From the Editor:


Don’t Lose Sight of Eternity
Using Sermon Handouts

Progress, Faith
Baptism, Church

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Fear can keep us up all night long, but faith makes one fine pillow.”

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    Vol. 7, No. 16 April 22, 2008    
Michael Duduit

I just saw the new Ben Stein film Expelled, which is about the scientific establishment’s battle against Intelligent Design, and recommend it to you. Not only will it help you better understand the Darwin-ID debate, but also will help you better understand the cultural movement which seeks to marginalize religious faith.

It’s one thing to read books by Richard Dawkins and others in which they belittle religion, but it’s a different experience altogether to see such atheists on camera calling believers “stupid” or “ignorant,” with not the slightest concern that they are out of the mainstream or inappropriate. In much of the academic environment of our major universities, such views are the mainstream.

Lest we lament our standing in the wider culture, don’t forget the situation faced by the first generation of Christian preachers, carrying the story of the cross into a culture that considered it absurd or even offensive. Like those early preachers, our task is to faithfully and winsomely share the good news of Christ, and leave the results to God. I think He can handle Richard Dawkins more than adequately.

Michael Duduit, Editor

Check out the Preaching podcast this week – an interview with Kerry Shook, pastor of Fellowship of the Woodlands (near Houston) and author of the best-selling book One Month to Love. To hear this and other podcasts, go to

And mark your calendar now for April 20-22, 2009 – the 20th annual National Conference on Preaching. Be blessed by speakers like John Ortberg, Stuart Briscoe, Jack Graham, Steve Brown, Robert Smith, Dave Stone, Ralph Douglas West, and many more!


Though it is right for the church to fight for social justice, Christians must never focus on conditions in this world so much that they fail to tell people about the eternal life available through Christ, Dan Kimball said during the recent Shift student ministry conference at Willow Creek Community Church.

Kimball said: “The church is waking up to the fact that we have to be involved in global social justice issues, and that is fantastic. We should be repenting (and saying), ‘I can’t believe we did not think of this. This is the command of Jesus and what we should be about.’ We need to be so involved in all of this because the kingdom is about life on this planet here and not just about when we die.

“But my subtle fear is that we don’t then swing the pendulum so much that we forget there is life after we die and we do have to still remember there is an eternity with God and an eternity apart from God.”

Kara Powell, executive director of the Center for Youth and Family Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary, also called for more Gospel proclamation, saying the Gospel of grace will inspire teens to persist in their Christian faith after high school.

“My best guess is probably about 50 percent of the students who are decently involved in your youth ministry through 12th grade … won’t be serving the Lord 18 months after graduation,” Powell said, adding, “Somehow the Jesus who fed them, who met their needs in high school – somehow isn’t doing it 18 months later.” (Baptist Press, 4-18-08; click here to read the full article.)


Craig Webb has written about the value of sermon handouts. He attended a conference almost 13 years ago, “where I learned the value and the method of a sermon handout. A sermon handout (you might call it something different) is a sheet of paper you hand out to the congregation to help members follow along with your sermon. It could include the title of your sermon, the main points of your sermon with fill-in-the-blanks, and printed verses of Scripture with references.

Benefits of a Sermon Handout

1. It encourages people to participate and engage in the sermon by writing something down. This is an added level of learning to your speaking and the visual images they see on your PowerPoint slides.
2. It eases the tension of those who are unfamiliar with the Bible and afraid of the clumsiness of finding a particular Bible reference.
3. It allows me to share different translations and paraphrases of familiar passages.
4.  It provides a take-home reminder of the content of the sermon. Members and attendees can share these with family or co-workers. At one church where I served, we provided notebooks for members to keep sermon notes.

“While the sermon handout takes time, forethought, and effort, I believe it is a worthwhile investment and continues to be fruitful and helpful.” (Click here to read the full article, which includes possible abuses, ideas for better handouts, and a downloadable model.)


About 100 years ago, Emperor Menelik II ascended to the throne of Ethiopia, leaving footprints that stabilized a nation for generations to come. Among his lengthy achievements were the first modern bank in Ethiopia, the country’s first postal system, a nation wired for telephones, paved roads for automobiles, and cities plumbed for modern efficiencies – whether they existed or not. If there was a higher standard of living elsewhere, Menelik wanted it for Ethiopia.

Having read about a new contraption known as the “Electric Chair,” the king was determined to have one – not for executions but rather for the hot-seat’s reputation for lowering crime. Menelik ordered the deluxe model-even though Ethiopia had no electrical power plants to provide the necessary juice. His idea was to use it as a visual aid to discourage crime. Where better to showcase the foreboding electric chair than as the king’s royal throne. Sure enough, while Menelik sat on his “throne,” Ethiopia’s crime rate fell.

But Menelik’s wisdom failed in his use of the Bible. The king’s Christian faith was not based in the Scriptures but in the pages. He believed the Bible had the power to cure illnesses; therefore, every time he felt sick he ate a few pages from God’s Word. It was the king’s one-a-day multi-vitamin, his royal cure de jour.

After suffering a serious stroke, Menelik prescribed for himself a strict diet of 1st and 2nd Kings. He ate both books, page by page which led to internal complications resulting in his death. It was a well-intentioned idea, but he should have stayed with Jell-O.

The Bible is not a book of magic, but it is a book of power, used as God intended.  (Ron Walters, VP of Ministry Relations, Salem Communications)


In the March 31 issue of his “Monday Moment” newsletter, Michael Halleen writes: “Ancient philosophy gave us the thought that ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.’  Eric Sevareid, the late news correspondent and author, and several others had to hike 140 miles through the mountainous jungles of Burma during World War II after their plane had gone down. He writes of how one foot had been punctured by a nail, and soon both feet developed severe blisters. ‘Could I hobble 140 miles? Could the others, some in worse shape than I? We were convinced we could not, But we could hobble to that ridge, we could make the next friendly village for the night. And that, of course, was all we had to do.’

“By wisdom God leads us day by day, moment by moment. We are wise to have faith that one step will make a difference.”

From the May-June issue of Preaching …

In an article that deals with “Preaching on Homosexuality,” Tim Wilkins writes: “You, no doubt, preach every week to persons with homosexual attractions. They are among your guests and yes, your members. Men and women, married and single, teenagers and senior adults. They are more inconspicuous than a chameleon in a sandstorm at midnight. But you need to know they are there. Though some are “satisfied” with their concealed homosexuality, many (I believe most) are not. They are not closeted in the sense they are secretly active – they are conflicted and deeply wounded. They want freedom from these incessant thoughts, and they want a word from you that goes beyond condemnation.

“R. Albert Mohler wrote ‘ … homosexuals are waiting to see if the Christian church has anything more to say after we declare that homosexuality is a sin.’ Evangelicals have unmistakably communicated the diagnosis, yet refuse helpful discussion because ‘it’s a dirty issue’ – as if there are ‘clean sins.’

“If a physician gave a patient a diagnosis without a treatment plan and prognosis, he or she would be a disservice to their profession. Does our following the same pattern make us guilty of ecclesiastical malpractice? Jay Kesler wrote, ‘Preaching a sermon that is strong on information but weak on application is like shouting to a drowning man, “SWIM, SWIM!” The message is true, but it’s not helpful.’

“Your listeners are like the son who snubbed his father’s advice for a college education, saying, ‘I’ve got more information now than I know what to do with.’ Homosexuals, like all hurting people, need more than information; they need compassion.”

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 May-June issue of Preaching: It’s one of the issues our members most want us to address and yet we often avoid: sexuality. In this issue we have articles on “Preaching and Marital Intimacy,” “Preaching on Homosexuality,” and much more. Plus you’ll enjoy an interview with creative communicator Ron Martoia, articles by Robert Smith and D.A. Carson, great sermons, and much more. Order your subscription today!

Getting to know the area around your church is a helpful task, and now there’s a website that gives you loads of demographic information (population, educational levels, ethnic breakdown, etc.) for your zip code (or others of your choice). You’ll find it at

“Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” (Frederick Buechner)

Several of the featured speakers at the 20th National Conference on Preaching have recently-published books that are worth a look. Among them:

Doctrine that Dances (B&H) by Robert Smith (also our Preaching Book of the Year)


From the Hood to the Hill: A Story of Overcoming
(Thomas Nelson) by Barry Black


Where Is God When We Suffer?

Graceful Speech: An Invitation to Preaching (Westminster John Knox) by Lucy Lind Hogan

(Click on the title to order from Amazon.)


A mother looked out a window and saw Johnny playing church with their three kittens. He had them lined up and was preaching to them. The mother turned around to do some work.

A while later she heard meowing and scratching on the door. She went to the window and saw Johnny baptizing the kittens. She opened the window and said, “Johnny, stop that! You’ll drown those kittens.”

Johnny looked at her and said with much conviction in his voice: “They should have thought of that before they joined my church.”  (from Cybersalt Digest)


A Sunday school teacher asked the children just before she dismissed them to go to church, “why is it necessary to be quiet in church?”

Annie replied, “Because people are sleeping.”


A Sunday school teacher asked her class why Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem.

A small child replied, “They couldn’t find a baby-sitter.”


A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with 5- and 6-year-olds. After explaining the commandment to “Honor thy father and thy mother,” she asked, “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?”

Without missing a beat one little boy answered, “Thou shall not kill.”


At Sunday school they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created from Adam’s ribs.

Later in the week his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and said, “Johnny, what is the matter?”

Little Johnny responded, “I have a pain in my side. I think I’m going to have a wife.”

It wasn’t one of the Colonel’s eleven secret herbs and spices, but it got the attention of local police.

Police in Magnolia, AR, say it wasn’t the fried chicken in Savalas Vantoli Stewart’s car that gave off an unusual smell, according to an April 15 AP story. Instead, officers who pulled over Stewart say they found a side dish of marijuana hidden in the recently purchased box of chicken.

Police said officers smelled marijuana coming from the car and found it after Stewart consented to a search. Officers said they also found several Ecstasy pills in Stewart’s pockets. The 33-year-old faces a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge and felony drug possession charge.

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