From the Editor:

Thanking Our Living Legends

Preachers Help People Navigate
Using Biblical Images
Mark Your Calendar

Chosen by God

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Most professing Christians don’t know what they believe, and so can neither understand nor defend the Christian faith – much less live it.”

(Chuck Colson,
The Faith)

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    Vol. 7, No. 26 July 15, 2008    
Michael Duduit

I spent last week in Dallas at the International Congress on Expository Preaching, an annual event sponsored by E.K. Bailey Ministries that draws more than 700 mostly African-American pastors for a week of continuing education and inspiration. It’s some of the best preaching you’ll hear anywhere!

One thing that happens each year at the Congress is presentation of the “Living Legend” designation to a preacher whose life and ministry has been a model for all of us. This year’s honoree was Haddon Robinson, whose writing and teaching have shaped our contemporary understanding of biblical exposition. (His Wednesday night sermon was one of the finest sermons on a parable I’ve ever heard!)

I appreciate this effort to recognize and honor those on whose shoulders we all stand. In our own day, when we seem to focus all our attention on what is new and fresh, it is worth our time to pause and look back to see where we have been, and to honor those whose sacrificial efforts helped clear the path for us.

Is there someone in your past who helped your ministry become what it is–a former pastor, a Sunday School teacher, some wise counselor? Why not stop right now and say a prayer of thanks for them, then write a note of gratitude and blessing; it will mean much to them.

Maybe one of these days you’ll receive a similar note from someone else.

Michael Duduit, Editor

Preaching Now grows primarily through readers like you telling others about it. Why not forward your copy to a friend or colleague who might benefit from their own free subscription? If you’re not already receiving the newsletter weekly, just click here to begin your own free subscription.


In his new book Preaching in a Post-Everything World (Baker), Zack Eswine opines that preachers are “like forest rangers. The ranger knows the terrain and helps people learn how to navigate it. In a similar way, the preacher is meant to learn the terrain of reality as it relates to God, people, places, and personal conscience. The Bible is the map that one needs to make true contact. With that map the preacher introduces reality to people and in essence says, ‘Now when you come across this kind of path, here is what you need in order to walk the path wisely.’ The map has something to say regarding every path available in this landscape of ‘all things’ with its varying kinds and capacities.” (Click here to learn more about Preaching in a Post-Everything World.)


In his book Picturing the Gospel (IVP), Neil Livingstone observes, “The living Lord inspired living language, and lots of it. To understand and tell of Jesus, those early followers told stories, borrowed terms and picked up metaphors that helped them grasp what Jesus had done. They were not interested in abstract theories of religion, but in life. British evangelist and scholar John Stott says, ‘Images of salvation (or of the atonement) is a better term than “theories.” For theories are usually abstract and speculative concepts, whereas biblical images of the atoning achievement of Christ are concrete pictures and belong to the data of revelation.’ Our ‘data’ from the Bible are vibrant images of Jesus and His work in our lives. The first disciples found a real-life Savior and told of Him in concrete, real-life ways.”

Livingstone says the “Bible’s gallery of gospel images” show us as biblical communicators “the many ways He can touch our lives. As we are touched in more ways by the gospel, we will see more ways it can touch the people around us. As we see the gospel more clearly, we can picture it for others more clearly. Receiving more life from God, and clear words and pictures to describe that life, we will be able to speak His message with more clarity and power.”  (Click here to learn more about the book Picturing the Gospel.)


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.


Plan now to be part of 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, Tommy Green, Timothy Warren and many more. To take advantage of the deepest discounts available on registration, click here.


On October 15, 2002, the Associated Press carried a light-hearted story about Billy Graham. It reported that the Dallas Cowboys, honoring the distinguished life and ministry of Dr. Graham, presented him with a Cowboy jersey with the name “Graham” on the back and the number “1” in large print on the front and back. Graham responded to the gift in a way that demonstrated his unique sense of humor.

“It has my name on the back and I’m No. 1.
I may show up at the next game and see where they put me.”

The evangelist had about as much chance at getting into the game as those unlearned disciples had in taking seriously their calling by the Master. Who would have thought those eleven (even without Judas Iscariot, who had left the room) had the gifts and graces to change their world for Jesus? But they did. Jesus called them, and they followed. The Church of Jesus Christ was born! (Tom Barnard, Friday Evening newsletter. To subscribe, email barnard22@cox.net)


In 1970 there were 500,000 couples cohabitating (living together outside of marriage) in the United States. Today there are more than 5 million. The marriage rate in our nation has declined almost 20 percent since 1995. Cohabitating couples are twice as likely to experience aggression and three times more likely to experience depression than married couples. If cohabitating couples marry, they are more likely to divorce than couples who did not live together before marriage. The effects on children of cohabitating couples show they are more likely to experience emotional problems, alcoholism and drug abuse. They are 20 times more likely to be abused, and the poverty rate is five times greater than in a home with a married father and mother. All these statistics point toward one fact: The result of cohabitation is, more often than not, due to absentee fathers in our nation.

Cohabitation and divorce are not the only reasons children suffer from the absence of a father. Missing fathers are not limited to low-income or minority households.  Middle and upper-income houses are often the victims of a father whose residence is there, but who doesn’t truly live there. Working 60 or more hours a week, recreating 10 hours a week, sleeping 49 hours a week, and watching television 30 hours a week leaves only 19 hours for the people fathers are supposed to love the most. The latest findings show the average father spends a little over 27 seconds a day in meaningful conversation with each child he has, whether one or 10. 

While fathers have to compete with iPods, cell phones, cable TV and video games, we do not have to sacrifice our roles as fathers to be present in our children’s lives. Too many fathers prefer casual friendship over parenting responsibilities with their children. Personal, face-to-face, time with your children will leave greater impressions on their minds and hearts than all the video games and toys you provide for them as a substitution for your absence. Very few fathers, when they reach retirement and sit alone, will say, “I wish I had spent more time at work or on the golf course.” Proverbs 4:1 tells us, “Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding for I give to you good doctrine; do not forsake my law.” In order for a dad to give his children instruction, he must be absorbed in their lives; to do otherwise leaves children with a legacy of the absentee father. (Jerry Drace, Hope for the Home newsletter)

From the July-August issue of Preaching …

In an article on using biography for sermon illustrations, Bill Whitaker says, “The use of biography applies truth to real people and heightens listener response. People are always more interesting than things. Preaching the truth includes working with propositional statements, but these truths live when illustrated in the lives of others. Craig Larson wrote, ‘The average church attender finds People magazine more engaging than PC User. Listeners identify with people’s emotions, thoughts, opinions and weaknesses. While illustrations drawn from nature, mechanics and mathematics can help clarify, people illustrations are more likely to stir emotions. They are alive.’ Biography is a rich treasure for these people-centered illustrations.”

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 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!

Sometimes you just have to toot your own horn! So this week let me remind you to visit Preaching.com, the home site of this newsletter (and of Preaching magazine), where you’ll find a ton of original content (articles and sermons), plus archives from the magazine and newsletter, original podcasts, a database of illustrations and sermons, links to additional resources, plus much more. Preaching.com is the center of the Web for those who preach. To visit, just click here.

“People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit. Most men succeed because they are determined to.” (George Allen)


It had been four grueling years of computer science courses for John, but the end was in sight, with only one more semester before graduation. However, he realized he still needed one more general science class to fulfill his graduation requirements. Rushing to register, he found the only course still available was on “Birds and Their Habitats.” Reluctantly, John signed up.
Like many elective courses at the university, the class was large, and taught by one of the professor’s assistants. As the semester continued, the work load increased, and he found himself spending more and more time studying birds. To make matters worse, the professor offered only one test at the end of the semester to determine each students grade–it was all-or-nothing. Two weeks prior to the final, John began cramming and re-reading the class books and his notes. As he walked in to the exam room, he was confident he not only would pass, but would fly through the test with little effort.
As John began the final, he discovered each question centered around a picture of a pair of bird legs! He was to identify each bird by its legs, and then answer the corresponding question. He could not believe it; he had studied so hard, and it all came down to his ability to identify birds by their LEGS?
He answered as best he could, but after struggling with the test for over an hour, John marched down to the front where the professor of the class was standing and slammed the test down into the pile of other exam books.
“This is the sorriest class, and you are the worst professor on this campus!”
As he started out the door, the shocked professor yelled back, “What is your name, young man?”
John turned, pulled up his pants legs, held his bare leg in the air, and replied, “You’re so smart, you figure it out!”

Marriage Ministry in the 21st Century (Group) is a terrific resource for church leaders, with insights for more effective counseling, events, and more. Subtitled “the encyclopedia of practical ideas,” it is certainly that, and is a helpful tool as we minister in this vital area of building Christ-centered families.



Dan Merchant takes us on a guided tour of the Culture Wars in America in his book Lord, Save Us From Your Followers (Thomas Nelson). In an engaging way, he helps us see why, in a nation where the vast majority of people claim to believe in God, so many millions have turned their backs on the church.



What is it that pleases Jesus? In his little book The Compliments of Christ (Guardian Books), pastor Todd Gaddis explores those times when Jesus gave verbal affirmation to someone – and why. For church leaders who are constantly tempted to try to please everyone, this thin volume is a great reminder that there’s only One that you ultimately must please.


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


10. He shows up with a pair of nail clippers and a Ziploc bag.

9. On the side of his mower you notice the stenciled silhouettes of 13 cats.

8. Stops frequently to nap inside the grass-catcher.

7. Always trying to impress you by stopping the mower blades with his head.

6. You notice him shoving the last of his clothes into the mulcher.

5. He’s fascinated by the details of your home security system.

4. Stops every couple of minutes to smoke some clippings.

3. Somehow manages to mow the hood ornament off your Lexus.

2. Turns a goat loose and says he’ll be back in three weeks.

1. No toes.

More than 70,000 people in Australia have declared they are followers of the Jedi faith, the religion created by the Star Wars films.

According to a BBC story, a recent census found that one in 270 respondents–0.37 percent of the population–say they believe in “the force,” an energy field that gives Jedi Knights like Luke Skywalker their power in the films.

Most of the 70,509 people who wrote “Jedi” on their census forms were suspected to have done so in response to an email encouraging all Star Wars fans to get it recognized as an official religion.

The majority do not seriously tell each other: “May the force be with you,” according to Australian Star Wars Appreciation Society President Chris Brennean.

“When you look at it, you probably have about 5,000 people in that 70,000 who were true hard-core people who would believe the Jedi religion carte blanche,” he told ABC Radio.

“Then you would have 50,000 fans who said, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll just put down “Jedi” for fun, we don’t actually have a religion of our own.’

“Then you probably have 15,000 people who did it just to give the government a bit of curry,” he said.

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