If you haven’t seen my I Recommend page recently, take a look. I’ve added new links and lots more commentary over the last few weeks.

Taken just before the dentist said, “That’s one of the weirdest cavities I’ve ever seen.”

Augustine on humility:

“For those who would learn God’s ways, humility is the first thing, humility is the second, humility is the third.”

Ten Reasons I Write Everything in Notebooks App

New writing apps are multiplying like rabbits, and the old standbys keep improving. Frankly, it’s hard to pick a bad app for your writing. That said, I want to throw some flowers on the stage for the iOS version of Notebooks App by Alfons Schmid. Only because I’m thankful for it and find it so useful. Thank you, Herr Schmid!

Here are ten reasons why I’ve been doing all my long- form writing, note-taking, and even some PDF management in Notebooks.

First, like 1Writer, iA Writer, Ulysses, and others, Notebooks allows me to write in Markdown. You don’t have to write in Markdown but it works great if you want to.

Second, Notebooks works well for any kind of writing: long essays, grocery lists, meeting notes, whatever. I’ve never liked having two or more apps for my writing because I just want to write without thinking where it goes. But you need to with most apps. Writing an essay in Apple Notes feels wrong, so does putting a grocery list in Scrivener. But either one feels fine in Notebooks.

Third, Notebooks offers flexible organization. You can dump everything in one place, or separate your writing into a million notebooks and sub-notebooks (notebook=folder). And because Notebooks will use the first words you type for a title, if you don’t choose a custom title, you can get writing right away without having to decide what to name your work.

Fourth, Notebooks’ search features are also strong, and you can use hashtags and other features to find things.

Fifth, the iPad version of Notebooks allows me to zoom the text with a finger gesture. This is really important for me because I often want to type in a certain size and then quickly increase the size of everything proportionally, for preaching or teaching, without fiddling with formatting.

Sixth, Notebooks lets me download style sheets, edit them, or write my own. I love this. I spent a little time getting things looking like I want and then never mess with it again. I just start typing and the formatting takes care of itself. This is a time multiplier.

Seventh, Notebooks offers a variety of syncing options. This is useful for all the obvious reasons. One option for syncing is through Dropbox. Using Dropbox allows me to share these files with others from the cloud. And there are many other ways to share directly from the app.

Eighth, with Notebooks I can also work with PDFs. I can download a PDF directly into the app, mark it with my Apple Pencil, and then email it out again without leaving the app. This feature is a few extra bucks add-on but totally worth it, especially since it also allows you to search the texts of PDFs as well. This makes Notebooks great for more than writing.

Ninth, Notebooks has a dual-pane mode on the iPad. This may not seem like a big deal, but I use it all the time. Within the same app, I can open a PDF I’ve marked and take notes about it in another window. Or I can brainstorm a quick list, then write from that list in another pane.

Tenth, Notebooks App features a lot more. It is also really fast. It has customizable timestamps, a web browser, fancy todo list capabilities, integrations with other popular apps, and more. To learn what else is possible, the app’s website has tons of information. And Jai Bentley-Payne of @appademic has written some long posts about Noteboooks.

Every now and then, I need to do some special formatting with a document and I’ll use Pages or Mellel. I also haven’t done any collaborative editing in a while, so I’m not tied to programs that have rich collaboration features.

But at the moment, my needs are pretty simple: I need a place to quickly write anything I want without fussing about formatting and still get good looking documents at the end. Notebooks is meeting those needs very well.

I like your new profile pic @blot.


“Nasty FaceTime bug could allow others to eavesdrop on your microphone or camera”

Better disable FaceTime until this gets fixed.

Three Lectures on the Trinity

Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando has posted the three main lectures of the inaugural Paideia Center Conference on SoundCloud. I was blessed to attend this year 📷 and am glad they are making these recordings available.

In The Bible and the Trinity, Scott Swain showed from Revelation 4–5 how the doctrine of the Trinity is not some unformed, inchoate set of data or ideas in the Bible that needs to be made comprehensible by the church. Rather, the doctrine of the Trinity in the Bible is formed, normative, and eloquent. The Bible speaks of God masterfully and fluently; ecclesiastical expressions are just trying to catch up.

In Trinitarianism in the Fourth Century, D. Blair Smith connected the reading that was done ahead of the conference with some other writings by Gregory of Nazianzus and Basil of Caesarea to make some observations about the doctrine during this period. It’s my aim to become familiar with Gregory in the coming years. I’m looking forward to hearing and reading more from Dr. Smith on early Christianity.

In Reforming God?, Carl Trueman answers the question: How did the Reformers handle the doctrine of God in the Reformation; did they reform it? He employs and argues for some important methodological principles in historical theology. And he asks some very serious and provocative questions about ecumenicity among current “evangelicals”. His talk reminded me of this stunning and disconcerting assertion I read in D. A. Carson’s Pillar NT Commentary on John (p. 117) a few months back when I was preparing a sermon on John 1:1.

“In fact, if John had included the article, he would have been saying something quite untrue. He would have been so identifying the Word with God that no divine being could exist apart from the Word. In that case, it would be nonsense to say (in the words of the second clause of this verse) that the Word was with God.”

The discussion concerning some points Trueman made during the conference is continuing on and offline; it is worth following.

With the Humble is Wisdom

This morning, I sent the following letter (edited here) to my students taking New Testament Survey. Perhaps it will help you in whatever you are learning right now. Thanks to @readerjohn for sharing the blog post I link to below.

Dear Students,

For those who may be struggling with the writing assignments or class discussion, I’d like to encourage you with a few thoughts.

First of all, I know these things are hard. I’m asking challenging questions, and I’m asking for your best work. Second, I know that writing and classroom discussion tends to expose weaknesses in our thinking, which is humbling.

But remember: you are in a safe place. You are doing a good job and we are all learning together. It’s okay to make mistakes. Make mistakes! And if you really want a great experience from this class, it’s going to take humility.

You might think this something to avoid. But don’t. Because “when pride comes,” says Proverbs 11:2, “then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

So if you’re smart about it, the learning that humbles will be the learning that strengthens. So take courage! Lean into your assignments and you will enjoy the benefits. As Francis Bacon said, “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.”

I love learning with you, Pastor Chelpka

P. S. If you want to grow in your ability to read and write, and you liked that Bacon quote (not 🥓, but still…😋 ), check out J. Budziszewski’s advice on how to be full and exact and learn what you can.

We’re mailing these to all the families in our church with young kids (ages 3–12). It’s a great book.

Woody Guthrie’s Fan Letter To John Cage and Alan Hovhaness (1947) - Open Culture