Turning 30: Mentors From A Distance

Most late afternoons during my college years I could be found sitting at a picnic table with headphones in. Fast forward to the present and little has changed. I spend a good portion of my day with headphones in listening to a podcast, sermon or music. They are among my most valuable tools. They help me stay focused and get things done, but more importantly these two white buds are responsible for who I am and who I am becoming.

Apple's invention of the iPod came along at just the right moment. I was in my late teens or early twenties and filled with an insatiable appetite for knowledge. Knowledge I couldn't find in the classroom, or school library. I wanted to know God and be shaped by His word. No better tool could have burst onto the scene than this new avenue of filling my mind with all manner of things called the podcast.

Regardless your tastes—there's something sitting out there just waiting to deliver massive amounts of information you'll love directly to your brain. They allow some of the most thoughtful minds to serve as mentors from a distance. They provide the opportunity for us to spend countless hours with these men, without the trouble of traveling and booking time on their calendars. We can meet with them whenever and wherever we please.

There have been many shaping voices over the years. I would like to share a few of them with you and encourage that you give them a listen on your commute, while working out or perhaps the next time your relaxing in the serene surroundings of nature.

Many voices have impacted me over the years, but John Piper has been the most influential. You're most likely familiar with his writing and teaching ministry. Perhaps you've read and been encouraged by Desiring God, Future Grace or Don't Waste Your Life. Maybe you've listened to one of his classic sermon series—I've especially enjoyed his Romans series as well as the biographical messages he's given at the Desiring God Pastors Conferences throughout the years. Piper has made a contribution to evangelical thought and discussion unlike anyone in the last half century. Among his most lasting and far-reaching contributions is his embracing and leveraging of media / technology for kingdom purposes. An early adopter of technological wizardry such as social media, podcasting & the internet, Piper has shown an entire generation of believers a model for engaging culture in a winsome way. Of the many resources available at DesiringGod.org I will commend two for your listening pleasure. The first, is his daily podcast Ask Pastor John—where Piper answers listener questions about life, theology and more in a quick yet satisfying manner. The second resource I would like to suggest is a sermon Pastor John gave as part of his series on The Book of Romans called What Is the Will of God, and How Do We Know It?—careful this one might change your life.      

Matt Chandler has served a major role in shaping and establishing much of my spiritual journey. Few can articulate the truths of the gospel in as compelling a fashion as Chandler. His compassionate plea and admonition that there is room at the foot of the cross have changed not only my life but countless others. Following in the footsteps of the aforementioned John Piper, Matt has grasped hold of the power of media—which means that the majority of his preaching catalog can be found online. From that impressive catalog—I could not recommend his sermon series on Ecclesiastes to you strongly enough. In a culture obsessed with riches, pleasure and attention this word from King Solomon is timely and needed. Matt also cohosts a weekly podcast called Culture Matters, where he and his trusty sidekick Josh Patterson discuss pertinent topics and interview some of the most compelling guests. 

Tommy Nelson is the most outstanding teacher of God's word you've never heard of. When I first subscribed to the Denton Bible Church podcast, the large booming voice of the former UNT quarterback came radiating through my headphones. It clearly and wonderfully communicated the beauty and excellence of Christ with a folksy charm that pulled me in. As a result I spent hundreds of hours listening to him unpack truth whether he was walking line by line through a text or unpacking history. The full scale of Tommy's gifts are on full display in his series entitled The 60's: The Fault Line of America and The Book of Romans

"All I want to do," Greg Koukl says, "is put a stone in someone's shoe. I want to give him something worth thinking about, something he can't ignore because it continues to poke at him in a good way." Few thinkers approach sharing the Christian worldview in as kind & conversational a manner as Greg Koukl. He is thoughtful, insightful and engaging when discussing matters of faith and reality. The Stand to Reason Weekly Podcast provides wisdom for navigating the issues of the day and tactics for engaging the world around you with truth. With this helpful tool in your pocket, you'll be prepared to give a clear & effective response to the questions of our day. 

"Discipleship is a relationship", Tommy Nelson says, "between older and younger Christians based on scripture & trust that will progressively bring the younger to resemble the other in knowledge, life and purpose through the grace of God." If he is correct, what I'm calling impact & influence is actually discipleship—without the context of personal relationship and physical presence. The fact that these men wouldn't recognize or notice me if we were in the same room is of little consequence. The Lord has used their teaching ministries to touch my life and assist my growth in Christlikeness. For this I am immensely grateful and commend their resources to you in hopes that they help spur you on.