From the Editor:

Knowledge and Zeal

Preaching in Light of the Cross
Declining Influence of the Church

Peace, Security
Purpose, Greatness

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“One of life’s greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn’t good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.”

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    Vol. 7, No. 21 May 27, 2008    
Michael Duduit

This is the last issue of Preaching Now before I officially join the faculty of Anderson University in Anderson, SC, where I will serve as Professor of Christian Ministry and dean of a new graduate school of ministry. (I’ll still be producing this newsletter, so you don’t have to break in another editor.)

Someone asked me why I would want to invest my life in an academic setting when the real action is elsewhere. I responded that a big part of my calling will be to help God-called ministers to be better equipped for the real action.

John Stott expressed concern about the ambivalence of so many believers concerning the preparation of their minds. In his book Your Mind Matters (IVP), Stott writes, “What Paul wrote about unbelieving Jews in his day could be said, I fear, of some believing Christians in ours: ‘I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened.’ Many have zeal without knowledge, enthusiasm without enlightenment. In modern jargon, they are keen but clueless.

“Now I thank God for zeal. Heaven forbid that knowledge without zeal should replace zeal without knowledge! God’s purpose is both, zeal directed by knowledge, knowledge fired with zeal. As I once heard Dr. John Mackay say, when he was president of Princeton Seminary, ‘Commitment without reflection is fanaticism in action, but reflection without commitment is the paralysis of all action.'”

May your service be marked by a healthy mix of knowledge and zeal!

Michael Duduit, Editor

This week’s featured podcast is with Don Wilton, pastor of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, SC, and author of the book When God Prayed (B&H). 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.


In his new book We Preach Not Ourselves: Paul on Proclamation (Brazos Press), Michael Knowles asserts: “The basic task of every preacher, according to Paul, is to interpret the lives of their congregants – and all human experience – in light of Jesus’ cross and resurrection, and to find there the foundational pattern of God’s saving intervention in response to ongoing human need. He comes to this pastoral and theological insight in the courage of personal trials that severely test, yet ultimately affirm his faith.

“The unexpected conclusion to which this leads him is that it is not personal strength, gifts, or ability, but ongoing weakness and insufficiency that draw even preachers near to Christ — not only at the outset, but throughout the course of their discipleship and ministry. In fact, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection determine not only the preacher’s message, not only the shape of Christian experience in general, but the act of preaching in particular, because preaching is an act of utter dependence on the grace and generosity of a life-giving God.” (Click here to learn more about We Preach Not Ourselves.)


In the most recent issue of FFV magazine, Ed Stetzer writes, “We live in a world that is losing respect for Christianity. People don’t like Christians all that much, but they do like Jesus – at least the Jesus they have created in their own image.

“LifeWay Research discovered some sobering facts during two surveys conducted in 2007 of 1,402 people who had not attended a religious service at a church, synagogue, or mosque in the past six months. The following statements were agreed to ‘somewhat or strongly’:

62 percent — ‘The God of the Bible is no different from the gods or spiritual beings depicted by world religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.’

86 percent– ‘I believe I can have a good relationship with God without being involved in a church.’

79 percent — ‘I think Christianity today is more about organized religion than about loving God and loving people.’

“Perhaps the most sobering statistic is that 44 percent of people agreed (somewhat or strongly) with the statement, ‘Christians get on my nerves.’ I spoke with a CNN reporter who indicated that even he was ‘startled’ by the number. Few would be willing to say, ‘Jews/Muslims/Buddhists’ get on my nerves.'”


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.


A number of years ago, a submarine being tested had to be submerged for several hours. Upon returning to harbor, the captain was asked, “How did that terrible storm last night affect you?” Surprised, the captain exclaimed, “Storm? We didn’t even know there was one!” Their submarine had been so far beneath the surface that it had reached what sailors refer to as “the cushion of the sea” — a depth in the ocean where the waters below are never stirred despite any commotion on the surface.

David Jeremiah says, “In our fast-paced world, it is a challenge to slow down and remember God is in control. We are a society of ‘do-everything,’ ‘go-everywhere,’ ‘get-it-done’ people who mistakenly believe we can handle everything if we just keep going. In reality, we need to become so submerged in God’s peace that no matter what’s happening in our lives, we are able to remain as calm as ‘the cushion of the sea.’

“If you feel overwhelmed, bogged down, or burnt out, add one more activity to your daily schedule: Spend time with Almighty God. It is the only way to reach the depth needed to find true calm in the midst of any storm.” (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 4-1-08)


A schoolmaster in France was discouraged with one of his students. He wrote in his roll book concerning this student: “He is the smallest, the meekest, the most unpromising boy in my class.” Half a century later, an election was held in France to select the greatest Frenchman. By popular vote, that meekest, smallest, most unpromising boy was chosen. His name? Louis Pasteur, the founder of modern medicine. At age 73, a national holiday was declared in his honor. He was too old and weak to attend the ceremony in Paris, so he sent a message to be read by his son. The message read: “The future belongs not to the conquerors but to the saviors of the world.”
Louis Pasteur was driven by a great purpose. Your name and my name may never be a household word like Pasteur’s, but we, too, can be driven by a great purpose. Christ can give us that purpose. But there is one thing more Christ gives us. He gives us the presence of the Holy Spirit. (King Duncan, Collected Sermons, Sermons.com)

From the May-June issue of Preaching …

In an article about “Challenges for 21st Century Preaching,” D.A. Carson writes, “Multiculturalism, rising biblical illiteracy, and shifting epistemology combine to remind us challenges like these are not new. When Paul preaches the gospel in a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13), he does not sound exactly the way he does when he preaches the gospel to biblically illiterate intellectuals in Athens (Acts 17).

“On any reckoning, Paul has been in the ministry for more than two long decades when he preaches in Antioch. He is not shifting his message because he is intimidated. Rather, he recognizes he is now in another cultural ‘world’ than the one he inhabited when preaching in a synagogue. He perceived the biblical illiteracy in Athens, combined with such alien frames of reference as Stoicism and Epicureanism, means he must start farther back and talk about monotheism, creation, who human beings are, the aseity of God, the nature of idolatry, and a view of history that includes teleology and final judgment, before he can help his hearers make sense of Jesus and the resurrection.”

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!

Looking for sermon ideas? Look over the shoulder of Pastor Steve Gaines at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, as they post the Sermon Notes of recent messages online. You’ll find more than two years’ worth of notes posted here.

“I do not object to people looking at their watches when I am speaking. But I strongly object when they start shaking them to make certain they are still going.” (Lord Birkett)

In Me to We (Group), Alan Nelson argues the “pastor-centric paradigm” found in most churches does not equip church members to serve, resulting in churches that are neither biblical nor healthy. In this volume, Nelson draws on his own pastoral experience and his interviews with other pastors to provide a parable which models a more effective approach to church leadership.


The Emergent Church continues to be a source of fascination and annoyance to many pastors. Adding to the discussion, Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck have written Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) (Moody Press). They engage the issues in a fresh and insightful way that will be useful to church leaders, emergent or not.


There are plenty of books on doing apologetics in a postmodern culture, but in Love, The Ultimate Apologetic (InterVarsity Press), Art Lindsley reminds us all the carefully-crafted arguments are no substitute for a life that reflects the love of Christ. This is a helpful study of the nature and power of Christian love.

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


With both parents working, the family ate out a lot. On one occasion when they were having a rare home-cooked meal, Mom handed a glass to the 3-year-old and asked her to please drink her milk.

She looked at Mom with surprise and said, “But I didn’t order milk.”


From a Washington Post Report, in which readers were asked to tell Gen-Xers how much harder they had it in the old days:

Second Runner-Up:
In my day, we couldn’t afford shoes, so we went barefoot. In the winter we had to wrap our feet with barbed wire for traction.

First Runner-Up:
In my day we didn’t have MTV or in-line skates, or any of that stuff. No, it was 45s and regular old metal-wheeled roller skates, and the 45s always skipped, so to get them to play right you’d weigh the needle down with something like quarters, which we never had because our allowances were too small, so we’d use our skate keys instead and end up forgetting they were taped to the record player arm so that we couldn’t adjust our skates, which didn’t really matter because those crummy metal wheels would kill you if you hit a pebble anyway, and in those days roads had real pebbles on them, not like today.

And the winner:
In my day, we didn’t have no rocks. We had to go down to the creek and wash our clothes by beating them with our heads.

Honorable Mentions:
In my day, we didn’t have dogs or cats. All I had was Silver Beauty, my beloved paper clip.

When I was your age, we didn’t have fake doggie-doo. We only had real doggie-doo, and no one thought it was even a bit funny.

Back in the 1970s we didn’t have the space shuttle to get all excited about. We had to settle for men walking on the crummy moon.

In my day, we didn’t have days. There was only time for work, time for prayer and time for sleep. The sheriff would go around and tell everyone when to change.

In my day, we didn’t have fancy health-food restaurants. Every day we ate lots of easily recognizable animal parts, along with potatoes drenched in melted fat from those animals. And we’re all as strong as AAGGKK-GAAK Urrgh. Thud.

In my day, we didn’t have hand-held calculators. We had to do addition on our fingers. To subtract, we had to have some fingers amputated.

In my day, we didn’t have water. We had to smash together our own hydrogen and oxygen atoms.

In my day, we wore our pants up around our armpits. Monstrous wedgies, but we looked snappy.

Back in my day, 60 Minutes wasn’t just a bunch of gray-haired liberal 80-year-old guys. It was a bunch of gray-haired liberal 60-year-old guys.

In my day, we didn’t have virtual reality. If a one-eyed razorback barbarian warrior was chasing you with an ax, you just had to hope you could outrun him.  (The Daily Dilly)

At least he finally got a ride, though not where he intended to go.

Kevin apparently called the Waco, Texas, 911 emergency number 15 times in a row because he was tired of waiting for a cab. Each time, the emergency dispatcher told the man he had to call a taxi service and that police could not help him.

Police eventually went to the apartment community and found a cab waiting for 25-year-old Kevin, who was also there but did not have the $26 taxi fare. Police arrested Kevin after taking him to the hospital when he told an officer that he had used methamphetamine.

That’s when he got his ride — to jail.

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