From the Editor:

Praying for Missionaries

Guiding People to See Christ in Themselves

Commitment, Sacrifice
Mistaken Identity, Motivation

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“He who believes that the past cannot be changed has not yet written his memoirs.” (Torvald Gahlin)

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    Vol. 8, No. 35 September 29, 2009    
Michael Duduit

Last week, our church held a missions conference with more than a dozen missionary families from around the globe. Our family had the privilege of hosting a recently-retired missionary couple from Japan.

In long conversations, they were probing for information about trends in the American church and in our own denomination. They were anxious to understand the kinds of changes that had taken place here while they’d been in Japan and why those changes had taken place.

It occurred to me that after four decades of missionary service on the other side of the globe, they had returned to a different church than the one they left. Think of how churches have changed in the past 40 years and how unsettling that has been to many in our congregations. Now imagine what it must be like to someone who has been in another culture all those years and what an adjustment it is to return to a different place than the one you left behind.

Today, take a few minutes to pray for those men and women (and their families) who have accepted the sacrificial call to leave behind the comforts and familiarity of home in order to carry the gospel to distant lands. And pray for those who will be returning home soon, that their readjustments can be smooth and reassuring.

What can your church and mine do to help these faithful Kingdom servants today?

Michael Duduit, Editor

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MichaelDuduit

On this week’s Preaching Podcast: R. Albert Mohler’s newest book Words from the Fire (Moody Press) is about the Ten Commandments. In this podcast, he visits with Michael about the continuing relevance of the commandments in 21st century society. Click here to listen.


In his wonderful new book The Pastor as Minor Poet: Texts and Subtexts in the Ministerial Life (Eerdmans), M. Craig Barnes argues that the pastor’s work involves helping people peer into and underneath the biblical text in order to see truth for their own lives and congregations. He observes:

“Just because people call themselves Christian and have a long history in the church doesn’t mean they have a biblical image of God. To the contrary, the longer they’ve hung around religion, the greater the chance that they’ve acquired some false ideas about God that have a negative impact on their self-image.

“In pastoral counseling, the minor poet (pastor) constantly is wading through these false images, which are the real blocks to their ability to make changes. We are made in the image of even a false god, and until the image of God is seen correctly in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, we never will be able to gain a correct image of ourselves.

“When people tell me about their struggles with anger, a little digging reveals they believe God is angry with them. Those who struggle with compulsive work patterns have been worshiping a demanding God who is never satisfied. People who have a hard time trusting their hearts to others don’t really believe in the steadfast love of God. None of them can discover real change in their lives apart from a Christological view of God. So conversations that begin with improvements they want to make in life should end with the pastor demonstrating the changes Christ already has made to their lives.

“Rather than use the few reflective listening skills we learned in our Introduction to Pastoral Care seminary classes, which is only another way of holding up the judgmental mirror, we pastors need to hold up Jesus Christ. ‘See Him?’ we say. ‘That’s who you really are. Everything else about you is just pretending.’ …The human self is never more truly itself than when it is living in Christ, the Restorer of the holy image of God in humans.” (Click here to learn more about the book The Pastor as Minor Poet: Texts and Subtexts in the Ministerial Life.)


Omar C. Garcia, Minister of Missions and Evangelism, Kingsland Baptist Church, Katy, Texas, shares the following: “In 1904, William Borden [1887-1913], the heir of the famous Borden dairy estate, graduated from high school in Chicago. As a graduation gift, his parents sent him on a cruise around the world. While on this cruise, God began to open William’s eyes and heart to the masses of unsaved people around the world. William wrote to his mother about his desire to be a missionary. In one of his early letters he wrote, ‘I think God is calling me to be a missionary.’ In his final letter he wrote, ‘I know God is calling me to be a missionary.’ One friend expressed amazement that William was throwing his life away by choosing to become a missionary.

“When he returned home, William enrolled in Yale University, where he was instrumental in starting campus prayer and Bible study groups and evangelism initiatives. He also worked with the least of these on the streets of New Haven and founded Yale Hope Mission. Henry Wright, a professor at Yale, said, ‘It is my firm conviction that the Yale Hope Mission has done more to convince all classes of men at Yale of the power and practicability of Christianity to regenerate individuals and communities than any other force in the University.’ While in school, William renounced his fortune in favor of missions and wrote two words in the flyleaf of his Bible — ‘No Reserves.’ William wanted to live by faith and trust God for everything in his life.

“William attended a Student Volunteer Movement conference in Nashville, where he learned about the great number of Muslims in China. He felt God wanted him to go to China, where he hoped to work with Muslims. When he graduated from Yale, he had many lucrative job offers, including the opportunity to take over the multi-million dollar family business. However, he was determined to fulfill God’s call to serve as a missionary. Once again, he opened his Bible to the flyleaf and wrote two more words — ‘No Retreats.’

“William set sail for China on Dec. 17, 1912. He stopped in Egypt to study Arabic so he would be better equipped to work with Muslims. While in Egypt, William contracted spinal meningitis and died on April 9, 1913, at the age of 25. Years of training, a promising future, and William never made it to China. Charlie Campbell, one of William’s college friends, received his Bible after his death. When he opened it, he found what William had written in the flyleaf. In addition to the words ‘No Reserves’ and ‘No Retreats’ that William had jotted down during his college days, he found two more words that William had written before he died — ‘No Regrets.’

“Although William Borden never made it to the mission field in China, he touched hundreds of students at Yale University and Princeton Divinity School who became missionaries. Because the news of his death was published all over the world, many people wrote letters to his family expressing how their lives had been influenced by William’s story of faith and commitment to the cause of Christ. His story continues to inspire selfless service for the cause of Christ.” As believers may we truthfully confess with William Borden of Yale, ‘No Reserves, No Retreats, and No Regrets.'” (from Franklin Kirksey, “Grandfather’s Gavel”; Omar C. Garcia, “William Borden, Go Beyond: Live Adventurously for God,” Copyright © 2001-2008 BibleTeachingNotes.com; Used by Permission)

From the September-October issue of Preaching …

In a Past Masters column about Peter Marshall, Paul Hussey writes: “Marshall first heard about a ‘sanctified imagination’ as a student at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He explained to David Simpson, a classmate, his thinking about preaching with a sanctified imagination: ‘What we need to do is take a passage of Scripture and so carefully and accurately reconstruct the context of it that the scene comes to life. We see it first ourselves. Then we take our listeners to the spot in imagination. We make them see and hear what happened so vividly that the passage will live forever in their minds and hearts.’

“Marshall used imagination not only to recreate the historical setting of Scripture but also to evoke the memories of his listeners and associate their personal experiences with the meaning of the biblical passage. Like Jesus, Marshall drew upon images with which his listeners could easily identify, and he used these images to convey the meaning of Scripture. Then he used the images to establish new relationships between the meaning of the passage and the current situations of his listeners.”

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 September-October issue of Preaching: “What Would Jesus Tweet?” (on preaching and social networking sites), interviews with Mark Batterson and Jud Wilhite, Stan Toler on “Preaching and Leading,” and much more. Order your subscription today!

The November-December issue of Preaching magazine features an article by Ed Stetzer on “Sermons that Stick,” and our most recent podcast interview with Ed will be posted at Preaching.com in a couple of weeks. In keeping with this “All Ed All the Time” theme, allow us to point you to Ed Stetzer’s excellent blog, in which he comments on all sorts of timely issues relating to the contemporary church. (Most of the time he’s even right.) Visit his blog here.

In a recent blog entry, Ed wonders why many pastors and churches that claim to be “missional” seem disconnected with the global missionary enterprise. Among the factors he identifies: “In responding to God’s mission, many have wanted to be more mission-shaped and have therefore made everything ‘mission.'”

“Missions historian Stephen Neil, responding to a similar surge in mission interest (the missio dei movement of the 1950s and following), explained it this way: ‘If everything is mission, then nothing is mission.’ Neil’s fear was that the focus would shift from global evangelization (often called missions) to societal transformation (often called mission). He was right.

“Recently John Piper echoed these same concerns, differentiating between evangelism and missions. He reminded us that when ‘Every Christian is a missionary’ equals ‘missional,’ then we have diluted the need for and specialness of missionaries to foreign lands. (Although I would want to nuance John’s language a bit, I agree with his point.)

“One American church’s Web site recently identified its ministry as missional, (then) proceeded to define that as ‘reaching out to the community to invite (people) to come’ see what is happening in the church. Another’s young adult community service project consisted of landscaping the church grounds. Inviting people to church and cleaning up the church are noble endeavors, but passing them for missional and service is ministerial naïveté at best. It demonstrates the fuzziness that creeps in when labels become catch-alls. As the outer edges of the missional label gets fuzzy so does mission to the outer edges of the world.”

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” (St. Augustine)

I mentioned it above, but let me again draw your attention to the new book by M. Craig Barnes, The Pastor as Minor Poet: Texts and Subtexts in the Ministerial Life (Eerdmans). This is a book that every pastor needs to read. What else can we say?


Norman Geisler is one of the most prolific and effective writers today on apologetics. He has joined forces with Patrick Zukeran to write The Apologetics of Jesus (Baker), which explores the apologetic methods and teachings of Jesus as detailed in Scripture. Church leaders will find many helpful insights that can inform their own defense of the faith.



As long as we are talking about the example of Jesus, Pastor Dino Rizzo uses the servant model of Jesus to encourage churches to revolutionize their approach to ministry. Servolution (Zondervan) is subtitled Starting a Church Revolution Through Serving and is packed with powerful stories about how a church that serves can change lives by the thousands.

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


The dentist was working late one night when a man walked into his office and said, “Can you help me? I keep thinking I’m a moth.”

The dentist replied, “You don’t need a dentist. You need a psychiatrist.”

When the man said he knew that, the dentist asked why he had come into his office instead.

The man responded, “Well, the light was on…”



Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are dead?

Why do banks charge a fee for “insufficient funds” when they know there is no money in the account?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Why doesn’t glue stick to the bottle?

Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why did Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose idea was it to put an S in the word lisp?

What is the speed of darkness?

If you send someone Styrofoam, how do you pack it?

If the temperature is zero outside today and it’s going to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold will it be?

If it’s true that we are here to help others, what are the others doing here?

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

In fairness, if a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Who knew that “going postal” could involve Hollywood?

According to a Sept. 22 AP story, a former postal worker stole more than 30,000 Netflix DVDs that moved through his Springfield, MASS., Post Office.

Starting in January 2007, for a full year the worker took DVDs that were mailed to customers by Netflix. After the movie rental company alerted postal officials that lots of DVDs were disappearing — as many as 100 a week — investigators filmed him taking DVDs from packages and slipping them into his backpack.

He pled guilty and now faces 10 to 16 months in prison and restitution costs of about $38,000.

No word if his ill-gotten movie collection included the film The Prisoner.


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