Joey Sparks
3May/130

Why I Use Evernote As A Word Processor

Microsoft Publisher is more responsible than anything else for helping me see the value in using Evernote as a word processor.

Over four years ago, I switched to Mac (best technology move I've ever made). And while I bought MS Office for Mac, it does not come with MS Pubilsher. So I essentially lost access to years of Bible Class/sermon notes and packets/details for youth events.

(They're not lost altogether, I just can't access them easily. It requires loading them on a PC of someone else's--where I could then export as a .pdf--or trying to convert them. I've not tried the latter option, so I'm not 100% that would even work.)

Enter Evernote. It's cleanly designed and works smoothly. Here are the things I enjoy about using Evernote to type anything and everything:

1. Accessibility. I don't have to be on my computer to access the files. And I don't even have to install Dropbox or another cloud-based file management application.

2. Backup. Notes are automatically stored (and thus "backed up") on the cloud. If something happens to my computer, I can still access the files through the internet.

evernote.com

evernote.com

3. Notes > files. I prefer the ease of searching through notes as opposed to searching for files through Mac Spotlight (as awesome as Spotlight is). They're already open, so I don't have to open and close files until I find the correct one.

4. Powerful, extensive search. Evernote searches text inside photos as easily as it does notes.

5. Fewer formatting options. I'm a designer. I'm all about visual appeal. But words are words. When I'm typing them, I don't need them to be pretty. If I'm being honest, seeing only text while I type helps me to focus on the content as opposed to any decorations I use. I can then easily and quickly copy and paste the text into Pages, Text Edit, or whatever for easy formatting. Not only is this not a hindrance, I prefer to think of it as a strength.

6. Organization. It's been easier for me to organize with Notebooks and tags than it is for me to use file folders on my hard drive. Much easier.

7. Memory. I love finding older notes I've saved in Evernote but forgotten about. I rarely do that with simple files and file folders.

8. Connect-ability. I can create notes by sending an email or tweet, using the Evernote web clipper, sharing from Feedly or my mobile browser, or directly through the application.

9. Integration of content. Most anything that I've typed and need to reference should already be in Evernote for easy access. Examples: illustration references and ideas, related articles (tags are so helpful with both of these areas), event details, and personal memories.

There are plenty of amazing new advancements in technology, but for my needs in word processing, I don't need bigger, faster, shinier, prettier. For me, Evernote is the opportunity to simplify and integrate.

What other ways do you use Evernote?

2Aug/120

Protect Their Hearts

The Internet is simultaneously one of humanities' greatest inventions, amazing blessings, and dangerous threats. We are always one click away from danger no matter our age, gender, profession, naivety, or blamelessness. We must make sure we interact with the same godliness online that God expects in all other ways of life.

We frequently hear of children who are harmed by brutal and sick individuals who gain access to their lives through the Internet. We should do all we can to close up those loopholes.

As parents, you have the right--and responsibility--to know exactly what your children are doing on the Internet...no matter how old they are. You should have the same access to their accounts (with passwords, etc.) they do. You should talk openly and honestly about their online friendships, habits, and overall safety. But when you do, do your best to model the attitudes in yourself you wish to see from them. If you're condescending and not understanding, you shut those doors of communication down.

ABCLRC-Internet Safety (by ABC LRC Flickr CC by nc sa)

But the most urgent arena of concern for your children on the Internet is that of sexual sin, specifically pornography.

The statistical likelihood of your child facing a child predator online is slim. But the chances of your child NOT viewing pornography online in some capacity is about 3% for boys and 9% for girls. That includes those who unintentionally stumble across it. If your child wants to find it, there's a 100% chance he or she will. It's just that easy.

The good news is that God forgives and cleanses no matter the depths of sin (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

More good news is that you don't have to know everything about the Internet and computer technology to protect your child's heart from spiritual threats such as pornography.

The most powerful weapons at your disposal are spiritual and internal; they should be aimed at his or her heart. Pray for them. Model purity, consistency, and propriety before them--online and off. Talk openly and honestly (with common sense) with them about temptations, sexual sin, and God's purpose for sexual intimacy in marriage.

Would you rather them to hear the truth from you and God's Word or error from the world and Satan?

There are other weapons that can assist you from an external perspective, as well.

The best place to start is http://covenanteyes.com. Covenant Eyes specializes in Internet technology that provides a safe surfing atmosphere for the entire family. They feature two softwares: Internet accountability software (browsing is monitored around the clock and reports are sent via e-mail to accountability partners) and Internet filtering software (specific sites are blocked and attempts to access blocked sites are logged and sent via the accountability reports). These softwares simply run in the background, but cannot be disabled without also disabling access to the Internet. This "two-pronged" approach is the best external solution, especially for homes with children. Covenant Eyes charges for using their services. While they are not free, they are more than reasonable. Amanda and I have used the accountability software for years and we pay for an entire year of service for less than what most Internet service providers charge for one month. There are a few free services out there, but research suggests the paid services are much more efficient and effective. If you recognize the legitimacy of this most dangerous threat, is any price too great?

Additionally, the Covenant Eyes website also features a wealth of resources for all kinds of Internet safety and protection. They have numerous (free) e-books, articles, statistics, podcasts, and a well-maintained and regularly-updated blog. No matter your relationship to the dangers on the Internet, whether totally naive or buried in addiction, there's something to educate, challenge, and help you.

Every child born in our part of the world is a "digital native." He or she will never know a time with less technology. He or she will never be less tech-savvy. He or she will one day view smart phones like many of us view rotary phones.

In a matter of a few decades, computers have moved from warehouses to business centers to living rooms to briefcases to front pockets. We as adults and parents will never be on the edge of technological advancement like younger generations. But that's no excuse for letting this powerful tool destroy their souls. May God help us to use the Internet responsibly and ensure our children do the same.

 I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman? (Job 31:1)

Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea." (Mark 9:42)

The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him. (Proverbs 20:7)

9Sep/110

To Each Is Given For the Common Good

Tim Cook at Apple: “This is the most focused company I know of, am aware of, or have any knowledge of... We say no to good ideas every day.” Cook then pointed out to analysts that every single product the company makes would fit on the single conference table in front of him. “And we had revenue last year of $40 billion." (courtesy Seth Godin)


One of Apple's primary reputations is simplicity. At first glance, this quote seems to support the notion that "less is more." And maybe it does. But notice his assessment of the company is "focused." Cook (Apple's new CEO & Auburn University Alum) implies that saying "no" to good opportunities frees them up for the best opportunities. It allows them to focus their efforts on what they do best, not everything they can do.

As members of the Lord's church, while we're expected to do as much good possible, we're not expected to do everything possible. Several times in the New Testament Paul develops the connection between the church and the body of Christ. The most developed of these passages is in 1 Corinthians 12:4-31. In the immediate context, he's discussing the church's use of spiritual gifts. But the main principle in the heart of the passage is for everyone to do his/her part. It's a glaring temptation to try to be well-rounded and raise our children to be well-rounded. Doing so to the detriment of our strengths causes the whole body to suffer.

Isolate what you do well. Give it and your life fully to the Lord and His work. And don't feel guilty for not doing something that is someone else's strength.

1Apr/091

I’m a Fool

I love surfing the internet on April Fool's Day. It's a virtual game of "I Spy" to find the fake blog posts, the new upgrade to Gmail (this year it's Autopilot), and other attempts to get people to bite hook, line, and sinker. I've not been creative enough to devise a good April Fool's joke myself (I briefly considered complementing Lane Kiffin's public relations genius), but I love the hoopla surrounding the day. Based on my posting schedule, you might think me making a post at all is a joke ;).

This year, my mind turned toward the word of God. "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good" (Ps. 14:1, ESV).

Something heavy and heartbreaking struck me this morning about this verse. I am a fool. I've never uttered the phrase "There is no God." I've never formulated an elaborate argument against the existence of God. But the verse isn't pointing the finger at the staunch, Richard Dawkins-like atheists. "The fool says in his heart...they do abominable deeds...there is none who does good." The "fool" label isn't just reserved for those who articulate a disbelief in God, but also for those who act as if He doesn't exist.

When I presume on God's grace and act in my own selfish interests, I'm a fool (Rom. 6:1-2).

When I talk badly about someone God created with a grand and glorious purpose in His spiritual kingdom, I'm a fool (Eph. 4:29).

When I convince myself this life is about "stuff" and how much of it I can accumulate, I'm a fool (Luke 12:13-21)

When I stretch, bend, or hide the truth--even when I'm doing something I think needs to be done--I'm a fool (Col. 3:9-10).

When I attempt to fulfill a God-given need in an ungodly way, I'm a fool (Matt. 4:2-4).

When I put off encouraging a brother or sister because "there's always tomorrow," I'm a fool (Heb. 3:13).

When I minimize God's standards of purity by surrounding myself with unholy people/watching unholy TV & movies/going to unholy places, I'm a fool (Eph. 5:3-12).

When I think that God won't do what He says He will do when I dishonor the blood of Christ, I'm a fool (Heb. 10:29-31).

"Father, help me to stop living as a fool--as if You don't exist. Thank you for forgiving the foolish (1 Jn. 1:9)."

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God (Psalm 14:2).
28Nov/082

Trey Morgan: Sex, Porn, & Marriage Links

Over the past several months, Trey Morgan has published what has become a good series on men, sex, pornography, and marriage. These issues need to be addressed from a Biblical perspective much more often than they currently are. I figured linking to his articles was the least I could do for the present. Don't miss the two chilling emails from female readers. Powerful stuff. Most recent posts are listed first.

Pornography in Marriage (November 25, 2008)

Pornography and Marriage (October 22, 2008)

Men and Sex (October 15, 2008)

The Porn Myth (August 4, 2007)

Free Porn or Porn Free (January 23, 2007)

Thanks to God for the beauty of a holy marriage and thanks to Trey for these helpful posts...

8May/070

Appearance Update

I've changed some things about the appearance of things 'round here. You'll notice a title graphic instead of text. Additionally, I've shifted the blog info to the right-hand side of the page. I noticed that the blogs I enjoy reading most start on the left-hand edge. Included now in blog info is a Flickr stream of random photos. Hope you enjoy :). Finally, the subtitle is more concise. "Relaying Spiritual Inspiration" describes more accurately the aim of this space. I am merely a messenger; I only pass on (hence "relaying") thoughts of spiritual significance. To God be the glory...

Filed under: blog, computer No Comments
10Nov/060

Bulletin Article 11.12.06 — The Blessing of Technology

Last week, we noticed one major thought that we should remember when it comes to technological advances. Technology should never serve as a replacement for true learning and growth—if anything, it should cause an increase in spiritual growth. As easy of a principle as that is to understand, it’s just as difficult to practice in our world today.

Technology, however, is a major blessing—even when it comes to our Christian responsibilities. The fact is that the 21st century is very much a technologically-driven century. If we as the church are going to substantially reach 21st century citizens with the 1st century message, we will likely need to implement the Truth with the aid of certain technological options.

We at Midway have already experienced many blessings from various forms of technology: computers (bulletins, research, etc.), presentation projectors (songs, lessons, announcements), audio recording devices, hearing-improvement devices, microphones, central heating/cooling, lighting, and the list could go on.

The biggest way that we can proclaim Christ to many in current generations is through the internet. The elders here at Midway have committed to having an online presence. Through the work of EvenPar Solutions in Birmingham, our official website will be “live” very soon. We’re blessed to have elders who know the importance of not only having a presence on the internet, but in having it serve important purposes. We look forward to announcing more about this in coming weeks as the work is completed on this wonderful opportunity.

Additionally, through the internet, Christians can be champions of communication. For those who are actively on their computers, with e-mail, instant messaging, web 2.0 sites, and blogs, there are no excuses for not being able to communicate to one another.

One site that I recently found out about is <www.digitalbiblestudy.com>. It is a work of the Avondale Church of Christ outside of Atlanta. In addition to constant feeds of material, there are almost 700 different video and audio Bible lessons available for instant viewing and listening. There are numerous lessons from such speakers as Dan Jenkins, Jerry Jenkins, Jim Dearman, Johnny Ramsey, Dave Miller, Phil Sanders, and many more. I found two episodes of “The Truth in Love” that featured Thomas B. Warren. He discussed some amazing evidences for the existence of God as our creator. There is some very rich and useful information in those two lessons alone. Be sure to check out this wonderful opportunity for Bible study.

In working with our young people, we can continually expose them to opportunities for growth on the computer and internet. In addition to helpful sites such as the one in the above paragraph, we can offer them specific information and updates to help them in their walks with Christ. In conjunction with our soon-to-be-launched Midway church website, we’ve created a site using a blog format for our youth. Since most of the kids who are actively on the internet are in the older age groups, it contains especially pertinent information for our Connect (7th-12th) group. The blog can be found at: <connect2theworld.blogspot.com>. I hope this can be of help with communication not only to young people, but also to you parents who are eager to help your children grow in the Lord.

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Thanks to the Lord for opening up these opportunities to spread the good news of His son. Thanks to those who use these and support their use in the world today. God bless you this week!

3Nov/060

11.05.06 Bulletin Article — The Trouble with Technology

It’s great to have everyone here this morning for our Friends & Family Day! We’re excited to have Brother Dennis Jones with us. We’re glad you’re here and we look forward to spending time with you on this fine Lord’s day!

If you’ve been watching news on television throughout the years, you’ve probably noticed a distinct difference between now and the “way it used to be.” Many years ago, Americans would watch Walter Cronkite and others in order to find out the news. I used to watch Sportscenter on ESPN to find out sports scores and happenings. Now, thanks to the Internet and 24-hour news channels, the designed “news” programs play a much different role. Unfortunately, our trusted news sources are almost forced to mix opinions with fact in order to be able to deliver something that will be entertaining to audiences. I suppose this is one reason Americans have become so aware of so-called “media biases.” Because we can get news on the Internet or continual news TV channels as soon as it happens, we have lessened the importance of the traditional half-hour news program (or newspaper, for that matter).

As Christians, we have benefited greatly from technology as well. We have an almost endless supply of articles, commentaries, and other Biblical resources literally at our fingertips. Additionally, there are numerous ways in which we can pull up specific Bible verses and passages (Bible Gateway is a good one). This is an amazing way to use technology to help us in our pursuit of Biblical knowledge. However, if we replace dedicated time and diligent effort for easy-to-use digital offerings, we will miss out on vital Scriptural lessons. May we always value the complete Word of God.

“Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages of glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’—these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:6-10, ESV)

Once again, it’s great to see you on our Friends & Family Day! We hope you have a wonderful day and a great week in service to Him!