From the Editor:

Recruiting Obama


Living in a Parable
Win Some, Lose Some, Keep Going


Christ’s Presence, Comfort
Counsel, Security


Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

"If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it."

(Jonathan Winters)


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    Vol. 7, No. 24 June 24, 2008    

Michael Duduit

Churches all over Chicago and Washington have a new name on their prospect list: Barack Obama.

The senator from Illinois recently announced that due to the unpleasantness arising from response to the preaching in his church, he was resigning his membership there. Actually it’s not all that unusual for people to leave a church, though the preaching is not usually the major factor. It’s usually something important like the color of the new carpet, or that thing so-and-so said about me to that other guy, or the fact they actually expect me to contribute to that place!

For whatever reason, the soon-to-be presidential nominee of the Democratic Party is a man without a church, so add him to your prospect list! There is that question of where he is likely to join a new church — if he wins in November, he could join a church in D.C. (Not many presidents seem to transfer their membership during their terms, but since Obama doesn’t have a home church right now, he might as well.) Of course, if he doesn’t win, he might prefer to find another Chicago-area church. I’m sure there are a few hundred that would be glad to have the Obama family.

The challenge now: How do you arrange that pastoral visit on the campaign trail?

Michael Duduit, Editor

There will not be an issue of Preaching Now next week.

This week’s featured podcast is with Steve Sjogren. Go to our podcast page at https://www.preaching.com/media/podcasts/ to hear this or one of several dozen other podcast interviews.


In his book Creating a Prodigal-Friendly Church (Zondervan), Jeff Lucas offers an aside about the power of a parable: "We all know Jesus loved to tell stories — it was His preferred method of teaching. These wonderful stories were not designed to dumb down truth, but rather to provoke thought, discussion and heart searching.

"A parable is not a vehicle to convey one single truth, for a number of ideas can be expressed beautifully through story. But we tread into dangerous territory here. Preachers through the years have subjected the parables to endless allegorizing, which is unfortunate, and has prompted some theologians to insist a parable has only one core idea at its heart. But surely, Jesus, metaphorical theologian that He was, invites us to live in the story. It’s been said that to rightly understand a parable, we must treat it like a house with many rooms." (Click here to learn more about the book Creating a Prodigal-Friendly Church.)


In their book The Leadership Lessons of Jesus (B&H), Bob Briner and Ray Pritchard remind us of the old baseball cliché, "You win some, you lose some, and some get rained out." Though not targeted specifically at pastors, the book contains plenty of insights valuable to church leaders. For example, they observe, "A wise leader understands the implications of this for his or her leadership. Every leader would like to win them all, but this is impossible. No one wins more than ‘some.’

"It’s also important to understand the ‘rainouts’ principle, those people and circumstances for which there will be another day. They are neither won nor lost, but they will be in the future. They need to be remembered and ‘rescheduled’ for the most opportune time and should not be written off or forgotten. A time will come for them. A good leader understands this and plans accordingly.

"Jesus emphasized these concepts in His parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-9). Because the sower couldn’t know in advance where to find the best soil, he had to sow (‘broadcast’) the seed in all directions in order to guarantee that some would land on good soil. After all the marketing plans are made and the strategy is set, no one knows what will happen in the marketplace. All things being equal, though, the more you produce, the more you advertise, the more you sell. The sower was willing to take a 75 percent ‘loss’ in order to reap a 25 percent ‘profit,’ which actually yielded a hundredfold dividend.

"Leaders who can’t handle rejection, defeat or delay don’t last. Leaders who have to win everything every time are short-lived with limited success … We can’t be discouraged by a lack of response. We must trust God to bring about the harvest in His own time and His own way." (Click here to learn more about the book The Leadership Lessons of Jesus.)


A little girl had a cut near her eye. Her father quickly took her to see the doctor. The cut was not serious, but the location of the injury made it important that it be fixed properly. The doctor decided a couple of stitches were needed, but he didn’t want to give the child an anesthetic. He explained to her that the procedure would be painful and asked if she could stand it. The little girl replied that she could, if her father would hold her hand. The father then took her in his lap, slipped his arm around her, and held her tight. The doctor did his work, and the little girl never flinched. The father could not possibly have erased the pain from this process. If he had not been there, though, the girl’s reaction would have been much different.

So it was for the disciples. The time was fast approaching when they would split up and travel to the far corners of the world to proclaim the gospel. Jesus would not be with them physically. He wanted them to know, though, that they would not be alone. His hand would still be in theirs. And that made all the difference in the world. (Arthur G. Ferry Jr., Eating Cold Grits)


Sometimes it is easier to look elsewhere for our security and approval. Like the day when Charlie Brown stopped at the psychiatric help stand to talk with Lucy. He confesses, "My trouble is I never know if I’m doing the right thing. I need to have someone around who can tell me when I’m doing the right thing." Lucy says, "Okay. You’re doing the right thing. That’ll be five cents, please!" Charlie Brown walks away with a smile on his face.

In a few minutes, he returns with a frown. "Back already?" asks Lucy. "What happened?" Charlie Brown says, "I was wrong. It didn’t help. You need more in life than just having someone around to tell you when you’re doing the right thing." Lucy says, "Now you’ve really learned something! That’ll be another five cents please." (William G. Carter, Water Won’t Quench The Fire, Sermons.com newsletter)

From the July-August issue of Preaching …

In an article on using argumentation theory in preaching, Calvin Pearson reminds us: "The Scripture gives us many guidelines for our attitudes toward others. The hardest one to talk about is humility — but would anyone deny its importance? To say we are humble in our argumentation is presumptuous, as though we didn’t have any motives. However, it is vital to see the following suggestions are not just another part of a method we learn so we can ‘win’ in our next debate.

"J.C. Mahaney was asked to write a book on humility. (I suppose that otherwise it should not and could not be written.) In Humility: True Greatness he gives a picture of humility from the words of Carl Henry. When Mahaney asked the evangelical patriarch about maintaining a humble spirit, Henry responded, ‘How can anyone be arrogant when he stands beside the cross?’

"In order to reach a world of wolves, we must attempt to bring Carl Henry’s view of humility together with Argumentation theory. Borrowing the wording from Aristotle’s definition of rhetoric, to be sheep, serpents and doves, we must seek to use every available means of persuasion while standing next to the Cross of Christ.

"Servant’s purpose. If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, you must be the servant of all. In contrast to this, our natural tendency in argumentation is to present our point in such a way that our hearers will think that we are right. Our purpose is too often to win the argument so we can show ourselves to be the greatest. To be dove-like we must seek to persuade so the listener can benefit. Benefits to us should be of no consequence. Unlike the salesman who seeks the benefit of his customer and himself, we can seek to persuade purely for the benefit of the listener. We persuade to serve our listeners by seeing good take place in their lives.

"Loving heart. Perhaps the first command we learned as children gives the proper motive in argumentation — Love one-another. Motives are hard to discern, much less control, but we must ask ourselves, ‘Why do we work hard to present the truth of God effectively?’

"When I am honest with myself, I must admit that too often, I step into the pulpit fully prepared with my words so that when I step out I will be fully affirmed by the words of others. Unfortunately, at that point, my motive is not love for God and others, but love for myself. To be dove-like is to be motivated by love for God and others. We preach because we love the One whose Word we proclaim and because we love those to whom we proclaim it. We persuade out of love for God and for those we are seeking to persuade."

Every issue of Preaching contains insightful articles
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Also in the July-August issue of Preaching:
Interviews with Chuck Colson and Robert Smith, a survey of visual resources for preaching, "Preaching in a World Hostile to Truth," plus sermons by Mike Milton, Marvin McMickle, David Dykes, Robert Smith and much more. Order your subscription today!

Inc. magazine is one of those publications that members of your church are reading — at least those who run small businesses. Why let them have all the fun? Inc. has a variety of articles and resources that will be of interest to pastors, including a section on Leadership. You can find it here.

"It’s funny that those things your kids did that got on your nerves seem so cute when your grandchildren do them!"

The Church of the Perfect Storm (Abingdon), edited by Leonard Sweet, is an interesting collection of essays by insightful church leaders from around the world, analyzing how the church must respond to the "perfect storm" created by the various factors (postmodernism, pluralism, etc.) that shape the environment in which we minister. You’ll find a diversity of views and some helpful ideas.


Yet another anthology is Ancient Faith for the Church’s Future (IVP), edited by Mark Husbands and Jeffrey P. Greenman. The essays here came from the 2007 Wheaton Theology Conference and draw on the early church as a foundation for today’s church. This is not light reading, but it’s worthwhile for those who want to think seriously about ministry in the 21st century.


Speech is at the heart of our work as preachers, but Robin Chaddock shows us in How to Get a Smart Mouth (Harvest House) that speech is also a key to positive relationships. Subtitled The Power of Using Your Words Wisely, this book will be a useful tool for any leader who who wants to be a better communicator.

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


A couple of nuns who were nurses had gone out to the country to minister to an outpatient. On the way back they were a few miles from home when they ran out of gas. They were standing beside their car on the shoulder when a truck approached.

Seeing ladies of the cloth in distress, the driver stopped to offer his help. The nuns explained they needed some gas. The driver of the truck said he would gladly drain some from his tank, but he didn’t have a bucket or can. One of the nuns dug out a clean bedpan and asked the driver if he could use it. He said yes, and proceeded to drain a couple of quarts of gas into the pan. He waved goodbye to the nuns and left.

The nuns were carefully pouring the precious fluid into their gas tank when the highway patrol came by. The trooper stopped and watched for a minute, then he said, "Sisters, I don’t think it will work, but I sure do admire your faith!" (Pearlygates newsletter)


From the meanderings of Steven Wright …

~ I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.

~ Borrow money from pessimists — they don’t expect it back.

~ Half the people you know are below average.

~ 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

~ 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.

~ A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

~ If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.

~ The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

~ I almost had a psychic girlfriend, but she left me before we met.

~ OK, so what’s the speed of dark?

~ How do you tell when you’re out of invisible ink?

~ Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

~ When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.


The patient got some good news and some bad news.

Doctors who carried out surgery on a Japanese man to remove a "tumor" were able to report to him that he did not have cancer. According to a June 4 AFP story, the "growth" that had been causing him pain was a 25-year-old surgical towel.

The patient had been carrying the cloth since 1983, when surgeons at the Asahi General Hospital in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo left it in him after an operation to treat an ulcer, a spokesman for the hospital said.

The man, now 49, went in to another hospital in late May after suffering abdominal pain.

"The towel was greenish blue although we are not sure about its original color," the Asahi General Hospital spokesman said, adding it had been crumpled to the size of a softball.

Asahi hospital officials visited the man to apologize, he said. The former patient has no plans to sue the hospital, which is in talks with him over compensation or other measures, the official said.

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