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From the Editor:

Keeping in Touch

Articles:
Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
Preaching & Reading

Illustrations:
Courage, Faith
Sacrifice, Faithfulness
Diversion

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf

Humor

And Finally…
 

“The best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago. The second best time is today.”

 
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    Vol. 7, No. 33 September 16, 2008    
Michael Duduit

Aware of my move this summer to Anderson University in South Carolina (where I’m leading the new Graduate School of Christian Ministry), a number of Preaching and Preaching Now readers have asked about how the new program is going. Of course, I’m always glad to share! (And to receive hefty contributions, but that’s another article…)

I’ve started a blog for those who would like to keep up with what we are doing in developing this new ministry training program; you can find it here.

And thanks to those who are continuing to send ideas and suggestions. Keep those cards and letters (OK, mostly emails) coming!

Michael Duduit, Editor
michael@preaching.com
www.michaelduduit.com

GET COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE

In a recent posting at his TonyMorganLive.com site, Tony shared this story: “Last Sunday at our Greenville campus, we had an older couple, probably in their 60s, accept Christ. That’s worth celebrating. I love to watch life change happen.

“Here’s what’s amazing about stories like that. Our services in Greenville aren’t designed for people in their 60s. Our services are designed for a much younger audience. It’s an audience that loves loud music. They are comfortable with video teaching, because video is already a huge part of their lives. They love the coffeehouse atmosphere.

“Here’s what we’ve learned. If we design our service experiences for a younger audience, we’re more likely to reach that younger person, and we’ll reach older folks. The reverse is not true. If we designed our service experience for an older audience, the younger crowd would not show up.

“Now, here’s the reality. Most churches in America are designed for an older audience. In fact, the more-seasoned folks in those churches are sitting on committees telling the students and young adults how they can and can’t do ministry. The result? Younger people are leaving churches in droves.

“Here’s what I know to be true. If the church is going to continue to reach the next generations:

  • I have to be willing to give leadership to people younger than me … and let them make mistakes.

  • I have to be willing to let younger folks lead me in worship … even when it’s not my favorite style of music.

  • I need to embrace new methods of ministry … even though it makes me uncomfortable.

  • I need to pray and encourage and finance the next generation church … and stop trying to make church a place that I like to attend.

“It’s not about me. It’s about the people who desperately need to know the hope, love and forgiveness found only in Jesus Christ. For the ministry of the local church to remain effective, I need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

PREACHING AND READING

In an article in his book The Art & Craft of Biblical Preaching (Zondervan), Haddon Robinson refers to Paul’s request in 2 Tim. 4:13 as he writes, “He needed his cloak to keep the chill off his bones, but he needed his books and parchments to keep the rust off his mind … Paul had no more sermons to prepare and no more books or letters to write, but he needed to keep on reading. Even though life was running out on him, Paul needed his books.

“Ministers must read. We are required to read not as a luxury but as a necessity. We cannot go it alone … If you have a book in your hand, you are never alone, and reading enables you to have continued education without having to pay tuition.” (Click here to learn more about The Art & Craft of Biblical Preaching.)

   
 

Register now to save! 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, CA 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, CA; 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 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. The deadline for early registration is October 13, 2008. To take advantage of the discounts available on advance registrations, click here.

 

COURAGE, FAITH

Jim Valvano–“Jimmy V,” as sports fans around the country affectionately knew him–died on April 16, 1993, at age 47, after a year-long battle with cancer. He was a great basketball coach and a fan favorite. His North Carolina State team won the national championship in 1983, and he became an outstanding TV analyst, an eloquent inspirational speaker, and a popular humorist. He faced a debilitating illness with great courage.

A few weeks before he died, Valvano was honored on national television, and to that vast viewing audience, he said:

“Today, I fight a different battle. You see, I have trouble walking, and I have trouble standing for a long period of time. Cancer has taken away a lot of my physical abilities. Cancer is attacking and destroying my body, but what cancer cannot touch is my mind, my heart, and my soul. I have faith in God and hope things might get better for me. But even if they don’t, I promise you this: I will never ever give up. I will never ever quit. And if cancer gets me, then I’ll just try my best to go to heaven, and I’ll try my best to be the best coach they’ve ever seen up there. [Then, pointing to his 1983 Championship team, he said,] I learned a great lesson from these guys; they amazed me! They did things I wasn’t sure they could do because they absolutely refused to give up! That was the theme of our championship season: ‘Never ever give up!’ That’s the lesson I learned from them, and that’s the message I leave with you: ‘Never give up. Never ever give up!'” (James W. Moore, Attitude Is Your Paintbrush)

SACRIFICE, FAITHFULNESS

Just a few weeks ago we enjoyed the competition of the summer Olympics in Beijing, China. As David Dykes wrote in his blog recently, the first Olympic gold medal winner to be born and die in China was actually Eric Liddell, the Scottish runner immortalized in the film Chariots of Fire. We know from the movie he refused to run in the 100-yard dash (his best event) because the qualifying heats were run on Sunday. However, he came from behind in the 400 to win gold and set a new world record. Then David tells the rest of the story:

“After winning the gold medal, Eric Liddell was a celebrity and could have chosen any job he wanted back in Scotland. Instead, he chose to return to China, the land of his birth, and share the good news of God’s love with the Chinese people. He spent several years teaching at a college for Chinese students.

“In 1943 when the Japanese occupied China, Liddell was imprisoned in the Weifang Interment Camp. For the next two years he worked in terrible conditions to maintain the morale of the other prisoners.

“Winston Churchill arranged a prisoner exchange with the Japanese, and because Liddell was a famous athlete, he was on the list to be liberated. However, at the last minute, Eric arranged for a pregnant woman to take his place and he chose to remain in the prison camp.

“The prisoners were given enough food and water to barely keep them alive, and on February 21, 1945, malnourished and sick, our Olympic champion died … and crossed the finish line with his head held back in victory. He captured the real gold!

“In 1991, a memorial plaque was placed at the site of Eric Liddell’s death in Weifang. The inscription is taken from a simple verse in Isaiah that says, ‘They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary.'”  (Click here to read the full article.)


From the September-October issue of Preaching …

In a sermon called “Is Jesus the Only Way?” Bill Bouknight observes, “Lots of Americans almost wallow in tolerance. They feel that as long as a person is sincere about his religious beliefs, it doesn’t matter what he believes. Isn’t it strange that they apply this logic to faith but not to any other area of their lives? They want the pilot flying their next commercial flight to be right, not just sincere. They want the accountant who does their taxes to be right, not just sincere. They want the pharmacist who prepares their prescription to be right, not just sincere. Why then in the single most important area of their lives, their relationship with God, would they be willing to settle for sincerity instead of accuracy? It makes no sense.”
_______

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!

Ray Van Neste wrote the superb survey of recent Bibles and Bible reference material for preachers that will appear in the November-December issue of Preaching. (This is his second year writing the survey, and I hope he considers it a permanent assignment!) Ray is one of several serious students of Scripture who participates in a blog on the pastoral epistles. You’ll find it here.

“English is the perfect language for preachers because it allows you to talk until you think of what to say.” (Garrison Keillor)

Recently I invited Preaching Now readers to suggest some of the best books they’ve read in the past year. Here are more of the responses:

“The book I have found most useful in the last year is The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary by Joseph Michelli. The principles translate so well into ministry it is astounding!” (Valerie Herrington, Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministry, St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, Woodstock, Maryland)

“One of the most influential books that impacted my life is Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. This book convicted me of sins that I have called little. However, the reality is sin is a big deal, and God cannot tolerate it. Bridges talks about anger, worldliness, pride, and ungodliness. I highly recommend this book to every minister, especially in our day when we have labeled some sins as tolerable.” (Chris Land, Youth Pastor, Arrowhead Baptist Church, Henrietta, Texas)

Two great books: Sidney Greidanus’ The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text, and Comeback Churches by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson  (Keith Hudson, Riverview Baptist Church, Washington, North Carolina)

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

Do you have other suggestions? Send them today to michael@preaching.com


DIVERSIONS

Juan comes up to the Mexican border on his bicycle. He has two large bags over his shoulders. The guard stops him and says, “What’s in the bags?”

“Sand,” answered Juan.

The guard says, “We’ll just see about that. Get off the bike.” The guard takes the bags and rips them apart; he empties them and finds nothing in them but sand. He detains Juan overnight and has the sand analyzed, only to discover there is nothing but pure sand in the bags. The guard releases Juan, puts the sand into new bags, hefts them onto the man’s shoulders, and lets him cross the border.

A week later, the same thing happens. The guard asks, “What have you got?”

“Sand,” says Juan.

The guard does his thorough examination and discovers the bags contain nothing but sand. He gives the sand back to Juan, and Juan crosses the border on his bicycle.

This sequence of events is repeated every day for three years. Finally, Juan doesn’t show up one day, and the guard meets him in a Cantina in Mexico.

“Hey, Buddy,” says the guard, “I know you are smuggling something. It’s driving me crazy. It’s all I think about. I can’t even sleep. Just between you and me, what are you smuggling?”

Juan sips his drink and says, “Bicycles.”

 

FOOTBALL AND CHURCH

Did you know church can be just like football?

Quarterback Sneak — Church members quietly leaving during the invitation.

Draw Play — What many children do with the bulletin during worship.

Half-time — The period between Sunday school and worship when many choose to leave.

Benchwarmer — Those who do not sing, pray, work, or apparently do anything but sit.

Backfield-in-Motion — Making a trip to the back (restroom or water fountain) during the service.

Staying in the Pocket — What happens to a lot of money that should be given to the Lord’s work.

Two-minute Warning — The point at which you realize the sermon is almost over and begin to gather up your children and belongings.

Instant Replay — The preacher loses his notes and falls back on last week’s illustrations.

Sudden Death — What happens to the attention span of the congregation if the preacher goes into “overtime.”

Trap — You’re called on to pray and are asleep.
  
End Run — Getting out of church quick, without speaking to any guest or fellow member.

Flex Defense — The ability to allow absolutely nothing said during the sermon to affect your life.

Halfback Option — The decision of 50 percent of the congregation not to return for the evening service.

Blitz — The rush for the restaurants following the closing prayer.  (From The Humorama Newsletter)

Some police calls are for the birds.

Hearing a woman’s persistent cry of “Help me! Help me!” from inside a Trenton, N.J., home led neighbors to call police, according to a Sept. 5 AP story. Officers arrived, and when no one answered the door, they kicked it in to make a rescue.

Instead of a damsel in distress, officers found a caged cockatoo with a convincing call.

In fact, it was the second time the 10-year-old bird named Luna said something that brought authorities to the home of owner Evelyn DeLeon. About seven years ago, the bird cried like a baby for hours, leading to reports of a possible abandoned baby and a visit to the home by state child welfare workers. It was only Luna practicing a newfound sound, DeLeon says.

DeLeon says her bird learns much of her ever-growing vocabulary from watching television — in English and Spanish.

Just don’t teach Luna to dial 911.

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