Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Tools of the Trade: Digital Organization

A couple of weeks ago, I ran through a few of my in-print organizational resources. Moving on from there, I thought I’d share the three main tools I use for keeping up with items digitally. These flow together—I set aside a spot to sync up print and digital once a week, which takes the real organization tool: discipline. Without that, none of the rest of this matters!

1. Nozbe: after meandering around for the past several years, I’m back to Nozbe as my task/project outline software. First, I use a project management software because it provides a different way to organize tasks and events—I can see them by responsibility while they still all end up on the same calendar. I can enter them the same way. Second, I like Nozbe because it will automatically pick up Evernote reminders and add them to the task list. The task list then links over to Google Calendar. In essence, Nozbe lets me aggregate tasks that way. And yes, many times I enter “events” as “tasks” just to populate the calendar. That does not mean family time is a burdensome “task.” Just that it needs doing!

Nozbe has two shortfalls for me. One can be solved by entering events onto Google Calendar instead. It’s the recurring task structure. For example, I have meetings the 2nd Monday of every month. Nozbe’s recurrence system can’t handle that—I can program it for every 4 weeks, which eventually breaks down (it has already this year)-or I can program every month. That gives me a task the same date, not the same day. Google Calendar handles it. 

The other is one that I have not resolved, and it’s the one thing that had me using Todoist for awhile. I have dependent tasks. As a pastor-teacher and writer, I have recurring dependent tasks. For example, the steps to a sermon. Each week, it’s translate the passage. Then correct and compare the translation. Then it’s outline and observe in the passage for meaning. Then it’s… (you get the point.) I’d like to be able to nest those tasks so that the process dynamically flows. That’s the other reason for a task manager: every day can be different and every week even worse. So, being able to have tasks show up and stay “on-top” of the list until done is helpful. I’d like to have this flow better for dependent tasks. Otherwise, Nozbe’s simplicity is beautiful.

2. Evernote: Google it. I first had Evernote when I got a Blackberry in 2008. Had no idea what to do with it. Now I don’t know what I will do without it. Almost everything goes into Evernote. Anything that doesn’t is mainly something that’s missing a plan to get it in there. I’m still hesitant to store crucial financial stuff in Evernote. Which is odd, since I store it in Quicken and my laments over that are growing daily.

Evernote lets you store and share information. It lets you set reminders on information. If you write book reviews, it’s a no-brainer for a way to keep up with what books you should be reviewing. And your notes on them. As a student, I can store all sorts of useful data. Evernote deserves its own post, but suffice it to say that it’s worth your time to learn and your money for Pro.

3. Google Calendar: everything on a calendar, which then makes it all shareable. Plus, GCal syncs across devices and platforms. The one thing it does not do, other than put stuff on itself for you, is put everything onto one calendar. I have my calendar and then there is my Nozbe generated calendar. In the coming year, we’re going to generate an East End Baptist Church Google Calendar. It will all display on one page, but that’s not the same as on “one calendar.”

Those are some of the technology tools I keep in the box. They help. Discipline, though, remains the key.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sermon Recap for May 1

Ok, I’m back to Sermon Recaps on Tuesday due to unforeseen circumstances. Good thing we’re not in the middle of a prophecy seminar, true?

Morning service saw a guest preacher, Dr. Julio Montalvo. Dr. Julio Montalvo serves as the president of the Seminario Teol√≥gico Bautista de Trujillo - Asociaci√≥n Tom Cox (Baptist Theological Seminary of Trujillo Peru, in Association with Tom Cox).  In addition, he is currently serving his second consecutive term as the president of the Peruvian Baptist Convention.

Here is the audio on his sermon—you’ll hear him and Dr. Ken Bowie, retired IMB Missionary, who interpreted.

 

The evening saw our first 5 Minute Sermon night, where several of our men preached for, you guessed it, no more than 5 minutes. They all did quite well.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Share the Word: Deuteronomy 31

In Summary:

Moses has very little time left in the story. His story draws to an end with the close of the Pentateuch and has only three chapters left. He has led Israel out Egypt and up to the Promised Land. The story now focuses on him personally rather than the nation as a whole.

Deuteronomy 31 features the beginning of Moses’ closing words to Israel. This chapter is headed by an important distinction: these are the words of Moses to all Israel, rather than Moses speaking for the Lord. That is an important distinction, although my belief in all of the Bible as inspired by God leads me to see this still as God’s Word. Prior to this chapter, Moses has given the official terms and conditions of the covenant.

Here we see the beginning of his summary of those terms. Think of it like this: there are long, wordy terms and conditions for the software you use. I can sum it up: don’t make illegal copies of the software, don’t break it down to make your own version, don’t expect it to do more than it claims, don’t expect the company to pay you for it not doing what it should do, and don’t expect the company to provide you a new computer if it breaks yours.

One of those is the legal covenant for using iTunes. The other is my synopsis. Both are accurate—this is the best analogy to what we see Moses do in the first portion of Deuteronomy 31.

The second portion records the Lord’s (YHWH)’s words to Moses about what the future holds for Israel. It’s a disturbing look at the future of apostasy and failure. God gives a command to Moses to write a song for the Israelites to remember the covenant by, and the commissions Joshua to take charge of Israel. The song is Deuteronomy 32, so we’ll see that later.

In Focus:

Focus in on Deuteronomy 31:9 for a moment. Moses has written out the Law. He now gives a copy to the Levites who carry the Ark and “to all the elders,” likely meaning that they are witnesses to the event. It is also possible that there are additional copies which are entrusted to the leadership of the community while one is preserved in the Ark.

Is it important? This is recorded twice in this chapter (Deuteronomy 31:26,) with this second time highlighting the evidentiary purpose of the preservation. The Ark-held copy is for a witness against the Israelites, in the days when they abandon the covenant.

In Practice:

Practically speaking, the first item we should see is that the covenant and its written record belong to the people, not to just one person. The idea we can copy here is that no one person—be it a Moses or a Joshua—should possess the Word of God and block the access of others to it. Why? Partly because all of us are accountable to the Word of God. This is part of the Christian heritage of our nation, as well: the rule of law.

As an aside: we are not in a rule of the majority nation. We are in a rule of law nation. The majority voices their opinion to make the law, but then the law rules. Otherwise there is chaos—and someone claiming to be popular can subvert the reality. Further, the law rules and prohibits the majority from making abusive decisions to the detriment of the minorities.

Next piece of practical results? This: the consistent presence of the Word of God is a witness against us, His covenant people, for our failure to keep that covenant. We live in a Bible-rich age and our lives are Bible-poor. That should not be.

Finally, there is the ever-present reminder here that generations follow after generations. Let us not assume we are the first to follow Jesus nor that we will be the last. Let us learn from those who have entrusted the task to us, and then let us entrust the task onward!


In Nerdiness:

Of all the laws Moses restates in the first part of Deuteronomy 31, he picks remission of debts in Deuteronomy 31:10. Think on what that means for how we handle economics.