From the Editor:

A Timely Message

Telling the Story
Ten Commandments for Ministry

Sin, Appetites
Christian Life

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Pray, and let God worry.”

(Martin Luther)

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    Vol. 7, No. 20 May 20 , 2008    
Michael Duduit

I’m writing at home this afternoon, and just a few moments ago I heard the ice cream truck drive by with its distinctive music. I remember how as a child (a long time ago) I would hear that magical music and beg my mom for a dime to go buy an ice cream sandwich or similar treat. (The fact that it was only a dime tells you all you need to know about how old I am.)

What caught my attention today is that the truck came through the neighborhood at 3:30 p.m. – exactly when the local elementary school begins to let kids out the door and onto buses and cars. They’ll be home in 20 minutes or so, but the ice cream truck will be long gone, having missed all those sales (which now amount to a dollar or more per kid).

My fear is the church too often does the same thing. We seek to communicate the good news on our own terms and in our own language, and we completely miss many of those who would gladly respond if only we talked to them in a way they could understand – if we got to where they were. I’m not talking about changing the message – just adapting the method to connect with people all around us who desperately need to hear.

You’ve got something they need. Be sure you don’t drive through a half-hour early.

Michael Duduit, Editor

This week’s featured podcast is with Robert Keeley, author of the book Helping Our Children Grow in Faith (Baker). Go to our podcast page to hear this or one of several dozen other podcast interviews.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the 20th annual National Conference on Preaching, April 20-22, 2009, in Tampa, Florida. We’ll have a great line-up of speakers, including John Ortberg, Stuart Briscoe, Jack Graham, Dave Stone, Steve Brown, Robert Smith, Ralph Douglas West and many more. To take advantage of the deepest discounts available on registration, click here.


Join us October 20-21 for Preaching West, a two-day preaching conference in Newport Beach, California. The theme is “Preaching Biblical Truth in a Changing Culture,” and speakers will include: Dan Kimball, Pastor, Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calif., and author of They Like Jesus but Not the Church; James L. Wilson, Professor of Leadership at Golden Gate Baptist Seminary and author of Future Church; John A. Huffman, Senior Pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, Calif.; Michael Duduit, Editor of Preaching magazine; and John Webb, Professor of Communication and Ministry at Hope International University. To learn more, click here.


In a chapter in the collection What’s the Shape of Narrative Preaching? (Chalice), Thomas Long says, “the next generation of preaching is going to have to be rhetorically nimble … Because we are proclaimers of God’s story, we will always be storytellers. But now, in order to tell the story, we must also stand back from it and become teachers and sages and ethical guides. No single homiletical formula will do; no one way of structuring sermons, however compelling, will accomplish the task; no solitary rhetorical strategy will open all the doors of the faithful imaginations of our hearers.

“We must help people in a fragmented and episodic culture to repair their ability not only to hear the gospel story but also to know what a powerful story is in the first place, how it works, and what possibilities it affords for identity and ethical living. We must use every gift of language, every responsible strategy of communication, to help people see, in practical and concrete ways, the shape of life that results when one builds a nest in the wide and embracing branches of the gospel story.”  (Click here to learn more about the book What’s the Shape of Narrative Preaching?)


People in ministry need to understand they must avoid situations which can endanger the perception of their own moral integrity. In that light, you might be interested to see the Saddleback Staff Ten Commandments:

  1. Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.*

  2. Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you.*

  3. Thou shalt not kiss any attender of the opposite sex or show affection that could be questioned.*

  4. Thou shalt not visit the opposite sex alone at home.*

  5. Thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex alone at the office, and thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex more than once without that person’s mate. Refer them.

  6. Thou shalt not discuss detailed sexual problems with the opposite sex in counseling. Refer them.

  7. Thou shalt not discuss your marriage problems with an attender of the opposite sex.

  8. Thou shalt be careful in answering emails, instant messages, chatrooms, cards or letters from the opposite sex.

  9. Thou shalt make your co-worker your protective ally.

  10. Thou shalt pray for the integrity of other staff members.

* The first four do not apply to unmarried staff.


In 1997, basketball superstar Michael Jordan had been on four championship teams, But the Chicago Bull’s new assistant coach, Frank Hamblen, after 25 years in the league, did not have a championship ring. Jordan dedicated himself that year to winning a championship for coach Hamblen. The Bulls won their fifth NBA championship in 1997, and Frank Hamblen got his championship ring.

David Jeremiah writes: “Michael Jordan chose to deflect glory away from himself, as the NBA’s greatest player, toward another person. That’s an example of what all human beings are called to do in their relationship with God: Be humble and recognize God deserves all the glory. Humility is not a matter of self-abasement. Rather, it is a matter of recognizing our place in the grand scheme of things, meaning God is God and we are not. When we take glory that God is due, we are stealing from Him, and thievery from God is not an enviable place in which to find oneself.

“First Corinthians 10:31 says, ‘Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’ Be humble. Let God be God. Deflect the glory away from self toward Him.'” (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 4-30-08)


In a recent article by Russell Moore in the Southwestern Journal of Theology, he addresses Southern Baptists directly, but his message speaks to much of today’s church: “Philosopher Leon Kass identifies in the Genesis text the core of what it means that our enemy is called a snake in Scripture. ‘For the serpent is a mobile digestive tract that swallows its prey whole; in this sense the serpent stands for pure appetite,’ he writes. ‘At the same time, the serpent is cold, steely-eyed, and unblinking; in this respect he is the image of pure attentiveness and icy calculation.'” (Leon R. Kass, The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis)

“It is no accident, then, that the Scripture warns us against the path of Esau, who sells the inheritance of his father for a pile of red stew (Heb 12:16–17), and that the Bible directs us away from the god of the belly (Phil 3:19). From the tree in the garden onward to the wilderness beyond the Jordan to the present hour, the powers challenge the sonship of humans precisely by aiming at turning their digestive or reproductive tracts away from the Christic mystery and toward the self as god.

“We have become the people Jesus warned us about. Southern Baptists more and more want to distance ourselves from our blue-collar, economically impoverished roots, and more and more wish to be seen as affluent, suburban and politically influential, but this comes with a cost. The reason we have made peace with the sexual revolution is because we are captive to the love of money. Southern Baptist men and women want to live with the same standard of living as the culture around them, and, as the Spirit warns, we will grind our churches and our families to pieces to get there (Jas 4:1–4).

“Why does the seemingly godly deacon in a conservative Southern Baptist church in north Georgia drive his pregnant teenage daughter to Atlanta under cover of darkness to obtain an abortion? Because, however he votes his ‘values,’ when crisis hits, he wants his daughter to have a ‘normal’ life. He is ‘pro-life’ with, as one feminist leader put it, with three exceptions: rape, incest and my situation.

“Why do parents, contra Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 7, encourage their young adult children to delay marriage years past the time it takes to discern whether this union would be of the Lord? Why do we smilingly tell them to wait until they can ‘afford’ it? It is because, to our shame, we deem fornication a less awful reality than financial ruin.” (Click here to read the full article.)


From the May-June issue of Preaching …

In an article on “Preaching and Homosexuality,” Tim Wilkins writes: “Imagine you’re preaching to several thousand homosexuals who eagerly want to hear you. They sincerely desire to know what biblical insight you may offer. Precisely what are you going to tell them?

“Before you answer, examine your motivations and goals. What do you want to happen in the lives of these individuals? Remember, no one has ever been argued out of homosexuality or into God’s Kingdom.

“Will you exhort them to ‘convert to heterosexuality’? Many preachers peddle heterosexuality like it’s ‘another gospel’ (Gal. 1:6). Conversion is to Christ who, in turn, transforms us into His image. Jesus did not say ‘Go and make heterosexuals,’ but, ‘Go and make disciples’ (Matt. 28:19). Similarly, why don’t we try to convert alcoholics to sobriety?

“Heterosexuality and homosexuality are not equals (a belief maintained by most evangelicals), but neither are they two opposites, a truth apparently unknown to the ‘People of the Book.’ Homosexuality, like all forms of sexual immorality, is a counterfeit to God’s creative design – not the opposite.”

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!

If you are looking for anything related to N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham and well-known scholar and author, you’ll find articles, sermons, interviews, audio and video, and anything else you might like on the N.T. Wright page.

“Nothing but fire kindles fire.” (Phillips Brooks)

While it has nothing to do with preaching, The Last Lecture (Hyperion) is a book preachers should read. Written by a Carnegie-Mellon computer sciences professor who is dying from pancreatic cancer, it is an encouraging reminder of the gift of life and family and the value of striving toward goals. The book grows out of an actual lecture presented by Randy Pausch, which was videotaped and has since been viewed by millions on various Web sites and TV.


Christ & Culture Revisited (Wm. B. Eerdmans) by D.A. Carson takes on the classic H. Richard Niebuhr book and offers contemporary believers a biblical vision for faithful engagement with today’s culture.


In Comeback Churches (B&H), Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson draw on the experiences of hundreds of churches to provide practical insights for church leaders to recapture a vision and a mission-based future for their congregations.

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


I saw a cartoon recently of a guy showing up at the pearly gates to hear St. Peter say: “You were a believer, yes. But you skipped the not-being-a-jerk-about-it part.” (John Ortberg)


~ See photo of interviewer’s family on desk, point, and start laughing uncontrollably.

~ Ask if there is only one emergency exit, grin and say, “I bet this floor would be in trouble if someone barricaded that.”

~ Inquire on office policy of friends staying over.

~ Over-emphasize your ability to use a copier.

~ Ask if it’s OK for you to sit on the floor.

~ Admit having little impact on the overhead budget because you swiped all the supplies from your previous employer.

~ Although parking was free, insist they validate something or you’re not leaving.

~ Mention your resume would have been stronger, but you didn’t feel like making up anything else.

~ Walk into interviewer’s office with a tape measure, measure office from a few angles, put away and declare: “NOW we can begin.”

~ As you walk into the office for first time, ask receptionist to hold all your calls.
(from You Make Me Laugh)

If you are ever attacked by a shark, go for the eyes.

An Australian swimmer says he survived a mauling by a 16-foot shark by wrestling with the beast, finally getting free by poking it in the eye, according to a May 12 AP story.

The shark, believed to be a great white, seized Jason Cull by the left leg as he was swimming at Middleton Beach in southwestern Australia. The shark was one of three that swimmers reported seeing at the beach Saturday. Officials closed the beach after the attack.

From his hospital bed where he was treated for deep lacerations, Cull, 37, told reporters he saw a shadow moving in the water just before the attack and mistook it for a dolphin.

“It was much bigger than a dolphin when it came up,” Cull said. “It banged straight into me. I sort of punched it, and it grabbed me by the leg and dragged me under the water. I just remember being dragged backwards underwater. I felt along it, I found its eye and I poked it in the eye, and that’s when it let go.”

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