745.7009. We’ll text you back a link, you’ll have a 10 second registration and then you can text in any amount you’d like to give.

Be a part of the most important mission in the world, leading people to Jesus.

P.S. You can also give through our traditional online giving. Just click here.

End of White Flag

December 1, 2014 — Leave a comment

This past Sunday we ended our White Flag series with the song… you guessed it… White Flag. One of our Production Volunteers captured it on video. Here’s the end of the service from his vantage-point. (Thanks for posting the video, Abel.)

Christian Girl Instagram

November 19, 2014 — Leave a comment

This video depicts what’s hilariously wrong with us, Christians, today. Check out “Christian Girl Instagram” now.

hidden-cash-fresno
I have a confession. It’s embarrassing, I know. I joined the mass hysteria this past Monday. @HiddenCash, Jason Buzi, was in Fresno! Can you believe it? He was in Fresno!

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, check this little video out:

8 Things I Learned About Fresno From @HiddenCash:

  1. Fresno Loves Treasure Hunts

    We’re all just like big kids. We love the mystery. We love the adrenaline and the excitement. I wouldn’t be surprised if a major TV network made a reality show out of the shenanigans of @HiddenCash. I for one, would watch it. Just a behind-the-scenes look at why he does it and how he does it as he travels from place to place. For example, Tuesday, the day after #HiddenCashFresno, he tweeted about a drop in the UK! I’m curious about the @HiddenCash “movement” and I can’t stop thinking about how much fun it was to go running around in the dark with a flashlight with hundreds, maybe over 1,000, other Fresnans.

  2. Fresno Will Embrace an Outsider

    A long-held belief in our community is that we’re skeptical of outsiders. We don’t like outsiders coming into our community and disrupting the natural flow of life. And to some degree, many Fresnans, who had no idea what was happening, were caught off guard on their commute home. They met tons of traffic. Traffic like Fresno has never experienced… ever. The traffic was worse than if the President were in town. That is not an exaggeration. And for what? Well, for Free money, but also in support of @HiddenCash… a complete stranger, an outsider. Hey that’s good news for Fresno. We’re not closed off to the rest of civilization, as we once thought we were.

  3. Fresno Can Be Civil

    When @HiddenCash asked his social media followers if he should do a night drop, you have to admit that for a moment you weighed the cost of venturing out into the night in Fresno. Am I right? That’s because the murder rate, home invasions and other violent-crime is up in our great city. So, naturally, we waited to see where @HiddenCash was going to hide his cash, or cache, after dark. There were people from every corner of Fresno at the night drop and for the most part, people were friendly.

  4. Fresno Can Come Together

    We don’t often come together for a big event. We stay fairly segregated in our areas of town and we may all descend on the Big Fresno Fair, once-a-year, but that’s about it. Last night, people from every faith, race, education level, and income-level were out in full force. Having fun, hunting for some hidden cash.

  5. Fresno Believes the Loudest Voice

    A man, and I’m not even sure if he was @HiddenCash or not, stood atop a play structure yelling out riddles and clues. At one point he even used my friend, Paul Haugen, as a clue. Paul was in his pajamas, like a lot of Fresno at that park, wearing a Superman t-shirt. The man said something about “Superman’s cape” and people immediately started digging in the dirt and wood chips at Paul’s feet. He spoke loud and people listened… they didn’t even question him.

  6. Fresno is Competitive

    I knew this about Fresno, like many of these, but last night it was reinforced. Every news outlet was there live. Police were present and there were tons of flashlights in a space that would normally be pitch black. Everyone was in-it-to-win-it. My wife was making fun of me when I got home. “So, how much money did you win?” Well, I didn’t find any hidden cash. She then followed up with, “How do you feel about your hunting skills now?” I may have been a little overconfident as I left the house… like many of you other Fresnans. That’s because we are a competitive bunch. Everything is a competition and if there’s no prize in participating in something, we often don’t give it the time of day.

  7. Fresno Still Uses Twitter

    When Twitter came out, I was one of the first 100 people in Fresno to adopt Twitter. I had a Blackberry Pearl at the time and I remember being in meetings at work and my phone would buzz with a text. I had no apps, twitter was through their website and  text messaging at the time. But now, years later, I’ve wondered if Fresno was on the twitter-decline. I’ve used it less and less and instead have had an increased presence on other social media networks like Instagram and Facebook. But yesterday reinvigorated Fresno’s twitter use. I’ve even noticed people tweeting about @HiddenCash who just joined yesterday. So, maybe Fresno still likes twitter. We’ll see.

  8. Fresno Needs Hope

    As I arrived on the scene at Keith Tice Park, there were already hundreds of people scanning the area with flashlights. One woman, with a baby on her hip and other kids in tow, ran by me yelling back at her family. “You’ve gotta keep up! I CAN NOT LOSE THIS!” There was desperation in her voice. In my estimation, half of the people searching for the free cash needed it now and the other half were there to have fun and participate in something bigger than themselves. But no matter the reason, all of Fresno needs some glimmer of hope. I’m not talking about politically-charged Change and Hope, but actual, life changing, personally-impacting hope. Between the job market, the drought, Obamacare, and the summer heat, people are losing hope.

So, there you have it. Eight things I learned or re-discovered about Fresno from @HiddenCash. What’s really cool is that on Tuesday @HiddenCash tweeted that the response in Fresno was amazing, one of the biggest responses he’s had so far, and he’ll definitely be back. We’re looking forward to it.

Photo Jul 08, 12 48 37 PM

If you’re a speaker, you’ve probably listened to yourself or watched yourself give a talk.
If you’re a singer, you’ve probably listened to a recording or watched a video of yourself sing.
If you’re a model (and we all are), then you’ve evaluated a picture of yourself.

This is a humbling and embarrassing practice.

Audio. Video. Photo.

These are all mediums that capture the essence of a moment or a few moments strung together. They seem to freeze-frame the feeling or message of that moment. The hope we all have in recording so much of our lives into these, mostly digital, formats is to somehow be able to relive them and let others in on the secret of that environment.

While there’s nothing real profound here in this little video, I wanted people to get to know me a little, in a simple way. So here are a few things about myself. This video was created mostly for people who are a part of, or investigating the possibility of becoming a part of, Two Cities Church. I hope you enjoy this somewhat embarrassing video of myself.

Tripp and Tyler are easily my favorite comedy duo. They create videos for businesses, organizations and just for the fun of it. I’m very jealous of how creative they are and how they seem to execute each video so well. While I may not be that creative or talented, I enjoy the fruits of their labor. They get invited to host events, guest star on various outlets and represent large brands. I’ve seen them do some things live on stages at a couple of different conferences and I’m always entertained.

In their latest video, which is actually a commercial, they explore the idea that “You’re doing Twitter wrong.” They might be on to something here.

Tripp and Tyler Also Present:
Tripp and Tyler Laughing
An Honest Facebook Lookback
Every Conference Call, Ever
iBible Commercial
Super Bowl Party Etiquette

Happy Valentine’s Day from Two Cities Church.

We love to have a great time with popular music. It’s actually one of our goals to do a popular song every week. We want to be able to connect with anybody who walks in the door right away through music. It’s part of our church-plant culture. This past Sunday was no exception, we played Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips. Enjoy Paul Haugen and Jill Douty singing together during rehearsal before service.

You can play our entire playlist here on Spotify or download them on iTunes.

Gone, Gone, Gone – Phillip Phillips
This is Amazing Grace – Phil Wickham
Cornerstone – Hillsong Live
Say Something – A Great Big World, Christina Aguilera

Our next service is March 16 at 5pm, for details click here.