A Successful Hunt

Well, I have to pay off the Hunt for the Perfect Bible by actually showing the result of the hunt with this last post of the series. After all, the point of hunting is, eventually (and hopefully), getting!

I checked my list. I was looking for a device that can function as a bible for reading, preaching, and intensive study. With solid software and tons of electronic books, I had to make sure that whatever I was running could store a lot.

Besides all that, I’m (1) a gamer and (2) a designer who does a fair amount of print and digital design. That meant that I needed something pretty powerful.

I also needed the thing to be very portable, light and to have some tablet like capability so I can preach with it. This is a problem since almost all tablets in the marketplace don’t offer an OS that can support my programs and definitely don’t have the cranking power to justify the expense.

Asus vs. Samsung

Cross-category machines, like the Asus EEE Slate and the Samsung Slate, wound up being added to my spreadsheet. Apple doesn’t have any slates that have a full Operating System unless you go with a hack (which costs way too much) so that wasn’t even a consideration. Plus, even if I stayed only within the realm of laptops, the Apple Machines just didn’t give me as much for my money. Only 2 USB Ports? Bah.

Anyway, the slates seemed to be a good buy but you still had to invest in a keyboard (which added to the price) and there wasn’t any real history with the things yet. They ran Windows 7 which has multi-touch functionality (to use the thing as a tablet) but nowhere near the slickness of Android OS or Apple’s iOS. I didn’t mind it since I would be using full software but I still will need a keyboard to do real work.

In the end, I wound up looking at either Fujitsu’s convertible notebooks or Lenovo’s. Lenovo’s screen has the quality of the iPad but without a lot of the glare issues, the reliability backing of Lenovo (formerly IBM), and the great track record of a solid machine. Fujitsu’s, though good, would break my budget. Add to that some Lenovo coupons and corporate discounts and I wound up with a powerful Lenovo Thinkapd X220t Digital Bible that can also run several operating systems in VMWare.

Is the thing perfect? Not quite. Windows 7 could be smarter with the touchscreen (and I’m hoping Windows 8 fixes that) and the active use battery life could be better, but other than those bits I’m pretty satisfied.

Drop us a line (and include pictures) if you wind up successfully hunting for your own Somewhat Perfect Digital Bible.

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2012 Technology Trends

As we start a new year, we are very aware of how technology has changed our lives and there are no signs of it stopping. The only thing that firmly remains constant (besides our unchanging God) as we look into 2012 is that change is the norm. We saw an explosion of mobile devices being sold in 2011. The official stats are not in, but the estimate is well over 1 billion! People became far more plugged in to technology both in business and leisure. All of this has come at such an alarming rate that many have been forced to ask, “Is it all worth it and where is it leading us?” There is a sense that technology has started to control us instead of us controlling it.

While these concerns are very valid and must be taken into account, many fail to see that technology is no longer just something sitting on a desk or in our pockets. Technology is changing the way society functions, communicates and thinks. It is being integrated into our very lives. While many see this as something to resist, others (including myself) see this as an opportunity to achieve even greater things for the Lord. It wasn’t too long ago that similar questions were being asked of other technologies that came into society with the industrial revolution.

While there are many fantastic technologies emerging in the fields of medicine, transportation and energy, here are some personal technologies that will emerge in even greater force in the coming year and beyond.

1. Mobile devices. This trend is undeniable. Mobile computing is not only here to stay, but it will become the most prominent way we function with technology. Mobile ecommerce will also see a huge spike in use as more and more devices become secure and ecommerce ready. People are on the go with technology and using it in every aspect of life. It has become a way of life.

2. Smartphones. While these are mobile devices as mentioned above, special note should be taken as to how people will use their phones. Smartphones are being used for more things than just making calls and checking email. Apps for iPhone and Android are being developed at a super fast pace and cover all kinds of areas of life- from finding recipes and keeping track of favorite sports teams to personal organization.

3. Desktops will diminish. The laptop has for the past few years taken over sales of desktops with approximately 44% of all devices sold in 2011 being laptops compared to only 28% desktops. With the emergence of tablets, desktop computing will further decrease. There is no doubt that PC sales for the next 5 years or so will exist but only as a small segment of the market.

4. Gaming. The gaming industry has seen a number of changes over the past few years with social gaming such as Farmville taking a bite out of traditional video games. Gaming developers have had to be on their toes to keep up with the trends. One very positive and successful aspect to gaming has been the introduction of active gaming (also known as ‘exergaming’) such as the Wii and Xbox Kinect.

5. Education. We are going to see this area of technology expand tremendously over the next few years. The way students learn will be dramatically changed. This is being pushed along by the new tablet trend. Interestingly, the USA is behind the lead on this. Many other countries are adopting technology into education much faster, but it’s only a matter of time. Online learning is increasing and ways of communicating between student and instructor are expanding.

While there are many more technologies we will see coming to the forefront in 2012, these listed above are ones to watch out for. How we use these technologies in our lives and for the Lord is the key for us as believers. We can embrace the technologies that are around us and integrate them into our lives for His glory.

How will you use technology in 2012?

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3 Online Tools To Read The Bible in 2012

eBible iPad Screenshot

eBible iPad Screenshot

Have you ever read the entire Bible from beginning to end? If you have, was it recently?

To many the idea of reading through the entire Bible seems overwhelming. Yes, the Bible is a big book. Approximately 775,000 words. Yes, there are many difficult words to pronounce. Words such as Shephatiah and Pochereth (Ezra 2:57).

But don’t let that deter you! Did you know that it takes approximately 75 hours to read the English Bible. If you do the math (75 hours times 60 minutes divided by 360 days) it only takes 12.5 minutes per day to read through the entire Bible in 2012 and still have 6 extra days! (2012 is a leap year).

If you can find twelve and a half minutes a day you can read the entire Bible 2012 (hint: set your alarm 12.5 minutes earlier, or spend 12.5 minutes less on Facebook, or eat your lunch 12.5 minutes faster).

To help you accomplish this goal the Internet offers many helpful tools. Many websites offer free reading plans to print out and tuck into your Bible, some websites allow you to create an account where you can log your progress, and even read online with your computer or mobile device. Afraid of those difficult words to pronounce? No problem! Many of these tools also offer free audio Bibles so you can listen while you read along… or drive, or jog, ride the bus, etc.

1. Blue Letter Bible. The “BLB” offers numerous reading plans to choose from. Each plan can be downloaded (in PDF format) and printed out, or used online with an account. There is an excellent selection of translations to choose from, including J. N. Darby’s New Translation.

2. YouVersion. I have been using YouVersion for a few years now and love it! There are numerous reading plans to choose from, offers seamless integration between all of your online devices, easy to use, offers the ability to download numerous versions so you can still access the Scriptures without internet access, and even the ability to set up accountability partners to encourage you along as you read through your plan. YouVersion has a mobile app appropriately called The Bible App. The app is available for a wide range of mobile devices including Android, iOS, and Blackberry. My only complaint is that YouVersion does not offer one of my favorite translations: J. N. Darby’s New Translation.

3. eBible. Although eBible offers less reading plans and translations to choose from than The Blue Letter Bible or YouVersion, it is still a solid option to explore…. especially if you use an iPad. The eBible app takes full advantage of iOS 5.0 to deliver a wonderful reading experience. You can highlight or even underline portions of the text and flip though the Bible like you would turn the pages of a real print book.

Do you plan on reading the Bible in 2012? If so let us know in the comments what your plan is. Happy New Year!

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iPad 2 – First Impressions

Three weeks ago I purchased my first tablet computer, an Apple 16GB Black Wi-Fi 3G iPad 2.

Truth is, I have desired an iPad since the day Apple first announced their revolutionary product…. I can even remember posting “iWant iPad” as my Facebook status! However, I resisted the urge for one reason: the cost. The device is not cheap. So I decided to wait, as they say “time will tell”.

Over the almost two years from January 27, 2010 when Steve Jobs first announced the iPad I have kept my eyes on the reviews, testimonies of friends who use the iPad, and the competition. What became clear from the reviews and word of mouth, is that the iPad is in fact a fantastic device. And, while the competition is drastically less expensive the competition’s product doesn’t measure up. So, for the first time since 1983 (when I purchased an Apple IIe) I bought an Apple computer.

After working with the device for three weeks I can honesty say the iPad is worth every penny I paid for it — no buyer’s remorse here!


What I like:

  • Portability. I do a considerable amount of traveling, by road and by air, so having a lightweight easily portable computer is important for me. Lugging around my old Windows based Dell laptop had become a real pain. The laptop, plus the power pack and cords, is too heavy and bulky to travel with. With the iPad I can do just about everything I could with a laptop. No, I’m not going to type a ten page paper on the iPad, but I rarely have the need to do that much typing while I’m on the go.
  • Ease Of Use. Like most Apple products the iPad is dead simple to use right out of the box.
  • Great Reader. When I’m traveling I am doing a lot of reading, and regardless of what I’m reading (the Bible, RSS feeds, PDFs, ebooks, etc.) the iPad has proven to be a great tool. One great feature offered by many apps is the ability to “swipe” through a document instead of “scrolling”. Swiping is very much like turning the page of a “real” book, it is intuitive and feels natural. I find it much superior to scrolling up and down through a document.
  • Syncs Seamlessly With The Cloud. iOS 5 (the software that runs the iPad) works seamlessly with “the cloud” (think storage and even processing of data on the internet). The iPad easily connects with numerous cloud computing services such as Apple’s own iCloud, Google Docs, Dropbox, and many more. Through the magic of cloud computing you have access to endless and inexpensive (often free) online data storage. That is why I purchased the 16GB version. No reason to spend more on the 32GB or 64GB models.
  • Preaching. I have found the iPad to be a fantastic tool to preach with. I will save most of my thoughts on this point for a full post at another time. However, using an iPad is considerably less cumbersome than a traditional print Bible with folded notes (hopefully) tucked inside.
  • Presentations. I almost didn’t purchase an iPad because I thought it wasn’t possible to give a PowerPoint presentation from one. I was wrong. I’ll will write a full post about this soon, but all you need is Apple’s iPad VGA Adapter cable, and an app such as Quickoffice Pro HD.


A Few Gripes:

  • The Cost. As mentioned above the iPad is expensive. Because Apple consistently produces excellent products they are able to charge a premium for their products… I guess the old saying is true, “you get what you pay for”.
  • Minimal Customization. I’ve been using an Android powered phone for nearly two years, so I have grown accustom to the almost unlimited ways Android allows users to customize the look, feel, and functionality of the phone. Endless apps, widgets, “skins”, and live wallpapers allow me to create an entirely unique phone custom designed for me and the way I function. The ability to customize iOS is severely limited.
  • Juvenile Interruptions. “Hey dad, can I use your iPad”, “Hey dad, can I watch Dora on your iPad”, “Hey dad, can I play a game on your iPad”, “Hey dad…..” ok, ok ’nuff said.

The bottom line: The iPad 2 is a winner.

What do you think of the iPad? Lets us know in the comments… (click “Read More” and go to the bottom of the post).

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The Hunt For The Perfect Bible: Memory and Storage

The Hunt For The Perfect Bible: Memory and Storage

You’re going to want to understand memory and storage when looking for in your Perfect Electronic Bible. The difference between them starts blurring with recent hard drives but it can best be summarized as this: memory lets you work on more at the same time, while storage lets you save (and backup) more over time.

Memory

Let’s imagine your computer as a desk. Memory would be the amount of desk space that allows you to do multiple tasks at the same time. You can write in a notebook, work on the calculator, use the stapler to paste things, and check your calendar all at once.

So if you want to open a bible program and a note taking program at the same time, memory is the thing that lets you do that. The more memory, the more things you can open at once.

Readers and Mobile Devices have much less memory than ultraportables, laptops and desktops– but it doesn’t matter as much to them. Readers are set up in such a way that any task you perform on them is the main task you are operating so that everything else is not active, even if it’s running. If you’re reading a book on a tablet, you’re not taking notes in another program. You’re only reading a book.

Netbooks might give you 1 gig of memory (though you really need 2 on them which will run you an extra 50 bucks or so) while a desktop computer, on the other hand, might give you as much as 16 gigs.

Storage

This is the space where you save files: pictures, documents, notes all that good stuff. If we went back to our desk example, storage is the amount of drawers you have in the desk.

Lots of systems nowadays are coming with one of two forms of storage (which gets really technical trying to explain).

You have your standard hard drive storage that’s made up of moving parts (like a spinning metal plate inside of the thing) which offers you a ton of space but might be more susceptible to damage if the device falls while it’s on. So you’ll see drives that are 300gigs, 500gigs and even 1.5 terabytes huge monsters of data storage. They’ve started having to make them bigger because of the amount of things people are saving digitally nowadays but if you’re just dealing in text and the occasional photos you rankly have nothing to worry about in regards to filling up your hard drive.

Then you have this new technology in mobile devices. A sort of flash storage which usually stores less data, is safer from impact, is ridiculously fast, exceedingly expensive. In laptops and ultraportables, they might have what’s called a Solid State Drive (SSD). It’s this sort of tech with all the benefits and downfalls.

After the tsunami in Japan, regular hard drives have spiked in price making SSD a real option (especially considering the speed boost they offer) but it’s still a new technology and the regular shopper might not want to shell out that extra money.

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Read the next post in this series: The Hunt: Processing Words.

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The Hunt For The Perfect Bible: Lay of the Land

The Hunt 3

Sun Tzu said “Know The Terrain” by which he meant that if you’re fighting you better know where you’re fighting. Nuclear devices changed all that. But it still applies when you’re traversing the battle field of e-bible shopping.

There are five territories you’ll be shopping in and they all have their pros and cons.

Mobile Devices. These devices are the smallest, lightest devices you can find and therefore the most portable option available. They often give you the benefit of making calls. Of course, if you don’t want to become the bondservant of a cellular contract, you could look at devices like the Apple Touch, the N810, or the Archos32 Palm-Sized Tablet.

Readers. This is every tablet on the marketplace. So products like the iPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab and even the Kindle: same family but different skill-sets. The Kindle’s e-ink technology makes reading in-or-outdoors a breeze while the iPad’s shiny reflective sun mirror of death works great as a movie-screen inside. These devices are better for reading than the Cell phones but they suffer from the same input problems (e-keyboards, only one external storage slot like an SD card) and an operating system that doesn’t allow you to install full versions of programs (like Word or Logos).

Ultraportables. Which are netbooks, thinbooks (eg: Apple Air, Asus Zenbook) and the like. These devices usually have at least one usb port (which allows adding some sort of peripherals), a real keyboard, but their screens are usually as small as (or smaller than) readers without the auto-rotate capability that readers are known for. Ultraportables have more cranking power than a Reader and they come with a full Operating system so you can install your desktop programs at ease but you might have a problem using multiple programs at the same time—considering the screen size and RAM (I’ll get into that in a later post).

Laptops. These are the workhorses of mobile computing. They have a full Operating System like their smaller cousins the Ultraportables, but they have bigger and more powerful guts to let you do complex stuff on the go. These usually come with a CD-Rom drive (unlike all the previous categories I listed) although they have been slowly phasing them out. These devices are usually heavier than all the previous listed devices and their batteries might not last as long either, but their costs and cranking power is always better than the Ultraportables.

Desktops. The Non-Mobile beast that sits at your foot waiting at your beck and call. These have absolutely the most power, can do the most work, can process the most information, can install the most programs and should actually function as the center of all your computing needs. I always recommend people get a Desktop Computer before buying a mobile solution (especially since most mobile solutions except Ultraportables and laptops require a desktop) but if you own one already, then going mobile might be a viable option—especially if you want an E-Bible on the Go.

Now you know what’s out there and knowing is half the battle. Sun Tzu would be proud.

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To read the next installment in this series click here.

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The Hunt For The Perfect Bible: Digital Dilemmas

The Hunt for the Perfect Bible: Digital Dilemmas

I really think that the Perfect Bible is probably going to be found in some sort of technological advancement: for now, that means portable computing devices. Now, I admit that there are inherent problems with having an electronic Bible. In this post I want to make you aware of some of these potential problems if you’re considering moving over from paper to pixel.

Power: No matter what, the electronic solutions of today necessitate electricity while all versions of print just necessitate enough light to read the text. This means that if you want to go wireless, you’re going to need a battery (or a battery backup) that will last you throughout the day. This becomes pretty important if you’re like me and planning to preach with your device in hand. You don’t want this thing to shut down mid-sermon.

Crash-Prone: Print Bibles never shut-down from lack of power and they also won’t fail from some random error—you have to expect this when it comes to electronic solutions. Laptops, tablets, phones: they all crash. Be it a software problem, a memory problem (I’ll explain a lot of these terms in a future post), or a storage problem: these things all crash. You must be prepared.

User-Error: True, Print Bibles also suffered from user-misuse but in this case I mean rather the error that comes along from doing things wrong. So let’s say you download what you think is virus protection—boom, there goes your Bible as you’re wiped out by a virus. Or let’s say you store multiple backups of your notes on different computers and you forget to synchronize your files: boom, now you’re working with an old version of your files (there’s a solution for this, but I’ll address this in a later post).

Legibility: most people don’t think about this, but most of your electronic devices have been made with nice shiny bright screens that are made specifically to be read indoors; your reading, on the other hand, can happen anywhere—including outdoors. These bright shiny electronic screens become reflective sun-mirrors whenever you’re outside and that destroys any ability at reading.

Expensive: A nice genuine leather Bible could cost you $100. A Mobile phone could cost you $300 plus a two year contract. A Netbook would run you $300-600; a Laptop $400 – $1200; and a Tablet $400 – $1000. And it’s seriously possible that you have to replace the thing if you spill, say, a cup of coffee on this your Perfect Electronic Bible.

Even despite all this, I still think that a good E-Bible is the right way to go, but it’s important for the person considering the transition to be informed before taking the plunge.

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To read the next installment in this series click here.

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The Hunt For The Perfect Bible: The Need

The Hunt

Back in the day, I had received what I thought was The Perfect Bible. Black leather. King James Version. Red Letter. References on the side columns. Revised Scofield notes along the bottom. Concordance in the back. This was no award Bible: this was the real, no joke, deal.

Then I found myself having a problem textually following Spanish speakers in our bilingual church. My Perfect Bible had failed me!

Each subsequent year I faced variations of the same problem. After acquiring a bilingual version, I wanted something that I didn’t have to spend my time translating English to English—I got the NKJV but people around me were using the KJV. I was studying the original languages so I wanted something that followed the structure of those languages—I got the NASB but people around me were now using the NKJV and the KJV. I needed something to read aloud that got the point of the passage across—I got the NIV but all my notes were in my NASB.

And so on and so on and so on.

The publishing industry is structured in such a way that there is a Bible for every need. You have your versions, you have your amplified versions, you have your original language versions, you have your side by side versions and you have your versions with multiple versions. We in the West are found without excuse when it comes to the text!

But this all winds up being problematic when you want a single go-to Bible without worrying about copying all the notes into a new updated binding Bible.

And believe me, I tried. One year I went about printing my NASB with NET footers and my notes and references on side columns. I wound up with two tremendous binders filled with a couple reams of paper and only two books of the bible: Genesis and Romans. Sure the thing was detail rich but it was much too heavy to carry and would fail me if anyone was reading from any book other than those two.

What I needed was an actual Perfect Bible: something that allowed multiple languages, multiple versions, allowed access to my notes, allowed access to other’s notes and could be carried around.

Thank God for the Digital Age. Now, with the wide access we have to texts and technology we might be a step closer to the Perfect Bible. Maybe you’re in the same boat, like me, looking for that Perfect Bible—maybe not. Either way, I want to spend some time going over what I think you should be looking for and maybe even some pointers on what to pick up.

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To read the next installment in this series click here.

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The Birds Are Angry

Hand Held GameThe 70s and 80s was a great time to grow up. Video games were being introduced for the first time. It was the golden age of gaming and I had a front row seat.

One Christmas morning in the 1970s I received a simple, handheld electronic basketball game. The game featured a little blinking red dot – more of a dash really – that you had to maneuver through other red dashes until you had an open shot to the goal. The dashes could only move around a fixed grid, and the “screen” was painted with the lines of a basketball court.

Ancient by today’s standards, but back in the day it was cutting edge technology – and I loved every minute of it. I played that game for hours on end.

Several years later, on another Christmas morning, I received an Atari 2600 game console. It was at this precise moment that I became an addict. For years to come I would play endless hours of Atari games, and when I wasn’t playing Atari, I was either talking or dreaming about Atari.

Eventually I grew up, went to college and left my games behind. No longer did I have the time or even the desire to play with such childish things.

Fast forward to the summer of 2010 when I became the proud owner of a brand new Android phone… the Droid X. Once again I became enchanted with the cutting edge technology that I held in my hand.

A couple of months later Angry Birds was released for Android… I installed it the day it was released. Why not? It was free!

They say an addict is never really cured. I thought my addiction to gaming was long gone… but at that very moment the addiction returned. In the months ahead I would spend waste ever more time playing.

It became clear that I had a problem. Angry Birds and the other games on my phone were not an innocent distraction… the games were robbing me of precious time. Time with my family, time with my friends, and worst of all… time with my Lord and Savior.

Eventually I worked up the courage to confess my addiction to the guys in my accountability group. Their advice was radical…. delete the games. What? Delete the Birds? Yes… go cold turkey (sorry, bad pun) and delete the Birds.

It wasn’t easy, but right there in front of my accountability group I deleted all of the games from my phone. Yes, the Birds are still angry… but now I have that wasted time back to use in ways that are infinitely more important.

Are there any birds in your life that need to be deleted?

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Slick Sojourning

Unlike previous generations, Christians today are blessed with a wealth of resources—and I’m not only talking about the amount of teachers around today. Living in a post-Guttenberg era we have the benefits of years of print and now years of digital information. This all means that we have access to information if not within 20 minutes (a local library) then right at our fingertips. Of course, this might all come with its own problems, but at the very least no believer living in the New World should be able to say “I just don’t have access to the right tools” when it comes to being trained in the faith.

So here’s only a fraction of the great resources and where you might find them:

OLD-SCHOOL

Inter-Library Loan. Our Library System in the States is interconnected and (usually) free and they have the ability to borrow books from other libraries and allow you to read from 2 weeks to a month and a half. If it’s in print and older than 6 months you will be able to find it in here. Check with your local public librarian.

University Libraries. Usually colleges in your neighborhood have a library that is accessible to the public if you have the right identification. That ID might cost you a small fee but it’s worth it for the periodicals and books that they might have available.

Amazon Marketplace. You don’t necessarily need the newest editions of books and commentaries—search the used books in Amazon and get them for a steal.

MULTI-PLATFORM

Dropbox. Perfect for syncing files across multiple computers but just as perfect for carrying electronic resources on the go. Seriously, this is a must.

Logos. Probably the best Bible Library software available but it comes at a hefty price. I personally think it’s worth it since it lets you deal with the text in Greek and read up on what others have said. Also, if you picked up Logos 4 for Mac or PC, you’ll have access to the full functionality of this free app: tons of resources on the Go.

PC

Open Office. If you don’t want to shell out the dollars for Microsoft Word, you have the ability to download a word processor with all of MSWord’s power and none of the price tag since it’s free.

E-Sword. Well-established Bible software with a bunch of extra modules (which are additions to the program like commentaries, multiple Bibles, and even scripts that convert your notes to Microsoft Word). Note that although most of the modules are free (like Keil and Delitzsch’s awesome commentary of the Old Testament) there are things in here that come at a cost. (Xiphos is also good)

MAC

Accordance. Great software that also has Mobile integration for on the go study and note viewing—just realize it comes at a cost.

MOBILE

YouVersion. A mess of Bible Versions which even allows you to add your own notes. Careful though: you’ll need a data plan or wi-fi to fully access it.

Olive Tree. Bunch of Bible Versions and you can even purchase premium Bibles and books.

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