Monday, May 19, 2014

A Few Free Smartphone Apps for Christians

A friend asked if I could share which smartphone apps I have found most helpful. I have quite a few apps that I use but I am going to limit this article only to free apps and only to those that have been helpful to me specifically as a Christian. I am not claiming that these are the best free Christian apps available, only that they are the ones that I have found helpful. I have an android phone but I believe that all of these are also available for Apple phones. Feel free to add any others you have found helpful.

 The Holy Bible app from You Version includes many different resources. It allows you to read the Bible in various translations as well as bookmark, make notes, highlight, and share Bible content. You can look at devotional texts, verses of the day, and setup a Bible reading plan. It also includes text, audio, and video links to supplemental material and teachers/preachers addressing the selected texts. I am sure that it has many other capabilities but I almost exclusively use it to stream audio of the Bible text itself. The narration is well done and the audio controls are easy to use.

One of the best applications for streaming audio is the app. This app allows you to have access to the content on the website. As of this afternoon, there are 797,820 sermons on the site from conservative Christian Churches. The site includes not only contemporary sermons but also recordings of the reading of many sermons preached prior to the invention of recording equipment.

The Biblical Training app gives you access to the content on the website. The Biblical Training program is designed to provide foundational, leadership, and pastoral training to believers around the world who might otherwise not be able to get training. The teachers include many well-respected Evangelical scholars who allowed their college and seminary lectures to be shared. You can tailor your courses to your interests and can choose to listen to introductory or advanced classes on the subjects that interest you.

 Another seminary that is making course lectures available free is Reformed Theological Seminary. The RTS mobile app gives you access to seminary lectures by teachers such as Ligon Duncan, John Frame, Douglas F. Kelly and others. There are a number of courses available providing many hours of instruction.

The Ligonier app contains articles, sermons, and audio from Ligonier conferences. When most people think about Ligonier ministries they think of R.C. Sproul who is the chairman of the ministry and has spent years growing it but there are many other very good teachers and preachers who provide content to the various Ligonier outlets (Reformation Trust publishing, Table Talk magazine, RefNet etc.) and the app is no exception. Over 50 Reformed teachers from various traditions (Baptist, Anglican, Presbyterian, etc.) have content available through the app.

 The Reformation Network is an extension of Ligonier ministries. The RefNet app provides access to a continual lineup of programing from a Reformed perspective. I did not realize everything available until I looked up the programming schedule while writing this post. Honestly, I only downloaded the app so I could listen to the Christian news program The World and Everything in It at 5:30pm. I was surprised at the quality list of programming they have assembled. You can view the schedule HERE .

 When I need to do a quick Bible search on my phone or just look up a text, I generally use this ESV app. It does not contain many of the options of other Bible apps but I have been using it so long that I am used to it and it is the first one I pull up when I need a quick and simple verse check.

One of the best free study apps available is the Logos Bible app. I mentioned that use the ESV app if I just need to do a simple search or verse check but if I need to do anything else I go to this app. It contains a series of resources that I have not found available in other free Bible study apps. You have access to original language, word study, and cross-reference resources. An exegetical guide, text comparison tool, translation map, and various other tools are also included. In addition, the app gives you access to other resources beyond just the Bible tools. It also allows you to sync your study across any web-enabled devices so you can pick up where you left off. Just like the computer software, you can continue to add to your digital library and work with the content in many ways.

As you might have noticed, one of the main ways that I use my phone is to stream audio when I am driving. I sync the phone to the vehicle so that I can listen to the streaming content through the car stereo system. This way, I do not need to download content as long as I have a cellphone signal. Most of the time, even if you cannot pair your phone to your car, you can often do the same thing by connecting your phone to your stereo using a standard 3.5mm double male cable. Simply plug one end into the phone headphone jack and the other end into your auxiliary input on the stereo. You can then stream the phone using the auxiliary setting on the stereo.

As frustrating as this technological age can be, it is amazing how much information is now available literally at our fingertips. Please feel free to share others that you have found helpful.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Review: Kevin DeYoung, Taking God at His Word (Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me)

The doctrine of the Bible has inspired books in every generation, especially since the Reformation. This new book by Pastor Kevin DeYoung offers no revolutionary new information or perspectives. He did not intend it to do so. What it does do, however, is an excellent job of providing a short, clear, and solid introduction to what the Bible teaches about itself. The average Christian is not likely to have the time or inclination to plow through the voluminous historical resources on the doctrine of the scripture. However, average Christians more than anyone else need to have a firm foundation in these truths if our churches are to be healthy.

Pastor DeYoung has written a wonderful little book that I believe will be a great resource to those looking for an introduction to the doctrine of the Bible. It is short without shortchanging the reader and is straightforward without being dumbed-down. He structures the book around the four traditional major attributes of scripture using the S.C.A.N. acrostic. The emphasis of the book is the Sufficiency, Clarity, Authority, and Necessity of the Scripture showing not only the doctrinal truths involved but also the practical implications of each of them. Recognizing that there is much more to the topic than he was able to say in 150 or so pages, he includes an appendix of additional books that will be helpful to those who wish to study the topic further.

The writing was well done and the personality of pastor DeYoung comes through without distracting from the message. I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Lee DeYoung who I thought did a good job with the reading. Of course, no book is perfect. Even so, in light of the overall quality of the book, whatever quibbles I might have border on being pedantic. It is a great introduction to an important topic.

This book addresses an important need in our churches today. Pastor DeYoung has written a clear, readable, and well-written summary of what the Bible teaches about itself that is accessible to the average reader. It is the sort of book that we should share. I think it would be particularly helpful to newer believers who have not yet read widely enough in the Bible to have a sense of the fullness of this important doctrine. One of the most useful books I have read this year and I expect to recommend it often.

* I received a free copy of this book from as part of their Reviewers Program. Reviews are not required to be positive and the opinions I have expressed are my own.