From the Editor:

Internet Overload

Death by Video

Preaching Meets Quiz Show?

Christmas, Hope
Pain, Emptiness
Christmas - Political Correctness

Link of the Week

Preacher's Bookshelf


And Finally...

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." 

(Normal Vincent Peale)

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    Vol. 6, No. 43 December 11, 2007    

Michael Duduit

In the midst of all the joyous feelings of the season comes a humbug of a news report: the Internet may be maxing out.

According to a Nov. 24 PC World report: “Consumer and corporate use of the Internet could overload the current capacity and lead to brown-outs in two years unless backbone providers invest billions of dollars in new infrastructure.”

A flood of new video and other Web content could overwhelm the Internet by 2010 unless investors pony up $137 billion in new capacity, more than double what service providers plan to invest, according to the study, by Nemertes Research Group, an independent analysis firm. In North America alone, backbone investments of $42 billion to $55 billion will be needed in the next three to five years to keep up with demand, Nemertes said.”  (Click here to read the article.)

What am I going to do without the Internet? No Googling information from obscure websites. No questionable articles from Wikipedia. No emails about … well, never mind.
On second thought, maybe 2010 will be a good year after all.

Michael Duduit, Editor

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


In the Fall issue of Leadership, pastor Adam Hamilton discusses some ways to make sure that videos used in preaching are handled effectively: “You’ve heard it said that ‘too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.’ This is certainly true with video clips. Video can be very compelling, when used sparingly. Here are my rules for video use:

The 60-Second Rule. Keep it short. A minute is plenty.

The R-rated Rule. No clips from a film that I would not encourage church families to see in its entirety.

The Room-Size Rule. What looks and sounds good on a television screen in the living room may be inaudible or too dark when shown in the sanctuary.

The Simplicity Rule. If it takes longer to explain the clip or set it up than it takes to play it, don’t use it.

The “Stories Rule!” Rule. Often telling a story is more powerful than seeing it. Don’t feel like you must use video. Some sermons are more effective without it.”


A recent article in Ministry Today reports on the latest interaction between preaching and technology: “Creative preaching meets a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?-style quiz show at Youngstown Metro Church in Boardman, OH. Senior pastor Joshua Shank uses a quiz program that allows the congregation to respond to questions on the screen and see immediate results.

The program, which Shank chose and helped install, is an audience response system called TurningPoint 2006, from Turning Technologies ( It’s an anonymous system, so Shank says there has been little or no negative feedback from parishioners about an invasion of privacy.

“It’s a great message starter,” he says, explaining how they currently use the system during services. “I will ask personal questions to get the audience engaged. For example, a message on prayer might begin by asking the audience whether they believe prayer actually works. It gets people to be honest because they are anonymous, and real issues can be addressed. The congregation is excited every time we use it.”

Shank typically will create simple questions to gauge congregation interest or level of experience with the subject matter. The goal might be to help his congregation members see they are not alone in their view on his sermon subject.”  (Click here to read the full article.)


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


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was filled with sorrow at the tragic death of his wife in a fire in 1861. The Civil War broke out that same year, and it seemed this was an additional punishment. Two years later, Longfellow was again saddened to hear his own son had been seriously wounded as a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac.

Sitting down to his desk one Christmas day, he heard the church bells ringing and ringing. It was in this setting he wrote:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep,
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.

In this Christmas season, whether you are in sorrow or in joy you can know God is not dead, nor does He sleep. He knows your every need and longs to comfort you. Seek Him this year instead of the outward trappings of the season. He will give your life real meaning and your heart real peace.


Two well-to-do Christians, a lawyer and a businessman, joined a tour that was going around the world. In Korea one day, they saw a field by the side of the road, and in the field, a boy pulled a crude plow, while an old man held the plow handles and directed it through the rice paddy. The lawyer was amused and took a picture of the scene. “That’s a curious sight,” he said to the missionary, who was the interpreter and guide. “Yes,” was the reply, “that is the family of Chi Noui. When the church building was built, they were eager to give something, but they had no money, so they sold the only ox they had and gave the money to the church. This spring, they are pulling the plow themselves.”

The lawyer and the businessman were silent for a few moments, then the businessman said, “That must have been a real sacrifice.”

“They did not call it that,” said the missionary. “They thought it was fortunate they had an ox to sell.”

The two tourists did not have much to say after that, but when they reached home, the lawyer took the picture to his minister and told him of the incident. “I want to double my offering to the church,” he said, “and give me some plow work to do. I have never known what sacrifice for the Lord really means. I am ashamed to say that I have never given anything to the Lord that really cost me something.” (Rick Ezell)


From the January-February issue of Preaching ...

In an article on “The Expository Method,” Greg Heisler writes: “Expository preaching is much more than a “type” of sermon or a “style” of preaching – it is, in its truest sense, a methodology resulting from a theology. In other words, expository preaching is the direct result of our high view of Scripture. Since the Bible is the Word of God – inerrant, infallible, and inspired – then we must commit ourselves to the method of preaching that most honors God’s revelation in Holy Scripture.

“Expository preaching by definition takes seriously the context and the content of God’s revelation. It is saying what God says in the Bible, echoing the text of Scripture, or as J.I. Packer says, ‘Letting texts talk.’ The burning question on the heart of every expositor of the Word of God is: ‘How do I best get this text to talk?’”


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!



Pastors frequently are questioned about the supposedly “newly-discovered gospels” that hit the news from time to time. A recent one was the third-century “Gospel of Judas,” which the National Geographic Society proclaimed would cause us to reexamine the core beliefs of Christianity. Now a New York Times op-ed writer says, “Not quite.” Rice University professor April DeConick writes:

“Amid much publicity last year, the National Geographic Society announced that a lost 3rd-century religious text had been found, the Gospel of Judas Iscariot. The shocker: Judas didn’t betray Jesus. Instead, Jesus asked Judas, his most trusted and beloved disciple, to hand him over to be killed. Judas’s reward? Ascent to heaven and exaltation above the other disciples.

“It was a great story. Unfortunately, after re-translating the society’s transcription of the Coptic text, I have found that the actual meaning is vastly different. While National Geographic’s translation supported the provocative interpretation of Judas as a hero, a more careful reading makes clear that Judas is not only no hero, he is a demon. . . .

“So what does the Gospel of Judas really say? It says that Judas is a specific demon called the “Thirteenth.” In certain Gnostic traditions, this is the given name of the king of demons - an entity known as Ialdabaoth, who lives in the 13th realm above the earth. Judas is his human alter ego, his undercover agent in the world. These Gnostics equated Ialdabaoth with the Hebrew Yahweh, whom they saw as a jealous and wrathful deity and an opponent of the supreme God whom Jesus came to earth to reveal.

“Whoever wrote the Gospel of Judas was a harsh critic of mainstream Christianity and its rituals. Because Judas is a demon working for Ialdabaoth, the author believed, when Judas sacrifices Jesus he does so to the demons, not to the supreme God. This mocks mainstream Christians’ belief in the atoning value of Jesus’ death and in the effectiveness of the Eucharist.”

It’s a fascinating article that pastors will want to read. You’ll find it here:

One other link this week: On his blog, R. Albert Mohler provides an interesting and helpful take on the new movie The Golden Compass, and how it reflects on the conflict of worldviews present in our age. You can read it here.


John Calvin is one of the most influential theologians in the history of the church, but first and foremost he was a preacher of the gospel. In his book The Expository Genius of John Calvin (Reformation Trust), pastor Steven Lawson provides a guided tour through the preaching ministry of the great reformer. Lawson surveys Calvin’s philosophy of, and approach to, preaching, and provides a detailed look at his methodology. Though a relatively brief volume, it is packed with interesting insights about Calvin’s preaching.

An interview with author Steve Lawson is now available through the Preaching podcast. You can access this and other podcasts at:


While we’re thinking about great preachers of the past, take a look at The God-Centered Life (Regent College Publishing) by Josh Moody. Moody offers a fascinating look at the teaching of Jonathan Edwards on preaching, the church, the family, leadership, the Bible, and more. It’s a well-written and engaging look at this influential preacher who had a profound impact on his age – and our own.


And on a completely different note: The Original Dr. Steve’s Almanac of Christian Trivia (InterVarsity) is, according to the publisher, “A miscellany of oddities, instructional anecdotes, little-known facts and occasional frivolity.” Author Steve Wilkens is a professor of philosophy at Azusa Pacific, but he doesn’t let his academic status get in the way of compiling a fun, light-hearted collection of interesting and unrelated stories and factoids that are somehow connected to the church. It’s worth reading if only for the “endorsement” blurbs on the back cover.

(Click on the title to learn more or order a copy through



A little girl went up to her mother one day while holding her stomach saying, “Mommy, my stomach hurts.”

Her mother replied, “That’s because it’s empty; you have to put something into it!” She then prepared a bowl of soup.

Later that day, the pastor and his wife were over for dinner. The pastor began to feel bad. Holding his head he said, “I have such a terrible headache!”

The little girl looked up at him, giving him the sweetest smile that any little child could give. Then she said, “That’s because it’s empty, you have to put something into it!”



Dave Barry writes, “To avoid offending anybody, the schools dropped religion altogether and started singing about the weather. At my son’s school, they now hold the winter program in February and sing increasingly non-memorable songs such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Frosty the Snowman” and (this is a real song) “Suzy Snowflake,” all of which is pretty funny because we live in Miami. A visitor from another planet would assume that the children belonged to the Church of Meteorology.”


Twas the night before Christmas and all round my hips
Were Fannie May candies that sneaked past my lips.
Fudge brownies were stored in the freezer with care,
In hopes that my thighs would forget they were there.

While Mama in her girdle and I in chin straps
Had just settled down to sugar-borne naps.
When out in the pantry there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the kitchen I flew like a flash,
Tore open the icebox then threw up the sash.
The marshmallow look of the new-fallen snow
Sent thoughts of a binge to my body below.

When what to my wandering eyes should appear:
A marzipan Santa with eight chocolate reindeer!
That huge chunk of candy so luscious and slick
I knew in a second that I’d wind up sick.

The sweet-coated Santa, those sugared reindeer,
I closed my eyes tightly but still I could hear;
On Pritzker, on Stillman, on weak one, on TOPS
A Weight Watcher dropout from sugar detox.

From the top of the scales to the top of the hall
Now dash away pounds; now dash away all.
Dressed up in Lane Bryant from my head to nightdress
My clothes were all bulging from too much excess.

My droll little mouth and my round little belly
They shook when I laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
I spoke not a word but went straight to my work
Ate all of the candy then turned with a jerk.

And laying a finger beside my heartburn
Gave a quick nod toward the bedroom I turned.
I eased into bed, to the heavens I cry,
“If temptation’s removed I’ll get thin by and by.”

And I mumbled again as I turned for the night,
“In the morning I’ll starve...
‘til I take that first bite!”

(Author unknown)

Tweety may get a chance to take the witness stand – and sing like a canary.

According to a Dec. 4 Associated Press story, an Italian court ordered the animated bird, along with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and his girlfriend Daisy, to testify in a counterfeiting case.

Lawyers say it was a clerical error, but a court in Naples sent a summons to the characters ordering them to appear in a trial in the Italian city.

The court summons identifies Titti, Paperino, Paperina, Topolino – the Italian names for the characters – as damaged parties in the trial of a Chinese man accused of counterfeiting products of both Disney and Warner Bros. Studios.

Instead of naming only the companies and their legal representatives, clerks also wrote in the witness list the names of the cartoons that decorated the toys and gadgets the man had reproduced, said Fiorenza Sorotto, vice president of Disney Company Italia.

“Unfortunately they cannot show up, as they are residents of Disneyland,” Sorotto joked in a telephone interview.

Another lawyer added: “Let’s hope the characters will not be prosecuted for failing to appear.


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