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Showing posts from July, 2019

Learning to Use Spreadsheets

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Even though I am a pastor, I found myself using spreadsheets more and more often. I also found the limits of using Word documents for planning purposes. But I never learned to use them beyond basic input. In previous jobs, I relied on the templates created by others, but I knew very little of how to change them. So I gave myself a goal recently to learn to use spreadsheets well. I should I have set a measurable goal. Instead, I set a process goal. I watch 2-3 tutorial videos per week, and then implement it on my current projects. Our office suite at the church is Google Docs, so I've been learning Google Sheets. The best channel I've found for this is the Learn Google Spreadsheets channel. The Google Sheets for Beginners playlist is the playlist I'm working my way through. One way to get through them a little quicker is to adjust the speed to 1.5 speed. My favorite tricks I've learned so far are: Using data validation to create input options for tasks on a

August Blog Challenge (August Posting Challenge)

As I get this site up and running, I set a challenge for myself to post every day in August (minus my day off each week). That is 26 times. I want this site to be filled out with things to see. And I want to throw some things at the wall and see what sticks. I want to see what I enjoy writing on and what formats I think I can do. I would like the posts to be long, but I want to get the challenge done, so I might write short posts on occaision. I might pick a topic and write on it a few times. I imagine I'll write on church stuff, cybersecurity, some fitness, etc. Those are all things I am thinking about. My goal is to get it done, not evaluate if everything fits a brand. This site is about me personally and professionally. So I will write in August on what I'm thinking about personally and professionally. Thanks for joining me.

Tips for buying your first fountain pen

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I got my first fountain pen several years ago when I was in seminary. Several professors used them and promoted their use (Donald Whitney and Hershael York, in particular). It was a Pilot Metropolitan. I got a second one as a gift when I graduated--Metropolitan again. I enjoy writing with them, and haven't intended to collect more. But after I bent the nib (the tip) on one of those, I wanted a fountain pen for my office. So I got a Pilot Kakuno. Some of what makes a fountain pen special is the care. Once a month, I clean and refill my pens. I takes a little bit of time spread over two days to make sure it is clean and dry. Then I refill it and take them back to their places (how many other pens have places? None.). The ritual makes writing with a fountain pen so much more enjoyable. It is like hand-grinding coffee for a pour-over in the morning. It takes time and effort but that is the fun of it. What should my first fountain pen be? The Pilot Kakuno. It is promoted as

How should pastors use social media?

Mark DeMoss told an interviewer a few years ago that the way pastors use social media would lead a person to believe in prosperity gospel no matter what his sermons said. He was referring to the way pastors often post pictures of restaurants and trips to conferences and date nights with their wives. Every post is about victory and success and ease. The message is "Become a Christian or a pastor and your life will be amazing like this!" I actually saw a single mom comment on a pastor's Florida conference post recently, "I wish I could take vacations like that!" We need to be careful the "reality" that we present on social media. That woman is being misled and the church is being taught that their money goes to give the pastor cool trips and experiences. Here are two scenarios that I'm thinking through regarding social media and how I use it as a pastor. A person, non-Christian, wants to learn about a church or about Christ and they check

Writing to Authors

I keep a list of every book that I read. I started when I was around 15 or 16. The list began with just a title and author. It now includes a date, a ranking of 1-5 stars, and a paragraph of my thoughts on the book. I've kept it for 19 years so far. It's one of my prize possessions. I tried turning it into a self-published book last year but got bogged down with other things. I still plan to self-publish the list and some essays I wrote for it. Recently, I started a new thing. If the author of a book that I read and enjoy is alive, then I find their contact info and send them an email. If it is really special, a physical card. I'm sending N.T. Wright a note card because I enjoyed Simply Jesus so much. I figure that most authors don't hear kind words about their work. They probably just hear complaints. When all the work is done, it would probably be nice to hear some feedback. So I write a note saying what I thought and one specific thing that I enjoyed or took

How to read 3-4 books per month without going crazy

People ask me regularly how I read so much. Everybody thinks they should read more. I'm no different. I wish I read more. But here is how I read right now: Reading regularly is better than waiting until I have a few afternoon to read a lot. I try to read 10-30 pages per day in several books. That way I can read through several books per month. I read something theological in the early morning after reading my Bible (7-10 pages). I'm currently reading N.T. Wright. I read something leadership or church related first thing at work (1 chapter). Currently, Small Church Essentials by Karl Vaters. I read 30 pages of something fun each evening before bed. I recently increased that from 20 pages to 30 pages because I found that reading 20 pages per day meant I only read 2 fun books per month. Currently, The Shadow War and The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken. Even if I miss my goal in each category, I try to read a page or two just to keep up some movement in my books. If the

What's the danger from using FaceApp to age your face?

Aging your face sounds fun and harmless (just like uploading your face to many other apps is), but the terms of service on FaceApp suggests that there is a 70% chance (or greater) they mean harm. They want permission to download every photo from your phone and permission to use all those photos for commercial purposes. That is a problem. These companies can use the info to train their Artificial Intelligence algorithms about faces in general, they can sell your photos to companies building a profile about you, or they can sell them to a government or crime syndicate that is building a database of people around the world. Won't there be a worldwide database anyway? More like worldwide databases. There are and will be many different databases. We should be careful the ones that we encourage and help. That is my point. What's different about posting to Facebook than allowing the FaceApp to have your photos? The person that owns the database is the difference.Just becau

The basics of protecting yourself online

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As I write this, people all over my Facebook feed are downloading an app that ages their face so they can see what they might look like when they are old. I was suspicious immediately. After a bit of research, I found that the app is owned by a Russian company and that it asks for permanent access to all your photos as a condition of use. This happens every few months. Popular apps or websites promise to do something cool with your face or your dog's face or tell you about your personality. But most people don't know what can and is done with that information. I had planned on writing a bit about Digital Hygiene--learning to use digital tools well and protect yourself (and others). This event bumped it up on my list of things to write about. Below is a bookmark that gives a basic overview of how to function online in a way that protects your info and devices. Most of these are things that are pretty easy. I'll write more about passwords soon.

How to Connect with Community Leaders in a Small Town

I was recently asked to speak to a group of pastors on how to connect with community leaders in a small town. I thought that might be helpful to share here. My kids tell me that I always say, "the number one rule is..." They protest that everything cannot be a number one rule. They are wrong. Here are my three "Number One Rules" for pastors wanting to connect with community leaders. Show up The most important thing is to show up. Find the people that you need to meet and show up at their office. Find a club or organization and show up. Then keep showing up. Most people go to introduce themselves but then never show up again. It takes time for people to trust you. So keep showing up.  The first thing I did on my first day in this town was to go to Village Hall to meet the Village President. I was a church planter with 17 people and a building that needed to be renovated. And that introduction was worth an entire month of other things I could have d

About Me

I'm a husband and father. Pastor of Manchester Baptist Church in Manchester, IL. I graduated from Bryan College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I grew up in Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky, and Georgia. I write about my personal and professional interests here on my website. Topics might include church planting, theology, tech, fitness, ice cream, gardening, reviews, etc. * This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.