BibleWorks 10 Review, Part Two

In this post, I’ll cover two features that I have come to appreciate and look forward to using more. They are the Search Window Tabs and the Forms Tab as indicated in this picture below. But first, I should mention that since my last post I have moved back to using a Mac, so these examples will be done with BW10 for Mac, essentially the same software and features but ported over and running via Wine for OSx.

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 10.52.31 PM

Bible Works 10 Running on my Mac

The Search Window Tabs allow you to switch between them while keeping your content of the search results, Browse Window and Resources opened and available where you have them. In the example above, I had switched from Tab #1 to Tab #2 and created a new search for ζωὴ so that I would not lose my place from the previous search.

The results of the new search are given down the left column as usual, where I can then select the verses I’m interested in investigating further. Each time I click on one of the search result verses, the Browse Window that I have open to the right of it repopulates with that selection in the three Bible versions (or any combination you want) that I have chosen to display. In this case, the ESV (English), BGT (Greek) and WTT (Hebrew) .

If I want to keep the results of my search and research open, I can leave it by simply clicking back to Tab #1 where I was looking at θεοῦ previously and had performed a search from the Forms Tab. See picture below.

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 11.05.18 PM

I can also start a new “workspace” at Tab #3 or #4 and so on, while leaving all my previous work open and ready to return. And I can rename the Tabs whatever I like, to be more descriptive or contextually relevant. So the Search Window Tabs are like individual workspaces, all within one BibleWorks session. Of course, you can also create various sessions dedicated to different things, such as a sermon series you are studying for, a certain book of the Bible or a class you are teaching. But you can only open one actual “session” at a time. So this Search Window Tabs feature is an exciting and simple but very practical capability that takes a different approach to Bible Software UIs.

Next let’s look at the Forms Tab, one of my favorites of BW10 and a real treat for those studying the original languages as a student or even as a teacher. I recall while teaching Greek last semester at Bible College, there were times when I simply did not know all the forms a word might have in the Greek New Testament, or those that it didn’t have. The simplest way I have seen to ascertain this information is right here in BW10. Hover over a word while the Forms Tab (the third column to the right as I have it set here) is open, and it will give you every occurrence of that word in all its forms with morphology and number of occurrences. I love this feature!

These examples are all in Greek for convenience, but the same holds true for Hebrew as well. See the picture below where I hover over οἶνος and get all its available forms in both the Old and New Testaments.

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From here, if I decide I want to look at those occurrences of οἶνος in the Genitive form, I simply click on the Genitive form as revealed in the Forms Tab column and BW10 will run a new search to show me every verse where οἶνος is in the Genitive form. That makes it extremely convenient and a very logical layout as far as a UI is concerned.

So that’s it. Those are two of the features I like a lot and hopefully this post gives you an idea of how you can use them. I’ll wrap this up here and keep it short. I’ll do my best to get the next post out a little sooner.

How to Deal with Porn Addiction

Red computer mouse with cable forming

I just left my office after meeting with a 19 year old young man that wants to be done with pornography. He’s just one of a multitude in the last four months who have come to me for help. I know so many brothers going the rounds in this fight that I couldn’t name them all if you paid me. It’s just too easy with the accessibility nowadays to find oneself in this destitute pit of perversion. When I am asked how to deal with porn addiction, there are three basic areas I focus on. There are more, but these are the heavyweights:

First, and most importantly, we need to cultivate a real hatred for what pornography does to the human heart. What it does to the lives of those on screen. The intangible yet very alive souls who have been taken captive in what is probably a career against their own volition. Perhaps kidnapped in sex trafficking, maybe black days of poverty thrust them into a quick dollar. Maybe perversion itself allured them. But ultimately, they are captives. And they have names, with mothers and fathers. They were once someone’s little girl. They have brothers and families and a maker who loves them and gave himself to redeem them. These images are more than mere pleasure agents whose existence was never purposed to satisfy our imagination let alone the meat-grinding industry into which they have been tossed by the enemy of their souls. Without a disgust for all that pornography represents and all the wreckage it leaves in the wake of our lives and the lives of these prisoners of the screen, we will never break the addiction. Such a godly hatred can be nurtured. And it must be cultivated.

Secondly, the barrier of embarrassment has been removed and must be replaced. Years ago, one had to clear the hurtle of being seen entering a smutty video store or purchasing a magazine at a sidewalk kiosk in broad daylight. But now, we just enter the false reality in the secret of our private room with no one but the cyberbots and our defiled consciences taking notice. We willfully shut out thoughts of our Lord whose presence, while unseen, is no less in attendance. Access is a big problem that needs to be cut out of the equation. Good will and self determination are not enough. New barriers need to be put into place, giving the Holy Spirit and our consciences the time needed to interact. The harder it is to reach, the longer it takes and the more time is given for conviction to set in and the soul to respond to God’s grace and prompting. Computers with their browsers and Phones and tablets with their plethora of apps must come under the management of another will, an accountability partner who has your genuine interest at heart. She or he will lock out your access with passwords and filters and if done properly, will follow up with routine checks on your devices.

Thirdly is a living, breathing accountability partner whose purpose is to be more than a name on an ideological list of uninvolved and unhelpful friends. Too often accountability partners are nominated but accountability is nowhere to be found. Addicts of porn need mentors who are difficult to look in the eyes and confess their deficiency to them. And those partners need to be proactive, not just an ear on the other end of the line waiting for confession to come after the wound has been reopened. They must initiate and counsel and exhort and encourage. Intentional meetings need to be put onto the calendar weekly. Yes, it’s a bit of handholding if you want to call it that. But the goal is to get them far enough away from the gravitational pull of this perverted vortex that they are able to walk in freedom and a healthy fear of the Lord who then makes these other steps redundantly unnecessary.

These three steps are my starting point. What are YOURS?

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BibleWorks 10 Review, Part One

Welcome to the first of several installments in which I review BibleWorks 10 and show you how I have been employing it in my workflow recently. My primary use of BibleWorks 10 (hereafter referred to simply as BW) is for original language research and course preparation to teach classes at Calvary Chapel Bible College. While BW offers a good selection of additional resources as add on modules, it shines brightest in original language study and exegesis. It’s designed to keep you “focused on the text,” and this it achieves quite well. A brief statement taken from their website summarizes their company vision:

“The purpose of BibleWorks, LLC is to provide pastors, teachers, students, and missionaries with the tools they need to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). There are other companies that exist to do this as well, but BibleWorks comes to this task with some unique differences in approach and philosophy: We exist to serve the church, not to make a profit, and all of our business decisions are made with that in mind. Our goal is to provide a complete package containing the tools most essential for the task of interpreting the Scriptures in the original Greek and Hebrew, and to do it at a price that poor pastors and students can afford.

In this latest iteration, BW has added a new and vastly improved interface compared to its predecessors. Since I’m new to the software and have just entered its userbase at version 10, I can’t speak authoritatively as to the magnitude of its enhancements over earlier releases. But in my initial (and only minimal comparisons), there are obviously well-thought-out changes to the former UI. My first impressions working with the program are very favorable and I’m genuinely excited to have this great software with its excellent array of language tools, available for my studies. While at first one might feel intimidated by the UI and overall capability of BW, it is quite simple to use and very stable. Admittedly, I’ve come across a minor bug in text rendition that occasionally appears, but is recoverable. Crashes have been non-existent.

Four columns (or windows) can be viewed simultaneously, allowing users a secondary analysis pane.

Four columns (or windows) can be viewed simultaneously, allowing users a secondary analysis pane.

The above screenshot (click it and all images to enlarge) is version 10’s new user interface, showing the optional, newly designed fourth window. More correctly, it is called the “Secondary Analysis Window.” The name is indicative of its primary purpose, analyzing the text through its many research tools, all of which are linked to the biblical text you are viewing. At the time of writing, I’m still in the learning curve of where to find things, precisely what certain icons represent and, what the more complex search commands are. But I’m able to navigate quite well for what I need to do. With a few basic instructions, one can dive in and get to work quickly. And yes, that is the Leningrad Codex you see in high resolution images above, tagged with verse references for searching  or scrolling in sync with accompanying Old Testament texts. Reference markers are hyperlinked for immediate viewing of user-defined versions in a popover. This is a very valuable resource, implemented well.

First in line below, I cover my use of BW for basic textual reference, searching and analysis.

This view is for the basic stage of proofing my teaching notes for class

This view is for the basic stage of proofing my teaching notes for class

In the screenshot above, I display only two of four possible windows. The “Search” window  is collapsed because at this point of my work, I don’t need to search. If I needed to, I could still search while it is collapsed (more on that below). And by the way, searches are extremely fast with virtually no measurable wait time. Each window column can remain open or be collapsed laterally, based on user preference of tool usage with a simple click of the mouse. This is a unique feature that I like a lot, because collapsing them does not close or remove the active content in them. With just the main “Browse” and “Analysis” windows, I’m able to view my target text and essential research tools while leaving room on my 14 inch laptop to snap my class notes adjacent to them. This useful “snapping” capability, by the way, is one of my favorite features of the modern Windows UI. Under normal circumstances, one would probably leave 3 or even 4 window columns open in BW.

The two-window layout is ideal for the simple proofing stage of my class notes where I verify important textual issues or answer any remaining exegetical questions by way of the many included lexicons and grammars that are conveniently linked to the text at hand. Entries from all lexicons containing the word of interest, or grammars that mention the verses in my browse window or grammatical concept, appear and update accordingly in the analysis window. Clicking on the truncated result opens the respective module directly to the lexeme or article . It couldn’t be more convenient or faster, and I absolutely love this unique feature. I haven’t seen it implemented like this in any other Bible software. See below.

Lexicon entry accessed via the Resource Window

Lexicon entry accessed via the Resource Window

Grammar article accessed via the Resource Window

Grammar article accessed via the Resource Window

I do this while making modifications to my notes directly in Microsoft Word, snapped to the right of BW.  Even when the “Search” pane is closed in BW, a simple keyboard shortcut allows the user to enter search commands or navigate to new passages quickly and without leaving the layout you see above. Simply hit the “Esc” key to prompt BW for your command. Next, type your reference (Gen 31, for example), and hit “Enter.” The new verse location will appear in the “Browse” pane. Not having to physically enter my cursor into the search pane allows me to maintain my layout the way I need it while moving along quickly and smoothly in my workflow. I do much more with BW for my study needs, but future installments will cover that.

Accordance’s Word Frequency Graphics vs. Word-Cloud Generators

Graphic Pie Chart

Recently someone had inquired about the possibility of implementing a word-cloud generator in Accordance Bible Software, which could be beneficial in identifying the most frequently used words in a Bible passage. By now anyone reading this has most likely already seen one, but just for clarity a word-cloud is a group of words clustered together in different font sizes with those most frequently used appearing as larger text, and those less common in smaller sizes.

While word-clouds are an interesting way to deliver such statistical information, in Bible software I find them a little static and rather limited. This is where Accordance’s “Search Details” not only comes in handy, but in my opinion far exceeds the capabilities of any word-cloud generator. And although this feature doesn’t produce the same exact visual graphic as a word cloud, the end result (word frequency statistics) is produced, and it is done in an even more versatile and more visually appealing way than a mere cluster of text.

Graphic Bar Chart

For those familiar with Accordance, simply run an asterisk (*) search in the limited text range you want, and then display the “Search Details” and choose, for example, the “Pie Graphic.” In this example, you would select “Display Words” rather than “Key Number” to get a visual graphic of every word in that range as I have done in my search here. In addition to the colorfully displayed word-frequency, you also see the word count with all the options to view and organize your search results in anyway you want. In this scenario, I have only shown two of the several display options available. But the flexibility is unsurpassed, ranging from the option of creating these different types of visual analyses to generating a true textual concordance in English, Greek, Hebrew, or any other language present in your Accordance library. This, to me, is quite amazing and very practical!

To run this kind of search, you simply type an asterisk in the search box in place of a word. This tells Accordance to show every single word in your chosen search range. My sample here is from an asterisk search in Ephesians 1:1-10 (my search range). The two graphic images I have inserted are from the same search but each displays the statistics differently. In either graphic one can immediately see how central Christ is to the entire passage as well as the key role of the preposition “in.” With a word-cloud, the word ‘Christ’ would appear in a larger font along with ‘in’ etc. But I find the ‘Pie’ and ‘Bar Chart’ graphic displays to be much more appealing to the eye than a word-cloud of mere text, not to mention the ability Accordance’s “Search Details” window offers to continue working with your search results in different ways.

Cracker Jack Theology With a New Surprise in Every Package!

ImageToday I listened to yet another bible teacher lead countless thousands down a path lined with empty promises of prosperity, which have nothing to do with the biblical gospel, and which sadly continue to appeal to the greedy nature of millions that profess faith in Christ. Although he may have been quite sincere and convinced of the message he preached (The mimshach Anointing), sincerity and shouting are not the barometer for truth. His message was carefully crafted and craftily delivered. Seeing how there was no biblical support for nearly anything he said, he did not cite scripture. Instead, he turned to the aid of theatrics to convince the unsuspecting that the same anointing God had given to Lucifer was on Jesus and, is offered to us in the church today. This mimshach anointing is, according to this pastor in question, “intended to expand whatever we do until our success and prosperity reaches foreign lands and people are talking about us. Once understood and applied, this anointing will guarantee us success and we will become number one. Repeat after me, I will be number one!”

Those were his words, and I emphasize his, for they are so far removed from the biblical landscape that they could not be reached with a lunar probe. Does his sound like the biblical message to you? That we are to be number one? That others should be talking about us? That our kingdom should expand beyond foreign borders? Or how about just the fact that we have the anointing of Lucifer? That alone should be enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck. But instead of being disturbed as the pastor bounced up and down as if he were on an invisible pogo stick shouting, “I will be number one!” the crowd was overcome from head to toe with goose bumps of excitement at the idea of actually becoming a big shot in this world.

Now think hard before answering this question, how awkward would this pastor’s words sound if put into the mouth of Jesus, or the Apostles? Do you have difficulty imagining it? If you do, that’s good. If you don’t, then you need to start reading your bible a little more and listening to these preachers a little less. Wouldn’t a Christian want others to talk about Jesus, rather than herself, and Jesus to be number one rather than herself, and that God’s kingdom expand rather than her pocketbook? Where is Jesus glorified in this and to what faith, exactly, are people being called?

Anointing in Scripture is always connected to the task God has given to His servant in order to carry out His sovereign will in a particular task or role, and never for the servant’s self-gratification. And we had better well understand the limitations of our “anointing,” for when Saul overstepped his it cost him not just his kingdom but eventually his life also (1 Samuel 13:11-14). Even the Holy Spirit never takes the glory or promotes Himself or puts the attention on himself but always and exclusively exalts and promotes the Son of God (Jn 16:14).

Throwing in a Hebrew word like mimshach (meaning to anoint or spread oil on an object) may seem to add some authenticity to his message about expanding our kingdoms, a message swallowed only by those lacking the tools or the intention (or both) necessary to “test all things,” but in the end this careless misuse and abuse of Biblical words only confirmed the error of the preacher’s Cracker Jack theology. Simply reading Scripture in its context (which these fellows seldom seem to do) would remove all doubt as to the fallacy.

It is amazing to me that there should be any believer who, while having the gift of the Holy Spirit, at the same time would lack the accompanying discernment to see the falsity of these men (their sincerity granted) and their tantalizing doctrines within the prosperity movement. On the other hand, I (we) should not be entirely surprised, for the danger of deception and the reality of false teachers leading believers astray is repeatedly announced in the New Testament from Jesus through the apostles (Mt 7:13-20; Mt 24:4-5, 11, 24; Lk 21:8; Rom 16:18, 1 Cor 15:33; 2 Cor 11:3-13; Gal 2-3; Eph 5:6; 2 Thess 2:3-9; 1 Tim 1:3, 3:6-13; Tit 1:10; 2 Pt 2:1-15; 1 Jn 2:26; 4:1; 2 Jn 7). And seeing how man’s nature tends to go beyond mere survival instinct to outright self-centered covetousness, we might expect that the unbiblical message of the prosperity doctrine would appeal to millions. After all, their call to the multitudes is not one of repentance from sin and self-indulgence, but to turn away from failure and poverty so that we can be prosperous and boisterous. They do not preach the narrow road to life that few find and even fewer are willing to follow (Matt 7:13-14), but the ever widening road to riches which only the uninformed Christian could happily stumble upon and blindly follow.

We do not see Jesus or the Apostles in anyway teaching, or giving the example of a life style that believed the church had an anointing for prosperity. And no one in the early church practiced this ideology or even understood prosperity to be promised to those who are in Christ. On the contrary, the Christian hope has always been anchored in eternity and not in the shifting sand of this passing world (1 Jn 2:15-18). The teaching of Jesus and all of the New Testament is clear and replete with exhortation to a life of simplicity, suffering, self-sacrifice and self-denial.  We are told to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses and follow Jesus (Matt 16:24), not to promote ourselves in self-proclaimed exaltation like pastor Chris tells us. Consider these words of Paul to Timothy, and examine the message of these prosperity preachers in light of them, in particular v.v.6-10:

1Tim. 6:3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

I could go on and on with Scripture that speaks against both the teachers of such a doctrine and the need for correction to those of an unhealthy attitude towards finances. Please understand that I am not here making an appeal for poverty or stating that material blessing should never happen, or that wealth is inherently evil. But I am saying that God blesses whom he choses with what he chooses, there is no “formula,” and the prosperity doctrine is unbiblical, unsafe and unacceptable. It is abuse of the precious Word of God, and because of this kind of “fleecing of the flock” and shameful disregard for God’s message, the way of truth is maligned exactly as the Apostle Peter said (2 Peter 2). Be sure to read Peter’s words on this, you’ll be shocked at the accuracy of his description to many of today’s tele evangelists. I have much more to say about this subject, but I’ll save it for a future post.  For now, if you are still unconvinced there is anything wrong with the prosperity movement, leave your answers to these following questions in a comment on this blog:

  1. Where in Scripture do we see Jesus either teaching, or living anything remotely close to the prosperity doctrine?
  2. Where in Scripture do we see any prophet or apostle teaching or living anything remotely close to the prosperity doctrine?
  3. Where in Scripture do we see any Christian in the early church teaching, encouraging or living anything remotely close to the prosperity doctrine?

Friends, beware of Cracker Jack theology. Test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 Jn 4:1). Test everything and hold fast what is good (1 Thess 5:21).

Is There a Place for Apologetic Ministry Within and Without the Church?

ImageSeemingly irreconcilable conflicts are inherent to opposing world views, and at the center of them is Christianity. Often assumed is the specious idea that faith and reason are mutually exclusive. And this illusion is not going away in the foreseeable future. From this we learn that our objective as Christians is two-fold. On one hand, we must minimize the currently surmounting confusion in the skeptical mind by offering answers to difficult questions, while at the same time demonstrating to all that faith and reason needn’t be reconciled, for they are friendly neighbors in the biblical system of thought. In this series I will attempt to accomplish both of these objectives by way of a  limited case study I conducted recently. Firstly, I will identify the three most common questions raised by twelve people I interviewed. Secondly, I will interpret the cause of the questions. Thirdly, I will answer them. And finally, I will discuss the solutions that I believe best address the root of these issues.

1.1. What is going on in my church/community?

The questions that have come to me through my interviews in and out of our church community are numerous, but there are common threads that connect them and which allow me to narrow them down to three primary categories. They are 1.) the problem of sin, 2.) the problem of suffering in the world, and 3.) the problem of freewill.

1.1.1. The Problem of Sin

Pertaining to sin, the questions were about what it is and why it exists. Specifically, why did God give man the potential to sin, or at least after sin entered the world, why didn’t God simply eradicate it? Must sin continue as the cause of so much trouble today? One interviewee preceded Adam’s fall (Gen 3:6) with a question about Lucifer’s creation and his eventual banishment from heaven (Isa 14:12). Why did God create Lucifer if He knew that he would fall into sin, lead a celestial rebellion, and consequently become the great tempter and catalyst to man’s sin? Immediately following this came the logical perplexity for why God didn’t destroy Satan immediately. Because these questions all are so closely related to one another in that they deal with sin’s nature and origin, I have put them together under the single heading “The Problem of Sin,” which I will discuss shortly.

1.1.2. The Problem of Suffering

The problem of suffering, and why there is so much of it, must be the single most popular criticism against the existence of an omnipotent and loving God. Permeating this topic were similar questions pointing to specific instances of suffering, such as war, famine and sickness. The troublesome part for most of those interviewed was not so much why suffering exists, per se, but rather if God is all-powerful and good, why don’t we see Him doing anything about it? Once again, given the related nature of these questions, I have chosen to place them together under the single heading “The Problem of Suffering.”

1.1.3. The Problem of Freewill

Interestingly enough, this last question, “Does man have a free will?” is in a sense more of a doctrinal issue than it is apologetic. Doctrinal because it rises from the face of Scripture specifically, but still apologetic because some atheists (i.e. Sam Harris) deny that man has a free will at all. Human beings are nothing more than animalistic machines with refined behavior. Therefore I believe it is fitting to address the problem of free will here, within the context of an apologetics study, for two primary reasons. First, because it was a common enough question asked in the interviews for this case study. Second, and perhaps most importantly, because freewill lies very much at the crux of the other two questions listed, the “Problem of Sin” and the “Problem of Suffering.”

In my next post, part two of this three-part series, I will address the eyeopening socio-cultural influence behind these questions, which inevitably overflows into the context of church life. Stay tuned and let me know what uThink!