Many people I have come into contact with this year have made strong comments about the use of smartphones. Almost all of them have been negative.
I’ve heard things like,
“People don’t know how to communicate anymore. All they want to do is text and look at Facebook on their phone.”
“My husband would rather look at his phone than spend time with us.”
“All people do nowadays is play Candy Crush and Flappy Bird (for those who downloaded it before it was removed).”
“If I see one more selfie, I’m going to go insane.” (Ok to be honest, that was me.)
Contrary to popular belief, the smart phone is not the problem. While communication is an issue that needs to be addressed in every home, texting and social media are not the real culprits. Husbands and wives have been choosing to prioritize other things above their spouses way before phones were invented. Games have been addictive for centuries. Vanity has been a problem since the first sin.
Truth is the only problem with smartphones is that they magnify outwardly the sin within us.
Recently, I preached a sermon on idolatry. One of the quotes that I shared was from the early Christian theologian Augustine. He once wrote that “idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to be used or using anything that ought to be worshiped.” Timothy Keller, an NYC pastor goes so far to say that “(all) sin is idolatry.”
Too many times, people (Christians especially) are quick to deify or demonize (compliment or complain in less religious terms) tools that God has provided for our use.
By giving it too much credit either way, we negate our own responsibility and the “devolution of mankind.” (Thanks Mark Wohlford) Contrary to evolution’s theory of man getting better over time, our hearts will keep being bent toward sin unless Christ comes to live in us.
With all that said, you get to choose how you manage your smartphone. You can choose to destroy your relationships by putting it ahead of your priorities or you can utilize a smartphone to your spiritual advantage. You can use a smartphone to grow significantly in your relationship with Christ starting today.
5 Ways To Grow Spiritually Using Your Smartphone
1. Commit to a Daily Bible Reading Plan
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105 NIV)
There are many apps that are available to download on your smartphone. I personally recommend Lifechurch.tv’s free Bible App called Youversion. Type in The Bible App or Youversion where you download apps on your smartphone.
The great thing about Youversion is that you can pick Bible reading plans according to your goals. Choose Browse Reading plans and a whole buffet of plans ranging between short-term plans of single books to plans to read the entire Bible. I currently am reading Part 2 of Let’s Read The Bible Together, a whole Bible plan.
The easiest way to hear God’s voice is to read the Bible.
2. Meditate on Scripture by making it your lock screen
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8 NIV)
You may think of Eastern meditation when I mention this spiritual discipline but I assure you it is quite the opposite. While Eastern meditation is all about detaching yourself from the world by emptying the mind, Christian meditation is concentrated focus on Scripture. Try starting out with the words of Jesus. They are a great way to begin meditating because they are full of wisdom and by in large more familiar.
I set my lock screen as a Bible verse so the first thing I think about when I look at my phone is Scripture. It helps me stay focused on eternal things when I am tempted to get wrapped up in the trivial. It can be helpful to rotate Scriptures at least once a week. When you combine this with our next tip, you can experience a double dose of spiritual growth.
3. Memorize Scripture with an app
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4 NIV)
How did Jesus respond to Satan in the wilderness? With Scripture. The only “original” words that Jesus is credited with during the temptation is when he says, “It is written” and “Away from me Satan.” The responses are all verses from the Old Testament. If Jesus responded to Satan with Scripture, we too can overcome temptation with it.
When was the last time you memorized Scripture? After reading the writings of Dawson Trotman, founder of the Christian group known as the Navigators, I have really been convicted about memorizing Scripture. Since reading Trotman’s work I have committed to memorizing several verses of Scripture per week. It not only has directly helped me overcome temptation but it has renewed my mind as well.
The app I use is called Fighter Verse. It costs $2.99 but in my mind, it’s priceless.
4. Text God in your notes
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6 NIV)
According to Business Insider, the average American adult sent between 10 (55 and over) and 67 text messages daily (18-24) in 2012. If we were to do the same survey and asked people how many times they prayed, it would be significantly less.
Many people pray at meals, which is great, but most of us need to pray more often. When people hear this, they might be intimidated or nervous but we don’t need to be. What I’m suggesting is that we treat prayer like a text conversation sometimes. Instead of long prayers, try just a few sentences. Instead of asking for something, thank God for something/someone. Confess your sins to Him and ask forgiveness when you mess up. Tell God something you love about Him. Have a relationship with Him.
Use your notes section to both type your half of the conversation with God and add a Bible verse from your daily reading plan when He speaks to you. When you look back over time, you’ll see how God has answered your prayers through each day and have your faith/relationship grow.
5. Listen to sermon podcasts
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. (Romans 10:17 NIV)
Yep, I’m a preacher and hope you listen to what God has put on my heart to say on Sunday mornings. But I also want you to listen to other ministers as well for a well-balanced diet. What I enjoy about podcasts is that you get to choose the voices that speak into your spirit.
I try to listen to four different voices with different approaches to preaching. I divide them into four categories: heart, soul, mind, and strength. While the people I listen to may not speak to you the same way, here are my current four guys. For my heart, I listen to a guy named Matt Chandler from The Village Church in Dallas, Texas. He straight up speaks with passion and a pure heart that is completely committed to the Gospel. For my soul, I listen to Timothy Keller (already mentioned). He is a pastor and author from NYC and he always gets down to the very core of each subject he preaches on. For my mind, I’m going to John MacArthur, the Bible teacher from Grace Community Church in Southern California. He has forgotten more about the Bible than I will probably ever remember. Lastly, I listen to Craig Groeschel for strength. He’s the pastor of Lifechurch.tv, creators of Youversion and his messages give me strength to keep serving God faithfully.
I recommend you take a balanced approach if you are a podcast sermon person. I’ve found that it helps me grow the most since each person has a different style and approach to preaching. If you’re a minister reading this, don’t try to be like your guy. Be you. You’ll never be the next anybody. You can be a great you though.
*BONUS* Turn off your smartphone
This is a free one because I love you.
Just turn off your smartphone and be present wherever you are. Take time to look up from your smartphone and watch for opportunities to worship God, serve God, and just plain love God.
Question: What are some other ways we can use our smartphones to grow spiritually?