The Beginner’s Bible

My two-year-old has his own group of age-appropriate apps on my iPad (quickly becoming the “family” iPad). In his group we have placed some of his favorite games, like Angry Birds and ABCs, and several Bible-based children’s apps. The newest addition is The Beginner’s Bible, which I’ve been asked to review by Zondervan.

First, let me share how Gabe uses it. Lately when I give him the iPad, he will go directly to the Beginner’s Bible. This surprises me, because he used to have a different favorite. Maybe he’s just open to new and different experiences. But he will open it up and click on the “Read” button, which will offer him six colorful stories from Genesis to choose from. He’ll press one of them and listen as it reads aloud to him.

In each picture next to the text, a reader can make something happen. It’s sort of a hidden feature meant to surprise the kids. Touch an animal and he’ll move; move the circle and watch the sun rise and set. Some of the animations are super-simple, but they seem to delight Gabe nonetheless.

He keeps trying to swipe the page to make it turn. There is a small button which, when pressed, will turn the page; otherwise, it doesn’t turn until the narrator is finished. This frustrates Gabe a little, so he’ll skip the story and move to “Play.” The same six colorful boxes appear, but this time they are puzzles or coloring pages. He loves puzzles and will stick with those for a long time. The colorful pictures really appeal to him.

Those two features pretty much sum up the Beginner’s Bible app. For toddlers like Gabe, I think it works. Vibrant colors, simple user interface, basic Bible stories … all these make the free version easy and fun to use. I do not foresee him continuing to use it past 3 or 4 years old, especially since I do not plan to purchase any more stories.

Purchase? Yes, more “Story Packs” can be bought in groups of six: 6 stories, 3 coloring pages, 2 puzzles, & 1 “bonus activity.” So far I see only one new pack available, but I presume they continue to develop more to keep kids learning about Old and New Testament characters and events.

Zondervan has produced an attractive app suitable for small children whose parents allow them access to the tablet. It’s simplicity and dearth of features make it both easy to use and easy to put down. Perhaps if they added more activities, the Beginner Bible app would have more staying power.

The High Calling

Later next week I’m going to attend, in my role as Christian Living editor for FaithVillage, the Work as Worship Conference. It’s actually a conference for professionals, folks who spend most of their time and energy working in a secular role. Yet as people of faith, who follow Christ, they may wonder how to merge their professional and spiritual lives.

The Work as Worship speakers–Nathan Sheets of Nature Nate’s Honey, Bonnie Wurzbacher from Coca Cola, Steve Green of Hobby Lobby, Dave Ramsey from…well, you know… and several others–believe that our Christian faith should be integrated with our work. So do the writers at The High Calling.

Subtitled “Everyday conversations about work, life and God,” the High Calling produces videos, articles and podcasts that encourage the living out of one’s faith in the workplace. There is no segregation between faith and work, they believe. Recently, they’ve also produced a free weekly newsletter.

In it, subscribers can find a selection of articles, videos and podcasts. None of them takes longer than 3 or 4 minutes to read (or view or hear). The relative brevity of the content makes them easy to process. Viewers can gain a nugget on which to think as they go about their day. Typically I enjoy a more lengthy article, but for busy professionals these shorter pieces are well-suited. A manager or worker could open his or her email to the newsletter, click on a link and finish that piece within a couple of minutes. Perfect for starting your day or catching up at lunchtime.

The content is well-written, mixing spiritual concepts with very practical business ideas. So not each piece will talk directly about scripture. You may hear one professional discuss management skills, or the benefit of generosity in the workplace. Other pieces may tell stories that surprise and encourage. It seems that each one aims to connect one aspect of faith with an aspect of business life. For example, integrity at work is a reflection of your inner faith; creativity should not be wasted–it’s a gift of God; giving is not relegated to tithing.

If you work in a secular environment but believe you are called to apply your faith in that environment, The High Calling newsletter may be an encouraging, useful addition to your weekly reading.