Monday, June 23, 2008

Ideas to 'Redeem the Time' (Part 1): MP3 Sermons

Ephesians 5:5-16 says "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." For 'making the most of every opportunity' the old King James version says "redeeming the time" - a rich phrase that is cited often. It parallels the message of John 9:4 which exhorts us to work 'while it is day.'

This is the first in a multi-part series on redeeming the time. This week I will focus on MP3 sermons: why, how and when.


+ What is going into your mind? How much do you 'suck in' worthless stuff (eg, junk TV)? Consider: how much is this affecting your minds and thoughts? Can a one-hour sermon at church and a few devotionals compete with the 20 hours the average North American adult--40 hours for kids--spends watching TV? .. Double-whammy: people tend to watch TV when their brains are turned off. The result: conformation has a heyday. .. Solution: less TV, more good stuff. Idea: throw it out, and watch your favourite stuff at a friend's/neighbour's. Not only does this drastically reduce TV-watching, it fosters neighbourliness and gets us out of the house. Not having a TV has done wonders for me. Balancing point: some TV and watching movies is not only fine; it is probably necessary. Balance is critical. Legalism kills. (So does false justification. E.g., "I need to watch 20 hours of TV a week so I can know what's going on and witness better.")

+ Other things that compete for our minds: radio, billboards, Spirit-less water-cooler talk, blogs, youtube, email forwards, etc. (Reread the balancing point above in this context.)

+ Biblical messages are powerful for transformation. Romans 12:2a says "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." .. John Stott describes preaching as "indispensable to Christianity." In his book "Between Two Worlds" he describes the role of the preacher as bringing the living power of the ancient truths of the Bible into our lives in the modern world. .. When faithful to the Word, preachers help us to know God's heart, what he cares about, and what he wants us to do. Obeying God is God's will for our lives. Knowing the Word is critical to growth. (Individual Bible study is also indispensable; in fact, more indispensable than preaching. Another topic.)

+ Why listen to MP3 sermons? Because we can. Before the Internet our access to sermons was more limited - e.g., to what we could hear in person at church and what we could get on tape or CD. Now we can download MP3 messages online, carry them around on MP3 players, burn them to a CD and listen to them in the car, subscribe to podcasts, listen to streaming messages and watch video sermons on the web. Let's have the mindset to use technology for God's glory rather than fear it.

+ The world is changing. Read about it in Mark Driscoll's book "The Radical Reformission" - especially the trends described in the appendix at the back of the book. Example: "Churches will use their website as a new front door through which visitors will pass before ever attending a church event. People will even attend church virtually." Don't like it? Tough; it's our world.


+ Download free MP3's onto your laptop, desktop, iPod/iPhone, cell phone, etc from sites like, and

+ Check out my speaker/preacher/teacher suggestions in a recently-written blog here.


Listen to sermons while:

+ folding laundry, doing the dishes, cleaning, renovating, painting
+ driving (through the car speakers, not headphones - for safety's sake)
+ while on public transit (but put the headphones away when divine appointments arise - like speaking with someone with whom you have achieved rapport)
+ jogging, working out
+ doing brainless work at work, if your employer is okay with it

"Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." - Romans 12:2b
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