Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Emily's Favorite Sermon Podcasts

“Set your minds on things above."  (Col. 3:2)

Paul reminds us throughout his letters that Christians are at war.  We are at war, not only with principalities (Eph. 6:12), but with our flesh and desire to sin.   Paul tells us in this same chapter in Ephesians to put on the armor of God, but If we are honest with ourselves, on most days, we don’t even come dressed for battle.  Instead, we surrender to our flesh the moment we wake up every day.  Often we find ourselves defeated from the outset.   This should not be the case as God has given us every opportunity to defeat temptation and the power to do so has been granted to us thru the Gospel.  In Colossians, Paul tells us to put to death the desires of our flesh by setting our minds on things above.  And to the Philippians, he wrote, "Whatever is pure, holy, etc., think on these things." (Phil. 4:8). Practically, how do we carry this out in our everyday lives?  Everybody’s life is different, but here are the tools and means that I make a part of my life on a regular basis in order to “set my mind on things above:”

Read God's Word every day.
Make sure you are reading the entire Bible.  Get familiar with all of it, not just what you think are the easy parts.  Be disciplined to read all of Scripture. 
Be in an attitude of prayer all day.  Be cognizant of God’s omnipresence and of the Holy Spirit inside you.  When you know of something that you need to pray about, stop and pray right then.  If you wait, you might forget about it. 
Be active in your local church.  Get involved in their ministries.  Don’t do buffet-style church-hopping!  Get plugged in to one local body of believers and be devoted to them.
Read some stuff that other Christians, pastors and missionaries have written over the years.  They wrote all this stuff down hoping to spur you on to holiness, understanding and love for God.  Don’t just spend time reading fiction but actually challenge your heart, mind and soul with books that will benefit you, not just entertain you. 
Ok.  Finally – this is where the point of this post comes in….  The culture of our world has so many opportunities to influence us:  Internet, social media, TV, movies, music, etc.  Add up how much time you spend in all of these areas each week and compare it to how much time you spend at church, reading your bible, etc.  If you are like me, the odds are very much in favor of the flesh winning out.  Years ago when I got my first iPod, I started listening to sermons.  I listen to sermons at the gym, when I run, in the car, when I clean house, etc.  I try to find as many opportunities as I can to put myself under the teaching of the Word of God, instead of being taught how to surrender to temptation (which is what you will learn from TV, movies, etc.).  Now let me say this:  listening to sermons on podcast is not a substitute for hearing the Word of God preached on Sundays from pastor at your local church.  As much as I love the convenience of hearing sermons on podcast, I love being in the presence of my pastor at my church more.  None of the preachers listed below are my pastors.  Yes, I learn from them, but they do not replace the relationship I have with my pastor.  Everybody needs a pastor!  :)  

Now, if you get on iTunes, you will see that there are a plethora of churches, sermons, etc. for you to choose from.  How do you figure out who is legit and what is worth listening to?  Here are my recommendations and a few thoughts as to why these preachers are at the top of my playlist:   

John Piper at Desiring God Ministries and Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN I have already mentioned Piper in my last post, but let me add to it by saying that Piper is an amazing preacher and he's an expositional beast.  If you want to be taught in a manner that is true to the Scripture and deeply challenging, you will love John Piper.  He can be a bit long-winded at times, but it's so worth it. 

Matt Chandler at The Village Church in Dallas, TX Chandler is young and definitely an in-your-face kind of preacher.  As you listen to his sermons, you will see that his main focus is the "de-churched" (those who grew up in church but for whatever reason are no longer there but are trying to find their way back) and teaching the explicit Gospel.   

David Platt at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. I first heard Platt speak at Student Life conferences and I have continued to listen to him over the years. He has an amazing study on the book of Ruth which is available on iTunes and also on his church's website. His passion for the Great Commission and for making our lives count for eternity is refreshing and so very needed in America today.

Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. Mark Driscoll is abrasive and aggressive. He's not afraid to call out stupidity and sin. His church is growing by leaps and bounds which is amazing considering its location. If you want to hear someone be gut-level honest about sin and who teaches the Bible in a way that anybody can understand, then you will really benefit from his preaching style.
Voddie Baucham at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas. He is dedicated to expository preaching. One thing about his style that resonates with me personally is his use of logic in helping his listeners to understand truth.

Paul Washer of HeartCry MissionsEvery time I listen to a Washer sermon, I feel like pond scum.  We need that every once in a while so that's why he is on my list. 

Mark Dever at Capital Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Dever's style definitely fits his environment. He's much more scholarly and intellectual in his approach. I feel like I'm back in seminary when I hear him preach (this is a good thing).

Timothy Keller.  Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.  Yes, there are churches in NYC.  Here I pay homage to my Presbyterian brothers and sisters.  If you haven't read Keller's book Prodigal God, you're missing out. Keller's approach in preaching is more philosophical but ya kinda have to be if you're gonna preach to New Yorkers. The theme of repentance is all over his work and he reminds Christians all the time that we don't do it nearly enough.

P.S. All of these sermons are FREE! What can be better than that?  It has often been said that Christians alive today have greater access to the Bible and tools for understanding it than we have ever had in our history.  YET, sadly we live in the most biblically illiterate time in the history of the world.  Why is that??? We have so many resources available to us and sermon podcasts are super easy and super awesome.  Take advantage of the resource (did I mention it's free?)  and watch the Lord begin to retrain your mind to think and desire the things above instead of what's on the earth.