2010 Blessings

Posted on Facebook already, but I thought I would post on the official blog too.

Best moments of 2010:

  • Loving my Kindle, thanks to all of my family. Among the many books I read, Seth Godin’s Linchpin changed the way I think.
  • The Vikings best year 2009-10. No Super Bowl. But, for us fans. It was the best year we ever had.
  • Class of 2010 One Month to Live Video
  • Receiving an email from my friend Raine telling me that God hafd chiseled her heart and saved her.
  • The unselfishness of Dave Sparks and Jeff Riedel
  • Sandy Kisner and Linnie Milligan saving the week and jumping into drive our bus for a week with less than 48 hours notice!
  • Ethan batting .500 with 4 sacrifice bunts in the Team EAS tournament and then the team winning it.
  • Worship at World Changers in Charleston, WV
  • The incredible Jersey adults who served in Charleston
  • Smokey Mountains cabin with Lori and the Boys
  • Watching Emma leave girlhood and become a woman.
  • Miles WWE obsession.
  • Emma making the Dean’s List at Tiffin University
  • Jack growing as a drummer, being admired by his peers, and getting noticed by TRX cymbals and some bands he loves.
  • Watching the transformation of Nate Cramer as Jesus consumed his heart.
  • The whole Columbus World Changers was so daggone spiritually perfect it was breathtaking.
  • Bishop risking all the faith she had to jump into the Daraja internship. Then surprising her in Alabama with EK and DW.
  • Ashley Rogers living it out and going to Tanzania.
  • Twenty years of marriage.
  • Meeting Boni, Richard, and Jimmy. Real life Invisible Children.
  • Being challenged everyday by Erik’s passion for the gospel.
  • Watching Danny and Marty Rader’s step out in faith to serve Jersey Juniors at 945
  • The faithfulness of my flock of 101112 teachers. And my two stalwarts in CC ministry.
  • Class of 2011 40 Days of Purpose video.
  • Reading a Facebook post by a kid who is seeking the Lord, But, it is too inappropriate for me to post. But, it was more missional than most Christians.
  • Partnering with Pastor John and baptizing over 60 people in two services. It was beautiful.
  • High School Retreat.
  • The annual ‘go chop down the Christmas tree’ day.
  • Senior Christmas party.
  • Lori’s face when she opened her gift from Tiffany’s.
  • My kid’s appreciation of family and never complaining about where we have to go and never itching to leave. They live in the moment. I love that.
  • Jesus.

There is so much more. And it was healthy for me to look back and recognize all that God is blessing me and mine with. And if you look closely money is rarely involved, and when it is the beauty is in the giving.

I am sure I forgot something or someone. Don’t take that personal. Just add it in the comments. This is just what came flowing out as I reflected during some quiet time today.

 

Churched

Matthew Paul Turner’s Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess engages you from the get go. I am going to have to assume that if one to were read this with no church background at all, they would definitely leave the reading thinking the Baptists are all crackpots. But, if you have had any type of upbringing in the church you will be smirking a whole lot, unless of course you are a pure bred fundamentalist with no sense of humor. That would probably be the kind of person Turner hopes would read this and see themselves in it.

I grew up in a very small Methodist church in nowhere Wisconsin. I had the unfortunate belief of nothing. I just couldn’t get past Jesus being the core of great stories, just like Santa and Rudolph were. If I would have been transplanted from my comfortable church setting to the intense fundamentalist Baptist setting of the author, I kind of think I would have been way messed up. It took me a long time not to be messed up as it was.

As, the modern age of church evolves I think it is this type of reflection, on one’s perspective of the church growing up, that we can all learn from.  The bottom line is as Turner takes reveals his own messed up mind growing up the church we see one prevailing factor. In a fundamentalist church you have to live up to the rules of the church and the love the Lord is something that just doesn’t seem to exist. It is hard to love something you are terrified of.

When church is nothing but dressing up, having the appropriate hairstyle, witnessing out of guilt and fear, every sermon is a ‘get out of hell’ motivational speech, and a fearing of when the age of accountability is church becomes wearisome and scary.

Now, my words might make this book sound depressing. It is not. It is a blast. It is articulately funny. Turner taps into every stereotype of the church we have seen or have been. Through his narrative he makes us reflect on things we have done or wondered about in church and makes it OK to do so.  He covers the gamut. Door to door evangelism, what TV shows we ‘can’t’ watch, sleeping through sermons, spotting sin, etc.

We Christians can do a lot of things to get ourselves stereotyped and Turner’s perspective of his dad is a great example….“ There were times when I envied my father for having the right personality to be a Baptist. He was stubborn, could be cold-minded toward anything that wasn’t his idea, and was fully convinced that Pentecostals were a bunch of nut jobs.” Funny? Yes. Convicting? Yes. Remind you of someone you know? Definitely.

I highly recommend the book. It is an easy, enjoyable read, that will remind you that loving the Lord is the beauty of responding to His grace. And it so much easier to love grace than fear condemnation.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Read the first chapter here: http://t.co/yvRVJY h

Carolinas 2010

The Sipes’ boys, Mama Sipes, and surrogate family member Kyle H headed south.

The Carolinas 2010

Left town on Thursday around 10am. Ate at some West Virginia craft food court on the way. Arrived in South Carolina around 8pm. Checked into Clarion, which we did not like due to shady parking lot.

Went to downtown Greenville and ate at the Wild Wing Café. Walked in a sweet looking downtown. Miles scored a monster balloon after a 45-minute wait.

I booked the Hyatt Place for the next two nights. We checked out in the morning and headed to our 11am baseball game. We lost 2-1. Frustrating.

Foul ball to the windshield put us in a pinch and after a long time on the phone we secured an appointment for Saturday afternoon. We checked into the Hyatt, ate at McAlister’s Deli. Played in the pool playing Marco Polo then headed out to 7pm game at Furman University. Lost this one 6-1. Jordan Floro came to the game, since he goes to North Greenville University. He is a good man. Ate pizza at the team hotel at the pool with the team.

Slept in Saturday. Went to Cracker Barrel for lunch. Got window fixed early thankfully. Game at 4:30 against the East Cobb National Champions. Lost 3-2. Had two guys on with no outs in the bottom of the 7th and couldn’t score. Frustrating again. Ate at Zaxby’s.

Sunday consolation game was at 11:30. We couldn’t get it going and lost 11-3. Left there and headed to Nantahala. Punched in the wrong address in the GPS and a two hour drive took us five. Bleh.

Headed into the back woods up steep one lane gravel roads. Praying that the cabin was how it looked online. It was. It was perfect. Scared the family half to death on the drive up there. But, it was awesome. We unpacked and we headed to Bryson City and ate at an Italian place that was amazing.

The cabin that met expectations.

Slept in Monday. Muddled around and headed down to the Nantahala Outdoor Center to check in for Whitewater. We traveled seven miles with our guide, Laurel from Boston. The trip was just right for Jack and Miles. The water was ice cold. Got off the water, bought our picture, headed to cabin to clean up and then into town for BBQ.

I died when we got back. Crashed hard before 10 and didn’t get up til 9 the next day. We tried to extend our stay but the cabin was booked so we left at 11 and started on our way. The goal was outlet mall.

We drove through the Smokey Mountains. It was scenic, beautiful, and long. Made it through Gatlinburg, Did IHOP in Pigeon Forge and did the outlet mall there to. Drove to Knoxville and struggled finding a room, but we settled on the overpriced Staybridge Suites. Nice. Walked to Mimi’s Café. Went to Target and had yogurt at Menchi’s.

Drove home Wednesday. The end.

Buying Books and Stuff

The Kindle Store.

Shopping is not the easiest. Well, it is if you know what you want.

I like book lists and suggestions when I look up a title. There are no lists like you might see on the real Amazon site and their only two suggestions for you to check out that might be similar to what you were looking up. Not a biggie, but I like looking around for stuff and this limits that fun. Much of the time I will spend some time on my computer looking up stuff on Amazon and then I can do one of two things. I can add it to my wish list when I am on my computer or the Kindle has an option to add to you wish list and you can keep it there. You can search within the Kindle store by typing in the author, title, key word, etc. It gives you the options of Books, Newspapers, Magazines, Blogs, Top Sellers, New & Noteworthy, and Recommended For you. Now in that option (recommended for you) they have around four pages or forty titles of suggestions.

Most books run around $9.99. Here are the prices of what I have on my wish list right now:

–       A Praying Life – $9.99

–       The Pursuit of God – 99 cents (although I am unsure of the formatting, i.e. PDF’s)

–       Souls in Transition – $9.99

–       Superfreakonomics – $9.99

–       Repacia: The Second Circle of Heck – $9.99

–       Freedom from Tyranny of the Urgent – $9.99

–       Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit – $9.99

–       The End is Now – $9.59

This next part of shopping might just be my favorite option.

Try a Sample.  This is beautiful. Especially for me, “Kenny the book starter”. You can download a sample that will give you up to the foreword and the first two chapters. I have found this to be incredibly helpful. This has allowed me to affirm that the book will be good one or not. I can see the writing style of new authors I have been interested in. I can read some of a book that hits on interests I have. This has saved be some money so far. And that is also why Superfreakonomics is in my wish list and why I just finished reading Timothy Keller’s Counterfeit Gods. I currently have samples to read of Perspectives on Family Ministry, The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher, and The Gospel Driven Life.

What have I bought or read?

–       Timothy Keller – Counterfeit Gods

–       In My Place Condemned He Stood – J.I. Packer (a free giveaway from Crossway)

–       Seth’s Blog

–       Suffering and the Sovereignty of God – John Piper

–       Desiring God (PDF) – John Piper

–       USA Today

–       Preaching in a Postmodern Culture (PDF) – Keller/Clowney

–       Reverb Study (PDF)

–       The Pilgrims Progress (Public Domain) – John Bunyan

–       Preaching Christ in All of Scripture – Edmund Clowney

–       The Complete User’s Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle 2 – This was a 99 cent book that is worth every penny

–       ESV Study Bible

–       Orthodoxy (Public Domain) – GK Chesterson

–       Why We Love the Church – Kevin DeYoung

–       Romans – R.C. Sproul

–       Vintage Church – Mark Driscoll

–       The New Oxford American Dictionary – Included.

Next: Wrap Up

Reading: Isn’t that what you want to know?

Reading.
I think I have covered how a book reads pretty well, but let me elaborate on what reading does not translate well. Bibles. The Kindle is not going to replace how you carry your Bible. It is too tedious. For us Bible junkies we are rarely reading through a passage that is not going to take us to another passage somewhere in Scripture and that’s where the fun ends with the Kindle and the Bible. For example, if I am reading Matthew chapter 3 and it references Exodus (not sure if it would off the top of my head) it gets tedious. I have to go to Table of Contents, scroll to Exodus, click on Exodus, scroll to the chapter I want, and then turn pages to get to the verse I need. Bleh. You might wonder if you could just search the book and go directly to Exodus 3:17. Nope. If you search that it is going to be a very comprehensive search of Exodus and the number 3, and the number 17. Not together. It doesn’t read the formatting of a Bible the way we would want it to.

Is this a bad thing? Only for the sake I hoped it would be a great way to carry my Bible. And, because I love holding a Bible and perusing its pages this one doesn’t hurt so bad. Maybe because I spent money for it, but let’s face it if I have an Ereader I am going to have a Bible on it.

To finish that thought pattern. The Kindle is just not built for reference books. And for Bible lovers and pastors the Bible is a reference book. I would say that what I use in Logos Bible Software I would not use with my Kindle. And what I use my Kindle to read are not books I would add to Logos. Kabeesh?

Newspapers. I ran a 14-day trial of USA Today. Its OK. It has been very nice to read while traveling as compared to reading the news on my phone. But, it is not worth $11.99 a month.

It breaks down the paper in its appropriate sections and then you can scroll page by page through the articles. If you don’t want to read the article you turn to the scroll button take you to the next article with one move. You can also go to a section and it can list all the articles in it and you can go directly to that article.

Magazines. Haven’t tried one yet.

Blogs. If you are blog reader I think the Kindle is pretty limited since you can read any blog online for free.  You can access a RSS feeder like Google Reader, but it is similar to a mobile web look and the Internet is slower than your phone and a bit buggy. We’ll cover the Internet option later. I am only doing one blog. And that is Seth Godin. It is .99 a month and I like the way he reads and he keeps it short and too the point. I don’t really see me adding any other blogs since I access my Reader all day long and keep up with who I am following that way for free.

Note: I have since deleted my blog subscription. Waste of money.

Documents. This topic is bigger than you think. Kindle’s read PDF’s. Some interesting things to note; you can email PDF’s straight to your Kindle or USB them. What PDF’s would I need? One, is our Bible Fellowship curriculum.  The others are books on PDF’s. I already had Suffering and the Sovereignty of God in PDF format before I got the Kindle. I recently downloaded a series of talks from Timothy Keller and Edmund Clowney on PDF also.

Here are some things you should know.  All those options I mentioned earlier like font size and highlighting are null and void with PDF’s. That is frustrating. But there is a work around. With a Mac you can use Calibre and with a PC you can use Mobi Pocket Creator to convert them to a more Kindle friendly format. This is what I have chosen to do because it brings back the options of highlighting and notes. And having the PDF’s are pointless without those options for me. But, again there is a drawback. In the conversion most if not all formatting goes away. So it is one long document without any breaks. But, either way, PDF’s will not have a table of contents.

Since I wrote this I have found that Books turned into PDF’s are only readable if you don’t format them for highlighting and note taking. If you have additional questions about PDF’s let me know.

Next post: Buying books and stuff.

The reason the whole holding the book thing has worn off.

The reason.

Why has the whole holding the book thing worn off?

Highlighting and note taking. Now hear me out. Now, the majority of my reading is related to ministry. I highlight a bunch and then come back to those highlights to see what stuck out when I read it.  It is not the same with a Kindle, but the way Kindle works suits me well. To highlight you click before the first word then scroll (it highlights as you do) across the words you want to highlight and at the end click again and tada your section is underlined. Note taking is the same way and even simpler. You just start typing and a text box comes up and you type to your hearts desire. Hit OK when you are done and you have just now created your own neat little footnote.  A couple of other nice tools include a built in dictionary. Just move your cursor to the word and a inconspicuous box comes up at the bottom with a definition. Reading the author’s footnotes is easy, Move your cursor to the footnote number, click and it takes you to a page with what that footnote as. Hit Back or Previous Page and you are back to where you were and continued reading.

You might still be thinking, “ That sounds OK, but how helpful are highlights and footnotes in a Ereader. How does one reference them without clicking page after page to find what you noted”. That is a good question and my answer is why I am not missing the feel of a real book.

You can access your notes while you are in that book, You can choose to you can see what you have been noting at anytime. Your highlights and notes become a file called My Clippings.  You can open that file like a book and read through your stuff anytime. The icing on that cake is that you can hook the Kindle up to your computer and print that file and you now have a printed list of all your notes and all your highlights. Believe me, that is a real deal sealer for me.

Next Post: Reading different formats.

The Kindle review begins

Ah, the Kindle review. Finally.

It has taken awhile, but I wanted to accomplish some things and experiment with some options before I posted.

–       I wanted to complete reading a book. (a good goal, with a Kindle, I know) But, I tend to be a book starter and not a finisher, so I wanted to break that habit with the Kindle. That has been semi- successful.

–       There are different things to read on a Kindle (book, newspaper, blog, magazine, documents) and I wanted to get my hands dirty with all of them

–       There are some added options (internet, mp3 player) I wanted to break in also, so that I did not judge them too quickly.

The device as a whole is a lovely. Yes, I said lovely. Now, I can affirm the statement by the fact I have been lusting over a Kindle since they were released around two years ago. So, for it to impress when I opened it and throughout the first  couple of months is impressive. It was like that movie you have over hyped yourself to see by its greatness and after seeing it you are so glad it lived up to its billing.

Cosmetics

The Kindle is light. It is easy to hold and the buttons are perfectly placed for page turning. The power button is easy to use on the top and the Kindle shuts down after a few minutes of being idle. That is not a pain. It boots back up quickly. There is headphone jack on top for mp3’s and text to speech listening of a book. On the right side are the volume buttons.

On the front is a mini joystick that guides all your movement on the Kindle. It moves in all four directions and clicks down when you are selecting.  This scroll/button works fine, although the cursor moves much too slow for my pace. Not a deal breaker, but slow. Also, on the front is a qwerty keyboard for typing in book searches among other things. It is non-obtrusive and easy to use.

There is a USB/Power input on the bottom. You can charge it by plugging it into the wall or pull off the plug and use a USB port on a computer to charge it. You can also use your computer to manage the contents of the Kindle. We will cover that later. As a whole, the unit is pretty to look at and hold.  There is still a part of me that thinks it could shatter if dropped or the screen could easily scratch or get spilled on and be cooked. But, no spills or drops so far. And the screen seems to be fine, since I now have a case and it is not exposed.

The battery power seems to hold up just fine. Word is to keep it charged between 25%-75% and it will do just fine. It does not come with a case so I agonized over that choice. No, really, I agonized. Finally settled on this one because I like its style. I like that it folds all the way back like a book and it has a light you can buy that fits right in. Bought the light too and I am happy with those choices.

Options

You have the ability to change the size of the font to six different sizes. This has come in especially handy at bedtime when I want to read without my glasses. I just blow up the font size. You can choose how narrow you want the text to look on a page by choosing how many words per line there are. Text to speech allows you to hear the book read to you. You can choose the pace of the voice and if you want male or female. So far, I have found this relativity useless. Because I would only use this if it was like an audio book and the author or a compelling narrator were reading it to me. This is one of those electronic robot voices that is sounding out the words. You should hear it try to figure out Bible verse formatting. Lots of numbers being read, that’s for sure. And finally you can change the screen rotation for any side. Either landscape direction or either portrait. I found the landscape view helpful when a table was too wide to fit on the portrait view.

The reading experience. You  have to be a book lover to read this. And your first question will probably be, is it the same? Do you miss holding, writing in, and highlighting in a book? Well, so far it’s fine.

Now, I am an old school music lover and CD, tape, and record collector that has converted to 90% downloaded music. That fact alone has made this transition much easier and much less hard to do.

Let’s face it, for me; a collection has to do with ego. The sweeter the book looks, the more I have on the shelf, the excitement of ordering or receiving new ones, etc. That’s all good, but the only thing that is missing with a Kindle is you seeing my collection when you walk into my office. Really the whole holding the book, thing has worn off since I got the Kindle. And there is good reason for that for you who can’t imagine that. What is that reason? I’ll post that tomorrow.