Awesome!” The next generation iPhone is just out, and you’re already engrossed, exploring features and putting its new and improved power to work. Look! Point it at some text and it’s translated to Spanish. Listen to hymns. Say a name and you’re talking to your best friend. Snap a photo, press a button or two, and all your friends now have it. Don’t have an answer to that question? Just ask Siri. Don’t know the way to a conference? No problem, follow Mr. GPS.
Our God is an awesome God. He’s awesome on a totally different plane than the world of technology. When was the last time you pulled out His text message to you and, with amazement, found out what the “next generation God” can do? No, He’s not new and improved, He has always had that power: a power so vast, so infinite, that we could never come to the end of exploring its depths. He’s the same God to each new generation with the same power to work in lives. Has He awed me today? I wonder what He wants to do next in my life. Where am I in God’s Positioning System? Have I asked Him the way? Ask Siri about God and it will just scratch its computer brain and come up clueless. You need more than e-Sword technology to know God.
Technology is great. We use it every day without thinking about it. With the push of a button we’re laughing with our friends or crying as we share another’s loss. It’s in everything from that buzzing alarm to the light you switch off at night.
But when we consider God’s greatness, He is wonderful beyond words. We enjoy His provision every day without thinking about it. We see His wonders and they’re so abundant we often ignore them. Do we miss a call from God and think nothing of it? Do we bother to call Him back? Or do we put Him on silent?
Listening to God
Here’s a challenge for you. Before going to bed tonight, take off the headphones, turn off the iPhone, click off the computer, and kneel beside your bed before your almighty God and heavenly Father, with a spirit of reverence and awe. Wait there in silent expectation for communication from Him to your heart. What does He want me to know? What does He want me to do? How could my life count more for eternity? How can I know God better? These questions will never be answered by technology. They come from the still, small voice of our communicating God. Put on the earbuds of prayer, and read the text message of the Scriptures. Seek after His wisdom as for hidden treasure, and find the knowledge of God (Prov 2:5).
Where is God?
Maybe to you God seems far away, and there’s no answer on the other end of the line. You think your heavenly Wi-Fi is dysfunctional, and you feel like you’re searching in vain.
Google can’t help you here. Meditate and pray over the following verses, and ask God to change you and work in you.
Calls from God
“Seek Me” (Psa 27:8).
“Believe Me” (John 14:11).
“Ask Me” (John 14:13).
“Love Me” (John 14:23).
Calls to God
“Search me” (Psa 139:23).
“Cleanse me” (Psa 51:2).
“Teach me” (Psa 119:11-12).
“Lead me” (Psa 139:24).
God is calling you. Will you answer? No, He might not be calling you to Zambia. He is first calling you to walk with Him, to get to know Him better. He might also be calling you to raise a family for Him, to be a blessing to your neighbor, or to share the gospel with a friend. He is calling each of us, saved by grace, no matter who we are.
What’s at stake?
How much does this matter anyway? We’re not talking about placement on the Tetris hall of fame. God is the one keeping score, and the coming kingdom will reveal our placement. A life full of Christ is a fulfilling life. Go in for what matters. Set your sights on your glorious Lord. The race will soon be run. You’ll soon be looking into the eyes of the One Who died for you. Oh, to not be ashamed before Him at His coming!
We all need to progress and develop spiritually. We need each other’s prayers for preservation and encouragement. We need men and women who are connected with heaven. Remember, God answers knee-mail.
Using technology in a positive way
So where does technology fit into God’s call? Technology is just a tool; God does use technology in the fulfillment of His purposes. It can be used profitably in so many ways to spread the good news of the gospel and to be a blessing to others on the road to heaven. Here’s a list to start your wheels turning:
Bible Programs & Study Tools
e-Sword (free, e-sword.net)
Most of us know about e-Sword already, but it is a powerful program for Bible study, giving a wealth of commentaries, translations, dictionaries, e-books, and a good assortment of Bible maps & charts.
The Word (free, theword.net)
This program is very similar to e-Sword (with basically the same resources). It’s a little easier to use perhaps, a bit more powerful, more customizable, and is even portable: just plug your flash drive into another computer and The Word is at your fingertips.
BerBible (free, berbible.org)
Very basic and light-weight, this program includes free KJV, NKJV, ESV, and NASB versions.
Online Bible (free, onlinebible.net)
The What the Bible Teaches New Testament commentary series (digital format) is available here for a $20 purchase.
Microsoft OneNote enables you to scan and organize your notes to remove the clutter of all those papers. It recognizes and searches scanned, typed text. It also allows you to insert audio in a document, and if you take notes on that audio, it remembers where in the audio your note was taken so you can go back and listen to that particular location again. Notes can be synced online (for free) and edited there as well.
Online Study Tools
Each of these has a large selection of online Bibles and study materials.
Mobile Electronic Bibles
Perhaps you want a mobile electronic Bible, but you don’t know where to start. If you don’t own a computer and want a simple, searchable, one-translation electronic Bible, a Franklin is a fine option ($40-$50). Otherwise, if you have a computer with Internet access, you can install free Bible apps on an iPod Touch ($180+ new, or get used ones through craigslist.com). (Note that an iPod is different from an iPod Touch.) Various Bible applications are also available for the iPhone and Android Smartphones (see following section).
Pocket Sword (free): basically e-Sword for iPod, iPhone, iPad with offline translations available.
You Version (free): Many free (and offline) Bible versions for iPod, iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, & more.
Listen to the Bible (online).
Bible reading plans help you set and achieve reading goals. Check off progress, and if you get behind, the reading plan can be recalculated to evenly distribute the remaining passages. Share your plan with friends for group accountability.
Believers Hymn Book (TBD) – Listen to each hymn, search lyrics, etc.
Favorite Hymns (free) – gospelriver.com/hymnapps. Now you can sing your favorite hymns any time. Suggest others for inclusion.
OliveTree.com also has many mobile Bible resources.
Audio Bibles for Free Download
FaithComesByHearing.com. This site also sells portable audio players containing the Bible for outreach work.
Audio Messages and Downloads
There are a number of online options for good, solid assembly teaching and gospel preaching. Some sites will send you free CDs of gospel messages. It is sometimes easier to get a friend to listen to a CD than to get him/her into a meeting. How about burning CDs (legally permitted, of course), for your assembly to distribute?
Do you want to listen to messages or music in your vehicle, but you don’t have a CD player? Satechi sells a $35 FM transmitter (Amazon.com) that works well. Simply save your audio to a flash drive, SD card, or mobile device and play the audio through your radio.
Websites enable one person to potentially reach thousands of people each day with the gospel. Whether it be an assembly website, an outreach site like gospelhall.org or heaven4sure.com, or a site like Postal Bible Studies’ Bible-n-more.com for children, each can make an impact for eternity. If you have good computer skills, an eye for design, and a fast Internet connection, you can make a simple website without cost.
Do websites “work”? The writer has found websites helpful and has made some lasting contacts through them. We know of an occasion where a site visitor happened to notice meetings announced on a site, attended the meetings, and as a result professed faith in Christ. As with other work for the Lord, you will not know the true results—but they are with God. Ask the Lord for direction and leave the results with Him.
If you regularly check news, weather, “verse of the day” and various blogs or websites, you can subscribe to their “feed” and view all of their new information in one location rather than visiting each site to check for updates. Do a search for feed readers to find one that works best for you.
You can also put modules on an iGoogle homepage that have a similar function. Feeds can help to eliminate distractions and defiling images on news sites.
The writer finds online radio to be a blessing. Check out AbidingRadio.com, WordOfTruthRadio.com, OldChristianRadio.com, and Pandora.com for starters.
Communication & Social Networking
Email signatures enable you to automatically append a favorite verse or website to your emails.
Video technology like Skype is beneficial to families (including missionaries) that are separated by many miles, enabling them to connect more meaningfully with their loved ones. Also, the writer has friends who use the video chat feature of Google+ to conduct live Bible studies, since they live too far away from each other to have them in person. They use Google docs to collaboratively work on and discuss the study outlines.
Social networking services like Facebook and Google+ can be both beneficial and detrimental, depending on how they are used. The writer has found Facebook to be useful in sharing the gospel with relatives who will not come to meetings but are willing to read a post containing seeds of the gospel.
Social networking also gives you the potential to meet Christians from other countries, to maintain contact with people you meet at conferences, and to keep up with the development of the Lord’s work in distant places. Also, the spiritual needs of individuals can be revealed by their Facebook activity, enabling you to prayerfully seek to steer them in the right direction.
If you have a thought you have enjoyed from the Scriptures, why not share it? Use friend lists (Facebook) or circles (Google+) to share with a select group. This is a non-obtrusive way to meaningfully enjoy God’s Word together with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
A word of caution: the effect of your testimony, whether good or bad, can be multiplied exponentially through social networking. Think before you type. Also, sites like these are time traps: manage your time wisely as a good steward of Jesus Christ! We will provide more on this in our next article, Lord willing.
Google calendar can be used to publicize meetings and events to the world or to the rest of your assembly (not to mention keeping track of your own busy schedule). It can also be embedded in your assembly website.
Technology is a tool: it can help you learn about God, but it will not directly help you know God. It can give you access to the Scriptures at any moment of your day, but you will have to get past the games and distractions first. Let your focus be on Christ; technology can be a means of knowing Him and sharing Him.
Share your ideas and learn more by visiting gospelriver.com.