From the Editor:

Catalyst Conference

Don’t Neglect Biblical Content or Application

Miracles, Deliverance
Surprises, Arrivals

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“The goal of life is not for you to be comfortable. The goal of life is not for you to be balanced. The goal of life is for you to become like Jesus.”
(Rick Warren)

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    Vol. 8, No. 36 October 6 , 2009    
Michael Duduit

Last year was my first time at the giant Catalyst pastor’s conference in Atlanta. It was fun to be among the 12,000 mostly young pastors. (By young, I mean I had more grey hair than 80 percent in the room–though more hair than some!) There were some great speakers and wonderful insights about reaching people and growing churches today.

Later this week, there will be another sell-out crowd at Catalyst, and I hope to have a chance to see many Preaching Now readers there. If you’ll be attending, come by the Anderson University booth and say “hello”–we’ll be somewhere on the second floor. (I tried to be near the ice cream spot–knowing that would be a popular attraction–but no such luck.)

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 an article on “Blending Biblical Content and Life Application” at PreachingTodaySermons.com, Haddon Robinson writes: “A church in Dallas invited me to preach on John 14. That’s not an easy passage. It is filled with exegetical questions about death and the Second Coming. How do you explain, ‘If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself?’ How is Jesus preparing that place? Does Jesus mean we won’t go to be with Him until He comes back? What about soul sleep? I spent most of my week studying the text and reading the commentaries to answer questions like these.

“When I got up to preach, I knew I had done my homework. Though the issues were tough, I had worked through them and was confident I was ready to deliver solid biblical teaching on the assigned passage.

“Five minutes into the sermon, though, I knew I was in trouble. The people weren’t with me. At the 10-minute mark, people were falling asleep. One man sitting near the front began to snore. Worse, he didn’t disturb anyone! No one was listening.

“Even today, whenever I talk about that morning, I still get an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. What went wrong? The problem was that I spent the whole sermon wrestling with the tough theological issues, issues that intrigued me. Everything I said was valid. It might have been strong stuff in a seminary classroom; but in that church, in that pulpit, it was a disaster.

“What happened? I didn’t speak to the life questions of my audience. I answered my questions, not theirs. Some of the men and women I spoke to that day were close to going home to be with the Lord. What they wanted to know was, ‘Will he toss me into some ditch of a grave, or will he take me safely home to the other side? When I get to heaven, what’s there?’

“They wanted to hear me say: ‘You know, Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for us. The Creator of the universe has been spending 2,000 years preparing a home for you. God only spent six days creating the world, and look at its beauty! Imagine, then, what the home He has been preparing for you must be like. When you come to the end of this life, that’s what He will have waiting for you.’

“That’s what I should have preached. At least I should have started with their questions. But I didn’t.

“It’s also possible to make the opposite error–to spend a whole sermon making practical applications without rooting them in Scripture. I don’t want to minimize Scripture. It’s possible to preach a skyscraper sermon–one story after another with nothing in between. Such sermons hold people’s interest but give them no sense of the eternal. Talking about ‘mansions over the hilltop’ comes from country-western music, not the Bible. A sermon full of nonbiblical speculations is ultimately unsatisfying.

“Some of the work I did in my study, then, could have helped the people answer their questions. The job is to combine biblical content and life application in an effective way.”  (Click here to read the full article.)


In a recent issue of his Friday Evening devotional newsletter, Tom Barnard includes this story: Eddie Rickenbacker was a fighter pilot and Ace in World War I. His life was a kaleidoscope of events centered around airplanes and cars. He accumulated more than 300 hours in combat flying during the First World War and had more than 20 “victories” (where he survived and an enemy pilot did not). Later he was awarded the highest honors for bravery in battle by the United States and France.

During World War II, he served as a consultant to the military in England, as well as the United States. In October 1942, he was sent on a tour of the Pacific theater to deliver a secret message to General Douglas MacArthur. After visiting bases in Hawaii, his plane–a B-17 Flying Fortress–was en route to another military base in the Pacific when navigation failure caused the plane to stray miles off course, eventually losing fuel and forcing the pilots to crash-land into the rough seas of the Pacific Ocean.

Amazingly, the crew of eight survived the crash, but with injuries–one fatally. They made it aboard their life raft, but with very few provisions. Their food and water supply was exhausted in three days. The crew fought the sun, weather and sharks. They needed a miracle.

On the eighth day, the crew had an impromptu devotional service, praying for a miracle. Time dragged by very slowly. Trying to take a nap, Rickenbacker pulled his military cap over his nose. Suddenly, he felt something land on the top of his cap. It was a seagull. He carefully reached up and captured the gull. It wasn’t much of a meal for the men, but it was something. After devouring most of the bird, they used the intestines for bait, with which they caught fish and survived until they were rescued–after 24 days at sea.

Years later, Billy Graham asked Rickenbacker to share the story of his life-threatening experience and the events that led up to his affirming faith in Christ. Eddie said, “I have no explanation except that God sent one of His angels to rescue us.” God answered their prayers by sending an angel in the form of a seagull.

Do you sometimes feel like you are adrift in a sea of frustration and hopelessness, praying for a miracle but only seeing endless sea and insufficient provisions for the trip? Pray to God for a miracle. Pray for an angel of the Lord to locate you and deliver you. His angels are always near. Watch for them. (To subscribe to Friday Evening, send your name and email address to Barnard at barnard22@cox.net.)

From the November-December issue of Preaching …

In an interview with Perry Noble–founding pastor of the fast-growing New Spring Church in Anderson, S.C.–he says, “The thing about this generation that’s coming up right now, the 20-somethings and 30-somethings, is that–more than the 50s and 60s and 70s–the 20- and 30-somethings like to be told the way it is. They love truth, but they want you to take off the gloves. So I’ll do a message on sex and what the Bible says about sex, and 20- and 30-somethings are eating it up.

“Sometimes your 50- and 60-somethings are going, ‘Well I don’t think the church should talk about that.’ It’s not their fault; it’s just that if they grew up in church, their church never talked about sex. You didn’t even remark about it; but now the church is dealing with it because the world is so messed up and the church has been so silent–maybe that’s why the world is so messed up.

So I think there’s a definite pull there between ‘you can’t talk about that’ and ‘the Bible talks about that.’ You have to understand that when you talk about certain subjects, certain people are going to like it and certain people are going to hate it. When you use certain illustrations, your 40- and 50-year-olds are going to connect, and your 20- and 30-somethings are going to go, ‘Pews? What’s a pew?’ There’s a definite challenge now, but I think the challenges are going to be greater in the next 10 to 15 years.”

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 Perry Noble and Reggie McNeal, Ed Stetzer on “Sermons that Stick” great Christmas sermons and much more. Order your subscription today!

The Internet is changing so many things about the way we work and live, including how we seek jobs and staff. If you are seeking a staff member for your church or are seeking a new place of service, there are several online sites you can visit to identify possible candidates and positions. One of the best is ChurchStaffing.com, which is part of our own Salem family of publications and Web resources. Click here to take a look.

“Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.” (Carol Bishop Hipps)

One of the most valuable tools a church can provide to its members is a solid understanding of basic Christian theology. Bringing Theology to Life (IVP) by Darren C. Marks is not a full-scale systematic theology. Rather, he introduces seven key theological ideas (the Trinity, Sin, Incarnation, the Holy Spirit, the Bible and Sacraments, Heaven, and the Church), and shows how these doctrines interact with a dynamic Christian life. The book would provide an excellent basis for a small-group or leadership study in a church.


Speaking of theology, James Garlow’s latest book is Heaven and the Afterlife (Bethany House), in which Pastor Garlow seeks to separate fact from fiction in the study of this important topic. The book would be a good launching point for a sermon series.



As pastors and church leaders, we live and die with words. The Power of Words and the Wonder of God (Crossway), edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor, offers the insights of a team of contributors to help us understand how God reveals Himself to us through words. The book contains chapters by Piper, Mark Driscoll, Sinclair Ferguson and others, plus a conversation with the various contributors.

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



– Be very suspicious if the advertised price of a Caribbean cruise includes the phrase “Free Ammo.”

– Consider carefully before visiting a country where the license plate motto is “Die American Pig.”

– There is no legitimate reason for a travel agent to need to know if you have experience in jungle warfare.

– Do not board a cruise ship if passengers are being issued oars.

– Avoid any Latin American Tour named Bay of Pigs, Two.

– Do not ask for directions to a Kosher restaurant when in Syria.

– In South America, say “no” to anyone wanting you to deliver a suitcase of powdered sugar to their grandmother in Miami.

– If you enjoy beaches and surfing, make Wyoming your second choice.

– Avoid Sudan in the summer (or winter).

– Buying cut-rate, first-class tickets from a guy near an airport is not a good idea.

– Legitimate travel agents do not dress in foreign military uniforms. (from Cybersalt Digest)

The number one movie in America this weekend was Zombieland. At the University of Florida, they were ready for it.

It appears that UF may be the only school in America that’s planning for a massive night of the living dead, according to an Oct. 1 AP story. The school has a plan for responding to the undead on its Web site, along with plans for dealing with hurricanes, pandemics and other emergencies. (You’ll find the plan at: https://lss.at.ufl.edu/services/reports/cms/zbsd(underscore)exercise.pdf

Part of the university’s Disaster Preparedness Plan is an exercise describing how officials would respond to attacks by “flesh-eating, apparently life-impaired individuals.” It notes that a zombie outbreak might include “documentation of lots of strange moaning.”

A University of Florida spokesperson says the exercise was written by an employee at the school’s academic technology office to “add a little bit of levity” to disaster preparation discussions.

As someone who attended Florida State University, I find great satisfaction in knowing that our rival school is ready for a zombie invasion. No, really.

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