I feel a little like the Israelites in Numbers 11:31 when they found themselves three feet deep in quails. It’s not three feet deep but there is software all over my office, everything from Bible study, worship aids, and preaching aids to electronic books and games. In 1986 when I got my first IBM compatible computer, Bible software programs were hard to find. The few that were around were clunky and offered very little other than the text of the Bible. Now, nearly every Bible software package is an expandable library of books, dictionaries, commentaries, preaching aids, translation aids, and devotionals. Who would have thought that more than 800 volumes of books could be contained on 25 CDS that weigh only 1 pound?
In the last ten years, software to aid in preaching and Bible study has taken on a whole new complexion. There is so much information available within these programs that the hardest thing will be deciding which one best suits your needs, your working style and your preaching style. Had NBC had even half of the books available on any one of these CDS (including a game by Logos), they could have gotten the events and story of their “Television Epic” Biblically accurate!
There are so many resources available now that you may never have to lift another book off of the bookshelf again. Because there is so much available, you have to ask yourself a number of questions before buying software. How will I use it? Will I use it primarily for preaching or teaching? Do I need something that will help with both? Which software packages have the most bang for the buck? Which has the easiest interface to learn? Do I need help planning and orchestrating worship? Do I need help with sermon illustrations and sermon ideas? Is this package better suited for Bible study, devotional study, preaching and sermon preparation, worship preparation or fun and games?
Those are the basic questions I asked concerning each of the packages in this review. Some of the packages and programs can do everything you desire, while others are specific in their purpose. After installing and familiarizing myself with the software, I decided to evaluate each based on its usability and usefulness in preparing for preaching and worship. I asked four questions: Is it easily usable? Can this aid me in sermon and worship preparation? What features did I like? And finally, What didn’t I like or what could they improve? Let’s look at the programs alphabetically by publisher.
After years of offering very little in the way of software, Abingdon Software has definitely come into their own, offering several great tools for preaching and worship that all run on the Folio Views engine. It takes a little getting used to, like all systems, but is fairly intuitive. And once you have figured it out for one program, you can navigate through any of the Abingdon selections like a breeze. That’s a real plus.
The Installer lets you choose whether or not to copy the Folio Views program to your hard drive. You can tell the program to run from the CD (which is slower but saves precious hard drive space.) The shadow files that Folio uses to hold any notes or changes you make initially only take up about 150 to 300 kb of space. Many of these titles have been long awaited by computer savvy United Methodists.
THE UNITED METHODIST WORSHIP LIBRARY: This is an absolute must for every United Methodist Pastor. It contains the entire United Methodist Hymnal with midi files to preview all of the hymns. It includes the full version of the United Methodist Book of Worship, The Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal, Worship Suggestions for United Methodist Churches (Years A, B, & C), Christian Weddings, Litanies and Other Prayers (Years A, B, & C), United Methodist Altars (a Guide for the Congregation) and Worshipping with United Methodists (a Guide for Pastors and Church Leaders.
This library of resources allows you to cut and paste liturgy and worship materials for Sunday Morning bulletins as well as allowing you to create any number of special services for almost any occasion. It has a great feature for those who follow the Lectionary. It allows you to “Plan a Worship Service” and search all the available elements and suggestions for each Sunday simply by typing in that Sunday. The CD is fully searchable. You can highlight, make notes and include bookmarks.
THE WORSHIP LIBRARY: Don’t be fooled, this is not the same as The United Methodist Worship Library. It uses the same engine but includes a whole other set of worship resources. It is not necessarily tied to the Lectionary but has the same “Plan a Worship Service feature.” This CD includes: New Handbook of the Christian Year, Litanies and Other Prayers (Years A, B, & C), Music and Worship Planner (Years A, B, & C), Christian Weddings, Invocations and Benedictions (Years A, B, & C), Contemporary Worship, and the Virtual Hymnal.
One of the neat extra features is the sermon-specific activity sheets for children. I love the worship planning guide included in both of these CD Libraries. It is helpful in putting together both traditional and more contemporary worship services.
This edition included as a “Bonus” a CD entitled “Multi-Sensory Worship” The CD is a companion CD with Michael Slaughter’s book, Out On the Edge. It has some very good points but is really better viewed in the context of the book.
Both of these worship CDS offer very good resources for worship. It’s simply a matter of choosing which one best fits your Church’s worship style and needs.
THE PREACHING LIBRARY: This resource contains the following books: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary 12 Vols. (Years A, B, & C), The Preaching Annual, Children’s Sermons for Revised Common Lectionary (Years A, B, & C), Forbid Them Not, [Involving Children in Worship (Years A, B, & C)], and The Sermon Illustrator.
Once again, the program starts up with the window “Plan a Worship Service.” You can start there or you can search for sermon information based on a particular passage. Not only is there commentary on each of the passages for a particular Sunday, but there are sermon briefs, worship suggestions and suggestions for involving the children. This is really helpful as an idea generator, especially if you are stuck on a passage that you’ve preached time and again and are looking for a fresh approach.
THE SERMON SHELF: This is a library of sermons by such folks as Maxie Dunnam, C. Thomas Hilton, Mark Trotter, and James Harnish. The Sermon Shelf contains a baker’s dozen of books with a total of 144 sermons. Many of these books have been on the shelf of bookstores for a few years but they are still top-notch sermons. Not only are there great sermons here, there are great illustrations buried in the sermons, too. Again, it is easy to search, bookmark, highlight, and make notes.
THE SERMON ILLUSTRATOR: This is included in The Preaching Library but also comes as a stand alone. This is a good group of illustrations. I personally think a database works better for storing and finding illustrations but I can’t fault the illustrations contained here. They are very good. You can mark when you used them by making a note attached to that particular illustration.
THE ABINGDON PREACHING ANNUAL 2000: This is next year’s version of the successful and useful Preaching Annual. It comes in book and electronic version. Based on the Common Lectionary, it contains 156 Sermon Briefs, one for each of the Lectionary passages and 52 Complete Sunday Worship Services and 12 Devotionals for Preachers. A very useful tool.
THE NEW INTERPRETER’S BIBLE and THE INTERPRETER’S BIBLE AND INTERPRETER’S BIBLE DICTIONARY: The New Interpreter’s Bible (Electronic Version) comes with both the NIV and the NRSV already unlocked. The version I reviewed has Volumes II and XII unlocked. The Interpreter’s Bible and Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary (Electronic Version) comes with the KJV and the RSV unlocked.
The classic best selling commentary, The Interpreter’s Bible, is in the process of being updated. Now, you can purchase The New Interpreter’s Bible and the original in an electronic format. There are several advantages to owning the software format as opposed to the book format. First, when the New Interpreter’s is complete, every volume will be completely “word” searchable, just as all twelve volumes of Interpreter’s and the five volumes of the Interpreter’s Dictionary are. You have the ability to cut and paste from each of them You can highlight the text with multiple colored highlighters. You can make notes galore (sort of like scribbling in the margins only with sticky notes) and set bookmarks. One of the greatest advantages is the fact that the physical storage space and weight are phenomenally less than the book versions. Both versions are easy to use. Since they both use the Folios Viewer, once you learn one, you’ve pretty much mastered the other. There is one minor difference; in The Interpreter’s Bible there is a little button used to jump between the exposition and exegesis sections of text, which is nice.
In the Abingdon programs, one of the things that I believe needs improvement is the backtracking. When you play a midi file to see if you know the tune in both Worship Libraries, and then backtrack, sometimes you don’t get back to the spot from which you started. This usually means you have to re-find the particular Sunday through the “Plan a Worship Service” feature. It’s not something that is crucial or critical, but at times it can be annoying.
The second, I believe, is more important and more critical to the usability of this software. The user should be able to synchronize the different versions of scripture you have open. In other words, if you open The NRSV and NIV (both unlocked for The New Interpreter’s Bible) you should be able to click a button that will make the passages scroll together. They should also scroll with the text of the commentary.
Apart from those minor dislikes, I think Abingdon has some very solid software and some very unique programs available for preaching and worship.
For more information on any of the Abingdon Software packages contact them through their web page: www.abingdon.org or call Abingdon Technical Support at 615-749-6777. Software can also be ordered through Cokesbury at 1-800-672-1789.
C. H. SPURGEON: THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE PULPIT (This version includes Calvin’s Commentaries and The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia): While published by Ages Software (Formerly Sage Software, creators of the Master Christian Library) this program uses the Logos Library engine (which I will review later in this article). This CD contains 63 volumes of Spurgeon’s sermons. That’s more than 3,421 sermons. The sermons are contained in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit and the Park Street Pulpit. Also included in special packages or as an add on or unlock later are the 22 volumes of Calvin’s Commentaries and the five-volume 1915 edition of The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
If you are a fan of Spurgeon and Calvin you will find this collection very inspiring. It is easy to get lost in just the mass quantities of information and sermons. But it is a sermon work gold mine. If you have Logos, you will easily find your way around. Searches for topics or passages lead to an almost mind boggling amount of sermon material.
For more information contact Ages Software on the internet at www.ageslibrary.com. Write AGES Software, Inc. P.O. Box 1926, Albany, Or, 97321. Or phone 1-800-297-4307.
This is a very powerful illustration database. It’s not as visually appealing as Parson’s Bible Illustrator but it has everything you need. Plus, it is easy to edit the stories, add your own and mark the dates they have been used, along with Scriptural references. The 21,000 plus illustrations in the basic package are cross-referenced over 100,000 times to 244 different topics. The illustrations come from sources such as Preaching, Parables, Etc., The Pastor’s Story File, Leadership, Christianity Today, Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, In Other Words, and The National & International Religion Report. The sermons are fresh, insightful, filled with both solid theology and great humor. You can add your own topics and add sub-topics as well. You can even search by Scripture reference. Sometimes this can be very helpful in finding just the right illustration. Often I find the stories in the database remind me of events that took place in my life. The illustrations that come as a result of that inspiration can then be added. This is a solid program that has just been released on CD. All of the illustration databases are available and unlockable. The really good news is that they have just reduced their selling price by about a third.
For more information contact The Autoillustrator, P.O. Box 5056, Greely, CO, 80631. Phone: 970-330-1925. FAX: 970-370-8768. Or by e-mail: Autoill@AOL.com
BAKER DIGITAL REFERENCE LIBRARY: LEVEL THREE: If you use the Logos Library System then this will be easy for you to use. This Library contains: KJV, Apocrypha (KJV); Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, and Topical Analysis of the Bible by Walter Ewell;. Apologetics & Answers to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons (8 books) by David Reed and John Farkas; Biographical Entries from Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Walter Ewell, Biographical Entries from New 20th Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, J.D. Douglas; Dictionary of Women in the Church, Mary Hammack; Handbook of Evangelical Theologians, Walter Ewell; Hymn and Scripture Selection Guide by Donald Spencer; Baker Illustration Library, Vol. 1 by Michael Green; Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling, John Kruis; Internet Books: Christian Cyberspace Companion, 2nd Edition, Jason Baker; and The Soul in Cyberspace, Douglas Groothuis.
I haven’t evaluated the software engine here, I’ll do that when we get to the Logos Library offerings. Walter Ewell’s classics in Evangelical theology are great additions to any preaching library. They come in handy whether one is a Lectionary, Topical or Series Preacher. The Dictionary of Women and Handbook of Evangelical Theologians can add some great information that can then be used as good sermon illustrations. The Hymn and Scripture Selection Guide is very useful in preparing the bulletin and worship service. The Illustration Library is good. But the one I found myself using the most was the Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling. I found myself using it as an aid to sermon preparation, checking on what other passages there were that helped with the subjects of my sermons. It’s a helpful reminder that sometimes sparks a thought or direction for the message. The two internet books that come with it can be helpful to persons just getting on the internet and to internet veterans.
For more information on the Baker Digital Library contact Baker Bytes at Baker Book House, Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI, 49516, or at their Web Site: www.bakerbooks.com. Or by phone: 616-676-9185.
PC STUDY BIBLE COMPLETE REFERENCE LIBRARY. This package includes: KJV, NIV, NASB, NKJV, RSV, TLB, ASV, NASU; Naves Topical Bible and Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge; Nelson’s, New Unger’s and Fausset’s Bible Dictionaries; International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Matthew Henry Concise (6 Volumes); Adam Clarke, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown and Barnes Notes on the OT & NT; Vine’s Expository Dictionary; Vincent’s Word Studies in the NT and Robertson’s Word Pictures in the NT; Keil & Delitzsch OT Commentary; Interlinear Bible, Strong’s Greek-Hebrew Dictionary, Englishman’s Greek-Hebrew Concordance, Thayer’s Greek Definitions, Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Definitions; Greek (USB) text and Hebrew (BHS) text; Bible Maps, Bible Photos, Bible Outlines, Bible Study/Reading Plan and Personal notes.
As you can see, there is a virtual plethora of books available. I was a fan of PC Study Bible when it was in the DOS version. A friend had it and I was always envious. I was excited when I received it to review, especially since it has Adam Clarke’s 6 Volume Commentary. It does offer a rather unique feature that is only found in elsewhere in the WORDsearch Bible Software. Through it’s Authoring System, PC Study Bible allows you to create your own commentary that can be shared with others. They have even set up a web site to allow folks to trade commentaries. That is a GREAT idea for sharing ideas.
However, I’m a little disappointed in several aspects of the software. The most critical to me is that, as far as I can tell, you can’t save your screen set up. It still acts like the DOS version. You can re-size the screen and customize the screen layout to your liking but once you close the program, there is no way to save it. When you start up you have to do it all over again. Nearly every other software package allows you to save a layout. I believe this is a must. But if that feature doesn’t bother you, this is a solid package.
For more information contact: BIBLESOFT, 22014 7th Ave. South, Seattle, WA 98198. Phone: 206-824-0547 or their Web Site: www.biblesoft.com.
SERMONPREP: This is one of most useful programs I’ve ever used. At first glance, it doesn’t look very useful at all — just kind of a big blank screen. But as you begin to play with it, you find out its usefulness, especially if you preach from the Lectionary. It comes in two formats, one with the Lectionary (you can order the version of the Bible you prefer, too: KJV, NIV or NRSV) and one without.
This is much more than a notepad, more than a database, and more than just the text of the Lectionary. This is a tool for writing, organizing, working on and storing sermons. You can even add on and access books of sermons, sermon helps, worship helps and Barclay’s Daily Study Bible in SermonPrep.
One of first things you have to do is set up your own “Notebook” in which to store your sermons and sermon notes. Once you set up the “Notebook” you are in business. Any time you begin work on a sermon, you can open a “new document” in your notebook. All of your notes and thoughts and ideas are there. The stacks and piles of paper disappear. You can cut and paste from illustration programs, from your in-depth Bible study in Logos, WORDsearch, Parsons or any of the other Electronic Bibles. Then next year, or during the next cycle of the Lectionary, you can call up the ideas and notes you had the last time you used this passage or preached on that particular Sunday. You can even store your sermons in the same manner. Set up one notebook entitled “Sermons” and one “Notes,” and you have developed on ongoing library of your own resources.
CSS has tons of support material, sermons, commentaries, series, study materials, worship materials, etc., even a bimonthly magazine, Emphasis, that works with the program. Like many of the software folks, CSS has put all of its offerings on one CD. You can call in and unlock books and study material at almost anytime. They tell me they are working on a new menu-driven CD to make installation of new works easier and more user friendly.
For more information contact: CSS Publishing Co., Inc., 517 S. Main St., P.O. Box 4503, Lima, OH 45802-4503. E-mail: emphasis@csspub.com. Web Site: www.csspub.com. Phone: 800 537-1030.
Logos is one of the leading Bible Software Libraries and for good reason. They have a great program. It is easy to learn, easy to configure and easy to customize. It is powerful and there seem to be an endless number of add-on books. You can run a minimum setup to save hard drive space, or you can shift all of the books to your hard drive, which makes access faster, easier and eliminates the use of the CD. You can also keep personal notes. And there is a great little program that allows you to insert scripture directly into any word processor or any other Windows program. This is helpful when preparing sermons and lessons. You can see by the number of other publishers who use the Logos Library System that it is very popular. This is the program I use for my personal devotional life.
There are only a couple of weaknesses. The Dynamic Verse Insertion program, which runs resident to allow you to cut and paste Scripture into your word processor, only runs while Logos is running. It would be a great help if it could run at start up, making the Scripture available for insertion all the time. Second, while you can save notes related to particular passages of Scripture or passages in other books, it would be a great benefit to be able to create your own commentary such as in PC Study Bible and WORDsearch.
STEVE GREEN’S MIDI HYMNAL: This program includes: Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotion, Spiritual Lives of Great Composers, 101 Hymn Stories, 101 More Hymn Stories, The Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts, Hymns of Ter Steegen and Suso and the KJV.
This program is like a giant playable hymnal that is a great addition to any worship resource library. About the only thing this program won’t do is sing the hymns for you (though it will play them). It includes the full text to more than 3,000 hymns, a Scriptural index to the hymns, and topical search abilities. This is a great program. I like being able to listen to the hymns. I like the devotional guide and the hymn stories make great sermon illustrations. This program has a lot of bells and whistles. For musicians, it comes with a trial version of Desktop Sheet Music 2.0 which allows you to play and print MIDI sheet music. If there is anything wrong with this program, it’s the fact that there aren’t very many contemporary hymns, praise songs, or worship music in the selection.
NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION: This package includes: the Logos engine, NRSV, KJV, Strong’s Numbers, Strong’s Expanded Dictionary enhanced with Thayer and Brown Driver Briggs, Lexicons and Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary.
This has been tailored with United Methodist preachers in mind but would be a great starter package for nearly anyone. It works just like all of the other Logos products, and you can add books at almost any time by either a phone call or going online.
LESSON BUILDER: This program includes: KJV, 239 OT Lessons, 311 NT Lessons, 100+ Clip Art Images, Starting and Ending a Small Group and Leading Bible Discussions. This isn’t designed for preaching and worship preparation, but it can be useful. When you open a lesson on a particular passage or topic, you get a list of questions. The questions are helpful in sparking thoughts or directions. It links to the Logos System, so you can use that information as well.
For more information contact: Logos Library Systems, 715 SE Fidalgo Ave., Oak Harbor, WA, 98277-4049. Phone: 800-875-6467. Web Site: www.logos.com.
WORDSEARCH: I really like the way this software works. I like the features and the way it stores its books. Until recently it was the only Bible Software to offer Eugene Peterson’s The Message, an awesome modern paraphrase. I also like the ease in which you can access the Scripture, and how it is presented in the “Desktop” or “Layout.” There are three modes of view initiated with either the ‘return’ or ‘esc’ keys or the buttons on the toolbar. Reference: This is handy when all you want to see are the references in the desktop. Suppose you have done a search and want to see all the references before you choose which verse to read, this will let you do it. Verse by Verse: You can expand the references and show only those verses you have listed. Nothing more. That’s handy because you can view verses without jumping to their respective books. And then there is Context View: All the Bible programs show you the passage in context. But none of the others let you toggle between context, verses and references. Another little program that comes with WORDsearch is called ZipScript. This program allows you to insert Scripture in whatever windows program you are using, even if WORDsearch has been shut down. WORDsearch also gives you the ability to create your own verse by verse commentary which can be shared with others.
DISCIPLESHIP LIBRARY 5: This package contains: NIV, KJV, plus two choices of book or Bible, Bible Knowledge Commentary OT & NT, Bible Background Commentary-NT, Teacher’s Commentary, A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Life Application Notes, Holman Bible Dictionary, Talking Strong’s, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Hitchcock’s Dictionary of Bible Names, Nave’s, Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, Torrey’s Topical Textbook, Life Application Topics, WORDsearch Bible Outlines, Life Application Outlines, LESSONmaker, Adult Lesson Kits, Life Application Bible Maps, 150 Bible Photos, Bible Reading Plan, “That’s Easy For You to Say”, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, UBS 4 Greek NT, Tyndale Greek-English NT Interlinear Bible, Friberg’s Analytical Greek NT, Pilgrim’s Progress, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, The Imitation of Christ, An Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Charity and The Confessions of Saint Augustine, All of Grace, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, Luther’s 95 Theses, The Large and Small Catechisms by Martin Luther, The Westminster Catechism, The Westminster Confession of Faith, and A Puritan Catechism by C. H. Spurgeon.
Like all the other libraries, this has a veritable bookcase of books available. You don’t have to start with all of these. You can start off with a single Bible and then add book by book. But the bundles are fairly inexpensive when you look at the volumes you are getting. This set has so much available, you may find yourself wondering what not to use.
PREACHER’S OUTLINE AND SERMON BIBLE: This package contains: NIV, KJV, Complete 14-volume New Testament Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Talking Strong’s, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Hitchcock’s Dictionary of Bible Names, Nave’s, Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, Torrey’s Topical Textbook, WORDsearch Bible Outlines, Life Application Bible Maps, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
This is the one of the most respected works for preachers made over into an electronic version. If you are familiar with The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible then this is the tool for you. It is easy to use and completely searchable. This is a very useable program.
THOMPSON BIBLE STUDY LIBRARY STEP IV: KJV, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, TLB, NLT, GW, Daily Reading Calendar, Strong’s Greek & Hebrew Concordance, Pronunciation of 7,000 Biblical Names, Over 150 Color Photos tied to the Thompson Numbers, Parallel Scripture Analysis, Single & Multi Word Searches, Topical, Phrase & Wildcard Searching, Personal Notes Tied to Scripture, Word Processing Interface with Text and Maps, Thompson Study System Helps, Over 9,000 Topical Outlines, Over 100,000 Marginal Notes Bible Chapter Outlines, Parallel Chapter References, Parallel Verse References, Archaeology Studies, Bible Harmonies & Illustrations, Bible Readings, Bible Character Studies, Treasure Topical Study Bible for Kids, Exclusive Colorful Maps. Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Matthew Henry Concise Commentary, Torrey’s Topical Textbook, Hitchcock’s Dictionary of Bible Names and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (will be unlocked upon registering the product).
This is the classic Thompson’s using the WORDsearch engine. This is a great Bible study tool and a good tool for doing that Bible study before preaching. This has the cross references, outlines and harmonies that are handy when researching background for the sermon. The character studies and illustrations help round out this program as a great sermon tool.
For more information contact: Kirkbride Bible & Technology, 335 West 9th St., Indianapolis, IN, 46202. Phone: 800-428-4385. Web Site: http://kirkbride.com.
LESSONMAKER: Like Logos Lesson Builder, this isn’t a sermon preparation package, but the questions can spark some very good ideas to fill out your sermon research. Also anything you have unlocked in WORDsearch is fully accessible from LESSONmaker and vice versa.
For more information on WORDsearch contact: Navpress Software, 1934 Rutland Dr. Suite 500, Austin, TX 78758-5418. Phone: 800-888-9898. Web Site: www.WORDsearchBible.com.
Parson’s has always had good quality software which is generally easy to use and fairly easy on the wallet, too. These are no exceptions.
QUICKVERSE 5.0 DELUXE EDITION: KJV, NIV, NKJV, NRSV with Apocrypha, TLB, NLT, GW, ASV (1901), NCV, NASV, LIV, International Children’s Bible, Darby’s New Translation, Young’s Literal Translation, Bible Knowledge Commentary OT & NT, Hard Sayings of the Bible, New Commentary on Whole Bible OT & NT, The Teacher’s Commentary, The 365-Day Devotional Commentary, The Treasury of David, Victor Bible Background Commentary NT, Weirsbes’ Expository Outlines OT & NT, Cambridge Study Bible, Cambridge Study Bible with Apocrypha, Disciples Study Bible, Believer’s Study Bible, Ryrie Study Bible, The New Scofield Study Bible, The Holman Bible Dictionary, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, The Holman Bible Handbook, Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion, Strong’s Concordance, New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament, Nave’s Topical Bible, Handbook of Bible Application, Moody Handbook of Theology, Concise Theology, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World, The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, Who’s Who in Christian History, The Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Parsons Bible Atlas, My Utmost for His Highest, Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening devotional, All of Grace, The Institutes of Christian Religion, Pilgrim’s Progress, Power Through Prayer, Purpose in Prayer, Necessity of Prayer, The Practice of the Presence of God, The Confessions of St. Augustine, Imitation of Christ, The Training of the Twelve, St. Paul, the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, The Religious Affections.
Parson’s also gives you the ability to create your own verse by verse commentary, plus book by book or chapter by chapter. They have really improved their notes format with this release. They have changed their interface to look more like the Quickverse STEP Librarian, but it is still as easy to use as their other versions.
QUICKVERSE 5.0 GREEK EDITION: The USB Greek New Testament, KJV, Analytical Greek NT version 2, A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the NT, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, A Reference Guide to Greek New Testament and Frequently Used Grammatical Terms. This is a must if you are a Greek or Hebrew student. I was very impressed with how the Greek and Hebrew worked. This is a good value.
BIBLE ILLUSTRATOR 3.0 DELUXE: This is by far the best looking and easiest to use. It probably has the widest user base as well. It contains Today’s Best Illustrations Volumes 1-4, Illustrations Unlimited by James Hewitt (Saratoga Press, Original Creator and editor of Parables, Etc. and Pastor’s Story File, monthly newsletters of illustrations now owned and edited by Michael Hodgin), The Complete Books of Bible Trivia and American Trivia, The Complete Book of Zingers, Practical Proverbs and Wacky Wit, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World, Phillips’ Book of Great Sayings and Thoughts, The Quotable Spurgeon, 1000 Windows.
This is a very easy program to use and in which to save your own illustrations. The interface looks like a three by five card. (You can turn off the lines if you choose.) It is easy to search by topic, text or Scripture. You can make notations on each card. You can bookmark illustrations for later use. You can search each database separately or all of them at one time. You can copy and paste.
There is only one real flaw that I can see. There is a limit of only one topic and one sub-topic per card. That doesn’t sound like a very big problem except that for each new topic for a particular illustration, you have to create a new card. Suppose you want to create your own card with the major topics of Grace, Hope, Peace and Love. The program actually creates four cards, not one with four topics, but four cards, each with one topic. This isn’t really a problem; it just adds lots of redundancy and takes up more space than really required.
TODAY’S BEST SERMONS: This is simply a collection of 52 sermons by some of today’s top preachers. It works just like the books in Quickverse and in Quickverse Librarian. It is completely searchable and would be a good addition to anyone’s library.
For more information contact: Parsons Technology, One Parsons Dr., PO Box 100, Hiawatha, Iowa, 52233. Phone: 800-644-6344. Web Site: www.parsonstech.com or www.quickverse.com.
Zondervan, like Abingdon, has come on strong with a whole line of software. They have some pretty impressive work and a very good interface. It is fresh and the sources they bring are different than the other publishers. The interface is easy to navigate. It has both verse by verse notes and note files. If you like and use the NIV Study Bible, this is the piece of software for you. It is STEP compatible which means some of the books will work with both Parsons and WORDsearch.
THE NIV STUDY BIBLE COMPLETE LIBRARY: This package contains: NIV, KJV, NASB, NRSV with Apocrypha, NIV Study Bible 10th Anniversary Edition Study Notes, Zondervan NIV Nave’s Topical Bible, NIV Exhaustive Concordance, NASB & NRSV Complete Concordances, Greek NT USB4, Exhaustive Concordance to the Greek NT, Greek-English Concordance, Interlinear Greek-English NT, Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary, NIV Compact Dictionary of the Bible, Zondervan Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, Cruden’s Complete Concordance, An Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Abridged Atlas of the Bible, Inspirational Readings.
There is a lot of good stuff here. All of these are great resources for preaching and preparing to preach. This package is filled with a lot of fresh material or material that hasn’t been available in electronic form from other publishers. (This comes in MAC Format as well.)
THE EXPOSITOR’S BIBLE COMMENTARY: This contains the full 12 volume set of the Commentary and the NIV. This has been a must for the libraries of preachers for years. Now it is available in electronic format. It is completely searchable and runs with The NIV Study Bible. (This comes in MAC Format as well.)
THE NEW INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY: This is the complete four-volume edition in electronic format. Now you can use an enlarged and revised edition of this benchmark work in New Testament study on your computer. You don’t even need to know Greek to be able to use this program. This program would be a valuable tool for those who want to go a little deeper in their study prior to preaching.
For more information contact: Zondervan Publishing House, 5300 Patterson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49530. Phone: 800-925-0316. Web Site: www.zondervan.com.
Not every program fits neatly into a particular genre of preaching and worship software, so here are a few of the other things that were sent.
ABINGDON SOFTWARE: OUT ON THE EDGE, A Wake-up Call For Church Leaders On The Edge Of The Media Reformation, by Michael Slaughter; CD ROM included. And THE WIRED CHURCH, Making Media Ministry, by Len Wilson; CD ROM included. Both books challenge the way we worship, the way we think about worship, the way we do ministry, the way we relate to the community around us, and the way we reach out. The CD’s that accompany the books are to be used in conjunction with the books. They add audio and video to the reading experience.
LOGOS RESEARCH SYSTEMS: NOAH AND THE ARK (An Animated Interactive Storybook) and DAVID AND GOLIATH (An Animated Interactive Storybook). Both of these games could be used in conjunction with Vacation Bible School or a Children’s Church program. They tell the stories in a simple interactive format that is colorfully engaging and fun. I think children (or the child in you) would enjoy this software.
LOGOS BULLETIN CLIP ART: This is a good collection of Clip Art that will enhance the newsletter and bulletin of any Church.
LOGOS BIBLE ATLAS: A great tool for showing the lay of the land in the Holy Land. Wire frame and terra formed maps of the area give an interesting view. Dr. Charles Paige claims that the land is the 5th Gospel. This would aid in studying that proposition.
Just a few final thoughts: If I had to order or choose any of these programs over the others I would do so like this.
First, I would choose any of the packages from WORDsearch. I love the way this Bible software works. It works the way I think Bible Software should work. It is fairly inexpensive. And the greatest feature is the verse-by-verse commentary that you can write. As ideas come for sermons or Bible study, as insights flow late at night, you can type them in your own commentary that is always accessible whichever translation you are using. And you can swap commentaries with others.
Second, I would choose any of the Logos packages. This is one fine piece of work. They regularly offer works at a discount. You can add to your electronic library just like your regular library, one book at a time. And they offer more books than anyone else.
Third, I would choose Autoillustrator. While the interface for this program could be prettier, I believe it has the most and the best illustrations available.
Fourth, I would choose Parson’s Bible Illustrator. This is another great illustration program. It has a very easy to use interface and is easier to add illustrations to than Autoillustrator. However, it doesn’t have as many illustrations.
Fifth, I would choose Sermon Prep. I really like this program. It allows me a place to keep all of my sermon notes on any Sunday. Each notebook is completely search able. I save sermons and sermon notes for each Christian Year. Then when I’m working on a particular Sunday or passage, the notes, ideas and illustrations from all of my musings are right there. This is a very useful and usable piece of software.
Sixth, I would choose either one of the Worship Libraries by Abingdon or the Steve Green’s Midi Hymnal. I’m not a musician and I like being able to hear a hymn before I choose it or ask my Choir Director to sing it. Any of these programs is very useful in finding hymns that go with Scripture, topics or even major themes.

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