Until a few months ago, I was languishing in the miry clay of outdated technology…still using my old flip phone…wasting away in a sea of disconnectedness…chained like a prisoner to my limitations of communication that only included (sigh) voice calls and text messaging.
But lo, one glorious day the clouds departed and my social quotient was restored, when my cellular contract allowed me to upgrade from my old inexcusable, dinosaur of a phone, for just pennies on the dollar. Into my life came a full and wonderful blessing that must surely have been sent directly from heaven above…my iPhone.
Seriously, I don’t get new techie stuff very often. I tend to keep things for a very, very, VERY long time. So a smart phone of some sort was long overdue in the Fitzpatrick house. And I’ll tell you, we have really loved having the coolness and connectedness that has come with one. The iPhone really has allowed us to do some wonderful things…things that we didn’t even know had made it into the real world yet. But mainly, I use mine for musical contact and networking and getting word to the Praise Team at church, and that’s like, every single day. And at this point, I already almost can’t imagine how I ever did anything without it!
One of the most useful things for me, has been the availability of the App Store. And one of the first apps I downloaded was the Olive Tree Bible Reader. Since grabbing this free app, I do all my reading, study, referencing…all from the comfort of my phone. I don’t even take my actual leather-bound bible to church anymore. I mean, why should I? What’s the use, when I can do all that I need (and then some), easier, faster and more conveniently, from my phone?
Well now…therein lies the problem…doesn’t it?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing sinful about an iPhone. There’s nothing wrong with me reading scripture on my Bible app. I don’t think God has a problem with folks leaving their bibles at home and bringing their tablet or smart phone to church for reading.
But for me, personally…it was becoming a problem. OK, not a “problem” per se, but it was slowly turning into something that was causing a self-conflict inside of me.
The other Sunday, it just kind of hit me…for me, for Ricky…my Bible is something that moves me to reverence. It’s my touchstone, in a way. There’s just something about folding it open and flipping through those worn, noisy, thin pages and seeing my years of scribbles and highlights and margin notes…it brings me to a place that I just don’t get from my phone.
I got my current Bible as a graduation gift in 1987 from my then-church family at Galilee Christian. So just the simple act of holding of it, surrounds me with the always-present memories and lessons that have shaped and followed me, since I was a teenager. There’s a LOT of personal history attached to that book.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with the iPhone. But I have to tell you…speaking for myself, I’m just compelled to start back bringing my actual bible to church with me.
Why? Because for one, I think it’s something that helps me focus. It helps me focus my attention and my study, strictly and more succinctly on God. It reminds me that I’m entering into an activity that is different from my other routine, run-of-the-mill stuff. This book is unlike any other book I own. And diving into it, even for one lone verse, is something that goes beyond me.
Also, let’s say a new family is visiting at our church. And they glance over at me and during the sermon, they notice I’m browsing on my phone. They don’t know that I’m using my Bible app (and it really isn’t and shouldn’t be their concern). But my Ricky-personality wants to say “Mind your own beeswax”. But the Holy Spirit whispers to me “But how do the effects of your perceived actions, honor God?” In that light, it becomes clear to me that I need to be conscious of what I do, especially in public. Because not only WE, but GOD, is being evaluated by those around us, by OUR actions. And those evaluations are not only aimed at us and God, but they are paving (or destroying) the path that a person might be about to take that will lead them to repentance.
So that’s me. I feel the renewed need to bring my Bible to church. Not that I won’t continue to supplement my Bible studies with the Olive Tree app, but for Church, I just feel convicted about not having my Bible in-hand. I think I need it.
You may not…and that’s cool. There’s no verse (that I know of) that commands us to bring the leather-bound, printed Word with us when we gather. But the next time you use your mobile device to communicate, investigate or connect with someone or something about your church, faith, belief or relationship with Christ…stop and think about it.
Let Him always lead you, concerning how you can serve and seek Him, most effectively.
Psalm 24:1 – “The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it…”
Psalm 40:8 – “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."
Take-Away: Don’t forget that we do not serve an informal and disrespected God. We serve the awesome and glorious creator of all things and the omnipotent master of the universe. Don’t take your relationship with Him, disrespectfully…give Him the honor and reverence He rightfully deserves, even if that means forgoing some of our daily conveniences.
Prayer: Father, convict me. If there are things that I do that might hinder those around me, please help me to know them. And if I’m in the habit of doing things in a way that lessens my awe of you, please help me to be aware of them and to do whatever it takes to show You how much I revere and love You!