simplicity and note taking, a lesson

I have long wrestled with the best way for me to keep track of bible notes.  Should I keep them electronically (via Olive Tree BibleReader) or in hardcopy?  Currently, I keep them as hardcopies…original language notes in my Greek and Hebrew texts and all others in my HCSB with the super large margins.  If it sounds rather cumbersome, it is.  But I REALLY like writing notes down, scribbling them in my bibles, marking them up, underlining, etc.  There is—to me—a certain satisfaction from using a well-worn bible, and it seems (perhaps it’s only in my head) that there are certain advantages to paper note taking over against electronic means.
Well, it’s been a while since I’ve had this debate with myself, so it is about time to have it again.  This time, consider that I’m doing extensive work in the LXX and Byzantine Greek texts; starting to refer more and more to my Orthodox Study Bible for English work; and still using my host of BHS, NA27, NLT, and HCSB bibles.  The time may well have come to start putting my bible notes in electronic form.  ’May’ have come?  OK, it’s here.
As much as I love the ubiquity of electronic notes, I’m a little saddened by the inevitable relinquishment of  paper notes.  Honestly, I’ll probably keep my paper copies alongside my electronic ones at least for now.  It’s extra work, I know…but I don’t care.  Putting a real pencil on a real sheet of paper is satisfying in a way that moving electrons around on a screen (computer, tablet, or smartphone) is not. What does this have to do with simplicity?  Well, my current hardcopy setup is NOT very simple.  It uses multiple sets of notes across multiple texts which requires me to lug around a not-so-small pile of books if I want to be sure I have access to ALL my notes.  Electronic notes just makes sense.  And yet, it’s hard for me to give up my old ways.  That’s the lesson that goes beyond just note taking and expands to just about every other area of life.  We resist change, even change that is obviously for the better.  
So, as we strive to lead simpler lives, we must realize…it’s work.  Hard work. Keep at it. Live simply, Christian.

a five minute challenge

Life moves quickly.

The pace of things in our contemporary world is astounding. Within seconds of an event, millions find out about it on Twitter. Within moments of an idea, friends or co-workers around the world receive an email. Years and months seem like passe measures of time in a world where everything is instant, always on, and continually connected.

Give me seven minutes of your precious time–two minutes to read and five minutes to practice something. I think you’ll be amazed.

Our challenge–slow down. Just for a few minutes.

Part of simple living is slowing down. Slowing down in order to be aware of what is going on around us. Slowing down in order to enjoy the little things in life that bring joy on a minute-by-minute basis. Slowing down to focus on what is important in the midst of the noise and busyness of life.

Part of the Christian life, at least in today’s society, involves slowing down. Slowing down to be aware of the needs around us we might otherwise miss. Slowing down to give thanks for the simple blessings we’re given each day. Slowing down to be deliberately led by Christ instead of blinding following only our to-do lists or calendars.

As simple as is the idea of slowing down, it is also revolutionary and counter-cultural.

Do it anyway.

Specifically, sometime today, take five minutes and do this:

  • put down your phone (you’ll live, I promise)
  • go outside
  • walk, slowly
  • still the noise in your head
  • breathe deeply
  • look
  • listen
  • feel
  • smell
  • relax
  • enjoy

It doesn’t matter if you live and work in the country or in the city. Get outside and slow down for a few minutes. Autumn is upon us most places in the States…look around and see the reds, yellows, and oranges. Listen to the birds sing or the dogs bark. Feel the sunshine, which feels good this time of year. Notice the breeze blowing on your face. Smell the scents of Fall.

A few minutes outside is a good thing. It relieves stress. It gives your eyes a break from your computer screen or your books. It stretches your legs. It gives you time to focus. It lets you think about things that are really important instead of only things that are urgent.

Hopefully this little challenge will somehow become part of not just a routine but part of what it means for you to live simply, Christian.

So…how’d it go?

blogging reinvented

Just over a year ago I dreamed up and launched “simply, Christian” as an outlet to write about living the simple Christian life—a mashup of simple/minimalist thought and a Christ-centered life.

I wanted to change the world.

I wrote steadily for a while but then, like so any others, I tapered off.  At some point, I pretty much just stopped, jumped over to Tumblr, and started reblogging cool stuff that other people wrote.  Why?  Ironically, I was too busy.

Pretty hypocritical for a blog focused on simplicity, no?  I thought so, too.

Maybe it was hypocrisy.

Maybe it was just a false start.

Maybe I wasn’t committed enough.

Maybe my scope was too big.

Maybe I was just scared.

I’m not sure exactly why I failed, but that’s okay.  The fact is, I still want to change the world.

So, how exactly am I planning to go about this?  After tons of off-line brainstorming, doodling, rambling, and filling up pages of my trusty ecosystem notebook, I think I’ve crafted a model, a vision, a plan both for life and for blogging.  It’s a simple approach…

be. share. encourage.

Expanded just a little: be the change…share the change…encourage the change

Will this ‘succeed’ in the eyes of the world?  I dunno.  I don’t care.
Will this succeed in glorifying God, sharing in the work of Christ, and building a community that encourages others to do the same?  I hope so.

Will you join me?

live simply…simply live

what will you do right now to improve the world?

Anne Frank

I found the Anne Frank quote I posted earlier on Twitter this morning.  In case you missed it:

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

The problem is…I first read it and thought, “Yes!” then read it a few more times through the day, then thought about it some more…and here it is, the close of the day.

What did I do today to act on her wisdom and encouragement?  Nothing.

Did I do anything today to start to improve the world?  Sadly, no.

So today, I failed miserably.  But today is not over and tomorrow is another day.  Continuous opportunities to grab the moments with which we have been blessed and use them to start something.

Start something small.  Start something big.

It really doesn’t matter so long as you start something.

Start changing the world!