Read through the Bible, cover to cover, at least once every two years. That was some of the best advice I received from a mentor during my first year of ministry. This week I hit the halfway mark on my 14th pass through the Bible, and I’m enjoying a fresh twist.
This year I committed to eat 100% digital meat.
Eat This Book!
The prophet Ezekiel began his ministry after receiving a rather odd instruction from God, “Eat this book. Then go and speak to the family of Israel.” God even encouraged Zeke to “make a full meal of it!” Afterward came the report: So I ate it. It tasted good — just like honey. (Ezekiel 3:1-3, The Message)
You’ve probably heard the saying “eat your own dog food,” an exhortation for people in sales and marketing to use their own product before inflicting it on others. As VP of Digital Strategies for a mission organization, I felt led to eat 100% digital meat for all of 2013. Would I like it? How would it affect my personal devotional life? Would my passion for God and his ways increase? Or would I yield to the inevitable distractions inherent to digital devices?
Print vs. Digital: Two Main Differences
1. Daily Diet
My motto for years has been “drink deeply daily” from Christ and his word. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is the media I’m using. Typically I would rise about 5 a.m., lay out a study Bible on the dining room table, open my journal, and dig in. I enjoyed making notes with a pen in the text and jotting thoughts, talk ideas, or personal applications in my journal.
In digital format, I have more ways to intake the Scriptures. First, the YouVersion app has made the daily part much easier to track (see screenshot). YouVersion Bible offers, as of today, 551 versions of the Bible in 322 languages, so you can pick your favorite flavor. Many versions also have an audible option that allows you to simply click and have the text read aloud. Amazing!
Having the app installed on both my iphone and ipad allows syncing, so if I read in one place one day I simply pick up the next day on whatever device is handy. It’s mobile. This is fantastic for my frequent travels. The reading pane is uncluttered: no links, no notes, no graphics, no cross references, no bells or whistles, no ads, nothing. Just the meat.
The app offers multiple reading plans. Ann and I are both using the Discipleship Journal reading plan. This plan requires you to eat three to four chapters each day. We like that it alternates between an OT book and an NT book, and includes a daily psalm or proverb. Both of us tired of reading plans that didn’t get into the NT until October.
For deeper study and talk preparation I use Laridian’s excellent PocketBible app on both devices. This has commentaries, Hebrew and Greek tools, and multiple Bible versions. It also allows for quick cutting and pasting into Evernote, where I capture ideas for messages. For deep dives into the word and a much more extensive library of tools, I use Logos 4, mainly on my Mac. The point isn’t the tools, it’s the meat.
The most important question is, How does this affect my walk with Jesus? I have discovered that my time with the Lord has, for the most part, been greatly enriched through using digital tools. I take my ipad out in the predawn darkness, read a psalm, and praise the God who made the heavens while looking up at the stars. Yesterday while driving to work I listened to four chapters of the book of Luke instead of DJs jabbering on the radio.
I’ve enjoyed going audible, especially on the longer narrative passages from the OT. Listening to God’s word spoken has changed me. This is how the majority of the church before Gutenberg heard from God. It strikes the brain and heart differently. There have been several times while listening to the stories of the Bible that I’ve shouted out Wow! or That’s Amazing! Try to imagine you’re listening to the story of David and Goliath as a live newscast; you’ll see what I mean.
It tastes good.
What’s your favorite way to eat digital meat?