Apps for the Christian’s Smartphone

I must confess, I have always been a technophile.  From the old Atari my brother and I played as children, to the ubiquitous tablets and smartphones, I’ve always got my eye on the last trends and topics in gadgetry and software.

While these gizmos can easily become black holes of time, motivation, and creativity (it is disturbing to learn how many hours one spends on social media or games), they can also be convenient tools of productivity and enlightenment.

For example, just today I was having a conversation with someone about the nefarious “chigger” that likes to eat at the legs of residents of South Dakota, and a quick Google Search brought me instantly more information than I could have ever wanted (note – you really don’t want to read this at the dinner table).

I thought that I’d let you know of some of the most helpful apps that are currently on your Pastor’s smart phone.  I am an iPhone/iPad user, so all of these are currently available in the Apple app store on your phone or tablet.  I don’t know about their availability on Android devices – sorry.

Logos – Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 2.35.53 PMI use the Logos Bible Study Software for my Sermon prep, daily bible reading, prayer journaling, just about everything that’s Bible study related.  I have this on my laptop (a paid version), and everything I do there is instantly updated on my tablet and phone.  The app provides customizable Bible reading plans, easy to use word studies, and even a version of the  audio Bible, so that you can listen to the Bible while on the road or working around the house.

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 2.39.42 PMVyrso/Kindle/iBooks – While I still love holding a real paper book in my hand, I cannot dismiss the convenience and volume of resources available on an e-reader.  The Vyrso reader is connected to the Logos library, and anything I highlight, underline, or any resource connected to scripture, is instantly searchable and available to copy and paste (with the citation of the quote provided, too).  Kindle and iBooks are great readers as well, and offer tremendous deals from time to time on great literature and scholarly works.

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 2.52.19 PMFighter Verses – This is created by Desiring God ministries, and is a great tool for helping you memorize scripture.  It has quizzes, games, songs, just about anything to help you hide God’s word in your heart.  The app automatically brings up a new verse each week, and offers commentary, studies, and other resources to help you grow in understanding the Scriptures.

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 2.57.08 PMCatechisms – This is another memory tool, but specifically for learning the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  It also offers memorization tools for the Larger Catechism, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Geneva Catechism.  You can set this at your own tempo, either learning a question a day, or moving on only when you’re ready.

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 3.00.36 PMRefNet – This is basically Ligonier Ministry radio online.  RefNet (Reformation Network) is 24-hour Christian internet radio featuring biblical preaching and teaching.  Listen in for free and be enriched by the ministries of Alistair Begg, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, and many more.

There are, of course, a lot of other apps on the phone, but these are ones that I have found particularly helpful in ministry, and just in my own Christian walk.  Other notables, but not specifically ministry related are: Spotify (streaming music), Evernote (a note taking app that is great for sermon prep), and AccuWeather (for reliable updates on weather in the area).  I’m sorry I haven’t included links to all of the apps, but as I mentioned they are all available in the App Store on your phone, or tablet.

The Joyful Christian

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be full.”
(John 15:11 (ESV))

Why is it that if you were to ask people to describe the Christian life, joy would be one of the last things mentioned?  We may talk a lot about sin and salvation, the glory and praise of God in worship, discipleship and spiritual growth, mission and evangelism, social justice and helping those in great need: but how often do we talk about joy.  As much attention as we give joy in the church today, you’d think it were an afterthought, a pleasant but unexpected consequence of God’s gracious work of salvation.  Looking at a lot of Christians today (including pastors), you might even think that joy is optional for the Christian life.  We know we will expect hardship and persecution for our faith, and it shows on our faces.

But this isn’t the way things are meant to be.  Joy is integral to the Christian life.  If you have not known joy, if you have not experienced the incomprehensible joy that arises from a certain and unwavering peace in the Lord, then perhaps you have not really known Him.

Consider just the following:

  • There is great joy in the presence of God…
    • Psalm 16:11 “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
  • The news of Jesus’ coming is the source of great joy for all people…
    • Luke 2:10 “And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
  • Jesus came to bring us joy…
    • John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
  • There is great joy in our salvation in Jesus Christ…
    • Psalm 51:12 “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
  • There is joy in heaven when a sinner is saved…
    • Luke 15:7 (ESV) Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
  • There is joy awaiting us as a reward for faithfulness in this life – Matthew 25:21
    • Matthew 25:21 (ESV) His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
  • When we know and worship the living Christ we are filled with Joy – Luke 24:52
    • Luke 24:52 (ESV) And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
  • We experience joy even in the midst of suffering…
    • James 1:2–4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 The Westminster Shorter Catechism even goes so far as to say that joy is part of the very purpose of man.  You know the quote, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”  We spend a lot of time talking about and working for the glory of God, but never stop to connect the dots in that if we are really glorifying God, we will also find great joy in His presence.  Any glorying that does not lead to our experience of joy is vanity, and any joy that is not rooted in the glory of God is frivolous.

We are intended for joy.  G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial.  Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul.  Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live.”

Grace and peace… and Joy be with you!