Cognitive Productivity with macOS

4 of 5 stars to Cognitive Productivity with macOS: 7 Principles for Getting Smarter with Knowledge by Luc Beaudoin

We must process a lot of information, and this book provided some useful (cognitive) categories for sorting and prioritizing and reviewing knowledge using Apple products. I am thankful for the terms and for the many screencasts linked to in the book. I already use some of the apps he recommended and will be adding OmniOutliner and a flashcard app to my arsenal.

What Good Is That

If you walk into your house and your wife is cooking something new for dinner dinner that smells delicious and she offers you a bite of whatever she’s making, what good is that taste? Or if you are watching a show about food, especially one of the shows where the host visits a hole-in-the-wall place, and you get to see how the dish is made and the host takes a bite and his face lights up, what good is that to you?

Neither situation is meant to discourage you or frustrate you. When your wife gives you a taste, she’s not flaunting how you’ll never get any more. When the host enjoys his taste, he’s not rubbing it in the audience’s face that he gets what they can’t. He’s inviting you to take a trip, maybe to a place that’s nearby that you never knew about.

There are times when I reference things you might not have much familiarity with. Last Lord’s Day I mentioned Prince Caspian a couple times, previously I’ve mentioned things from Omnibus books or from other resources that caught my attention. It’s possible that this could frustrate you. “I don’t know anything about that.” But that assumes that you want me only to prepare things you’ve already eaten before, maybe even cut up the meat for you.

I could act superior, and that would be a turn off. I could give a taste that isn’t tasty. But giving a taste is an invitation to get more for yourself, not discourage you because you’ve never had that dish before.

And so with this taste of communion with the Lord. It is no discouragement that we’re not with the Lord, it is an encouragement that there is more where this came from.

Full Attention

The theme of our recent youth retreat was self-control, and that’s also been a theme for my recent study and sermons in 1 Corinthians 9-10. Self-control touches everything in our lives.

Usually our thinking about our self-control starts with physical/external/tangible things. We think about what we eat, what we do, how much we sleep, and so on. These are very much a part of self-control, just as athletes exercise self-control in all things in order to win the prize.

But while that’s true, self-control starts inside and actually has more to do with the inside than outside.

Take corporate worship for example. We are told to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

There are two parts to this. We are not to neglect meeting, which means we must show self-control to get here. There are many “good” reasons not to. There are always distractions and difficulties. Sometimes it is impossible, but don’t think that it will always be easy. That’s why self-control is necessary.

The second part is that we are to consider encouraging one another, which means we must show self-control to be here. Get here, and be here. We can’t check out, wander off in our minds to some other place, or distract ourselves with digital devices. We must be self-controlled in our considering work. This is the time we meet with God, and this is a time for building up the body, which requires our full attention.

The Most Honorable Lineage

Near the end of Prince Caspian, Aslan feasted the Narnians (yes, feasted can be a transitive verb with a direct object), and declared Caspian, “a son of Adam from the world of Adam’s sons,” as the true King of Narnia. The story, though, was not so positive about the sons of Adam, and when asked if Caspian understood it, Caspian replied, “I do indeed, Sir. I was wishing that I came from a more honorable lineage.”

When we think about our own history, don’t we wish something similar?

“You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,” said Aslan. “And that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.”

Not only is this actually true for us, in a non-fiction way, we have even more. We come from the lineage of the cross. We are subjects to, and sons of, the Lord Christ.

The death of Christ on our behalf ought to mortify our illusions of self-importance. We are not great. We have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The cross is our death. The grave is our bed. Such weight bows us.

And also, God sent His Son to die for all those He loved. The benefits of His death are applied to us. We have died with Christ, but we have also been raised with Him. Somehow this is a weight that makes us skip and dance and sing with joy.

So we gather around the Lord’s Table to commune with Him as those who have a the most honorable lineage.

There Is Always Someone

All sin is personal. I don’t mean only that a person sins, but that sin is always an attitude or an action against a person. Righteousness has to do with what is right between persons. You can’t be right, or wrong, autonomously.

One thing this implies is that you cannot ultimately be angry due to the “situation.” There isn’t an impersonal cause of your bitterness. You can call it what you want, but you can’t blame no-one. There is always someone behind every frustrated or annoyed, in other words unkind and impatient, response.

In a recent sermon I mentioned that I’m enough of a Calvinist to know the ultimate target of my ill temper. There are times, of course, when I can see the person who has irritated me. My personality is the type that wants to deny that I’m angry because, after all, being angry toward one’s wife or kids or sheep or students or friends or neighbors is ugly.

The first stage is to find a word for it that doesn’t sound so unbiblical, something more reasonable like “frustration.” If you know too much Bible or if your parents don’t let you get away with redefinition, move to stage two. Admit that yes, you’re angry, but not at the person in front of you. You’re just mad at how Things went, at The Circumstances. But that is true madness.

Who controls all things? Who said that “all things work” in a certain direction? Who commands trust and thanks? It is the One with whom we have to do. It is God. The universe is personal because He is, and our sin is personal because whomever else we might blame, we often follow Adam’s example and blame God who put us in that spot.

God is gracious with us and our sinful weakness. But do not presume on His patience. “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.”

Citizen Soldiers

4 of 5 stars to Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany by Stephen Ambrose

This is the only book on the Eastern Theater of WWII that I’ve read. I read Unbroken previously, which was in the Pacific, and that’s probably it for WWII. Citizen Soldiers was hard to read, but made me thankful for the ingenuity and sacrifice of the men, the Americans in particular.

Joy for the World

4 of 5 stars to Joy for the World: How Christianity Lost Its Cultural Influence and Can Begin Rebuilding It by Greg Forster

2017 – I don’t share Forster’s view on the Christian-or-not founding of the United States, nor do I share his view on a variety of other specifics in the book, but I definitely share his enthusiasm for “awakening from the dogmatic slumbers of fundamentalism” and very much enjoyed sharing the “victory feast of [his] liberation” from dualism (page 16). I would recommend this for anyone trying to add a little more Kuyperian into his worldview who doesn’t necessarily want to read about, or by, Kuyper himself.

2018 – Reread this and talked through it with the men’s group at our church. Forster is not Kuyper, and I think he’s more happy about that than I am, but it still provoked a lot of good discussion about how Christians can influence our neighbors with more joyful living and labor.