Moving Again

Denver, CO

A year ago, my family & I moved to Charlotte. The job that took us there was really good for me: I learned a lot, worked with some talented developers, and contributed to some exciting projects. We also met and fell in love with a small church called CityLight. I enjoyed being part of the preaching team and Audrey loved being part of the worship team. Needless to say, it was really hard to leave that church family behind.

But Charlotte was an interlude. We knew that going in, but it didn’t make leaving much easier. For a few years now, Audrey and I have wanted to move to Denver. She grew up there, I’ve spent a week or so visiting (and didn’t really need convincing), and we’ve got friends planting a church up in Brighton. My job transition was pretty simple, fortunately. About a month ago, I started working remotely for an education lead-generation company, so all I had to do was open my laptop in a new home office here.

We just drove out to Denver last weekend. (For the record, I plan never to spend 30hrs driving a box truck cross-country again…) We’re loving it already and looking forward to learning and growing here.

Moving On

Charlotte Skyline

All good things must come to an end.

I arrived in Greenville, SC, in 2001 as a college freshman. Discounting some summers spent working at home and a year or so off between degrees, I’ve spent 11.5 of the last 14 years here in Greenville. I’ve graduated twice, gotten married, had a baby, and graduated again. I’ve lived in six dorm rooms, two houses, two apartments, and a townhouse. I’ve worked three campus jobs, held three graduate assistantships, served an internship, started my own company, shifted to contract work, and settled into a full-time job. I’ve seen some friendships come and go; other friendships have grown deeper. That’s a lot to leave behind and it makes our move bittersweet, to say the least.

Life, however, isn’t primarily about reliving the past or clutching the things that have already happened; so much rests on our willingness to seize the good opportunities that God provides and follow his leading one step at a time. That’s the step my family and I are taking now.

I’ve accepted a job as a senior front-end developer at a digital marketing agency in Charlotte, NC. My wife, month-old daughter, and I will be moving up there next week. This position will provide me the privilege of collaborating with a larger team of web developers; I expect it will also require a higher level of work, challenging me and honing my skills. It will also position me to write and speak more frequently, allowing me to give back to the web development community that’s helped me so much.

This move will also be a bit of an adventure. My family and I are leaving a comfort zone we’ve grown quite fond of. We’ll be making new friends, worshiping with a new church family, discovering new restaurants, settling into a new home, learning new roads, and enjoying a new arts experience. Our hearts are abuzz with that incredible mixture of excitement and apprehension.

In all this change, we’re grateful for our supportive families, for our friends and church family, for the great places we’ve been able to work, and for the kind providence and wise guidance our heavenly Father has given us. SDG.

My New RSS Reader to Replace Google Reader: Feedly

So as you probably heard, Google has announced that they’ll shut down Google Reader on July 1, 2013. Even though that’s more than three months warning, that announcement sent many loyal users into a panic and overloaded several other RSS sites by trying to move all their feeds immediately to a new RSS reader to replace Google Reader. (Full disclosure: I may have participated in that stampede.)

Google Reader was awesome.

I’ve been using Google Reader for – honestly, I don’t even know. My Trends page says I’ve read 95,000 items since July 2008, but I feel like I’ve been using it for longer. At any rate, I have almost 200 feeds, get about 400 new items a day, and read about 75 of those items. (More disclosure: about 20 of those are humor posts or comics; another 25 get sent to Pocket for reading later or archived in Evernote; another 10 I probably only skim, but Google Reader marks them as “read.”) I probably read about 10-15 actual articles per day on various topics from theology to web development to sports. All that boils down to this: I used Google Reader heavily; if it disappeared, that would be rough.

My Google Reader Usage

Now I’m not here to complain about Google’s decision. (1) They owned it. (2) It was a free service. (3) There are other options. (4) Even if I had no RSS reader at all, life would continue with no qualitative decline. That said, I’m pretty excited about my new RSS Reader: Feedly. Here’s why:

Feedly is even awesomer.

  1. Feedly imports your Google Reader feeds automatically. Just sign into Feedly with your Google account and bazinga – it imports all your feeds and categories.
  2. Feedly is promising to create an API that mimics Google Reader. This is great news for anyone who has a favorite 3rd party app that accessed Google Reader feeds. If your app’s developer wants to maintain that app, they can use Feedly’s new API.
  3. Feedly Feed ViewFeedly’s iOS apps are easy to use. It’s a different way to read feeds than I was used to. I had been using Feeddler Pro; that app provided detailed functionality, was slightly clunky in use, and made no attempt at aesthetics. Feedly’s apps are quick, well-designed, and must faster to use! I never used the Feeddler iPhone app because navigation between categories was very cumbersome; with Feedly, you just keep scrolling! They put some thoughtful planning into the gesture design for their apps.
  4. Feedly MenuFeedly looks great, IMO. It’s more colorful than Google Reader, but it keeps the same flat, clean design aesthetic.
  5. Feedly has exactly the sharing options that I need. I can open links in Chrome instead of Safari, save to Pocket, Tweet, and more.
  6. Its icon isn’t blue.

Get Feedly.

If you’re looking for a good RSS reader to replace Google Reader, you can sign up for Feedly for free and get the awesome Feedly iOS app.

James and Audrey Jo Design

James and Audrey Jo Design

My wife and I just launched a new design site & blog. We love typography art and wanted to be creators, not just consumers. We’re selling variety of printable designs, including hymns, carols, Scripture, and photo cards. Right now, most of our products are Christmas (since it’s December!), but we’ll be adding more season-neutral prints early in the New Year. We’re also blogging some gift ideas and detailed descriptions of our designs.

Just so you’re warned, I’ll be cross-posting links to my articles here. Most of what I’m writing there is explanations of hymn texts and Scripture, so it’ll fit right in with the content you’re used to here.

Please take a minute to check out our new site. If you have specific verses or quotes you’d like to see designed, please send us an email – we love to hear from fans & customers!

Bible Reading (for geeks, nerds, or regular folks with iPhones)

Picture of iPad 2, iPod Touch (4th Gen), and iPhone 4SReading the Bible on my iPad is my new favorite way to do regular reading and meditation. I look for two things in a Bible app: a clean display of the text (without notes / links / distractions) and the availability of help if I want to read more. I also appreciate an app that can track my Bible reading progress and remind me to follow my plan. I’ve found some good apps that give the simplicity of focusing my eyes on the text alone, allow quick access to notes and cross-references if I want to study, and help me track my Bible reading progress.

Highly Recommended Apps

YouVersion

Download the Free YouVersion Bible App from iTunesThe free YouVersion app from LifeChurch.tv has the best feature set. It provides online access to hundreds of Bible translations in several languages, as well as offline access to dozens of those versions (including Ancient Greek). This app also has many built-in reading plans with notifications. Tapping a verse highlights it and displays a small icon that allows you to add a note, share the verse (via Twitter, Facebook, email, or text message), copy the verse to other apps, bookmark, or highlight the verse with a custom color. YouVersion also has a “Live Event” feature that allows users to interact and share during a message or event. This is my favorite Bible app and the one I always use for daily reading.

ESV Bible

Download the Free ESV Bible Bible App from iTunesThe smoothest Bible app is the free ESV Bible app from Crossway. Its interface is clean and fast. As soon as you scroll down, the header disappears and you see the text full-screen. Tapping a verse brings up a list of cross-reference links and a “Create a Note” button. You can also bookmark verses or quickly share them via Twitter, Facebook, or email from this page.

ReadingPlan

Download the Free ReadingPlan App from iTunesThe free ReadingPlan app does just what its name says: lets you select a Bible reading plan and helps you stay on track. It does not have a Bible in it, but it comes with several plans pre-loaded and lets you browse through dozens of others. ReadingPlan will send a daily push notification to your device and allow you to open your preferred Bible app or website to read the passages. The App Store description says that this app will let you “create your own,” however, I haven’t figured out how to create a custom plan yet.

Other Useful Apps

Logos

Download the Free Logos App from iTunesI rarely use the free Logos app. I don’t own a large Logos library package and this app is much more challenging to use than the ESV or YouVersion apps. If you do have a Logos package and use it for daily reading, the ReadingPlan app can open Logos to your current daily reading for you.

Bible+

Download the Free Bible+ App from iTunesThe free Bible+ app from Olive Tree has a few versions available at no charge, but most of the better translations are only available as additional purchase (in-app or through the App Store). The main benefit to this app is split-screen viewing on the iPad. The only time I use this app is when I need to read Greek and English side-by-side.

Conclusion

The best all-around app for Bible reading and plan tracking is YouVersion. It has the most features and versions – and the best price tag.

If you’re already committed to another app for reading and just need to add a plan tracker, get ReadingPlan; it will tailor well with your current reading habits.

Do you have a different favorite Bible reading app? Tell me about it with a comment!

Tiger Woods and Solomon

Another high-profile American has been shocked to have the hidden details of his personal life public paraded before the nation’s eyes.  Responding to a woman’s accusation that they carried on a two-and-a-half year affair, Tiger Woods apologized for not being “true to my values and the behavior my family deserves.”

Tiger also expressed surprise at the high level of “tabloid scrutiny” that he now faces.  He feels that (apart from the issue of the affair) “there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy.”

And we all sympathize with that, don’t we?  The moment we are most concerned about our privacy is when we’ve been caught in a secret sin.  But most of us don’t face the “tabloid scrutiny” that athletes, politicians, musician and movie stars face.

Or do we?

Truth be told, every one of us faces a scrutiny that far exceeds any tabloid curiosity.  “The word of God is living and active, … discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4.12-13).  Tabloids make mistakes, they can’t know everything, and they are only temporary.  God is perfect, he knows everything, and he lasts forever.

The problem is that we can see tabloids, but not God.  It’s like speeding on the lonely open stretch of highway but driving at the limit near that well-known speed trap in town.  When we see the police, we respect them.  When we can’t see them, we drive as though they don’t exist.  Solomon saw this principle at work in the world (Eccl. 9.1-3).

But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

Good men die young; bad men die young.  Good men die old; bad men die old.  Sometimes it doesn’t look like our actions on earth get any heavenly response.  The result of that apparent justicelessness is that people do whatever they want: “the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts.”  And then, when they’re caught and their sins are dragged through the public square, everything seems unfair and the “important and deep principle [of] human privacy” has been terribly endangered!

The ultimate problem is not the media or any celebrity.  The problem is with all of us: we don’t take seriously the reality of God’s righteous standards, constant scrutiny and perfect accountability.  We can’t see God; thus, we don’t respect his authority.

The ultimate solution is Jesus Christ.  All of us have quite a track record of acting like God is not in charge – we can call that sin.  Jesus has a perfect record.  He has always been entirely mindful of the Father’s scrutiny and he has always obeyed.  On the cross, Jesus took our punishment and offered us his righteousness.  Additionally, Jesus provides the only way we can walk rightly before God now.  We live “in Christ,” we have his Spirit dwelling in us and we have access to his grace!  Furthermore, when we still act like God’s authority isn’t real, we have constant grace and forgiveness in Jesus – the Gospel never stops being effective for us.

We don’t need to act surprised when someone (ourselves included) is caught with a hand in the cookie jar.  God’s scrutiny far exceeds any human attention or publicity.  In Jesus Christ, we can heed the conclusion to Solomon’s wisdom: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccl. 12.13-14).

Quotes from this article.

Reader input requested! Crazy question of the day…

I’m taking a Greek class next semester that includes memorizing nearly all the vocab in the New Testament.  My goal is to use my iPod Touch for my vocab flash cards.  I’ve looked at a few apps that do vocab cards, but none specially set for all NT Greek vocab (yep, it’s not the most common college course).

What I’d like to know is…

  1. have you found a good app that already has most of the NT Greek vocab (sorted alphabetically) available for it,
  2. have you used any iPod Touch flash card apps (which, and what do you think) or
  3. do you have or know where I could find an electronic list of all NT Greek vocab (spreadsheet, csv, Access DB, etc.)?

If you’ve got helpful info, drop a comment below.  If you’ve got access to a file, I’ll reply to your comment via email.

Thanks much!

UPDATE: Thanks to some comments, tweets and research, I’ve got the list of all vocab words & glosses in a CSV file.  When I get access to a macro-capable copy of MS Office (i.e., not ’08 for Mac!), I’ll run the BibleWorks Greek to Unicode font, then start experimenting with an iPod Touch app to see what works best.  I’ll report what happens as I go…