One year ago, I took a step forward in my technological evolution when I was given an iPad for Christmas. This beautiful and amazing tool has become a part of my daily life and ministry. I use it for my sermon notes and many other applications. I also began to use it for my daily Bible reading, with the Olive Tree app. The reasons were simple: it was convenient; it had a built in reading schedule that only required the touch of the screen to go to the next passage; it was different; the Olive Tree app is very beautiful and functional; and it was cool because, hey, it was on the iPad.
I finished the Bible reading program for 2013 with the app. But this year I am returning to my ten year old, black leather-bound, Cambridge University press wide margin edition King James Bible. And I expect to stay with it, or something very similar to it, for the rest of my days.
Technology lovers need not fret or clutch at their tablets while reading this post. I do not believe it is sin to read the Bible on a tablet, phone, computer, or a stone block if that’s what you want to do. I do think that we may be losing some precious things when we get away from the habit of reading and using real Bibles.
I have had only four reading Bibles (I own many others, including one that I use just for preaching, but these are the four I have read daily). I still have my first Bible, an inexpensive one with a laminate cover that was a gift for Christmas in 1991, the year I was saved. My second Bible had a bonded leather cover and was given to me by my future wife the year I started Bible college. My third Bible was a red Cambridge wide margin that was a gift when I graduated college. My fourth and current Cambridge was a gift from my parents in 2003.
I can trace my whole Christian life through the pages of those four Bibles.
Within them are almost 23 years worth of notes, marks, underlined verses, and personal information written in margins, on back pages and fly-leafs. The signatures of men now in heaven remind me of their ministries and investment in my life. Notes written while listening to my pastors or many of the thousands of preachers I have heard remind me of truths that I have been taught. Dates of important decisions are recorded within. These four Bibles are literal treasures in my life.
The Bible as a Book is a powerful thing. If you don’t believe it, walk into a crowded room with a big black Bible under your arm. Then come back later with a leather-bound tablet. People notice the Bible. No one will notice the tablet. This is one reason why, though I use a tablet for my sermon notes, I always carry a Bible into the pulpit to preach from. It’s not a prop. I want everyone to know that without the Bible in my hand there’s no reason for me to even stand in the pulpit. I want to be identified with the Bible (which, by the way, literally means “the Book“).
I also believe in using a Bible to follow along when someone else is preaching. Flipping through the pages to find a text is not as fast as typing it into a search engine, but it does make you more familiar with the Books of the Bible. Plus, when you’ve got that smart phone out, you’ll have the temptation to switch over to Facebook or Twitter or ESPN or Temple Run during the sermon. Which kind of makes you hypocritical, because you’re pretending to be listening to the sermon when in fact you’re doing something else entirely. Can we really expect revival when we can’t even separate ourselves from technology long enough to give our sole attention to the preaching of the Word of God?
I believe there is something to be said for having a Bible visible in your family. I don’t mean a dusty family Bible holding flower clippings and newspaper articles under a coffee table. I mean when your children get up in the morning and see Mom or Dad reading the BIBLE. It has to make an impression. No one ever wrote a song called, “My Mother’s iPad.” They did write one about “My Mother’s Bible” (by Milan Williams, 1893):
There’s a dear and precious Book,
Though it’s worn and faded now,
Which recalls those happy days of long ago,
When I stood at mother’s knee,
With her hand upon my brow,
And I heard her voice in gentle tones and low.
Well, those days are past and gone,
But their memory lingers still
And the dear old Book each day has been my guide;
And I seek to do His will,
As my mother taught me then,
And ever in my heart His Words abide.
Blessèd Book, precious Book,
On thy dear old tear stained leaves I love to look;
Thou art sweeter day by day, as I walk the narrow way
That leads at last to that bright home above.
What will I leave my children in forty years? An iPad50? With Olive Tree or Youversion pre-loaded? No, I want to leave them a stack of worn-out, note-filled King James Bibles. To me, it’s a matter of legacy.
I know, I know, it’s not a sin to read from an app, and I know, I’m middle aged and behind on the times, and someone out there is clutching their tablet in one hand and their phone in the other and mumbling something about the 1950’s. I am just giving you my own thought out reasoning for my return to my own well worn, black leather bound Bible for reading and study. Food for thought, not argument.
Thank you for reading. God bless.