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From the Editor:

Christmas is Coming

Linking Ancient text and Modern World

Go Deeper with God

Taking Time for Sermons to Simmer

Joseph, Christmas
Rest, Sleep

Link of the Week

Preacher's Bookshelf


And Finally...

"When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmastime. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?" 

(G.K. Chesterton)

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    Vol. 6, No. 42 December 4, 2007    

Michael Duduit

Christmas is coming, and that means time to start assembling those pesky Christmas gift lists.

As the father of two boys, ages 7 and 11, there has been no shortage of gift suggestions around our house in recent weeks. (One of them reminds me three to four times daily that it will be a special morning if he finds Guitar Hero III under the tree this year.)

I’m not nearly that imaginative in my requests. When asked to offer suggestions about possible gifts I’d like, I always make the same request: gift cards for Borders, Barnes & Noble, LifeWay, Amazon, etc. Sorry about the lack of imagination, but it’s hard for me to think of a better gift than books.

I like to read, and I like readers. When having an enjoyable visit with another person, invariably I find the most interesting conversationalists are avid readers. Over the years I’ve also found, almost without exception, the best preachers are also active readers. Even as they communicate regularly, they are constantly replenishing the intellectual pantry.

I enjoy current books, but it’s also enjoyable to revisit some of those books I read years ago. John A. Broadus said long ago (and it’s still true): “I think that young men should be specially exhorted to read old books. If you have a friend in the ministry who is growing old, urge him to read mainly new books, that he may freshen his mind and keep in sympathy with his surroundings. ‘But must not young men keep abreast of the age?’ Certainly, only the first thing is to get abreast of the age, and in order to do this, they must go back to where the age came from, and join there the great procession of its moving thought.”        

I hope this Christmas brings you the joy of Christ, the blessings of the season … and some good books.

Michael Duduit, Editor

Plan to be part of the 2008 National Conference on Preaching in Washington, DC. To learn more visit


Speaking to the recent Alabama Baptist Convention gathering, Richard Blackaby insisted the most important thing any leader can do is to go deeper in his or her walk with God.

“If spiritual leadership is about taking your church into a more intimate walk with God, you cannot give what you do not have,” Blackaby said. “You can talk about it, you can point in that direction, but you can’t take them there unless you’ve been there yourself.”

Asserting that too many pastors get by with a shallow relationship with God, he observed, “You can just sort of convince yourself … you’re so busy telling people what you know you don’t have time to learn anything new. You’re living on yesterday’s walk with God.”

(Alabama Baptist, 11-22-07)


In his excellent book Spirit-Led Preaching (B&H Academic), Greg Heisler wrote, “My wife is a great cook. She makes some great meals using many different methods of cooking, but my favorites tend to come out of the Crock-Pot. I love the food that comes out of the Crock-Pot, but I do not love the time it takes to prepare it. ‘Can’t you just stick it in the microwave?’ I ask. ‘No, it will not taste the same,’ she replies.

“Powerful, Word-saturated, and Spirit-filled preaching comes from the Crock-Pot, not the microwave. Preachers who try to microwave God’s truth on the ‘quick and easy’ setting in the name of ‘saving time’ will find the meal from God’s Word will not taste the same. Spirit-led preaching calls for the slow-simmering effect of the Crock-Pot, where the longer the meal saturates in the simmering heat, the juicier and more tender it becomes.”

(Click here to learn more about the book Spirit-Led Preaching.)


Make plans now to attend the 2008 National Conference on Preaching, April 7-9 in suburban Washington, DC. The theme of this year’s conference is “Preaching and the Public Square: Where Do Pulpit and Culture Meet?” We have a powerful line-up of speakers and leaders, including Chuck Colson, James MacDonald, Barry Black, William Willimon, James Emery White, A.R. Bernard, Mark Batterson, Robert Smith and many more.

To learn more or to register, call, toll free, 1-800-527-5226, or visit


In her book, They Beheld His Glory (Harper and Row, 1967), Alice Parmelee suggests the following about Joseph, the husband of Mary and the earthly father of Jesus:

“Poverty being the common lot in Jesus’ day, Joseph labored uncomplainingly, finding compensation for his hard life in the skill of his hands and the useful work he accomplished. He fashioned plows, yokes, and threshing floors for farmers. For young couples he made such household necessities as benches, tables, lamp-stands, beds, and cradles. Doubtless he also mended broken furniture for those too poor to buy new.”

The Scriptures say little about Joseph the carpenter, but what we do know about him is significant:

  • He was a righteous man. (Matthew 1:19)

  • He obeyed the requirements of the government. (Luke 2:4)

  • He followed the directions of the angel of the Lord. (Mt. 1:24; 2:14; 21; 23)

  • He showed respect and restraint toward Mary, his wife. (Mt. 1:25)

  • He honored the religious traditions of his fathers. (Luke 2:22; 39; 41)

There are no recorded utterances of Joseph anywhere in the New Testament. But Jewish fathers were responsible for the training of their sons (mothers, for their daughters). While there is no record of his presence in the home following the Feast of Passover in Luke 2, Joseph no doubt trained his son in the traditions in which he himself had been raised. Jesus became known as the “carpenter of Nazareth.”

The qualities Joseph exhibited as a husband and father are reflected in the teachings of the Prophet Micah: “And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (6:8).

(Tom Barnard, Tuesday Mornings newsletter)


Americans don’t get enough rest. Millions, especially middle-aged adults, get less than the recommended seven to eight hours per night. An estimated 50-70 million people suffer from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia, and the consequences can be huge. “Sleep debt” can lead, for example, to car accidents, irritability, inability to concentrate at work or school, a weakened immune system, and even chronic depression. Why the lack of sleep? Researchers believe it’s a consequence of longer working hours and more access to and stimulation from media such as television and the Internet. Maybe this is why God’s invitation for us to rest in Him sounds so appealing (Isaiah 40:28-31)!

(Today in the Word, June 2007)

From the January-February issue of Preaching . . .

In his sermon “Marriage is a God Thing,” Stuart Briscoe says, “The institutions of marriage and family are coming under very powerful attack at the present time. There are very erudite, highly motivated forces that are extremely powerful who are setting out to redefine marriage and to restructure the family. If you’ve been following recent events in American culture, you will be well aware that there are some states which have taken steps to bring in legislation that, frankly, redefines marriage.

“Other states are recognizing this and are concerned about it, for there are laws in the land that suggest that what is accepted in one state should automatically be accepted in another; so a number of state legislatures have been trying to adopt legislation which would counter this attempt to redefine marriage. In fact, Congress took the extraordinary step of bringing into law the Defense of Marriage Act, which includes a very basic, unmistakable attempt to define what marriage is and what by definition it isn’t. This is what it says:  The word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman, as husband and wife. The word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex, who is a husband or a wife. 

“Now there are those who would say, ‘That is the position that historically, traditionally, and biblically has been held in Western Civilization.’ There are others who are saying, ‘It’s time that we redefine marriage and the family.’ So the lines of demarcation are clearly drawn, and it is incumbent upon each one of us to arrive at some very, very specific convictions and conclusions as to what we personally believe in this matter.”


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 January-February issue of Preaching: An exclusive interview with Charles Stanley, articles on “Preaching with Flavor,” “The Expository Method,” the final installment in Michael Quicke’s series on “Preaching and Trinitarian Worship,” and much more.
Order your subscription today! is an excellent website which provides preaching and teaching ideas and illustrations drawn from current and classic films. Marc Newman, who leads the ministry, also writes insightful articles about movies and their relationship to Christian faith, and he has an excellent one now featured at the site. Newman has written about Philip Pullman’s books on which the new movie The Golden Compass is based. Newman writes:
“When parents look at the beautiful covers adorning the gift-boxed sets of Philip Pullman’s fantasy series, His Dark Materials, they might be forgiven for believing that these books follow in the tradition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. In fact, the publishers are counting on it. The display tables have arrived just in time for Christmas and the release of the screen adaptation of the first volume: The Golden Compass.

What Pullman’s promoters desperately hope is that parents will not get beyond the colorful covers, which appear to depict nothing more than an action/fantasy series filled with talking animals, exciting battles, and a child protagonist. What they desperately fear is that parents will discover the dark and sinister philosophy that unfolds within the pages of Pullman’s work – a philosophy that condones the killing of children to advance knowledge; disparages virtue and glorifies cunning; and which poses the idea that the solution to humanity’s problems is the killing of God.”
To read the full article go to


In Scripture as Communication (Baker Academic), New Testament professor Jeannine Brown has provided us with a solid introduction to biblical hermeneutics based on a communication model – that is, by learning how Scripture communicates, we capture the meaning of the text. This is a solid volume that will be of particular interest to those of us whose calling involves communicating the gospel.


What would a particular biblical text have looked like if produced in your own culture, time and place? That’s the question posed by Charles Cosgrove and W. Dow Edgerton in their book In Other Words: Incarnational Translation for Preaching (Wm. B. Eerdmans). The authors argue for their “incarnational translation” approach and provide guidance in using the model.


The atonement has become a much-discussed topic among evangelicals, and InterVarsity has provided a resource to help church leaders evaluate various approaches. The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views, edited by James Beilby and Paul Eddy, surveys four theories of the atonement and contemporary proponents of those views: Christus Victor view (Gregory A. Boyd), kaleidoscopic view (Joel B. Green), healing view (Brice R. Reichenbach), and penal substitutionary view (Thomas R. Schreiner). The book is a useful opportunity to hear gifted theologians “state their case” and respond to other views.



The Innkeeper’s Top 10 Excuses
10. Roman’s “Stay Free” promotion a bit too successful.
9. Wife said he couldn’t accept olive wood carvings as payment anymore.
8. Too busy getting new “Motel One” franchise going.
7. Last pregnant lady riding a donkey took all their towels.
6. Filled up for the “Caesar Impersonators” convention.
5. Didn’t accept the Judean Express Card.
4. Last room left was by the ice machine.
3. Nazareth Shriners tore up the place the night before.
2. Closed front desk early to take family to watch unique star.
1. No last names, no service.

(from Mikey's Funnies)


As if you didn’t already know, here’s a news flash: Christmas is getting more expensive.
That increase is reflected in the annual PNC Christmas Price Index compiled by PNC Wealth Management. According to a Nov. 26 Associated Press report:  It would cost $78,100 to buy the 364 items, from a single partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming, repeatedly on each day as the song suggests. The cost is up 4 percent from $75,122 last year.

Buying each item in the song just once would cost $19,507, up 3.1 percent from last year’s $18,921. And shopping online would be costlier, with the total for the 364 items costing $128,886, up 2.5 percent from last year’s $125,767. You would spend $31,249 online for each item just once this year. Helping push the cost up this year is the minimum wage hike, which bumped the cost of eight maids a-milking from about $41 to nearly $47.

“They have not had an increase since 1997,” said Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investment for PNC Wealth Management. “The good news is, if you’re a maids a-milking, they will also see an increase in 2008 and 2009.”

Higher food costs pushed the six geese a-laying from $300 to $360. And reflecting higher gold prices, those five gold rings will cost $395, up 21.5 percent from last year’s $325.
Not everything is more costly. The price of a partridge ($15), two turtle doves ($40) and three French hens ($40) remained the same, as did seven swans a-swimming, at $4,200, and nine ladies dancing, at $4,759.  (Click here to learn more about the price report.)


To: All Employees
From: Management
Subject: Office conduct during the Christmas season

Effective immediately, employees should keep in mind the following guidelines in compliance with FROLIC (the Federal Revelry Office and Leisure Industry Council).

1. Running aluminum foil through the paper shredder to make tinsel is discouraged.

2. Playing Jingle Bells on the push-button phone is forbidden. (It runs up an incredible long distance bill.)

3. Eggnog will NOT be dispensed in vending machines.

4. Company cars are not to be used to go over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house.

5. All fruitcake is to be eaten BEFORE July 25.

6. Work requests are not to be filed under “Bah humbug.”

In spite of all this, the staff is encouraged to have a Happy Holiday.

Mr. Smith got a little carried away.

The 31-year-old man went into a bank in Clearwater, SC, and tried to open an account by depositing a $1 million bill. Unfortunately, the bank employee refused to cooperate with Mr. Smith, perhaps because the U.S. government doesn’t print or distribute $1 million bills.

When the would-be millionaire began to curse at bank workers, they called police, who arrested Mr. Smith on charges of disorderly conduct and two counts of forgery. (Police learned he had also used a stolen check at a nearby grocery store.)

Mr. Smith goes to jail.

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