Posts Tagged ‘reference’

Great Biblical References

In reference on April 13, 2008 at 6:38 pm

I stumbled upon Theodore Hildebrandt’s faculty website at Gordon College and was blown away by the list of great references he has there. Of particular interest to me right now are these short animated videos for studying NT Greek. Thank you Dr. Hildebrandt!


Diagramming Ephesians 1:3-14

In reference on March 30, 2008 at 1:26 pm

Ephesians diagramThe first section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians has always been confusing to me. This is classic Paul-authorship; lots of commas and run-on sentences that provide so much good stuff that your brain can’t stay with Paul’s train of thought. Here is the text from the ESV (I’m really thankful for the folks at Crossway for making the ESV so web-friendly and providing us with a great API):

Ephesians 1:3-14 – 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Try and read it very quickly and you’ll know what I mean about being confused. While I was studying this passage, it was helpful for me to break it up into smaller chunks so I could try and get a feel for what the flow of Paul’s thoughts were. I started doing this in PowerPoint by adding indentations to the breaks and italics where Paul’s mind seems to wander a bit and I realized that arrows and highlights were needed so I switched to Microsoft Visio to help me out with that. Here is what I came up with (click on the picture for a larger version):

Ephesians Diagramming Large

Ephesians Diagramming Small

Click here for a smaller version that might fit better on your screen so you don’t have to scroll all over the place to read it.

I found this helpful for myself to diagram what Paul was trying to say here. If you read from top to bottom, left to right, you’ll see how I broke the passage up into sections. I tried using highlighted blocks to denote similar passages, the blueish color denotes the blessings that Paul mentions we have in Christ in v3, the clouds represent tangents that Paul takes that, while theologically are topics all in themselves, makes it difficult to get a grasp of the whole passage when you get caught up praising God for what He’s done while you read them.

I would like to learn more about diagramming sentences (I will admit I did not pay close enough attention in grammar school to this). If anyone knows of any good resources, please post them in the comment sections. These don’t have to be “Christian” references either, I know there are a lot of fine English grammar books that deal with this topic that would be helpful to me. I found BibleArc to be a good place with a pretty good interface for “arcing” passages, does anyone have others? Thanks!

EDIT: I found this post from Challies blog. On it, there is what looks to be a good, free book from Desiring God Ministries and a few chapters of a book from Thomas R. Schreiner.

More Easter Resources

In links on March 23, 2008 at 6:53 am

I woke up this morning and found that some bloggers had been up all night, furiously typing to provide us with some great Easter morning devotionals. So, to thank them for their hard work I’m going to steal them (it’s ok though, most of them like it when you do this):

He is Risen!

Easter Resources

In reference on March 22, 2008 at 7:16 am

Have a blessed Easter weekend!


Amazon Kindle Review (With an Eye on Bible Study)

In books, reference, technology on March 8, 2008 at 4:23 pm

kindleSo, here it is. I’ve been using the Amazon Kindle just a few short weeks and it has certainly beat out any expectations I had. It’s not perfect, but we’ll get into that. There are plenty of other reviews of the Kindle out there, but this one is with a focus on using the Kindle as a Bible study tool.

What is a Kindle

I get asked this question a lot as people come across me using this “we only pretended to study the iPod while designing this thing” device. Its main function is to be an e-reader, to let you store multiple books on one device and provide you with a display that is not draining on the eyes after hours of reading. You buy a book (or find free a book) and download it to the Kindle, then you read through it just like you would any normal book, using the buttons on the side of the device to turn the pages forward and backward. Two things set the Kindle apart from other e-readers that have come out in the past: Amazon created it so you know the publishers will be following closely to keep up with their good friends in Seattle and it includes the ability to connect to Sprint’s cellular network and download the books from Amazon.com anywhere you can get a Sprint signal. These are great features, but personally, the thing that set the Kindle apart was the QWERTY keyboard that was included on the device, this allows you to take notes in the margins and highlight passages that interest you. I scribble a lot of notes while I read and now I can go back and read over them and even search through them since they are all electronic.

What Kind of Books Can You Put on the Kindle

From the Kindle you can browse the current selection of books offered at Amazon.com for the device. I will say at this point, the selection of “Christian” books is fairly slim although I don’t necessarily read the types of Christian books you would find in the Christian book store (see my library at LibraryThing). A nice feature to the Kindle is the ability to put your own books on it. There are lots of free books that you can download in html or pdf format that you can put on your Kindle simply by email them as attachments to yourdevicename@free.kindle.com. A few minutes later, you will get an email back from Amazon with a properly formatted azw file to download to your Kindle via USB. I’ve found quite a few books at ccel.org that I’ve been meaning to read through but haven’t because I didn’t want to read them on my desktop computer. Here’s a quick overview of the process:

  1. Download a book to your computer, try Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper.
  2. Compose an email to yourdevicename@free.kindle.com and add the PDF file as an attachment.
  3. Plug in your Kindle to your computer with the USB cable.
  4. After you get an email from Amazon with the azw file attached, download that attachment directly to the “documents” directory on your Kindle. That’s it!


Even though these books are free, people still had to spend some cash to get it up on the web, it might be a good idea to make a donation to the websites so that they can continue to offer these great services to us.

What Does the Kindle Mean For Bible Study

I have two versions of the Bible on my Kindle, the NASB and the ESV. Both of them have very awkward navigation methods. When you open the Bible, you start on whatever page you last left off on. This is difficult because if you are in the middle of a chapter, you will have no idea what chapter you are in or what book you are in. The book/chapter reference is not displayed anywhere on the screen except at the beginning of a chapter. The way around this is to change your habits a little and make full use of the search feature. When you want to read Ephesians 3, simply hit search then type in eph 3 and hit enter. You probably won’t be as fast jumping around the Bible on the Kindle as you would with a paper Bible but once you get the hang of it you won’t have any problem keeping up with sermons or Bible studies where the leaders jump from passage to passage. If you know you are going to be in three or four passages and want to flip back and forth between them, you can bookmark each one and jump between bookmarks easily.


I’ve touched on the cons of using the Kindle for Bible study, now for the pros. Search-ability. Can’t remember that verse you were reading earlier? Type in a word or two and you’re all set. This comes in handy when you’re away from a computer. You can also search any notes you’ve typed into the device, so if you are taking notes for a particular study, it might be good to tag your notes. For example, my Bible study group is going through Desiring God, so I’ll use the term “DG#” to indicate a particular note is for a chapter # in the Desiring God study. This is nothing new, you can do all this from any computer, but having it in a device that weighs almost nothing and has a battery that lasts close to a week is pretty cool. Searching will look through every book/note on your Kindle but the first result comes from the book you are currently reading.

A Few Tips

For any Kindle owners, here are a few things I’ve picked up during my use:

  • All of your notes are stored as txt files so you can download them to your desktop and read through them.
  • Don’t wait for the screen. The redrawing of the screen takes about 0.5 seconds but the Kindle will buffer any commands you give it during the redraw period. For example, if you know how many clicks of the scroll wheel it takes to get to the “Add Note” command you can click on that and begin typing your notes before the screen catches up with you. You can get really fast if you trust yourself and command the Kindle before waiting for the screen to catch up. Typing is similar. Don’t wait for your letters to appear, just type away and don’t wait for the screen to catch up.
  • You can press the Next Page and Prev Page buttons multiple times before the screen redraws. So, if you know you want to jump three pages away, press the Next Page button three times quickly and you will jump that many pages away without having to redraw each page along the way.
  • Make good use of the search function, it’s much faster than navigating.
  • If you create your own books, be mindful of the title you use, if you are creating a reference book, you may want to add a “ZZ” to the beginning of the title, that way all books that start with ZZ will be at the back of your list.
  • Keyboard shortcuts are very helpful. Learn em. A list is here.
  • You can take screenshots on the Kindle and make them your screensaver. I took a screenshot of a passage in 2 Peter that I’ve been memorizing and now it is my screensaver so I can memorize it.

9Marks Journal is up

In reference on March 5, 2008 at 10:22 pm

The March/April edition of the 9Marks journal is available here. The focus is on gospel unity/division, from Jonathan Leeman:

all the writers in this issue of the 9Marks eJournal make their attempt at striking the balance between the gospel’s call to unity and its call to separation

How a Christian Can Benefit From Blogs

In reference on February 24, 2008 at 6:35 pm

I wanted to post some reference material for those who may be new to this whole “blogging” thing. If you have a blog yourself, you probably won’t benefit much from this. But, if you only go to a few websites a week and are interested in learning a bit more about what this is all about, then continue on.

What is a blog?

Blogs started off as a type of diary on the web. People called it a log of your life and so the name web-log came about and was soon shortened to blog. People soon took advantage of this technology and made it personal. They began to update their webpages daily with all types of things. If you had a weird computer problem that you fixed you could post the solution on your blog to let others take advantage of the lessons you learned. If you went on vacation and took a lot of pictures you could post the pictures along with some of the details about your vacation for others to see. If your pastor preached an interesting sermon on Sunday morning, you could post your thoughts on it along with a link to the recording so that others could listen as well. There are plenty of possibilities and the technology is simple enough that anyone who knows how to send an email can setup a blog.

How can Christians benefit?

Continuing on from the last example, we can see how Christians might benefit from blogging. There are thousands of blogs that have a Christian theme to them, and many of these can be a great reference source. Some write about their thoughts on passages in the Scriptures, some write about what it means to have a Christian worldview through day-to-day events, some write about current events in the news from a Christian perspective, some focus on theology, worship, devotions, prayer, and some are an extension to a ministry already in place. Writers can be anyone from pastors, elders, church leaders, lay-people, and seminary professors. The key here is the ease of use, difficult technology should not keep you from starting up a blog.

Starting a blog

  1. Go to WordPress.com
  2. Click “Sign Up Now” (it’s all free of course)
  3. Fill out the information (don’t worry about a lot of the details, everything you fill out can be modified later on)
  4. Start blogging! Here is a good resource to help you with some rules on how to write.

Reading blogs

I’m listing two ways to read blogs (ok, one is a joke), I’m sure everyone has their own opinion on the best way to do it, but I’m going to write about what works for me. There really is no good way to explain this, you just have to jump in and try it out for yourself, so follow the instructions below and feel free to ask questions or comment if something needs further explanation below.

Option 1

  1. Find all the blogs you like, here’s a list to get you started.
  2. Visit them every day and read what they say, if you have 20 blogs you like, this could take a few hours!


  1. Take advantage of “feeds” and have all the websites come to you!
  2. Download this file to your computer (right click and say Save Target As or Save Link As), it is a good “starter list” of some blogs I have found useful for Christian news and references. Don’t do anything with the file yet, just save it somewhere on your computer and remember where you put it
  3. Go to Google Reader
  4. Sign in with your gmail account or click “Create An Account” to get started (it’s all free of course)
  5. Fill out the information and you’re all set
  6. Once you have an account, sign into Google Reader, now you want to start adding blog feeds to read
  7. Click on settings in the upper right hand corner
  8. Now click on Import/Export
  9. Click “browse” and then find the file you downloaded in step #2
  10. Click “upload” and you’re all set
  11. Now if you click “Back to Google Reader” you will see all of your subscriptions and their current feeds
  12. Play around with Google Reader to get the settings the way you want them. If you’re really up for a challenge, have a look at the keyboard shortcuts to really speed up your reading
  13. Most of these blogs are updated at least once a week if not everyday. As they are updated, your Google Reader unread items will increase just like your email inbox so don’t be afraid of the “Mark All As Read” button if you every have hundreds of unread posts (don’t worry, you can’t delete them like emails, they will always be there)
  14. Now, as you find other blogs or websites that have feeds (look for this symbol on the webpage or in the address bar that you type the website’s address into) click on the feed and choose to add it to Google Reader and you will have those posts show up in your Google Reader account.

This is a really brief intro to blogs and reading blogs. Please comment and ask questions in the comment area below. Enjoy!

Romans Bible Study Guide

In reference, theology on February 9, 2008 at 3:31 pm

Last year, a Bible study I was in went through the book of Romans. I’ve posted some notes on a blog at romansyearly.wordpress.com. The study is divided into 36 weeks but ended up taking us exactly 52 weeks to go through, some weeks lead to some heavy discussion so they carried over into the next week. We found that most of the guys in the study hadn’t looked into the whole Calvinism/Arminianism thing so we did get sidetracked a lot with that discussion and the notes thoroughly reflect that. Enjoy.

Essential Doctrines

In reference on February 8, 2008 at 5:31 pm

Pulpit Magazine has three interesting posts from John MacArthur on what he feels are essential doctrines that should not be compromised. It was helpful to me because rather than just stating a list of what he feels are essential, he provides a method for determining if a doctrine should be essential. Here is a quick overview:

  1. All Fundamental Articles of Faith Must Be Drawn from the Scriptures
  2. The Fundamentals Are Clear in Scripture
  3. Everything Essential to Saving Faith Is Essential
  4. Every Doctrine We Are Forbidden to Deny Is Fundamental
  5. The Fundamental Doctrines Are All Summed up in the Person and Work of Christ

Read the posts here:

Desiring God 2008 Conference for Pastors

In reference on February 7, 2008 at 8:03 pm

They finished up the 2008 Conference for Pastors in Minneapolis, Minnesota yesterday. I always enjoy John Piper’s biographical messages at these conferences, this year his message was on his father, Bill, who passed away in 2007.