Wednesday, September 30, 2009

International Blasphemy Day-A Christian Response

Today is International Blasphemy Day, sponsored by the Center for Inquiry. The Center's mission is "to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist value." As part of the day's celebration the CFI is sponsoring a blasphemy contest, inviting people to submit poems, phrases and statements that are blasphemous.

I have written a brief article about this for a more general audience at that you can access here.

While the creation of this "holiday" may tempt believers to become indignant and to feel persecuted, I don't think those are the best responses that we should have. Al Mohler gets it just right when he counsels Christians to "take no offense" at the establishment of this day.
Refuse to play into the game plan of those sponsoring International Blasphemy Day. The Lord Jesus Christ was and is despised and rejected of men. Our Lord bore the scorn heaped upon him by his enemies. Christianity is not an honor religion. Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are not commanded to defend his honor, but to be willing to share in the scorn directed to him. Is the servant greater than his master?
Rather than offense, we should take pity--genuine pity. The kind that Jesus had for Jerusalem when He looked over the city and wept because of their unbelief. "How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing" (Luke 13:34). Sometimes we get lulled to sleep about the true spiritual condition of those outside of Christ. With the increasing secularization of our culture, events like the International Blasphemy Day ought to rouse us from such delusions.

A second response we ought to have is hope. Not the kind of hope that arises out of unbelief that something will or could happen, but biblical hope--the kind that is confident about the future because of the past. Hope that is biblical takes the promises of God and makes them present blessings because in Christ--through His life, death and resurrection--every last one of them is "Yes!" and "Amen!" (2 Corinthians 1:20).

The hope that belongs to every Christian on Blasphemy Day is this: First, we are confident that blasphemers can be converted. They can be conquered by grace and swayed by the gospel to become loyal followers of Christ and servants of God. Such was Paul. Such was I and, if you are a Christian today, such were you. So don't hate blasphemers or dismiss as hopeless. They aren't! God can change them. He has been doing so throughout history.

Secondly, we are confident that one day every blasphemer will bow to Jesus as Lord. Either they will do so while there is still opportunity to receive forgiveness and new life in Him through faith, or they will bow in terror and endless sorrow on the day of judgment. But we can be sure "that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:10-11).

Christ will not be undone by blasphemers. He will conquer them either by His grace or His justice. This is our hope--our confidence. And we should live as those who are thus assured.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Southwest Founders Conference, September 24-26

I am looking forward to participating in the 2009 Southwest Founders Conference next week, hosted by Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas (just outside Ft. Worth). The theme is, The Foolishness of Preaching. I am scheduled to speak 3 times. If you are in the area, try to catch some of the sessions. It begins Thursday, September 24 and concludes Saturday.

Andrew Nicewander will provide liveblogging
during the conference. Check out his blog to get summaries of the messages. I'll undoubtedly be tweeting during conference. ;)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Logos for Mac

I have used Apple computers since an IBM salesman talked me into buying a Macintosh SE in 1988. Both he and his boss were using Macs. I have never regretted that decision even though it put me in the tiny minority of computer users and subjected me to paternalistic expressions of pity displayed by owners of "real" computers. In fact, I couldn't even talk computers with my PC buddies because I didn't know their language (backslash, colon, reboot, blue screen of death, etc). All I knew was English. Fortunately, my Mac understood me just fine.

The only major downside to living in the Mac world was the hesitancy of software developers to write programs for the Macintosh platform. Only a few programs were written exclusively for Macs and those typically were related to the field of desktop publishing. It as simply part of the Mac experience to do without certain software that was readily available in the PC world.

Over the last 10 years the one software package that I most wanted for my Mac was Logos Bible Software. Whenever the opportunity arose I would make my appeal to the good folks at Logos. In March 2005, when they announced a Mac version was in the works, I got excited. After several delays the product was released last December. Two upgrades later, version 1.2 is currently available and is well worth the consideration of anyone looking for a Bible software program for a Mac.

As with any good program, Logos performs quick and easy searches of the resources that come with the program (although "quick" is relative, based on the number of resources that are being searched). What makes Logos stand out is the number of resources that are available. Over 700 titles (including dozens of Greek, Hebrew and English biblical texts) come with the Scholar's Library: Gold edition and over 10,000 titles are available.

Having access to so many books electronically is the single greatest feature of Logos. Their commitment to increasing their offerings is evident in the new titles that regularly appear on pop up windows when the program is launched. The ability to search for words or topics across any or all of those resources is a valuable time-saver.

The second most impressive feature is the way that Logos facilitates footnoting. Nine styles of citation are available, including, Chicago Manual of Style, APA, MLA and Turabian. All you have to do is copy and paste to your document any material you wish to include from a Logos title. The citation is automatically formatted and placed on the page.

I have used Accordance software for several years and have been very satisfied with it. It continues to be my default Bible study program, but I have found it easy to get up to speed on Logos. If I were not already heavily invested in Accordance I would certainly consider making Logos my primary Bible software program. It is expensive (from $259.95 for the basic Bible Study Library to $1379.95 for Scholar's Library: Gold edition) as far as programs go, but the resources that come with it and are available to add on are a fraction of their hard copy counterparts.

One final word of commendation. The staff that supports Logos have been very professional and helpful. I have needed technical support twice and each time talked to a technician who was patient and responsive to my questions. The company website is also easy to navigate and filled with helpful information.

I recommend both the company and the product.