Several years ago as I was finishing my days on the seminary campus, I was introduced to a great Bible study tool by the name – Logos. From that point until today, I’ve been convinced that Logos is the real deal. Much has changed since those days when I was first introduced to Logos, and I want you to know about the most recent innovations with Logos Bible software. Meet – Logos Cloud. Below is a personal review of the Logos Cloud software. I was not required to provide a positive review of the software, but I want you to know that it was not a disappointment. I highly recommend it.
Logos Cloud is a subscription based tool that’s available in different levels depending on where you are and what you want to accomplish with the software. Furthermore, Logos Cloud is the most advanced Bible study software available today and is always working to stay at the forefront to harness the possibilities of technology to make your Bible study more efficient.
How Does Logos Cloud Work?
First, you choose from three different levels, depending on how you will use the software. For instance, you may be a student in seminary or Bible college and you will use the software differently than the parent who simply wants to have a good software for personal and family Bible study options.
Logos Cloud Essentials
Logos Cloud Plus
Logos Cloud Premium
Because Logos Cloud works on the cloud and is a subscription based software, every six weeks you’ll get new updates, features, tools, and more. And every month new titles will be added to your library, so it grows with you.
Logos Cloud Giveaway
I’m pleased to announce that one reader of this blog will receive a FREE Logos Cloud Premium subscription for one full year.
As I read and prepare for my weekly sermons, Logos has been a huge blessing. When I travel, I can literally take my entire library with me on the go without bulky bags full of books tethered to me. In fact, I can take thousands of volumes with me on my iPad since Logos Cloud works seamlessly across all platforms.
Desktop Software – This is downloadable software installed on a computer (PC or Mac). This is the best way to experience the full power of Logos Cloud. Logos Mobile App – The Logos Mobile App is available on Android and iOS so Logos Cloud can truly go anywhere. Logos Web App (Beta) – The Logos Web App is still in development. All Logos Cloud members get exclusive beta access as we bring the power of the desktop to the web.
Perhaps one of the best ideas Logos has implemented recently is the Logos Web App (Beta). Although it’s still in development, I was able to test drive it over the past couple of weeks and I’m impressed. Although all of the features aren’t available at this time, you can imagine what’s on the horizon.
If you’re working on a computer where Logos isn’t installed and you don’t have access to your mobile app, you can login to your account and bring up the web app version and access your library and resources. The web app is fast and runs through your computer without running a software program. This is one more way in which Logos Cloud makes your Bible study more efficient.
I’ve been convinced of the power of Logos Bible software for years. Logos Cloud is the next level in Bible study software. Logos Cloud gives you a digital, biblical library whenever, and wherever, you are. From the church member who’s looking for a good study tool to the expert scholar – Logos Cloud provides the solution on every level. Pastors and church members will all benefit from this great Bible study tool. I encourage you to register for the giveaway and sign up for a free trial today.
Tim Challies has broken the mold! As a self-employed web designer, he has taken up a large task in writing a book that is both practical and thorough. Writing is not an easy thing to accomplish, and not many web designers are writing books that edify the Church! Therefore, as I discovered the book through Tim Challies’ blog, I immediately decided to purchase it and take part in the study on discernment. Below is the result of my personal review of The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies.
The purpose of the book
The purpose of the book seems clear from the title. Without even opening the book, Tim Challies has provided us with the subject matter that will be discussed in each chapter – spiritual discernment. As Tim begins his book, he states, “As you no doubt have surmised from its title, this is a book about discernment – about the skill of thinking biblically about life. To be more precise, it is a book about a particular kind of discernment: spiritual discernment. In this book I hope to show that discernment is a discipline, and like other disciplines such as prayer and reading the Bible, it is one that all Christians should seek to practice and should seek to practice deliberately. If we are to be a people who show our love for the Lord by faithfully serving him, it is a discipline we must practice (15).”
Brief summary of books content
The book itself spans 205 pages with ten main chapter divisions and an appendix, acknowledgments section, study guide, general index, and scripture index. From chapter one, titled A Call to Discernment, until the last chapter, titled The Practice of Discernment, Challies seeks to bring about a clear understanding of the Christian’s responsibility to be discerning, a clear definition of spiritual discernment, and practical aspects of the discipline in the Christian life.
Calling to Discernment: Tim Challies puts aside the famous (and often lazy) notion that discernment is for “somebody” else. He says, “Unlike Solomon, I have not been called by God to govern a nation, but even in the humble ways God has called me to lead, I feel the desire of Solomon. Even when I look at my family and think of how I must lead my wife and teach my children, I feel like a little child, uncertain of what to do and how to act (21).” He goes further to state, “Far too many people are just like the audience to whom Hebrews is addressed. This letter draws a clear link connecting a lack of discernment with spiritual immaturity so that those who lack discernment are those who are spiritually immature. Scripture makes it plain: if you are not a person who exhibits and exercises discernment you are not a mature Christian (23).”
Tim Challies makes it very clear – as a Christian – we are all called to be exercising our ability of spiritual discernment. This should be very obvious as God provides us all leadership responsibilities in our homes and often in our churches. There is no room for laziness in the Christian life – and Tim Challies makes this abundantly clear.
Working Definition of Spiritual Discernment: In chapter three, after speaking about the importance of definitions and then looking at the original languages to unpack the meanings of the words, Tim Challies provides us with his definition of discernment.
Discernment is the skill of understanding and applying God’s Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong.
Challies goes beyond this foundational definition to describe it in more detail through the chapter as he unpacks his own definition into component parts. After describing the definition in full detail, he then goes on to speak about the source, the power, and process whereby he describes spiritual discernment.
Tim Challies leaves no room for error. He rightly identifies the source as God and the power as that of the Holy Spirit. In our present day, people are more likely to believe things based upon their emotions, feelings, or because of some person’s testimony of a vision or voice in the night. Challies provides clarity on the source of true spiritual discernment when he points back to God as the ultimate source. He ends his chapter on the defining of discernment by saying, “People who are discerning have a heightened ability to see and understand issues from God’s perspective. Empowered by his Spirit, they strive for and are given an understanding of what is pleasing to God and what is not (71).”
How it [spiritual discernment] Works: After outlining the foundational calling to be discerning and the working definition of the discipline, Tim Challies moves forward for the remaining part of the book describing how spiritual discernment works in the life of the Christian. From proper judgment (chapter 4) to a commitment to the truth (chapter 5) – Challies continually builds upon the foundation of our calling to be discerning into the “how to” aspects of the discipline.
In chapter six, Challies connects the dots of God’s will of command (AKA – God’s preceptive will) and the Christian’s calling to be spiritually discerning. Tim Challies says, “If we are to discern God’s will, we must dedicate ourselves to knowing and understanding his Word as it is given to us in the Bible (119).”
In chapter seven, Challies speaks about the gift of spiritual discernment. Although in the foundational part of his study, Tim Challies claims that all Christians are called to exercise spiritual discernment, he now identifies the actual spiritual gift of discernment. However, before opening up an opportunity to evade the exercise or creating a loop hole [for all attorneys who may read his book] – Challies points to our continued responsibility to exercise spiritual discernment even if we are not explicitly gifted with spiritual discernment. He says, “Just as the existence of a gift of evangelism does not preclude those who have not been given this gift from the task of evangelizing, in the same way, even those who do not have the spiritual gift of discernment are expected to be discerning (127).” Challies then moves on to discuss the gift that is given by God for the purpose of using it in the local church and the life of a Christian for the glory of God.
In chapter eight, Challies speaks about the dangers of discernment. He says, “There is a danger inherent in the practice of discernment. Those who seek to draw clear distinctions between what is good and what is evil can spend undue time and attention on the evil. Once of the greatest dangers of discernment is that we will become so interested in what is evil and ungodly that we allow ourselves to become immersed in it and inadvertently oppressed by the evil we encounter (144).”
In chapter nine, Challies speaks about developing discernment. After opening his chapter (as is his style) with a great illustration on Matt Halladay (a Toronto Blue Jays baseball player) and his preparation regimen for the field – Challies ties it to the life of a Christian and how we should be constantly in pursuit of becoming better. In order to become a better Christian and a more mature Christian, we must become a more discerning Christian. Although many Christians are on a different level of discernment (spiritually) – Challies argues that we must all work at developing it along the Christian journey. He speaks of pursuit, desire, prayer, and seeking discernment in the opening part of the chapter. Challies says, “Discernment is not a pursuit that stand on its own in the life of the Christian. Rather, it is inexorably connected to others. Those who wish to be discerning must have a posture of discernment. They must commit to reading and studying the Bible, to participating in the local church, and to pursuing the charater traits of a Christian (162).”
In his final chapter, Tim Challies discusses the practice of discernment. He says, “While the Bible provides a framework for the method of discernment, we will not find a verse or passage that explicitly instructs us point-by-point (164).” Challies then moves to a very practical (and yet very biblical) process of practicing spiritual discernment. His points are as follows:
Action 1: Verify
Action 2: Clarify
Action 3: Assess The Issues
Action 4: Pray
Action 5: Assess Your Instinct
Action 6: Assess Your Conscience
Action 7: Search The Scriptures
Action 8: Observe The Scriptures
Action 9: Compare And Contrast
Action 10: Research
Action 11: Summarize
Action 12: Expand Your Research
Action 13: Conclude
Action 14: Make a List
Action 15: Judge
Action 16: Hold Fast
Action 17: Apply
After completing his list and describing each part, Challies says, “The practice of discernment, then, is given to us in the Bible. We test by using God’s Word as our standard. And having done that either we hold fast to what is true or abstain from what is false and substitute what is good and true and consistent with God’s character for error (182).”
Impressive ideas contained in the book
Several impressive ideas are contained in the book. I have outlined them below:
All Christians are called to be spiritually discerning.
A lack of spiritual discernment is the evidence of spiritual immaturity.
A Lack of giftedness in the area of spiritual discernment does not exempt a person from the exercise of spiritual discernment in their Christian life.
Application drawn from the counterfeit money example in Canada: all Christians should be so well acquainted with what is right and good that anything less will become easily identifiable.
All Christians should work hard to become more discerning in our Christian life.
Things that I disagree with in the book
I found Tim Challies’ book very well written and researched. However, in his chapter on the gift of spiritual discernment, he takes the position that all spiritual gifts may not be given at the very moment of conversion. He goes on to suggest that we can pray and ask God to “gift” us with a specific gift for the glory of God. While I do see his position and I do understand that the listing in scripture regarding spiritual gifts may not be intended to identify all gifts – I do question the notion that we as Christians are given gifts at various points in our Christian lives – after praying and requesting them.
As I survey the scriptures, I see Jeremiah being called to be a prophet unto the nations before he even left his mother’s womb. Furthermore, the sovereignty of God over all events and giftedness of persons would indicate that God intends to use specific people in specific ways. Therefore, the question must be asked – does the gift already exist in the person as God intends them to be gifted from the time of their conversion? Is the gift manifested or revealed to the individual in accordance with God’s divine time table? It may be that we actually agree with one another, but I simply found this part in Tim’s book difficult to reconcile with the scripture.
Assessment of the value of the book
As I survey the world of Christian literature today, I find myself very discouraged. Not only do we find people writing on various subjects that are not biblically accurate, but we find countless thousands of people purchasing this literature and consuming it at speeds that are unimaginable. I found The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment to be a book that not only addressed the subject of spiritual discernment from a biblical standpoint, but I also found it well researched and personally challenging.
I am well aware of the criticisms that have been put forth regarding Tim Challies’ ability to write a book regarding a theological exercise and doctrine without a formal theological degree. As a pastor, I not only see this as a breath of fresh air, but I also long for the day when people that I pastor can take on such a grand task with such passion and accuracy as Tim Challies has done.
Therefore, I encourage any Christian to purchase his book and read it. It is well written so that both the theologically trained and the average layperson can both benefit. Below is information about where you can purchase a copy for yourself:
Several months ago the people at Accordance Bible Software were kind enough to provide their software to me for the purpose providing an online review. The review below is the product of my personal use for the purpose of blogging, preaching, and academic research.
Since I use a MacBook Pro and an old G4 desktop, I am usually disappointed to find out that the software my friends and peers are using is unavailable for my MAC. It was after much research that I discovered the Accordance Bible Software. Not only is it MAC compatible, but it is a very powerful Bible software that provides the ability to do simple Bible searches and advanced linguistic studies.
The Accordance software operates with a flexible interface which allows multiple columns for cross reference use and language studies. With quick drop down menu functionality, the software is easy to operate and modify.
The tool bar is easy to use. From charts to adding texts to the main panel, the tool bar is self explanatory and easy to operate. One of the most helpful tools on the tool bar is the speech option. Often when studying another language such as Hebrew or Greek, it is difficult to pronounce a specific word. This tool allows you to hear the word pronounced which can be very helpful.
The tool bar also allows you to add additional resources, commentaries, or books without losing your place in the Bible. The column design will add them next to your current Bible passage, and this will allow you to quick reference or view the original language in a parallel format. This is most helpful while working through a passage of Scripture.
Copy & Paste: Often, when trying to do Bible studies online, it becomes obvious that you cannot copy and paste the words into a Word document – especially when it comes to the original language. With Accordance, the ability to copy and paste (even original languages) is very easy and it proves itself most useful when writing research papers for Seminary classes or preparing a sermon for the pulpit.
Parallel Options: Accordance has a tool which opens up parallel options. For instance, if you are preaching or studying through the gospels, an option will be available which will allow you to open up the synoptics in a parallel format to easily scan and read across the screen. This is very helpful.
Diagram Options: One powerful tool which is often overlooked is the diagram tool. It will allow you to highlight a specific passage of scripture and after selecting the diagram button, it will present each word in the text in a highlighted color coded format. Each color represents different parts of speech. This is very helpful when working through a passage of scripture in the original language. It points out the verbs in each verse by color – which allows those who are less skilled in the original language the ability to focus in on the different parts of speech without looking at paradigm charts.
Column Options: When reading through the Bible or doing research, the column design of Accordance allows you to easily cross reference and compare words from differing translations and original languages. This not only allows for a faster research time, but it also allows the serious Bible student to gain greater insight of the passage with the click of a button!
Quick Reference Window: The quick reference window that appears under the main display allows you to simply rollover a word in the text above and see the specific parsing information below. Rather than looking up the word and reviewing paradigm charts, the Accordance Bible Software allows you to easily review all parsing information by only rolling the cursor over the word (no clicking required). Therefore, as fast as you rollover the words the quick reference displays the information instantly.
The Accordance Bible Software provides several reference tools. From the Brown Driver Briggs (BDB), Thayer Lexicon, and Louw & Nida to the LXX Accordance provides the ability to perform serious academic Biblical studies from your home computer. Of course, Accordance does have the ability to “unlock” different reference and study tool options at specific cost levels. These different options can be viewed at the Accordance Bible Software website.
I have now been using Accordance Bible Software for my Bible studies for well over one year now. As I compare the software to other available Bible software on the market for MAC, I find the Accordance Bible Software to be the best overall option.
My Favorite Options:
1. Flexible design
2. Quick Reference Options
3. Search Function
4. Speech Option
5. Parsing Ability
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Current Prices as of 1/5/08:All packages and most up-to-date information on package options and prices can be reviewed at the Accordance Bible Software website.Contact Accordance Bible Software:1-877-339-5855 NOTE: This is a user review provided by Rev. Josh Buice and it does not have any official connection with the Accordance Bible Software corporation.