The End of Many Books

How to Take Smart Notes

Yes, this is a book about note-taking. I read it last year during the global lockdown, because I was interested, and because it was about something other than a virus. Mentions of it swelled among the productivity bloggers for a while, and it seemed as if it might be profitable for efficient capturing and curating. Even more, it claims to offer a way to think better, especially for sake of making connections between ideas.

The book examines the workflow of Niklas Luhmann who wrote hundreds of articles, and considered his copious output as a result of his system of input.

I haven’t implemented all of the workflow, but I keep thinking about ways to make progress in organizing and writing. My reading of the book also had a serendipitous connection with the beta of an app called Roam Research. It is perhaps the ideal digital tool for the Smart Notes approach, especially as it focuses on a network rather than hierarchy of notes, as well as on blocks rather than pages or documents. Roam makes it easy for the same block to be referenced in multiple places rather than tucked away in only one place.

If you are still reading this review, you are probably the type of person who would be interested in the book as well as in Roam. 🙂

4 of 5 stars

Lord's Day Liturgy

A Weepless Future

It struck me going through Revelation 18:9-20 how much weeping there is. The kings wept (verse 9), the merchants wept (verses 11, 15), and the seafaring men wept (verse 19). They wept over their loss, over the fall of their lover, Babylon “the great.”

That got me thinking about the last time we heard God’s people weeping in the Apocalypse. For many chapters of Revelation now believers have been marginalized, then persecuted, even to the point of death. They have seen the rise of the antichrist, the rise of man’s rebellion against God, and the rise of immorality all around them. Certainly many of them will grieve to the point of tears. But the emphasis in Revelation is on the weeping of the unbelievers.

The last time a believer wept was in Revelation 5 when John said, “I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it” (verse 4). But that was immediately followed by one of the elders who said to him, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals” (verse 5).

This is not to say that Christians know no heaviness or sorrow. It is to say though, that heaviness and sorrow are not the emphasis for those who conquer by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11). Those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life are headed to a weepless future.

> “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
 and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17)

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

Lord's Day Liturgy

More Than Not Smoking with the ER Doctors

There are some sins the Bible says to fight, there are some that the Bible says to flee. The will of God is to “avoid” sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3); I might abstain from smoking with the doctors outside the ER doors at a hospital, but I avoid pits of snakes. “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18); delete the app as fast as Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife.

Another sin that God’s Word urges us to flee is greed.

“Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

Jesus taught about the seed of the gospel sown among thorns, when the “cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word” (Matthew 13:22).

Taking the illustration a different direction, don’t plant a greed seed, pluck up even a micro-sprout of material grabbiness. This instruction is especially applicable to shepherds: “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things” (1 Timothy 6:11).

This does not mean that money is bad, or that the rich are unrighteous. Riches and honor come from God (1 Chronicles 29:12). The LORD gives power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). He makes poor and makes rich (1 Samuel 2:7). “The blessing of the LORD makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22).

So should you want wealth or not? Well, you should covet God’s blessings and run from the bitter burdens of covetousness. You should be rich in good works, and not set your hopes on the uncertainty of riches (1 Timothy 6:17-18).

Lord's Day Liturgy

Flaking Out

On Palm Sunday Jesus rode a young beast of burden into Jerusalem to applauding cheers. The crowds cried out, “Hosanna!” (Matthew 21:9) Five days later the crowds cried out, “Crucify Him!” (Matthew 27:22)

It has been popular for preachers in the past to identify the crowds as the same, a lesson about the fickleness of men and mobs. It has become popular these days for more preachers to distance themselves from such a simple platitude, as if it was silly even to suggest the crowds were the same.

There’s no need to throw the baby out with the palm branches, so to speak. We don’t have to say that every single person who praised Jesus on Sunday then cursed Jesus on Friday. We also don’t have to say that no single person who praised Jesus then cursed Him, which requires proving a negative. What’s more, Jesus’ own teaching, and Jesus’ own disciples, point toward the possibility of flaking out.

In His parable of the sower one type of person heard the seed of the word and received it with joy and then at some point later, the story doesn’t stipulate the amount of time, the same person got tired of troubles associated with that word and fell away (Matthew 13:20). Why couldn’t a mob be rocky soil? A mob could be overwhelmed with hate after being overwhelmed with joy. And every one of Jesus’ disciples, those who had been following Him for three years, abandoned Him, at least temporarily, when their shepherd was struck (Matthew 26:31, 56).

A couple things: First, as a church we have affirmed the faith and joy of some who then turn against Christ. We baptized them as believers, and sadly, some have later denied that profession and have fallen away. We pursue their repentance according to Matthew 18, and yet some must be removed from being under the spiritual protection of the church (1 Corinthians 5:4-5) and are no longer welcome to share the Lord’s Table with us. It is always sad, even if it isn’t surprising.

Second, the problem with the crowd on Palm Sunday was not their praise, the problem with the rocky soil was not the joy in the word, the problem is not with professions of faith. The problem was not living by faith. So, Christian, keep praising, keep receiving the word with joy, and keep feeding on the true bread of life and drinking the true drink of Jesus’ blood. Keep abiding in Him and you will live forever (John 6:52-58).