The acronym is a bit deceiving. Though that acronym has been most commonly used to describe the “Sermon on the Mount” given by Christ, I have changed it “sermons on the move” for the purpose of the blog. What does the acronym SOTM mean then in this context? For those of you who don’t want to read the context behind everything can know that I started a new “page” found on the right side of the home option to give a list of things I’ve been listening to. For those of you who want to keep reading, please continue.
The concept of “sermons on the move” is not difficult. It simply conveys the idea of listening to messages while on the move. For me that time is often while walking on campus by myself, riding the shuttle, or cooking in my apartment. I remember asking my friend Tracy Harada if she had listened to anything she would like to pass on that could be helpful to my soul. She said that she’s gotten in the habit of listening to sermons while walking to class, which would explain her often grave and somber facial expressions. I also saw on Tumblr that Garnet Kim made a commitment to listen to read and listen to a sermon every day. Midway through the quarter I thought perhaps I could get into the habit too.
Keep in mind, there were some things that terrified me about this especially concerning my past. In my high school days I was guilty of serious pastor pornography (context of the phrase must be understood) as noted in a previous blog post. I put fallible men like John Piper and John MacArthur on a very lofty pedestal and often times looked forward to messages given by them more so than my local pastor. I am certainly not taking anything away from the work of Dr. Piper and Dr. MacArthur, for it was during that time I immersed myself in doctrines that radically shifted my world view, such as God’s intense desire and chief end was to glorify Himself and bring honor to His name. The problem was that I had an improper understanding of the local church so it was easy to live in Reformed Hollywood rather than invest in what was around me.
In addition to listening to sermons with a deficient view of the local church, I treated messages with contempt by not giving them my full attention. The very name of this blog reflects its origins, in the 2d world of Maplestory. I used to play for an absurd amount of time, but what I listened to changed over the course of my marksmen career. During my sophomore and junior year I tended to listen to music on repeat. I remember “Hands Down” by Dashboard Confessional had over 450 listens because I used to kill Death Teddies for four hours a day with a very short playlist. My senior year I began listening to sermons. I would often have to listen to messages two or three times before things would sink in because of the constant distractions of in-game play. Thank goodness Maplestory was a pretty mindless game that I could have a grasp of a message the third time through, but in hindsight I viewed the preaching and teaching of God’s word much too lightly. Listening to the Word faithfully preached is much more weighty than listening to the Goo Goo Dolls, but I did not treat it as such back in the day.
Let us fast-forward two years. I am confident that I have grown in faith by the grace of God which allowed me to revisit the subject of listening to sermons not delivered by people active in my personal life. Reflecting on my past experiences helped me focus in the present so that I may truly do things to the glory of God. While I am on the move as the acronym prescribes, I am able to give much more attention to the sermons I listen to. The way I view the local church has grown considerably since my high school days and my approach to Sunday worship is much more intentional than before. When I listen to the famous preachers I am somewhat ironically reminded of what Paul Washer says: “(paraphrasing) There are no great men of God – only small, weak, and pitiful men of a great God,” which helps me defeat the chances of pastor pornography becoming an addiction. I am also convinced that there is hardly a better use of one’s time when doing stuff alone (i.e. walking, cooking) than listen to a sermon in an area you want to be challenged in or have a better understanding of so that you may become more like Christ. I surprised even myself with how much time I spend walking from place to another or cooking a meal – activities you do daily yet can actively pay attention to what you’re listening to. The process of going from my apartment to my first class is nearly a half hour. That’s one session of R.C. Sproul’s apologetic’s class! Preparing, cooking, and eating a meal can last around an hour. I can be convicted of my poor excuses to cling on to my childish habits. Does not the Bible commands us to set our minds on things above? Does not the Bible say to grow in faith and godliness? Does not the Bible say that faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ? Tozer says in his book Knowledge of the Holy that the greatest thought the mind can entertain is that of God. Surely conviction and encouragement that moves one to holiness through faithful ministers is pleasing to Him.
So what is SOTM? I started a page that can be found on the right that lists all the things I’ve been listening to. Why? Hopefully some of you who I know in real life who are interested in being challenged in the same areas as me can listen and talk to me about it, though many of you probably don’t care for my discernment in listening to messages. You can see where I am seeking to grow and keep me accountable or engage me in discussion about the topic. As you can see by the list, I don’t listen to a potpourri of topics but it’s fairly focused. For example, I have been utterly convinced and convicted (often to my dismay) by scripture and common sense that I have absolutely no right in my current state to start or consider dating. Any remnants of the maturity I thought I had to lead another was cremated and cast out over the Pacific. Am I a man? Who am I kidding? Not only was an important practical issue addressed, but I learned about what is required of men before God and also in the context of relationships so I can strive to become what the Bible calls me to be. How did this happen? I merely walked to class and cooked a meal!
We have so many fantastic resources at our fingertips that would have left the preachers of old and their congregations with their jaws on the floor. Imagine if Charles Spurgeon or George Whitefield had access to the internet or podcasts in addition to their oratory prowess. To think we can set our minds on eternal glory and incline our hearts toward heaven and that glorious inheritance while filling our mundane time is such a blessing! If you can, I’d exhort you take the opportunity to do so. I have no regrets, and by His grace, you will not either.
P.S. I know all of you are dying to ask which sermon I listened to this past quarter that I’d recommend to all of you (/sarcasm), so I’ll go right along and tell you! I am very hesitant to say that certain messages are better than others, but this one resounded deeply with my soul and meaningfully affected my daily living. It is called “The Use of Your Time” by Steve Lawson given at Resolved two years ago. You can find the link to download it here. It’s good, I promise. It’s probably one of the top five I’d recommend to any believer.
The sermon reminds me of this comic. Click it to view.