Category Archives: personal

Recommended Coffee Shops by City

Over time I’ve created a list of quality coffee shops that I have either been to or has been recommended from various places and friends such as The Coffee Compass. I hope to keep this list growing and updated to help you and me find good coffee on our travels. If you have any recommendations that you think should be added please send me a message on Twitter (@renshaw330)

You can check it out here: brianrenshaw.com/coffee

Current Cities:

  • Louisville, KY
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Nashville, TN
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Columbus, MO

Eating Habits, Fitness, 100 lbs Down, and the Apple Watch

Recently I wrote about my journey of 200 days of walking at least 10,000 steps (now at 234 days) but the other half of the story is the eating habits, getting in shape, and losing weight. As I said previously, it all started one day when I was walking around a seminary campus and I was out of breath, sweating, and tired. I needed a change and I knew that it had to begin with eating. Anything you read about trying to lose weight says this as much. A healthy lifestyle begins with what you put in your body. At this point I hadn’t conducted any research but I decided that I was going to try to cut down on refined foods, fried foods, and sweets. This seemed like a simple way to begin to reduce my caloric intake without making drastic changes. In addition, I tried eating less, which was always difficult. So I did this for about a couple months until I was introduced to a guy named Phil Maffetone.

Eating Habits

Maffetone specializes on topics such as fat loss, fitness, and healthy living. Three key takeaways helped shape my eating habits that I’ve continued to this day:

  1. Sugar addiction is a real thing – at first, I would have said there is no way that I have a sugar addiction. I never really craved sweets (although when I did eat sweets it was entirely too much) and I wouldn’t say that I had a “sweet tooth.” But as I read and began looking at labels I realized that sugar is in everything. I was in an endless cycle of craving carbs, especially sugar. This craving leads to a further poor diet and consistently stores the carbs as fat.
  2. Carbohydrate Intolerance – Maffetone argues that carbs are actually the real reason for the fat epidemic in our society. Our high carb diet is actually making us gain weight. High carbs over a long period of time aid high blood sugar, fatigue throughout the day, bloating, lack of concentration and more. Eventually this leads to high blood, gaining fat, diabetes, and more. Looking at my way of eating it was extremely high in carbs, especially of the refined variety.
  3. My diet should consist of higher amounts of fat and low amounts of carbohydrates. This was the most surprising of all to me. How could a diet that is 60-80% fat be good. After doing further reading I realized that he is probably right. And, my experience after 6 months of eating this way I think he is correct. A high fat low carb diet has given me more energy than I’ve ever have. I don’t get sleepy anymore. Haven’t been bloated since eating this way. Headaches are almost non-existent. And overall, I’ve felt better than ever. Additionally, I’ve not worried about the amount of calories I intake but rather on eating the right foods. I probably eat about as much as I used to but it is the right foods now. This way of eating is also really easy when eating out. No bun on sandwiches, salads instead of fries, and grilled instead of fried foods. Overall, this has been the biggest change for me.

Whole Foods

It really is crazy how much sugar is in processed foods. Anything from spaghetti sauce, to juices, to “healthy” snack bars, to protein shakes, and much more. I’ve slowly learned that you have to read the label on everything plus the ingredients to see what and how much sugar has been added to the product. This has largely led to a mostly whole food way of eating because it is healthier and just easier to do.

Fats

My fats have largely come from a variety of nuts, olive oil, and coconut or MCT oil. In the morning, I’ll have a couple eggs, berries, 2-3 tablespoons of coconut or MCT oil, and a tablespoon of olive oil. Avocados have also become a staple in my diet. Still seems crazy to me starting by day with 300-500 calories of fat first thing but its been working really well.

Apple Watch & Fitness

When I first received an Apple Watch I basically used it for notifications. I basically ignored the fitness tracking and filling up my activity rings. But I decided it was a good time to start paying attention to the rings so I wore the watch when working out. I was so out of shape that filling the activity rings was fairly easy. As I progressed, my goals increased, and had to work harder and be more active throughout the day to hit them. I’ve always set my goals to be achievable by just being active throughout the day, generally by walking. I didn’t want to set unrealistic expectations (and unhealthy!) of having to do a formal workout everyday but I also need to be more active (this is wear the walking and 10,000 steps per day comes in).
As I continued, I realized I was piling on several days of filling up all my activity rings. This became motivation to fill up my rings every day. There are countless days that I know I would not have been active throughout the day if it wasn’t for the Apple Watch and the streak of days that I had built up. I remember several instances around Christmas with traveling that I was sitting a lot. A couple nights I would get on the treadmill and walk for 20, 30, or 40 minutes so I could fill up my rings. I know for a fact, that without this motivation I would not have done this at 11:30 pm at night! So, while it may seem ridiculous to say that my journey of weight loss and better fitness is attributed to the Apple Watch, I really don’t think I would be here without it.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, this journey of weight loss and better fitness has been challenging but fun. At this point I’ve been doing this for almost 8 months (235 days to be exact) and have never felt better. I just hit the 100 lbs down mark a week or so ago, dropped several shirt sizes, and drastically reduced my pant size. I never would have thought that this was possible but now, the change in eating, habit of staying active, and reaching those daily goals to not break the streak is now part of my life. I wouldn’t say I am on a “diet” but rather this is just the way I eat now. Most of the motivation is how I feel. Its less about losing the weight (although that is certainly part of the goal) but rather feeling confident and energized throughout the day. Its been a great journey and fun to reflect about it in this post.

Writing 30 Minutes a Day

About a month ago I was lamenting the state of my blog with Brian Davidson. We were both wanting to write but hindered by the invisible forces of the blank page coupled with the wall of perfection. After talking for awhile we realized we needed to just simplify the process. Writing doesn't have to be perfect (because it never will be) nor does it need to be ground breaking. My favorite sites are the ones that post everyday about the topics they are interested in. So we decided to start a challenge: post every weekday. That's it. No length or topic requirements. Just write. Everyday.

My Routine

I don't have time to spend 60-120 minutes to craft a blog post everyday. So I decided to set a 30 minute time limit for each post. 30 minutes from start to finish, no more. Additionally, any topic is wide open. For me, this means that most will be either self-reflective posts, technology and apps, or productivity. But I am not trying to limit myself. If I have an idea of something I want to write about then I add it to the list, sit down, and write.

What I've Learned

One of the reasons that I've kept this up (besides not losing the challenge) is that I've found several side benefits of doing this:

  • Helping to avoid writer's block: I've noticed that the practice of forcing myself to write even when I don't think I have anything is getting easier each writing session. Additionally, I've been gaining confidence to overcome the blank page, which has helped my writing in more important areas of my life (academics and work)
  • Writing daily: I've written more words this past month than probably any other stretch of time in my life. Writing is becoming more natural and I slowly but surely am becoming a better writer. Its only been a month but I'm encouraged.
  • Learning by writing: Writing for this blog has helped me solidify my thinking on different topics. For example, I was finally able to reflect on writer's block and different other aspects of writing. Additionally, I was able to finally reflect on my weekly review that I've been doing for the past several months. Finally, its sparked conversations with friends and others about things I've posted.

At the end of the day, my writing isn't perfect nor will it ever be. The topics are somewhat eclectic and may appeal more to some but not to others. At the end of the day, I'm not trying to build a personal brand or gather a bunch of followers but become a better writer and share my thoughts on topics I'm interested in. Hopefully, you will find some that are helpful or cause you to ponder different ways of doing things as well. Writing on the web is fun but also challenging. Putting myself out there with imperfect thoughts is a challenge but I've been better for doing it.

So, thanks for reading and and happy Memorial Day!

Reflections from Good Boss, Bad Boss

I recently finished Good Boss Bad Boss by Robert Sutton . In short, Sutton survey’s managers of hundreds of companies and seeks to determine what makes a good boss vs. a bad boss. One of the key takeaways for people who manager others is to have the self-awareness of how what you say and what you do effects others. People under you look up to you for guidance, leadership, company direction, safety in their position, protection from others in the company, and more. Too often those who manage people lose sight of this. If you manage people, whether it be as a pastor, manager, or even in a volunteer position this book is worth reading. Throughout, it sparked several areas of reflection for my own position in leading and managing a team. One of the key takeaways was that often managers and leaders have a higher view of themselves than the people under them do. Being able to properly assess yourself is key because we often think that we are leading well and people have a high view of us but in too many scenarios this is not true. Leading well and managing people involves self-reflection and proper assessment of how your actions and words effect others around you. This is amplified when those around you are people you manage.

Note: there is some crude language throughout the book but despite this caveat I highly recommend it if you are in a position over others

Instead of a full review of the book I’ve catalogued several quotes from the book:

Quotes

  • Small wins: Great big goals set direction and energize people, but if goals are all you’ve got, you are doomed. The path to success is paved with small wins (27).
  • Protecting your people: …a hallmark of effective bosses everywhere is that they doggedly protect their people (36).
    • Do you see your job as caring for and protecting your people, and fighting for them when necessary? Or do you consider it too much trouble to advocate for resources they need or too personally risky to battle idiocy from on high? When your people screw up, do you take the heat or hang them out to dry? When you screw up, do you admit it or point the finger of blame at your innocent underlings (37)?
  • Self-assessment: despite our beliefs to the contrary, most of us suffer the same distorted self-assessments as our colleagues. Worse yet, the most deeply incompetent people suffer from the most inflated assessments of their own abilities and performance (40).
  • Making decisions: Indecision is a hallmark of crummy bosses (54).
  • Taking responsibility: Don’t just accept blame and apologize. Bosses need to take immediate control over whatever they can, show they have learned from failures, announce new plans, and–when changes are implemented–make sure that everyone knows they have wrestled back control over the situation (63).
  • Having an accurate assessment of your product: Wise bosses don’t just encourage followers to reveal bad news. They dig for evidence that clashes with their presumptions (82).
  • Humility: Wise bosses have the confidence to act on what they know and the humility to doubt their knowledge (73).
  • Self-awareness: When people seem to be perfect, it just means you don’t know them very well. A hallmark of wise bosses is that they are not only aware of their ignorance, weak skills, and character flaws–they actually do something about it. They deal with their Achilles’ heels (91).
  • Gratitude: Expressing gratitude is especially important when the stench of failure is in the air. These are times when people most need support from the boss and each other (97).
  • Imitation: Mindless imitation is among the most dangerous and widespread forms of management idiocy (148).
  • On authenticity: I asked Pixar’s two-time Academy Award-winner Brad Bird: What kind of people are especially poisonous to innovation? He answered: “People who talk quality but don’t put it in their own work, yeah, it’s those types. You know, I don’t mind somebody who’s green if they’re engaged, because I know they’re on the hunt. But there are people who know the buzzwords of quality people, but don’t actually walk the walk (128).
  • Leading in areas that aren’t your strength: In an ideal world, bosses would always manage work they understood deeply. But it. isn’t always feasible. Every boss can’t have deep knowledge of every follower’s expertise, When that happens, a boss’s job is to ask good questions, listen, defer m those with greater expertise., and, above all, to accept his or her own ignorance. Those who fail to do so risk making bad decisions and ruining their reputation (134).
  • Be on time to meetings, especially with those who are under you: Yes, some are necessary, but too many bosses run them in ways that disrespect people’s time and dignity—especially self-absorbed bosses bent on self-glorification. If you want to grab power and don’t care much about your people, make sure you arrive a little late to most meetings. Plus, every now and then, show up very late, or—better yet—send word after everyone has gathered that, alas, you must cancel the meeting because something more pressing has come up. After all, if you are a very important Person, the little people need to accept their inferior social standing (157).
  • More on self-awareness Developing and sustaining self-awareness ought to be at the top of the list for every boss. David Dunning, of Cornell University, shows that a hallmark of poor performers is a lack of self-awareness; they consistently overestimate their skills in just about any task that requires intellectual and social skills, such as debating, having a sense of humor, or interviewing others. In contrast, Dunning finds that self-awareness is a hallmark of the best performers—they are especially cognizant of their strengths and weaknesses, and fret about overcoming pitfalls that can undermine their performance (244).
    • If you are a boss, your success depends on staying in tune with how others think, feel, and react to you. Bosses who persistently promote performance and humanity devote considerable energy to reading and responding to followers’ feelings and actions, and those of other key players like superiors, peers, and customers. Of course, there is no single magical or simple thing that defines a great boss. (244)
  • Recognition of your limitations of self-awareness: If you wield authority over others, it dulls your ability to be in tune with their needs, feelings, and actions and what it’s like to work for you (256).
  • Management vs. Leadership: There is a difference between management and leadership, but focusing on it is dangerous (263).
  • Don’t just be nice: Bosses who are civilized and caring, but incompetent, can be really horrible (266).

Slowing Down and Being Known

Being present with others is a risk to be known. We desperately want to be known, respected, understood, and ultimately loved. But that process involves a risk that not only the good will be known by someone else but also the bad. It means not living life in the fast lane but slowing down to look someone in the eyes and have a conversation. We all want this but today it is so easy to hide behind screens or move so fast that we can’t be known by someone else. Because if we are known then someone might find out how broken we truly are and know what a mess our life is. The screen allows us to put up that persona that everything is alright. Constantly on the run and never slowing down means that we never have to stop, think, and open up to others because we have something else to do or somewhere else to be.

This is also true in the work place. We can be so caught up in our job completing the next task that we hardly know the people we work with. Conversations sit atop the surface because we have something else to do, some project to work on, or another deadline. I don’t want to be known by them because they may find out I’m a fraud, broken, and not worth caring for. Its not to say that our work relationships have to be at the same deep level as some of our closest friends but it is a challenge to slow down, be present, and talk without distractions.

The idea of slowing down and being present with others is scary, at least for me. Sitting down, talking, and asking the hard questions with no phone for distractions nor rushing to go to the next thing but just being present and listening is hard. Its a risk to be present because in that moment your facade may come crumbling down revealing your true self.

These thoughts were sparked a recent video, Godspeed, where a seminary grad moves to Scotland to work on his PhD but ends up pastoring a local parish and learns what it means to slow down to God’s speed. The state of being present with others and entering into their lives. To not move so fast but to slow down and actually have conversations with people. You can watch the trailer below or the full video here.

Follow the story of an American pastor whose desire to change the world grinds to a halt in a Scottish parish. Join Eugene Peterson, N. T. Wright, Alan Torrance, and Granny Wallace on a pilgrimage to being known in your own backyard. 

200 Days of 10,000 Steps

200 days in a row of 10,000 steps or more.

2,744,918 steps total (~1,239 miles)

Motivation is weird

You can hear all the motivational quotes, speeches, tricks, and more and still not be motivated. Then something will happen that inspires you to press on and that becomes the motivation.

Well, that’s what happened back in October. I’ve been overweight since high school and even then I wasn’t in the best shape of my life. Being a 3-sport athlete then definitely helped but most of my adult life I have been different levels of overweight. Over the past couple years it was definitely taking a turn for worse. I knew I needed to lose weight but school, work, time, and other commitments always took priority. Plus, I just love to eat.

In October, I went to visit Trinity Evangelical Divinity School with my doctoral supervisor. The school is his alma mater so we walked around campus and he showed me around and shared memories with me. It was a sweet time there but I’ll never forget the feeling I just had walking around the campus.

Short of breath. Sweating. Ashamed.

Just from simple walks around a school campus. Additionally, the ETS/SBL conferences that I attend every year were a month away. Similar feelings of shame accompany those from just walking around the conference in previous years and just being tired, short of breath, and an unnecessary high heart rate due from the simple fact of getting around from place to place. Something clicked for me on that October day that changed my daily routine for months to come.

When I got home I made a goal for myself that when the conferences rolled around I would be in basic shape to be able to walk around and not be short of breath. So, the next morning I woke up, did an elliptical exercise, walked the dog, and tried to be active during the work day. After a couple days of this and checking my Apple Watch I realized I was pretty close to 10k steps on those days. Looking back at previous days I was anywhere from 2,000 to 4,500 steps. So, I made another goal:

10,000 steps everyday.

Since October 20, 2016 I’ve hit this 10,000 daily step goal. Some days its harder than others such as rainy days, snow, travel days, and don’t forget Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. When ETS/SBL came I felt more confidant, had dropped a little bit of weight, but more significantly, I could take a walk without immediately being short of breath.

The journey has taken many different twists and turns (I’ll write about the weight loss aspect another time) but having the daily goal of 10k steps has given me motivation to live better, eat better, and just be more disciplined in all aspects of life. At this point, I really don’t want to break the streak because there is a lot of work in those 200 days. Gamifaction , at least for me, definitely is a motivating factor now.

By now, I basically know what I need to do throughout the day to hit the goal. Its actually surprisingly easy but it does take several changes in your schedule. I’ve always been afraid of “losing time” when it comes to working out but human nature is weird. Somehow, even with less “time” I’m still able to get the same amount or more done. I’m actually more focused during work and study since I’ve started this new routine. Plus, 1,500 steps takes about 12-15 minutes for me. So taking a two 15 minute breaks during the day accounts for 3,000 steps.

This streak has taught me that I can be disciplined in other areas as well. Its given me motivation in my reading, writing, work, and study. Just as an athlete works out and runs in training to be ready for their sporting even this daily goal of walking has trained me to be more disciplined and focused in many other aspects of my life.

Normal Day

  • Take our dog out and go for a 15 minute walk first thing in the morning (1,500 steps)
  • 30-minute workout on weekdays (2,000-4,000 steps generally accumulated)
  • 2 15-20 minute breaks during the day of just walking and thinking (1,500-2,000)
  • Take our dog out in the even and go on a 15 minute walk (1,500 steps)
  • Above are all the “extra” activities I’ve implemented then the rest of my normal day-to-day activities account for 2,000-4,000 steps throughout the day.

In order to track steps I use the Apple Watch with the Pedometer++ App by David Smith .

Blogging Woes

You may have noticed that I haven't wrote anything on this blog or my more tech related one (techademic.co) for almost a year. Part of this has been due to job changes in the past year and just being generally more busy. But for some reason I've felt crippled when trying to write anything. This site began as a biblical studies blog but honestly, my interest in writing blog posts on this topic has been waning for awhile. My other site, Techademic, was a breath of fresh air for writing tech related posts but that too has not been updated in awhile. I feel that I've fell into a trap of thinking I need to write something substantative for each site with images, intro/conclusion, covering multiple aspects of a topic and whatnot. What this has done is caused me not to write anything at all even though I have the urge to write on many different items.

My good friend, Brian Davidson, was having the same feels as well. He has just decided to use his site to write on whatever he would like. On his about page he wrote this:

This blog started as a way of collecting and sharing random biblical studies related things that I find interesting. While I still share biblical studies related content, the blog has morphed into a personal site where I also share teaching experiences, thoughts on technology, and anything else I'm excited about.

So I am going to start taking the same approach and just write on whatever I'd like to on here. Some posts will be biblical studies related but the site will be less on a topic and more of me. I hope this helps the paralyzed state I always find myself when glancing at my site and feeling shame for not writing anything anymore. I really do enjoy writing on this site and others but I just need to allow myself the freedom to do whatever is my interests.

Therefore, the goal is just simple, generally short, content of stuff that interests me.

Enjoy!

Writing Tips from Dr. Brian Vickers

In the beginning of my Acts Exegesis seminar with Dr. Brian Vickers he gave us several tips on writing that I thought were helpful:

  • Stop using the backspace key: In this digital age we have trained ourselves to try and produce a perfect draft as we are writing. This causes a number of issues: 1) This does not allow us to freely write down all our thoughts. Indeed, we do learn as we write[1] If we are continually correcting what we are writing this hurts the development process 2) It falsely makes us think that our first draft is our final draft (see point below) 3) It develops a choppy and less coherent (maybe even incoherent!) paper.
  • Learn to write a horrible first draft: Much of what you write should not even make it to your final draft. Building on the point above, the writing process is one of learning and developing as you go.
  • Learn to just write: He suggests developing a good thorough outline. Don’t think of this as a static outline that you must conform your paper to but expect it to change, as it should, during the writing process. By having an outline it gives you a guide and destination to your writing. Too often people write without knowing where they are going or even where they will end. This is reflected in the final draft.
  • Develop a clear and articulate thesis: You should expect your thesis to take many drafts before its final form. I would also add that you should be in conversation with others about your thesis to help aid you in this endeavor.
  • Don’t wait untill the last minute: This should be self explanatory but don’t wait until the day before a writing project is due to gget started.

  1. See points 5 and 6 here.  ↩

Emoji

Emoji.

For me, this word conjures up a sense of childishness and immaturity. Ever since people in my circle started using emoji’s I’ve been adamantly against them. What is wrong with simple text-based communication and using symbols such as 🙂 at the end of a message to denote a lightheartedness to your message? Why must we use cartoon looking characters such as 😃 and 😭 to communicate? They look ridiculous.

My friend, Jonathan Pennington, has been encouraging me to read this article from New York Magazine on the history of the emoji. I must admit, reading this has opened up my mind a little bit. I’ve always known that I’m bucking against the norm and probably in my own stubbornness and immaturity is the reason I’ve rejected the emoji. But in my own stubbornness, I’ve missed out on the beauty of how language works. All language is a sea of symbols. The words on this page are just a pile of symbols that we have culturally accepted to represent something other than the word. Emoji are just part of the evolution of how we communicate. They also have a brilliance to them by offering more flexibility than the traditional written word.

This elasticity of meaning is a large part of the appeal and, perhaps, the genius of emoji. They have proved to be well suited to the kind of emotional heavy lifting for which written language is often clumsy or awkward or problematic, especially when it’s relayed on tiny screens, tapped out in real time, using our thumbs. These seemingly infantile cartoons are instantly recognizable, which makes them understandable even across linguistic barriers. Yet the implications of emoji—their secret meanings—are constantly in flux.

As our world becomes more and more mobile-centric and our communication is written through devices it is natural that the symbols we use to communicate will transform as well. Communication is now in bite-sized pieces: short and to the point. The cleverness of the emoji is that it can pack the non-verbal into a single character on the screen.

“When it comes to text-based communication, we’re babies,” explains Tyler Schnoebelen, a linguistics Ph.D. from Stanford who works for Idibon, a text-analytics company. As he says, we’ve learned to talk, and we’ve learned to write, but we’re only now learning to write at the speed of talking (i.e., text), sending messages over vast expanses, absent any physical contextual clues. If you are talking to someone face-to-face, you don’t need an additional word or symbol to express “I’m smiling” because you would, presumably, be smiling. The psychologist Albert Mehrabian, in an oft-cited (and occasionally criticized) study, determined in the 1950s that only 7 percent of communication is verbal (what we say), while 38 percent is vocal (how we say it) and 55 percent is nonverbal (what we do and how we look while we’re saying it). This is well and good for face-to-face communication, but when we’re texting, 93 percent of our communicative tools are negated.

So maybe I should welcome the evolution of language, break my stubbornness, and embrace the emoji.

You should really check out the article: The Rapid Evolution of Emoji

Introducing Techademic

A project I have been wanting to do for while is to create a separate site focused on technology, academics, and productivity. I hope it will be a helpful resource for all but especially people who are in academics. The site will feature tips and tricks on Mac/iOS, guides on using different apps, workflows, and more. 

What does that mean for this site? Awhile back I started integrating some of the above mentioned areas (i.e. Evernote for Academics) but would like to branch out to a wider audience and have a more focused site on technology and productivity. So this site will continue on but will solely focus on biblical studies and theology.

I hope you’ve found some of the “tips and tricks” helpful and would be interested in checking out my new site. So, if you are interested, I invite you to check out Techademic! There is a lot of work to do but I hope to officially launch in the next month or so.

Site: techademic.co
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/_techademic
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/techademic

Reading the Bible in the 21st Century Conference (Louisville)

If you are in the Louisville area check out this short conference on Saturday at Second Presbyterian Church. It’s a great lineup and if you are a seminary student then the conference is free!

From their website:

The Baylor Landrum, Jr. Fund for Mentoring and Education is sponsoring a conference on January 17, 2015, 8:45 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., at Second Presbyterian Church called Reading the New Testament in the 21st Century. This conference brings together four distinguished New Testament scholars, Dr. Michael Bird, Dr. Susan Garrett, Dr. Jonathan Pennington and Dr. David DeSilva. The panel will provide useful ways to help us interpret the New Testament faithfully. The presentations will focus on the gospels, Paul’s letters and eschatology.

  • The cost is $25 for registration prior to January 9, 2015 and $35 after that date.
  • Registration fee includes lunch.
  • Childcare will be provided upon request.
  • Admission for Teaching Elders and Seminary Students is FREE.
  • This conference will be widely publicized, don’t delay, CLICK HERE to register.

Blogs to Check Out in 2015

To start off the new year I thought I would share 5 blogs that you should follow in 2015. These are in no particular order.

German for Neutestamentler – I highlighted this blog the other day but thought I should include it in this list as well. Wayne Coppins’ blog is one of the few that I regularly look forward to and read each post. He is committed to trying to bring German and English scholarship together and one of the ways he is trying to do that is through his blog. Most Mondays he provides a English translation of a German work. He not only translates the text but also gives textual notes for his translation process.

http://www.rembrandtpainting.net/rembrandt%27s_prodigal_son.html

A Chorus of Voices: The Reception History of the Parables – This is the blog of Dr. David Gowler and he is blogging through the book he is writing for the reception history of the parables. He is now in the Reformation era so you should go back and check out his posts from the previous year that focus on early and medieval interpretations of the parables and continue to follow him this year.

typewriter

Analog Blogs – Ok, I am definitely cheating here but I wanted to group this recommendation under the heading of analog tools. Each of these blogs focuses on pens, paper, and other analog tools. First, The Pen Addict by Brad Dowdy. I’ve been reading this blog (and listening to his podcast) for over a year now. He has also launched his new company, NockCo, this year. Personally, I love the Hightower to hold 3 pens and a couple Field Notes notebooks. The second, is Ed Jelly’s site. He has really ramped up his amazing photography skills along with his excellent pens and paper reviews. The final one that I want to highlight is a new site launched this year by Patrick Rhone called The Cramped. As the subtitle suggests this site focuses on the “unique pleasures of analog writing.”

The trio of sites lead by Shawn Blanc. I’ve been following Shawn now for a couple years and have always really enjoyed his writing. His personal site where he blogs about tech and design related topics and also his weekly podcast. He also heads up two other sites: The Sweet Setup and Tools and Toys. Tools and Toys is one of those sites that you want to read with your wallet in the other room. They are always highlighting some of the best gadgets (coffee, tech, writing, pocket knives, etc) and provide helpful guides. New this year is their photo essays, which are outstanding. The Sweet Setup is your one stop shop for the best recommendations for iOS and Mac apps.

coffee

What would a list of recommended blogs be without one focused on coffee?! My final recommendation is The Coffee Compass. This is your one stop shop for all things coffee whether it be coffee gear reviews, coffee shop reviews, and much more. If you like craft coffee you should definitely check this one out.

Also want to give a shoutout to Brian Leport who lead and curated the excellent Near Emmaus blog for the past several years. Even though this blog is no longer active it still has all the great content from many years past that you should check out.

Thanks for Reading and Happy New Year

Thanks to everyone who read my blog over the past year. This was really my first year blogging consistently and I hope to do more of the same in 2015.

2014 was a big year academically and professionally. I graduated with my Masters and was accepted in the Phd program at Southern and will be studying under Dr. Jonathan Pennington starting at the end of January. No, I do not have a dissertation topic yet but I know that it will be some topic within Gospel studies.

Professionally, I began doing instructional design work in the online learning department at the seminary. I begin full-time as an instructional designer January 1. Online learning is one of those things that many people (especially in biblical and theological studies) have negative opinions about. It will be part (not all!) of the educational future of many ministers, teachings, and other Christian leaders. Online learning is not something that is naturally done well. It takes much thought and planning as well as a different model for teaching and education against tradition on-campus education. I hope to be a part of the generation that learns to do this well and embrace the future of online learning. Yes, I still believe in “face-to-face” education and hope develop skills in that as well but also want to embrace and be a positive and helpful voice for online learning. 

Well, thanks again for reading my ramblings over the past year. I’ll end the year with one of my favorite quotes from Augustine in On Christian Doctrine:

“So anyone who thinks that he has understood the divine scriptures or any part of them, but cannot by his understanding build up this double love of God and neighbour, has not yet succeeded in understanding them.” (1.36.40)

Happy New Year!