I’m always looking for better ways of accessing, searching, and reading the scriptures. They are truly the words of eternal life. Whenever I hear of a new way of encountering the scriptures, I check it out. DearScriptures.com is an online version of the scriptures that now allows you to text message (SMS) or instant message (IM) scripture references to it, or search for scriptures, and it will reply with the references and/or text of the scripture(s). It includes other great features as well, such as searching hymns and retrieving hymn lyrics. And it’s all free!
DearScriptures.com is an online scripture database that allows you to “read, study, listen, annotate, take notes, search, look up a word’s dictionary definition in multiple online dictionaries, and look up the Greek or Hebrew translation of nearly any word in the Old Testament or New Testament using Strong’s Concordance”1.
The thing that really interests me is the new powerful ability to interface with the scriptures (and hymns) through text messaging and instant messaging. Sometimes I just need to look up a scripture quickly, I don’t have my physical scriptures with me, and if I’m by a computer, I don’t want to take the time to open up LDS.org or a scripture program or the scriptures on my iPhone. Sometimes I just need a scripture really fast, such as when I’m emailing, or in a conversation with someone. That’s where DearScriptures.com new features come into play.
You can send a number of different commands to the service (via either text or IM), and it will respond almost instantly:
- scripture reference — by simply sending the scripture reference, the service will respond with the verse(s) requested. Examples, “Amos 3:7” or “Amos 3:7,10” or “Amos 3:4–7”
- chapter reference — sending any scripture chapter, with no verse, will return all verses in the chapter. Example, “Amos 3”
- s[earch] text — this basically searches all the scriptures for the text following the “s”, and returns all scripture references it finds. Example, “s revealeth his secret” returns the following “Amos 3:7”
- d[efine] text — this searches for the word following the “d” in a number of different dictionaries, and returns the definitions. Dictionaries include The Collaborative International Dictionary of English, WordNet, Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary. Example, “d prophet”
- r[ead] text — this searches similarly to the “s” search command above, except that it returns the references and the text of the scriptures it finds. Example, “r revealeth his secret”
- m[astery] text — this command searches only the scripture mastery scriptures for the text after the “m”, and returns the references and text of the scriptures. Example, “m prophet”
- h[ymn] text — you can use this a couple different ways. Put in some text after the “h” and it will return the numbers and titles of all hymns with that text in their titles or lyrics. Put in a number after the “h” and it will respond with all the lyrics of that hymn number. Examples, “h prophet” returns 30 hymns with prophet in the title or lyrics, “h 19” returns the lyrics to the hymn “We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet.”
- b[ug] text — this command will send a bug notice or enhancement request to the developer, so he can fix the problem or enhance the service.
- h[elp] — this will respond with a shortened version of these commands, so you don’t have to remember them. It will also include any new commands when they are added.
I’ve tested sending these commands via text message and instant message, and the service works great at replying with the request in just a couple seconds. This is certainly the fastest way I’ve ever seen to access the scriptures. No more excuses for not having a hymn book too!
One limitation with the SMS texting side of the service is the length of text message allowed. Usually the length of a text message is limited to something like 170 characters, depending on the service used. Any references/scriptures that are returned that are longer than this will be cut off. The developer is planning on adding a feature to send only the top results, and allowing the user to request “more” by sending such a text back. Google Talk seems to have the longest character limit.
Set up Instant Messaging
To set up the instant messaging, you have to be using Google Talk (or Gmail chat), MSN Messenger, AIM, Yahoo, or Jabber. Just add the respective address below to your account:
- Google Talk, add the user firstname.lastname@example.org as a friend.
- MSN Messenger, add the user email@example.com as a friend.
- AIM, add the user firstname.lastname@example.org as a friend.
- Yahoo, add the user email@example.com as a friend.
- Jabber, add the user firstname.lastname@example.org as a friend.
Then all you have to do is send a chat message to that user, using any of the commands above, and it will reply almost instantly.
Set up Text Messaging
(Update 5/9/11: The text messaging service is no longer functioning.)
To use the service through text messaging, just send a text of any commands listed above to the phone number 206-552-8927. It will reply with a text message in seconds. That simple.
This is a great new service, that I think will get lots of usage. If you like it, try out the website version too at DearScriptures.com.
What are your thoughts about the ability to look up scriptures quickly by IM or text? Any situations you can think of in which this would be really handy? Please share with us in the comments.Notes: