13 October 2010

Another Bible-shilling post

by Frank Turk

Since Phil and Dan spent the first couple of days this week making you drool over software you can't possibly afford, I thought I'd show you what a luddite I am when it comes to Bible Study, and some on-the-cheap tricks for the rest of us who don't get free software because we're famous bloggers, and also don't have the budget of a small lawn-scaping business to fund our theology jones.



So first off: get over yourself when it comes to the physical bound book which we call the Bible. It's nearly impossible today to buy a Bible with a decent cover and real quality binding for less than $150.00 -- and when I say that, I know someone is going to come across with their anecdote about the $7 gift-and-award Bible Pastor Hallibut gave him at High School Graduation and how that cardboard-covered newsprint Bible has served him well lo these 40-aught years. I'm very proud of you. The rest of us will be using our Bibles daily and will destroy those leather-like Bibles which are everywhere in three years, and all the notes we have taken from the edifying sermons we have listened to will be lost forever when the folio from Micah 2 to Luke 18 falls out because the cheap glue holding the book together has finally dried up and turned to dust.

So get over the fact that the Bible has to be "bound", and get involved in the best invention since before Kindle: the loose-leaf Bible -- specifically, the ESV Loose-Leaf Bible. You can buy it in its own binder, but let me suggest to you that this completely fails to develop the genius of this product, and costs almost double what the plain pages will cost by themselves.

See: taking a loose-leaf Bible and putting it in one binder is simply thinking of the Bible as one discrete unit, and it's nothing of the sort. It's the ultimate study Bible just waiting to be born, and you just don't know it yet.

Imagine, if you will, the ability to actual capture all the notes you will ever take on every passage of Scripture in your Bible, and never losing those notes. I'm going to show you how to do that in just a second. But first you have to find this stuff:

Some Report Binders with the big sliding clips



Pre-drilled blank copy paper (at least 2 reams, but you may choose more if you're a real note-taker)


Sticky Tabs


I can smell the logs suddenly burning in your brain as I type -- some of you have already lost it because this is such a great idea. So OK: you went to the local Office Supply Outpost (that was easy!) and you got this stuff, and your ESV loose-leaf arrived in its box still wrapped in its plastic. You almost hate to unwrap the sheets because your child with the busy fingers will undoubtedly make a very complicated game of 52-card pick-up of this 1100+ pages if you leave it unattended for 4 minutes, but you must unwrap the Bible pages.

After the wrapper is gone, take the Bible and divide it up into sections. The real hard-core disciples here will make 66 books of the pile of paper -- maybe more if they go really hard-core into dividing up the book of Psalms. But divide the Bible up into the right number of sections to (A) match the number of report covers you bought, and (B) the right number of logical portable units for you. Mine is divided into 6 sections, but you might decide to give yourself more bound units so you can add more blank paper.

Here's where the busy-fingered child comes in: before you bind up the pages, you have to interleave blank pages for each printed page. Maybe you want two blank pages for each printed page -- which I think makes serious sense. One blank page per printed page means you only have one blank side for each printed side, and that's not even hardly enough for most of the NT, let alone Ezekiel or Daniel. But this prep work makes the final product entirely brilliant. You're going to interleave the blank pages to the printed pages, and make sure you keep the edges with the holes aligned.

When you're done about three days later, get out your report binders and -- get this now -- insert the printed-and-plain interleaved pages into the covers and clip the binding shut. If you have put multiple books of the Bible together, use the sticky tabs to mark the book separations so you have quick access, and that's really about it.

Now what you have is the ultimate note-taker's Bible in portable volumes. I will admit that it is cumbersome, but it is also indispensable for keeping your notes from Sunday School or "big church" all in one place for future reference. And if you're clever, it all comes together for less than $100.

Now, here's the test of fire: I am sure that Dan and Phil will both tell you that this solution is not as sweet as their solution for iBible library software for a multitude of reasons. I have one reason only for suggesting this solution: you can take my solution with you to the Pulpit.

See: neither Dan nor Phil would ever preach from the pulpit using a digital library on their laptop -- because let's face it: it would look like they are phoning it in. It would look unseemly to have your laptop open at the pulpit and to preach from something other than pages -- either printed or hand-written.

But if you stride up to the pulpit with your hand-written notes in your simply-bound report binder Bible, you have instant credibility. And you can keep all your notes right there in that Bible forever -- you can even add new pages after a couple of decades.

No controversy there, right? How will your Wednesday ever be the same? Enjoy & discuss!







68 comments:

Patience said...

That is a fantastic idea!

I have actually seen someone preach using a laptop. In fact we have VGA cable running from the projector to the pulpit. Occasionally we're tech-savvy. It's more for when a person is using a PowerPoint presentation but it has come in handy a few times.

Normally we are actually rather conservative.

Thomas Louw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Gumm said...

If there were a Christian version of Lifehacker, this post would make it for sure.

Steve B said...

I went for the "Deleuxe" Elite version. I got two, TWO different colored highlighter pens and tied them to the top ring of the binder with some really high quality, egyptian cotton twine. Seriously, the thread count on that stuff was off the charts.

And I found some great, lignin- free scrapbooking stickers for the front of the binder.

Cuz that's just how I roll.

Word: beazzle. As in, yo, you be all beazzled by my awesome study binder, fo shizzle.

Steve B said...

Somehow, the idea of waving an iPad and pounding the lectern just doesn't have the same Edwardseque OOMPH one might traditional associate with thundering down a fiery sermon.

Ooops. The 3G just dropped out, uh, where was I?

Jason said...

Looking for a office supply store right now...Good idea! a modern version of Jonathan Edward's bible.

JackW said...

I am so glad there are all you note takers out there so that I don't have to.

jsmith said...

Well…if all this stuff “works” for you great. But maybe you need all this extra bibley stuff because you are not “listening” to God. You need to get in a quiet place and just breathe…God will speak to you…and you will understand the Bible and you won’t need all of these binders and software and blah…blah…blah. These things just weigh you down. You need to be “light”. The problem is you are not “listening” to God Frank. You need to be quiet so you can “hear” Him. ;-)

Tom said...

A few observations:

1) This "note-takers Bible" solution only works if you are under preaching worth notating.

2) Why not settle for the best of both worlds: http://pastorgear.com/2010/08/coolest-pulpit-ever/

Tom

Robert said...

Wow...I think I'm gonna talk to my wife about doing this. We love taking notes in our Bibles, but this would be so much better! You can even add additional pages if you need to add more room for notes. I still love my Bible software for study, but I know that between sermons at church, Sunday School, listening to sermons online, and sermons delivered at conferences, I could really utilize something like this. Plus I could use it whenever I'm reading various books as well. Thanks, Frank. Thank you all...I'm actually planning to work on the resources described in all three posts this week.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

First of all, Frank, the Bible never becomes unglued. :) It does have that effect on us, though, hopefully.

Secondly, what better place to phone home from then the pulpit (your reference to an iphone); I'm sure you would never get a busy signal. But if you don't get an answer, well, now that is another issue all together.

And lastly, what a great idea! I really hate scribbling and marking up my Bible(s), even though I have done it on many occasions. This appeals to the neater side of me.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

One more thing. If you do get an audible answer from the pulpit, on your iphone, you may be Charismatic, or possibly have the wrong number. :)

Enough, I know!

BwayneM said...

Tom:
"1) This "note-takers Bible" solution only works if you are under preaching worth notating."

hilarious....


I'm a bit jealous of you guys that can sit there with your Bible open and start taking notes on what you are reading and it actually being something you can use later. It's not that I don't like writing in my Bibles... I would LOVE to have one of those Wide Margin Bibles with notes filling up each margin from what I see in the text... Problem is, I really need a good reliable commentary to aid me in my studies. . .

lee n. field said...

For bible study, start with "get a bible".

< homer> Oh, the concept! < /homer>

Insert obligatory rant about the state of bible production these days.

Hmm. Interesting idea. What weight paper does the looseleaf bible use?

David Regier said...

I'm holding out for the Bible chip that can be inserted under the skin on my forehead, so I can finally start fulfilling Deuteronomy 6:8.

Frank Turk said...

Lee --

It's a decent weight -- not like normal bible paper. It's akin to light-weight copy paper. If it has any "needs improvement" issues, it need to have reinforcement on the drilled edge like good daytimer/dayplanner pages used to have.

Darby Livingston said...

Sounds like a good way to archive sermons on each text. Neat idea. Now I'm just trying to figure out how to get all that paper into my iphone.

Jim Crigler said...

Frank, the last time you talked about this (I think the loose-leaf Bible was on your Amazon Wish list) you mentioned acid-free paper for note taking. Do you still think that makes a difference?

Bob Johnson said...

Nice, Cent... very nice. Almost thou persuadest me...

Joel Hoyt said...

Amazing. I've been worrying a lot about how to keep notes long term and I didn't want to invest in any type of software that wouldn't be around in 40 years. I love it.

Sir Aaron said...

I use binders full of paper everyday at work. And I know based on experience that after about two hours I'd need to run back to the store for hole reinforcements.

BTW, my pastor now uses the IPad during his sermons (and all of his other teaching for that matter).

Matt Aznoe said...

That is a really cool idea. Thanks for sharing it with us.

It works much better for those of us on a tight budget.

Frank Turk said...

Crigs -

I used acid-free, but that's because I'm a purist. Acid-free will last 150 years; non-acid will last prolly 50 years. If your notes need to be archived for posterity, use acid-free. If you just want them to last for your use, you can save $10.

Andy Naselli said...

When I served as an interim pastor in 2006-2007, I preached and taught from my laptop three times each Sunday. It worked flawlessly.

Long live Bible software (esp. Logos).

Frank Turk said...

Naselli --

It's because you're emerging.






HA!

MCC said...

I think you mean "30 odd." i.e. approximately thirty.

"Aught" is a variant of "naught" (i.e. "nothing") and indicates zero.

Not sure what "30 aught" would mean... Maybe 300.

Frank Turk said...

MCC --

You don't live in AR-OK-MO, do you?

MCC said...

LAL (Laughing aught loud)

TX, just an erstwhile English teacher with a mean obsessive-compulsive streak.

Rob said...

This is a very clever idea, as our pastor is a note-worthy teacher. I'm usually bringing a separate notepad along with my ESV, so this would be a nice way to combo...

Its interesting, though, in that our church does have a guy who, for scripture reading, brings his iPad up with him for the reading. It just seems wrong to me...

Michael Adams said...

I have had the Hendrickson Loose Leaf ESV for over 6 months now. It has really helped out and the options are many on how you may use it.
Unfortunately my handwriting (font) is horrible, but since the Loose Leaf system leaves a whole 8.5 x 11 page to write on, I can write a little bigger and take my notes sometimes in a bit of short hand, or rough draft.

This allows me to take more notes while our Sheppard is exegeting the text, which in turn also allows me to hear more of what he is saying while he preaches. You see before this, it was easy to get lost a bit and have to catch up as I was taking notes and trying to write small and neat, which was time consuming. But my method allows me to take the notes, concentrate on what he is preaching, and keep up.

Now mind you, you may not have the issues I have with sloppy writing, but after I fill a page or so I will go to the computer and type them in and format them correctly. This not only allows me to print it out and replace the page handwritten page with a clean formatted and “readable” page but it now has a lot more room for taking more notes. And in addition, I now also have the electronic form when needed, and I can copy and paste from this when discussing passages or asking questions with our Sheppard or other Brothers.

Recently though, I have split the Old Testament and New Testament as the Hendrickson 5 hole binder is just too cumbersome for both Testaments and the many blank pages. I will be buying another 5 hole binder, not sure if it will be from Henderson or not, but this is definatly too big for just one binder. I have seen this site also...
In addition I have also purchased some hole reinforcement labels as the holes on some pages were starting to elongate and tear. This was time consuming, but I think it will be worth it.

All in all, I really love the loose leaf Bible and cumbersome as it may be, having it has really enhanced Bible study and note taking for me.

Thanks Frank for your post.

Solameanie said...

I have to say, I myself have preached with a laptop. I hated to do it, but circumstances demanded it. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Aaron said...

Frank, you know someone else beat you to this - and he got to use power tools!

Todd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank Turk said...

Aaron --

yeah, I knew about Tony's experiment, and it fails on a couple of accounts, in spite of power tool usage:

1. Wire binding. Really? What is this - 4th grade?

2. Wire Binding. Not expandable.

3. Wire binding. Pages guaranteed to tear out if you use it more than twice.

Just sayin'.

Christopher said...

My wife and I made our own loose-leaf Bibles and love them. Whenever I am studying from a particular book I can just pop that book out, pop it into a binder of its own and toss in some lined pages for notes. It is a beautiful thing.

stratagem said...

A Bible-in-a-Notebook is a great idea, all righty. Movable pages are surely the best Bibley idea since movable type!
You forgot to mention that if you are ever trapped in a mine for 70 days, you will be reading your Bible long after the Kindles have been used as dinner trays. And you will have an extra $200 in your pocket vs. BibleWorks 8.0 (or its Pentecostal cousin, BabbleWorks 8.0).

David Kjos said...

Finally, one of you impresses me with his Bible study technology. Seriously.

Sven Pook said...

Guess I'm emergent as well. I was scheduled to preach and had run out of ink on my printer so brought my laptop because I couldn't print my notes. (That, too, is my story and I'm sticking to it :-). I still recall my wife shaking her head at me (pity perhaps). Never used my notes and ended up preaching something completely different than I had planned . . . maybe that makes me a charismatic . . .

Love the idea Frank, I can't afford Logos and am still using Nelson's Ultimate Bible Library which uses the old Logos platform (bought it for $20 in 1998). The main drawback of it is that I can't add new Bible versions to it because Logos doesn't support it anymore. I have notes on it attached to every book of the Bible that I'd hate to be without. We once lived in an area that had a pastor whose sermons were noteworthy, I'd go home and type my notes into my software during one of my study times the next week.

Today, living elsewhere with no preaching worth notes (except Pilgrim Radio http://www.pilgrimradio.com/Home.php, which just played a series from Phil . . .which was semi-noteworthy ;-)) I haven't been adding much to it, does that mean that my own thoughts aren't noteworthy? Perhaps that is why I haven't been asked to preach in our new church . . . Or it could be that we are those odd people that think God is actually in control.

Think I'll take your idea, and print the notes from my software on punched paper and put it all together . . . hmmmmmmmmm . . . I'm sure my wife will be shaking her head at me again . . .

usernametodd said...

Anyone have an opinion on whether the concordance on the little electronic 'Nowbible' is any good or not?

Paul said...

This would be a wonderful replacement for my archive of church bulletins and moleskins, notes--for the former in particular--scrawled in tiny letters.

What about the holes and sides? My old binders always lost pages faster than Bibles (though I still have my first NASB, in six sections, hanging out inside the old flap) because the page would tear near the holes.

Stefan said...

For your sheer economy and resourcefulness, I think I love you, Frank. And thank you for squelching tenth-commandment issues for us Johnny Laymen (and women).

I have printed out various sections of the Bible before and put them into report binders for study: very handy.

Also your creative ways of dividing up the Bible. Good call on Psalms. For me, bookmarking my printed Bible into 8 divisions seems to work best (5 for the OT, 3 for the NT).

Stefan said...

(8 divisions: separarating the Minor Prophets from the Majors, and the General Epistles and Revelation from the letters of Paul.)

Oh, and there's so much potential for jokes about adding and removing pages of the Bible, but it really is such a simple and brilliant idea that joking about it would just be trite.

Stefan said...

Bwayne:

Have you tried just using a cross-reference Bible?

I'd be lost reading a plain Bible without even any cross-referencing, but a decent Bible with good cross-referencing alone makes such a huge difference in understanding the Bible and reading it profitably.

Stefan said...

Stratagem:

Did you know one of the lead engineers in the Chilean rescue effort is a believer, that it was he who arranged for a pastor to minister to the families, and he managed to get 2 Bibles and 33 New Testaments down to the miners?

3 of the miners were believers, they held nightly Bible studies for 20 mineres, and 2 more gave their lives to Christ while underground.

All through the power of God, using the printed and spoken word in some of the very worst imaginable physical conditions!

Citizen Grim said...

I think James White has an iPad that connects wirelessly with his laptop, so he can leave his laptop in the back of the room, but still access all his notes.

I'm not an Apple fan, but that seems like a fairly elegant solution.

As for myself, I usually take notes in a separate journal, them add them to www.esvonline.org when I have a chance. Has the nice advantage of endless room, and can be deleted, edited, etc as necessary.

Not being wealthy, I don't have any sort of electro-gadgets of my own (beyond a laptop), but not being a preacher, I don't need to worry about giving sermons, either.

Respectabiggle said...

Our church has started hole-punching the sermon notes handouts, so this would make an easy way to incorporate them with the relevant text.

stratagem said...

Stefan
No, I did not know that. That is wonderful - maybe staying in a hell-hole for 70 days will ultimately be a tool used to keep some of them from having to spend an eternity there?

stratagem said...

PS: If you are ever stuck in a mine, the belly of a whale, etc., please bring along the Waterproof Bible

Frank Turk said...

I have eternal and undying love for James White's faithfulness, person and family (in that order). I would not have the faith I have today without him and his ministry.

.

.

.

He's a gagdet hound.

Stefan said...

Stratagem:

Cool. I like the idea of the ESV Combat Bible, for the same reason (the cover is a closing metal case).

By the way, I don't like dealing in unsubstantiated rumours, so the source for the Chilean miners' story is this Baptist Press article.

http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=33848

SammyBoy said...

Frank, I almost went that direction, and may add it to the idea I actually followed. I got the loose-leaf ESV, and used the church copier to reproduce each page with the text only taking up the top-right quadrant of the page. I now have the text, and 3/4's of the page to make notes in. As the page fills up with my handwriting, it's an easy thing to simply make another copy of the page and add it in, to give even more space for writing while keeping the previously scribbled thoughts.

Dividing it down into sections is also helpful, as you found.

~Mark said...

That is so...COOL!!! Thanks for a very useful suggestion Frank!

(By the way,m I still have my little leatherlike Bible given to me 10 years ago by one of my best friends and while I've rubbed all the gold off the edges of the pages, rubbed THROUGH many of the pages, have tape holding several pages together and have lost most of the maps, it's still usable! 8-P)

ZSB said...

Aren't you the guy who called me "Pastor Cletus" a month ago? Wow... This is beyond ghetto.

Frank Turk said...

Why spend $50 on the loose leaf Bible and then spend $220 on copies? You can buy two reams of pre-drilled paper for less than $20.

Frank Turk said...

Zach --

Ghetto?

Geneva-OG.

Halcyon said...

Frank:

"Shilling" for the Bible? What are you, Reformed or something?

Susan said...

Incredible, Frank! It's not something I'd find myself doing, but I'm fascinated by the idea of it all. Kudos for thinking this up! :)

Steve B said...

Okay, I'll admit it. I thought this post was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek rejoinder to the techy posts preceeding it. Very Onion-esque.

Of course, doesn't mean it's a bad idea. Build yer own study bible. I like it.

I'm still sticking with the highlighter pens on the string, though.

Rob Bailey said...

Did you say something about a pocket protector?

DaveS said...

Frank, I think you've reached luddite nirvana.

Jim Pemberton said...

I could use one of those. Due to the prohibitive cost of the bible software, my primary in-depth study is done on-line using a variety of sites with free materials. I have some real books (concordances, lexicons, dictionaries, commentaries, etc) that I occasionally refer to, but from online materials, I can cut and paste into a Word document. When the initial information gathering is done, I mull it all over and eventually whittle it down to a short list of immediately pertinent notes. Then I save it and print it as I need it. Imagine being able to stick the notes in the same binder as the Bible text for reference when studying at church or elsewhere.

NewManNoggs said...

I didn't think you could prove yourself smarter than I already thought you were...

Excelsior!!

Wendy said...

Sorry to comment so late on this topic, but are the pages of the loose-leaf Bible printed on both sides, or are they single-sided? Maybe I wasn't reading the product listing closely enough, but I couldn't see where it said.

Aaron said...

Great idea.


Also, lol on the wire binding comment.

Frank Turk said...

Wendy -

Printed on both sides. If they were printed on one side only, you wouldn't ned to inter leave the blank pages.

That Crazy Christian said...

Not saying that it's a BAD idea, but I can't tell you how many times my Pastor has asked us to turn to 7,000 other verses than the specific section he's preaching through on any given Sunday.

So my fear would be that I'd spend the money and bring the right section (i.e. the one he's preaching on) each Sunday, but end up wishing I would have just had my real bound Bible.

I just buy a new slim and trim Bible every few years and give away the old one to someone I'm witnessing too. Usually costs me about $20. The system works well for me. I also have a few different study/specialty Bible's on the shelf that get used as needed. I never mark my Bibles because I'll either remember what I'm trying to mark (you know, like Romans 5 is kinda important :-) or I take notes and bind them separately.

In my teaching endeavors, one of the things I preach is not to fill your head with a bunch of facts, but rather A) Know the basics, B) Learn to think, and C) Know where to get information and become VERY good at finding it. If you can do those three things, notes become more and more useless by the day.

Good post though Frank. Just because it may not be my thing doesn't mean it won't help someone else. I love posts like this where you give real practical, "behind the scenes" type stuff.

That Crazy Christian said...

Brothers and Sisters, may I please encourage you to at least have one hard copy bound version of every book you own.

It is dangerous to allow ALL of your important information to be kept solely through electronic means. It is dangerous because those companies and organizations that give you electronic information can change said information at anytime, and usually without your knowledge. If you don't believe me, google the Kindle 1984 event from a year or so ago. It demonstrated just how much control "they" have over your electronic gizmos.

This is not to say that Kindles and the like can't be helpful or useful. They can. It's also not to say that I don't use them too. I do. I have an iPhone with three different reading apps, and two Bible apps (including Logos).

But never trust it is a final, definitive, source for information. Convenience? Sure. The backbone of your library. . . not on your life.

mennoknight said...

Frank:

I have been shopping for a preaching and study bible for the last while and haven't found anything that quite fits my fancy YET, so I settled on the Zondervan wide margin single column NASB for preaching (which admittedly has mediocre binding and cover, and small margins for being "wide").

As for the study bible, I've already had the loose-leaf idea, but I was also thinking of including blank paper and then the BHS and NA27 in there as well, so I basically have one stop shopping for exegesis and notes.

My only problem is that I imagine it will way 30 pounds when I'm done, and need a 3 inch binder!

My goal in life is to get famous enough to make Crossway/Zondervan listen to my whining about the mediocre study bible options we have available for those of us who know their languages and don't care what Kay Arthur thinks about the passage.