From the Editor:

Small Change, Big Difference


Preaching & Sexuality


Priorities, Selling Ourselves Short
Fathers & Sons, Substitutes

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

"Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve."

(Tom Landry)

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    Vol. 7, No. 25 July 8, 2008    

Michael Duduit

Charles Lowery tells this story: "Jack Eckerd, founder of the Eckerd drug store chain, was an innovative businessman. He spent most of his time in his stores talking to employees and customers. That’s where he learned small changes make a big difference. He called it the lesson of the red rubber balls.

"One day, he noticed the display of balls was completely full. Big red rubber balls were not selling. He asked his top-level management why this was the case, and of course, they had no idea. (I’ve discovered top-level people rarely understand bottom-level problems.) So, he asked one of the clerks why she thought they were not selling.

"Without hesitation she explained what should have been obvious. ‘Children are the ones who buy red rubber balls. The balls are displayed on the top shelf where the children can barely see them, much less get their hands on them.’ The red balls were moved to the lower shelf and soon sold out. Small changes can make a big difference."

In your preaching, are there some small changes that could make a big difference? Are you putting the "red rubber balls" where people can’t reach them? How can you adjust your methodology to make your preaching accessible to all?

Michael Duduit, Editor

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, Robert Smith, Dave Stone, Steve Brown, Ralph Douglas West and many more. To take advantage of the deepest discounts available on registration, go to www.preaching.com/ncp

This week’s featured podcast is with Ruth Haley Barton, author of an important new book on leadership. Go to our podcast page at https://www.preaching.com/media/podcasts/ to hear this or one of several dozen other podcast interviews.


In the book Mastering Contemporary Preaching, Bill Hybels wrote: "Preaching on the subject of sex is one of the hardest things I do, so it would be much easier to dodge it. Then I’d have no personal soul searching, no controversy, no possibility of offending people. On the other hand, there’d also be no rescuing people from the devastation of misused sexuality and no leading them to the joy of God’s intentions for this gift …

"When I preach about sexual purity, I often hear from people who have been convicted by the Holy Spirit and have determined to put impurity away. Just recently I spoke with a new Christian from our fellowship who had been living with a woman for three years. I told him that as painful as it would be, he really had no other choice but to separate. I listened to him and prayed with him and promised to help him walk through the experience.

"As he left, he said, ‘I can’t thank you enough for forcing the issue, because there’s one side of me that’s screaming, I don’t want to cut this off! and the other side of me says. But I have to. I just needed someone to put the pressure on me. Thanks for doing that.’

"That’s what happens when we preach — humbly, prayerfully, and lovingly — the truth about sex."


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. Andrews 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.


The great evangelist Dwight L. Moody told a legend about a beautiful swan that landed one day by the banks of the water in which a crane was wading about seeking snails. For a few moments the crane viewed the swan in stupid wonder and then inquired:
"Where do you come from?"
"I come from heaven!" replied the swan.
"And where is heaven?" asked the crane.
"Heaven!" said the swan, "Have you never heard of heaven?" And the beautiful bird went on to describe the grandeur of the Eternal City. She told of streets of gold, and the gates and walls made of precious stones; of the river of life, pure as crystal, upon the banks of which is the tree possessing leaves that are for the healing of the nations. In eloquent terms the swan sought to describe the hosts who live in the other world, but without arousing the slightest interest on the part of the crane.
Finally the crane asked: "Are there any snails there?" "Snails!" repeated the swan, "No! Of course there are not."

"Then," said the crane, as it continued its search along the slimy banks of the pool, "you can have your heaven. I want snails!"
"This fable," said Moody, "has a deep truth underlying it. How many a young person to whom God has granted the advantages of a Christian home, has turned his back upon it and searched for snails! How many a man will sacrifice his wife, his family, his all, for the snails of sin! How many a girl has deliberately turned from the love of parents and home to learn too late that heaven has been forfeited for snails!"
Moody spoke those words a century ago, but people still are swapping heaven for snails. How about you? (Moody’s Anecdotes, adapted by King Duncan)


In his new book The Attentive Life (IVP), Leighton Ford points out that a part of being attentive to God is our willingness to be available to Him: "Attentiveness means a willingness to listen for God’s voice — and readiness to obey. Interestingly, as Henri Nouwen points out, our word audio comes from the Latin audire, which has the sense of ‘to obey’ or ‘to heed.’" (Click here to learn about the book The Attentive Life)

From the July-August issue of Preaching …

In a sermon based on a passage from Luke 13, David Dykes begins, "Some of us are just never satisfied. Frank and Mabel had been married for 40 years. Frank turned 60 a few months earlier, and they were celebrating Mabel’s 60th birthday. During the birthday party, Frank walked into another room and was surprised to see a fairy godmother appear before him. She said, ‘Frank, this is your lucky day.
I’m here to grant you one wish. What would you like?’

"He thought for a moment, and said, ‘Well, I would really like to have a wife who was 30 years younger than me.’ The fairy godmother said, ‘No problem.’ She waved her wand, and ‘poof’ — suddenly Frank was 90 years old. I imagine old Frank was a little bent out of shape by the way that turned out!

"I have a friend in Alabama, Jack, whose favorite expression is ‘bent out of shape.’ When he was upset about something he always said he was ‘bent out of shape’ about it, and I recall he stayed ‘bent out of shape’ much of the time.

"In the passage of Scripture today, we are going to look at two people who were bent out of shape; one was a woman who was physically bent out of shape and the other was a religious man who was spiritually bent out of shape; one was crippled by a spirit of weakness and the other was crippled by a spirit of legalism and bitterness. Jesus was able to help one of them, but the other one stayed bent out of shape."

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!

The folks who produce the online Christian Computing magazine now also offer Christian Video magazine via online distribution. In the June issue, Austin Moore explains why Flash should be the preferred medium for distributing your sermons via your church Web site. OK, you may not be the person who builds or updates the Web site, but you can forward the article to the 20-year-old who understands this stuff. You’ll find it here.

"The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely the one who dropped it." (Lou Holtz)


Little Johnny wanted to go to the zoo and pestered his parents for days. Finally his mother talked his reluctant father into taking him.

"So how was it?" his mother asked when they returned home.

"Great," Little Johnny replied.

"Did you and your father have a good time?" asked his mother.

"Yeah, Daddy especially liked it," said Little Johnny excitedly, "especially when one of those animals came home at 30 to 1!"  (from You Make Me Laugh)


– Radio loses FM signal in fourth turn.

– Having to change your own tire when you have a flat away from the track.

– You crash going 200mph and end up in America’s Funniest Videos.

– Fuzzy dice blocks view of track.

– Pit Crew practical jokes (Like only tightening one lug nut).

– Only one guy gets to go to the Winners Circle each week.

– No baseballs to autograph or toss into crowd.

– Having to remember to use your turn signal when you’re not at the track.

– No rear view mirror when you need to comb your hair.

– Monster Truck drivers have all the fun.

– Realizing halfway round the first lap that you have a wedgie.

– Having to make a "real" pit stop with 50 laps left.

– Forgetting to remove "the Club" before the race starts.

– Hard to reach CDs with both hands on wheel.

– Having to build a new addition onto your house every year to store trophies.

– Getting stuck in traffic on the way home after a long day at the track.

– Having to make right-hand turns on your day off.

– Not being able to "bump draft" the guy in front of you on the freeway.  (from The Good Stuff Newsletter)

One could guess this wasn’t her first stop of the night.

A convenience store became an unwilling drive-in when a 74-year-old woman plowed her car through the front window and then tried to buy a six-pack of Budweiser, according to a July 1 AP story.

A Norwalk, Calif., woman drove her 1988 Cadillac into Joe’s Food Mart and Video on Sunday evening, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s officer explained. The car plowed about halfway through the store, but nobody was injured. The driver got out of the car, walked to the cooler and took out a six-pack of Budweiser beer.

"I don’t know how she managed to walk," the cashier said. He declined the sale and instead called police.

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