Misc. Software Reviews


Illumina Gold Review (3/20/05) Without a doubt, the Ilumina Gold Bible software is the best educational tool we have ever seen for the computer. We haven't been as excited about something since the late 90's.

If you are looking for something to spice up the use of your video projector in the Sunday school we recommend that you pick up a copy of this. The gold edition not only features a lot of encyclopedia type features but also some 3D type views as well as a multitude of videoettes.

There is almost too much to describe. If you plan to use this for your projector, make sure that you get the "Gold" version. This is the one with the extra multimedia features. Check them out at: www.Ilumina.com The Gold version runs about $100.

Terry gives them 5 of 5 stars!


An interesting CD of use to Sunday School teachers is the "Walking In Their Sandals" CD. Version 2 is now out and it includes a variety of videos, over 500 photos and even 360 degree "photo bubbles". Much of the info is designed to be "cut and pasted" into other applications.

There are 14 tours and 34 in-depth articles. Overall I like the CD. It was well done. All I want is more! You can check them out at: www.ancientsandals.com. We don't get any payment for this recommendation, we are just passing on info we think is of interest to our readers.

TERRY'S RATING: I'll give them 4 of 5 stars.


Manna Bible MapsManna Bible Maps is a very extensive Bible map program. The software includes over 150 maps, timelines, genealogies and charts. The maps are interactive on your computer and since they are vector graphics they print out very sharp. The software also includes several hundred high quality photos from Bible lands.

When you click on a city or site then you will see "pop-up" text that give specific info on the item clicked. Double click on any scripture reference that is in parenthesis and the Bible text appears. Click on the scale and the map allows you to measure distances. You can even do multiple point distances. On any map you can hold down the control button and hit the letter "T" and you can edit the text in the notes with your own comments. The program also includes a Bible measurement calculator/converter.

   A neat feature of the disk is that it also includes both PowerPoint and PDF versions of the maps. These are NOT automatically installed and if you are interested in them then you need to manually load them from the CD. This feature is particularly helpful for people that want to use the maps and charts in their own PowerPoint presentations. The program costs about $80.

CONS: The one failure of the program is the inability to resize the maps. The maps default to 640 by 480 and don't automatically resize if your computer has a larger screen. Fortunately, this limitation only applies to the main maps and not the PowerPoint version. There is also a projector application for making the maps appear full size when used with a project. I haven't tried this feature out yet and am not sure about all of it's abilities.

PROS: The bottom line is that this is a very, very powerful program. The PowerPoint version of the maps is a solid plus.

TERRY'S RATING: I give them FOUR of FIVE STARS. For more information visit: Manna Bible Maps


Xenos, a Christian Fellowship in Columbus Ohio, has started producing a variety of multimedia CDROMs. One example that I reviewed was "Objections To Christianity" which reproduces a series of lectures concerning why Christians should trust the Bible, the problem of Evil and Suffering, Evolution, and World Religions. Although I do have a few reservations, I am very pleased to see them pushing the envelope in the use of multimedia for Bible Teaching.

An audio of the lecturer’s speech is recorded on the CDROM and a PowerPoint Slide Show plays in the background. These slide shows are designed for reproducing the lectures rather than for providing the user with a editable set of slides. Basically, if you plan to use these lectures in your class then you simply load the slide show and let it run. Rather than show graphics that illustrate the lesson, the slide shows generally show images of the person teaching the lecture. The main points and scriptures are typed out in text on the slides. Few of the slides had anything other than the main points in text and pictures of the speakers. The Evolution presentation did have a few great graphics, however.

CONS:  On the downside, I did feel a bit unsatisfied with the minimal use of graphics. I would have liked to have seen a lot more supporting images in the presentations. In addition, the sound quality was marginal. This was surely done to keep the file size small. In the future I expect that this will be corrected.

PROS:  The prices of these disks are very reasonable at only about $10 to $15 per CDROM. The particular disk reviewed contained 8 lectures. The CDs look like they are made locally and show how a church can put out a multimedia CDROM on a budget.

The bottom line is that I recommend that you buy at least one disk and try them out. If nothing else, it will be a good demonstration of the technology being used.



This review is a technical review only. The religious views presented by Xenos may or may not be in agreement with your own.
The minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, 486 at 100 MHz, 4X CDROM, 16MB RAM, Sound and Real Audio player version 5.0 or later software. The disk comes with stand alone PowerPoint viewer software.    1-800-698-7884


If you are looking for a good way to show the advantage of using the computer to present your lesson then you can’t get much better than the Charlton Heston series.  There are two disks, one for the life of Christ and the other for Creation through the life of Moses.  Both are great. 

This software does a good job of combining the performer’s great voice with terrific visuals.  The disks are full of ancient artwork, modern photography and classical art.  The presentation is strictly professional.  If nothing else, the disks give a good example of what great presentations can be.   I like to intersperse portions from these disks into my various classes to provide a nice break from the normal PowerPoint presentations and discussions. 

The photographs of ancient sites and artifacts are obvious good illustrations for the classes.  The introduction of classical art in the series gives an opportunity to discuss what was the artist trying to convey and how the Bible story differed from the art.  Such material almost always makes for an interesting discussion.

The advantage of CD-Roms is that you can skip to desired topic without having to wade through a long video tape. If you like to tinker you can search the disks and pull off the avi files you want and show them where ever you wish in your presentations. Please remember, however that this material is copyrighted so you can’t redistribute anything on these disks. Some of the things that I especially like are the controllable 3D animations such as the one for the Egyptian Thebes temple and Herod’s temple.  The ability to visit 3D recreations of these structures is something we couldn’t do before the computer age.

Back a few years ago I paid nearly $40 for the New Testament disk alone. Just a few weeks ago I ran across the package deal of BOTH the New Testament disk, the Old Testament and 6 other software units in a single package for only $29.96 at Walmart.  This package is put out by Rhino software and is a great value.  In addition to the Heston series you also get:

  • Compton Multimedia Bible with James Earl Jones
  • Billy Graham’s Steps to Peace with God (Billy Graham style evangelism disk)
  • 1000+ Bible Clip Art Image pack
  • Zondervan NIV Bible (searchable, etc.)
  • What Would Jesus Do Screensaver
  • Actual Reality (Religious Music “Video” type CD.)

This package was put together by Rhinosoft Interactive 105 E. Wisconsin Ave, Oconomowoc, WI  63066     www.rhinosoftinteractive.com

PROS:  A great value.  You will certainly find something that you like in this set.

CONS:  There is such a wide variety of material that you will surely find something that you disagree with.  I thought that the Voyage Thru the Bible was just slightly “liberal” and I don’t agree with the subject matter of several titles.  When you buy a package at this reduced price you don’t get any printed documentation except for a one sheet handout telling how to install each CD.  I had problem installing the Old Testament CD.  The good news was that the sheet gave a 1-800 number that worked!I called it at 11:00 PM and got an immediate answer to my problem.   This was a real surprise.

TERRY’S RATING:  Five Stars!  This is a super value.  If you are teaching electronically then you simply MUST buy this set.


walk in the footsteps of JesusThis CDROM by Parson’s Technology is a interesting software package.  The concept is a neat idea. They traveled to the Holy Land set up a camera on location and took 360 degrees of photos. They then stitched the photos together to create a seamless “bubble” photograph that you can navigate with your mouse. By clicking on various portions of the screen you can look all around yourself. To a certain extent, you can even zoom in on objects. This allows you to travel to the Holyland in a virtual world and visit various Holyland sites. 

I would like this software a lot more if they concentrated on archaeology instead of the sites that they chose.  However, I realize that this is probably not what most of the religious world is interested in. Most of the sites seem to be the inside of churches that were built over the traditional locations of important events. If you like to look at the inside of ancient churches of the Holyland then this is the disk for you. I am finding limited use of this software in the class. On the other hand, I think that this disk would be very interesting to people that had visited these sites and wanted to see them again.

Please note that this review is for “A WALK IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF JESUS”  and NOT “In the Footsteps of Jesus on CD-Rom” which is different software with a similar title.

PROS:  A really neat idea.

CONS:  Not much archeology material.

TERRY’S RATING:  Three Stars.  Even though I am finding limited use of this in the Bible class I would probably get it again.

PRICE:  Around $20 plus shipping

Bible Illustrator #3 by Parsons Technology 

Bible Illustrator 3Type in a topic and this program will search its database of 40,000 illustrations and give you a list to chose from.  You can highlight the parts you want and paste them into your word processor.  I found the program easy to use.  It ran plenty fast on my 266 MHz computer with a 24X CD ROM.  Overall, I was very pleased with the program.  You are given about 400 main topics for quick searches but if you want then you can actually search the full text of all 40,000 illustrations.

I was impressed that this program included more than just the usual “old” quotes.  I know that it is tempting for program developers to fill their software with information that is over 50 years old so that they can avoid copyrights.  This software included both old and modern material.  For example, you can get a variety of quotes about Television and other modern subjects.

Another neat feature is that you can add your own illustrations and trade your additions with others.  This allows your database of favorite illustrations to continue to grow.

The only thing that keeps this program from getting 5 of 5 stars was that it doesn’t allow you to use the right mouse button as a shortcut for copying highlighted text. That’s a standard procedure for fully functional Window’s programs and I was very surprised to find that they would miss that feature.


There are 3 versions of this program.  This review was of the deluxe version.
COST:  The deluxe program is $69 list price, $49.95 at CBD.
BOTTOM LINE:  This is a great program.   4 of 5 Stars


Logos Lesson Builder 1.1This product allows you to search through a list of topics or type in a Bible reference and it will help you produce some simplified teachers notes as well as a nice handout for your Bible class.  It gives you a selection of suggested questions and teacher comments related to the questions.  You can edit these as you wish.  You can add your own questions and comments for making a class handout.

If you are looking for lots of detailed background information on each lesson then you have come to the wrong place. This lesson builder keys on asking good questions.  Apparently the plan from Logos is that you use their other extensive software products for studying and this product is simply what it says .  .  . a lesson builder.  It allows you to copy in scripture texts from other Logos products.  It does include some information about answers to some of the questions. The lessons are fairly generic. I suspect that this is so that they can have as wide an appeal and market as possible. You can add in your own specific questions and teaching points as you like.

The only problem I had in using the product was to figure out how to control whether the product printed the teacher’s notes or the student handout.  It turns out that the control is on the print page.  I didn’t find the instructions for this until about page 44 on the manual.

At about $50 the 500 prepared lessons make the lessons cost about $0.10 a each. If you teach in 12 lesson quarters that’s a whopping $1.20 a quarter!  This is really a bargain. The program also comes with free King James Version Bible software along with 2 electronic booklets - “Leading Bible Discussions” and “Starting & Ending a Small Group”.

Overall I found this to be a very nice product.  One of the hardest things to do as a teacher is to come up with good questions.  This software did a good job with this.

COST:  The deluxe program is $59.95 list price, $46.95 at CBD.  http://www.chrbook.com
BOTTOM LINE:  This is a great program.   4 of 5 Stars




One million images. This review is based on my opinion of the usefulness of this software for Christian publications. Corel Gallery 1,000,000


This collection consists of about 60,000 photographs, 1,000 fonts, 220 sounds, 125 short videos.  The remainder is clipart, webpage gifs and webpage themes.  Comes on 13 CD-ROMS.  Corel states that about 800,000 of the images are web gifs.

PROS:  Lots of images.  Clipart is shown in color in a nice paperback book.  100 photos from the country of Israel.  Lots of web page stuff.  Having the book is really nice. You can search all of the images except the web images in one search.

CONS:  This collection of 1,000,000 images has less religious images than the 100,000 image Corel MegaGallery!  The 800,000 gif images are NOT searchable by keywords!  Sounds were poor.  Videos were mostly useless for Church work.  Many of them were simply different ways to show the words "First Quarter", "Second Quarter", "Third Quarter" and "Fourth Quarter" which is nice for financial reports but not for much else.  Photographs are not shown in a book but many GIFs are.

There are about 450 religious images in the "Faith" section.  Of these images about 350 are Christian or Jewish.  The remaining images are Buddhist, Hindu, Indian, etc.   In addition, there are religious images scattered among other categories such as holidays like Christmas.  In addition, there are about 100 photos from the country of Israel.

Copyright rules are a lot more straightforward than Corel Mega Gallery.

Terry's Rating - Three Stars out of five. 



We look forward to testing this software.  We have had a lot of disappointments in trying to find good quality Christian clipart.  Christian Computing Magazine gave this software a good review and recommended it as a buy.  I do not know the regulations concerning the use of these clipart images.  The literature claims 10,000 "Christian-theme images"  We have not yet reviewed this software.  You can order the clipart collection alone for about $29.95 from CBD or with integrated publishing software for $49.95.   http://www.chrbook.com/

Send me your comments!  What have been your experiences with equipment and software of use to electronic Sunday school teachers!  We look forward to hearing from you!

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