Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

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December 29, 2014


“We are all aware of the growing phenomenon of biblical illiteracy. Mitch Maher has set out to address this problem. His overview, Clarifying The Bible, indeed clarifies the whole Bible. A clear and likable communicator, Mitch knows his stuff. May the Lord use Mitch and this project to turn the tide of biblical illiteracy!”

Dr. James “Jim” Hamilton
Associate Professor of Biblical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

ClarifyingAs you think about your Bible reading plans for 2015, or your reading hopes for those you love, consider an awesome tool that helps believers understand the big picture of the Scriptures: Clarifying The Bible by Mitch Maher. Clarifying The Bible is a two-hour video presentation and workbook that gives viewers the basic framework and storyline of the Bible. The material is presented in a passionate, compelling fashion, and in the end delivers on its promise to help people see the Bible with more clarity than ever before.

Get a feel for this resource by watching some or all of this FREE 29-minute clip of Mitch teaching on Paul’s letters—it’s generally everybody’s favorite section.

Clarifying The Bible has been endorsed by more prominent leaders like Robert Lewis (Creator of Men’s Fraternity), Tom Nelson (Teacher of The Song of Solomon Conferences), John Bryson (Teacher of 33 The Series and College Ready), Tedashii (Hip Hop Artist), and Kennon Vaughan (Founder of Downline Ministries). In addition, see what others are saying:

Clarifying The Bible provides an excellent framework and introduction to God’s Word. This should be a standard issue for all believers as they pursue Biblical literacy. I have used this in discipleship and equipping capacities as a baseline for teaching the Bible. I could not more highly recommend this resource. This is a gift to the church.”

Clint Patronella
Groups Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas Campus

Clarifying The Bible has turned the lights on for countless aspiring disciple makers participating in the Downline Institute. It’s simple yet robust, theologically deep yet re-teachable, and its progression and flow build the confidence of the learner. It is no wonder this tool is being taught by pastoral and lay leaders all over the world. I’ve rarely made it six months with a young protégé without equipping them with Clarifying The Bible.”

Danny Hinton
Executive Director of Downline Ministries, Little Rock, AR

“Mitch is a gifted teacher and communicator who’s passionate about teaching the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. He has an incredible ability to take very academic information and make it very practical to your life. Mitch has been an instrumental part of the Kanakuk Institute for years. The information in Clarifying The Bible is an essential part of the spiritual development of any believer, no matter what the age.“

Keith Chancey
President, The Kanakuk Institute, Branson, MO

Purchase your copies today, available in digital or hardcopy, and/or invite Mitch to speak at your church or ministry. Check it out at clarifyingthebible.com.

SPECIAL NEW YEAR’S OFFER ON THE DIGITAL BUNDLE: Regularly $15.00, use the coupon code challiesnewyear to get the videos and PDF in your inbox immediately for just $10.00. This coupon only applies to the Digital Bundle and will expire on January 9.

MitchIf you or someone you know needs some clarity on the Bible, try Clarifying The Bible. Again, that website is clarifyingthebible.com.

Mitch Maher is the Lead Pastor at Redeemer Community Church in Katy, TX. In addition to his Clarifying The Bible presentations around the country, Mitch is a regular teacher for the Kanakuk Institute and Downline Ministries. He’s been married to his wife Tara for 14 years, and they have three daughters.


December 22, 2014

What Are You Waiting ForSo what’s keeping you from talking to your elders about one of the most important decisions you will ever make? What’s keeping you from seeking counsel on matters related to vocation? What’s keeping you from an honest, denying-of-self, evaluation of God’s call upon your life?

It goes without saying that God call men to be engineers, lawyers, architects, teachers, farmers, electricians, and plumbers. These are noble callings, indeed!  How we need followers of Jesus Christ to take seriously the cultural mandate in every area of life as we seek to subdue the earth for the glory of God!

But there has always been a special need in the church for gifted, passionate, and mature men to preach the gospel. When Jesus says that the workers are few and to pray for laborers for the harvest field, He clearly has in mind those who will give themselves to the proclamation of the gospel. 

If you believe God is leading you to law school or to medical school, you will need to have outstanding grades in your undergraduate work, apply a year in advance to a dozen or two dozen schools, and compete with students of equal standing from around the globe for a limited number of opportunities. But such is not the case for any seminary in the world.

The vocational need of the kingdom has always been for gifted, compassionate, spiritually mature pastors and missionaries to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth. Therefore, Jesus tells his disciples to pray—and He tells you and me to pray— that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers into his harvest field.

And as you pray, be aware of the possibility that you may be part of the answer to your own prayers. After Jesus told His disciples to pray for laborers for the harvest field in Luke 10, the very next words of His mouth were these: Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

Are you willing to be sent, if the Lord is calling you to pastoral ministry? To return to a question that I earlier raised, are you ready for an honest, denying-of-self, evaluation of God’s call upon your life? If so, I encourage you to talk to your elders about what they see in you. And to the best of your ability, think through the following questions on your own as well as with your elders:

  • Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ, and are you growing in sanctification?  Is the Lord enabling you by His grace to be a man above reproach?  Do you evidence the fruit of the Spirit in your life and relationships?  If you are married, is your marriage solid?
  • What are your gifts?  Have you ever been asked to teach a class (on any subject)?  Do you have good reasoning skills?  Have you ever led a Bible study?  Do people come to you for counsel?
  • What are your interests and passions?  Do you like to read?  Are you interested in theology?  Do you have compassion for the lost?  Do you ever pray for missionaries and others sharing the good news of Jesus Christ? Are you interested in discipleship?  Do you enjoy Christian fellowship?
  • Do you have obvious reasons not to pursue a call to be a laborer in the harvest field at this time—certain disabilities, major indebtedness, marital or family issues, certain circumstances in life beyond your control to change, life-dominating sin, or other related kinds of issues?
  • Could you see a way forward if you were to pursue theological training?  What are the factors that need to be considered? Would doing part of your program via distance education be helpful in your situation?
  • What are the specific needs of your congregation, community, or presbytery, or Synod/General Assembly?  Might God be calling you to be a part of meeting those needs?
  • Have you been satisfied with your current work, or is there a restlessness in your spirit as you fulfill your current responsibilities?  Might it be that the only way to satisfy your longing heart is to yield to a call from God to preach the gospel?

Is God calling you to “be an Isaiah?” More than twenty-seven hundred years ago, Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Isaiah responded, Here am I.  Send me!” May it be that in our generation young men will continue to respond to God’s call for laborers to work in His harvest field!

December 15, 2014

The smartest way to study the Word is here: Faithlife just released Logos 6, the most intelligent Bible study software ever, equipping you for incredible insights in a fraction of the time.

There are three easy ways to get Logos 6: a base package, a crossgrade option, and the core engine Plus, for a limited time, you can get 15% off your Logos 6 purchase!

Here’s how it works:

1. Base packageLogos 6 Gold.png

Study smarter with a vast, interconnected library paired with the world’s best study tools. Logos 6 base packages come packed with dozens of intelligent tools and datasets, plus brand-new Media Collections and Interactive Media for deeper, more engaging study. All of these tools are paired with unique collections of commentaries, devotionals, original-language resources, primary texts, and more.

In addition to our classic base packages, you can also choose from our base-packages families, including Anglican, Reformed, Baptist, Lutheran, Seventh-day Adventist, Pentecostal & Charismatic, and more. These packages combine smart study tools with tradition-specific libraries, so you can explore the Word while digging into your own Christian history and theology.

What’s more, base packages are the most cost-effective way to get all the resources and tools you need—all presented in a clean, easy-to-use interface.

Get 15% off Logos 6 today: explore all of our base-package options or see which base package we recommend for you.

Pro tip: To get all of Logos 6’s new tools, datasets, and media, get Logos 6 Gold or higher.

2. Crossgrades


With new Logos 6 crossgrade options, you keep your current library and add new tools, datasets, and media to your software. This is the perfect option for anyone wanting to take advantage of new tools and media without adding more books. Depending on how many tools you’d like, you can choose from three crossgrade options:

  1. Core Crossgrade: Get most of Logos 6’s new tools, datasets, and media.
  2. Feature Crossgrade: Get all of Logos 6’s new tools, datasets, and media.
  3. Extended Crossgrade: Get all of Logos 6’s new tools, datasets, and media, plus a small collection of new resources, including Bibles, interlinears, lectionaries, and classic works.

Explore Logos 6 crossgrade options now, and get 15% off!

L6 Core Engine.jpg

3. Core engine

If you’d like a basic Logos 6 experience that doesn’t include any new tools, datasets, media, or resources, you can wait to try the free core engine. The engine, which hasn’t been released yet, offers a simple Logos 6 interface and tools that aren’t dependent on datasets.

To get the full Logos 6 experience, explore our base package and crossgrade options.

Bonus: get special gifts with your Logos 6 purchase!

For a limited time, get exclusive rewards when you spend $500 or more during your Logos 6 purchase—the more you spend, the more you get.

If you spend at least …

  1. $500: You’ll get a $50 promotional code to spend on a future order.
  2. $1,000: You’ll get a $50 promotional code and a free Mobile Ed course—BI100 Learn to Study the Bible, taught by Dr. Darrell Bock.
  3. $2,500: You’ll get a $50 promotional code, Mobile Ed: BI100 Learn to Study the Bible, and a two-year subscription to Pro Media.
  4. $5,000: You’ll get a $50 promotional code, Mobile Ed: BI100 Learn to Study the Bible, a two-year subscription to Pro Media, and the Mobile Ed Discipleship Training Bundle (an $800 value!).

Get 15% off Logos 6 and take advantage of special rewards today!

December 08, 2014

First of All…What’s a Book Summary?

The book summaries from Books At a Glance crunch each book into a 7-10 page, chapter-by-chapter summary, so that you can really learn the meaning, teachings, and arguments contained in the book…in just the time it takes you to read (or listen to!) 7-10 pages. These book summaries are much like the very popular “cliff notes” or “executive summaries” versions of books in the secular arena.

Click HERE to Download Your Free Audio Book Summary!

 Every week, when you read or listen to the book summaries from Books At a Glance, you will in essence read an entire book…in minutes! With the Books At a Glance, you will learn more, in less time! (Click HERE to get your first book summary.)

Have You Ever Bought the “Wrong” Book?

Books at a GlanceWe’ve all done it…saw a book that looked good, but once you got to reading it, you realized that it wasn’t as good as you thought it would be. This is not only a waste of time, but also a waste of money! Now, with Books At a Glance, you will be able to buy books more discerningly, so that you never waste money on the “wrong” book again!

So Many Books…So Little Time…How Will You Keep Up?

There are so many new books coming out every week that it is virtually impossible to keep up with them all When you get our weekly book summaries, as well as multiple book reviews and author-interviews each week, you will automatically know which books will be of value to you and which ones you want to read. This will save you from having to scour the internet and publisher catalogs for hours on end, just to keep up with the newest and best quality, Christian books!

Click Here to Start Keeping Up with the Newest and Most Significant Christian Books


December 01, 2014


by Barbara Duguid

Should our sin surprise us? In counseling earnest college students who love the Lord, I have seen many Christians who agonize over their daily struggle with very ordinary sins. Jane knows the gospel well, attends church faithfully, and reads her Bible every day, yet feels hatred toward her roommate. She idolizes her professors and strives to impress them by academic overachievement. Yet what really bothers Jane is her struggle with masturbation and pornography, which cast her into a spiral of depression and anxiety every time she gives in. Jane despairs because she can’t “surrender all” to Jesus. Should Jane be shocked by her sinful battles?

Human Shields

How did Jane get to college without understanding the depths of her depravity? As it turns out, Jane’s lovingly anxious parents didn’t let her sin very much. When Jane was a toddler, they followed her everywhere and distracted her from the toddler-sized sins she was prone to commit. As a little girl, Jane struggled with hatred toward her brother. Yet when he messed with her stuff and Jane struck back at him, Mom told her to say sorry, even when she wasn’t sorry at all. She was forced to participate in this charade, sealing the deal with a Judas kiss on her brother’s cheek, while she inwardly simmered with feelings she could not understand. She learned that sin is not an option in this family.

When Jane was in middle and high school, her schedule was so packed with frenetic activity she didn’t have time to sin much. With study, music, sports, youth group, and mission trips, she couldn’t play with temptation or experience quiet moments when thoughts could drift to dark places. Her parents triumphantly erected a barrier between her and her sinful heart and thought they were protecting her from youthful folly. But now Jane is in college, her parents can only hover from a distance, and she is shocked and undone by the riot of sinful desire in her heart.

The “Of Courseness” of Jane’s Sin

Sin should never shock us. We live in a fallen world full of temptation that beckons with alluring whispers and siren shouts. We have depraved, twisted natures, prone to wander away from God all the time. We have a clever enemy who has been tempting souls for millennia. Jane’s young body is full of sex hormones. Shaping influences led her to discover the pleasures of sexual gratification way too early, and she lives in a world where porn is easy to get. Masturbation helps her to forget her bad feelings for a minute before plunging her into shame and despair. Of course she struggles with these sins! Sin is easy.

God calls us to obedience, but does not immediately remove our sinful natures at the time of salvation. Although he plants his unstoppable Spirit within us to begin the work of new creation, he tells us that we have this treasure in jars of clay. In other words, he calls us to try hard to obey him but tells us that we will be very weak and fail a lot. Why would our loving heavenly Father leave us weak and sinful? He desires to humble us and to show that the surpassing greatness belongs to Christ and not to us! The sovereign God is thus not surprised by our sin; he planned it this way. Though our sin grieves him, it does not anger or shock him. Instead, he uses the sin that he hates to point us to our great Savior, who took all his anger for our sin. Our Father has loving purposes for letting us wander into the far country many times each day, and he always welcomes us back with great rejoicing. In this way, he shows us the depravity of our hearts, so that we will cherish our Savior more and grow to live in humble dependence on him.

Letting people sin?

How can you help your kids, your spouse, your friends, and yourself become more comfortable with this God-ordained sin struggle in a holy way? Sin is always bad, but how can you help others to be less undone by the ordinary sin that daily besets us all? Perhaps you can ask God to help you stop your frenetic attempts to keep people from sinning. He can help you to trust the Holy Spirit with your growth and that of those you love. Ask him to open your eyes to how he uses sin for his own glory and your good. Let little sinners sin in age-appropriate ways, so that you can show them how normal their sin is, how wonderful their Savior is, and how to run quickly to hide in the love of Jesus. He has paid for all our sin, past, present, and future, and now his shining, captivating obedience covers us when we sin. There is no end to the depths of human depravity—and there is no end to the love of God for us in Christ! It goes on and on and rises high above the mountains of our pathetic sins. If Jane had been taught that earlier in life, she might be able now to wrestle with sin freely and honestly, without the cycles of shame, despair, and anxiety which characterize her. It will be my great privilege to help Jane to fight that good fight with greater confidence and hope in the extravagant grace of God.

Prone to WanderBarbara Duguid is a counselor and ministry assistant at Christ Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Grove City, Pennsylvania, where she crafts the weekly liturgy. She is a pastor’s wife and the mother of six children, and she holds an advanced certificate in biblical counseling from the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in Glenside, Pennsylvania. She is the author of Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in Our Weakness and coauthor of Prone to Wander: Prayers of Confession and Celebration

Prone to Wander and Extravagant Grace are available at Amazon and Westminster Books.

November 24, 2014

In the world of Bible translations there are two primary models or theories for bringing the ancient text into contemporary language. One is usually referred to as formal equivalence (or “literal” or “essentially literal”). The other is referred to as “dynamic” or functional equivalence

Formal equivalence involves trying to make a translation that changes as little as possible from the original, or source, text. Word order changes are only made when necessary to make sense in the translated, or target, text. That includes keeping the order of clauses the same if possible. Grammatical structures are also kept the same if possible. For example, an effort is made to translate a noun with a noun, a verb with a verb, and a prepositional phrase with a prepositional phrase. Effort is also made to translate a word or phrase the same every time it occurs. 

Translating idioms is a challenge for any translator. Formal equivalence prefers to keep the idiom the same if it “makes sense” in the target language, but this is a debatable issue. Versions that favor formal equivalence sometimes retain a idiom that some readers think does not really make sense or worse, miscommunicates. Such is the case with “stand in the way of sinners” in Psalm 1:1 and “cleanness of teeth” in Amos 4:6

That brings us to dynamic or functional equivalence, sometimes referred to as “idiomatic translation” because it strives to translate a source text into the “idiom” or natural expression of the target language. All so-called idiomatic translations include some passages translated “literally,” when such a translation sounded natural in the target language. But in cases where a change would result in a more natural expression in the target language, a functional equivalence translation does not hesitate to make that change. The original “form” of the text is considered to be separate from and expendable to the substance or meaning of the text. Where formal equivalence translations have a high tolerance for expressions that do not sound natural in the target language—and so require more processing effort on the part of the reader—functional equivalence translations have a very low tolerance for such expressions.

Is there a third way? Perhaps. Optimal equivalence, the translation approach of the HCSB, shares some features with both formal and functional equivalence. Like formal equivalence, it does not downplay the importance of the form of the source text. The sentences “It was Eddie who scored the touchdown” and “Eddie scored the touchdown” may be semantically equivalent, but they are not interchangeable. Each is appropriate in different contexts. Form matters. 

Among the many issues of “form” that matter in translation is gender. Functional equivalence translations tend to avoid “he,” “him,” “his,” “man,” and “father” where possible, replacing them with such words as “you,” “they,” and “parent.” Optimal equivalence is not driven toward such changes, and the HCSB is committed to gender accuracy. 

On the other hand, optimal equivalence is not so committed to retaining the form that it is willing to produce translations that are hard to understand; it does not settle for a translation that merely “makes sense.” It shares functional equivalence’s commitment to naturalness of expression. This often requires a footnote giving the literal rendering of a word or phrase that has had to be translated idiomatically. 

For example, in order to produce an accurate translation of the phrase “stand in the way of sinners” in Psalm 1:1—that is, a translation that does not mislead the reader—the HCSB translates it as “take the path of sinners.” But attached to the word “take” is a footnote giving the literal meaning, “stand in.” The same is true of the expression “cleanness of teeth” in Amos 4:6, which is rendered “absolutely nothing to eat” with a note giving the literal phrase. There are over 3,000 such notes in the HCSB text. 

With its dual commitment to the importance of form in the source text and to naturalness of expression in the target language, optimal equivalence is best able to produce a translation that is both faithful and clear, such as the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

Dr. Ray Clendenen serves as Senior Editor of Bible and Reference Publishing at B&H Publishing Group in Nashville, Tennessee.

November 17, 2014

King James Study BibleIn a time when most people were ignorant of the Bible, William Tyndale resolved that if God would spare his life, even the boy plowing the fields would know the Scriptures better than the typical priest of his day. He also fervently promoted the teachings of the Reformation such as justification by faith in Christ alone. In 1536, the authorities condemned Tyndale as a heretic, strangled him, and burned his body, but not before he had launched the first English translation of the Bible from its original languages.

Seventy-five years later, a team of forty-seven highly trained biblical scholars released a careful revision of the English Bible, using eighty percent or more of Tyndale’s translation. The Holy Bible published in 1611 came to be known as the Authorized Version or King James Version (KJV). It became a powerful vehicle to spread the doctrines of the Reformation.

Today The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible carries on Tyndale’s vision to spread the knowledge of the Scripture to all people. It combines the text of the KJV with thousands of concise notes, introductions to every book of the Bible, fifty articles on major teachings of the Christian faith, and an overview of church history by Sinclair Ferguson.

Why publish a Study Bible on the KJV? Millions of English-speakers read the KJV with profit and delight. A recent survey indicated that of the Americans who regularly read their Bible, over half read the KJV. The Authorized Version continues to be treasured by many in the United Kingdom and other English-speaking nations around the world as well. In an age of dumbing-down, this version of that Bible that profoundly shaped our language and literature continues to lift up the minds of those who read it.

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible is also a valuable resource for people who regularly read another translation. It offers practical help with personal and family worship. Many people have experienced the frustration of reading a chapter in the Scripture and having no idea how to apply it to their lives. With every chapter in this Study Bible come brief devotional thoughts to shape your mind and direct your life. Thirty-six articles in the appendices address questions of Christian living, ranging from how to kill our pride to finding contentment. Pastor and theologian Mark Jones said, “The KJV is not my primary Bible. But my family and I will be keeping this new KJV Study Bible close by…. A Study Bible for the heart and mind.”

This Study Bible also offers Reformation insights into biblical doctrine. The concise study notes reflect a deep commitment to the biblical truth taught by the Reformers and Puritans. Many of the doctrinal articles scattered throughout the Bible were adapted from the writings of people like John Calvin, William Perkins, William Ames, John Owen, and Jonathan Edwards. The appendices include nine creeds, confessions, and catechisms affirmed by the ancient and Reformation churches. Douglas Kelly, professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, says, “I commend wholeheartedly The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible…. Indeed, I am so convinced of its usefulness that I intend to get copies for my five adult children!”

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible combines the classic English Bible text with solid doctrine and warm, experiential application. Whether you read the KJV every day, grew up with it but now read another translation, or never really looked at it before, consider this new Study Bible from Reformation Heritage Books as a helpful resource for your spiritual life. (For a free sample, please go here.)

Joel R. Beeke, General Editor

Consider watching this short introduction to the new King James Study Bible:

November 10, 2014


Keeping up with your Bible study, let alone keeping it rich and exciting, is a daily struggle for many people.

Whether you’re a pastor tired from late-night sermon prep, a seminary student buried under tedious tasks, an academic lacking the resources to make new discoveries, or a layperson wanting to be more confident in your biblical knowledge, there will almost always be roadblocks in your Bible study.

Fortunately, these are the exact roadblocks Logos 6 was designed to alleviate. The new Bible study software from Faithlife comes with brand-new tools, smart resources, one-of-a-kind Interactive Media, and beautiful Media Collections—all created to help you gain fresh insights and share your findings in engaging ways.

Simply put, Logos is the best Bible study software ever, and it keeps getting better. With Logos 6, you can save time, be confident in your findings, and get excited to share incredible insights with your community.


Explore the Biblical World

Understanding cultural concepts from biblical times is integral to understanding the Word—you can’t truly wrap your mind around the imagery and practices referenced in Scripture without understanding what they meant to the author. That’s why Logos 6 comes packed with new tools and resources to help you study Scripture in context.

The new Cultural Concepts tool identifies over 1,000 cultural concepts throughout the Bible, like religious activities, food, music, birth and death practices, marriage rituals, and economic structures, so you can derive greater meaning from biblical events and imagery. In seconds, explore all the cultural concepts expressed in a passage, then connect those concepts to ancient texts.

With the Ancient Literature tool, you can get a clear view of the Bible’s background by exploring ancient texts side by side with Scripture. This tool links Scripture to ancient texts based on shared themes, references, allusions, and more.

With Atlas and the interactive Biblical Event Navigator, you can connect Bible narratives to their geographical context with professional maps and 3-D tours.

Logos 6 takes you deep into the biblical world so you can better understand the cultural perspective from which Scripture was written.

God Is Love

Craft Better Sermons—Faster

No more late Saturday nights frantically preparing for Sunday morning—Logos 6’s new tools equip you to build beautiful presentations while you study. With the Visual Copy tool, you can transform text selections and images into perfectly formatted slides in seconds. Just right click your selection, choose from premade templates and beautiful art, and send your slide straight to your presentation.

Logos 6 also comes with massive collections of stunning artwork. Just enter a query into the new Media Search and get every relevant map, family tree, 3-D infographic, and photo, in your library and online.

Engage your audience and save yourself the stress of last-minute presentations: Logos 6 streamlines your workflow and equips you to be a better preacher and teacher.


Engage the Word with Interactive Media

Logos 6 unveils the next generation of Bible study innovation: Interactive Media. Interactive Media are new resources that help you explore both the biblical world and the Bible’s original languages, as well as perform complex tasks in seconds. Get into the Word with new calculators and text converters, virtual tours, interactive infographics, and helpful tutors. Use this media to engage your students or congregation, or for your personal study.

In seconds, convert Greek and Hebrew into a variety of transliteration schemes with Text Converter, find every time a specific lemma formation is used throughout the Greek New Testament with Morphology Charts, learn to read and write Greek and Hebrew with interactive tutors, explore the Psalms with a colorful browser that lets you filter the Psalms by order, genre, book, author, and theme, and better understand biblical measurements by instantly converting them into modern examples.

Interactive Media equip you for deeper, more engaging study. (And, let’s be honest … they’re pretty fun, too.)

Get Logos 6 Today!

For a limited time, get 15% off Logos 6. Plus, depending on how much you spend, you may qualify for free gifts! The more you spend, the more gifts you get.

So, what are you waiting for? Start gaining incredible insights: get Logos 6 today.

November 03, 2014

Hard to Use
Do you often feel confused or stupid (“Apparently I don’t know how to use the Internet!”) when trying to buy something online or trying to do research on a Web site? You’re not alone, and it might not be your fault. Most sites are unnecessarily difficult to use, and there is one core reason for this.

Consider this illustration:

A Story About A New Library

Across the street from my office, the Ames Public Library just finished a massive renovation. Lasting almost two years, costing around $20 million dollars, the project more than doubled the space inside the building, seeking to “create a comfortable, flexible, and efficient space for Ames to learn, imagine, gather, and share in the 21st Century.”

Now imagine that when the renovation was complete, the library staff brought the books back in boxes and stacked them haphazardly on tables. Perhaps they would separate the tables by some quickly conceived set of categories: kids, adults, scientists, periodicals, videos, audiobooks…

A state-of-the-art bank of new computers would sit in an artfully decorated nook, a cafe would serve refreshments, and new releases would be carefully arranged near the front entrance. Fancy new scanners would make it effortless to check a book out.

But trying to find an older book you are looking for amongst the boxes piled on the tables (the most common thing done in a library)? Impossible. What would the renovation actually have accomplished? A step backwards in the usability of the library.

This illustrates the problem with almost every Web redesign I’ve seen.

The architects, general contractors, landscapers, interior decorators, and IT teams would all have done a masterful job, but the most important component would be missing.

Library Science

All libraries have rows upon rows of bookshelves, carefully arranged according a precise code: the Dewey Decimal Classification System, or the Library of Congress Classification System. These make it effortless to locate a single volume inside a sea of books.

These systems are vital to all libraries. And thankfully the Ames Public Library followed them.

The Problem: Bad Architecture

Information architecture is a design discipline closely related to library science. It involves the structure and hierarchies of the contents of a Web site and the labels and taxonomies (categories, tags, etc.) chosen for navigation and archiving.

Information architecture is to Web sites what the Dewey Decimal System is to libraries. It is also a much neglected aspect of the Web design profession, because these things (deceptively) feel intuitive to many people.

Why It Matters

For the average user of the Internet, poor architecture means wasted minutes adding up to wasted hours of frustration, trying and failing to find what you are looking for on a Web site.

For business owners, poor architecture means lost revenues when users are unable to find what they are looking for on your site.  (Note: users care about what they are trying to find and not what you want to show them.)

For churches and ministries, poor architecture means lost opportunities to spread your message as people are unable to learn about your ministry or find the resources you have that will address their questions.

The Solution

The next time you find yourself frustrated with the site you are on, remember that it probably isn’t you. Take a minute and gently let the site owner know that their site is hard to use.

If you are ever given charge of a Web site project, make sure you hire an expert Information Architect as part of the team. More importantly, make sure that as a project leader you value and understand the basics of it yourself.

Information architecture is our core speciality at Mere Agency. We are a full service Web design and development agency but we understand that IA is the foundation of an effective and usable Web design. We’d love to help with your project.

Matt Heerema is owner and Web Strategist at Mere Agency and a Pastor at Stonebrook Church where he focuses on music ministries and theological training. Follow Mere on Twitter @mereagency, and visit mereagency.com for more information.

October 27, 2014

By Micah Carter

When it comes to the translation of God’s Word, we live in an unprecedented time in human history. In the last 40 years, English-speaking Bible readers have benefitted from both the continuance of translations in the KJV tradition (like the ESV) and new, original translations for contemporary readers (like the NIV).

The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) is part of this incredible history of Bible translation in the English language. Released in 2004, the aim of this new translation was simple: to blend an accurate, trustworthy translation of the original languages with the way we speak in contemporary English. More than 100 scholars from 17 denominations came together for this project and produced a Bible translation that could be trusted by scholars and pastors, and enjoyably read by everyday people.

The HCSB employs a translation philosophy known as “optimal equivalence,” which seeks to achieve an optimal balance of linguistic precision with contemporary clarity. In the majority of places throughout Scripture where a word-for-word rendering is clearly understandable, a “formal” translation is used. In places where a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audience, a more “dynamic” translation is applied.

With these commitments in view, the HCSB seeks to achieve the following goals:

  • To equip serious Bible students with an accurate, trustworthy translation for study, devotion, and memorization
  • To inspire English-speaking people across the world with a clear, faithful, and easily comprehensible translation
  • To affirm Scripture as the inerrant Word of God and to champion its authority over cultural influences that may compromise its truth

Most translations have scholars and pastors who function in some way as an “oversight committee” that helps identify future opportunities to make the translation stronger and clearer, as language changes occur and biblical scholarship advances. The HCSB has its own translation oversight committee as well, including the following distinguished members:

  • Dr. David Allen, co-chair
  • Dr. Dorian Coover-Cox
  • Dr. Andrew Das
  • Dr. Iain Duguid
  • Dr. Darian Lockett
  • Dr. Brian Rosner
  • Dr. Tom Schreiner, co-chair
  • Dr. Andrew Steinmann

Over the next several weeks, we at B&H Publishing Group have the privilege to be here at challies.com to provide a deeper engagement with the Holman Christian Standard Bible. It’s our joy to commend it to you and to see God’s Word transform lives around the world.

Dr. Micah Carter is the HCSB Translation Spokesperson for B&H Publishing Group in Nashville, TN. Follow us on Twitter @HCSB and visit www.hcsb.org for more information.