April 30, 2017

God and I or My iPhone and I?

Josh Prather

From the January/February 2013 issue of FrontLine:

It doesn’t matter where we are—the grocery store, a child’s music recital, in the middle of dinner, or even at church—when we here a beep or chime, we instinctively grab our phones or tablets to see who needs us or to find out what information we might be missing out on.

Whether you are a teen, a twenty-to-forty-something, a youth pastor, layperson, or a senior pastor, the effects of technology on our time with God are important for each of us to understand.

I am typing this article on my MacBook Pro, my iPhone next to me is ready to notify me of any incoming texts or phone calls, and my iPad is open with my notes. We live in a technologically saturated world. That’s the reality.

While all this technology can be a great help, it can take a toll on our time with God. Many of us spend countless minutes that we never used to use to check Facebook, update Twitter, and play the latest free game in the App Store. Time spent with technology affects our time with God, and it is changing the way we spend time with God.

The way we view sermons, articles, and books has changed forever. We see this change every morning on Facebook and Twitter. If it’s not worth a tweet or status update then it’s not worth listening to, reading or hearing about. Many feel that others might not think they are very close to God if they don’t post a Bible verse or spiritual quote each morning.

Are we a generation that is looking for a quick-hitting devotional thought rather than sitting down with a cup of coffee and putting in the time and effort necessary to really meet with God?

The Distraction

We wake up to the sound of our alarms (which also happen to be our phones) and upon waking up we notice the dozen or so e-mails and texts that have already accumulated since we put our heads on our pillows. As we open our laptops or get our tablets out to spend some time in the Word, we are quickly reminded of those unchecked e-mails. So starts our morning. What could have been a quiet hour spent meditating on Scripture has turned into a spiritual battle for our attention. Those who live on a constant technological diet will always be haunted with distractions.

Multitasking Efficiency

Apps are being created by the minute to get things done better and faster! The other day as I was looking over our property at The Wilds of New England for a potential spot for a zip-line, I began to wonder what the elevation changes were in the starting and landing spots. Instead of thinking about what math equation or surveyor’s tool I could use, I pulled out my iPhone with hopes of finding an app that would help me. And sure enough, in the middle of the woods, I was able to download an app that told me my elevation using the built in GPS. In less than two minutes I was able to have the solution to my problem. Talk about efficient!

Multitasking and efficiency are expected of us in our modern world. But when these things creep into our devotional lives, we do ourselves a disservice.

“The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12), and it must be taken seriously without feeling rushed, hurried, or pressured.

When we open the Word of God (in physical or digital form) we are to approach it with fear and reverence. We must acknowledge the weight it holds and its power to change our lives. We should guard ourselves from skimming through our devotional book or Bible passage just to see which quote we can use to post or Tweet. God’s Word was not given to us for a status-filler; it was given to us to break us, shape us, and mold us into the image of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Let’s strive to ignore e-mails, blogs, and messages until our meditation fills our hearts with God’s wonderful Word.

The Power of “I”

Are you desperate for a new “iDevice”? Remember that God said to Moses, “I AM that I AM” (Exod. 3:14). Let’s remind ourselves of the great “I AM.”

As well, Jesus taught “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58).

I AM the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

I AM the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

I AM come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

I AM the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

I AM the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

What to Do?

So what can we do in the midst of a distracting world? How do we make our time with God a top priority? Here are some ideas that can help make your time with God less distracting and more fulfilling.

Put it in your calendar. Schedule your meeting time with God. It may seem silly at first, but when your phone chimes to remind you that it is time to meet with God, meet with God and refuse to miss or reschedule that time.

Get a good location. Find a place where distractions will be minimal. Don’t choose the dining room table if that is the pathway to the kitchen or bathroom. Don’t choose the living room if the TV is on. Choose a place that is free of distractions and watch your meditation skills increase.

Avoid the media touch-base. Just don’t do it! Don’t check e-mail. Don’t check Facebook. Let the text messages wait. My generation truly struggles with this as we seem to be afraid to go device-free for more than five minutes at a time. I think we can all give God a disconnected hour or devicefree half hour if we truly want to get to know Him better.

God is the great I AM. He is everything we need. God, not our iPads, is our strength. God, not our MacBook Pros, is our refuge. God, not our iPhones, is our hiding place. We must never allow technological toys to take our time, our focus, or our attention away from our wonderful Lord. As a product of the iPhone generation, I challenge those, like me, who are easily distracted by the multitude of iDevices to be committed to the great I AM.


Josh Prather currently serves as the program manager at The Wilds of New England in Deering, New Hampshire. In addition to his responsibilities at the campsite, Josh is a speaker for The Wilds of New England. He earned a degree in Biblical Studies from Maranatha Baptist Bible College. He and his wife, Marcie, have one child.


The contents of the January/February 2013 issue of FrontLine:

Theme: “God and I” Time

Greetings

  • Ken Hay

Establishing Long-Lasting, Life-Impacting, Heart-Revealing Devotional Habits

  • Rand Hummel
  • No habit can claim true life-change like the habit of daily spending time with God in His Word.

Sharing Our Quiet Times with God—with Others!

  • Ken Collier
  • As we are faithful to tend our own relationship with our God, He uses it to help others along the way.

Thirst

  • Rand Hummel
  • Many people are dehydrated and don’t even know it.

“God and I” or “My iPhone and I”?

  • Josh Prather
  • The effects of technology on our time with God are important for each of us to understand.

Keys to Your Own “God and I Time”

  • Kelly Collier and The Wilds Staff

Meditation! Let’s Think about It

  • Rand Hummel
  • We can live kind, gentle, forgiving lives free from bondage to the sins of anger and wrath as we begin thinking like God thinks.

How Important Is My Thinking?

  • Mardi Collier
  • Unless I am constantly meditating on God’s Word and allowing it to change me, I will be guilty of wrong thinking and of being swayed by my feelings

Subscribe to FrontLine here!

See also an “extra” on this theme, “Shut Your Door”, by Rand Hummel, published by Proclaim & Defend in two parts here and here.


Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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