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.
- The ESV (English Standard Version) Bible is available as an MP3 download.
- The ESV Bible is available as a dramatically read CD set.
- My favorite, the NLT (New Living Translation) is also available in cassette or CD.
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!