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From the Editor:

Get Out the Vote

Articles:
Why We Preach
The Danger of Success

Illustrations:
Purpose, God’s Will
Citizenship
Death

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf

Humor

And Finally…
 

“A politician is a statesman who approaches every question with an open mouth.” (Adlai Stevenson)

 
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    Vol. 7, No. 38 October 28, 2008    
Michael Duduit

Our 8-year-old son, having recently participated in his second school-based straw poll (the first one was during the spring primary season), recently asked, “Will this election ever be over?”

The current election season does seem to have gone on for years now. I’m a bit of a political junkie, but even I’m tired of it. Well, a week from now I’ll have my wish.

Whatever your political views and values, I hope you’ll join me in praying for the candidates at all levels. Like it or not, one of them is going to win every election, and they’ll need even more of our prayers after the elections.

Your vote can make a difference. As has often been noted, “Bad politicians are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”

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

On the Preaching podcast this week: Listen to my visit with Tommy Green, pastor of the dynamic First Baptist Church of Brandon, Fla. (suburban Tampa), as we discuss planning one’s preaching, pastoring in a time of economic turmoil, and much more. Click here to listen.


WHY WE PREACH

In his new book He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World (Moody Press), R. Albert Mohler comments: “The task of preaching often feels like a striving after the wind, and we often sympathize with the preacher in Ecclesiastes who laments, ‘What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted’ (Eccl. 1:15).

“Furthermore, this work of preaching has a nasty way of getting one into trouble. It seems that the more faithful one is in preaching, the more trouble one encounters. You preach the Word, you speak the truth of the Scriptures, and the next thing you know, you are on the front page of the newspaper, or sitting in front of a group of agitated deacons or elders; even the youth group is up in arms about whatever you said…

“It cannot be a fierce determination alone that strengthens us for the lifelong work of preaching. The stakes are much too high and the perils much too deadly for that. Instead, our perseverance in the task of preaching must be based on God’s promise that He will, by His own power, make the preaching of His Word effective…

“We preach, not because we have come to the conclusion that preaching is the most rational or most effective means of reaching the lost, but because God has commanded it–and because He has promised to take that which the world would say is foolishness, and use it to save sinners.” (Click here to learn more about the book, He Is Not Silent.)

THE DANGER OF SUCCESS

In a recent issue of his Ministry Toolbox newsletter, Rick Warren points out that “success can kill ministries. We can start getting attacked by what the Bible calls ‘the lust of the flesh,’ ‘the lust of the eyes,’ and ‘the pride of life.’ Before we know it, we go from great mountaintop ministry experiences to being out of ministry all-together.

An appeal to ‘the lust of the flesh’ is an appeal to what feels good. An appeal to ‘the lust of the eyes’ is an appeal to materialism. An appeal to ‘the pride of life’ is an appeal to arrogance. That’s what the world around us values. It’s those three values that’ll take us down–valuing pleasure, prestige and possessions. If you don’t think that can happen to you, you’re just fooling yourself. There are three antidotes to these temptations, though:

“Integrity: To fight against the ‘lust of the flesh,’ you need integrity. You need to put parameters in your life that keep it pure. For example, since starting the church 27 years ago, I’ve never been alone in a room with the door closed with another woman who isn’t related to me–ever. It’s a boundary I picked up from Billy Graham. I just don’t want anybody to be able to accuse me of anything improper. There are other integrity traps, as well. Try to build parameters that’ll protect you from an integrity fall; and build the parameters now. Don’t wait. Your ministry is at stake.

“Generosity: There’s only one antidote to the ‘lust of the eyes’ (or materialism)–and that’s generosity. Every time we give, we break the hold of materialism in our lives. When The Purpose Driven Life came out, I had more financial opportunities than I’d ever had before. Kay and I could have let that money change our lifestyles. We could have moved into a bigger house and got a nicer car, but we didn’t. Why? I didn’t write it for the money. I believe the first line of the book: it isn’t about me. We decided we wouldn’t change our lifestyle one bit. I gave back every dime of money I had earned at Saddleback. From that day on, I haven’t taken a salary from the church. We also became reverse tithers. We give away 90 percent of our income.

“When you find success financially, you start wanting more. It can happen on any step of the financial ladder. You make the move to a bigger church and a bigger salary. At first, you just look forward to being able to better support your family, but then you start daydreaming about some items that might make life a little easier. There’s nothing sinister about the items, but you start wanting more, and more, and more. Before you know it, your focus has shifted away from God and onto ‘stuff.’ The only antidote to this is generosity. Give sacrificially.

“Humility: It’s easy to believe your own press when you start having success. That’s why you have to stay humble when tempted by the ‘pride of life.’ Humor is one key. Did you know humility and humor come from the same root word? Humility is not taking yourself seriously. When you’re able to laugh at yourself, that’s a sign of humility.

Remember, humility isn’t denying your strengths. We all have great strengths. It won’t do you any good to deny those strengths. Humility simply is recognizing your dependence on God. After a great success in ministry, that’s a good thing to keep in mind.”

   
 

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 now to take advantage of the early-bird discount registration rate. To learn more or to register today, click here.

 


PURPOSE, GOD’S WILL

Management guru Peter Drucker observed that nothing is so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. Many people are experts at organizing their lives, managing their time and minding their finances. They carefully update their organizers and electronic calendars, but their lives have no ultimate purpose; they merely are doing things efficiently with no eternal value.

David Jeremiah says, “Imagine the difference if we’d all learn that our lives are preplanned, that God knew us before He formed us in the womb. The psalmist said that all our days are planned in advance (Ps. 139:16). The Lord Jesus said, ‘I have finished the work which You have given Me to do’ (John 17:4). Paul wrote that we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, ‘which God prepared in advance for us to do’ (Eph. 2:10, NIV).

We aren’t here by accident; we were born with a divine purpose. We’re God’s agents, here to fulfill His mission and finish the work He has given us to do.” (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 10-18-08)

CITIZENSHIP

In an invocation prayer at the U.S. Senate, Peter Marshall said, “Lord Jesus, Thou who art the way, the truth and the life, hear us as we pray for the truth that shall make men free. Teach us that liberty is not only to be loved but also to be lived. Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books. It costs too much to be hoarded. Make us see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to please to do what is right.”

It is unthinkable that a Christian would not vote! It is unthinkable that Christians would not run for public office! It is unthinkable that Christians would withdraw from the responsibility of taking part in public life. The Christian has a responsibility to Caesar for all the privileges which the rule of Caesar brings. We are citizens of this world and must be good ones, if we are Christ’s disciples. (Jerry L. Schmalenberger, When Christians Quarrel, via eSermons.com newsletter)


From the November-December issue of Preaching …

In an article on “Writing for the Ear,” Robert Hoch observes, “The manuscript can function as a sermonic lab where our labor with words can be conducted methodically. Creativity is not so much ‘inspired’ as it is ‘tutored’ by careful, almost obsessive labor–it is in that depth of focus where inspiration often leads to discovery. One student who appreciated the labor of words said, ‘Writing the sermon was like putting together a house made of toothpicks!’

“What she was acknowledging, apart from sheer exhaustion, was the importance of choosing words and images carefully: Her focus was not merely on toothpicks, but on a house. Barbara Brown Taylor and Fred Craddock both exhibit this gift, choosing words to create a holistic experience. If you listen to their sermons, you probably will notice there are very few careless words–every word has its place; every word its purpose; even the seemingly ‘casual’ word has a part to play. A manuscript is a lab of sorts: As we write, words can be weighed on the tongue or tasted as sound in the ear as we labor toward a more complete experience of the Word.”
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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!

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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!

From the “tooting our own horn” department: Preaching Online currently features an article I wrote on Preaching and Politics. As I observe there, “In 2008, the church still is engaging the culture through its preaching, but there are dangers here for culture and church.” If you’d like to read more, you can find it here.

“A politician looks forward only to the next election. A statesman looks forward to the next generation.” (Thomas Jefferson)

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was one of the exceptional preachers of his age, so a new collection of previously unpublished sermons is welcome news. The Christian in an Age of Terror (Kregel), edited by Michael Eaton, includes 25 sermons Lloyd-Jones preached to his London congregation, most during World War II. Contemporary preachers will benefit from Lloyd-Jones’ gifted expositions and from his model of providing encouragement in a challenging time.

Larry Osborne is lead pastor of North Coast Church in Vista, Calif., and his new book, Sticky Church (Zondervan), is a guide to keeping the people who start coming to your church. This innovative pastor offers a boat-load of great ideas and insights that will help church leaders, including how to develop a sermon-based small group ministry.

Ours is an age that doesn’t like to think about or even acknowledge sin–yet that has done nothing to reduce the devastating impact of sin on our lives, our families and our culture. In his book Signature Sins (IVP), Wheaton prof, Michael Mangis, talks about recognizing and dealing with the sin that besets us and keeps us from freedom in Christ. You’ll find helpful insights for preaching and counseling in this volume.

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


DEATH

A father was at the beach with his children when the 4-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to a place on the shore where a seagull lay dead in the sand. Daddy, what happened to him? the son asked.
 
He died and went to heaven, his father replied.
 
The boy thought a moment as he and his father stood looking at the seagull. Finally, the son said, Why did God throw him back down?

 

MORE BULLETIN BLOOPERS

~ During the absence of our Pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.
 
~ Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person(s) you want remembered.
 
~ Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a healthy lunch.
 
~ The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.
 
~ This afternoon there will be a meeting in the north and south ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.
 
~ Tuesday at 4:00 pm there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.
 
~ Wednesday the Ladies Liturgy Society will meet. Mrs. Jones will sing “Put Me in My Little Bed” accompanied by the pastor.
 
~ This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.
 
~ Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 pm–prayer and medication to follow.
 
~ The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.
 
~ Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. Please use the large double door at the side entrance.
 
~ The 1997 Spring Council Retreat will be hell May 10 and 11.
 
~ Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to the church secretary.


Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but sometimes it isn’t very smart.

Take, for instance, 20-year-old Israel Gomez who was arrested by Hartford, Conn., police when he pulled over a motorist who just happened to be an off-duty police lieutenant. Another car driven by Gomez’s alleged accomplice also was involved in the bogus traffic stop, according to an Oct. 21 AP story.

Police say Gomez turned on flashing lights on his 1994 Honda Civic, sounded a siren and used a loudspeaker to order Lt. Ronald Bair to pull over. Bair called for backup, and officers arrested Gomez and his associate.

Gomez is charged with impersonating a police officer, reckless driving and improper use of red flashing lights.

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