If it is true that idle hands are the devil’s workshop, then the Internet must be the devil’s state-of-the-art assembly line!
It’s not that the Net can’t be useful. I spend at least 30-40 minutes every day checking my favorite newspapers, answering e-mail, searching for creative dieting tips, and so on. But it’s also awfully easy to start out on a brief excursion and — hours later — wonder how you missed the off ramp.
How about a real-life example. Suppose you are preaching an evangelistic sermon, and you decide to check out the Net for something interesting about eternity. That’s how it starts.
Just to see if there’s anything there, I try www.eternity.com, and sure enough: it’s the web site for a manufacturer of computer games. Since I’m not in the market right now (I’ve already stocked up on “Toddler Time” software), I’ll take another stab at it.
This time I’ll visit yahoo.com, the most popular search engine on the Internet. (And the stock I wish I’d bought a few weeks ago.) I type in eternity and find 41 different web sites which include that word in the title.
Did you know there is an on-line Christian publication, produced in Australia, known as Eternity Online magazine? (eternitymag.com) Some of the articles you can read include: “Should a Christian Go Into Politics?” “Adultery of the Heart?” and “Dealing With Jagged Emotions.” All interesting, but not what I’m looking for right now.
Back to the list of matches I found in Yahoo, I’m interested to note a site called “Alexander the Great: from history to eternity.” (www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/8740/Alexander.htm) Did you know that as an 18-year-old, Alexander commanded part of his father’s cavalry at the battle of Chaeronea? Or that he later married a Persian princess as a way to encourage his troops to inter-marry with conquered peoples? Neither did I. (I’m not sure how I’ll use that in a sermon, but I’ll file it away somewhere.)
That web address was a new one to me, so I went to geocities.com to see what it was all about. Turns out that it is “a thriving online community for people just like you.” Apparently it is a site which allows people to add their own personal web site in a series of themed “neighborhoods.” Sounds like a good way to use up several evenings.
Another geocities site I discovered (still in my eternity quest) was “Titanic: Voyage to Eternity.” (geocities.com/Hollywood/Theater/6723/) Did you know that in the early 20th century, British shipyards were building 50 percent of the world’s merchant ships, and that Titanic was built because of a rivalry between the White Star Line and the Cunard Line, the two companies which controlled the North Atlantic cruise industry? Maybe you did know that (especially if you have a teenage daughter who has seen Titanic 83 times), but I didn’t.
Next I came across the site for Eternity porcelain enamel non-stick cookware. (http://eternity-enamel.com) Looks like nice stuff, but I was out of time so I didn’t order a catalog. (Don’t tell my wife.)
An afternoon of web surfing in search of sermon material, and so far I’ve learned about conquerers, cruise ships and cookware. I guess there’s only one solution: I’ve got to go back and order some of that cookware.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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