From the Editor:

Living a Sermon

Both Spirit & Preparation are Needed
Read Scripture as Incarnational
Mark Your Calendar

Love, Decisions
Service, Honesty
Marriage, Timing

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Time is money. Money is time. Reset your clock.”

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    Vol. 7, No. 28 August 5, 2008    
Michael Duduit

Tony Snow was a conservative commentator and TV personality who later became presidential press secretary. Most importantly, Tony was a committed follower of Christ.

Tony fought a long battle with colon cancer and went to be with the Lord on July 12. Even in the midst of his struggle, he demonstrated a powerful understanding of how God can use such tragedy in the lives of His children. Tony wrote these words in a CT article:

“Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don’t matter so we might devote our remaining days to things that do?”

If our lives speak louder than our words, then Tony’s life was a sermon that thundered. May our prayer be that when our own time comes, we’ll allow God’s presence to speak through us in such a meaningful way as he did.

Michael Duduit, Editor

This week’s featured podcast is with Dan Kimball, pastor and author of the book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church, and one of the featured speakers at our Preaching West conference in October (see below for more). Go to our podcast page to hear this or one of several dozen other podcast interviews.


Why do some think you must choose between a Spirit-anointed message and a well-prepared sermon? Ron Boyd-MacMillan poses that question in his book Explosive Preaching (Paternoster). He says, “The great Welsh preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, talked much about the unction of the Spirit, but he warned very explicitly that the fire of God only falls on preachers who have prepared well.

Some men fall into the error of relying on the unction only, and neglect to do all they can by way of preparation. The right way to look at the unction of the Spirit is to think of it as that which comes upon the preparation.

“In the Bible, the sheer rhetorical skills of preaching–by which I mean the skills of organizing, shaping and delivering the material–are never a threat to the unction of the Spirit, but are always complementary to it.” (Click here to learn more about the book Explosive Preaching.)


In her book Scripture as Communication (Baker Academic), Jeannine K. Brown writes, “If understanding Scripture as incarnational fits the biblical testimony, we might still ask whether such an understanding makes a difference in interpretation and contextualization. I am convinced it does make a difference, and in helpful ways …

“One effect of giving full credence to the human quality of the Bible is we will not be prone to bypass the human author. ‘Sure, Amos said that, but God really meant…’ We have no access to God’s meaning apart from the meaning of the human author. Instead, we will affirm what Amos meant, God also meant… If we acknowledge that in Scripture we are participating in more but not less than human communication, we will honor the particularities of the human authors.

“Yet, by also committing ourselves to the divine quality of the Bible, we will not feel free to cast off parts of the Bible that do not suit our ideas and purposes. ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable…’ Even parts of Scripture that lack one-to-one correspondence with our own settings will nevertheless prove profitable if we attend to their re-contextualization for us. For example, I will listen for the resonances between Deuteronomy and my non-agrarian setting so I can profit from its message:

When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. (Deut. 24:19, NIV)

“If I assume I can ignore this passage because I do not have a field and will not be harvesting any time soon, I miss the text’s purpose to promote care for those who are most vulnerable. In contextualizing, I must not try to somehow divide Scripture into what is human and what is divine.” (Click here to learn more about the book Scripture as Communication.)


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

Act now to take advantage of the lowest registration rate ($150 per person, good only until Aug 31) and join us for the 20th Annual National Conference on Preaching, April 20-22, 2009, in Tampa, Florida. We’ll have a great lineup 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



The December 31, 1989, issue of the Chicago Tribune pictured a series of photographs of the best photos of the decade. Michael Fryer’s image of a rescue attempt was a dramatic fire photo. It captured a fireman and a paramedic carrying a fire victim away from the scene. The blaze Fryer covered occurred in December 1984 at Irving Park and Kenmore avenues in Chicago. It seemed routine until firefighters discovered a mother and five children huddled in one apartment’s kitchen. Fryer said firefighters surmised: “She could have escaped with two or three but couldn’t decide who to pick and chose to wait for firefighters to arrive. All of them died of smoke inhalation.” (Rick Ezell, One Minute Uplift newsletter, 7-24-08)


A dozen bystanders rushed in to help a 70-year-old man after he stumbled leaving a Torrance, Calif., bank, causing thousands of dollars to scatter in the wind.

Ludwig Geier says hundreds of bills were “gone in no time,” flying through the air and littering the First National Bank’s parking lot.

Almost immediately, about a dozen bystanders rushed in to help. The machine shop owner says about 96 percent of the money was found. (AP, 7-22-08)

From the July-August issue of Preaching …

In an interview with pastor and author John Ortberg, he observes, “Every human being–all of us–are tempted to devote our lives to climbing the ladder. If I’m working at GM or Apple I might keep score … by salary, income, that kind of stuff. With pastors there’s still that temptation to keep score by comparing ourselves with other pastors. ‘How big is my church? What do I get invited to do?’ All of that kind of stuff. None of those things are necessarily bad things, but if they become idols, they can just kill us. I think they’re a part of why, for all of us in pastoral ministry, it’s easy to feel discouraged, depressed or inadequate if things aren’t going well, or pumped up and grandiose if things are going pretty well.

“So pastors–as much as anybody, and in some ways even more–need to be reminded not to keep score the wrong way. We need to be reminded of what really matters, that life really is being rich toward God. I know when I first started in pastoral ministry, one of the thoughts in the back of my mind was: Well, at least one of the benefits is I will have spiritual maturity thrown in. Of course, none of us do. You don’t have to be in the game very long before you realize we all face the same temptations as anybody else. In some ways it is just a little more pernicious because it can be more subtle, or we don’t talk about the temptations, or we can’t talk about them as openly and honestly.”

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 begin your subscription!

Also in the September-October issue of Preaching: Interviews with John Ortberg and Ralph Douglas West, articles on “The Preacher as Storyteller” and “Preaching in a Post-Everything World,” plus great sermons and much more. Order your subscription today!

The Generous Giving Web site contains helpful information and resources for preaching and teaching stewardship. You’ll find lots of useful information here.

“A prophet’s quarrel with the world is deep-down a lover’s quarrel. If they didn’t love the world, they probably wouldn’t bother to tell it that it’s going to hell. They’d just let it go.” (Frederick Buechner)

This week the Bookshelf focuses on some helpful books for Old Testament study.

A great resource for pastors is The Message of the Old Testament (Crossway) by Mark Dever. Dever takes each book of the Old Testament and explores its meaning and value for Christian readers. This hefty volume is filled with expositional insights for preaching. (There is also a parallel volume, The Message of the New Testament.)


Paul House and Eric Mitchell recently produced a second edition of their excellent Old Testament Survey (B&H), a useful resource for preaching and teaching. There is also an accompanying Student Guide, for those who might like to use this book in a teaching setting.


A bit older but still useful is Encountering the Old Testament (Baker) by Bill Arnold and Bryan Beyer. Readers will appreciate the use of many colorful images, maps and other resources, plus an interactive CD-ROM included.

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


Bob got home from work at his usual hour of 5 p.m., only to discover that it had not been one of his wife’s better days. Nothing he said or did seemed to be right.

By 7 p.m. things had not changed, so Bob suggested he go outside, pretend he had just gotten home, and start all over again. His wife agreed.

So Bob went outside, came back in and, with a big smile, announced, “Honey, I’m home!”

She replied sharply, “And just where have you been? It’s after seven o’clock!” (from Cybersalt.org)


What teenagers have in common with cats:

1. Neither teenagers nor cats turn their heads when you call them by name.

2. No matter what you do for them, it is not enough. Indeed, all humane efforts are barely adequate to compensate for the privilege of waiting on them hand and foot.

3. You rarely see a cat walking outside of the house with an adult human being, and it can be safely said that no teenager in his or her right mind wants to be seen in public with his or her parents.

4. Even if you tell jokes as well as Jay Leno, neither your cat nor your teen will ever crack a smile.

5. No cat or teenager shares your taste in music.

6. Cats and teenagers can lie on the living-room sofa for hours on end without moving, barely breathing.

7. Cats have nine lives. Teenagers live as if they did.

8. Cats and teenagers yawn in exactly the same manner, communicating that ultimate human ecstasy–a sense of complete and utter boredom.

9. Cats and teenagers do not improve anyone’s furniture.

10. Cats that are free to roam outside sometimes have been known to return in the middle of the night to deposit a dead animal in your bedroom. Teenagers are not above that sort of behavior.

11. Above all else, put out the food and do not make any sudden moves in their direction. When they make up their minds, they will finally come to you for some affection and comfort, and it will be a triumphant moment for all concerned. (From Mikey’s Funnies)

Some dieters are more motivated than others.

Take the man who recently escaped from the Waller County, Texas, jail, for instance. According to a July 21 UPI story, the man recently lost 30 pounds–going from 160 to 130–which allowed him to squeeze through a one-foot-wide vent in his cell.

Sheriff’s deputies think the weight loss was part of his escape plan.

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