Smartphones. We seemingly all have them now, don’t we? Sometimes they feel like more hindrance than help in regards to the hectic pace of our spiritual lives. Doesn’t it seem impossible to finish a conversation without getting a call or receiving a text?
But let me introduce you to a revolutionary concept—your phone can aid your spiritual development in some ways, too. It doesn’t have to just be a distraction, it can act as a stimulus to spiritual growth.
Maybe it would be worth our time to highlight a few mobile apps that would aid your spiritual growth:
- Scripture Typer – Available in both Android, Kindle, and iOS, Scripture Typer provides a means to commit verses to memory with greater ease. This app invites you to memorize any verse you select (in the version you prefer), downloads it from the inter-webs, and moves you through 3-stages of memorization (“type it,” “memorize it,” “master it”). After you’ve “mastered” your verse, you can file it to a review system that will re-introduce you to the verse periodically so as to keep it fresh. An upgraded version is available for $10 which allows an unlimited amount of verses and comes with extra bonus features. One of my favorite aspects of Scripture Typer is that it allows a quick way to memorize on the go.
- The Gospel Coalition App – Available on both iTunes and Android platforms, this app provides all of the content of The Gospel Coalition Website (Blogs, messages, etc) in an easily navigated app format. If you’re not familiar with The Gospel Coalition, you can check out some of their content here. The content varies widely but is always very biblical and cross-centered. I’ve found this app helpful for long waits in line and other unexpected times where there is simply nothing better to do.
- The Desiring God Apps – If you’re not familiar with John Piper’s ministry, he has proclaimed the all-satisfying nature of God for years. His preaching and books have changed the evangelical landscape for many of us. Desiring God has always been at the forefront of using technology to push biblical teaching to new arenas. But now this series of apps puts a great deal of content into the palm of your hand. Whether it be the short, biblical answers to tough questions of “Ask Pastor John” or “Sermon of the Day” App, all of the content provided is worth a listen.
- Revive our Hearts App – Access all of the Revive our Hearts resources; blog posts, podcasts, conference messages, etc. from this app.
- Church Link – This app (android and iOS) will provide a mobile link to Greenville Grace’s website. You can gain access to our sermon podcasts, church calendar, and our blog on your mobile device.
- Nozbe (or ToDoist, or any task management app) – Use your task management app to help you manage your spiritual, family, and work obligations to the glory of Christ. I’ve been learning a great deal about this recently—if I don’t put the to to-do in my app, I will invariably forget it. Even the mundane tasks of Bible study, prayer, and scripture memory can be set up as regularly repeating tasks at specific intervals.
- Covenant Eyes – Covenant Eyes is a paid subscription service that monitors your web viewing and reports to other people you have asked to hold you accountable. If you don’t know this already, your cell phone provides quick access to content that no one else will know that you see (even more so than your laptop or personal computer). With that being said, I would strongly suggest removing any web browsing apps from your phone and using Covenant Eyes to assure that you are accountable for the images you view. Another thing to note, the presence of the Covenant Eyes app on your phone does not provide accountability for your other apps.
- Bible Apps – There are quite a few Bible apps available for your phone and tablet. Having a constant Bible with you, even if it is on a cell phone, is certainly valuable. Even informal conversations, sometimes at the least likely times, can take a turn toward the spiritual. Having a Bible in your pocket might help such conversations take a better turn. Below is a listing of top pics. Most if not all are free or at least have free options.
- The Bible App: The Bible App by YouVersion boasts over 1,000 translations in over 900 languages! By default, all translations require internet access to view; however, many of the translations can be downloaded for offline access. Create an account to highlight text, take notes on passages of scripture, and access from any device. Available for virtually every mobile platform out there.
- ESV Bible App: The ESV Bible App is available for both android and iOS. The entire Bible downloads and is available for offline access.
- The Bible Gateway App: The Bible Gateway App offers over 90 translations for your android, Kindle or iOS device.
Bonus – Grace Sermon Podcast:
See, your cell phone isn’t that evil.
With that being said, I would also advocate a few guidelines with your cellular device. The tendency is that our mobile device can quickly become indispensable, an additional bionic appendage that we can’t imagine living without. Perhaps we need to consider the interactions of Jesus—His intentional attention, pointed words, and unfailing presence with those whom He interacted. Think about it: Do we ever see Jesus become genuinely distracted by something deemed more important than what He had directly in front of Him?
- Limit Your Availability – There has been no shortage of ink spilled on the concept of “unplugging”—getting away from your tech devices so that you have more space for reflection and contemplation. This discipline can actually be facilitated within your device itself. For instance, I have set my iPhone’s “Do Not Disturb” settings to only allow phone calls from those deemed “favorites” between the hours of 10 p and 7 am. Specifically, the hours of 10-11 p or 6-7 am are set aside for prayer and bible study, or time with my family. My cell phone doesn’t need to be ringing during these hours.
- Limit Your Usage – Even with the former statement, though, there are times where we simply need the discipline to put away our devices. We’ve all seen the mother flipping through her Facebook feed while her child screams for her attention. Recognize that being present with your family probably requires setting these devices aside. No one can ever truly multi-task. More likely you are bouncing your attention between two separate things… and not really minding either of them at once. A practical way of limiting your usage can be to leave your cell phone (iPad, laptop, etc) at the front door when you arrive home, only to be accessed for certain portions of the day. Believe me, I’m not always doing a great job of this one.
- Intentionally seek ways to express love and care for those around you – I wonder at times if our screen-oriented lives haven’t really just become an excuse to not have honest interactions with one another. As believers, these interactions are vastly important as we seek to encourage one another (Heb. 3:12-13). Intentional expressions of care for others may become increasingly foreign to our culture, but all the more necessary.
The bottom line is that your cellular device is neither angel nor demon. It can aid or hurt if you decide to let it. But whatever you do, make sure it’s rooted in faith in Christ (Rom. 14:23), not in a pile of silicone and plastic casing.