Logos Bible Software

The famous Greek word logos — “word, speech, a...

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OK. So this is my first post here in a LONG time. And what am I posting about? Bible software. And a gratuitous, self-serving post this is. Or could be. I might win something. But I doubt it. I live too far away. The currency I use bears The Queen’s portrait. Whether I ‘win’ or ‘lose’ is beside the point: it is just fun to share something newly discovered that others might also enjoy.

One of the things I enjoy most is study of the Bible: its theology, hermeneutics, history, culture, archaeology, etc. I have been using Bible software for a long time. When I got my iPhone this spring Bible apps were just about the first apps I had to have. Church-going just got a whole lot more exciting!

These new Bible iPhone apps got my curiosity up so I recently went to see about upgrading the PRADIS Bible software I have been using with my PC for a few (ahem!) years only to discover – shock-horror! – how long I have been languishing inside the Dark Ages of Bible Software since before my last blog post. Especially since PRADIS bit its own biblical dust last year. Nearly ALL the Bible software in today’s market has been changing and growing, adapting to the ever-shifting sands and demands of our age of technological wonders. I wanted to stay current yet flexible in my ‘academic’ pursuit. And when I switch over to a MAC from this PC I want something that is seamless.

Currently the costs for all the various options out there are also highly flexible. If you are a pastor for an American Mega-Church and are raking in a CEO’s salary there is Bible software to match the $$’s in your church’s weekly offertory plate. Except this is England. We don’t do Mega-Churches. Our average weekly church attendance might be 28, without even one child present. We scramble to meet our parish share. It is unusual for one to study all things biblical unless one is choosing a vocation as a member of the clergy. If any of our clergy are stipendiary the majority have to rake their churchyards for £12,000 per annum and get their tea and biscuits on Sunday.

Well, I took the plunge and decided that Logos Bible Software would be a great way to keep up with study. My main concern, as I do not live in the US, was that the tools it offered would be globally relevant and provide a spectrum of world views on Christianity and faith building. For example, hot-button terms like ‘evangelical’ are contextually different here in the UK compared to the United States. As I have not been able to find serious Bible software on the market here in the UK, I therefore did not want to be in a dilemma of using Bible software that was specifically concentric to the American perspective and evolvement of the Christian movement on that continent alone. I would  still have to translate from US English to British English, but that’s a daily task anyway.

So far I am in Week 2, and Logos Bible Software has not let me down, from my experience with Don Hammons, the very kind and patient salesman who had to deal with my mourning-shock when I found out I had missed the very last PRADIS upgrade and now needed a whole new kit, to the customer service. Also major props to The Tech Department at Logos Bible Software for their sensible and dummy-proof procedures for downloading this MASSIVELY AWESOME programme (sorry, had to get the Brit spelling in…would love to see more of my friends here use Logos!). They are also always there to give wonderful daily tips on how to utilise such a powerful programme. They. Build. Confidence.

In keeping with the Gospel of John being  my favourite Gospel, logos is at the top of my Word List. And did I mention Logos Bible Software is located in Bellingham, Washington? I almost moved there 30 years ago. Compared to West Texas, it seemed a gorgeously green and tempting oasis with an interesting terrain, lots of rain and close to an ocean. That I would eventually end up in England and use Logos Bible Software, well…who knew then what a winning combination that would be?

Logos Bible Software is giving away thousands of dollars of prizes to celebrate the launch of Logos Bible Software 4 Mac on October 1. Prizes include an iMac, a MacBook Pro, an iPad, an iPod Touch, and more than 100 other prizes!

They’re also having a special limited-time sale on their Mac and PC base packages and upgrades. Check it out!


Parting is so sad…

So the other morning I woke up and when the mirror came into focus Wisdom told me about the day in front of me…


It was as if I had dreamt about Moses, having a very bad hair day himself. What did he care? He was already old. Somewhere in the wilderness of covert REM sleep I had loaned him my conductor’s baton and he was trying valiantly to part the Red Sea with it, yet with each flourishing stroke he became more irritable. Every wave that crashed and parted upon the sandy blonde sea shore froze, plastered in time. My time.

Absolutely rotten. Until a friend sent me this video. This, combined with the memory of a picture of Hector Berlioz that used to scare the living daylights out of me (scroll down to last portrait, 1868), brightened my perspective considerably!


Make me a Christian

Well what can I say? Channel 4 has scheduled the following two programmes for Sunday’s God Slot tonight:

Tune in at 7PM for the newest reality show on faith and belief, Make me a Christian.

To be followed at 8PM by Celebrity wife swap.


Make me a Christian is showing as I type this. It was billed as a group of people from Leeds who volunteered to be in this three-part series for three weeks. It does not bode well, as several of these ‘volunteers’ appear quite hostile to the idea. It’s as if they have been dragged in by chains to participate, but hey! they get to be on TV! And it’s only the first segment. One must be reminded that TV producers — especially of Channel 4’s ilk — work to an agenda that only God can rearrange.

One of the volunteers billed as a ‘militant atheist’ describes his foray into this personal quest for spirituality as ‘Caligula meets the Christians’. 

Mysterious ways…

For consideration…

Garden Bothy 


Garden Bothy

Well, I’ve been too busy to post something here for awhile. But it appears this may be my 60th posting since I started practising writing for this thing called a BLOG. My thoughts and attempts at prose are basically scattered, not earth shattering, and certainly for this post none too profound.

After a hotter than usual weekend (from our corner of the world at least) and as we walked back from church yesterday, I realised a few things. Perhaps realisation occurred because I was recently honoured by an extended good visit with a long-lost friend from the US, or because our usually sparse summer attendance at church had burgeoned due to a visit by a huge family from America who’s name bears the name of our village and they just know that at one time in history they used to own the place. As I’m the token American here, one of the church wardens excitedly introduced me to them as ‘our homely American’, not comprehending that in American English the meaning of ‘homely’ takes on a slightly different nuance in UK English.  (US = plain or unattractive; UK = warm and friendly) I tried to keep on smiling, but when we got home I snuck a quick peek in the mirror to see if aging is doing anything to alter the smiles within.

If you’re reading this and should like to share some additions, please do!

There comes a time when we…

  • appreciate who we are
  • need no premium placed upon what we do to feel valued
  • are content with where we live and what we have
  • live passions produced by intrinsic God-instilled gifts
  • enjoy time with family and friends
  • extend hospitality to travelers new on our path
  • give quietly
  • share generously before thinking of benefits in return
  • serve others graciously and humbly
  • value the sacred
  • worship God only

A serious house on serious earth

Wells Cathedral

Whit Sunday came to us with rays of sunshine, clear blue skies and finally a summer breeze. We celebrated the story of the Holy Spirit and the creation of the fulfilment of the Trinity through our choral evensong as the four small village churches that make up our rural benefice came together in fellowship.

Whilst getting ready for our morning Eucharist, I heard a reading of Philip Larkin’s compelling poem Church Going on BBC Radio 4.  Curious, I wondered how it might fit in with the theme of Pentecost. During the preparation for evensong, ‘someone’ forgot to supply the choristers with the Book of Common Prayer. After singing our introit, there was uneasy ‘spirit’ rustling through the quire stalls as our vicar announced which page to turn to next for the prayers. As Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance had been one of my extra-curricular studies at uni 30 years ago, I quietly crept from my creaky wooden perch in the quire and attempted to walk invisibly down a side aisle beyond the prayerful towards the back of the nave, where I had earlier noticed the BCP’s were stored in a Sainsbury’s shopping bag. Our vicar had collected some extras as he went about his Eucharist round with the village churches that morning, in anticipation of an overflow crowd. (There’s always hope!)

I did not grow up with the BCP as a part of my church tradition. Although I have grown to love it, I have yet to commit it to memory as many of my fellow choristers have. Sensing a ‘spirit of unrest’ descend upon them as well, I made sure to grab an armload of these small treasures in faded blues and reds to slip to them surreptitiously and as quietly as possible when I found my way back to the quire. After I sat down and readied for the next bit of worshipful thought I had a sinking feeling the choristers around me who grew up reciting the BCP in their dreams might take offense. But I noted they all balanced the little book between pages of music and Psalter using it to guide them through the beautiful intricacies of our liturgical offering. Quiet peace was flowing through the quire once again.

Why all this fuss? Because I, a believer, hate to feel ‘cut off’ when worshipping. I need at least a few comforts of familiarity to guide me closer into God’s presence. I am already living in a land where very few of the hymns sung are those I grew up with. I am blest indeed to have the Lord introduce me to a variety of tunes and lyrics – in hymnals and Psalters – that have given Him such pleasure, honour and glory through the ages. There is a feeling of alienation when I cannot read the notes I am meant to sing or mouth the messages of lyrics I am expected to share when in fellowship with other believers. I want to know the moment I come to the altar the weave and wonders of the liturgy on offer.

Ah! So this is how a poem of Larkin’s would add to my worship thoughts. Imagine the nonbeliever or agnostic such as Larkin or some of my dearest friends, drawn into a sacred space and met with structures not familiar to their lives. As a believer I have no doubt that an agnostic’s ambivalence towards religions’ own pomposity can be stirred by a fresh breath from God. As for the indwelling and benefits of the Holy Spirit there is an air of je ne sais quoi even for the believer.




Philip Larkin

Once I am sure there’s nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence,

Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new-
Cleaned or restored? Someone would know: I don’t.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
“Here endeth” much more loudly than I’d meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.

Yet stop I did: in fact I often do,
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for; wondering, too,
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show,
Their parchment, plate, and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?

Or, after dark, will dubious women come
To make their children touch a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games, in riddles, seemingly at random;
But superstition, like belief, must die,
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky,

A shape less recognizable each week,
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique,
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff
Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative,

Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation – marriage, and birth,
And death, and thoughts of these – for whom was built
This special shell? For, though I’ve no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,

If only that so many dead lie round. 

Dawn Chorus!

On the wings of dawn...

A new day has just arrived, but it is early yet, and the wings of dawn have not yet come to serenade us from our dreams.

In just a few short hours, Dear One and I will awake to the miraculous wonder known as the Dawn Chorus. All those birds who weave their fellowship in melody and harmony through the branches of the trees in our garden will let us know a new day has begun.

Did you know the tiny wren sings 740 notes per minute? Incredible, that God in His divine creativity would fashion such waking splendour for our ears from a creature so small. The birds come early to lace my sacred space, inviting me to join God for an exercise in holiness when sleep, peaceful or non, escapes me. Would that my spiritual stamina rival that of the chirpy wren.

Celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day today as you praise God for the beautiful details of the world He gives us. Click here and enjoy!

   The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
       where morning dawns, where evening fades,
       you call forth songs of joy.  (Psalm 65.8, TNIV)

At Play on the Bench

lookspan_LangLang (New York Times)lookspan_langlang (New York Times) 

After an extended break from blogging, I’ve decided to post a link and a few thoughts from a music review in this week’s NY Times. Critic Bernard Holland tells us what he thinks about the current climate bringing up today’s young pianists and world performers in his piece When Histrionics Undermine the Music and the Pianist:  

Wandering from one television channel to the next the other day, I came across young people playing the piano. One man, bearded and a little hefty, rippled through a Beethoven sonata, sharing with the camera complicit smiles, exultant grimaces, gazes to the right and left, and a gentle swaying from side to side.     

The next, a young woman, sat down to Schumann, bending her back, lifting her head and gazing straight up. Maybe God was sitting in the rafters just above her, and she was using the opportunity to say hello. Both pianists were perfectly fluent. They kept time, played the right notes and sounded expressive when they were supposed to.  

I had to turn away. I could listen, but I couldn’t watch. Two performers, four glazed eyes and four waving arms were too much for my stomach. And if someone with a lifelong love for the piano repertory has this kind of reaction, what about those coming to classical music from the outside? Think of the smart young people ready to believe, filled with curiosity and good thoughts, and imagine with what astonishment and amusement they must come away from such scenes.  

It’s another reason classical music is not reaching more young people: not because of how it sounds, but because of how it looks. Even worse, lugubrious gymnastics like these advertise the feelings of performers, not of Beethoven or Schumann. Music is asked to stand in line and wait its turn.  

I love Holland’s suggestion for teaching students in the studio:  

Serious theater in the wrong hands turns unintentionally into physical comedy. I have always wanted to make athletically inclined students sit in a chair away from the piano, writhe to their heart’s content and then ask themselves what they just heard.  

He has a couple of other suggestions for piano instructors to try with their students:  

1.       For those students prone to feign melodrama from their piano bench, why not restrain them and force them to watch videos of Arthur Rubenstein, whose economy of body movement allowed for optimum finesse in musicality?  

2.      Hire a team of consultants, ‘…time-and-motion experts…who could point out the flailing arm, the bulging eye and balletic upper torso are extraneous work in a business best devoted to doing the most with the least.’    

And then he proffers this little gem, echoing words of wisdom most of us pianists have learned from our best piano professors and musical mentors:  

And a note to the larger ego: playing the discreet middleman does not sacrifice the spotlight. It is neither meekness nor submission nor self-effacement. At the end of the day, whom do we take more seriously, Rubinstein or Lang Lang?