Thursday, November 26, 2015

Why I Still Prefer Printed Bibles

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:
There was a time when people bring their printed Bibles to Church, to Bible studies, to conferences, seminars, and Church events. On Sundays, whether they are on public buses, community vans, or personal vehicles, they could be seen carrying a printed book on one hand. Whether they are carrying bulky study Bibles in their colourful hardcovers; large ones in beautiful leather jackets; or pocket-sized ones that can easily fit into a ladies bag; people going to Church were easily recognizable. In Bible study classes, some eager believers would even bring more than one Bible translation. Some carry with them interlinear types while others would have bilingual Bibles to aid their reading. With a Bible, a notepad, and a pen, the individual would be all set to write notes.

Not anymore.

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.

A) Distractions
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.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

To Welcome or Not to Welcome?

SCRIPTURE: 1 John 4:18
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: 18 November 2015

18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18)

The Paris attacks last week easily consume the front pages of most major dailies around the world. With sensational reporting and graphic pictures, followed by commentaries and opinion pieces, everyone have heard at least something about it: Terrorism in France.

Hundreds of people died, mostly French. By targeting at key popular spots such as soccer stadiums, restaurants, cafes, concert halls, etc, the objective of the co-ordinated attacks is to instill fear and a sense of insecurity among the people. It has partial success. As Parisians grapple with a world that would never be the same again, they realize that safety and security cannot be taken for granted. Flowing tears of grief are mixed with growing fears of new threats that could come anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. These fears resulted in more counter-terrorist actions. The next day, France launched one of the largest assaults at terrorist targets in war-torn Syria. Today, anti-terrorist forces continued their hunt for the masterminds of last Friday's attacks. As world leaders and community groups come together to pray for France, social media is filled with notes of love with #PrayForParis.

At the France-England friendly soccer match yesterday, although England won 2-0, the result did not matter. The highlight was not the soccer game but the events before the game. United as one people, both French and English national anthems were sung by all in the stadium, including a sizeable number of French in the crowds. It is a show of unity and defiance against terror, saying that good will always triumph over evil. Everywhere we go, we see the French flag colours of red, white, and blue across monuments, buildings, and public events. The social media titan, Facebook has even made it easier for users to create French coloured backgrounds for them to express their sharing of grief and their solidarity with the French people.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remembrance Day 2015

SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 4:9
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: November 11th, 2015.

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them." (Deut 4:9)

It is Remembrance Day today. At 11:11am local time, on November 11th each year, many people observe a minute of silence to remember several things. They remember the terrible consequences of war where many young men died in the battlefield. Whether the nations are victorious or not, right or wrong, young or old, young lives are lost. Husbands, fathers, professionals, students, workers, and young males from all walks of life fought in the terrible wars. In World War I, nearly ten million soldiers from all sides died, together with more than 7 million civilians. All the major countries of the world were involved from East to West. In World War II, the numbers jumped up to more than 85 million casualties of war. Even today, many wars are still been fought in places like the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Americas.