Baby’s First Sermon

As many of you already know, last week (July 14) I had the privilege of preaching in Sovereign Grace’s evening worship service—my first sermon ever given outside a classroom setting.  A number of folks have asked me for a recording of the sermon, and I thought that publishing it here would be the easiest means of distribution for any interested listeners.  [As a side note, you can listen to all of Sovereign Grace’s regular sermons (i.e. not by interns) here; I offer them with my highest commendation.]

Having now thoroughly reviewed the sermon on my own and with pastor Dean (my internship adviser, and in no small part a spiritual father to me here in Charlotte), I am intimately familiar with the sermon’s many shortcomings.  Needless to say, I have already learned so much from this first preaching experience—lessons which I am anxious to employ as I prepare to preach again next month.  I am immensely thankful that I live and serve in a congregation of believers who truly love and support me, and who have so eagerly invested themselves in my growth and maturation as a hopeful pastor.  Any additional feedback you might offer would be valuable to me and much appreciated, to be sure.  That said, I would encourage you not to listen simply as a curious onlooker of my professional progress, but rather as a humble creature before the holy Word of our great and sovereign Lord.  “To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.”

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On Internet Saturation

There are few high-profile blogs I frequent, and even fewer I would recommend to a wide audience; but The Gospel Coalition is just such an exceptionally worthwhile site.  Virtually everything I’ve come across there has been valuable and preeminently biblical–which is saying a lot, given the quantity and variety of content they regularly put out.

Of particular note on TGC is the blog of pastor Kevin DeYoung.  In the course of my own blogging, I’ve already linked to DeYoung on two occasions: once in discussion of pastor Rob Bell’s woefully unbiblical Love Wins, and again in response to the tidal-wave popularity of Jefferson Bethke’s video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.”  A couple weeks ago, DeYoung published a brief and insightful pair of posts called “Don’t Let the Screen Strangle Your Soul.”  In them, DeYoung describes his realization of just how techno-centric and internet-saturated his daily life has become in recent years and discusses some of the more treacherous liabilities of such a mode of living.  Without condescension, he succinctly describes the fascinating and troubling effects of constant internet exposure on an ever-increasing segment of our culture, a segment which admittedly includes both him and me.

As I read DeYoung’s posts for the first time, my heart resonated so deeply with the problems he describes that I was appropriately frightened.  I saw how my habit of staying constantly connected to facebook, email, and my cell phone was not so much a well-intended effort to “make myself available to others” as it was a desperate desire to maintain a constant buzz of interaction, no matter how (typically) trivial.  I have learned all too well how easy it is to seek insulation from true and vital solitude through the endless parade of hollow amusements that the internet offers; and I have grown pitifully accustomed to the siren call of cyberspace haunting the back of my mind whenever I try to focus exclusively on a book or assignment.

Thus, in this matter I find myself needing not only repentance but reprogramming–a difficult process which nevertheless promises true life and peace.  As the Lord says,

“Whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:7-9).

“[The Father] disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:10-11).

I have joined DeYoung in the confessional; let me now join him in striving for maturity and renewed obedience in Christ.  We will reap, if we do not give up.  What about you?