Rite of passage parenting: Not my Bible
When not traveling on Sundays, I attend Tulsa, Parkview. If you visited our church, you’d come away scratching your head. There’s not a park to be seen.
I asked one of our founding members about our church’s name. He told me when it was built, you could see Tulsa’s famous LaFortune Park from the front door. As the years passed, buildings filled the space. Since Parkview no longer has a park view, maybe we should call it “Parking Lot View Church.”
I don’t attend there because of the view, but because the people have a heart for the lost and encourage those who have ministries outside the church. These include Lin Brister with First Fruits Ministry; Frank Baxter and Up with Downs, a ministry to special needs children in Russia; Alan Carlton’s ministry to Venezuela and the least of these, Awe Star Ministries, where I serve.
This past Sunday, I attended Parkview. After church, a friend came up and told my wife and me that not long ago, she volunteered to help at a library. She was going through some books when out fell an old newspaper clipping with the date “2001” written on it. Picking it up, she noticed a picture of the columnist, who looked like a younger version of me. You guessed it: the clipping was one of my Messenger articles.
Since I spent many years serving as a church staff member, I’ve performed my share of funerals. Often when I visit a home to prepare for the service, I’ll ask if the deceased had a favorite Scripture verse. Many times the family can’t recall one, so I ask to see their departed loved one’s Bible. I leaf through the old, worn Bible they bring me, looking for an underlined verse or handwritten notes in the margin. Almost without fail, I find a sheet of paper stuck between the pages: a poem, a newspaper clipping or a thank-you card from a friend or relative.
Mom and Dad, encourage your children to have their own personal study Bible that will take them into their adult years. Right after I became a Christian, I bought a New American Standard Bible. Through the years, I’ve marked and underlined it until the pages are worn down and falling out. Next year, I’ll celebrate 40 years as an ordained minister, and in those 40 years, I’ve only had two Bibles. I had to retire the first one because the students kept rearranging the books on me. I would find 1 John in the book of Leviticus or Malachi in the pages of Revelation. The second Bible, my newest, is held together by duct tape. I hope it lasts another 10 years, because I hate breaking in a new one.
My Bibles are the most sacred thing I own. I’ve told my family if our house catches on fire and they can do it safely, they should save my Bibles first. When I was new to the ministry and went to hear some of the greatest preachers of those times, I asked them to sign the back of my Bible. I have the signatures of W.A. Criswell, J.D. Grey, Hyman Appleman and others. This Bible holds the record of my journey as a new believer up to today. As I type this, I look to my right, and there it sits on the desk like a well-worn sword.
I’m writing this because as I travel, I see more and more people pulling out iPads or cell phones with Bible apps. I’m glad they have the Word on their devices and can follow along, and I know they can write notes on them . . . but it isn’t the same. You can’t flip through an app or write an outline in its side column. I can’t imagine going to a home 10 years from now and asking the family, “Can you bring me Grandma’s iPad so I can pull up her Bible?” I’d probably discover Grandma forgot to leave her family the password.
Have you ever stuck a prayer request into an iPad? Or tucked a Season of Prayer insert into your cell phone? Please understand, I’m not against modern technology. I use it daily for study and research. Almost all of the books I’ve read in the past four years have been on my Kindle, but the Bible is more than just another book. It’s something to be dissected, studied, memorized, meditated and written in. No electronic device can take the place of God’s holy Word written on paper. I use the Bible app sometimes, but it’s not my Bible.
When you see me on Sunday, whether I’m at Parkview or Parking Lot View, you’ll recognize me. I’ll be the one with a well-worn Bible at my side.