What I learned from a hospital TV

IMG_1021My rehab room at the hospital has a TV with an array of cable channels and one channel set up round the clock to play worship music, with pictures of nature, and an occasional scripture verse or song lyric. For a number of days there, when I was in the worst way, I had it on all the time, mostly with the sound off. That was because the music got a little sappy after a while, but what touched me deeply was every time the word of God came on the screen. What a treasure! What a powerful reality! What an amazing thing that we have access to the very words of God! It was pretty cool that someone else picked out what passage would be on my screen, and it just showed up in my room and blew me away every time.

I also couldn’t help but notice the inability of human expression to reach the depth of the word of God. For instance, there was one worship lyric that went, “Jesus loved away my sin.” It’s a nice sentiment, I suppose, and it’s true in a limited sense, but then came this: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” No comparison. One’s soft and mushy, the other sticks for eternity. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for human expression of God’s love and forgiveness. I’ve written lots of that myself. It’s just that a steady diet of that without the word of God will not sustain you.

I wonder how much our relationship to the word of God has changed since the digital age. The only physical Bible I have in my possession is a New King James Version I got at Walmart the night before a recent trip so I could have something to take to the podium with me and refer to when I spoke. And even then, the words were printed on an overhead screen. My current Bible is BibleGateway. That’s a long way from the marked up NASB with a leather cover and snaps that I wouldn’t be caught dead without in 1971.

I wonder how important a physical Bible is. Is a phone app just as good? Love to have your comments on this. I used to read to Chandler from a Bible I packed with his stuff when we sent him away to Wyoming. Since they have no access to Internet, it’s been a lifeline to him. I’ve never thought about this before, but he’s going to have a little old school in his appreciation of the word of God coming to him via pages he is learning to read.

The main thing is: however you get it, get the word of God into your life. Put it where you can see it often. We’re not going to get very far without it.

Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. (Psalm 199:11)

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16 Responses to What I learned from a hospital TV

  1. Thank goodness God is always there…somewhere…praying for your full recovery, and the patience required between now and then…and many moments along the way to remind you that you’re on the right path and making a difference in the kingdom, no matter the shape you are in.

  2. Lois Taylor says:

    How wonderful to have you back! Believing and clapping work! Nah….it was the prayers. Welcome home to The Catch. Regarding the Bible format- we use everything available to us. We have almost all translations and use most of them. We use BibleGateway when we are “on the road” or need a reference immediately. Our Pastor is a KJV lover so we use that for worship services. When we read at home we mostly use The Living Bible because it is easier for us older folks. I grew up on the RSV. We even have a Greek/English translation. 😀😀

  3. Mark Seguin says:

    First of all welcome back Pastor John! You have been missed. Even though David did a great job.

    Also luv today’s Catch it reminded me of a pretty sermon I once heard that basically said a sermon can be on a wide varsity of topics, but must be anchored by the Word of God.

    • Mark Seguin says:

      And oh I really don’t think / believe it maters all that much in how anyone able to see &v read the Bible – the point is, to me read it and try to follow it… 🙂

  4. Marcia says:

    Good Morning John and so nice to hear from you again. We’ve missed you! What a wonderful thing to have God’s Word available to you in such a beautiful way right there in your room. Perhaps God is using this time to feed you and grow you in new ways that you’ll be able to share with us too. Nothing is wasted. Even our pains and struggles. Praying He continues to bless you with recovering strength for your body and His Peace as you recupe! This verse was my constant companion when I was hospitalized years ago: Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, His power gives you victory. The Lord will take delight in you, And in His love He will give you new life. Amen friend!

  5. Hans says:

    Hi John, welcome back, hope you recover entirely soon! (Still in the hospital are you?)

    Managed to keep more or less informed about your ordeal through a Facebook page that was available in a little corner of your site. Prayed for you, of course.

    About physical Bibles, big advantage is that you can ‘mark them up’, as you say you did with your 1970s Bible. Hope you did not throw that one away.

    I still have my three marked up and worn out Bibles, and often refer to especially the most recent one. They tend to become beloved ‘travelling companions’.

    The Bible I take to church is in good shape and practically annotation-free – but at home I read my old marked up and worn out copy, so that I can see what I underlined or circled and also I can find things quicker in it.

    Biblegateway is great for research but I don’t use it to ‘read the Bible’. I also like Bibletools.com.

    Get well soon.


  6. Sandie says:

    I have always been an avid reader – my parents say that as a toddler I would turn the pages of books/magazines and point to and babble about the things I was ‘reading.’ To this day, I literally devour books in many genres…I divide them into ‘serious’ and ‘fluff’ categories. There is some scientific evidence somewhere that proves the actual physical act of reading – your fingers turning actual pages – actually cements what you read in your memory better than any other medium.
    Like many have stated already, I too have several bibles that are notated, high-lighted to a fair-thee-well. I find what I need easily and there is a comfort to me in holding it in my hands. I am unashamedly stuck in my non-media world…email and minimal internet use…I love my actual library of study helps!
    As has been said already, welcome back my friend – you have been missed and prayed for – and we will continue our prayers!

  7. Grace says:

    John it’s So good to hear your voice again thru your words of wisdom in writing. See when I read I hear in inaudible voice in my head reading the words to me. We’ve missed your words while you’ve been healing. God grant to you the strength to endure every hardship. No frilly Christianese language needed. I’m one that still enjoys feeling a book in my hands but that’s just me. But if you can believe this they’ve done studies to show that reading a book on your computer/iPad/Kindle does not affect the brain in the same way that it does on a page of paper. So maybe it’s not just that’s what I like maybe that’s what my brain likes to . There is power for me in writing things out in pen onto a paper not just typing it on a screen. So there you have it I believe God can use a TV screen a computer or what ever means he wants to encourage save or wash us clean. By the Way it is His Word and Not Ours.

  8. Sandy Campbell says:

    I tend to agree with my pastor. There’s nothing like having that Bible in hand, the one that’s highlighted, notes written on the side and just knowing where it’s been with you.

  9. Allan says:

    As a casual reader / follower of The Catch it is comforting to have John back. Glad to hear you’re doing better. Regarding the electronic or paper Bible – paper please. I have notes written from teaching series or sermons I’ve heard or when I’ve gone through a tough time. It’s a reminder of God’s faithfulness. We stopped giving online at church for the same reason. The physical act of writing a cheque is much more deliberate and it shows our kids the importance of tithing. The leather bound Bible with all my notes and highlighted passages shows how much the Lord has taught me.

    • You’ve echoed my thoughts precisely, Allan.
      For me, making the physical ‘effort’ to open the cover of God’s word, or writing a check in support of His work establishes a connection with my internal being that just isn’t replicated through convenient (and often mindless) automation.
      I’m not a technophobe for I certainly do appreciate the easy accessibility to information through the internet and make many monetary transactions through online banking, etc.
      I do use BibleGateway or other online Biblical resources and find them to be quite helpful but, similar to a hospital or laboratory environment, also quite sterile and lacking a certain personability.
      Plus, no computerized device has ever smelled as pleasant as a book!

      In essence, I view my personal time with the Word of God as a hands-on interactive function where all five senses are engaged…
      Sight – the actual reading
      Sound – the crinkle of the pages as they’re turned
      Touch – the feel of those pages and leather, cloth, or paper covers
      Smell – the aforementioned aroma
      Taste – Psalm 34:8.


  10. gregg says:

    I was just wondering this subject this weekend. I am thankful for both the paper and the electronic. I travel about 100 miles a day and so I like to travel light. Having the bible on my phone is a great blessing.

  11. gregg says:

    Hope you continue to feel better. God bless you as you get back into the swing of things.

  12. LynnSuzanne says:

    Sometimes doing work on my iPad just doesn’t satisfy… sometimes I just have to print a document to hold the papers in my hand, stuff it in the briefcase, and take it with me to ponder, to highlight, to put x’s on entire paragraphs.
    Sometimes it’s like that for reading the Bible. I love the search features, commentaries, and other tools in Bible Gateway. But sometimes I just have to hold the book in my hands, turn pages, add post-it notes, and ponder.
    Love both.

  13. Kris Rudin says:

    John – so glad to hear of your recovery, and how God is speaking to you through the medium of your TV screen! If he used an ass to speak to Balaam, he can certainly use a TV to speak to you! 🙂

    I, too, have a beloved, well-worn Bible (NAS) that is probably close to 35 years old – full of underlines, notes and other personalizations. But mostly these days I read scripture on my phone (so quick and instantaneous!) and in a hardbound copy of The Message. I use Bible Gateway, too, which does allow you to ‘highlight’ and save favorite verses. And the ability to compare versions so easily is marvelous! It’s the Word of God – however we consume it, if our hearts are open He will touch them!

  14. Matt says:

    A few days late to respond.

    I love the You Version Bible app. It has a myriad of daily devotionals to choose from. It also has many different Bible versions. When I’m doing a Bible study I like to read multiple versions to get a broader picture of what I’m studying. For example, I’ll use the NIV, NLT, The Message, and the classic KJV when memorizing scripture. By “memorizing” I don’t mean a word by word robotic replay, but a better understanding of the Scripture I’m learning. That way I can use it when life gives me the opportunity to share God’s Word.

    Plus, it’s free.

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