From the Editor:

New in Town

Paul on Preaching
Connected to the Past
Mark Your Calendar

Witness, Example
Youth, Sexuality
Bad Planning, Cultural Confusion

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”

(Wayne Gretzky)

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    Vol. 7, No. 27 July 29, 2008    
Michael Duduit

We recently moved to Anderson, SC, where I am serving as dean of the new Graduate School of Christian Ministry at Anderson University. I’ll spend the next year preparing the program, which means for the next few months I am dean of a school with no students and no other faculty.

There is something to be said for such a situation. For example, right now I can hold faculty meetings anywhere I’d like, from Starbucks to the deck behind my house. To date, we have not had a single faculty conflict, and so far every vote has been unanimous.

On the other hand, there is no one to whom I can delegate anything, no student helpers as there are no students at this time. Then again, there are no student complaints either.

This should be an interesting year. Stay tuned.

Michael Duduit, Editor

This week’s featured podcast is with Zack Eswine, preaching professor at Covenant Seminary and author of an important new book, Preaching to a Post-Everything World. Go to our podcast page to hear this or one of several dozen other podcast interviews.


The Apostle Paul’s view of preaching is the subject of Michael Knowles’ book We Preach Not Ourselves (Baker), which focuses on the first six chapters of Second Corinthians. He writes, “The basic task of every preacher, according to Paul, is to interpret the lives of their congregants–and all human experience–in light of Jesus’ cross and resurrection, and to find there the foundational pattern of God’s saving intervention in response to ongoing human need. He comes to this pastoral and theological insight in the course of personal trials that severely test, yet ultimately affirm, his faith.

“The unexpected conclusion to which this leads him is that it is not personal strength, gifts or ability, but ongoing weakness and insufficiency that draw even preachers near to Christ–not only at the outset, but throughout the course of their discipleship and ministry. In fact, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection determine not only the preacher’s message, but the act of preaching in particular, because preaching is an act of utter dependence on the grace and generosity of a life-giving God.” (Click here to learn more about We Preach Not Ourselves.)


In his final book, Who Gets to Narrate the World? (IVP), Robert Webber says it is essential that today’s believers relearn the Christian narrative. “Christopher Lasch, in his groundbreaking work The Culture of Narcissism, writes from the perspective that when we lose our connection with the past, there is nothing left to focus on except self. One corrective we must embrace, then, is to return to the origins of God’s narrative in Scripture and to the earliest interpretation of it, which was established by the apostles and was continued by the ancient church fathers.

“For the past 30 years or so the church has been plagued by innovation. Innovation is the spirit of modernism, a philosophy that moves forward without regard for the past. Modernism assumes tradition and history are unimportant. American culture is modernist, and unfortunately the American church reflects this spirit in its anti-historical bias and penchant for what’s new. The assumption is that new is better.

“With an anti-historical attitude and the constant desire for what’s new, faith is reduced to style.To stay relevant with the changing cultural scene, we must change our style of presenting the faith. Eventually the overemphasis on style results in an under-emphasis on substance, and then style overtakes substance. The words of the narrative–creation, fall, incarnation, death, resurrection, second coming–may continue to be used, but without the appropriate depth and cosmic substance. That is why there is a need to stay connected to the tradition.” (Click here to order a copy of Who Gets to Narrate the World?)


Join us October 20-21, 2008, 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. Andrews 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 visit www.preaching.com/west

Also, plan now to be part of 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, Tommy Green, Timothy Warren and many more. To take advantage of the deepest discounts available on registration, go to www.preaching.com/ncp



A Hindu professor once found out that a man in his class was a Christian. “If you Christians were like Jesus Christ,” the professor said to him, “India would be at your feet tomorrow.”

A learned Muslim who recently became a Christian said, “If Christians were truly Christians–like Christ–there would be no Islam.” (R.T. Kendall, Ministry Today, Jan-Feb 2008)


In his book, Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers, sociology professor Mark Regnerus says evangelical teens are slightly more sexually active than their non-evangelical peers. Non-evangelical teens have sex for the first time at age 16.7, versus 16.3 for evangelicals. Worse, 13.7 percent of evangelical teens have had three or more sex partners, versus 8.9 percent of their non-evangelical peers.

World Magazine reports 80 percent of U.S. teens claiming to be born-again agree that sex outside of marriage is morally wrong, yet 66 percent violate their own beliefs. “Evangelical teens don’t have sex less than their non-evangelical friends; they just feel guiltier about it.” He credits the clash of cultures in the evangelical youth experience: urged to drink deeply from the waters of American individualism and its self-focused pleasure ethic, yet asked to value time-honored religious traditions like family and chastity. “Who can serve two masters? Teens need a pure community of true believers who teach the truth about sex, including its beauty in marriage.”  (OneNewsNow 3/29/08, via Church Leaders Intelligence Report)

From the July-August issue of Preaching …

In an interview with Chuck Colson, he concluded with some counsel to pastors and their lay leaders: “Worry more about spiritual depth than church growth. There’s too much recruitment going on just to get people in the Church. I think pastors most often suffer because they’re under pressure from their own leadership, their deacons and elders. The people want the biggest church in town more than the pastor. So, I simply would say: Focus on making disciples, transforming them.

“I think there’s a real sense of unease in the Church today that we’ve got lots of numbers, but we don’t have people who really are change agents, who are really witnesses of transformed lives. One thing we’ve done at Prison Fellowship is recast our vision, mission and values statements to reflect not just reaching as many people in the prison with the Gospel as we can, but to really make disciples–to see them become transformed.”

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 July-August 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!

If you present a weekly children’s sermon–or simply are called on to speak to groups of kids from time to time–you’ll appreciate the resources here, where you’ll find more than 150 messages for children at no cost.

“Happiness is the by-product of a life that is lived in the will of God.” (Warren Wiersbe)

Every church is unique in its own way, and in the new book What Is Your Church’s Personality (P&R Publishing), Philip D. Douglass helps you understand and develop your own congregation within what he identifies as the eight basic categories of church personalities. A former church planter, who now teaches at Covenant Seminary, Douglass’ book will be a helpful tool for church leaders.


Christian readers will welcome the re-release of 18 Words: The Most Important Words You Will Ever Know (Christian Focus) by J.I. Packer. Packer explains and meditates on what he considers the 18 “keywords from the Bible”–Death, Devil, Election, Faith, Fellowship, Grace, Holiness, Justification, Lord, Mediator, Mortification, Reconciliation, Regeneration, Revelation, Sanctification, Scripture, Sin and World.


William Lane Craig is one of the pre-eminent Christian thinkers of the day, and the newly released third edition of his book Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics (Crossway) is one of those texts which deserves a place on the shelf of every Christian communicator. He deals effectively with issues like “The problem of historical knowledge,” “The problem of miracles,” “How do I know Christianity is True?” and much more.

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


Two guys are bungee-jumping one day. The first guy says to the second, “You know, we could make a lot of money running our own bungee-jumping service in Mexico.”
The second guy thinks it is a great idea, so the two pool their money and buy everything they’ll need: tower, elastic cord, insurance, etc.
They travel to Mexico and begin to set up in the square. As they are constructing the tower, a crowd begins to assemble. Slowly, more and more people gather to watch them at work. After they have everything ready, they decide to give the crowd a demonstration.
The first guy jumps. He bounces at the end of the cord, but when he comes back up, the second guy notices that he has a few cuts and scratches.
Unfortunately, the second guy isn’t able to catch him, and he falls again, bounces and comes back up again. This time, he is bruised and bleeding.
Again, the second guy misses him. The first guy falls again and bounces back up. This time, he comes back pretty messed up–he’s got a couple of broken bones and is almost unconscious.
Luckily, the second guy finally catches him this time and says, “What happened? Was the cord too long?”
The first guy replies, “No, the cord was fine, but what in the world is a pinata?”


Dear Mom,
Scoutmaster Webb told us to write our parents in case you heard about the flood and got worried. We’re all OK. Only one of our tents and two of our sleeping bags got washed away. Nobody drowned because we were all on the mountain looking for Chad when it happened. Oh yeah, please call Chad’s mother and tell her he’s OK. He can’t write her because of the cast on his arm.
I got to ride in one of the search and rescue jeeps! It was neat! We never would have found him in the dark if it hadn’t been for all the lightning.
Scoutmaster Webb got mad at Chad for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Chad said he did tell him, but it was during the fire, so he probably didn’t hear him.
Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas can will blow up? It was so cool! The wet wood still wouldn’t burn, but one of our tents did, and some of our clothes. Boy, Johnny is going to look weird until his hair grows back!
We’ll be home Saturday if Scoutmaster Webb gets the car fixed. It wasn’t his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked when we left, but he said with a car that old you have to expect something to break down. That’s probably why he can’t get insurance. We think it’s a neat car. He doesn’t care if we get it dirty, and if it’s hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the tailgate. It gets pretty hot with 15 people in the car. He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the highway patrolman stopped and yelled at him.
This morning all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out in the lake. Scoutmaster Webb wouldn’t let me because I can’t swim, and Chad was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so he let us take the canoe across the lake. It was great. You still can see some of the trees under the water from the flood. Scoutmaster Webb isn’t crabby like some Scoutmasters. He didn’t even get mad about us leaving the life jackets behind. He has to spend a lot of time working on the car, so we’re trying not to cause him any trouble.
Guess what? We passed our First Aid merit badges. When Dave dove in the lake and cut his arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works. Also, Wade and I threw up. Scoutmaster Webb said it probably was just food poisoning from the leftover chicken. He said they got sick like that with the food they ate in prison. I’m so glad he got out and became our Scoutmaster. He said he figured out how to do things better while he was doing time.
I have to go now. We are going into town to mail this and buy some bullets and more gasoline. Don’t worry about anything. We are doing just fine.
Your son

Seeing the sights while on vacation is to be expected, but this family got carried away–literally.

The Coray family of Cardiff, Wales, set off on a five-star holiday to the Canary Islands. Unfortunately, they were given incorrect boarding passes and put on the wrong plane, travelling 2,000 miles out of their way, according to a July 22 story in The Times.

Charlie Coray, his wife, Tania, and daughter, Phoebe, 9, realized the mistake only after the plane landed and the air stewardess announced: “Welcome to Turkey.”

Mr. Coray, 47, an engineer, said: “It was about 6:30 in the morning when we arrived at Cardiff Airport, and we were directed to the check-in desk. We did not realize that more than one flight was being checked in there. We were half-asleep. When we were called to the gate we gave them our boarding passes, got on the plane and fell asleep.”

Mrs. Coray, a teacher, said, “It was unbelievable. I know they send luggage to the wrong places, but not people.”

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