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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Jottings – The Written Word & The Living Word

Jottings

There is no magic in the Bible or in the mechanical reading of the Bible. No, the written Word points to the Living Word and says to us ‘Go to Jesus.’ If we do not go to the Jesus to whom it points, we miss the whole purpose of the Bible reading.

J.R.W. Stott, The Bible: Book for Today. Leicester: IVP, 1982, p. 25.

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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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Jottings – The Indispensable Bible

Jottings

I do not hesitate to say that the Bible is indispensable to every Christian’s health and growth. Christians who neglect the Bible simply do not mature.

J.R.W. Stott, The Bible: Book for Today. Leicester: IVP, 1982, p. 65.

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3 Online Bibles For Serious Study

Digital Sojourners live in privileged times when it comes to the availability of user friendly and effective electronic Bible study tools. There are numerous good hard drive based programs – some for purchase, and some for free (In the former category, my favorite is Logos; in the latter category I like e-sword and Bible Explorer). But there are also various good online Bible study programs which enable one to dig into the Word online. I want to highlight three excellent examples of this type of site.

Blue Letter Bible

BLB is one of the best known online sites for Bible study. It offers easy comparison of all the major reputable Bible translations. It also will play the Bible for you in audio, link you to articles, music, and sermons that tie into the passage you are studying (Disclaimer: I’ve never listened to any of the sermons, or delved deeply into the articles, so be a good Berean: always search the Scriptures and compare what preachers and teachers say against the Word itself.) It also offers Greek & Hebrew tools for word studies in the original languages.

The Bible Tool

Like the BLB, the Bible Tool offers a plethora of Bible translations. It is the only site I have found that has the footnotes to John Nelson Darby’s New Translation (aka the JND Version; the footnotes have quite a few gems elucidating the Hebrew and Greek languages for the non-specialist reader.) The site offers a very convenient parallel viewing format, easy searchability, plus access to a number of public domain Bible study tools such as Spurgeon’s Treasury of David, Adam Clark’s commentary, John Lightfoot’s commentary, and many others. One can also do Greek and Hebrew word studies using this site.

The NET Bible and Tools

The New English Translation of the Bible is not my favorite, but it is not the worst of the modern translations either (for instance I prefer it to the NLT or NRSV; I won’t even mention some of the ludicrous paraphrases that clutter the Christian publishing market.) Having said that, its footnotes are outstanding on Greek, Hebrew, Bible culture, & geography. The site also has a large quantity of in-depth articles on the Scriptures by a number of modern evangelical Bible students (e.g. Daniel Wallace, Bob Deffinbaugh, John Walvoord, to name a few.) It also has a helpful side by side glossary for names in passages. One can store ones own notes on the site, and the website also has audio of the NET version.

Of course, there are other online tools worth exploring; here are three more to explore on your own:
1. World Wide Study Bible
2. Bible Study Tools Online
3. Biblia

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Jottings – What Do You Love More?

Jottings

If you find yourself loving
  any pleasure better than worship,
  any book better than the Bible,
  any house better than the house of God,
  any table better than the Lord’s table,
  any person better than Christ,
  any indulgence better than the hope of heaven, TAKE ALARM!”

Thomas Guthrie, no further documentation available.

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The Hunt For The Perfect Bible: Check Yourself

The Hunt For The Perfect Bible: Check Yourself

It’s too easy to be psyched out by the spurious glitter of a shiny chrome shell so in this post I want to focus on what you need to look for when you go digital with your doctrinal deeds and needs by listing five questions you should be asking yourself.

What Am I Doing With This Thing? Have a solid plan on how you’re going to use this thing. If you’re going to be using multiple versions, looking at original languages, accessing notes (yours and others), creating new notes then write that down. If it’s just going to replace a print Bible, write that down. If you’re throwing down 2 grand on a Macbook Pro to use BibleGateway, you’ve failed.

Is This Burden Light? Check the weight. Feel it. You might be carrying it all day. Avoid laptops that are labeled “Desktop Replacements” because, although they have a ton of power and a huge screen, they weigh a ton. You’re wide margin Bible weighs about 3.5lbs so stay below or within that.

Can I Read On It? Some people find cell phone screens easy reading; others have real problems with them: no one can tell you what the right fit is for you. If you’re looking at netbooks, make sure you can read text on it. If the store allows it, plug in a thumbdrive with some sample documents. Also, side note: laptop display size is usually figured out diagonally. Those of us who remember our Pythagorean theory, this means that a 17 inch laptop screen that is about 8 inches high might only actually be 15 inches wide. Ironically, back in the day when screens were round they had to be measured using diameter and thus diagonals became the rule!

Can I Type With It? iPhones are great but I can’t stand typing more than a sentence or two with that tiny virtual keyboard. The Sony Netbook’s keyboard is so tiny that your fingers slam into other keys whereas Asus’ gives you some more room for actual typing. Like legibility, you are the one who has to ultimately decide if these devices work for you but as a pointer, Netbooks that are 7-8 inches have a significantly smaller keyboard than those which are 9-10 inches; laptops generally have similar keyboards across the board; and tablets usually have a virtual keyboard that might focus on two finger input.

Does It Work With My Stuff? Lots of folk don’t consider this when they pick up a device, but you have to make sure that you can actually use it with your stuff. If that brand new tablet is gorgeous but can’t sync with any of your printers or computers or documents, then it’s no good. This means that if you own specific Bible Software already (such as Logos) you’re going to want a device that can run it. If you have tons of .docx files (which is the new file format for Microsoft Word docs after Word 2007) then you’re going to need a computer that allows you to install your version of Word—or at least access them.

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To read the next installment in this series click here.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [4]

The creation account in Genesis 1 reveals that God makes distinctions. That flies somewhat counter to modern sensibilities. The contemporary mindset tends to downplay differences of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic differences, and other forms of distinction among mankind. Not all of this is bad, of course, and much of it is reactionary against unbiblical sexism and racism.

Yet radical feminism, homosexuality, and extreme environmentalism all confuse categories where the Creator specifically made distinctions. These philosophies mix up proper gender roles, true sexual morality, and the vast gulf between the animal and human worlds.

Vital Differences

In chapter one alone the Lord distinguishes between chaos and order (Genesis 1:2), light and darkness (Genesis 1:4), day and night (Genesis 1:5), sky and water (Genesis 1:6-7), sea and land (Genesis 1:9-10), different types of horticultural specimens (Genesis 1:11-13), various types of celestial bodies (Genesis 1:14-18), sea creatures and birds (Genesis 1:20-22), and different land animals (Genesis 1:24-25.)

Most notably, He distinguishes between animal creatures and the capstone of His creation, mankind (Genesis 1:26-28.) Within humankind He differentiates between male and female – although no inequality is meant, for man and woman collectively form mankind (Genesis 1:27.) Genesis 2 will reveal that they have different roles (i.e. differences of function, rather than of value. Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:2-15.)

The rest of the Bible builds upon these fundamental differences by outlining men’s and women’s roles in service (1 Corinthians 11, 14; 1 Timothy 2; etc.), and mankind’s hegemony over creation and their necessary stewardship (e.g. Romans 8; Hebrews 2.) The Lord further distinguishes between times and seasons, this age and the one to come, as well as the fates of the nations (Matthew 24-25.)

Perhaps the most important distinction is saved and lost. Membership in each of these groups is determined by each person’s response to Jesus Christ. If one repents of their sins and believes in the Lord Jesus who died to save them and rose again to give eternal life then he belongs to the saved category. If one does not have faith in Christ, he is doomed to eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire (Jn. 5:24; Rev. 20.)

Two Roads, Two Destinies

So we see that distinctions are absolutely vital in this life and in the next. Rather than float along with the shifting currents of world opinion, we must build our doctrines, worldviews, and personal behavior on the changeless Word of God. Divine differences must be observed and obeyed. Indistinct thinking on these matters leads to aimless living and a lost eternity.

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For the next installment in the Entry Level series click here.

Jump back to the first article in this series

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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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Entry Level Theological Truth [3]

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Genesis 1:3

Light is frequently used metaphorically in the Bible. For example, Psalm 119:130 declares: “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.” There it obviously refers to light’s elucidating character: it shows things as they actually are; therefore, it conveys intelligence, understanding, and wisdom. Of course, the Scriptures also use this versatile symbol to depict good versus evil (e.g. 1 John 1:5-7.) All wisdom, truth, and goodness are rooted in the Creator’s own being; this light is supremely revealed in His Word.

God is speaking, is anyone listening?

From the outset of creation, it is evident that God verbally reveals Himself. “God said” is repeated ten times throughout the Bible’s first chapter. Hebrews 1:1-2 reiterates this truth in these words: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.” This incomparable Son – called the Word in John 1:1 – is the chief means of God’s self-disclosure. There is a vital connection between Him and the written Word of God, for it is in the Scriptures that He most clearly shows Himself.

Today people often ignore God’s Word in favor of their own notions and opinions, yet this is a grave mistake. Genesis 1 demonstrates that God’s Word is powerful: He speaks and light appears, life is created, the stars are formed – all without difficulty. His Word is effective; it accomplishes whatever He says.

The Word of God is living and powerful

Thankfully, the New Testament affirms that the Scriptures also effect new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17.) A sinner, spiritually separated from his Maker, upon believing the Word is transformed by it. This change is described in the Bible as being born again (John 3); it is a brand new beginning, offering a new relationship with the Creator through His Son Jesus (John 17:3.) The content of that Word is the glorious story of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, followed by His triumphant resurrection, and His glorious ascension back to heaven (1 Corinthians 15.) 1 Peter 1:23 describes the eternal and abiding result of believers who are born again by this Word: “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”

The same Word that saves also sanctifies: that is, it changes a believer into a holy being who reflects the character of His Lord (John 17:17.) This work will culminate in every true Christian being conformed to Christ’s glorious image (Romans 8:28-30.) Believers will be transformed inside and out in the most extreme makeover ever seen in the universe. What is more, they will share in “the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12.) God’s Word and His light meet in eternity, therefore, as believers forever bask in the light with Almighty God (Revelation 21-22.)

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Read the next installment of Entry Level Theological Truth click here.

Jump back to the first article in this series

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