From the Editor:

Christian Expansion

The Preacher’s Walk with Christ
Preaching Doctrine

Divorce – Cost Of

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“If at first you do succeed — try something harder.”

(Ann Landers)

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    Vol. 7, No. 22 June 2, 2008    
Michael Duduit

In his book The Reason for God (Dutton), Tim Keller reminds us one of the unique elements of Christianity is, unlike most major religions, “Christianity has been more adaptive (and maybe less destructive) of diverse cultures than secularism and many other worldviews.

“The pattern of Christian expansion differs from that of every other world religion. The center and majority of Islam’s population is still in the place of its origin – the Middle East. The original lands that have been the demographic centers of Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism have remained so.

“By contrast, Christianity was first dominated by Jews and centered in Jerusalem. Later it was dominated by Hellenists and centered in the Mediterranean. Later, the faith was received by the barbarians of Northern Europe, and Christianity came to be dominated by western Europeans and then North Americans. Today, most Christians in the world live in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Christianity soon will be centered in the southern and eastern hemispheres.

“Two case studies are instructive. In 1900, Christians comprised 9 percent of the African population and were outnumbered by Muslims four to one. Today, Christians comprise 44 percent of the population, and in the 1960s surpassed Muslims in number. This explosive growth is now beginning in China. Christianity is growing not only among the peasantry, but among the social and cultural establishment, including the Communist party. At the current rate of growth, within 30 years Christians will constitute 30 percent of the Chinese population of 1.5 billion.” (Click here to learn more about the book The Reason for God.)

Why does this matter? This is evidence of two realities: First, Christianity can thrive in any culture and any setting. Second, God is accomplishing His purpose and growing His church. Around the globe, we are gaining millions of new brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s celebrate that truth and be part of reaching the next generation!

Michael Duduit, Editor

This week’s featured podcast is with Max Lucado and next week is with Charles Stanley, as we revisit some of our top podcasts of the past year during June. Go to our podcast page to hear this or one of several dozen other podcast interviews.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the 20th annual National Conference on Preaching, April 20-22, 2009, in Tampa, Florida. We’ll have a great line-up of speakers, including John Ortberg, Stuart Briscoe, Jack Graham, Robert Smith, Dave Stone, Steve Brown, Ralph Douglas West and many more. To take advantage of the deepest discounts available on registration, click here.


In an article in the PreachingTodaySermons.com newsletter, Dallas Willard argues the preacher’s own sense of spiritual peace will impact the preaching of the Word: “Preachers who are not finding satisfaction in Christ are likely to demonstrate that with overexertion and over-preparation for speaking, and with no peace about what they do after they do it. If we have not come to the place of resting in God, we will go back and think, Oh, if I’d done this, or Oh, I didn’t do that.

“When you come to the place where you are drinking deeply from God and trusting Him to act with you, there is peace about what you have communicated.

“One of my great joys came when I got up from a chair to walk to the podium and the Lord said to me, ‘Now remember, it’s what I do with the Word between your lips and their hearts that matters.’ That is a tremendous lesson. If you do not trust God to do that, then He will let you do what you’re going to do, and it’s not going to come to much. But once you turn it loose and recognize we are always inadequate, but our inadequacy is not the issue, you are able to lay that burden down. Then the satisfaction you have in Christ spills over into everything you do.

“The preacher who does not minister in that satisfaction is on dangerous ground. Those who experience moral failure are those who failed to live a deeply satisfied life in Christ, almost without exception. I know my temptations come out of situations where I am dissatisfied, not content. I am worried about something or not feeling the sufficiency I know is there. If I have a strong temptation, it will be out of my dissatisfaction.

“The moral failures of ministers usually are over one of three things: sex, money, or power. That always comes out of dissatisfaction. Ministers are reaching for something, and they begin to feel, I deserve something better. I sacrifice so much and get so little. And so I’ll do this. The surest guarantee against failure is to be so at peace and satisfied with God that when wrongdoing presents itself it isn’t even interesting. That is how we stay out of temptation.” (Click here to read the full article.)


When Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll began a sermon series specifically on doctrine, he received several phone calls from pastors who lead large flocks asking if anyone is still coming out to listen to the series, according to a May 23 Christian Post report.

“The rule is, if you have a big church you’re not supposed to talk about certain things that are controversial (or) divisive,” said Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, which draws mainly 20-somethings.

But the 37-year-old pastor has his theological convictions and wants non-Christians and Christians to know the core truth claims of Christianity. Mars Hill is now in a 13-week series titled “Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe.”

He’s also not pleased when preachers leave out doctrine and Jesus from sermons. “So much preaching today is about seven steps to this, four steps to that, 13 steps to this. I’m totally fine if you want to have a great marriage (and) improve your business,” Driscoll said. “But at the end of the day, are people learning about who Jesus is and what He’s done?”

“Are we trying to give people principles without power, meaning follow this example but don’t live in relationship with Him?” he asked.

At Mars Hill Church, attendants are required to take “Gospel Class,” which teaches Christian truths, in order to become members of the church. Driscoll admitted half the people who have taken the class have gone on to become members, while the other half left over disagreements with various doctrines. The current sermon series on doctrine will replace “Gospel Class” to facilitate church membership for thousands of people. (Click here to read the full article.)


Join us October 20-21 for Preaching West, a two-day preaching conference in Newport Beach, California. The theme is “Preaching Biblical Truth in a Changing Culture,” and speakers will include: Dan Kimball, Pastor, Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calif., and author of They Like Jesus but Not the Church; James L. Wilson, Professor of Leadership at Golden Gate Baptist Seminary and author of Future Church; John A. Huffman, Senior Pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, Calif.; Michael Duduit, Editor of Preaching magazine; and John Webb, Professor of Communication and Ministry at Hope International University. To learn more, click here.


In his book Be in it to Win It (Touchstone Faith), pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell talks about an experience in the life of boxer Evander Holyfield, who attended Caldwell’s church when at his Houston training camp: “The youngest of eight children, Evander never knew his dad as a kid. His parents never married. But they kept in touch, mostly because of the persistence of Evander’s late mother, Annie …

“One day, Evander and his mother drove into a tiny Southern Alabama lumber town. There, Evander, a 21-year-old cruiser-weight boxer wondering if he had the genetic material to grow into a heavyweight, stared at his father and saw a real life vision for his own future. The man was a broad-shouldered, 230-pound lumberjack, big as any heavyweight. ‘It was a good feeling,’ Evander said later.

“In that instance, when a 21-year-old man met his estranged father, Evander Holyfield’s vision became clear: to someday fight for – and win – the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World. He literally could see his future standing before him. He knew from his father’s size and heft he had the ability to grow his body from cruiser-weight into heavyweight status. In that moment, Evander became a heavyweight in his mind. An ordinary circumstance became an extraordinary moment. A vision was revealed; a future champion anointed.

“Your equally transcendent moment awaits you, if you can only trust that someday, some way, your calling and, later, your vision will appear. When you discover not only who you are, but also why you have been born, then your hills are lower and your valleys are higher … Your life is no longer focused on defining yourself, but on traveling toward your destination.”  (Click here to learn more about the book Be in it to Win It.)


Serious and important studies such as Why Marriage Matters: 21 Conclusions from the Social Sciences (2002) and Hardwired to Connect (2003) have documented the ravages of divorce and single parenthood on children, as well as their mothers and fathers. The significantly increased incidence of divorce, unwed parenthood and alcohol and substance abuse among children of divorce is well-known to social scientists.

It is also well documented that boys raised without their fathers are approximately twice as likely to engage in criminal and delinquent behavior as boys raised in homes with their biological mother and father (Why Marriage Matters).

Now, a study has been published, The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing, which seeks to detail the financial costs to society resulting from the breakdown of marriage in our society. This new study calculates the financial costs alone to be at least $112 billion dollars a year, resulting from expenses associated with healthcare, criminal justice, welfare and lost income-tax revenue. That means the breakdown of marriage has cost our country almost $1.1 trillion dollars during the past decade. (Richard Land, ERLC website, 4-25-08)

From the May-June issue of Preaching …

In an interview with Chuck Colson, he observes, “We have to be concerned particularly with the transcendent moral issues of our day. There’s no way you can ignore it. I know there are some churches that like not to get involved. I was just in a little stimulating debate with a fellow who says we should just tend to building the Kingdom and let politics take care of itself. Well, you could do that if you don’t take the view of the Lordship of Christ that I do. I believe God is sovereign over all. 

“‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.’ The Word is in Greek logos, which means all truth that ever could be known or was known to the Greeks. That’s how the Greeks used it. John was a Greek so he understood it fully. Jews often translated it as ‘the mind of God Himself.’ So if that’s true — if Jesus is not only the Redeemer who came to earth to die on the cross in our place but is also the Logos, if that’s the explanation of who Jesus is — then He is also Creator. Therefore, we have to be concerned with how the gospel interfaces with everything.”

Every issue of Preaching contains insightful articles on preaching, plus great model sermons and practical resources. If you’re not a current subscriber to Preaching magazine, click here (or call, toll free, 1-800-527-5226) to go begin your subscription!

Also in the May-June issue of Preaching: Interviews with Chuck Colson and Robert Smith, a survey of visual resources for preaching, “Preaching in a World Hostile to Truth,” plus sermons by Mike Milton, Marvin McMickle, David Dykes, Robert Smith and much more. Order your subscription today!

There are so many bloggers out there in contemporary church life that it can be hard to keep up with which ones are “must reads.” I came across this list I saved last year, and it’s still a pretty good guide to some of the more helpful church leader blogs out there.

“Worry is the interest we pay on tomorrow’s troubles.” (E. Stanley Jones)

Many of the surveys of church participation are deceptive, according to David T. Olson in The American Church in Crisis (Zondervan). Olson draws on data from a massive research study spanning more than a decade. Some of the information here is not what we want to hear, but it’s important to know where we stand before we know where to go from here.


In I Once Was Lost (IVP), Don Everts and Doug Schaupp tell us what postmoderns say about how they came to follow Jesus. The authors help us understand the factors that influence postmoderns and help them become open to the gospel. This is a helpful guide to understand how postmodernity impacts our evangelistic task.


Calls to Worship (Christian Focus) will be a helpful tool for pastors and others who lead worship services. Compiled by Robert Vasholz, this “Pocket Resource” book includes more than 100 prepared scriptural introductions appropriate for use to open a worship service.

(Click on the title to learn more or order from Amazon.)


A couple of weeks after hearing a sermon on Psalms 51:2-4 (knowing my own hidden secrets) and Psalm 52:3-4 (lies and deceit), a man who had recently become a Christian wrote the following letter to the IRS:
“I have been unable to sleep, knowing I have cheated on my income tax. I understated my taxable income last year and have enclosed a check for $1,150. If I still can’t sleep, I will send the rest.”


Supposedly from official court transcripts:

Judge: I know you, don’t I?
Defendant: Uh, yes.
Judge: All right, tell me, how do I know you?
Defendant: Judge, do I have to tell you?
Judge: Of course, you might be obstructing justice not to tell me.
Defendant: Okay. I was your bookie.

From a defendant representing himself …
Defendant: Did you get a good look at me when I allegedly stole your purse?
Victim: Yes, I saw you clearly. You are the one who stole my purse.
Defendant: I should have shot you while I had the chance.

Judge: The charge here is theft of frozen chickens. Are you the defendant?
Defendant: No, sir, I’m the guy who stole the chickens.

Lawyer: How do you feel about defense attorneys?
Juror: I think they should all be drowned at birth.
Lawyer: Well, then, you are obviously biased for the prosecution.
Juror: That’s not true. I think prosecutors should be drowned at birth, too.

Judge: Is there any reason you could not serve as a juror in this case?
Juror: I don’t want to be away from my job that long.
Judge: Can’t they do without you at work?
Juror: Yes, but I don’t want them to know it.

Defendant: Judge, I want you to appoint me another lawyer.
Judge: And why is that?
Defendant: Because the Public Defender isn’t interested in my case.
Judge (to Public Defender): Do you have a comment on the defendant’s motion?
Public Defender: I’m sorry, your honor. I wasn’t listening.

Every baseball player wants to get his name in the paper, but this may not be exactly what John Odom dreamed.

According to a May 23, 2008, AP story, Odom, who spent three years in the minor leagues, found himself traded to the Laredo (Texas) Broncos of the United League. They got him Tuesday from the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League for a most unlikely price: 10 Prairie Sticks Maple Bats, double-dipped black, 34-inch, C243 style. The bats retail for $69 each.

“They just wanted some bats — good bats, maple bats,” Broncos general manager Jose Melendez said.

The Canadian team signed Odom about a month ago, but couldn’t get the 26-year-old righty into the country. Originally from Atlanta, Odom was drafted late by the San Francisco Giants in 2003. He pitched 38 games in Class A from 2004-06 and was released by the organization this spring.

“I don’t really care,” Odom told reporters. “It’ll make a better story if I make it to the big leagues.”

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