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60 Pounds Down

Yesterday, I officially passed the 60 lb. mark in regard to my weight loss. Most people are sensitive regarding how much they weigh, but these days, I'm happy to tell you my weight. But you need to know the previous weight first: on January 5, 2016, I weighed 265.5 lbs.(which is actually not my highest weight ever) according to my WiThings scale. Yesterday morning, I weighed 205.3 (I weighed myself twice to make certain).

Two and a half years may seem at first like a long time to lose "only" 60 pounds, and it's understandable that I've pursued this goal harder in some weeks than others. It's also true that in 2015, I gained back about half the weight I had lost to that point and really had to put the brakes on and get serious. Having said that, though, everyone who seems to know what they're talking about says that losing weight slowly is healthier for one's body and the best way to increase the odds against gaining weight back. 

I did all this following the health principles in the Daniel Plan. I've not written anything about the Daniel Plan here on This Lamp, primarily because I've only blogged in short spurts over the last few years. But maybe it's time to talk about the Daniel Plan, losing weight, and getting healthy. I've had a lot of time to think on the subject, so I'll break that down into shorter reads in the upcoming posts

Political Advice for a Future Antichrist*

"For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect."

Mark 13:22, NIV

I've read the above verse many times and wondered, What would it take to deceive the elect? Well, I believe I've figured it out! So, if there's a false messiah or future antichrist reading this, here's a little help for your campaign of persuasion. 


Dear Future Antichrist,

I can't tell you how to gain a following among Christians all over the world, but I have learned a couple of things about my own culture that may help you. If you want to reach at least some of the conservative Christians in America, make certain you have these two bases covered. Nothing else matters except these two issues. 

(1) You must promise to protect Second Amendment rights. It doesn't matter whether you really value or follow through on this; just make certain everyone believes you will. 

(2) You must proclaim that you're now pro-life. Your previous position, words, and actions don't matter. All you have to do is say that you're pro-life now, and and you will have unquestioning followers. 

These are the only two check boxes that evidently matter. If you can convince your followers that you hold these two things dear, you will have full impunity to say and do anything you want. As long as you cover your bases in these areas, your followers will support you regardless of anything that happens afterwards, in spite of how preposterous your words and actions really are. 

Good luck (not really),



*Let me be perfectly clear: no, I do not actually believe any of the candidates currently running for office are "the Antichrist" (none of them have enough charisma and charm to qualify). However, I do believe many of the actions seen in today's politics (across party affiliations) are, indeed, antichrist (lower case "a")--that is, in opposition (ἀντίχριστος) to the person and work of Christ (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). And I'm saddened as to how some people can forego all discernment to uncritically ignore grossly bad behavior and past history as long as a prominent individual proclaims (with no evidence of sincerity) to value a couple of prominent hot button issues. 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law."

Galatians 5:22-23, HCSB (emphasis added)




Where We Might Get Our First Glimpse of the New CSB

In yesterday's post, "2017 Christian Standard Bible (CSB): Everything We Know So Far," I mentioned that, so far, I've not been able to find any examples of the new text except for Revelation 22:6a that reads identically the same as that in the HCSB.

It may be that we have to wait until January, the stated date for the launch of the new CSB, but there may be a couple of earlier possibilities. The first is simply speculation on my part: the November meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society in San Antonio might be an appropriate opportunity for Lifeway to reveal portions, or perhaps even all, of the new translation.

However, a more likely place we will probably see examples of the new CSB is in Lifeway's own curriculum, which is published quarterly and months in advance. I teach from Lifeway's Explore the Bible curiculum at church, and we are currently in the summer quarter, which runs through the end of this month. The Fall quarter begins in September, and the Winter quarter begins in December. However, all of this literature is released months in advance. In fact, much of the Winter material--at least some of the digital content--is already available. However, I determined yesterday that the current HCSB is used through the Winter quarter.

On Lifeway's Explore the Bible Facebook page, I asked if we would see a switch over to the new CSB in the Spring 2017 quarter material. Since the reply was public, I am repeating it here:

"Yes, at this point, we plan to introduce CSB content into our materials beginning with spring 2017. We are a part of the CSB soft launch."

Since churches have to order cubiculum months in advance, and the digital versions are made available first, I would not be surprised to see samples of the new CSB in this content sometime in the next few weeks. If this does happen, and if I find any examples of note, I'll post them here.


Comments Fixed (I Think)

I discovered that my comments were not working. I believe they are now fixed, so if you tried to post and couldn't, please try again. 


2017 Christian Standard Bible (CSB): Everything We Know So Far

The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) has been my primary public use translation for most of the last decade. I teach from it every Sunday at church. My default workspace in Accordance features the HCSB in parallel with a combined Hebrew and Greek text. It's not perfect, and I always reserve the right to correct it (or any translation) on the fly, but--as I've explained elsewhere--I value it for its readability as well as willingness to break with traditional wording (such as in John 3:16) for sake of accuracy. 

There's not been a whole lot of information released about the upcoming update to the HCSB other than the fact that Lifeway is dropping the "H" in favor of simply calling it the CSB, Christian Standard Bible. If memory serves, this was the original plan back in the early days when the late Arthur Farstad was still in charge of the project, but I could be mistaken. 

As I've indicated, we don't know too much about the CSB, but I thought that I might use this space to lay out as much as we do know up to this point. 

Official website and not-so-secure, retailer-only section of the website:

Press release

Launch date

Announcement in January 2017 with printed editions following in March. This allows stores to clear out print inventory of the HCSB over the Christmas buying season. 

Forthcoming print editions

Nearly 100 coming from Lifeway with more from Baker in 2018. Besides multiple text editions, there is a new CSB Study Bible, Essential Teen Study Bible, evangelistic editions, and more than one edition aimed at children. 

I'm surprised that I don't see a Minister's edition yet among the pre-pub listings. I teach from the current HCSB Minister's Bible at church.

Forthcoming Bible software editions

No word yet on electronic editions, but presumably the usual bunch: Accordance, Logos, OliveTree, and Wordearch. Lifeway owns WordSearch, so I'm sure they will have it, but I hope the CSB is licensed to other platforms, too. 

Reason for dropping "Holman" from the name

Official reason:

"We are proud of the heritage of Holman Bible Publishers, which dates back to 1743, making us the oldest North American Bible publisher. While we are retaining that name for our publishing entity, the Holman name in the Bible translation name often created more questions than answers (who was Mr. Holman?). 'Christian Standard Bible' removes some of those questions and increases appeal to the broad audience that the CSB is designed to serve."

Probable reason: "Holman" is associated with Southern Baptists. Dropping "Holman" fits better with the diversity of translators who produced the H/CSB and will hopefully open the door for more greater use among a diverse representation of churches and denominations. 

Reason for update

Official reason:

"We are committed to improving our translation based on advances in biblical scholarship, and input from Bible scholars, pastors, and readers. Taking all of these items into consideration, the CSB has improved on the HCSB’s faithfulness to the original text and clarity for a modern audience."

Translation method

As with the HCSB, Lifeway continues to use the designation Optimal Equivalence as a description of the CSB:

"In the many places throughout Scripture where a word-for-word rendering is clearly understandable, a literal translation is used. When a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audience, a more dynamic translation is used."

This means it is a median translation (the best kind in my opinion) balancing between formal and dynamic equivalence. This is similar to the method used for the NIV, NET Bible, and many other modern translations. 

Significant changes between the HCSB and CSB

Not publicly known yet. The only verse quoted on the official website is part of Revelation 22:6, which reads the same in both versions: “Then he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true.’”

I would hope they choose to translate ἀδελφοί as the more accurate "brothers and sisters" when the context warrants it, and I hope they stick to their guns and keep שֵׁכָר and σίκερα correctly translated as "beer" in Lev 10:9; Num 6:3; 28:7; Deut 14:26; 29:6; Judg 13:4, 7, 14; 1 Sam 1:15; Prov 20:1; 31:4, 6; Isa 1:22; 5:11, 22; 24:9; 28:7; 29:9; 56:12; Mic 2:11; and Luke 1:15 as the HCSB does now. This still surprises me for a translation owned by a Baptist publishing firm, but I respect their commitment to accuracy. 

Identity of translators

No one has publicly been named, but the translators have been described as "100 scholars from 17 denominations."

I will continue to post updates as I find out new information. If I have left anything significant out, please let me know in the comments.


With the Internet's Permission...

I think I'll start blogging again. 

Stay tuned. 


Garage Sale Memories

We're having a yard sale today. I'm even set up with our Square Reader in case someone says, "Well, I'd love to buy that quesadilla maker with a busted latch, but I only have my debit card." Heck, I can even take ApplePay!

I keep referring incorrectly to this activity we're engaged in today as a garage sale, even though we don't actually have a garage. Kathy reminds me that it's a yard sale. Of course, technically, we're not out in the yard either because (1) we live in a garden home/condo, and there's not much yard to speak of; and (2) it's raining, so we're under the awning.

In fact, it's downright cold. The rain and fairly strong breeze brought with it 57° temperatures. If yard sales are a Spring event, no one sent an invitation to the Spring weather. I'm sitting outside under our awning typing this on my MacBook and my fingers are starting to get numb. I should really stop, but I had two distinct memories of garage sales from when I was younger that I thought I'd share. 

When I was a kid growing up in Louisiana, we regularly had garage sales. Although, we didn't have a garage back then either. We had a carport. Everyone had carports instead of actual garages. If you don't know what a carport is, think of a garage with at least one side completely open and no door. Our garage sales were in the carport, straying out into the driveway a bit. All that to say, I'm going to use the term "garage sale" throughout this post, even if it's not technically correct then or now. 

Back then, we often had combined garage sales with the Jarrell family next door. When we did that, there wa a rule that they couldn't buy any of our stuff, and we couldn't buy any of theirs. If we were trying to get rid of stuff from our house (and make a little money on the side), buying anything from them--or vice versa--was supposedly counter-productive. However, as with all house rules in life, they're not always hard and fast in the moment. 

My first significant garage sale memory had to do with what got sold that wasn't supposed to be for sale. We kept stuff in the carport like lawn mowers and a cabinet for my dad's tools. We also kept my chalkboard set in the carport. Evidently, I had been a bit too messy with the chalk at some point and from then on, all my chalk work had to be done outdoors. As I think back to that garage sale when my chalkboard was sold without my consent, I have to admit that I can't remember whether I was right there when it happened or not. I have to think that I would have said, "Hey, that's not for sale!" However, I also have this complete memory of what transpired. Here's how I remember it whether or not the exact details are merely fictions of my imagination. 

Here's how it plays out when I think back to the events: There was this well-to-do looking woman looking at my mother's clothes hanging on a rack. Not seeing anything she wanted, she glances around our carport. Spotting my chalkboard set, she says, "Oh my! How much for that?!" My mother starts to say, "It's not..." but then catches herself. Always the shrewd businesswoman, she says, "It's $2." And then the woman calls her son over who is absolutely delighted to see his new chalkboard set. The woman pays my mother (out of a coin purse, the way I remember it), and her son proudly carries my chalkboard set with both arms wrapped tightly around it, beaming with joy.

Again, I don't know if the above is how the event actually transpired. However, I have this exact image of the woman who absconded with my chalkboard set clearly in my mind. I also remember what her son looked like. If I ever see either of them, I'm going to explain it was all a mix up and ask for my chalkboard set back. Who knows? Maybe this was a turning point in my life. Had it not been for my chalkboard set being sold without my consent, perhaps I would have kept drawing with chalk. Maybe I would have practiced every day and be a famous chalk artist now. People would spend great amounts of money to fly to the places where my newest masterpiece was displayed--before it could be washed away by the next rainstorm!

Truthfully, I'm not really resentful (anymore) over the chalkboard set. But it is something I occasionally use to tease my mother. And it's a good lesson to me to make certain I look through any items that we put out for garage sales these days. Who knows when Kathy will think that old desk lamp with the chipped shade would be better off out of our house? Then, how would I see anything on my desk?

I remember something else from my childhood about garage sales. I was in 9th grade at the time. At home, we had spent a good bit of the week getting things ready for the upcoming garage sale on Saturday. I had gone through my closet and the rest of the room debating whether I really needed various things like the sneakers that were my favorite but now no longer fit my growing feet. Garage sales could be pretty big productions. We didn't just throw it all together on Friday night like I tend to do now. And so, the garage sale was the most prominent event in my mind that week. On Friday morning at school, when we were in home room, our teacher asked if anyone else had any announcements that should be mentioned before the weekend. I raised my hand and said, "We're having a garage sale this weekend. Everyone come on out."

One of my classmates--who shall remain nameless--very quickly put me in my place: "Mansfield, nobody wants any of your old crap." I'm sure he was right, but it took me by surprise. It might be old crap, but I thought it was special because it was my old crap. 

We had a steady stream of shoppers this morning at our yard sale, but ever since it began raining, they have been few and far between. Surely, we would be sold out of everything by now if it hadn't rained. Or maybe it's simply still true that nobody wants my old crap. 


Theotek Podcast #32: Extending an Olive Tree

This morning LaRosa Johnson from OliveTree Bible Software showed off the new Windows version of their software that will debut next week. Then LaRosa, KevinAntoine and I engaged in a friendly but spirited debate over Bible software design. 
If you want to join us live each Friday at 9 AM EST, or if you want to know where you can subscribe and download episodes, head on over to the Theotek website for more information.
Feel free to add questions, thoughts comments, or rebuttals here in my comments section or in the comments for today's episode on YouTube.

Theotek Podcast #31: Heard It, Lived It, Reddit

This morning, Kevin, Antoine and I discussed this past week's controversy on Reddit and offered parallel applications to the voluntary nature of church life. We also discussed the release of Microsoft Office 2016 for the Mac, the Tronfy iWork 4.0 Bluetooth earpiece, my recent Surface 3 review and more. 

If you want to join us live each Friday at 9 AM EST, or if you want to know where you can subscribe and download episodes, head on over to the Theotek website for more information. 

Feel free to add questions, thoughts comments, or rebuttals here in my comments section or in the comments for today's episode on YouTube.


Review: Surface 3

Blame it on the iPad, but I've come to appreciate portable form factors when it comes to computers of any kind. Gone are the days when I felt like I needed to carry a 17" laptop. I really appreciate something the size of a notepad or book--like the iPad. I've said before that if I could do everything on the iPad, I would, but we're not there yet. Therefore, I greatly appreciate small tablets or laptops that carry full computing capabilities.

The Surface 3 is one of those devices. I had the original Surface RT as well as the original Surface Pro. Both were impressive machines to me for what they were. However, it was the Surface Pro that really sold me the idea of a pen for Windows tablets (see where I've discussed the importance of this here and here).

The first two generations of Surface devices from Microsoft made sharp distinctions between the “plain” Surface line (always the lesser RT Windows OS) and the Pro series (full Windows). The lines are blurred with the introduction of the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3. The Surface 3 followed the Surface Pro 3 by a number of months, and when it was released seemed to confirm what everyone had already assumed: RT was dead. That's because the Surface 3 is a full-blown Windows tablet, albeit a less powerful one than the Pro line.

The Surface 3 employs a less-powerful Intel Atom processor running at 1.6 GHz. Although less powerful than the Pro counterparts, the Surface 3 demands less on the battery. In fact, it runs completely silent--there are no fans on this device or vents for airflow as on the Surface Pro 3. For those who are interested, my Surface 3--128 GB model with 4 GB RAM--achieved a 1018 single core score and a 3440 multi-core score in GeekBench 3 (compare that with 2367 and 4889 respectively on my 1.3 Ghz 2015 MacBook).

Here's the truth when it comes to computers though: most people have more computer than they need. I'm convinced that all many people need is an iPad, but even when it comes to traditional Windows and Mac computers, most will still buy more powerful devices than what they need for the majority of tasks they want a computer to perform. We now live in an age where the operating system no longer outpaces the hardware. Rather, the opposite is true.

This is certainly the case for the Surface 3. For most things the atom processor is fine. This is not the machine for frequent video editing or heavy Photoshop work, but almost everything else works fine. As with any off-the-shelf Windows computer (and many older models), Accordance Bible Software still runs blazing fast, and BibleWorks 10--which announces its startup time--loads in under 6 seconds. Logos Bible Software, always a bit pokey in my experience, was not usable to me on the Surface 3, so I don't removed it and do not recommend it on this device.

At 10.6", the screen on the Surface 3 is larger than an iPad and larger than the first two generations of the Surface and Surface Pro; however, it is smaller than the 12" Surface Pro 3. For some, no doubt, the smaller screen will be a deciding factor if choosing between the Surface and Surface Pro 3. The best change in the screen, as in the Surface Pro 3, is a switch from the 16:9 form factor to a 3:2 screen. This is important for reading 8.5 x 11" documents in portrait mode. The original dimensions of the first two generations of the Surface always made document reading an odd exercise, something not desired in a device aimed toward students and business users.

I have only one complaint about the screen, and I have no idea whether this is a hardware or software (Windows) issue. When I am in low light (such as the restaurant where I am typing this), the screen will occasionally dim and then bounce back to its previous level of brightness. Tapping the brightness keys makes no difference; I just have to wait for it to come back to the level that I prefer.

The pen for the Surface 3 is interchangeable with the Surface Pro 3; but unlike the latter, it does not come included. Nevertheless the 3rd generation pen, created by N-trig (now owned by Microsoft) is thicker and much better in the hand that the pens of the first two Surface Pro generations.

A tap on the button at the top of the pen will automatically launch OneNote. I wish there was a way to program this for different applications, Evernote for instance. It's not that I have anything against Evernote, but I have over 800 notes in Evernote, so it's not very easy to switch.

As with the Surface Pro 3, the keyboard for the Surface 3 has to be purchased separately, which is really a shame. Despite the marketing of the Surface series as both a tablet and laptop replacement, it is better at replacing a laptop. Therefore, a keyboard is essential. The keyboard will fold up near the bottom of the screen placing it at an angle for supposedly more comfortable typing, but I dislike this for two reasons: (1) typing on the raised keyboard is too bouncy for me, and (2) it becomes impossible to swipe up from the bottom of the screen when using Modern UI apps. As for typing on the Surface 3 keyboard laying flat on a desk or table, I have no complaints. I find it to be both fast and responsive.

The trackpad on the keyboard of the Surface 3 is better than that of the previous two generations, but it's still not great. I don't use it much, opting for my finger or the Surface pen instead. Third party mice will work well, too; but in my opinion, carrying around a mouse defeats the benefits of the Surface 3's portability factor.

Battery life is quite decent. I've not done any scientific tests, but I can tell you that the battery on the Surface 3 will last longer than that of the 2015 MacBook, which I also use. I prefer not to turn down screen brightness when I use an unplugged laptop or tablet. Why should I settle for subpar use? If the MacBook will last about half a day, the Surface 3 might make it for the full day; however, I recommend at least throwing the charger in the car, just to be safe.

Speaking of the charger, this device charges pretty slowly. Again, I have not made any scientific tests on this, but it charges slower than any of my other devices; and from what I've heard from those who have both, slower than the Surface 3. When pushing the Surface 3 a bit more than usual--such as a Google hangout using video--the Surface 3 would not charge even though plugged in and even seemed to drop a percentage or two.

Let me be perfectly honest: although I really like the Surface 3 and plan to keep it indefinitely, I seriously doubt I would have paid full price for it (I had the opportunity to purchase the Surface 3 with a keyboard and pen bundle at a Microsoft Friends & Family 1/2 price discount when it was first released). Both the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3 are premium devices, which means they have premium prices. I'm not saying they aren't worth the price because the quality and build of the device is really solid and beautifully-made. But consider the full price of my configuration: 128 GB Surface 3, 4 GB RAM ($599) + Surface 3 Type Cover ($129) + Surface Pen ($49) = $778.98 total. I'm not saying that the quality of the Surace 3 doesn't demand this kind of price; however, there are more powerful Windows laptops and tablets for this price. Moreover, if you're willing to pay this price, would it not be better to pay a bit more and get the Surface Pro 3? Even a lower-end Surface Pro 3 would be considerably more powerful than the Surface 3.

So who is the Surface 3 for? That's a good question. Although I stand beside my contention that most people have more computer than they need, if I was really in the market for something in the Microsoft Surface line, I don't know if I wouldn't just pay a bit more for a Surface Pro 3. Having said that, the smaller screen may be of benefit to many, even though we're just talking about a difference of 1.2" diagonally between the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3. Yet, if you carry your computer with you a lot (as I do), like me, you may have discovered that even incrementally smaller is better.

Interestingly, on recent flights to and from San Francisco, I used the Surface 3 on the foldout tray on the way, and the MacBook on the way back. I discovered the MacBook took up less space because the kickstand (in its first position) on the Surface 3 requires slightly more depth. The entire Surface 3 did not as easily fit on the tray as the MacBook, which had room to spare. If you travel a lot, this could be a deciding factor if you're deciding between a Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3.

Ultimately, this computer is for you if you appreciate the portability and form factor of the Surface series. This is the smaller of the current generation, which may be of benefit to some. And, if you don't mind paying premium prices. Note, however, that the Microsoft Store offers a 10% discount to those in academic settings.

Final caveat: if you decide to get a Surface 3, get the 128 GB model. I recommend 4 GB of RAM as a comfortable minimum for Windows devices. And although there is a MicroSD slot on the Surface 3, for my purposes, the 128 GB internal drive is much more advantageous than the smaller 64.


Questions, thoughts, comments, rebuttals? Let me hear from you in the comments section.