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Posts Tagged ‘Bible Study’

Does It Matter Where Your Bible App Comes From?

Posted on: February 5th, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 12 Comments

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 12.08.58 PMTrevor McKendrick is an atheist who wrote one of the top-selling Bible apps for iOS. A former Mormon, McKendrick saw an unserved niche market on the App Store and created a Spanish audio Bible to fill it. Now he’s banking over $100,000 per year selling the app. He compares the Bible to Harry Potter and describes Christians as people who learn the spells in the book and try to use them to heal their children. He compares them to people who teach The Lord of the Rings as real history.

Does it make any difference whether or not the people who create the products you use for Bible study agree with the materials they publish?

When I started writing Bible software in 1988 there were very few other products on the market. I purchased the King James Bible from Public Brand Software, a distributor of freeware and shareware programs for MS-DOS. While browsing their catalog (paper catalog — this was before the Web) I saw a Bible program called WordWorker and picked up a copy of that, too.

WordWorker was pretty impressive compared to other programs available at the time. My problem with it was that the programmer who wrote it was associated with The Way International, which denies key teachings of historic Christianity and adds a few of their own. They encourage severing ties with family and friends and living with other “believers” instead, which many argue qualifies them as a “cult”.

Coincidentally I had been unsuccessfully recruited by a member of The Way while in college. Noticing a strange-looking guy observing me playing pinball at the student union, I struck up a conversation and bought him a couple games (he had never played pinball). He invited me to join his “twig fellowship”. As a brand new Christian with very little foundation in the Bible, I struggled with figuring out if this was God’s direction or not. Fortunately I dodged that bullet, and got involved with a local church that had a strong emphasis on the Bible and Bible study, which is what eventually led me into developing Bible software.

It was difficult to get excited about using WordWorker because I felt like I was supporting a cult. Even if it coincidentally met my needs, it was hard to recommend to others or even use enthusiastically because I knew where it came from. One benefit of using Bible software that comes from a person with whom you share a common faith is that you don’t have to feel guilty about supporting something with which you disagree. You and I may not agree on every fine point of doctrine, and we may not share a common worship style preference, but I bet we’re closer to agreeing with each other on the fundamentals of the faith than you would be with an atheist.

I originally wrote my Bible study software as a tool for myself to use. Its features were designed to meet my needs, which I obviously knew well. I didn’t have to do any research to figure out what people who read the Bible wanted; I wrote what I wanted.

I took my Bible program (QuickVerse) to Parsons Technology in 1988, where, over the next ten years, I employed a couple dozen different programmers. Not all of them were practicing Christians, but they were good programmers. Jeff Wheeler (who would later leave Parsons with me to start Laridian) and I led the development of the program. Both of us were Bible-believing Christians who were not just developers, but users of the program.

Having real Christians write your Bible study app guarantees that it is designed to meet the needs of someone who really studies the Bible.

Parsons Technology was not a “Christian company”. It was a plain-old software company that happened to have a Church Software Division that published church management and Bible study software. Parsons was eventually purchased by Intuit (1994), which sold us to Broderbund (1997), which was purchased by The Learning Company (1998), which was purchased by Mattel (1999), which sold the Church Software Division to a dormant company that was rumored to have previously been a booking agency for Las Vegas acts (2000). During those years we were faced with a number of demands from our pagan overlords that compromised the quality of QuickVerse. They saw “unserved niches” on store shelves and wanted us to create products that were just old versions of QuickVerse with a new cover. They weren’t interested in meeting needs, but in making money.

This was the final straw for me. When it got to where creating Bible software was about duping people into buying old versions of our program at a cheap price because BestBuy or Costco was looking for 25-cent CD-ROMs to fill an end-cap, I bailed out and started Laridian in 1998.

Our goal has always been to focus on our customers and our product, not on creating a company to sell to the highest bidder. The features and reference materials you see in PocketBible come from customer feedback (and from our own needs as our product’s first customers). We bristle at doing things like renaming our product “@Bible” so that it pops up first in alphabetic search results on the App Store, or calling our program “Bible App” to cause it to come up first when you do a generic search for a Bible app, or seeding the store with identical products, all with different names, so it appears more often in your search results. This is what marketeers do to trick people into buying shoddy products. We aim for letting the quality and usability of our apps speak for themselves.

So another benefit of having real Christians write your Bible study app is that they’re not just seeing you as a rube who will spend their hard-earned money on a quickly thrown-together, shallow product, but rather they are committed to creating not just one download but an ecosystem of products that will meet your Bible study needs not only today, but for years to come.

I don’t have a doctrinal test for people with whom I do business, but I expect my Bible study materials to come from people who are as firmly committed to the Bible as I am. It’s not that they’re the only ones who I can trust to create useful products, but it is at least more likely that they’re doing a better job.

Bible Study Basics: Start with the 4 C’s

Posted on: February 3rd, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 3 Comments

Bible study doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult.

When you want to explore a verse or passage in the Bible for deeper understanding, use the 4 C’s of Bible Study: Context, Comparison, Cross-Reference, Commentary.


Start with the basics and read the verse and its preceding and following verses. In PocketBible, you can easily go to any verse to read it in context. If you have time, read the whole chapter or even better, the entire book!

You could also benefit from reading an introduction to the book from which the verse is excerpted so you know the audience, purpose, etc. for the book. Most Study Bibles, Commentaries and even Bible dictionaries available for PocketBible offer book introductions.


Reading the verse or passage in multiple translations of the Bible can also shed light on the meaning of a verse. Alternative translations can give you insight into what the author is trying to say. Try translations like:

  • The Amplified Bible which includes synonyms and definitions to both explain and expand the meaning of words in the text
  • NET Bible which includes detailed information as to why verses were translated as they were
  • The Message which is a paraphrase but written in today’s language.

You can open multiple translations in PocketBible at once and tap on the title bar to switch between them (if they are all open in one pane). Or you can create your own parallel Bible by opening multiple panes with different translations.


Cross-references are designed to lead you to related verses. It is a way to interpret Scripture with Scripture and even show you where items are predicted or mentioned in other places in the Bible. If you take the time to review related verses, you’ll find that the Bible supports and sheds light on itself.

The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge is a free PocketBible book that offers an exhaustive collection of cross-references. You’ll also find cross-references included with PocketBible Study Bibles and Commentaries.


While commentaries provide other people’s opinion about a verse, they are usually learned or scholarly opinions. Similar to Bible translations, you can use PocketBible to consult multiple commentaries to get differing thoughts on the meaning of a passage (depending on what is in your library). Knowing how to manage your books in PocketBible makes this easy to do.

AutoStudy puts the 4 C’s together for you!

The Advanced Feature Sets available for PocketBible on iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, Mac OS X and Android offer a unique ability to bring all this together for you in one step. AutoStudy the verse and tell PocketBible what you want to include from your installed books. You can include any or all of the elements mentioned above – Bible translations, cross-references, commentaries – and PocketBible will produce the comparison for you in one document that you can study or even print and save for later. (Advanced Features vary and are sold separately for each platform).

New for PocketBible: The 365 Day Devotional Commentary

Posted on: November 14th, 2014 by Michelle Stramel 2 Comments

We have released The 365 Day Devotional Commentary by Larry Richards for use with PocketBible. This book offers two 365-day reading plans that take you through the entire Bible. The first one (Plan A) is a traditional Genesis to Revelation reading through the Bible. The second (Plan B) alternates between reading the Old and New Testaments each day. Whether you use Plan A or Plan B, the daily reading is accompanied by study and devotional material.

Each day’s reading is enhanced with (1) an overview of the whole passage, (2) background information and commentary on history, the meaning of key words, etc., to deepen your understanding of the passage, and (3) a devotional on the core passage to help you focus on the personal meaning of God’s Word for today. You also get a personal application and quote from a famous Christian.

The author, noted Bible teacher Larry Richards, suggests that you use the commentary as follows. Each time you do your Bible reading, FIRST, read the “Overview” in the Commentary to see how the whole passage fits together. SECOND, read the Bible itself, and refer to the Commentary when you want to explore the Personal Application of a passage or event that particularly interests you. THIRD, read the “Devotional,” and spend some time in prayer. If you are in a rush on any given day, read the “Overview,” and turn directly to the “core passage” on which the day’s “Devotional” is based. Read that passage and the Devotional only, and spend time in prayer. You can view a sample reading here (links to PDF).

This book would be ideal for the person who wants to study the Bible over the year and not just read through the text. It would also appeal to the person who is looking for something more than a daily devotional reading. The layout of the book makes it easy to follow a 365-day plan or to pick and choose reading of specific books over a number of days (i.e. Read Romans in 14 days).

Also included with the commentary are two 30-day reading plans (Bible overview and personal relationship) and reading plans for special seasons (i.e. Christmas, Lent, Easter).

Because of the unique format of this book, you will receive two versions of the same book when you purchase. A Commentary version and a Devotional version. The text is the same but the Devotional version will allow you to use PocketBible’s devotional tracking features to track your progress through Plan A.

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary is available for $24.99 at the Laridian Web site. We also offer these other titles by Larry Richards for use with PocketBible: The Bible Teacher’s Commentary and the Bible Reader’s Companion.

How to create a customized study Bible in PocketBible

Posted on: September 26th, 2014 by Michelle Stramel 1 Comment

When it comes to printed Study Bibles, most take the form of Bible text on the top half of the page and study notes on the bottom half. With PocketBible, you can have a similar setup but customize it in ways you can’t with a printed book.

Bibles and Study Bible Notes (and other commentary) are each sold separately for PocketBible. The print version of a study Bible limits you to a specific Bible translation but you can use any combination of study notes and Bible translation together in PocketBible.


To accomplish a study-Bible-like setup in PocketBible, simply:

1. Open two panes (or windows) in the PocketBible app
2. Open a Bible translation in the first pane
3. Open a set of study Bible notes (or other commentary) in the second pane
4. If you want your Bible and study notes to sync together (stay on the same verse), make sure you’ve checked that option in PocketBible settings (look for a option that says something like “Sync Bibles/Commentaries”).


Once you get the basic setup in PocketBible of Bible in one pane and study notes in the other, you are now ready to customize. You can tap on the first pane and open additional Bible translations. And tap on the second pane and open additional study Bible notes or commentary. With multiple translations or commentary open, you’ll be able to easily access additional insight on any verse. Tap on the title bar to easily switch between your open books. Watch a short demonstration video to see how you can use this setup to get more out PocketBible.

New for PocketBible: Studies to Help You Grow in Your Faith

Posted on: May 15th, 2014 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

Here are 5 new PocketBible titles that provide hundreds of individual studies to help you grow in your understanding of the Bible and the Christian faith:

Originally published as part of the award-winning CLC Bible Companion, these titles are useful for self-study and for guiding others in the basics of the Christian faith. The studies are such that they could be used as a daily devotional where you learn particular aspects of the faith over time. Bible references are easy to look up in PocketBible. You will also find them a source of ready-to-use material for teaching in home groups, bible studies or preaching in church.

The The Bible Book by Book, Discovering God’s Way, Essential Truths of Christianity, Knowing Jesus, and Living the Christian Life are available for use with PocketBible for iOS, Android OS, Windows Phone, Windows Store, Windows PC and Windows Mobile and MyBible for Palm OS. List price is $7.99 each or they can be purchased together in the Grow in Faith Bundle for $29.99.

New for PocketBible: N.T. Wright for Everyone Bible Study Guides

Posted on: December 12th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel 8 Comments

NT Wright for Everyone Study Guide Revelation coverN. T. Wright for Everyone Bible Study Guides are a series of 19 Bible study guides covering the entire New Testament for use with PocketBible.

Each guide covers one or more books of the New Testament. Each study uses the popular inductive Bible study method to explore the passage with notes and comments from New Testament Scholar, N.T. Wright. The guides can be used for individual or group study.

In keeping with the inductive Bible study method, each study includes three types of questions: observation questions, which ask about the basic facts in the passage; interpretation questions, which delve into the meaning of the passage; and application questions, which help you discover the implications of the text for growing in Christ. Each study also features selected comments from N.T. Wright’s New Testament For Everyone commentary series. These notes provide further biblical and cultural background and contextual information.

N.T. Wright was formerly Bishop of Durham in the Church of England from 2003 until his retirement in 2010. He is currently research professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

N.T. Wright for Everyone Bible Study Guides each requires PocketBible for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, PocketBible for Android, PocketBible for Windows Phone, PocketBible for Windows Store, PocketBible for Windows PC or MyBible for Palm OS. Individual volumes are priced at $7.99 to $9.99 each. A bundle of all 19 volumes is available for $124.99 and saves you 25% over purchasing the titles separately.

Please note: Our license agreement with the publisher of this series restricts our distribution to certain areas of the world. We’re not allowed to sell these titles to customers outside of the United States, Canada and Mexico.

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