From the Editor:

The Sovereignty of God

Preaching as Performance
FCC Ruling Could Impact Wireless Microphones

God’s Love
Prayer, God’s Will
Instructions, Missing Something

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul.” (John Maxwell)

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    Vol. 7, No. 39 November 4, 2008    
Michael Duduit

It’s Election Day in America. That means by this time tomorrow, half the country will be celebrating the good sense of their fellow citizens, while the other half will be lamenting the tragic events that are sure to follow in the years ahead.

No matter whether your candidate wins or loses, just remember you still are blessed to live in an amazing country, and there are millions around the world who would change places with you at a moment’s notice.

Whatever the outcome, it’s going to be OK, because the God we worshiped last Sunday is the same God who is on His throne on Wednesday. A friend of mine just lost his job. When I wrote to encourage him, he responded, “I believed in the sovereignty of God yesterday, and I’ll go to bed tonight still believing in it.”

Keep that in mind on Wednesday–whichever side you’re on–because you serve on a much more important team than Republicans or Democrats, and you’re still on the job.

Michael Duduit, Editor

On the Preaching podcast this week: Listen to my visit with Calvin Miller as we discuss his new memoir, Life Is Mostly Edges. In this week’s first part, we’ll talk about Calvin’s years growing up in Oklahoma and his early experiences with the church. Click here to listen.


In the new book Performance in Preaching: Bringing the Sermon to Life (Baker)–edited by Clayton Schmit and Jana Childers–Paul Scott Wilson offers an essay in which he observes, “Performance is a temporal phenomenon, an act located in time. Preaching as performance normally focuses on the present moment, on orality and aurality, memory, delivery, bodily enactment, and articulation of meaning in the ‘now’ before a congregation. Performance is a more robust word than delivery and may be better able to account for both divine and human activity in preaching…

“To people outside of performance studies, the word performance often implies something negative in preaching, such as focusing mainly on the preacher, or on theatricality, or on entertainment, on things that distract from the Word, and this danger is genuine and pervasive. Still, one does not condemn money because it can be used to ill purposes. The nature of the Word is itself eventful and performative. One recalls God speaking in Isaiah 55:11, ‘so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’ God’s Word, like God’s will, is God’s action. God’s thoughts are events. The expression of God’s will is the promise and assurance of its fulfillment and completion.

“God thus provides the ultimate paradigm of performance: thoughts and words become action and event. God’s Word does what it expresses.” (Click here to learn more about the book Performance in Preaching.)


The use of wireless microphones in churches could be among the technologies dramatically changed if the Federal Communications Commission votes to place new unlicensed devices in unused bandwidth called “white space.”

The FCC is scheduled to vote Nov. 4 on the use of white space devices in old analog TV frequencies. Technology companies such as Google, Microsoft and Dell formed the White Space Coalition to press for use of open-air space to deliver wireless broadband Internet to homes.

White space serves to separate TV channels, preventing interference between them. The White Space Coalition plans to fill white space with unlicensed devices–items such as wireless broadband services, wireless multimedia systems, Palm Pilots and other PDAs, and cordless telephones, according to a report by the audio company Shure.

Broadcasters are concerned the change will create interference with TV signals and wireless technology.

For churches, meanwhile, loss of white space may cause problems for preachers, worship leaders and vocalists who use wireless microphones.

“If the vote passes, it will totally change everything we do,” said Chip Leake, worship pastor at the Nashville-area Thompson Station Baptist Church, which has an average Sunday morning attendance of 1,800.

“Going back to wired microphones would change the way our pastor preaches and cost our church thousands of dollars,” Leake told Baptist Press.

The switch from analog to DTV will evacuate channels in the 700 megahertz band, moving analog TV broadcasters off channels 52 through 69. Broadcasters will be given channels 2 through 51. If the FCC votes to allow unlicensed devices to operate in white spaces, it will go into effect Feb. 17. (Baptist Press, 10-31-08. Click here to read the full article.)


Plan now to join us for the 20th Annual National Conference on Preaching, April 20-22, 2009, in Tampa, Florida. The conference theme is Preaching to Change Lives.” Your ministry will be strengthened through the addresses, powerful sermons and practical workshops at NCP 2009. You’ll enjoy a great line-up of speakers, including:

John Ortberg
Stuart Briscoe
Jack Graham
Robert Smith
Dave Stone
Ed Stetzer
Steve Brown
Ralph Douglas West
Tommy Green
Steve Sjogren
Timothy Warren

and many more. Register now to take advantage of the early-bird discount registration rate. To learn more or to register today, click here.



In his Turning Point Daily Devotional for Oct. 29, David Jeremiah tells the story of an aged Quaker named Hartman who had a son in the Army. When he received news that a dreadful battle had taken place, he went to the scene of conflict to find him. The officer said they believed the boy was dead because he had not answered to his name. This did not satisfy the father, however, and he set out across the battlefield to call for his beloved son who was dearer to him than life. Night set in and Hartman continued searching by lantern until a gust of wind extinguished the light. In desperation, he began shouting, “John Hartman, thy father calleth thee.” Finally, in the dark distance, Hartman heard his boy’s voice crying, “Here, father.” He then took him in his arms, carried him to headquarters, and nursed him back to health.

God loves us more than life itself; and as His beloved Son hung on the cross and died for our sins, He shouted to us in a dark world, “(Your name here), thy Father calleth thee.” Have you cried, “Here, Father”?


In his book Walking with God (Thomas Nelson), John Eldredge writes, “Part of us doesn’t really want to hear what God has to say. Even after years of God’s rescues and surprises and blessing upon blessing, there’s a part of me that gets irritated when someone says, ‘Let’s ask God.’ The act itself is a disruption. Sometimes it feels like grinding the gears. Stop? Now? Ask God? I’m bugged. That’s part of it. And the other part is, if we do hear something, we’ll have to obey.

“I was reading the story of Joshua. And it stopped me in my tracks. My goodness, the Israelites received specific instructions from God all the way through the battle of Jericho–when to cross the river, how to cross the river, when to take Jericho, how to take Jericho. And it worked! It worked. You’d think they would have been convinced. This is how to follow God. But the next day comes and here they are, ready to take city number two, and you know what? They don’t ask! It’s not that they don’t ask the second question, they don’t even ask the first. They just charge ahead. And they pay for it. Dearly.

“I know something of this. I don’t ask because I don’t want to know. If I know what God thinks, then I’m faced with the decision of whether to follow his counsel or not.” (Click here to learn about the book Walking with God.)

From the November-December issue of Preaching …

In a Thanksgiving sermon, Mark Abbott says, “Grumbling is forgetfulness. Maya Angelou, African-American poet, tells of whiners who would come into her grandmother’s store in Arkansas. Grandma would always quietly beckon Maya to come closer. Then she would bait the customer with, ‘How are you doing today, Brother Thomas?’ As the complaining gushed forth she would nod or make eye contact with her granddaughter to make sure Maya heard what was being said. As soon as the whiner left, her grandmother would ask Maya to stand in front of her. Then she would say the same thing she had said at least a thousand times: ‘Sister, did you hear what Brother So-and-So or Sister-Much-to-Do complained about? You heard that!’ Maya would nod.

“Grandma would continue, ‘Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake up again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not … And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or 10 minutes of plowing that person was grumbling about. So you watch yourself about complaining, Sister,’ said Grandma.

“Grandma would conclude: ‘What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.’

“Grumbling is forgetting the blessing of life itself and of life’s simple benefits.
Grumbling can become a habit of life. We can make a habit of ignoring or forgetting God’s goodness.”


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 November-December issue of Preaching: Interviews with Adam Hamilton and Sidney Greidanus, our annual survey of the year’s best Bibles and Bible resources for preaching, articles on “Writing for the Ear” and “Must Every Sermon Focus on Christ?” plus a sermon by Max Lucado and much more. Order your subscription today!

Best Commentaries is an excellent resource for pastors and Bible students. Developed by Dallas Seminary grad John Dyer, it offers a valuable survey of the best commentaries available on each biblical book. You’ll want to take a look here before you go book shopping. You’ll find the site here.

“Winners see an answer for every problem. Losers see a problem in every answer.” (Barbara Johnson)

Too often those of us in leadership become consumed with our daily activities and neglect our own spiritual formation. In Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership (IVP), Ruth Haley Barton guides us in cultivating our own daily walk with Christ. As she notes, “it is possible to gain the whole world of ministry success and lose your own soul.” Pastors and church leaders will benefit from the insights here. (Our Preaching podcast archives contain an interview with Ruth discussing this book.)


In the new book, Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World (Crossway), C.J. Mahaney and others encourage us to resist one of those major factors that can draw us away from faithfulness. Pastors and lay leaders will benefit from this reminder not to set our hearts on the things of this fallen world.


As we focus on God in our daily lives, a devotional guide that may be of help is Robert Morgan’s book, My All in All (B&H Books). Rob is a gifted preacher and writer, and this year-long devotional resource focuses on the Bible’s uses of the word “all” and how these passages amplify God’s greatest truths, commands and promises.

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


Bob pulled into the crowded parking lot and rolled down the car windows to make sure his Labrador Retriever pup had fresh air.

The puppy was lying on the back seat, and Bob wanted to impress upon her that she must remain there, so he walked to the curb backward, pointing his finger at the car and saying emphatically, “Now you stay. Do you hear me? Stay! Stay!”

A nice young lady sitting in a nearby car gave Bob a strange look and then said, “Why don’t you just put it in park?”



~ Your favorite “light reading” is Strong’s Concordance.

~ Playing the piano and being an expert at packing boxes was high on your list of requirements for a potential spouse.

~ As a child, you practiced baptizing your cats.

~ You say “amen” at the end of the Pledge of Allegiance at a public event.

~ You own more books than the religion section of your local public library.

~ Your kids are always asking to go over to someone else’s house where they don’t have to act “good” all the time.

~ You have fried chicken for dinner every Sunday after church.

~ You look in your wife’s purse for a snack for your kids and all you find are communion wafers.

~ You go to the hospital to visit your mother but stop and have prayer with folks in every other room along the way.

~ You have to schedule your vacation around Bible School, Youth Week, the liturgical calendar, and annual meetings of your denomination.

~ The message on your answering machine contains both these phrases: “If this is an emergency…” and “Have a blessed day!”

(adapted from You Might Be a Preacher If… by Stan Toler and Mark Hollingsworth)

Just in case you didn’t make it to the polling place to cast your ballot, don’t get too anxious — there’s a good chance your one vote won’t be the one that decides the election. Unless you live in New Mexico.

According to a statistical study reported by AP on Nov. 2, the odds of voting for president and having your ballot be the deciding one cast are 60 million to 1.

In some states, the odds of being the vote that tips the election to your candidate are much better. In others they are astronomically worse. In fact, you are far more likely to be hit by lightning. Twice.

For some people, though, the odds approach fathomable numbers. Residents of swing states have the best odds of swinging the election, based not on the size of the state but the likelihood the race will be close and their state will make the difference in the Electoral College.

In New Mexico, the odds are 1 in 6.1 million of a voter casting the ultimate deciding vote. “If you’re in New Mexico, you have a better chance of having your vote matter than winning the New York Lottery,” said study co-author Aaron Edlin, a professor of economics and law at the University of California, Berkeley.

In Virginia, the odds are 1 in 7.9 million. New Hampshire residents have 1 in 8 million chance of being the key vote. In Colorado, the odds are 1 in 9.9 million. In those states, voters are more likely to decide the election than to die by dog bite this year.

For everyone else after those four states, fat chance. The next lowest odds–for Nevada–are 1 in 28.2 million. Thirty-four states have odds greater than 1 in 100 million; 20 states have odds worse than 1 in 1 billion. Alabama’s odds are 1 in 12.2 billion. Oklahoma’s odds are 1 in 20.5 billion. But the nation’s capital has it the worst. The odds of a District of Columbia resident casting the vote that decides the election are 1 in 490 billion.

That’s essentially zero, but one of the study’s authors notes: “We never like to say zero in statistics.”

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