From the Editor:

Hang in There

Preaching in an unChristian World
Shifting Sand

Alcohol Abuse, Students
Television, Entertainment
Problems, Mistakes

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.”
(John Wooden)

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    Vol. 7, No. 30 August 19, 2008    
Michael Duduit

Tom Barnard shares a story from the Olympic Games, which currently are underway: “Maybe you were among the millions who tuned in on August 10 (USA time) to watch the finals of the 4×100-meter relay at the 2008 Olympics, featuring the finest male swimmers in the world. Better yet, perhaps you were there in person. Lucky you! If you were there, you saw history being made, and just maybe you were seated within a hundred yards of the President of the United States! Awesome. The bold headline in the morning sports page in our town on Monday said it simply: INCREDIBLE! It was indeed.

“Unsuccessful in their quest for a gold medal in the 400-meter relay at the  last two Summer Olympiads, America’s select team of four seemed motivated and ready. American swimmers had won the 400-meter free relay at seven straight Olympics, but they watched teams from Australia and South Africa win gold at the last two Games. This time, the Americans were nearly flawless. In the prelims, they set a world record by winning their heat. But in the finals, they faced the young foursome from France, anchored by perhaps the most impressive physical specimen of all the men swimming in the finals–the confident Alain Bernard, holder of the world record in the 100-meter freestyle. He had predicted a win for France, and when he entered the water in first place at the beginning of the anchor leg, everyone seemed convinced the French would win the gold.

“No one had given America’s anchor swimmer and captain of the team, 32-year-old Jason Lezak, a chance to overtake the powerful Bernard. It was Lezak who had swum the anchor lap at the last two summer Olympics–both going to superior teams. The oldest man on the U.S. swimming team pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in Olympic history, lunging ahead of Bernard by the length of a finger tip at the wall. Nearly a body-length behind the undefeated Bernard as they made the final turn, Lezak chose to hug the lane rope adjacent to Bernard on the final 50 meters, drafting the Frenchman and overtaking him in their very last strokes. The time? Three minutes; 8 and 23/100s of a second, nearly four seconds better than the world record they had set earlier in the semi-finals.

“Two past failures for Lezak and his team. One stunning victory. Incredible. And almost forgotten (except in the re-runs and medal presentations in Beijing) are the names of the swimmers who swam legs two and three–Garrett Weber-Gale and Cullen Jones. History will remember the fabulous four and will celebrate their victory for years to come.

“In the Christian life, we don’t crown champions–at least in our lifetime. But sometimes we come close to burying them. We try not to add to the disappointments of those who fail to measure up to expectations. But a person’s record is a person’s record. It is what it is. And some women and men seem destined to come up short of society’s (and their church’s) expectations in their efforts for the Kingdom. Gone is the cheering crowd of witnesses that urged them on in their early going. Gone are the medals to more famous, easily-recognized champions. Defeats pile up. It’s time to move on.

“Really? Is it time to leave one place for another, more attractive place? Maybe. But consider what might happen positively if you hang in there.” (from Tuesday Morning newsletter, 8-12-08)

Michael Duduit, Editor

This week’s featured podcast is with Adam Hamilton, pastor and author of the book, Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White. Go to our podcast page to hear this or one of several dozen other podcast interviews.


In an article drawing on his book unChristian, Dave Kinnaman says the cultural challenges we face extend to those who preach and teach: “If it is harder to be a Christian, it is also more difficult than ever to teach and preach. How does a messenger of God strike the right balance between grace and truth? How does a teacher of the Bible help point people toward a holy God, without creating the opposite effect of putting up false barriers to Him? I don’t have to remind you Scripture provides an incredibly high standard for teachers (see Matthew 23:13; Luke 11:52, and James 3:1).

“As part of this responsibility, you have one clear responsibility: maintaining the healthy balance of truth and grace. Without truth, this generation continues to slip into moral and spiritual hyper-individualism. Without grace, the unique message of Jesus’ unconditional acceptance is lost to a works-based regimen. At the most basic level, your preaching and teaching has to provide both of those elements of Jesus’ character (see John 1:14).

“One of my friends, Nick, pointed out something really fascinating about truth and grace: These are not things to be held in tension, like competing teams at tug-of-war. Grace and truth are embodied in the same person, Jesus. They seek to accomplish the same thing: bringing our lives into alignment with God. One person does not need ‘just truth’ and another ‘just grace.’ Every soul needs full doses of grace and truth. Your preaching and teaching should deliver both elements with potency.”  (Click here to read the full article.)


In a Baptist Press article, Brad Waggoner wonders if a de-emphasis on biblical truth in preaching and teaching is paying dangerous dividends: “LifeWay Research has just concluded a significant longitudinal study of 2,500 Protestant churchgoers, which tracks their growth and beliefs over time. While our findings are not as bleak as those in the Pew Forum study are, they add to the call for alarm.

“When comparing the results of our study from the survey in May 2007 to the one recently completed in May of this year, we found great instability in the beliefs and practices of churchgoers.

“In May of 2007, we found 52 percent of our sample identified themselves as ‘born again’ and 23 percent as ‘evangelical.’ After completing the 2008 survey, we discovered 17 percent of our sample changed into or out of the ‘born again,’ category and 13 percent changed into, or out of, the ‘evangelical’ category. Keep in mind these are the same people who completed the survey two consecutive years. This shows significant theological confusion and inconsistency among American Protestants.

“Instability and volatility was even more apparent among young adults below the age of 30. When looking at church attendance, 8 percent attend worship less often than they did a year ago, and 13 percent have dropped out of church altogether.

“From a doctrinal perspective, we found much cause for concern. For example, in 2007 our inquiry into one of the most basic Christian beliefs, the sinlessness of Jesus, revealed barely half (54 percent) of our sample ‘strongly’ affirmed the view that Jesus never sinned. Only 76 percent of the Southern Baptists ‘strongly’ affirmed this doctrine. In 2008, among those age 30 and below, we observed during the course of a year that 14 percent moved toward a more biblical view of this doctrine, while amazingly one-third moved away from biblical orthodoxy.

“We also found a number of churchgoers are not operating with a biblical understanding of spiritual growth, but are defining spiritual growth by personal improvement …

“Maybe many evangelical leaders need to rethink the role of preaching and the teaching ministry of their churches. In his book Transforming Discipleship, author Greg Ogden says:

“‘Christian leaders seem to be reluctant to restate the terms of discipleship Jesus laid out. What are the reasons for our reluctance? We are afraid that if we ask too much, people will stop coming to our churches. Our operating assumption is people will flee to the nearby entertainment church if we ask them to give too much of themselves. So, we start with a low bar and try to entice people by increments of commitment, hoping we can raise the bar imperceptibly to the ultimate destination of discipleship.'” (Click here to read the full article.)


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 visit www.preaching.com/west

Act now to take advantage of the lowest registration rate ($150 per person, good only until Aug. 31), and join us 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, Tommy Green, Timothy Warren and many more. To take advantage of the deepest discounts available on registration, go to www.preaching.com/ncp



With students going back to college and the problem of binge drinking, young people need to know about the potential damage they are doing to their bodies and their futures. According to a report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Adolescence is a time of transition, physically, socially and emotionally. The adolescent brain is in transition, as well. Although important structural and functional changes take place in the brain from childhood to adulthood (Giedd et al., 1999), during adolescence such changes are widespread.

“During adolescence, the brain undergoes a major remodeling involving the formation of new connections between nerve cells, as well as the pruning of existing synaptic connections. These changes affect the processes involved in planning and decisionmaking, impulse control, voluntary movement, memory, and speech production, among others (Rubia et al., 2000). Similar changes occur in those parts of the brain that seem to affect how a person responds to alcohol and other drugs (Spear, 2000; Teicher et al., 1995). As a result, alcohol appears to have different effects on adolescents than adults (Spear, 2000).

“Animal studies suggest alcohol may have a greater impact on adolescent than adult memory (Markweise et al., 1998; Pyapali et al., 1999) and these effects may be long lasting.”  (Click here to read more.)


Chuck Swindoll observes that “Critic Neil Postman, author of Amusing Ourselves to Death, correctly argues that television is converting us from a ‘word-centered culture’ to an  ‘image-centered culture.’ Even the news broadcasts are under increasing pressure to entertain more than to inform.

“Ted Koppel, the penetrating host of Nightline, calls this ‘Vannatizing’ (after Vanna White, Wheel of Fortune’s celebrity hostess, whose role on the highly rated game show is a matter of looking cute and saying ‘hello’ and ‘bye-bye’). Toddler talk. Don’t think, just look. Don’t question, relax. ‘There’s not much room on television for complexity,’ says Koppel. ‘We now communicate with everyone and say absolutely nothing.'” (Dallas Seminary Daily Devotional, 4-29-03)

From the September-October issue of Preaching …

In an article by Zack Eswine, he begins: “There once was a man who fussed and dreamed for a solemn and quiet place of rest beneath a tree. Alone with his sadness, the man fell into a deep sleep. When he awoke, the man slowly discovered he had slept for years. Life had gone on without him.

“He got up from his sleeping place and began to walk around. What was once familiar now seemed strange to him. Bewildered, the man returned to his home village. Once there, he did not recognize any of its people. This loss of recognition surprised him, ‘For he had thought himself acquainted with everyone in the country round.’

“The villagers were equally puzzled. The man’s appearance was odd to them, his presence awkward. His clothes and mannerisms belonged to an earlier time, they thought.

“So there they were, the man and the villagers, standing foreign to one another. One villager finally found the courage to speak. He asked the man who he was. The man responded that he was at his ‘wit’s end.’ He looked around at the villagers somewhat embarrassed.

“‘God knows,'” he said, “‘I’m not myself … I was myself last night, but I fell asleep on the mountain … and everything’s changed.’

“‘Everything’s changed’ describes what many preachers feel. We are like people ‘who fell asleep and woke up in a foreign country,’ says one preacher. ‘The preaching that connected in that old world … won’t connect to this one.”

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 September-October issue of Preaching: Interviews with John Ortberg and Ralph Douglas West, articles on “The Preacher as Storyteller” and preaching in a “post-everything world,” plus great sermons and much more.Order your subscription today!

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts offers digital photos of extant Greek New Testament documents for the use of scholars and others who might like to see such early biblical texts. The site also includes some essays on New Testament research, along with other resources. Visit the site.

“Most of the things worth doing in the world have been declared impossible before they were attempted.” (Earl Nightingale)

In Wrestling with God (InterVarsity), James Emery White helps believers deal with their doubts and disappointments with God. This is a thoughtful book that will help church leaders as they minister to those who struggle with their relationship with God. (The book was previously published as Embracing the Mysterious God.)


Atheists represent a tiny, but influential, portion of the American population, and the so-called “New Atheists” are gaining a significant voice in today’s media culture. R. Albert Mohler confronts the views of this group in his new book Atheism REMIX (Crossway). The book grew out of a series of lectures Mohler presented at Dallas Seminary.


Those who enjoy church history will want to take a look at Garth M. Rosell’s The Surprising Work of God (Baker Academic), a study of how the evangelical movement emerged in the mid-20th century through the influence of leaders such as Harold John Ockenga and Billy Graham.

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


A new skydiver and his instructor are high in the plane above the jump zone as the student is getting ready for his first jump. Just before he is ready to leap, his teacher gives him some final instructions.
“Listen carefully! You jump … count to 3 … and pull your rip cord! If that doesn’t work, pull the cord on your reserve chute! There will be a truck down there to pick you up!”
The new skydiver took a deep breath and plunged into the open air. After free falling, he counted to 3 and pulled his ripcord. Nothing happened. He pulled the cord on his reserve chute, and nothing happened. Totally disgusted, the skydiver said, “Dadgum it! I’ll bet that truck’s not down there either!”


1975 : Long hair
2008 : Longing for hair
1975 : Acid rock
2008 : Acid reflux
1975 : Moving to California because it’s cool
2008 : Moving to Florida because it’s warm
1975 : Trying to look like Marlon Brando or Liz Taylor
2008 : Trying NOT to look like Marlon Brando or Liz Taylor
1975 : Going to a new, hip joint
2008 : Getting a new hip joint
1975 : Rolling Stones
2008 : Kidney Stones
1975 : Down with the system!
2008 : Upgrade the system
1975 : Disco
2008 : Costco
1975 : Passing the drivers’ test
2008 : Passing the vision test
1975 : Whatever
2008 : Depends

Who ever said one vote won’t make a difference?

A Tennessee woman knows better, because she was elected constable by voting for herself. According to an August 8 AP story, 32-year-old Angela Tuttle said her father encouraged her to run as a write-in candidate because no one else was vying for one of the positions in Hancock County, which is in northeastern Tennessee.

Tuttle said her husband initially didn’t even realize she was running.

“I finally told him about a month before the election,” she explained. Her husband didn’t think she would win, but now he “just grins at her.”

Hancock County election officials said 131 voters of the 674 registered in the 3rd District voted. Tuttle’s vote was the only one cast in the constable race. She will be sworn in Dec. 1.

The certified nursing assistant and mother of a 10-year-old son will help serve warrants and patrol neighborhoods in her district. She said her father, a longtime constable who won his own re-election in another district, will “show her the ropes.”

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