Article: Why I Returned To My Old Leather-bound Bible

IMG_9082[1]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“).

ScripturesI 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.

About James Rasbeary

I am the pastor of the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Wylie, Texas. Check out my blog at
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25 Responses to Article: Why I Returned To My Old Leather-bound Bible

  1. That’s a great post, Bro. Raz. I still use both. I guess it’s a product of age for me, I’m trying to convince myself I’m young. lol. Your point about what we will leave our children though is very thought provoking. I’ve done many funerals and the first thing I ask the family is if I can take a look at the deceased person’s Bible. I find out so much about them by reading through their notes and seeing how God had worked in their life. That will be much tougher with an IPad.

    • mphull83 says:

      You would have it tough when it comes to me. I have always had a problem with writing notes in a Bible. I know that there is nothing Sinful about the practice but in my own head I cannot bring myself to write in a Bible.

    • ron cabading says:

      How I lived and taught my children will stay in their hearts forever – that’s my legacy. The bible says “thy word have I hid in my heart”. Can I ask if you still use a written address book? If you dont, why not? Needless to say, technology has aided us, even preachers, to study more efficiently. I am not against the traditional bible, I use it, but they are equally of the same value with the electronic version.

  2. Patricia Rasbeary says:

    Son, I am glad you are going back to your wonderful KJV bible sooooo can I have your old IPAD…Love you Mom

  3. When my Dad passed away, our family hadn’t gone to church in quite a while. I went through a very dark time, actually being angry with God. It’s a long story about how I came full circle, but once I did, one of the greatest joys of my life was finding my Dad’s old Bible, and following his handwritten notes, underlines, and cross-references, him essentially teaching me things about God’s word from beyond the grave. I’m conscious of this as I make notes today, thinking that one day my son could be leafing through the pages of my own Bible. As you’ve said, it wouldn’t be the same with an electronic device. That device more than likely would have become out of date and sold, traded in, or discarded. And considering the turn-over rate, only a very small portion of a lifetime of notes would exist anyway. I use a phone app to read and study when I’m away from home, stuck in a doctor’s office, auto repair place or something similar, but whenever possible I use my leather-bound Bible as well. Not to mention, nothing could ever replace the feel. (I’m one of those fuddy-duddies who still likes to have a hymnal in my hand while singing too!) As you’ve said, it’s no sin to use new technology (in either case) but I totally can identify with your reasoning.

    Also (as if I haven’t said enough) I’ve considered before that it might be easy to miss a subtle change or transcription mistake on an electronic device, especially considering the updates that we can’t really monitor well. My printed Bible cannot change.

    Sorry for such a long response, but this blog post really hit home for me. Thanks for sharing, brother.

  4. Jim Finn says:

    Reblogged this on The Vine Vigil.

  5. Cris Mordeno says:

    This is so nice. I still believe in the BOOK. I hope I cold be tech-ky, nothing can beat the real BOOK. Amen, I’m blessed with your article.

  6. Very well said. I am a Baptist pastor with the same beliefs that you have shared here. I am also into technology, but my iPad nor my iPhone will never take the place of a leather-bound King James Version Bible, especially in the pulpit. God bless you more.

  7. mphull83 says:

    I tried preaching from my Kindle one Sunday and that was it for me. When your kindle shuts off during the middle of a scripture reading it leaves you with that lovely feeling of…….oh I just messed up big time…

    ….I mean seriously what was I going to do, just start ad-libbing it? People tend to be following along and I’m pretty sure they would notice if I stated something along the lines of. “And the Lord spoke unto Moses and said, Hey Moses, you never called me back after that ball-game and it’s been awhile since we hung out. Call me back. Thus saith the lord.”

    After that moment I realized that the good book was meant to be read as a book and that not all technological advances are a good thing for all purposes.

  8. vwoods1212 says:

    I feel what you are writing. I like to read late into the night and the nook has the KJV of the bible on it and I don’t really want to fret about getting the light, so I just pull the nook and push a button. I have been doing that for more than a year and I get a fresh tugging in my stomach to reach for my bible, smell it, go through page by page, (but the smell, I just love the smell). Call me weird, but I made a decision to attempt to transition to my book and scribble as much as I want to in the corners, in the crevices, at the top, the bottom, where ever.

  9. Tom Martin says:

    I’m an old guy comparatively. I’m 66 but I’m a techie. I use my iPad in the pulpit for my notes but I have never given up my leather bound Bible for the very same reasons mentioned in this article. There is just nothing like the prented page.

  10. Mike Burrell says:

    Someone once mentioned to me the beauty of the sound we hear in King James Bible Churches when we simply hear the light rustling of pages turning when the Pastor asks us to turn to a specific passage.

  11. Joel says:

    So, one reason to carry a big bible is to be noticed when you enter a room?

  12. Pingback: The B-I-B-L-E, Yes, That’s the Book for Me! | T.R.U.T.H.

  13. Great article! I’m 34 years old (part of the tech-y generation), but I love handwriting notes into my leather bound Bible (Life Application Study Bible). I also love the feel of the old, worn-out pages in my hands!

    I understand that other people get a blessing out of the convenience of the digital format, and I (like you) do not disparage them for it. But for me, I will stick with the old, physical pages and my handwritten notes.

    I love what you wrote about tracing your spiritual growth through notes written in your old Bibles. I can do the same. Do you ever pull one out and flip through its pages to rediscover blessings and memories from old times spent with the Lord? What a blessing it is!

    There are several advantages to all the mobile Bible software. One great advantage to me as a pastor is that the technology serves to keep me accountable in my preaching. I cannot make anything up, or preach off the cuff when I know that anything I say in the pulpit can be instantly Googled, or looked up on Mysword. Such accountability has helped to sharpen me and teach me to be diligent in my studies.

  14. Kim Raley says:

    My dad passed away a few years ago, and I was able to come home with his old Bible. It is old, falling apart, and filled with notes, old church bulletins (from when I was a teen!), and many other pieces of literature. It is so precious to me and at times I just browse through it to see his handwriting, his comments and his heart. Out of everything he owned, this one item means the most to me. Can’t imagine future generations of children who won’t have such a treasure. Thank you for your article.

  15. Pastor Randy Graham says:

    Enjoyed the Article Brother and passed it on.

  16. Pam Nelson says:

    I loved this! It really blessed me. I have the Bible on my Iphone and my Kindle Fire. And like you, I returned back to my old black Bible for my daily reading. There is something about holding it and running your fingers over it’s pages that technology just cannot duplicate. I wish I still had my first Bible after I was saved. It fell apart. I have many Bibles as well, but the next one I had that I used faithfully is worn and the pages crinkled and curled from use. Fortunately, all the notes I had in my first Bible, were transferred to that one and are in the one I am using now. For me, I just NEED to hold my Bible in my hands and feel it’s pages. When I am overcome with emotion, it’s the Book that I hold close to my heart and cling too. A phone, e-reader, or tablet just doesn’t have the same effect.

  17. Dee says:

    Hi, I’m a Bible-Baptist from the Philippines. 🙂 I never thought I’d read something like this. I have the same experience as yours, I used my iPad for almost a year as my Bible and for taking down notes during sermons but then there was a time when I missed using a real Bible so I decided to go back and I felt different, it’s like I was refreshed, underlining and writing notes on it has a very different feel from typing everything.. I thought I was the only one who prefers the leather bound Bibles because even my mom uses her iPad as her Bible everyday. Anyway, I love this post. I hope a lot will be able to read this and realize the difference. And oh, it’s not a matter of age… I’m only 19. 🙂

  18. Kimberly says:

    Just two days ago I was in my parents house going through an old box of things. I found my main Bible that I used from the time I was 7 until I was 19. There are notes, highlighted Scripture and special clippings from church bulletins. It is a treasure. My husband, who grew up in a non-churched home, loved seeing my Bible and thinking of the rich heritage and foundation I have had over the years. Along with this article you posted, these 2 things have gotten us thinking much more about keeping our paper Bible the focal point. It is so easy to get to the phone or tablet and then lose the history, testimony and witness of the Bible that we’ve had for decades.

  19. Darryl Wolfe says:

    Thank you for the post. I don’t use and Ipad I was just using a Bible program on the pc here to study from. And honestly; other than it is faster I can’t come up with a real reason to put my Bible to the side. I don’t feel faster is a good enough reason to use the pc anymore. I have felt as if I lost something over the year or so that I have been using the Bible program. And frankly study hasn’t been as exciting as it was while in the leather bound hand held book.
    I too have decided to go back to the book version and look at the side notes that I have written. It will be like a whole new adventure reading those again.
    Again thank you; and keep the faith.
    I John 5:2

  20. Phil says:

    I get it. I really do. I am also more comfortable with a physical copy of the Bible in my hands. That’s because I grew up with it that way. However, there are hundreds of thousands (literally millions) who have received their first copy of God’s Word electronically on a smart phone, computer, iPad or the numerous other equivalents. Many here in the West use electronic versions of the Bible (which, by the way, are REAL Bibles) out of convenience. However, most, especially in the “unreached” regions of the world, have no access to physical copies of God’s Word. Either they are too expensive, not available, or they live in countries where the Bible is restricted or forbidden. Walking into a coffee shop with a Bible under your arm in North Korea or Laos (and many other countries) will get you arrested and maybe killed. Bibles are being distributed throughout the world through electronic media at an unprecedented pace. And we are seeing people who have never had access to God’s Word finally having the ability to read their own copy for the first time. I have met people just as passionate about their “smart phone” Bibles as this pastor is about his leather-bound Cambridge. The physical Bible is not the important thing. It’s the actual words and the meaning behind those words that are “living and active.” It’s the message that changes lives, not the vehicle that contains the message. I love my Bible, but I don’t idolize it. I worship the One who wrote it, the “Living Word,” not the book itself. If people are more prone to reading it off their iPad than they would be from a large printed book, then we need to be encouraging and admonishing them for it. If it’s more convenient to be carried within the multitude of Apps on a smart phone rather than under your arm, then by all means, carry it. The fact is, there are more people who are carrying God’s Word in their hip pocket and have access to it at the touch of a button than ever before. Let’s not minimize the Bible or discourage those who use it simply because they prefer to read it off a screen rather than a printed page.

  21. Shawn says:

    I use both but I prefer my leather-bound KJV too. The one thing the Bible will always have over the iPad and other such devices is power. I never have to plug my Bible in to recharge. I DO however have to plug myself into the Bible to be recharged. I used to have a travelling job and spent many hours in airports. Smart phones and kindles were great… until their batteries ran low and the airport never seemed to have enough electrical receptacles to accommodate everyone who needed to use them.

  22. David Harris says:

    I use the iPad for Bible reading, and you do have a point: distractions are a problem. With just the slide of a few fingers, I can check Twitter, respond to an email or text, or even jot down a quick note that has NOTHING to do with my devotions. When I feel the ADHD kick in, I reach for the old leather-bound. Thanks for the article. It is a good reminder to stay focused in such a short attention span culture.

  23. Pingback: Why I Returned To My Leather-Bound Bible |

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