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351 Words on 4 Mac Apps I’ve Been Using Every Day

September 18, 2014

Here are 4 Mac apps I use every day:

OmniFocus1. OmniFocus

This is turning into Organize-Me Central. I figured out today how to install extensions in Firefox and Chrome on OSX, so that I can save any Web article I want to read later as an action step in Omni Focus. It syncs seamlessly across Mac, iPad, and iPhone, too. There’s a bit of a learning curve to it, but I’ve made the decision to try to run all of my tasks, appointments, and notes through OmniFocus.

I even figured out, using their Clip-o-Tron 3001, how to turn Mac Mail messages into tasks with a keyboard shortcut. (Email inboxes are not a good place to keep tasks, you realize.)

OmniFocus 2 for iPad just came out, and works very well so far with iOS 8. Check out their site here.

TextExpander_icon2. TextExpander

TextExpander does something simple but sweet: it allows you to type text abbreviations that automatically expand into something larger. There are some preset “Snippets,” as well as the option to create your own. For example, “ddate” will insert the current date into any document. I’ve even got “.autoreply” set to convert to this text (I’m using TextExpander for the below):

Thanks for writing. I’m out of the office and away from email Tuesday. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible after that.


Abram K-J

It’s also available on iPhone and iPad, and you can sync your Snippets across devices. Pretty awesome. Read more about it here.

accordance 10 lamp3. Accordance

I’ve written a lot about Accordance, including a six-part review of Accordance 10. It’s my go-to Bible software on Mac.

Accordance is on Windows now, too, and has an iOS app for iPad and iPhone. Find Accordance on the Web here.

Scrivener Logo4. Scrivener

What a word processing program! (But, also, so much more). Writers love this app, and I can see why. I recorded my initial impressions of Scrivener here (where I used it to write a paper). It’s my primary organizing tool each week for sermon writing.

Check out Scrivener here. No iOS apps… yet.

Soon I’ll post about some handy iOS apps I’ve been using.

Apple’s iOS 8 is Live (Just Make Sure You’ve Got Room for It)

September 17, 2014

iOS 8


With the iPhone 6 now shipping, iOS 8 has just gone live.

MacRumors has two really great roundups that detail the features of the new operating system for iPad and iPhone. Here is their main roundup page. And here they note “some of the more interesting but smaller additions and refinements made to Apple’s mobile operating system throughout the beta testing period.”

A couple highlights from the article:

Identify songs – Siri now includes Shazam integration. If you ask Siri, “What song is playing?”, it will cause her to listen to the ambient sound, using Shazam to identify music.

Find which app is using the most battery life – iOS 8 includes a new Settings option that allows you to view battery usage by app, monitoring the battery drain of specific apps so those that draw a lot of power can be shut down. As of beta 2, it also displays how much battery is drained when there’s no cellular coverage.

Also, there is an improved keyboard:

Described as Apple’s “smartest keyboard ever,” QuickType is designed to offer word suggestions while typing. As a user is typing, the keyboard will provide words and phrases that a user is likely to choose next, even taking into account the different writing styles a person might use in different apps like Mail and Messages.

I’m especially curious to check out the Health app.

Just make sure you’ve got plenty of room for the install:


iOS 8 install


UPDATE: A friend on Twitter clarifies that you can download the new iOS if your device is connected to a computer, in which case you don’t need to clear up all the space required for the installation.

Bonhoeffer’s Life Together for $2.99, Chance to Win 17 Bonhoeffer Works

September 15, 2014

DBWE Life Together


For $2.99, Fortress Press is selling Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, the purchase of which also gives you chance to win all 17 volumes of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (English Edition). This includes the new, forthcoming Volume 17: Index and Supplementary Materials.

Life Together is a powerful and heart-transforming book. I just finished reading it at the end of the summer, and reflected:

Bonhoeffer’s Life Together is substantial evidence that this servant of God saw himself as belonging to the church. The short, powerful book is both a gift and a challenge to any Christian who will take the time to study it.

My full review of the book is here.

Go here to check out Life Together for $2.99, as well as to have a chance to win the whole DBWE hardcover set.

Size Comparison of iPhone 6 vs. iPhone 6 Plus

September 14, 2014

iPhone 6 sizes

The iPhone 6 just set a new pre-order record for Apple phones. The biggest question folks who are in the market will probably have is: How big is the iPhone 6? vs. How big is the iPhone 6 Plus?

There’s a handy printout you can download here to see what an iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus all look like next to each other.

Or you could do what this guy did.

Mineral Live in Boston: Set List and Photos

September 11, 2014

Mineral in Boston


It’s fitting that I drove the family minivan into Boston last night with a friend to see Mineral in concert. When I first listened to them in the mid-90s, I was driving a minivan, too.

What an outstanding show. Though they’re 20 years older than when they co-invented the emo rock scene, they still rocked out and drew listeners in to an experience of spiritual transcendence.

Here is the set list, with the few lyric snippets or reactions I tapped into my phone during the set:


1. Lovelettertypewriter

2. Palisade

(The above being tracks 1 and 2 from their second album, back-to-back)

3. Slower

“I’d really rather lay here and pretend…”

4. Unfinished

5. February

6. A Letter

7. Five, Eight, and Then

“The humble and righteous and meek
Are teaching me whose will to seek
But who really knows how to speak
About these things”

8. Gloria

One of the most awesome songs in the set.

9. For Ivadell

They had a little trouble playing this, but it was still great.

10. Sounds Like Sunday

11. If I Could


12. &Serenading

Best song in the whole set.

“When I was a boy I saw things
That no one else could see
So why am I so blind at twenty-two
To the hope that is all around me
Filling up this room?”



13. Waking to Winter

“When I’m driving home at night….”

14. M.D.

15. Parking Lot

“And everything is grace.”


And here’s the man, Christopher Simpson:


Christopher Simpson

And the Winners of the UBS5 Greek NT Are….

September 8, 2014

UBS5 Infographic


There were more than 50 entries into the UBS5 Greek New Testament giveaway. (Click here to read more about that new edition of the GNT.)

Using a random number generator, the two winners are:

  • spencerclark2013 (see here)
  • thanksgutenberg (see here)

Congratulations! I’ll get in touch with both of you via email in order to get the Bible shipped out to you.

And check back here, too, or subscribe to the blog at the right of the top of the page. Just as I reviewed the impressive LXX-NA28 combo, I will soon be reviewing the UBS5 Greek New Testament.

Scot McKnight’s Sermon on the Mount Commentary, Reviewed

September 8, 2014



My mild obsession with the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer can be traced back to a question I asked myself and the congregation with whom I worship in early March: How can Ukraine love its Russian occupiers? And what would Bonhoeffer suggest?

The questions came from my wrestling through Matthew 5:38-48, which I find the be the most difficult passage in the Sermon on the Mount. I concluded, in part,

What seems a fairly straightforward statement, “Love your enemy,” is difficult. What does it mean to love enemies? In what spheres must that take place, and how should it happen, especially in the presence of an inordinately powerful evil? How categorical is Jesus in his forbidding of force? Was he speaking to disciples, or to disciples and states?

You can see how I landed (at least in a sense) at the end of this post.


Enter Scot McKnight


Scot McKnight’s Sermon on the Mount (The Story of God Bible Commentary, Zondervan, 2013) helped me wrestle through the difficult question of just what it means to “turn the other cheek.” While some interpreters (such as Luther) have sought to distinguish between private (interpersonal) and public (political) applications of this text, McKnight responds: “Utter nonsense.” Instead:

One of the main thrusts of the ethic of Jesus is the radicalization of an ethic so that we live consistently, from the so-called “private” to the “public” spheres. There is for Jesus no distinction between a secular life and spiritual life: we are always to follow him. His ethic is an Ethic from Beyond. But others, in words not so wrongheaded as Luther’s, have continued Luther’s personal vs. public or spiritual vs. secular distinction when it comes to ethics.

Jesus, McKnight persuasively argues, was not distinguishing between how the disciples should live in their private lives (whatever that would have meant) as opposed to in public. “The question every reader of the Sermon must ask,” McKnight goes on, is:

Does that world begin now, or does it begin now in private but not in public, or does it begin now for his followers in both private and to the degree possible in the public realm as well?


A New Commentary Series: SGBC


The Story of God Bible Commentary is a new series, with McKnight’s volume and Lynn Cohick’s Philippians volume being the first two published. As the name implies, the series is concerned to interpret and apply Scripture with an eye to how each passage relates to the larger biblical story:

We want to explain each passage of the Bible in light of the Bible’s grand Story. The Bible’s grand Story, of course, connects this series to the classic expression regula fidei, the “rule of faith,” which was the Bible’s story coming to fulfillment in Jesus as the Messiah, Lord, and Savior of all.

There are three primary sections in each passage:

1. Listen to the Story. With the assumption that “the most important posture of the Christian before the Bible is to listen,” the SGBC series begins with the full text of the passage under consideration (using the 2011 New International Version). The section also includes an introduction to the passage.

2. Explain the Story. From historical background to cultural context, from theological explanation to individual word studies, here is where SGBC unpacks “a sound and living reading of the text in light of the Story of God in the Bible.”

3. Live the Story. This is the “digging deeper” into “our world” section. The commentary series is not geared for an academic audience, which allows authors to spend more time imagining 21st century applications of a passage to life. This is especially helpful for preachers and anyone wanting to know how to live out a passage they are studying.


“Better People” or “Better Liars”?


McKnight wastes no time in convicting the reader, much as the Sermon on the Mount itself does. Just before the introduction he quotes Bonhoeffer, who says of the Sermon:

Its validity depends on its being obeyed.

And here’s Dean Smith, via McKnight:

The Sermon on the Mount has a strange way of making us better people or better liars.

(Ouch! But so true.)

McKnight agrees that the incongruence “between Jesus’ vision and our life bothers many of us.” Various interpretive attempts, he suggest, have made Jesus say what he did not really say. By contrast:

There is something vital—and this is a central theme in this commentary—in letting the demand of Jesus, expressed over and over in the Sermon as imperatives or commands, stand in its rhetorical ruggedness.

Jesus intended the Sermon on the Mount as “the claim of Jesus upon our whole being.”

So you can’t just read this commentary in a detached way or use it for dry or “objective” research (as if there were such a thing!). Throughout the commentary McKnight helps the reader hear Jesus’ demanding (yet life-giving) message in resounding terms.


McKnight on Jesus and Ethics


The commentary’s introduction has a substantive (and surprisingly helpful) section called, “The Sermon and Moral Theory,” where McKnight compares “Jesus’ moral vision” to other moral theories, whether Aristotle’s virtue ethics, Kant’s categorical imperative (deontology), or Bentham and Mill’s utilitarianism.

McKnight presents Jesus’ ethics through the conjoining lenses of:

  • “Ethics from Above”—Jesus speaks as God
  • “Ethics from Beyond”—”kingdom ethics” that seek to bring “God’s future to bear on the present”
  • “Ethics from Below”—based on human “inductive observation”
  • An ethical theory that is “messianic, ecclesial, pneumatic”—in Jesus’ “messianic vocation,” he believes that “an ethic can only be lived out in community (the kingdom manifestation in the church) and through the power of the Spirit now at work.”

The introduction offers no structural outline of the Sermon on the Mount. There is just a paragraph about its structure, saying that the matter is “incapable of any kind of firm resolution.” So the omission of an outline seems deliberate, but at least something preliminary would have helped–even a Table of Contents that shows the pericope divisions/commentary chapters at a glance, which this volume lacks.


The Commentary Proper


McKnight breaks the Sermon into 23 chapters in his commentary proper (chapter 1 treats both the very first and very last verses of the Sermon on the Mount together). Each chapter prints the full biblical text (it’s nice to have everything in one place), then proceeds with the sections noted above: Listen to the Story, Explain the Story, Live the Story. His experience in teaching and ministry is obvious throughout the book, which is a refreshing balance of deep exegesis, lucid prose, and convicting application.

To look briefly at just one passage, Matthew 7:12 says:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

McKnight writes:

Of the many ways to describe or articulate the Torah, two are pertinent in our text: one can either multiply laws so as to cover all possible situations, or one can reduce the law to its essence.

The verse, which he sets in biblical and rabbinical context, “summarizes the essence of the Sermon” (emphasis in original). And it has much to say to how we ought to live now:

But the Golden Rule is of direct value in relationships in churches. It takes but a moment’s thought to think it through: How do I want to treat others? How would I want to be treated?


This is a fantastic commentary. It’s smart, well-researched, deep, engaging, challenging, and–perhaps best of all–like the Sermon it addresses, issues a clear call to righteous living according to God’s will.


Thanks to Zondervan Academic for the review copy, offered for the purposes of an unbiased review. Find it at Zondervan here or Amazon here.


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