Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Something My Tablet Doesn't Do...

..but should is to function as a prayer journal.

This is not through any limitation of the technology, but rather owing to a failing on the part of the user. I currently have at least three separate pieces of software installed that would be excellent tools for helping me to track and remember the various things that I need to be constantly praying for or giving thanks and praise for. (Indeed, I wonder how Paul, who speaks of "always" praying and giving thanks for the Romans, the Corinthians, the Philippians, the Colossians, the Thessalonians, Timothy and Philemon, and presumably many other churches and individuals, kept them all straight and in mind. Do you suppose he used a prayer journal of some sort?)

I know of people who keep prayer journals, not only keeping track of things about which they pray regularly, but also of answers to those prayers. Some, I suspect, have filled several of these journals in their lives. How great would it be to have such a thing be perpetual and to always have it with you? Rather than killing a few spare minutes playing Solitaire I could put the time to better use either praying for these things or remembering and giving thanks for God's faithful answers. Whenever I hear of a need, I could not just say "I'll pray for you" and hope I remember to really do so more than once (a big "mea culpa" here). Instead I could immediately enter it into my journal where it would be there as a reminder to pray faithfully. Depending on how it was organized, I could also use it as a reminder to follow up with the person and hear when and how God answered.

As I said, this is one of those things I have known for years--no, decades--that I ought to do. (James 4:17 comes to mind here as a convicting verse.) But I never have. Now more than ever before I have a powerful tool to help me, so I am utterly without excuse - as if I ever had one.

So how about helping me out? Do you keep a prayer journal? How do you organize it? How do you set up each page? Do you have a column for the request, the date you first entered the request, and one for the answer and date of the answer? Do you set up pages for different areas of life, such as family, friends, ministries, etc? Do you set up pages for prayer times on different days of the week? (e.g. you pray for this missionary on Mondays, the Christian School on Tuesdays, etc.) What system works for you and why does it work? If you want to answer but don't want to post publicly, email me:

I really do want to be faithful in this aspect of my life and my Tablet is the perfect resource for helping me to bring my actions in line with my understanding of what I should be doing. If, or when, I get a system that works for me I'll write about it here. Maybe I'll even journal the process and missteps along the way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Getting BIT

If anyone is still reading this after such a long hiatus, I am still alive and kicking. It was a pretty brutal end of school this year with not much time for anything but work and home responsibilities. Add to this a vacation, much needed, but tightly scheduled with me leaving barely 2 days after graduation, and a lot of garden responsibilities that had to be tended to before I left and there has just been no time for writing. At this point, I am at a conference in Groton, MA, taking a brief respite from conference activities to try to finish this long-promised post on importing online Bibles into e-Sword.

In my last post, I talked about the ethics of importing online Bibles and gave my conclusion that at this point, there is neither a legal nor ethical reason why this shouldn't be done. (This could change if the sites hosting these resources add a click-through acceptable use policy that prohibits this, but at the time of this writing that is not the case.) Assuming that you agree with me you can use the information in this post to do this. If you don't agree with me, or if you aren't fully convinced that this is an acceptable activity please don’t do this. I would hate to cause anyone to stumble. "Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind." Romans 14:5.

The tool that can be used to import Bible modules is called, appropriately enough, the Bible Import Tool, or BIT for short. You can get a recent version at This site also has a few additional e-Sword Bibles, topic files, and some other resources that might be of use to some of you. Downloading is not quite as obvious a process as using the program. You must click on the Bible Import Tool menu option on the left of the page, then on the word "Downloads" to the right of the BIT version number. I don't find it very intuitive nor very easy to describe.

Using the BIT is very straightforward. When you run the downloaded file (there is no installer, you run the executable you download), you are presented with the main program screen. There are four numbered sections on the screen.

Section 1 asks you where you want to download from. There are currently two available choices, Crosswalk and The Bible Gateway. Choose one of these sites, and you are presented with a dropdown list of Bible versions available from that site. Select the Bible you wish to download and give it a filename. You can probably just accept the default name offered.

Section 2 asks you where you wish to download the Bible file to. If e-Sword is installed, the default is the e-Sword directory. You can also enter an alternate location, but you will have to move it to the e-Sword directory anyway before you can use it.

Section 3 is the only section with any real choices to be made. You have several formatting options from which to select. In my experience, you may have to play around with these in multiple attempts to get a final product formatted the way you want it. You have numerous choices such as retaining red lettering, importing only the Old or New Testaments or both, removing or retaining breaks and headings, retaining cross-references if there are any, etc.

Section 4 contains the button that starts the process. Where I am right now, with a fast T1 connection, the download happens at about 2 seconds per chapter, so plan on this process taking a bit of time, especially over a slow dial-up connection. It will be roughly 1/2 hour at T1 speeds.

When all is said and done, you will end up with a new translation installed in e-Sword and available to you the next time you load the program.

There are other tools available for e-Sword as well. One which might be useful at this point is a new one called TheWORDPad. It allows you to edit Bible and other types of e-Sword modules. I found a few mistakes in one version I downloaded and this tool will allow you to correct the text to agree with your paper copy of the version. Unfortunately at this time, the only place I know of that it is available is on the e-Sword newsgroup on Yahoo (, which is a members-only group. If that changes, I'll make a note of it here. (By the way, the latest version of the BIT is also available on this site. It is a newer version than the one currently on dnspad.)