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From the Editor:

Political ‘Spin’ and the Holy Spirit

Articles:
Preaching Requires Listening
Why Preach the Law?

Illustrations:
Stewardship, Faithfulness
Prayer
Urgency

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf

Humor

And Finally…
 

“If the going gets easy, you may be going downhill.”

 
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    Vol. 7, No. 36 October 7, 2008    
Michael Duduit

One of the realities of the modern presidential debate system is the “spin room.” That’s an area near the debate site where campaign staff and candidate surrogates gather to “spin” the press–to explain why their candidate has the best performance this side of the Super Bowl, and the opponent is a personal friend of Adolf Hitler.

The other night as I listened to the after-debate spin, I wondered what it would be like to have a “spin room” right after the sermon. It might work something like this: Your key staff and carefully-selected lay leaders would stand just outside the sanctuary, and as people departed they would lavishly praise the message just delivered. “What a powerful message!” says one, while another says, “That exegesis was right on target!” and a third insists, “That pastor down the street couldn’t touch the illustrations we just heard today!”

It’s an interesting thought, but I’m not sure the average church could count on gathering enough deacons to say nice things. Guess we better leave the “spin” to the politicos and depend on the Spirit when we preach.

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


PREACHING REQUIRES LISTENING

“It takes two to preach: someone to speak and someone to hear,” says William Willimon in his little book, A Guide to Preaching and Leading Worship (Abingdon). “The aim of preaching is to enable better listening to the gospel. The test for preaching is never how eloquently we are speaking but how well people are listening. Good speakers are always good listeners and keen observers. So, in a sense, the first way to improve our preaching is to improve our listening …

“Don’t picture yourself before an appreciative audience of accepting and passive listeners. Sit where they sit. Think less about what you are saying in the speech and more about what they are saying to themselves as they listen. Where will they be bored, angered, uninterested, confused? Assume they do not really want to be there listening to you. Reach out to them, grab them, convince them they really want to hear what you are saying.” (Click here to learn more about A Guide to Preaching and Leading Worship.)

WHY PREACH THE LAW?

In the book Preaching the Old Testament (Baker Books, edited by Scott Gibson), Douglas Stuart writes about why we should not avoid preaching the law: “How are we to undersdand the nature of sin and therefore be able to seek God’s help in avoiding it as we try to live as His covenant people? The answer is that we need to understand what He likes and dislikes. Much of this He has stated only in the Old Testament, assuming we would not need to have it restated verbatim in the New …

“Can the Holy Spirit use our knowledge of the Old Testament law to inform our perspectives and give us, not only examples, but a general framework for sensing what sort of thinking and behavior would please God under the new covenant? Of course He can–and indeed, that is just how He, the Author of the old covenant law, expects us to view the material He authored via His prophet Moses.” (Click here to learn more about the book Preaching the Old Testament.)

   
 

Plan now to join us for the 20th Annual National Conference on Preaching, April 20-22, 2009, in Tampa, Florida. The conference theme is “Preaching to Change Lives.” Your ministry will be strengthened through the addresses, powerful sermons and practical workshops at NCP 2009. You’ll enjoy a great line-up of speakers, including:

John Ortberg
Stuart Briscoe
Jack Graham
Robert Smith
Dave Stone
Ed Stetzer
Steve Brown
Ralph Douglas West
Tommy Green
Steve Sjogren
Timothy Warren

and many more. Register by Oct. 13 to take advantage of the early-bird discount registration rate of $150. To learn more or to register today, click here.

 


STEWARDSHIP, FAITHFULNESS

The late Danny Thomas was one of the most successful comedians of his day, but early in his career money was tight. At one point, he lost his life savings of $600 at a time when he was out of work. He and his wife, Rosie, had a baby on the way, and they needed money. Danny worked at part-time jobs so Rosie could buy groceries. He also borrowed money from friends. It was a tough time in his life.

A week before the baby was born, Danny had the grand total of $7.85 to his name. What would he do? “My despair led me to my first exposure to the powers of faith,” Danny would later recall.

On Sunday morning Danny went to church. When the offering plate was passed, he put in his “usual one dollar.” But something unexpected happened that day. A special missions offering was taken. The priest explained where the mission offering would go, and Danny felt he had to give something. “I got carried away,” Danny said, “and ended up giving my seven dollars.”

He had given away all his money that Sunday. What in the world had he done? He walked up to the altar rail, got on his knees and prayed aloud. “Look, I’ve given my last seven bucks,” he prayed. “I need it back tenfold because I’ve got a kid on the way, and I have to pay the hospital bill.” He went home with a mere 85 cents in his pocket–all the money he had in the world.

“You won’t believe this,” Danny Thomas later wrote, “but the next morning the phone rang in the rooming house hall.” It was a job offer. He was offered a part in a commercial. The job wasn’t much but the pay was good–$75. “I literally dropped the telephone receiver,” Danny remembered. “First I whooped with joy; then an eerie feeling came over me.” He remembered what he had prayed at church the day before. “The seventy-five dollar fee, unheard of for me at that time, was almost exactly 10 times the amount of money I had donated to the church.”  (from “Like Parent, Like Child” by Arthur G. Ferry Jr., via sermons.com)

PRAYER

As a group of amateur climbers scaled part of the Matterhorn near Zermatt, Switzerland, a vicious gust of wind came along at a narrow ledge. The guide quickly shouted, “Get down on your knees! You are safe only on your knees!”

That’s good advice for all of us: The ledges of life are narrow, and the winds are strong. Only on our knees, seeking God relentlessly in our prayers, can we find safety and security. (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 9-15-06)


From the Novemeber-December issue of Preaching …

In an interview with pastor Adam Hamilton, he says, “When you preach on political issues in any congregation, part of what you’ve got to take into account is you’re standing in the place of God in the pulpit. People are coming not just to hear a lecture or your opinions, but they’re coming to understand what is God’s will. And when it comes to addressing the issues of politics, that calls for a great deal of humility and care in how we go about addressing those issues.

“I fear that many times we as pastors have violated the commandment not to misuse God’s name or to use God’s name in vain by attaching God’s name to our own political persuasions or positions. So we have to be cautious about it, but at the same time, we’re going through a really important time of making decisions about the future of our country and our leaders, and our faith needs to be brought to bear on those issues. I like the way someone defined the issue of politics, as, ‘Who gets what, when and how.’ When you think about that–the issue of who gets what, when and how–is a very moral issue. Those are questions that have to do with justice. They have to do with our worldview. They have to do with our faith. And so, if we’re not bringing our faith to bear in the area of politics then what are we using to decide who gets what, when and how?”
_______

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 November-December issue of Preaching: Interviews with Adam Hamilton and Sidney Greidanus, our annual survey of the year’s best Bibles and Bible resources for preaching, articles on “Writing for the Ear” and “Must Every Sermon Focus on Christ?” plus a sermon by Max Lucado and much more. Order your subscription today!

SermonCentral has posted an article by John MacArthur, “Why I Am Committed to Teaching the Bible.” You can read it here.

“Excuses are no good. Your friends don’t need them, and your enemies won’t believe them.” (Jake Gaither)

Calvin Miller is a charter member of Preaching‘s Board of Contributing Editors, and a wonderful preachers and storyteller. His new memoir Life is Mostly Edges (Thomas Nelson) is a captivating story of growing up in poverty, then being used by God in a life of ministry and teaching.

Speaking of preacher stories, another recent release you’ll enjoy is John A. Broadus: A Living Legacy (B&H Academic), edited by David Dockery and Roger Duke. This is a collection of essays about one of the great preachers of the 19th century.

Going back even farther, George Marsden has written A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards (Wm. B. Eerdmans). Marsden is the author of a major biography of Edwards, but this brief volume will be a good introduction for the preacher who’s just becoming acquainted with Edwards, one of the most influential preachers in American history.

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


URGENCY

A priest, a minister and a guru sat discussing the best positions for prayer, while a telephone repairman worked nearby.
 
“Kneeling is definitely the best way to pray,” the priest said.
 
“No,” said the minister. “I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to heaven.”
 
“You’re both wrong,” the guru said. “The most effective prayer position is lying down on the floor.”
 
The repairman could contain himself no longer: “Hey, fellas,” he interrupted. “The best prayin’ I ever did was when I was hangin’ upside down from a telephone pole.”

 

KIDS ON POLITICS

Every year, teacher Mike Wilson of Ballwin, Mo., has his elementary students study the presidential election process in America. From the resulting essays and exam papers, Wilson has culled some gems of youthful insight and wisdom, not to mention skepticism worthy of a politics-weary adult.

  • Calling a person a runner-up is the polite way of saying you lost.

  • What I learned about elections is that we aren’t really getting to elect the president. It is some people in a college who get to. I have not decided what to do about it yet, but I am not going to just sit around.

  • It is possible to get the majority of electoral votes without getting the majority of popular votes. Anyone who can ever understand how this works gets to be president.

  • The more I think about trying to run for president the less I think of it.

  • The president has the power to appoint and disappoint the members of his cabinet.

  • In January, the president makes his Inaugural Address after he has been sworn at.

  • Once he is elected, sometimes the president has to work 24 hours a day until he finds out what he is supposed to do.

  • The nominees are usually called candidates, or campaigners, although I have heard them called other things.

  • Popular votes tell who is the most popular. Electoral votes tell who is the most elected.

  • The jobs of delegates is to resent their states.

  • When the radio mentions a landslide, cross your fingers and hope it is talking about an election.

  • A dark horse is a candidate that the delegates don’t know enough about to dislike yet.

  • A split ticket is when you don’t like any of them on the ticket so you tear it up.

  • When they talk about the most promising presidential candidate, they mean the one who can think of the most things to promise.

  • Elephants and donkeys never fought until politics came along.

  • Political strategy is when you don’t let people know you have run out of ideas and keep shouting anyway.

  • A candidate should always renounce his words carefully.

  • We are learning how to make our election results known quicker and quicker. It is our campaigns we are having trouble getting any shorter.

  • One of the main rules of campaigning is you are not allowed to go on a whistle-stop tour without a train.

  • Politician is the bawling out name for a candidate you don’t like.

Campaigns give us a great deal of happiness by finally ending.  (www.dobhran.com/humor)


It was an expensive mistake.

Two armed robbers in Malaysia  hijacked a security van with $1.3 million inside but were forced to abandon more than half the cash because their small getaway car could not carry it all, according to a Sept. 29 AP story.

The robbers stole a small car, then held up guards in the security van at a shopping mall. One robber drove the van away and the other followed in the car. The van was recovered nearby with nine bags containing 2.7 million ringgit ($786,000) inside–evidently because they did not fit in the compact car, the police chief said.

“The bags are quite big. I consider them quite stupid. Their planning was very shortsighted,” said the chief.

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