Friday, January 13, 2017

Smart Phones and Smart Spirituality

Check out 7 Ways Smart Phones Can Enhance Your Spiritual Life by Joe Carter at TGC. Some of this material was adapted from Joe Carter’s latest work, the NIV Lifehacks Bible: Practical Tools for Successful Spiritual Habits (Zondervan, 2016).
“We're going to make some history together today.”

Those were the words the late Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple, spoke 10 years ago this week when he introduced the first version of the iPhone. At the time, smartphones—cell phones that operate as mobile computing devices—had been around for nearly a decade. But Jobs’s boastful claim proved to be prescient, and the iPhone sparked a revolution in the use, innovation, and mainstream adoption of smartphone technology.

As with most every tool, ubiquitous use brings a plethora of problems. Technology has a way of shaping our values and our culture—often in ways in which we remain blissfully unaware. Christians must therefore think critically about how smartphones affect us, both on the individual level and also as a community of believers.

Yet in watching out for the pitfalls of technology we should not overlook the ways that smartphones can be useful for spiritual formation. Here, for instance, are seven ways you can use your smartphone to enhance your spiritual life:

1. Read God’s Word

Being able to conveniently carry around God’s Word wherever we go is one of the greatest benefits of having a smartphone. Most likely, though, you mainly use the app when you forgot your print Bible or when you need to look up a particular verse. But Bible apps can be used in a variety of useful ways, such as when your Bible reading plan includes chapter readings from multiple books (as with Prof. Horner's Reading System).

When I used that system with a printed version of the Bible I spent nearly as much time flipping through the text and keeping track of the 10 bookmarks as I did in reading the Scripture passages. The app makes the process much simpler and more convenient, thus helping me to stick with the multiple-chapter daily reading approach.

Recommended resources: YouVersion’s Bible App (which includes the Prof. Horner Reading Plan)

2. Listen to God’s Word

Listening to audio Bibles can increase your Scriptural intake and help you to catch nuances in the text that you might miss in your readings. A couple of decades ago you’d need to spend several hundred dollars for dozens of cassettes or CDs. Today, you can download free apps that have excellent recordings of God’s Word that you can listen to anytime on your smartphone.

Recommended resources: ESV Bible app, NIV The Listener's Bible

3. Memorize God’s Word

When it comes to memorizing Scripture, the key is repetition and recitation. Use your calendar app or an app that allows you to schedule texts to yourself to send the verse you want to memorize at a predetermined time during the day.

An alternate approach is to copy the verse or passage on your note app and set a (silent) alarm to send reminders throughout the day to stop and work on memorizing the passage.

There are also several apps, such as ScriptureTyper, that can help make the process of memorization easier.

Recommended resources: TextItLater, ScriptureTyper

4. Be ready to share God’s good news

A lot of the anxiety we have about evangelism is due to our insecurities about being able to share the gospel or answer questions from unbelievers. You can alleviate some of this stress by preparing a document in your note-taking app that includes a clear explanation of the gospel (there’s no shame in reading it aloud until you have it memorized), a few relevant Bible verses, and answers to common questions and objections to the Christian faith. Having this document as a quick reference can keep you feel more confident about sharing God’s good news.

You can also create a folder in your Kindle app that includes the books you find most helpful in explaining or defending the faith. Then, when there is a passage from a book that you think would be useful for a new believer, you can pull out your phone and share it with them directly.