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Jul 28, 2018

Hey everyone! Greetings!

Lot’s of news to share about ways to access the Daily Bible Reading Podcast, about changes to our Facebook group, and about better ways to share with friends about your Bible reading.

Our Facebook group is now replaced by our forum at http://biblereaders.info.

Let’s start with Alexa. Alexa is the voice activated device created by Amazon. One of the Alexa devices is called the EchoDot, and the Amazon Kindle Fire tablets are also equipped with Alexa. The DBRP has a registered Alexa skill, and the key activation phrase is Daily Bible Reading. So you should be able to say, “Alexa, tell Daily Bible Reading to play the newest episode,” or “Alexa, tell Daily Bible Reading to play episode 208.” You should be able to ask Alexa to subscribe to Daily Bible Reading.

Unfortunately, for some reason, it seems that Alexa works on the EchoDot device, but not on my 10 inch Kindle Fire tablet. This could be because I have disabled as much of the Amazon advertising as I can on my tablet. I haven’t been able to test with any other Alexa device. But I can tell in our publisher’s download statistics that the Daily Bible Reading skill has been used 297 so far. If YOU are one of the people who is using Alexa to listen to the DBRP, please tell me how it works for you and what device you are using. I would like to know if there is a way to ask Alexa to play the NL episode for a particular day, rather than the GN episode. Use the Contact link at dailybiblereading.info to send your message to me.

Because I thought that the Alexa invocation string was failing (because ‘Daily Bible Reading’ contains such common words), I asked our publisher to change it to ‘Digging Deeper Daily’. So far the change has not been implemented, and it may not be implemented. So if you use Alexa or get an Alexa device, I want you to know that the Alexa skill is now listed right on the banner at the top of our dailybiblereading.info site. If that skill ever changes, I will update the banner right away.

All Android devices now have a podcast app! This is big news, because around 66% of podcast consumption happens on Apple devices simply because the iPhone has a native podcast app. Unfortunately Google has not yet made their Android app visible by default on every user’s screen. If you want to use Google’s own native app to listen to the DBRP, the link is HERE in the episode notes. That link worked fine on my Android phone, but didn’t work the same way on my tablet. If the link leads you to the Play Store, install the Google Podcast App, open it, and then search for Daily Bible Reading. You will see the blue Digging Deeper Daily icon down a little way in the results. (And unfortunately it is not first in the results!)

I note that the episode notes in the Google Podcast App are (like Spotify) just a solid glob of text. All the paragraph formatting has been stripped away. So if you use an app that doesn’t show paragraph breaks, just know that you can get the episode notes when you need them, nicely formatted, at our web site, dailybiblereading.info.

I note also that the Google Podcast app allows you to speed up the audio by increments of 10 percent. This is way better than our DBRP dedicated listening app, which only allows you to listen at 1.5 or 2.0 speed. Please don’t listen to the Bible at double speed. You might as well not listen. I don’t like 1.5 speed either. My son, David, listens to the DBRP at 1.3 speed using his iPhone. This works well if you are used to listening at that tempo. I think I prefer 1.2 speed. (But, please understand that I never listen to my own podcasts after I create them!)

Corrections: I still make corrections to the Devotional Content pages in the YouVersion app, but I have not been updating the pages at the web site or DBRP listening app. If you see anything that needs to be corrected or made clearer, please use the Contact link in the menu of dailybiblereading.info.

I want to thank Hannah Yi who shared with me about her group in New York City who are sharing together in going through the Digging Deeper Daily YouVersion reading plan. The capability to share YouVersion reading plans was added last year, but I didn’t pick up on it until Hannah told me about her group. Here’s how it works:

  • When you register for a YouVersion reading plan, you are given the option to make it private or to share it with friends. OR you can Share a plan you are currently reading (like the 3D plan), in the Plan Settings.
  • Once you have a plan set to Share, within any day of the plan, you can hit the vertical 3 dots button and choose Share to invite your friends.
  • At the end of your list of daily readings, you will then find a button labeled Talk it over. That button opens a page that asks the question, “Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?” At the bottom you will find a Write your response link.

Our Facebook group is now replaced by our forum at http://biblereaders.info.

I encourage you to make such a reading-plan group or join one. I think that using Youversion built in Sharing feature is way better than sharing in our Facebook group. If you actually share what God is saying to you, you won’t want to share that with 1,800 people. Sharing true answers to that question will certainly add a whole new level of accountability to your commitment to allow God to transform you. So I suggest making a group that is only 2-3 of your closest friends. OR, maybe you will want to make a group with just one person you are discipling. And because of the level of commitment involved, I suggest that you might want to try sharing a a 7-10 day plan first, before doing something like the 365 day Digging Deeper Daily plan.

Finally I would like to suggest another thing one could do with this sharing feature. You might share a reading plan with only yourself— by registering a second identity in YouVersion. Then you could use the Talk it over link as a handy way to journal about your daily readings. Writing things down DOES help you remember them. You can already write Notes within the YouVersion app by selecting any verse. Those notes can also be shared with others. But sharing with yourself about a day’s readings would give you a good way to write more general notes about your day’s readings.

I have decided to keep the current  Digging Deeper Daily Facebook group open until the end of this year.

Oops. I forgot about that decision. This is new September and the Facebook group will be closed in a couple of days. 

Our Facebook group is now replaced by our forum at http://biblereaders.info.

But I realize that not a whole lot of sharing is taking place there. For now, I have rewritten the description of that group:

Please share new insights from your daily Bible readings, ask questions, and let’s encourage and pray for one another! We also encourage you to use this group to post an invitation for joining you in any other shared YouVersion Bible reading plan.

This group's primary purpose is for sharing fresh thoughts about God's Word that come to you as you read it. We have a zero tolerance policy for sharing the following things: Do not share 1. videos, 2. long texts written by someone else, 3. or about items you have for sale. Doing any of those will result in you being blocked from this group.

So, to highlight the new things in the group description above: I encourage you use the Digging Deeper Facebook group to post invitations to a shared YouVersion reading plans. I hope this might help you to find new friends to go through a theme-based plan together with you. For instance, you might start a group for a reading plan designed for parents of teenagers, or for recovery from drug addiction, or for surviving grief.

Secondly, please note our zero tolerance policy for sharing those three things that don’t fit in our group.

I shared in my last update about our daughter, Rachel, needing an apartment in Dallas without mold issues. Just a week ago she was able to move into a very nice mold-free apartment, which is even close to the Pioneer Bible Translators office where she works. We went down last weekend with a trailer load of all her stuff. We’re so thankful for God answering our prayers for her. Rachel and Gale share many of the same chronic issues with pain, so prayers for them both for relief from pain are always appreciated.

In my last update I shared that I would be making an online class for Indonesian volunteers who would like to help us in our Plain Indonesian Old Testament translation. Without having a dedicated group of volunteers, it is almost certain that we will not meet our goal of publishing the Old and New Testaments in 2022. We started our first ten students in June, and I think that two will complete the course in 2-3 days. One of the two is especially interesting: He is a pastor of an Indonesian speaking church located in BC, Canada. We start another semester in the course on August 1 with 24 new students. This group includes people from all over Indonesia, plus one in Malaysia, two Indonesians living in Taiwan, and one student living in Timor-Leste. Timor-Leste is a very small island state— half of an island just above Australia. Please pray that we will be able to build a team of 24 dedicated volunteers who will help us check and improve our Old Testament translation, so that it can be published in 2022.

If you are with the group that started to follow the Digging Deeper Daily reading plan on January first, then you are reading in Jeremiah. I particularly enjoy the back and forth conversations between the Lord and Jeremiah. But this is also tricky for readers and listeners. For you to understand this book, please try to be alert to who is speaking. In chapter 16, the Lord tells Jeremiah,

“A new time will certainly come. People now affirm their oaths with ‘I swear as surely as the LORD lives who delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt.’ But in that time (to come) they will affirm [oaths by saying//them with] ‘I swear as surely as the LORD lives who delivered the people of Israel from the land of the north …’

Somewhere in the podcasts I’m sure I have said this, but it bears repeating: The fact that God took the people of Israel away twice to different countries (first Egypt and then Babylon), and then brought them back again each time to their country is a fantastic proof of God’s existence. Each time God gave prophecies telling beforehand what he was going to do. Note that God has now brought the people of Israel back three times. What other God has told people that he would do such a thing and then has done it? In the Babylonian exile, God told in advance the name of the king was who would release the people of Israel to go back and rebuild the temple. (We see that later in Isaiah.) And in Jeremiah God clearly told his people why disaster and suffering would come their way. He repeatedly warned them, giving them every opportunity to repent. And as proof, he preserved all these discussions with Jeremiah. Through Jeremiah we have an eye witness account of all the discouraging things that came upon God’s people because of their stubborn and willful disobedience. We get to see right inside Jerusalem, and can observe the wickedness of the country’s leaders, and the dithering and indecision of an evil king. I think it is very worth considering that we are now living through a time where mankind is similarly stubborn against all that God wants. And God has given us prophecies telling us that judgement is coming.

In chapter 15, we might take an example from a verse that is sandwiched uncomfortably between verses telling of the discouraging circumstances that Jeremiah was facing. In verse 16 he says,

“As your words came to me, I drank them in, and they filled my heart with joy and happiness— because I belong to you.”

So my friend, let’s drink deeply of God’s Word, that in the midst of discouraging and alarming times, we may be reassured by a joy that the world cannot fathom, because of belonging to the Lord.

And may the Lord bless you ‘real good’!