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Breakfast Blend 11.28.14

151 Must-View Websites for Authors: “While there are some excellent books on writing, the web is also filled with terrific sites on the topic. Here are 151 of the very best, and they’re organized for you by subject and genre.”

The Psychology of Motivation: “Small tasks, big tasks, easy tasks, hard tasks; we run through our to-do list with reckless abandon, get a whole bunch of stuff done, and then go back to our normal productivity level when the motivation subsides. Instead, Fogg says, we should be harnessing that motivation to do the things that structure future behavior.”

5 Quotes from G.K. Chesterton on Salvation: “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”—G. K. Chesterton

Our Secular Salvation Myth: “Among the various reactions to the Church of England’s vote on women bishops, one comment really got under my skin: “Welcome to the 21st century.” Almost everything about it irritated me.”

Write More Better: A new, free e-book by Aaron Armstrong.

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Ed Sanders on the Apostle Paul’s Lifestyle

Powerful words, coming from a scholar:

“Paul spent years of his life on the road, carrying (presumably on pack animals) his tent, clothing and tools – not many scrolls, if any. He carried the Bible safely tucked away in his head, where it belongs. As an apostle, he often supported himself by plying his trade.

He was busy, traveling, working with his hands, winning people for Christ, shepherding or coping with his converts, responding to questions and problems. And he was very human; he knew not only fighting without but also fears within (2 Cor. 7:5).

Paul the completely confident academic and systematic theologian – sitting at his desk, studying the Bible, working out a system, perfect and consistent in all its parts, unchanging over a period of thirty years, no matter how many new experiences he and his churches had – is an almost inhuman character, either a thinking machine or the fourth person of the Trinity.

The real Paul knew anger, joy, depression, triumph, and anguish; he reacted, he overreacted, he repented, he apologized, he flattered and cajoled, he rebuked and threatened, he argued this way and that way: he did everything he could think of to win some.”

-As quoted in “Paul and the Faithfulness of God, pg. 354)

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How Writing Makes us Thankful.

Hey Folks – sorry about leaving you hanging yesterday. My family and I’ve come down with a sudden bug that wiped us all out without warning…

And on that note, let’s talk thankfulness.

Writing is about painting a picture of reality.

But in order to make that picture convincing, we need to be observers of reality. We need to be able to say, “I know what the world is like. I know what it feels like to be human.” We need to do that, before people will buy the picture we’re painting.

Which means, before anything, writers are observers. And while writers can be frizzy-headed kooks, completely disconnected from reality, the truth is, a great writer needs to learn, in some sense, to be present.

She needs to notice the tastes on her tongue.

She needs to listen when no one else does.

She has to extrapolate the meaning of that non-verbal sign.

In other words, the writer needs to take in the world. Observe.

Be thankful. That’s what I want you to do today – take it in. Observe it. Journal on it afterward, every little detail.

Teach us to be thankful.


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Breakfast Blend 11.27.14

Books I’d Ban – “Here is the long-awaited sequel to “Books I’d Ban”, Volume 1. Seriously, these are not worth reading.*”

How to Think Like a Writer – “Like a seasoned Game-theorist, the writer must pick apart the choices each of the characters he’s introduced into the scene may or may not take.  Then the writer must make the perfect choice for the particular scene she is writing.”

10 Questions on Thankfulness – “Every day of your life you’ll find reasons to complain, and every day of your life you’ll have reasons to be thankful. Notice the distinction: you’ll FIND reasons to complain and you’ll HAVE reasons to be thankful.”

Why You Should Keep Working on Your Bad Idea: “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!”

30 Tricks to Optimizing Gmail: “Like it or not, email is often the cornerstone of your personal and professional communications. As a result, there are hundreds of people vying for attention in your inbox. That makes sifting through new emails—and finding the important ones later—a daunting task.”

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Breakfast Blend 11.25.14

How to Teach Google What a Story Is: “Deep inside Google, a small team has been trying to solve a problem that’s easy for any schmuck around the watercooler but frighteningly difficult for the world’s most data-rich company: telling a story. ”

Four Ways Christian Leaders Should Know What Time it Is: “If influencing others is a key component of leadership, then Christian leadership will be about influencing people spiritually, leading them in a direction that helps them become more like Christ.”

17 Small Productivity Habits: “The idea behind mini habits is that you can get to a larger habit if you start small, create simple goals, and aim for consistency. ”

51 Questions to Ask Your Online Copy: “Optimizing your own copy is a bit like scaling Mount Everest without a Sherpa. It doesn’t matter if you’re in shape; if you go it alone, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll end up a crumpled human popsicle. Well, help is here.”

6 Pieces of Advice from Successful Writers: “I’ve been reading some advice from successful writers lately and exploring what their routines are like to see what I can learn. Here are six of the most common pieces of advice I came across that have helped me a lot improving my writing.”

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My Sermon to Gordon Conwell Students.

Yesterday I preached a sermon from James 3:13-18 on the meaning of true wisdom. It’s short – about 18 minutes. The sound quality isn’t great, but it’s audible.

You can check it out below, or click this link.

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The Little Gnomes at Your Front Door.

Ideas, I think, are like little gnomes.

They arrive unexpectedly at your front door, and knock politely.

If you don’t answer the door, they will wait patiently. But none of their friends will come, not until you let the first little gnome inside. You might be busy cleaning the kitchen, or doing the laundry, or watching television. It doesn’t matter.

They will wait.

The trick is, in the midst of your busyness, you need to take a 10-15 second break to let them in. That is, if you want more of them to continue streaming in.

What does that look like? Writing them down.

Writing things down isn’t just a way to remember ideas – it’s a way to keep you from expending mental energy maintaining the ideas you have already. It relaxes your brain from remembrance, so that more creativity can pool inside.

So when a little gnome knocks at the door – no matter what you’re doing – stop. Be polite. Let him in. Then carry on, delighting in the new little visitors who arrive after they see your hospitality.


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Breakfast Blend 11.24.14

Surprised By Religion at National Book Awards: “It felt kind of like the Oscars, well, like the Oscars for book nerds. An evening with awards in different categories, a host who made witty remarks, and palpable excitement in the air. Two nights ago, I sat in an auditorium at the New School in Manhattan, for the privilege of listening as the twenty finalists for the National Book Award read from their work.”

The Schedule Successful People Follow: “All too often, productivity tips are a dime a dozen. Some even conflict with each other. What we need is a system.”

How Interstellar Proves the Resurrection: “In Christopher Nolan’s newest eye- and mind-bending space odyssey, Interstellar, there is plenty of action but also much to aid in silent contemplation. Nolan’s work is imbued with an intense spirituality that puts its emphasis on humanity.”

Is Story Plot Driven or Character Driven? “What comes first when you set out to tell a Story? The kind of plot you want to tell or the lead character you have in mind?”

Can’t Get Started? Work for Five Minutes. I can’t think of better writing advice for us procrastinators.


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Breakfast Blend 11.21.14

6 Ideas from Creative Thinkers to Shake up Your Work Routine: “Every seven years, designer Stefan Sagmeister (TED Talk: The power of time off) closes his New York design studio for a year-long sabbatical. During each sabbatical, he pursues “little experiments, things that are always difficult to accomplish during the regular working year.” The effect on Sagmeister’s studio has been profound. “Basically everything we’ve done in the seven years following the first sabbatical came out of the thinking of that one single year,” he says.”

Tim Keller’s New Lectures on Preaching: “Tim Keller is currently writing a much anticipated book on preaching, planned for release sometime in 2015. Last week he offered a taste of what’s to come in four new lectures delivered at the 2014 John Reed Miller Lectures on Preaching at RTS Jackson (November 11–13).”

The Blueprint of an Optimal Blog Design: “From using snippets and placing images in the correct location to figuring out the optimal width of your design, there has to be a perfect formula, right? Well, there is. To show you how you can create the optimal design, I’ve created an infographic that breaks down what you need to do.”

“Who do you say that I am?”: “The greatness of God is most clearly displayed in his Son. And the glory of the gospel is only made evident in his Son. That’s why Jesus’ question to his disciples is so important: “Who do you say that I am?”

5 Rules of Writing from Pixar: “I love Pixar. There hasn’t been one movie they made that I didn’t like. My family goes to see the new Pixar movie every summer right after it comes out. So when I saw this picture on Pinterest sharing Pixar’s twenty-two rules of storytelling, I saved it right away, and I go back to it constantly for inspiration.”

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C.S. Lewis on Not Liking Heaven’s Pat-on-the-Back

“I can imagine someone saying that he dislikes my idea of heaven as a place where we are patted on the back.

But proud misunderstanding is behind that dislike.

In the end that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised.

I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not! How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except insofar as it is related to how He thinks of us.

It is written that we shall “stand before” Him, shall appear, shall be inspected.

The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive the examination, shall find approval, shall please God.

To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain.

But so it is.”


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