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Lane Coon Posts

Evernote for the Preacher 3 Tagging Notes

Starting right with Tagging

Tagging notes in Evernote is the “secret sauce” to having a great sermon prep system. When you have collected thousands of sermon illustrations, tagging will be the one thing that helps you narrow the returned note results from a search query. It is easier to start tagging when you start this process than it is to go back and add the tags later. Trust me, I know from experience.

A tag is a short description added to a note. It can be one word or a short phrase, but you want to keep it short. A note can have multiple tags and is not limited to just being tagged under one description. This is great for those quotes or illustrations that can be applied in several different ways.

For example, the quote from GK Chesterton that we added during the last post can be tagged prodigal, home, or man. We will add these tags to this quote later on in this post. But first let’s talk about structuring our tags.

How to nest tags

Tags in Evernote can be nested. Similar to how we created a stack with the notebooks, more than one tag can be placed together to create groups.

To see all of your tags, navigate to the tag section by clicking the tags link on the left sidebar of Evernote. The same way that we create a note or notebook, we create a tag by clicking the +New Tag button. Name the new tag “>quotes”. I add the > character to place the tag at the front of the alphabetical order, It also acts as a visual cue to let me know that there are items nested under the tag that have to do with quotes. This tag will not be used on any notes, it would become a little redundant to have a note with a quote in the notebook titled quotes also be tagged with quote.

We are going to use this tag to nest together all tags applied to notes added to our quotes notebook inside of the sermon prep stack. Create another tag using the same process. Now name this one “prodigal”.

Hint: Add a special character to the name. It will make searching and tagging easier later. I add a /  to all quote tags. My tag looks like this /prodigal.

Grab the new tag “prodigal” to drag and drop it onto the “>quotes” tag. Bam! Nested tags.

Steps for creating and nesting tags

  1. Navigate to tags
  2. Create new tag and name it “>quotes”
  3. Add another tag, name it “/prodigal”
  4. Drag and drop “/prodigal” onto “>quotes”
    1. Tag section

    2. Create a tag

My Tag Structure

How I write my tags, and the structure I have created.

  1. >illustrations
    1. !prodigal “!” for illustrations because it resembles an upside down I.
  2. >quotes
    1. /Prodigal “/” for quotes because it was under my pinky finger.
  3. >Quips

With the structure you can use it, adapt it, improve it, or scrap it. Now we move to adding the tag to the note we created that has our quote on it.

Tagging our quote

Navigate to the sermon prep stack under the notebooks tab, select the quote notebook we put the Chesterton quote in. Tags can be added in the bar near the top of the note viewing window. Start by typing the /. You will notice that Evernote gives you possible selections. You can finish typing /prodigal or choose it from the list. When you have a bunch of tag options this added bonus will come in handy for choosing which tags you want to use on a note. Congratulations you have tagged the note.

Tag bar location in note view
tag options offered in Evernote

You can also add any new tags like the ones I mentioned above – home, or man – in the tag bar. But you will need to add them to the nested tag by dragging and dropping under the tags tab. Next we are going to look at the search bar. Search is where Evernote becomes really powerful. But don’t make the mistake I made. I skipped tagging when I started out adding illustrations. My thought was because search is so awesome why should I spend time tagging my notes. I have learned that tagging and search are meant to work together.

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The Aim of Preaching

The aim of Biblical preaching and teaching should always be action. A positive change in life on the part of the audience. Anything less risks becoming entertainment.

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Evernote for the Preacher 2 Setting up Evernote

Setting up Evernote

For sermon preparation I have created a structure to stay organized on Evernote that consists of using a single Notebook Stack, several Notebooks filled with notes, and a Tagging structure that helps me find what I am looking for. It is the combination of each of these tools that help make Evernote a powerful sermon preparation tool.

First off if you have not done so yet, head over to Evernote HERE and download the app. It is available on both PC and Mac. You will need a primary email address to set up an account. Tip: Use two step verification for added security. At the same time you can download the mobile app and or tablet app from your devices app store.


One of the great features in Evernote are the notebooks. Think of a notebook as exactly what it sounds like. A notebook that you are going to put notes into. You can have as many notebooks as you would like to have. Let’s create a new notebook and name it Sermon Prep.

Creating notebooks and stacks

Click the +New Notebook and name the notebook “Sermon Prep”. The reason we are naming this notebook “Sermon Prep” is because we are going to turn it into a notebook stack. Think of a notebook stack like a file cabinet. When you have several notebooks that have a common interest, you can place them inside a notebook stack. Click the +New Notebook again, now name this notebook “Quotes”. You can grab the “Quotes” notebook by placing your mouse arrow on the notebook and holding down the mouse button gives you the ability to pick it up and move it. Drop it onto of the “Sermon Prep” notebook to create a stack. The stack is created and when opened will hold the two notebooks “Sermon Prep” and “Quotes”. If you would like to rename “Sermon Prep” you can, and it will not affect the name of the stack. I renamed mine “Sermon Ideas”, where I collect all the possible sermon thoughts that could be developed at later times. You can add as many notebooks as you feel necessary to be well organized. My “Sermon Prep Stack” includes these notebooks: ideas, illustrations, articles, quotes, and sermon ideas.

Steps for creating a stack

  1. Create a new notebook
  2. Name it “sermon prep”
  3. Create another notebook
  4. Name it “quotes”
  5. Combine the two notebooks
  6. Add more notebooks
create a notebook using the button +new notebook
sermon prep stack

Adding a note

Now that we have created a notebook for collecting quotes let’s add a quote. Start by clicking your way into the notebook for quotes. Then choose the “+new note in quotes” option at the top of the screen creating a new note. Add this quote by GK Chesterton from his book The Everlasting Man “There are two ways of getting home and one them is to stay there”. Because Evernote has such a powerful search feature I don’t spend to much time trying to come up with a note title. I name it each resource with the book/article title, author name, and location. For example this quote gets titled “GK Chesterton, The Everlasting Man”.

Steps for creating a new note

  1. create a new note in quotes
  2. add quote to note
  3. title the new note
creating a new note

Next post I will cover Tagging and the tagging structure I use.

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Evernote for the Preacher

Evernote for the preacher

Ever wanted to simplify that semi organized or maybe never organized mess of a sermon illustration file?

I worked out a solution for more effective sermon prep that I have been seeing benefits from over the past year and decided to share them, may it bless you in the fight to be more productive.

Preaching doesn’t stress me out. I enjoy it! Preparing a sermon doesn’t stress me out. I enjoy that! Most preachers I know enjoy it. There is only one part of sermon preparation that I have wished would be easier. The search for that illustration or quote that I know I have somewhere.

I am the constant collector of stories, illustrations and anything that could ever be used in a sermon. I have an overwhelming amount of good content that I have amassed through a few years in ministry. But the stress has always been in locating the one illustration I needed to use for the particular sermon of the moment. Opening and closing tons of hanging files, digging through labeled manila folders…etc. It just never seemed like a good use of time. Especially with the negative thought in the back of my mind that I could potentially never find what I am seeking.

First let me tell you how I use Evernote. Although, it could be easier to tell you the ways I don’t use Evernote. I use it a lot!

Here is a list of the ways I use Evernote

  • To Save important emails
  • ToDo list tracking and reminders
  • Manage projects I’m working on
  • Keep a sermon log
  • Storing files
  • Saving memories, images, audio clips, and video clips
  • I keep PDF books for reading and searching
  • Anything that I receive on paper that needs to be kept gets put into Evernote
  • I teach Bible studies from it
  • Bible study slideshows
  • I use it for collaboration on projects with other people
  • I share notes, and notebooks with other people
    • Example: I have two notebooks filled with articles on Leadership and Church Growth that I have shared with a number of friends
  • When I preach or teach I use the Evernote app for iPad
  • My personal Bible study highlights, and notes are backed up to Evernote
  • I import all my highlights from e-books into Evernote

These just scratch the surface of how I use Evernote. The things I left off would require more detail than what a bullet list can provide.

To me the service is worth every bit of the price for the premium features. The extended search makes it incredibly powerful. With search you can look for text in pdf files, Microsoft office documents, and in images.

Because of my comfort with Evernote, it was natural for me to look at using it as a repository for all of the illustrations I had accumulated, and continue to collect. The result, I don’t find myself scrambling to find where that one sermon thought was written down, or asking “which book was that great story that would fit this sermon found in?”. Nor do I find myself digging through the mass of manila folders that I had been collecting over many years.

Over a few posts I am going to lay out for you how I use Evernote for my sermon preparation. I hope it will benefit you the way it has benefitted me.

First, let me tell you why I chose Evernote. These are the reasons I chose Evernote for my sermon preperation.

The Reasons I would choose Evernote

  • There is no limit to how many notes you can have
  • The Notebooks make organization intuitive
  • There are unlimited tags
  • The tags can be nested to create a structure
  • Evernote has amazing search capabilities

All of these qualities add up to a really great way to store and access resources for sermon preparation.

If you have not taken a look at Evernote, you can get it by going to their website at HERE.

In the next post I am going to cover how I have organized my Evernote Sermon prep tools.

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You should be using Canva

You should be using Canva because it is one of the simplest tools for creating great graphics. I now use canva most of the time to create great content for our church plant. I am skilled with using other design apps such as the adobe suite of apps. But for the speed and cost of what I need done, I feel that Canva beats it hands down.

I can create shareable images quickly using Canva’s templates. They have templates for all of the social media outlets from Facebook to Pinterest. I often find myself using their templates for presentation slides to put together a quality slide for my sermons. Here is a list of some of the templates they have.

  • Twitter Image Post
  • Social Media Post
  • Pinterest Post
  • Instagram Post
  • Facebook Post
  • Presentation Slide
  • Flyers
  • Twitter Header
  • Facebook Cover
  • Youtube Channel Art
  • Email Header
  • Etsy Banner
  • Facebook Ad

It is a great freemium app! If you or someone you know constantly needs to create quick attractive slides, images, infographics, headers, or many other graphics you should check out

I created the feature image on this page using Canva, and it was free. Click the link to check it out or find it on the resource page.

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Here comes the “Dreamer”

Here comes the “Dreamer”.

That was the accusation on the lips of brothers. Here comes the dreamer Joseph.

It is easy to despise dreamers. A one who has something grander then the present set of common lines in mind.

That vision is an indictment. The very existence of the dream rebukes all for accepting the status quo. The call of a dream is to rebel. To fight against what has been accepted. To go against the grain. To resist the pull. But condemning the dreamer is easier than rebelling, fighting against the intangible enemy that is called common place. Because common wears us down into submission without our fully knowing. It treads us under like the rolling stone at a grind mill until the only option we feel can be taken is to remain common.

The searing indictment of a dreamer is that we have left dreaming behind and accepted common. Now faced with another who has a dream that rebels. Our place in the dream of the dreamer is a place of normal – bowing to the dreamer. Who is the dreamer? The one who would not release his grip on the dream.

When opportunity comes, instead of being a dream or dreamer killer. Be a dream and dreamer releaser. Or go farther and the be the dreamer again.

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Killing Jesus

Killing Jesus written by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard is one of the most recent books that I have finished. I was very impressed with some of the historical things that O’Reilly and Dugard brought out about the time of Jesus life, ministry and crucifixion. The reader gets a real sense of the culture of the day both in Rome and in Israel. The political tight rope walking of people who have used the Roman system to rise to power and their willingness to do anything to protect the power they had gained.

Image link to book on Amazon
Image link to book on Amazon

I will admit I am a fan of the “Killing…” books that O’Reilly and Dugard have written. The only one I have yet to read that is on my future reads list is Killing Patton. If you enjoy history reads you will enjoy these books. Also a bonus if you listen to the audio book, which I have with most of these, Bill O’Reilly reads it himself. His skills at narration are excellent.

If you are looking for “Killing Jesus” to be a theological book you will be disappointed. While O’Reilly and Dugard acknowledge Jesus claim to be the Messiah. They stick strictly to offering the historical facts of Jesus birth, life, and ministry leading to his death at the hands of the spiritual elite and Romans by crucifixion. Some portions of the book are vivid enough to take a strong stomach to hear how perverse and ruthless people in power were toward their victims.

If you are a preacher or teacher be prepared to make some notes for future use, you will gain many insights.

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Using technology to teach the Bible

Recently my wife shared a pic on social media in which I was using technology to teach the bible to one of our saints. A few people asked me how I was putting the chart I use onto my tablet as a display. I thought the information could be helpful to someone. So here is a simple way that I use technology when teaching the Bible in a one to one setting.

I have a few personal Bible studies that I use for teaching like Exploring God’s Word, Search For Truth 2, What The Bible Says, Bible Made Simple etc… If you don’t have one, get one similar to this, preferably in a digital format. (If you already have it in a physical book or binder. You could use a scanner to turn it into a PDF.)

I exported all of the powerpoint files as PDF versions. Then I uploaded them to my favorite note service Evernote (more about this below).

Then I teach the study with the PDF in landscape on my tablet sitting on the table. There are many apps or services you can do this with, but I prefer Evernote.

This amazing service has made my life a whole lot easier. For instance, almost all of my preparation for sermons and teaching take place in Evernote. Everything that I get on paper goes to Evernote. Notes I take at conferences – Evernote. I even put audio series into Evernote. Why Evernote? Here are my main reasons.

  • The software makes portable document files (PDF) searchable. If you have ever cut out an article from a magazine to use as an illustration, you know what a frustration searching through a file cabinet to locate it for use months (even years) later can be. Or if you are like one guy I know, he has a secretary type them into a document that he saves on his computer (This file is huge by the way, when he I got it from him it nearly crashed my laptop just trying to open it. I put it in Evernote.)
  • Can you say SYNC? That is right it syncs across all of the platforms I use.
  • Have you heard about the CLOUD? If I don’t have my device (who goes anywhere without their devices?) I can still get what I am looking for from the cloud.

I could spend a lot of time telling you about Evernote and what can be done with it. To keep this short let’s just say I like it a lot and I think it will benefit you too. It is a freemium subscription service (basic service is free, additional features are unlocked when you pay $5 a month).

Here are links to Exploring God’s Word and Evernote.

To be transparent if you sign up for Evernote using the link above I earn points through Evernote’s sharing program. I receive nothing from Pentecostal Publishing House if you purchase a product from them.


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Kevin DeYoung – Crazy Busy

Have you ever noticed everything else that happens in Luke 10 before we get to Mary and Martha? Jesus sends out seventy-two disciples on a mission trip. They heal the sick, cast out demons, and preach the gospel… Then later in chapter 10, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan, the man who showed compassion to a stranger, loved his neighbor, and inconvenienced himself for the good of his fellow man. Do you see how Luke places the story of Mary and Martha after all this activity? This episode isn’t here by accident. I believe God wants us to see that if we heal the sick and cast out demons and preach the gospel and show mercy and do justice and don’t sit at the feet of Jesus, We’ve missed the one thing we truly need. The only thing more important than ministry is being ministered to.

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Up & Running

A few months ago I did something pretty dumb on my, this website. I do all of my own website work and I probably know just enough to be dangerous. So I was trying to make some improvements to the site. Well the outcome was not what I was expecting. The whole site was lost. Yay!

I did, or at least thought I did have consistent backups going. But I was wrong, big mistake. If you had visited the site during the last few months you would have noticed that it was not working. Well I have been pretty focused on all of the work that goes into starting a new church. So I was only to piece a little time here and there to get the site back up and looking how I want it to look.

Well it is finally back up. I do have the old posts saved, and I will be reintroducing them as time permits. But for you, the reader. I want to apologize for the hiatus and say. I am back up & running!

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