I’ve tried different ways of tracking my time. But I finally found a good app for it. It’s available for Windows and Android, and maybe more. It shares from device to device using either Google Drive or One Drive clouds. I just installed it on my phone and “bingo” — my data was there.
Sometimes you cannot have order without division...
In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth. Everything was covered with darkness and chaos reigned, since all of creation was empty and without form. But God moved in and started dividing things, creating order out of the chaos.
First, God created light, which immediately caused a division between light and darkness. Then he divided the waters from the waters. Finally, he created dry land which forced the waters to recede and separated the water from the dry land.
Having made order from the chaos, God said for the first time that what He had done was good.
You can read the rest of the story in the first chapters of Genesis. My point is that sometimes division is the only thing that will bring order to chaos. We have had too much division within Christianity. And division should never be our first choice when we face problems. But when chaos takes over the church then sometimes division needs to happen.
These books are an attempt to show from history how the church lost its moorings. The time finally came that Christians needed to separate themselves from the apostate church. Revelations 18 describes this process:
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." (Rev 18:4, 5)
The Waldensian church stated during the dark ages that they could trace their lineage all the way back to the time of Sylvester. Since Sylvester was the Pope in Rome during most of the reign of Constantine, it seems likely that the beginnings of this division took place during that time. I’ve chosen to push this out a little and have the Christians of book three join this group later, after they were well established.
There is little history available about this group before Peter Waldo, and the Waldensian claims were probably for the purpose of being able to support apostolic succession for their leaders. But it does seem likely that there was truth in this. God has promised us that the enemy will not prevail against the church, and it seems plausible that there was an underground movement that lived in parallel with the corrupt Catholic system.
Years ago, before the days of Windows, I picked up a freeware or shareware outliner. During those days I was teaching at a Bible school in Ohio every winter and I needed good outlines. I discovered that an outliner forced me to think more logically.
Now I’m not necessarily promoting that you need to get outlining software. In fact I built a little template in MS Word that does the same thing, even adding numbers and letters and all those good things. It allows me to drag points around, demote them or promote them, etc.
But my real point here is that outlining gives a different perspective of your book, essay, sermon, or Sunday school class. It forces you to pick out your main idea, the one big thing that your presentation is about. It also forces you to go through your thoughts and see which ones can be used as legs on which your presentation can stand. Everything else needs to fit into one of those “legs”. If it doesn’t, you need to throw it out.
That’s right. I said (or wrote, for all you purists out there) THROW IT OUT. It might be a really good illustration, definition, or theological term. But if you have to “bend” it to make if fit, get rid of it.
So how do we go about it?
Building an Outline
I found the paper pictured in the featured image floating around here recently, and it spurred my interest. Someone (I won’t say who) was writing an essay. That person had an assigned subject, I think, which always makes it a little easier. I liked how they (okay, it was one of my daughters, so she) illustrated this. She put the title, the big idea, what this was all about, in the middle and drew a circle around it.
Okay, that’s easy enough. Next you need to find some legs for the main idea to stand on. Centipedes don’t work well, no matter what your project is all about. Anything short, like a sermon, an essay, or a Sunday school class can’t handle more than about four or five legs. A book might have more, but even a book can be too broad in its approach.
In this case, the writer picked three legs: bad effects of computers, good effects in the workplace, and personal benefits. If she had known that a thousand people were going to see this posted online, she would have improved it a bit more. This was more or less off the cuff with a time limit on the finished product.
Notice how she then started to flesh out the various legs with more ideas.
Notice that we haven’t used all of the points yet. So we continue adding to the legs, like you can see below.
Note that B.3.b could have been turned into A.3 since it is actually a bad effect.In that case, B.3.a would become part of B.3 since you shouldn’t have a single point under another point.
The last part of the process, in this case, was transfering this into a full blown essay. You also might want to transfer it into PowerPoint, or print it. But this kind of a process is almost guaranteed to improve your writing or speaking. It will force you to discipline yourself in presenting your ideas from a logical perspective.
It will also be a big aid to those who need to read what you wrote, or listen to what you say. It will take some self-discipline if you aren’t a logical thinker, but do it anyway. It’s like switching from hunt and peck typing to touch typing. It will slow you down at first but eventually the benefits will be HUGE.
Note: I'm going to try to follow up and post my MS Word template so that you can download it and use it, if you want. I'll include instructions with it, but its easy to use.
“Kill us, torture us, condemn us, grind us to dust; your injustice is the proof that we are innocent.... The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.” (Tertullian, The Apology)
Book 1 – AD 284: Darkness
∗ Meet Diocletian, and Mark
Book 2 – AD 312: Chaos
∗ Meet Constantine, and Servus
Book 3 – AD 380: Division
∗ Meet Theodosius, and Cyrus
A lot changed from Diocletian to Theodosius. During this century, the church went from being persecuted, to being tolerated, to being favored, to persecuting others.
All of these changes were bewildering to the ordinary people caught in the middle of the battle between Popes and Emperors on one side, and God on the other.
For a philosophical background of this project see here. For a brief synopsis / overview of this project see here.
Jesus said: "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."