In response to my post a couple of days ago on Media and the Gospel, another thought or two came to mind which will be of great benefit for readers here.

The move from pastoring to business world has been nothing short of daunting. Imagine moving from a vocation where you have as much time as you desire to study the Scriptures, swim in the fountain of grace, prepare to preach the gospel, etc. to a vocation where you are fighting with all your might for even a little time in which to engage in private worship (or quiet time, devotions, etc.)? I've likened it to driving down the freeway at 75 mph and then throwing your car into reverse. Your car would probably drop the transmission right there on the freeway and cause a hundred car pile up. Sometimes I feel it has done the same thing mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually to my heart and those piled up behind me.

One of the challenges has been finding time to worship the Lord. It was easy to find the time before. Heck! I got paid to do it! But now, finding that time is difficult. Yet one of the most obvious places and times in which to do it was right under my nose, and it took my new pastor to point it out to me.

Surprise, surprise....it's your car. How much time do you spend driving to work? If I'm going into the main office, it's a good hour drive going and coming...two hours round trip. I do that about three times a week. And if I'm doing sales calls, I could be in the car even more. Some days I've been in the car six or more hours, driving sometimes upwards of three hundred miles or more.

My first couple of weeks, Paul, my pastor here at Crossway Fellowship Church, encouraged me to be purposeful with that time in the car. It was difficult to wrap my mind around, because I had always associated devotions, quiet time, etc. with reading the Scriptures, delving deep into a passage, drawing out truths, and worshiping the Lord in the midst of it all.

So this new way has been a massive challenge for me, to say the least. I don't have a Bible in front of me, so forgive the lack of verse reference. Ephesians 5 teaches us to redeem the time because the days are evil. In short, that means we must do what we can to recapture the time God has given us because the world is looking to capture it and use it against us.

Following my pastor's counsel the last four months I'd submit the following to all Christians everywhere: No commuting Christian should be found without three necessary tools. These are tools which I use to preach the gospel to myself during the drive.

1. The Bible on CD.

It's quite dangerous to read while you're driving. Ask a couple of my fellow church members who've caravanned with me before. The next best thing to reading the Bible is having it read to you. Don't forget that the Bible was written originally as an enscripturation of oral tradition. That is, the Bible began as story telling of God's redemptive acts in history handed down from generation to generation. Also, this practice will sharpen your listening skills as you will have to pay more attention to concentrate on what you're hearing.



2. A Good Sermon Series.

If your car has a CD player or cassette player, have a series available at all times. Purchase a new set of sermons each week if you have to. Or relisten to a series every six or more weeks to lodge it deeper in your heart and mind. If you're like many who own an MP3 player (iPod, IPaq, or other name brand), there are tons of sites on the net which offer free sermons (like Sermon Audio.Com). If you run out there, stop being cheap and just order them from your favorite site. I've never ordered one that cost me more than a couple of bucks. The beauty of this device is that I can store dozens and dozens of sermons on a teeny-tiny little flash card which inserts in my PDA. I've always got lots of sermons downloaded from the Sovereign Grace Ministries Online Store.

3. Good Worship Music.

Skip the pansy, God-is-my-girlfriend type of music. It's not fit for anybody. That means radio stations that claim to be 'safe and fun for the whole family' are usually not healthy for us spiritually. You may find a prized song amid the Cracker Jack box of junk food. But why waste your time there when you can have quality, biblically-based lyrics that have one driving motivation behind their production - the maturity of believers in the gospel?

A good drive time might incorporate all three of these, if you have an hour or more commute, that is. Establish an order for your time. Sing, then listen to the Word, and then listen to a sermon. Stick to the order for a few weeks and then switch it up. The point here is that you desire to have the gospel affect the way you work, the way you eat, the way you drive, and talk, and parent, and husband, and minister, and live. To get the gospel inside you, you must be purposeful about it, cramming any part of it you can, anywhere you can, anytime you can. Fan the flame of the Spirit within. Turn off the radio. Yes, even turn off Christian radio, unless it is one of those rare stations that still carries the preaching of the Word. Turn off talk radio. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have nothing spiritually beneficial for us, especially for those of us who already have such a difficult time finding the time to worship the Lord in the first place.

In closing, I know it has fallen into a state of disrepair, but my other site, Gospel-Centered Resources, was originally intended to parallel this site by recommending resources to supplement the content on this site. But I've found that keeping up with one site is already too difficult. I apologize for the condition of that site. But the content is still very much useful, so start there if you want recommendations. And if you'd be interested in helping me get it back into shape, email me and we'll do it together!

8 comments:

Anonymous
at: 12/15/2005 12:17:00 PM said...

To get the gospel inside you, you must be purposeful about it, cramming any part of it you can, anywhere you can, anytime you can.
Ach. Do ye still no understand, lad?

Are we talking grace here, or are we talking law?
Does not the book say, "I have written my law on their hearts"?
Does it ever say, "They have written the law on their hearts"?
Does it not say, "He will live in me, and I in him"?
Does it ever say, "They shall get the gospel inside them"?
Does it not say, "I will send you a comforter, and he shall guide you into truth"?
Does it ever say, "You shall by your own reason come into truth"? Or "You shall study the scriptures and learn the truth"?
Does it not say, "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose"?
Does it ever say, "It is up to you to decide God's will"?
Does it not say, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God"?

How was that again? How did it say to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly?
What was that again? "As you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom... and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."

To get the gospel inside you, you must be purposeful about it, cramming any part of it you can, anywhere you can, anytime you can.

So what is the gospel?

What does Christ say?

"Follow me."

Never does Christ ever say to study the Word. The Pharisees studied the word, too. They studied it a lot. They had it memorized. They could recite the whole thing, beginning to end. What good did it do them? They rejected the Cornerstone - so really, what good did all that education and "getting the word inside them" do them?

You're a pastor. You have a pastor's formation. You're intelligent. Your post shows that.

But dude... Lots of people try to force themselves into being more holy or more knowledgeable by forcing it onto themselves from the outside. That does NOT work. Guaranteed, it does not work. Sooner or later, the veneer flakes off, no matter how thick you make it.

Change must happen from the inside. And that requires Prayer, Meditation, Fasting. Talking to God. Listening to God. Humbling yourself before him.

Different question. How many sermons did Christ listen to? The book mentions none.

But go ahead: try your ideas for a few months, and then ask yourself - "Am I a better person? Or am I just more self-righteous?" And evaluate yourself truly. Even better, ask your wife to be brutally honest and answer that question!

Henry says:
at: 12/15/2005 03:23:00 PM said...

Hey Rob,

I appreciated what you had to say about redeeming our travel time. It can be a great transforming place in the midst of the rat race.

Rob Wilkerson says:
at: 12/15/2005 03:39:00 PM said...

Anonymous, I enjoy talking to actual persons much more...it's okay to leave your name next time. It prevents the feeling that I've been the victim of a blog-by shooting.

To answer you, I first thank you for reminding me and the readers here of the glories and joys of the New Covenant. It's all about what God has done for us in Jesus, and what Jesus is doing in us through the Holy Spirit. But there's a big 'however.' This is one side to the equation.

While the one side is God's sovereignty and mercy in what He's done for us and doing inside us, there's the other side of personal responsibility. There are things that we have to do with the gospel God put inside us.

Take the Philippians 2 verse you cite above. You cited only verse 13. But verse 13 begins with the word for, a Greek word telling us that what is in verse 13 is an explanation of the activity going on in verse 12. So to leave out verse 12 is not to have the activity in verse 13 that you seem to favor. The other verse says:

"...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling..."

The context teaches that we work out the salvation we have in Christ because or for
God is already working in us. Thus the verse is a comfort, as the first part of verse 12 indicates already. But there is still a responsibility to work and to work hard. And yet we do so knowing that God is working in us.

Further, you cite John 15 about being in Christ and He in us. Yet the passage is centered around the command to abide. Again that is a command...something we must do. Yet again, we don't do it by ourselves. We do it through the power of Jesus who abides in us. But we must do something. That is clearly indicated later in verse 10 of the context in which Jesus tells us," If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.."

You also cite John 14 about the Spirit being a Comforter. Yet let us not forget that the Spirit offers Himself to us as a weapon, according to Romans 8:13, to be wielded in the effort of killing sin. So while the Spirit is in us reminding us of the gospel, teaching us, illuminating us, comforting and helping us, there is a task we must do. And He tells us very specifically that there is work, much work to be done, much effort to be expended.

Further, you cite Colossians 3:16 about letting Christ's word dwell in us richly. In fact you ask, "How was that again? How did it say to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly? What was that again? 'As you teach and admonish one another..'"? But that's not what the verse says. There's no 'as' in the verse. Rather, the 'dwell' in the verse there is a present imperative in the Greek. That means it is a command that we must presently and constantly attend to. If it were something God was doing for us, the verb would be in the passive. But since it is in the present, the verse turns into a command. I must make the Word of Christ dwell in me richly. That is, according to the actual meaning, I must make His Word be at home in my heart. When that is done, it will result in the things the rest of the verse speaks of.

A good word study to do, by the way, would be the Greek contexts which use the word spoudazo ('be diligent') because many of those texts make clear our responsibility toward what God has entrusted us with.

I agree that lots of people try to be more holy on the inside by forcing something on themselves from the outside. But that's not what I'm talking about. The gospel has indeed been planted in us by virtue of the very person and Spirit of Jesus Christ dwelling within. So we are to be more holy on the inside by utilizing the power of God within us. And there are ways we are to go about doing that.

First, making Christ's Word dwell richly in us is a task we are to pursue at all times. My posts lays out three ways to do that while driving.

Second, abiding in Jesus is a task we are to pursue at all times. My posts lay out three ways to do that too while driving.

Third, working our salvation with fear and trembling is also a task we must diligently pursue. And the post, again, simply gives three ways to do that while driving.

Perhaps, my anonymous friend, you've made more of the post than was intended? And again, there's no need to fear leaving your name behind.

Rob Wilkerson says:
at: 12/15/2005 03:40:00 PM said...

Thanks Henry for dropping by, and thanks for the encouraging words!

Jonathan Moorhead says:
at: 12/15/2005 09:33:00 PM said...

Good reminder Rob. Now I'm convinced I need an ipod!

candleman says:
at: 12/15/2005 11:21:00 PM said...

Hi Rob,

I am just trying to figure out how you got Blogger to accept a .5MB picture. Spare those 56K surfers and resize your pics from 545K to 12K;)

That said, I did enjoyed your post and the nameless anony rant above. You both make good points. I did get lost in a Gothardesque type mentality of "memorize these scriptures and your feet shall be planted by the trees of living water and everything you do shall prosper". And only listening to things that are part of the "approved list" and turning off your radio, TV even Christian radio and Christian music. And as the anony poster states above, it doesn't work, and for me lead to a world of legalisim and judgementalisim. But that was just my experience.

{{{Candleman}}}

Rob Wilkerson says:
at: 12/16/2005 08:55:00 AM said...

Steve,

Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for the comments.

I think that overall, I may have hit a nerve among some folks with what was quite honestly an 'innocent' blog. This obviously reveals something. And in my opinion, the 'something' I'm leaning toward is that so many believers have been so abused by so much legalism that when they hear of do's and don'ts their minds automatically shift back to those memories. I, for example, can relate to the comment about Gothard, for our family was into it for years. I was brainwashed into a life without the gospel. However, not everything I learned there was bad. And that is where we as humans err so often...associating the bad memories with good teaching and throwing the baby out with the bath water.

The problem with that is that not everything some Christians experienced under that abuse can be biblically defined as abuse. I think that what has happened is that spiritual leaders, teachers, and pastors have not focused on grace, and the power of God working in us to sanctify us. There is little focus on the work of Christ on the cross and what that actually does for is and in us and through us. That's why I started this blog and I hope it shows through.

That said, there are do's and don'ts for Christians. They are found in the Scriptures. And they aren't legalistic because we do them out of love for Christ and a desire to be separate from the world, to become more holy, etc. They are not rooted in a desire to make God happy or gain His favor.

There is a list, however, of do's and don'ts that are not in Scripture. These are not necessarily good or bad. They are neutral, and depending the motivation float toward legalism or holiness. The decision not to have a T.V. in one's house, for example, is a neutral decision. But if one does it because he thinks it will earn him favor with God, then that's legalism. But if he does so out of a desire to not have anything coming through that box that would compete with an earnest desire to love Jesus Christ, then that's good. The latter is what this post is about.

Jesus Christ is worthy of all our attention. We are to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength....all our drive time, spare time, work time, play time, bedroom time, etc. So with a renewed mind and an inherent sense of wartime against sin built within us, God expects us to use the sanctified smarts we have, guided by the Scriptures, to create fresh means and ways which provoke us to love Him and worship Him more.

Rob Wilkerson says:
at: 12/17/2005 08:36:00 AM said...

Alex Jordan spots this post, citing that his thoughts during drive time tend not to be very godly. That wouldn't have anything to do with New York City traffic would it Alex?!