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Posts Tagged ‘PocketBible’

Does It Matter Where Your Bible App Comes From?

Posted on: February 5th, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 11 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.

Context

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.

Comparison

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

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.

Commentary

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).

Catechisms, Confessions and the Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible

Posted on: February 3rd, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 2 Comments

What is the chief end of man?

I can attest that knowing the answer to this question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism has benefited me more than once over the past 20 years or so since I first learned it. The fact that my chief end is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” realigns my thinking to see my life as God does. It is an unchanging truth based on biblical text that I have been able to stand on.

For all that benefit, I never took the time to learn any further points in the Westminster Catechism. Studying confessions and catechisms isn’t trendy in our churches today. I think that is to our detriment.

Perhaps it is too much work to wade through dry statements of belief or memorize them (as was done by previous generations). Or perhaps anything outside of the Bible text is of questionable value. However, our forefathers thought it worthwhile to formulate these various creeds and confessions for the purpose of outlining and passing on the faith. As such, their study is worth considering, especially if you are in the Reformed tradition.

The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (SOTR) brings life to the study of these historical documents in two very helpful ways. First, by including the full text of several early confessions and catechisms: the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Larger Catechism and the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Secondly, it ties the confessions and catechisms to the Bible text providing easy reference between the two and an alternative way to learn and use these documents of faith.

In the SOTR, the Bible text and the documents of faith are fully cross-referenced and the links are easy to use in PocketBible. The catechisms and confessions are published with references to the Bible verses in the footnotes. The direct biblical correlation is easy to cross-check. Even more valuable is the fact that the study notes include references back to related statements in the catechisms and confessions.

For example, as you are reading 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God,” the study note points you back to the question on “the chief end of man” in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Instead of wading through confessions and catechisms, you have the tenet as you are reading the applicable Scripture. You also see where the same issue is addressed in multiple documents. 1 Cor. 10:31 is cross-referenced to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the Westminster Larger Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism. The integration of the two provides an easier and perhaps more memorable way to become familiar with these important documents.

The spirit behind the Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible

The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (SOTR) is a major revision and expansion of an earlier publication titled the New Geneva Study Bible (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995). That study Bible was based on the NKJV text. The SOTR is based on the New International Version text.

Like its precursor, the SOTR’s study notes and theological articles are built on the Reformed doctrine of Sola Scriptura, which affirms the unquestionable authority of the infallible and inerrant Old and New Testament Scriptures as originally given by divine inspiration.

The notes and articles included in the study Bible remain faithful to the system of theology represented in the historical confessions and catechisms. However, the authors recognize that the Holy Spirit has continued to bring reformation to the church. Through the Spirit’s illumination many helpful insights into Scripture have come to be widely endorsed by those who have remained faithful to the central doctrinal perspectives of Reformed theology. In line with the claim that “the Reformed church is always reforming,” this study Bible reflects these developments where appropriate.

Like most study Bibles, each book of the Bible has an introduction with an outline of the book and information on author, dates of writing, etc. Each book also includes an article called Purposes and Distinctives that illuminates historical background, major theological themes and literary qualities.  Another unique feature for the Old Testament books is the “Christ in _________” section included in the introduction which explains how the person and/or work of Christ is anticipated in the book.

Over 100 theological articles are included with the applicable Bible book. For example, you’ll find an article on Major Covenants in the Bible with Genesis, The Glory of God: Who gets the Glory? with Ezekiel and Christian Liberty: How Free am I? with Romans.

The extensive study notes provided by the SOTR (over 20,000) offer comments on Scripture from a Reformed perspective along with the already mentioned links to the Confessions/Catechisms.

The editors and contributors for the study Bible reads like a “Who’s Who of Reformed Theology.” The General Editor is Richard L. Pratt, Jr. Th.D. (Reformed Theological Seminary). Theological editors were John M. Frame, M.Phil. (Reformed Theological Seminary) and J.I. Packer, D.Phil. (Regent College). Contributors include Tremper Longman III, Sinclair Ferguson, Wayne Grudem, Graeme Goldsworthy and many more.

The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible is available for use with PocketBible on your smartphone, tablet, PC or Mac. The list price is $14.99. The New International Bible version text is sold separately for $9.99.

Choosing a Commentary for the way you study

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 10 Comments

Stack of booksFrom the early church fathers to Matthew Henry and beyond, Bible scholars and teachers continue to find different approaches for explaining the meaning of the Bible text to us. While we all appreciate their efforts, it can be difficult to choose from so many options. Here is a guide to help you easily navigate the commentary choices for use with PocketBible.

Concise Commentary

Brief but comprehensive is how the dictionary defines “concise.” You may see adjectives such as “overview,” “passage-by-passage” or “chapter-by-chapter” in the description for a concise commentary. Study Bibles generally fall into this category. As do Bible Handbooks which, among other features, offer brief commentary on the Bible text. The benefit of these types of commentaries is that they are brief and to the point. They either focus on the main or most important points of a verse or passage or provide overviews of Scripture in sections.

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3 Benefits of Listening to the Bible

Posted on: January 23rd, 2015 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

What keeps you from reading your Bible? Time? Ability to focus? You may find listening to the Bible a way to combat these issues and more:

  • Engage two senses – if you read through several paragraphs and can’t remember what you just read, try listening and reading at the same time. This will help you keep your attention on what you are reading.
  • Redeem the time – listen to the Bible while you clean the house, run, work or commute and put this wasted time to a good use.
  • Multi-front approach – if you are trying to memorize or meditate on a specific passage of Scripture, reading and listening separately can reinforce your efforts.

PocketBible offers text-to-speech capability with all but the Windows PC version. To listen with PocketBible, you will need to purchase the Advanced Feature set for the version of PocketBible you are using on your device (Advanced Feature Sets are sold separately for each operating system). Additionally for the iOS version, you also need to purchase a voice; Other versions of PocketBible use the built-in voice capability of the operating system.

Here’s how to use the audio feature in each version of PocketBible:

  • PocketBible for iOS – with the Advanced Feature Set and a voice installed, you can use the contextual menu to start the reading from any verse in the Bible. Or turn on the Audio remote (icon looks like megaphone) to easily stop and start the audio.
  • PocketBible for Mac OS X – with the Advanced Feature Set installed, use the right-click menu to start speaking from the current location of your Bible.
  • PocketBible for Windows Phone – with the Advanced Feature Set installed, select Menu | show audio controls and then press Play to start listening.
  • PocketBible for Windows Store – with the Advanced Feature Set installed, choose Audiobar from the menu and tap the play button to begin the audio.
  • PocketBible for Android OS – with the Advanced Feature Set installed, choose Listen from the menu.

Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs

Posted on: January 22nd, 2015 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

Concise TheologyThis new PocketBible title from Tyndale House is a summary of what Christians believe from noted theologian, J. I. Packer. Packer’s Concise Theology offers precise descriptions of nearly 100 major Christian beliefs, from a Reformed perspective.

The book isn’t meant to be an exercise in theory. Rather, Packer’s aim is to give you a tour of the permanent essentials of Christianity, viewed as both a belief system and a way of life. It is meant to be practical and yet “to lift your heart Godward.”

Packer puts forth in the preface, “Theology is first the activity of thinking and speaking about God (theologizing), and second the product of that activity (Luther’s theology, or Wesley’s, or Finney’s, or Wimber’s, or Packer’s, or whoever’s). As an activity, theology is a cat’s cradle of interrelated though distinct disciplines: elucidating texts (exegesis), synthesizing what they say on the things they deal with (biblical theology), seeing how the faith was stated in the past (historical theology), formulating it for today (systematic theology), finding its implications for conduct (ethics), commending and defending it as truth and wisdom (apologetics), defining the Christian task in the world (missiology), stockpiling resources for life in Christ (spirituality) and corporate worship (liturgy), and exploring ministry (practical theology).”

The book is divided into four sections: God Revealed as Creator, God Revealed as Redeemer, God Revealed as Lord of Grace, and God Revealed as Lord of Destiny. Altogether, you get 94 concise studies that each focus on a unique facet of our great God and his wonderful plan for us. Yet not in a way that will be over your head. Packer explains the essentials of theology in a style and length that busy readers can appreciate.

Concise Theology requires PocketBible for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, PocketBible for Mac OS X, PocketBible for Windows Phone, PocketBible for Android, PocketBible for Windows Store, PocketBible for Windows PC or MyBible for Palm OS. The list price is $9.99.

The Origin of the Bible

Posted on: January 15th, 2015 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

The Origin of the BibleThis new PocketBible title from Tyndale House is an updated volume of the original classic by Philip Comfort. As the title suggests, The Origin of the Bible is a comprehensive guide to the origin and development of the Bible text, manuscripts, and canon. This updated edition (2102) provides a chapter on recent developments in Bible translation.

The book is divided into five sections. The first section, “The Authority and Inspiration of the Bible,” focuses on the Bible’s divine inspiration, lasting authority, and infallibility. The second section, “The Canon of the Bible,” reveals the processes that went into selecting the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament to be part of canonized Scripture. This section also has an essay on the Old Testament and New Testament apocrypha. The third section, “The Bible as Literary Text,” explains the literary background of the Bible and shows how the Bible is a literary masterpiece. The fourth section, “Bible Texts and Manuscripts,” describes the ancient biblical manuscripts that have been discovered and used in forming editions of the Hebrew and Greek texts. The fifth section, “Bible Translation,” provides information about the biblical languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) and Bible translation itself. In addition, this section gives a brief history of the English Bible and of other versions in many languages. The articles in each section were written by Bible scholars addressing their area of expertise (i.e. Leland Ryken on the Bible as Literature).

The Origin of the Bible requires PocketBible for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, PocketBible for Mac OS X, PocketBible for Windows Phone, PocketBible for Android, PocketBible for Windows Store, PocketBible for Windows PC or MyBible for Palm OS. The list price is $9.99.

Is Your Bible “Missing” Verses?

Posted on: January 13th, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 20 Comments

We occasionally receive reports from PocketBible users that a PocketBible Bible is missing a verse (or verses). These “errors” are usually discovered in a group Bible study situation. Following along as someone else reads, you realize that a verse appears to be missing in your Bible. But in this case, there is more to this than meets the eye.

What are these “missing” verses and why are they missing?

The numbering scheme for verses in the English Bible was first used in the Geneva Bible in the year 1560. This pattern was followed in subsequent English translations including the King James Version, published first in 1611. In the years since these Bibles were translated, many additional manuscripts have been found which predate those used by the translators of the Geneva and King James Bibles. Because of their age, these older manuscripts are believed by many scholars to more accurately represent the original documents. In many cases, however, they do not include all the verses that are in the more recent manuscripts.

Translations such as the New International Version, Revised Standard Version (and other newer translations) take advantage of these more recently discovered manuscripts and therefore do not include all of the verses found in the older translations. Rather than reinventing a numbering scheme for the whole Bible, the translators decided to use the same verse numbers as the older Bibles but leave the missing verses blank (or move them into footnotes). The result of this is that several verses in these newer translations appear to be “missing”.

The affected verses are:

  • Matthew 17:21; 18:11; 23:14
  • Mark 7:16; 9:44,46; 11:26; 15:28
  • Luke 17:36; 23:17
  • John 5:4
  • Acts 8:37; 15:34; 24:7; 28:29
  • Romans 16:24

For the Revised Standard Version, in addition to the above list, there are other verses and points of interest:

  • Matthew 12:47; 21:44
  • Luke 22:43,44
  • The order of Exodus 22 in printed form is 1, 4, 2, 3, 5. PocketBible displays these verses in numeric order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
  • James 1:7,8 was combined in verse 7 leaving 8 blank. 3 John 14 was split into 14 and 15.

Another point of view

Some are quick to jump on the idea that the newer translations are removing text from God’s Word and therefore are not to be trusted. It is important to note that it could just as correctly be argued that the older translations added text to God’s Word. Where one comes down on this argument depends on the nature of one’s own research, or on which scholars one decides to trust. We’ve determined it’s best to present a variety of options to you so that you can come to your own conclusions when choosing the Bible (or Bibles) that you find to be the most beneficial to your own spiritual growth.

If you enjoy learning about the history of the Bible, consider the PocketBible book: The Origin of the Bible by Philip Comfort.

Starting your Bible Reading Plan or Devotional Over for a New Year

Posted on: January 1st, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 4 Comments

A new year is here and with it the opportunity for a fresh start on Bible reading efforts! Whether you are on track to make it all the way through from January 1 to December 31 or you got side-tracked at some point during the year, PocketBible makes it easy to begin anew.

Here are instructions for resetting your Bible reading or devotional tracking for the various versions of PocketBible:

  • PocketBible for iPad/iPhone/iPod touch – open PocketBible and go to the Bible reading plan you want to reset. Select the Today button | Devotional Settings and choose to reset your reading progress and change the start date to today’s date.
  • PocketBible for Android OS – if you are using PocketBible on your Android phone, you can change the start date for a devotional by tapping on the dove menu and choosing Devotionals. Then choose the correct book at the top drop down and then hit the Manage button. You can choose to catch up or start over on this page. If you are using PocketBible on a tablet, use the blue tab instead of the dove menu.
  • PocketBible for Windows Phone – select Menu | Daily Readings and tap and hold on the devotional book. From the menu select Remove daily reading. You can then go back and restart.
  • PocketBible for Windows Store (8/8.1) – select Daily readings from the application bar and select the devotional book. From the application bar select Remove Daily Reading. You can then go back and restart.
  • PocketBible for Windows PC – choose Devotional Reading | Book Options from the menu and select the Start Over tab. Press the Start Over button. Choose the Start Date tab to set a new start date.
  • PocketBible for Windows Mobile – Are you one of our few customers still using this older type of mobile device? You can find complete instructions here.
  • DailyReader for Palm OS – Are one of our few customers still using this older type of mobile device? You can find complete instructions here.

If you are looking for a different Bible reading plan this year, you’ll find help choosing one in our article on 8 Ways to Read through the Bible with PocketBible.

Last Minute Gift Idea: PocketBible Books

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

gift ideasNo shipping required. No wrapping needed. A PocketBible book is the perfect gift for the last minute Christmas rush or any time of the year!

The only requirement to giving the gift of PocketBible is that your recipient have a compatible smartphone, tablet, PC or Mac where they can use the free PocketBible app. We offer versions of PocketBible that are compatible with iPhones, iPads, Macs, Android OS smartphones and tablets, all Kindle Fire devices, Windows Phones and PCs. You can simply purchase any PocketBible Bible, book or library using your current Laridian account. Check the gift option when you check out and we’ll send you instructions on how to communicate your gift to the recipient. If they aren’t already a PocketBible user, they will need to first download the free PocketBible app for their device and register it, to create their own account with us, before they can accept the gift from you. You can find complete details here.

No cost gift idea! While we mention this in our Gift FAQ, it bears repeating here. You can give any of your past purchased books away as well. For example, if you have a devotional that you’ve already read through and don’t plan on using again, you could gift this to someone else. While you may have paid for this item previously, it won’t cost you anything today because you will be giving an item you purchased in the past.

New to PocketBible! If your recipient is new to PocketBible, here are some gift suggestions to consider:

  • 2015 PocketBible Libraries – these collections of Bibles and books are deeply discounted (over “sold separate” price) and are ideal for jump-starting Bible study.
  • Under $25 – Bible translation + study Bible Note set. Bible translation + devotional. Both are good starter combinations that will normally keep your purchase under $25. Some suggested titles:
  • Over $40 and Save 15% – if you choose a combination of 2 or more PocketBible books that totals over $40, you can use our BUNDLEOFFER code at checkout to save 15%. (Excludes PocketBible Libraries and the NIV Bible)

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