“I’ve Got This.” Al Weir, MD December 11, 2018

First Things: Scripture Before Phone

By: Tom Grosh IV, DMin

October 6, 2019

“Once we know who we are in God, we can turn to the world to offer love. But when we don’t, we will turn to the world looking for love. And that order makes all the difference.” — Justin Whitmel Earley, author of The Common Rule: Creating Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction



Over the course of the last week, several people shared with me their appreciation of the call to Resist the “Siren Song” of the Smartphone. Praise God!

But before we dig deeper into wrestling with the “siren song,” I have a confession to make. Although I reinstated Kneeling Prayer as the first thing in the morning rather quickly, seeking to introduce the habit of One Hour with the Smartphone Off in the morning required a lot more discipline from me than I expected. Along these lines, Scripture Before Smartphone and accountability in practice appears daunting. What insights does Justin Whitmel Earley offer to those who find themselves in a similar place to me?


  • What is the first thing you typically give attention to when you wake up?
  • When you woke up today, did you find yourself asking the questions of the head and the heart? If so, how did the answers frame your day and shape your identity?
    • What do I need to do today?
    • Who do I need to become in order to be lovable?
  • Do you feel the call to perform from the moment you wake up? If so, to whom and toward what end?



I appreciated Justin Whitmel Earley’s simple Ways to Start. I should start by returning to an alarm clock—maybe as part of a digital watch. I noticed over the course of the last several days how hard it is for me to resist the smartphone notifications when I wake up. So, instead of the smartphone next to me in bed, I should have my alarm clock, Bible reading plan and journal.

As with morning kneeling prayer (and in contrast to my lifetime of training), I should start short and simple with my devotions. If I must attend to family after prayer, that is fine. But after addressing the issue at hand, I should follow Justin’s encouragement to resist the siren song of the smartphone “until after reading a passage of Scripture” and “replacing the question ‘What do I need to do today?’ with a better one, ‘Who am I and who am I becoming?’”

What is the bottom line when pressing into Scripture Before Phone?

“We have no stable identity outside of Jesus. Daily immersion in the Scriptures resists the anxiety of emails, the anger of news, and the envy of social media. Instead it forms us daily in our true identity as children of the King, dearly loved.” Let us turn the Lord, not our work and career in the search of our identity or “justification.”

To God be the glory!

Forgive us for when we have turned to the smartphone and the voices behind the messages for our identity. As we begin, press into, and finish each day, grant us the grace as your children to turn to you for the words of life. May our center of gravity be dwelling in you and extending your love. May our head, heart and hands give glory to you, pointing others toward you as the Way, the Truth and the Life.

About Tom Grosh IV, DMin

Through a decade of interactions with current and future healthcare professionals as a CMDA affiliate staff at the Penn State College of Medicine's Christian Medical Society (CMS) / CMDA, the Lord ignited in Tom Grosh IV a passion to devote his next season of ministry to transforming lives with the Gospel through healthcare. Tom brings to CMDA in South Central PA over 20 years of experience with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA. Most recently he served as the Associate Director of the Emerging Scholars Network (2012-2018). His responsibilities included conferencing, digital ministries, fund development, networking, and resource development. Tom has completed a B.S. in Biology (Grove City College), a M.A. in Higher Education (Geneva College), a M.A.R. in Spiritual Formation (Evangelical Seminary), and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction (Evangelical Seminary), and a Doctor of Ministry in Ministry to Emerging Generations (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary). He is licensed in the Brethren in Christ Church, U.S. Tom and his wife Theresa grew up in Lancaster County, PA. They met while attending Donegal High School. Currently, Tom and Theresa are active members of Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ, where they serve in a number of ministry capacities. The Lord has blessed them with four children: Hayley, Ellen, Eden, and Lily.

Leave a Comment