SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 40:6-8
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: 26 November 2015
6A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
7The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:6-8, ESV)
|(Picture Credit: aachristian.wordpress.com)|
Times have changed. Instead of printed Bibles, most people carry pocket-sized cell phones. Whether it is an aging palm-sized iPhone 4S or the larger screen Samsung Galaxies; Kindle Fires or the Android 10” tablets; there is a new revolution in the way people read Bibles. With a swish left, they can move forward page, a chapter, or a book. With a swipe right, they can page backward. Using fingers to magnify or to shrink the words, it is a technological wonder on how we have the whole Word in our hands, ready to be manipulated according to our eyes. Sometimes, it seems like the attraction is not the Bible but distractions of other things.
Distractions like the brightness and look of the screens. Where is the elusive setting to control brightness? How can the fonts be made a little bigger? What version do I want to open? Which Bible app should I use? There are the free ones like YouBible; the Zondervan BibleGateway app; the Logos Bible app; the Olive Tree Bible; the eBible; the GloBible; etc. Some of these require an active Internet connection in order to browse to our favourite versions. Unless of course, we pay a small fee to download some pretty good electronic Bibles such as the Tecarta (Android/iOS) and the NeuBible (iOS).
There is the distraction of seeing another person’s digital device looking more cool than ours. “Hey! Is that the latest iPhone 6S you’re using?”
There is the distraction of pop-ups, emails, and Whatsapp messages that appear on our cell phones. “Hey! I really need to respond to my boss. Just gimme a second.”
Meanwhile, the Bible reading progresses from person to person until someone says: “Where are we now?” This person had been lost trying to navigate the Bible on his own tablet. There were times in which I simply pass my own Bible to the person struggling to read from his own phone.
There is a change in the way we do Bible studies now. So what I do is to print out the entire passage for the group. Every single person gets the same Bible passage, the same Bible translation, and being on the same page. Literally and metaphorically. Literally, we all have a better following as the person reads the Bible and the rest of us follow accurately the verses read, the pages flipped, and the thoughts synchronized. Metaphorically, we are all following the journey through the same passage and studying the contexts together.
Having all on the same page is important for a Bible study environment. If not, we can easily go off tangent on other matters. A careless flip or an innocent tab on our tablets can launch us to a whole new app or page, leaving us behind from the rest of the group. Or when our phones go black to conserve energy, forcing us to look for the power button to get back on track. Worse, when we spend more time trying to navigate our eBibles, we subconsciously lose the train of thought by the person sharing about the Bible verses.