I recently discovered that there is a new iPad app currently under development that holds great promise for all public speakers, including preachers. The app, Podium Pro, is still in private beta but should be available soon in the app store.
When the app is released Digital Sojourner will write a comprehensive review.
The app is being designed by public speakers for public speakers. Several functions that preachers will find helpful are being built into the app. Some of those features are: word processing, Dropbox integration, count down timer, count up timer, overtime clock, ability to record and share your sermon, and much more.
I’ve been saying that when we study our bibles digitally we need to be reading our Bibles. Repeatedly. Exegesis requires reading. Recently, I’ve added the need to consult commentaries. In this post I want to list a few ways to use a commentary when studying the Bible digitally:
- Use multiple commentaries on a single passage. Almost all Bible software today lets you do this by either clicking a tab or doing a search in all resources. Plus, this makes the commentators argue with each other instead of non-expert you trying to come up with an argument against them.
- Read different levels of commentaries. Some commentaries are exceedingly technical and probably only need to be read by Academia. But others might be Evangelical and Semi-Technical offering great rewards for the persistent student. And yet others are very devotional and allow a person to think on a passage and how it reflects this or that. Most free programs offer a lot of devotional commentaries—which tend to be the older commentaries—while the more expensive programs allow you to purchase commentaries of different skill levels. Remember to check the last post on how to buy a commentary before diving in.
- Use the ones that have been recommended. In the last post, I made sure to highlight four guides that were essential to offering recommendations. Use them. You don’t want to dive into purchasing commentaries that will be of no spiritual benefit for you. You can use them both in print and digitally.
- Use them for what you need them to do. In other words, don’t just use devotional commentaries and don’t just use exegetical commentaries. If you’re studying your Bible, you’re going to want to study the original meanings, the meaning of the text as it stands, how the text stands in history, how others have understood the text, how the text stands in redemptive history, what it means to you, what it means to the Church as a whole, and what it says in simple terms. Right there is a whole mess of different commentaries and you’ll want to have the right tools for the right job. If you have a digital version, this could incorporate nicely into your program to aid in your overall study.
- Use them after you’ve done hard work but before you are convinced by your work. You don’t want to be a mere parrot for what the commentaries say, but you do want to ensure that you haven’t hardened into some faulty position before deciding to go off and consult them. That point is different for different folk.
- Use them consistently. Commentaries are not a one-time use sort of thing; they are an investment in your spiritual development and potentially the spiritual development of others. So ensure that you use them often, against each other, in your studies. Digital versions are easier to carry around and might aid in this respect.
- Use them in a quest for God’s message. It’s real easy to get caught up in reading commentaries so as to be more impressive when you teach but that misses the point of studying the Bible altogether. The Bible is, if you allow the metaphor, a love letter from God. When we’re studying the Bible we’re poring over this note from the lover of our entire being who condescended to write to us after orchestrating history for our good. So a commentary should really be an aid in trying to understand that love letter.
Crossposted at The Bible Archive
I’ve been posting about using digital tools and we started talking about commentaries. Here’s the rub: there are a whole mess of Bible commentaries.
It’s not enough that we have the printing press and modern theologians writing a whole mess of them; we also have 2,000 years of church history filled with commentaries.
But not only that, we have the commentaries by unbelievers, agnostic believers, people who are closer to deists than anything, heretics, heterodox, and people who just have a pet agenda to push forward.
For the person who is studying their Bible, who has put in some sweat and tears on exegesis, I think it’s smart to invest good money on solid commentaries while simultaneously avoiding all the garbage that’s out there.
At this point, some folk might be quick to recommend a digital version of William MacDonald’s two volume commentary on the Bible. Yeah, it’s good for what it is—a quick hitting devotional through the Bible. But a main source for commentary it is not (sorry—neither is Matthew Henry’s.).
And frankly, no single volume commentary will be. Not even a single publisher of commentaries. If you want some real commentary tools for studying your Bible, you’re going to have to approach it like a stock portfolio: diversify.
So here are some links to resources that let you broaden your horizon on what commentaries to look for when shopping:
Free: Check out Best Commentaries for reviews on, well, commentaries. The site compiler picks up his information from some books that you should definitely buy but also touches on some writers that are on the web (like Keith Mathison over on Ligonier Ministries or Jeremy Pierce, a Chrisitan philosopher who blogs over at Parableman). For those strapped for cash, this is a great place to start but definitely think about investing in the Not-Free section.
Not Free but Must Own: pick up D.A Carson’s New Testament Commentary Survey. He’s a solid evangelical and reformed professor, pastor , and exegetical expert and this book will save you loads of money. He reviews commentaries, rates them based on skill level, but unfortunately only stays within the realm of the New Testament. The Kindle edition is roughly seven bucks which you can spend just by skipping Starbucks tomorrow. But don’t let your heart be troubled, Tremper Longman III has an Old Testament Commentary Survey which does essentially the same thing as Carson but for the OT. For 8 bucks Kindle version, you can’t go wrong with this two stepper. And lastly, you should consider also picking up John Glynn’s Commentary and Reference survey. It’s the most expensive of the two since it’s not only commentaries, but it helps the commentary purchasing endeavor.
Note: you might not want to purchase commentaries in only digital versions. Digital versions are great, in that you can take them anywhere in your computer (especially if you purchased the Perfect Electronic Bible) but you’ll more often never get the discount you might find on a print version. I’ve bought print versions that are marked up with highlighters for under three bucks; I could never buy a digital version for that low.
So consider if you need to buy a digital version of any commentary before buying one. In fact, you might even want to use inter-library loans to get your hands on commentaries without buying them—it’s a great way to try before you buy.
Next post, how to actually use a commentary.
Crossposted at The Bible Archive
I recently ran across an excellent collection of sermon videos that is worth taking a look at. The collection features several excellent Bible teachers including Jabe Nicholson, Alan Gamble, Peter Brandon, and Joe Reese.
The videos were recorded during the Northfield Bible Weeks– a series of tent meetings held annually for two weeks in Newcastle Co. Down, Northern Ireland.
You can find the collection of sermon videos here: Northfield Bible Weeks Sermons.
1. Greater opportunities for communication enable believers spread out over the globe to connect
Believers may correspond, pray for one another, and share digital resources via the world wide web. This facilitates greater cooperation as Christians move from country to country in this era of globalization. Introductions can be made before a believer visits a far away place on vacation or a business trip. Some of my friends and I regularly conduct home Bible studies using Skype to teach others in various far flung places.
2. The internet is a needy mission field
Chat rooms abound with lonely, desperate people. Social media sites like Facebook and Google+ can be used for posting gospel verses, explaining Christianity, advertizing gospel meetings, etc. The proliferation of evil on the internet is well-known; yet this generation has a unique opportunity to publicize God’s love in Christ.
3. Disseminating God’s Word in audio, video, and written format in a multitude of languages
As a sort of mini-digital Pentecost, the internet is now a place for finding the Bible in almost any widespread language. Many sites play the Word in audio format; thus benefitting the visually impaired and those with long commutes to work (an mp3 player is a worthy investment for listening to Scripture, Christian podcasts, books, and audio sermons.)
4. Making available more Christian literature and study tools than have ever been available in the history of the world
Downloadable free software such as E-sword, The Word, and Bible Explorer 4 put hundreds of Bibles, commentaries, and language tools at the willing student’s disposal. Other online Bible sites – such as blueletterbible.org and biblos.com – place many tools on the web for easy access wherever there is an internet connection. Many helpful Bible apps (e.g. You Version) turn one’s smartphone into a mobile library. What is more, book.google.com and archive.org have the contents of millions of public domain works (i.e. books with expired copyrights) posted for online reading or for download in epub, kindle, and pdf. formats. Other sites like stempublishing.com and biblecentre.org are rich treasuries of the commentaries, articles, hymns, and other writings on the Scriptures by old writers like Darby, Kelly, and Mackintosh.
5. Intelligently praying for global missions and keeping in touch with specific missionaries
In former generations, missionary reports were conducted when a missionary came home on furlough. Now they may be conducted on the web by the means of services like Skype or Facetime. Instead of waiting months for the missionaries to receive news from home, or for praying Christians to receive news from them, emails may keep all parties in touch on a regular basis.
6. Penetrating closed countries with the gospel and edifying believers in those places
Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and other countries are closed to open missionary work. The internet makes it possible to reach Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Communists and many others through gospel websites in the languages of those respective countries. Christians ought to pray for these efforts, as well as financially support those who are spreading the Word to closed countries through the world wide web.
7. Bringing the teaching and the preaching of saints who are now with the Lord to a new generation who may be unfamiliar with such ministry
In my teens and twenties, I was privileged to spend time with and sit under the ministries of several godly brothers who are now in glory. Many of their sermons are available at sites like voicesforchrist.net; thereby bringing the teaching of departed Christians of former days before the students of today.
This series of four posts are based on Keith Keyser’s final keynote address at the recent Why We Web Conference. This is the final post in the series.
Jump back to the first post in this series
I’ve been posting about using digital tools to aid in a Bible Study. I’ve repeatedly mentioned reading the Bible, and that’s no different at this point where I want to merely state (without substantiating it very much—really can’t do all that in under five hundred words) that you should be using commentaries.
First, why you should be careful with commentaries:
- Some of them take a non-Christian approach to studying the text.
- Some take an agnostic approach about God’s work in history.
- They can be perverted to give a sense of secret knowledge.
- They might take you afield from the text if you refuse to stick with the text.
- They can be expensive.
But now, why you should use them:
- The best authors have studied history; you most likely haven’t.
- The best authors are expert in original languages; you mostly likely aren’t.
- The authors have interacted with other authors and have had their ideas scrutinized by experts in their field; you most likely haven’t.
- They’ll provoke you to think about the text outside of your normal ways of thinking.
- The Holy Spirit wasn’t only given to you: he was given to all Christians. Including the very smart ones who write commentaries.
- The Holy Spirit works in time so that means that very old commentaries might be just as helpful to you as modern ones.
- They provide a way to check your understanding of Scripture against the broader community.
- They predicate their work on a lifetime of studying a passage; you most likely haven’t
- Because they give you hard work to provoke your brain for hard thinking.
- Because Spurgeon said so: “In order to be able to expound the Scriptures, and as an aid to your pulpit studies, you will need to be familiar with the commentators: a glorious army, let me tell you, whose acquaintance will be your delight and profit. Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the works of divines and learned men who have laboured before you in the field of exposition. If you are of that opinion, pray remain so, for you are not worth the trouble of conversion, and like a little coterie who think with you, would resent the attempt as an insult to your infallibility. It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.”
Next I’ll deal with how to buy a commentary.
Crossposted at The Bible Archive.Read More
Recently I committed to writing a weekly post for the Why We Web Blog focusing on the more technical side of effectively using the Internet for ministry. In my most recent post over at Why We Web I highlight 4 Tips For An Effective Website that the above video illustrates. Be sure to check it out and then tell us your best tips for building an effective website in the comments.
Don’t worry, I and the other regular contributors to Digital Sojourner will, Lord willing, continue to blog right here at our regular pace.
If you have been following this blog you will know that one of my favorite websites is Voices For Christ.
If you are not familiar with the VFC site, you can think of it as an online repository of sermons. The present collection consists of 55,316 full length messages in mp3 format. All of the messages are available free of charge. Messages can be listened to immediately with one click via ‘streaming’ or downloaded to your computer or other mp3 compatible device to be saved and used at a later time. While the collection of sermons is the main feature of the site, other excellent resources are available including written ministry, and hymns.
If you are familiar with Voices For Christ you will immediately notice many of changes to the site. The site’s layout been greatly improved with a ‘clean’, minimalist feel. The site is also much easier to navigate. The homepage features a tag cloud to help users quickly located messages by subject matter and a search bar for more specific queries. I am great impressed with the functionality and speed of the search bar, as you type in words results automatically begin to appear in a drop down box. If you press enter a listing of matching sermons quickly appears. When I entered “missionary acts” I was quickly given a listing of 24 messages, mostly dealing with Paul’s missionary journeys.
Hopefully I will post a full review of the redesigned VFC website soon… in the mean time head over to VFC and checkout the new site for yourself.Read More
One of my favorite publications is Precious SEED International magazine. This helpful periodical is published in the United Kingdom by a group of brethren who “desire to encourage the study of the Scriptures, the practice of New Testament Church principles and to stimulate interest in Gospel work.” More about the magazine and its history is available here.
The most recent issue (May 2012 vol. 67 no. 2) of the magazine has an article that is of particular interest: Creating An Assembly Website: Why? There have been several posts on Digital Sojourner before that have addressed the same question… those posts proved to be very popular.
Precious SEED’s article provides some additional thoughts on the subject. The article is the first in a series of Three with the two future articles dealing with setting up and then maintaining the assembly’s website.
Check out the article and then let us know what you think in the comments below. Oh, and while you are visiting Precious SEED Magazine’s website take some time to explore the site and the treasurer trove of material that is available. The site is truly a gold mine of reliable teaching!
We give the Lord all the glory for the recent, overwhelmingly successful inaugural Why We Web Conference! Over 80 people from 18 different states and 2 Canadian provinces gathered at the North York Gospel Chapel in York, PA on June 2nd to seriously consider the opportunities and challenges that Christians face online. The teaching and fellowship was excellent.
Lord willing, next year’s major Why We Web event will be held on May 3 & 4, 2013 at the Guelph Bible Conference Centre located in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. So mark your calendar now for May 3 & 4, 2013 and start your planning to join us at Why We Web 2013! It will be here before you know it.
Digital Sojourner will post more information as it becomes available… however joining the Why We Web email list is the best way to receive updates about this exciting event. You can join the mailing list on Why We Web’s home page.
See you in May!