Hey, what fun to be interviewed by Zac and Chad for the After 9 podcast. Zac and Chad are two fun and thoughtful guys with a podcast about church ministry to students. They invited me to try to summarize 65ish hours of conversations from all my Sermonsmith interviews. Thanks for the easy task guys!
It’s the Easter season, and the text for the week describes countless creatures worshiping a slaughtered Jesus on a throne. So, what better thing to talk about than the anxiety inducing 2016 election?
After only an hour of conversation with him, it’s evident that Andy is an energetic and passionate guy. That’s certainly the case when he is talking about writing sermons.
The site was designed here in Austin by Brad Istre of The Sidedoor Studio, and then I did the development to get it all connected into WordPress for them.
In a New York Times column on the topic, David Brooks summarizes this reality more bluntly: “[Great creative minds] think like artists but work like accountants.”
I’ve read many books on doing creative work, and this quote captures the heart of them all. My best seasons of generation and growing ideas come when I have good routines of reading and reflecting though the day to day.
I’ve been an EitS fan since buying the Friday Night Lights soundtrack the day after I saw the movie. This is their first album in five years, not including a few movie soundtracks. I was cautious that it would be too much of a departure from their previous stylings after hearing the early release of Disintegration Anxiety. Even on the first listen, it hooked me and it hooked me good. More ambient than their previous work, but still a lot of hopeful melodies working up and down and carrying each song along.
Easter Sunday — a great day to tell the most interesting story in human history. Fittingly, we had a lively day, and I’m guessing some of that came through even in the podcast.
Sean preaches not too far up the way from me in Temple, TX. I’d already heard him on my friend Shane Blackshear’s podcast, so I knew he would have thoughtful things to say about preaching.
Always fun to sneak away for a Sunday to do a sermon with our friends at Vox Veniae. Good good people and gracious gracious listeners.
I came to believe that stories have healing power, that they can help us deal with difficult emotional situations by giving us examples of human behavior, perhaps similar in some way to the struggles we are going through at some stage of life, and which might inspire us to try a different strategy for living.
Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.
After seeing it on my shelf for a couple of months, I’m looking forward to working through this book.
I may or may not have referred to my iPad Mini as my fourth child yesterday. I love the thing. It’s not often that we are separated by more than a wall or two.
Two recent developments find me using it more and finding it more useful. They have been like nitro injectors for my iPad Mini use. (That’s a car racing analogy. I know nothing about car racing, but I’ve played enough racing games to know that the nitro button gives a nice performance boost. So that’s what I’m saying here.)
My simple and lean iPad Mini setup has gotten so handy that I often leave my laptop at home. And by often, I mean very often. Most of the tasks I really need my laptop for these days are the same kind of tasks I want my big second monitor for too – website making, podcast recording, some heavy duty study for sermon prep, some administrative tasks that benefit from pixels galore.
It’s bliss to get out of the house with a puny setup. Maybe even narcotic. It’s useful for study, meetings, or quick stops. I don’t need a bag. I don’t need a charger. I don’t need physical therapy. Here’s what this setup looks like:
So, back to those two developments…
For much of what I do, the biggest hang up for putting my iPad Mini to work was getting words in there. I can type with my thumbs on it pretty well, but don’t have the emotional dexterity for more than a few sentences. I’ve sometimes carried a keyboard designed for a normal sized iPad, because it was the smallest keyboard I could really type on, even with my pencil fingers. But it was bigger than the Mini and seemed silly to carry. So I didn’t.
In January 2015, I was enamored with the newly introduced WayTools TextBlade. That portability would be a perfect match for my Mini, my self said, so I pre-ordered it with some hard-earned Christmas money. I settled in and imagined my portable life to come. Many delays, months, and excuses later, they still haven’t shipped, and I canceled months ago. But I gained an imagination for a puny, portable working kit.
A few months ago, I picked up the Microsoft Portable Folding Keyboard when it was on a half-price deal at Best Buy. It’s perfect. I’d seen pictures before, but I thought that gap in the middle would be awkward. It’s not. It folds up smaller than the footprint of the iPad Mini, and about the same height.
Some of my favorite work on the iPad Mini is slow, deliberate work. It’s thinking and focusing, but it almost always involves grabbing ideas out of my head and forming them into words. Efficient typing on a good keyboard matters here, and this one feels great. It’s captured thousands and thousands of words already. Love it.
2) Slide Over, Split View and other such wizardry.
The keyboard alone would have been useful, but the newer additions to iOS, and a few apps too, are equal partners. A few minutes ago, I use Slide Over with a browser to look something up while typing this. Great. When responding to emails, I can pull in my calendar to schedule a lunch. Fantastic. When doing sermon prep, I can use Split View to capture notes right alongside Logos. Euphoric.
Also super duper helpful of late is all the behinds the scenes velcroing between apps as words and ideas get moved around. Almost every week, I find a new way to use Drafts and/or Workflow to toss a word or sentence into a file with related ideas that are in development. The links, asides, and quotes I add to this blog can all be sent to the universe from my iPad with only a few taps – far more efficient than the same process would be on my MacBook.
And some finishing touches…
As you can see from the image above, there are a few physical additions that make sure my puny setup is also convenient to carry. The case is a Moko iPad Mini case, which I think I first found via a mention from Katie Floyd on MacPowerUsers. (Thanks Katie!) It’s sturdy, easy to grip, a snug fit, and gosh darn cheap.
The clincher for it all, in this case literally, is a Grifiti Big Ass Cross Style band. These are all purpose silicone bands which hold thingamabobs together. The one pictured here is a six inch band, which still has enough give to pack in a skinny notebook too. And it’s red, because we’re leaning in toward baseball season – go Angels!
I always enjoy conversations with thoughtful people. Matthew Watson is a thoughtful person. Therefore I enjoyed this conversation. I hope you will too.
Darren and I share many mutual friends, but this was our first time meeting and as always, I enjoyed the conversation. Darren was jet lagged but you wouldn’t know it to hearing his passion come through
Can’t complain when the assigned reading for the week is the Parable of the Lost Son — perhaps Jesus’ most famous teaching ever. Also making appearances were Shaun the Sheep and traumatic memories from Chuck E Cheese.
This morning, the coffee shop friend in line in front of me bought my coffee. An hour or so later, a friend from our church community brought a chocolate chip cookie. And I just finished reading from AJ Swoboda’s new book, The Dusty Ones, that he had sent my way for free.
This is my kind of morning.
A good theologian, one might say, is a person who is close to people, who has a creative imagination and the gift of listening, who shows a commitment to hard work, who accepts the risk of making a mistake, who is a person of self-renewal: a person dedicated to overcoming routine and considering theology as an ongoing task and a responsibility rather than a job to be done.
Thankful to say, after only a few pages in, that the content outpaces the cover of this book.
It’s that day of the year where the MLB At Bat app gets moved from the back shed to the home screen on my iPad. It’s only the first game of Spring Training, but a good day none the less.
These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. Thus it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements. “Life” does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are also very real and concrete.