The New and Improved Faithlife Calendar

We made some changes to the Faithlife calendar to make your life easier. Now, you can see and do everything you need right from the calendar tab.

Your status now appears next to each event. This field reminds you if you are hosting, attending, or undecided about an event, and you can change your status without leaving the full calendar view. Click on the highlighted text, and you can select your response to the event invitation from the drop-down menu.

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The calendar also displays more details about each event. You can see the type of event, in addition to the name of the event and any groups affiliated with the event. If you were invited as a part of a group, or if you invited an entire group, that group’s name and image appear below the event’s date and time.

You can also edit event details using this handy gear icon:

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Click on the gear icon next to the event you want to change, then alter or add anything you need. When you save, you’ll return to the calendar view. If you have a recurring event, such as a weekly Bible study, you can use this same wheel to download Outlook and iCal files to put the event into your regular calendar software.

We’ve also added the ability to filter the types of events you want to display. You can filter events by group, or choose “My events” to display events not associated with a group, like family events, personal reminders, and appointments—things that can get lost in everything else you have going on.

If you aren’t already using it, the calendar tab is more useful and dependable than ever. With these updates, it’s even easier to keep track of what’s happening in your faith community.

Shane & Shane: Poised to Change Worship Ministry Forever

Shane Everett and Shane Barnard formed the duo Shane & Shane after meeting in College Station, Texas in the late 1990s. Since then, the pair has logged countless hours on the road, garnered multiple Dove Awards, enjoyed numerous A-list tour slots, and sold millions of tracks. Now husbands and fathers, the two men have set their sights on a more ambitious project—The Worship Initiative.

As they were touring, they always made time to invest in the development of other musicians, worship leaders, and songwriters. They recognized a need for formal training and encouragement in this community, so they constructed a plan to mentor from afar, challenging others to consider their calling, consider their craft, and consider creating.

They started by gathering some of their favorite musicians to record 100 songs, shooting video tutorials of each instrument. Add to that some powerful worship devotionals and a 14-week songwriting class, and you have something groundbreaking. At the heart of it all is an unwavering commitment to God’s Word. In their own words:

Logos Bible Software has changed the way we study God’s Word. We are so grateful for their commitment to making the Word of God and resources surrounding it available to us and the church.

Shane & Shane is just the latest in a string of musicians to acknowledge they use Logos Bible Software in their songwriting process. As we’ve often said, serious Bible study demands serious Bible study software; and songwriting at a high level definitely demands serious Bible study.

With new 24-month payment plans, Logos 5 is more affordable than ever before. Visit Logos.com/WhyLogos5 to explore everything Logos can do.

Enter to Win a MacBook Air and Tickets to Ligonier Ministries’ Conference

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Our friends at Ligonier Ministries are coming to Seattle. Make plans to be there for 2 days of top-tier Bible teaching. Save when you register early, and while you’re at it, enter below for a chance to win a Bible study prize pack that includes a MacBook Air, Logos 5 Gold, eight Vyrso books, and two tickets to Ligonier Ministries’ West Coast conference.

Dr. R. C. Sproul founded what is now Ligonier Ministries in 1971. Ever since, it has stood as a pillar of Reformed theology, influencing many ministry leaders throughout its over 40 years. Though the ministry has long been centered in Sproul’s native Ligonier Valley, in recent days the teaching ministry has ventured out of Pennsylvania to conferences all over the world. From June 6–7, Sproul and his son, R. C. Sproul Jr., will join Albert Mohler, Stephen Meyer, and Steven Lawson in Seattle for two days packed with timely instruction. Sessions like “War of the Worldviews” and “Sexual Devolution” are sure to raise some of the most important questions of our time.

You should be there. Register on Ligonier Ministries’ website to secure your spot today. While you’re at it, enter for your chance to win two free tickets to the West Coast conference, plus a MacBook Air preloaded with Logos 5 Gold.

The Story of Noah (As Told in the FSB)

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Noah, his ark, and the flood that he survived have been fascinating Christians for thousands of years, sparking debates about biblical interpretation, symbolism, and the character of God. Every corner of this story contains faith-building insights. Here are some of those commented on by the Faithlife Study Bible.

Noah’s story begins in Genesis 6 with a troubling description of society’s degradation and an observation about God that challenges our presuppositions:

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. (Genesis 6:5–6)

Does God change his mind? This verse seems to imply that he does. The Faithlife Study Bible offers several tools to help us make sense of this.

An entry on Genesis 6:6 explains anthropomorphisms—a literary device that assigns human-like characteristics to non-human entities. Tap the plus symbol to reveal more information. Here I found a link to another book in my Logos library, the Lexham Bible Guide on Genesis 1–11, which has a wealth of information on this very interesting and challenging theological topic. The Lexham Bible Guide surveys a wide range of scholars, presenting each opinion side-by-side, empowering the reader to develop an informed opinion. In this case, I found John Calvin’s position to be the most helpful. He says:

“The Bible represents God in imagery we can understand since we are unable to understand him as He is.”

Following his sad evaluation of mankind, God searches for an individual with whom he will restart his relationship with society. In Genesis 6:8, he finds Noah.

I can only imagine how random and strange God’s instructions must have seemed to Noah at the time, but he responds in faith, following every detailed step to the letter. He builds a huge ark, engineered to survive the coming cataclysm. The Faithlife Study Bible contains a useful infographic to help us picture this massive structure.

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A fair amount of debate surrounds the extent of the biblical flood. There are predominantly two points of view: a global flood and a limited flood. Very smart and sincere Bible scholars stand firmly on both sides of this debate. This article by Douglas Mangum does justice to each:

“The debate is over how these statements should be understood. Do they reflect an ancient Near Eastern worldview, or do they point to an actual global event? Interpretations that emphasize the ancient nonscientific perspective of the text focus on the literary parallels between the biblical flood narrative and other ancient Near Eastern flood accounts. Advocates of this interpretation also tend to reject attempts to harmonize the flood story with scientific data because harmonization requires drawing on data and concepts foreign to the ancient writer.”

The story winds down as Noah releases a dove and then a raven in search of dry land. The Ark finally comes to rest on Mount Ararat, and the inhabitants of the ark disembark after 150 days aboard. Noah immediately constructs an altar to give thanks for God’s protection. Another infographic helps to illustrate the wide range of different objects described by the term altar.

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God responds to Noah’s offering of thanks by making a one-sided covenant with him. Though he does not require Noah make any promise in exchange, God promises to never again destroy the earth by flood. He makes this covenant with Noah and all the descendants of Noah, which would of course include you and me.

The Faithlife Study Bible includes a table of all the major covenants recorded in the Old Testament.

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God marks this, the first recorded covenant, with a unique sign—a rainbow. The word God uses to describe the sign has a militaristic connotation, implying that God has put away his weapon of war. The Lexham Bible Guide: Genesis 1–11 proves helpful again with a interesting entry about the rainbow, derived from the work of Franz Delitzsch.

“Delitzsch sees in the rainbow an appropriate phenomenon of God’s pledge to maintain the order of nature. The sun shines through the dark clouds, symbolizing heaven’s willingness to reach down to earth.”

If you venture out this weekend to see Hollywood’s depiction of this story, download the free Faithlife Study Bible first. Afterall, the book is always better than the movie.

Introducing Faithlife.com Plugins

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Use the new “Join my group” plugin to connect your church’s website and Faithlife.com, so that when someone asks you for instructions on joining your church’s Faithlife group, you can say, “It’s on the website.”

Click the new “Plugins” item on the Faithlife.com menu, or visit Faithlife.com/Plugins. This is the first of several helpful plugins we have planned, so be on the lookout for more soon. When you click through to the “Join my group” plugin page, you’re only three easy steps from having a Faithlife.com “Join” button on your website.

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Step 1: Search for and select your group.

Use the search box to find the group you’d like to link to. If you have multiple Faithlife.com groups associated with your church (one for each small group, for example), you may like to place multiple plugins on your church website, perhaps setting aside a special page to serve as a catalog of your church’s groups.

Step 2: Choose from three display options.

Once you’ve selected a group from the search box and drop-down menu, you’ll be presented with three different button sizes—small, medium, and large. The small and medium buttons also include a drop-down menu with options for changing your group status. Select the size you prefer, and you’ll get a preview of the button and the code you need to place it on your website.

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You’ll notice that the button changes based on your group’s status. Any website visitor who is not a member of your group will see “Join,” but the button will display differently for website visitors who are already members. You can see an example of this below.

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Step 3: Copy and paste two code snippets to your website.

The final step is to copy two small lines of code into your website. One—beginning with “<script”—goes in the body; the other—beginning with “<p”—indicates exactly where you’d like the plugin to reside.

Make it easier for church members to connect with one another on Faithlife.com.

Place the “Join my group” plugin on your church’s website today.

A Christian Response to Drug Addiction

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Jimi Hendrix. Heath Ledger. Whitney Houston. Cory Monteith. Philip Seymour Hoffman.

And countless others.

The drug culture that so often surrounds celebrities is tragic from every angle, and too often deadly. These men and women live in the spotlight, entertain us, and then retreat to the solitude and loneliness of addiction. They shoot poison into their veins, hoping it will calm their restlessness, and for a time, entertain the entertainers. They seek a fix. As Russell Brand, famously clean for many years, admitted in an op-ed published by The Guardian, “I look to drugs and booze to fill up a hole in me.”

But substance abuse isn’t limited to celebrities. Many people within the middle-class suburban towns that so many of us call home also struggle with addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths by overdose have risen more than 100 percent nationwide since 1999. Even though no headline is made when one among them loses that fight, their loss is no less tragic. So how are we—the church, the ones with whom God has entrusted his truth—to respond? How can we conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel to which we cling (Philippians 1:27)?

We must call sin, sin

Self-destructive, self-indulgent behavior like drug abuse and binge drinking is sin. There’s no way around it (1 Corinthians 6:9). It is a perversion of God’s plan, and we cannot make excuses for it. We can’t blame an addict’s environment, upbringing, or genetic predisposition. Those things may contribute, but sin is a matter of choice. Excuses don’t make the past better or the present easier.

We must extend grace and forgiveness

It was Ghandi—not Jesus or one of his disciples—who said, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” But the sentiment is no less true on his lips. We must look beyond the sin to the sinner who’s fallen victim to it. We must love without enabling, show mercy without excusing, and offer help without condescending. (Click to tweet)

Can a Christian, in good conscience, partake of the art made by a man or woman who regularly chooses to abuse controlled substances? Of course. We enjoy the art of gossips, braggarts, gluttons, and rebels all the time. Why should this specific sin be any different?

Personally—and it is a very personal choice—I choose to abstain from art, music, or cinema that openly glorifies sin. At least, I make an effort to do so. Like most forms of abstinence, it’s much easier to say than to practice.

How do you think Christians ought to respond to the rising tide of drug addiction, and drug related death? Tell us in comments.

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Learn what the Bible says about this and other issues with the free Faithlife Study Bible app. Download it today from your app store of choice.