From the Editor:

Prayer for Our Leaders

Let the Sermon Point to You
Plan for the Future

Goals, Ambition

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Two little words that can make the difference:
Start now.”
(Mary C. Crowley)

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    Vol. 7, No. 40 November 11, 2008    
Michael Duduit

With the election over, I was drawn to these comments (and the quote) from Tom Barnard’s weekly newsletter:

“Part of knowing where we are is knowing how we got here. History is full of excellent illustrations. One of the most significant historical developments of the 20th century was the rise and fall of the former Soviet Union. Historian Alexander Solzhenitsyn, reflecting on the sad realities of history in his native land, wrote:

‘Over half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this is happening.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of testimonies and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat, “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this happened.”‘”

Join me in praying for our new president and other leaders, that they will understand this truth and lead from a foundation of faith.

Michael Duduit, Editor

Preaching podcast: Listen to my visit with Calvin Miller as we discuss his new memoir, Life Is Mostly Edges (Thomas Nelson). You’ll find it at www.preaching.com.


In his new book Should We Use Someone Else’s Sermon? (Zondervan), Scott Gibson talks about the importance of letting the text speak to the preacher’s heart as we prepare the message. He writes: “In the rush to prepare a sermon for the following Sunday, we tend to think of the listeners–what they need to hear, what they ought to hear and what we want them to hear. However, in the routine of preparing the sermon for our listeners, we forget ourselves. We ignore that we come under the authority of the same text the congregation will hear…

“Self-examination in preachers was a trademark of New England Puritan preaching. ‘Before calling the congregation to account to God for their lives, thoughts and feelings,’ notes Harry Stout, ‘the minister first had to submit his own life to a withering, divine scrutiny. Only then could he project that message outward and say to his congregation with the proper combination of humility and finality, “Thus saith the Lord.”‘

“Preachers are to bow to the same truth of the text that they are asking their listeners to submit to. When we let the text direct us, we will be better able to proclaim it with sympathy, love and conviction.” (Click here to learn more about the book Should We Use Someone Else’s Sermon?)


In their book Breaking the Missional Code (B&H Books), Ed Stetzer and David Putnam write: “Our friend Reggie McNeal makes us think. In the preface of The Present Future he states: ‘We think we are headed toward the future. The truth is the future is headed toward us. And it’s in a hurry–we now know the universe is speeding up, not slowing down.’ One of the ways we can see the future is through the eyes of early innovators. People thought Henry Ford had lost his mind. The idea of commercial air travel was out of the question. A cell phone in everyone’s hands, out of the question. The future is already happening. The next major innovation is already being tested. The next great world leader was born yesterday. The church of the future was planted last year.’

“We agree with Reggie that the future is already happening. All across North America the future church is flourishing. Leaders who break the code understand this and are scouting the frontiers to learn from everything with which they make contact. At times, they are the paradigm busters. At other times, they are early adapters. One thing is for sure–these leaders are seldom late.” (Click here to learn more about Breaking the Missional Code.)


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.



One night many years ago, Ed Spencer, a student at a seminary near Lake Michigan, was awakened by shouts that there had been a shipwreck offshore from the campus. An excursion boat from the nearby Chicago harbor had collided with a freighter and was sinking. Spencer ran down to the lakeshore from which he could see lights from the boats. A strong swimmer, he plunged into the icy water and started searching for survivors.

For six hours Spencer swam out and back, pulling people ashore, battling stormy waves and powerful undertow. By dawn, he had personally rescued 15 people in as many trips. Exhausted, he sat down until someone spotted two more still in the water. Spencer dove in again and found a man and a woman clinging desperately to a piece of wreckage. He brought them in, too, and collapsed on the beach.

Fewer than one-fourth of the 400 passengers on that boat survived the shipwreck, 17 of them rescued by Ed Spencer. His own health, however, was irreparably damaged by his act of heroism, and he was never able to return to school, ultimately living out his days as an invalid.

Years later, a reporter doing a story on Great Lakes tragedies found Spencer as an old man in a nursing home in California and asked for his recollections of that night. He said bitterly, “The only thing I remember is that not one of the 17 ever thanked me.” (Michael Halleen, Monday Moment, 4-28-08)


In his book The 7 Sins of Highly Defective People, Rick Ezell writes: “When my wife and I were in London one spring, we discovered that some of the bombs dropped on England are still killing people. Sometimes they are discovered; sometimes blow up at construction sites, in fishing nets or on beaches more than 50 years after the war. Undetected bombs become more dangerous with time because corrosion can expose the detonator.

“What is true of bombs that are not dealt with is also true of people who have unresolved anger. Buried anger explodes when we least expect it. When anger explodes, it does all sorts of damage. It severs relationships. It causes ulcers. It leads to murder. When anger is turned inward, it leads to depression. When it is turned outward, it leads to aggression. So, I have to deal with my anger, not bury it.

“Anger is like a splinter in your finger. If you leave it there, it gets infected and hurts every time you use your finger. If you remove it, the sore heals and you feel better.” (from One Minute Uplift newsletter; www.rickezell.net)

From the November-December issue of Preaching …

Exploring the question of whether all sermons should be “Christ-centered,” Walter Kaiser observes: “All too often the depth that many search for as contemporary believers, and the depth that God intended His human writers of Scripture to get–and which they did get, for they recorded it in the text–is missed in our day. As a result, too frequently we feel we must run to the New Testament as quickly as possible to enhance what some wrongly regard as the minimalistic Old testament meaning with a super-spiritual meaning infused from the New Testament, thus adding Christian values to an otherwise ‘Judaistic sermon’ to help the church or those in our modern world. But how wrong such judgments and procedures would be!

“This is not to say that, after the meaning and message of the Old Testament has been established on its own terms, we must act as if the New Testament were not available at all. The New Testament really does exist, and we can (and must) often use it in our summaries to our major points and/or to the whole message, pointing out how the beginning, middle and end of the unified plan and message of God in the total Bible fits so nicely with what also is taught in the Old Testament text …

“But I must not prematurely infuse New Testament values and meanings back into the Old Testament in order to sanctify it before I independently establish, on purely Old Testament grounds, the legitimate meaning of the Old Testament text. If I perform such an infusion, I only pretend that I am accurately giving the Word of God exactly as He wanted it taught and preached from the Old Testament passage. So, let us first do our work of true exegesis on the Old Testament text. Then, having gotten the meaning God revealed at that point in time, let us see how our Lord developed that same word, if there is further development, on into the rest of the Bible.”

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!

Ed Stetzer is a significant writer and thinker about the church and all things “missional,” and he regularly offers helpful insights at his Web site, which you will find here. By the way, Ed is also one of our featured speakers at the 2009 National Conference on Preaching in Tampa. Plan to join us. (You’ll find more information here.)

“It is never too late to be what we might have been.” (George Eloit)

The opening moments of a sermon are among the most critical, and Ben Awbrey provides helpful insights in his new book How Effective Sermons Begin (Mentor/Christian Focus). Those who regularly do biblical exposition will find the book of particular value.


In Search of a Confident Faith (IVP) by J.P. Moreland and Klaus Issler provide a well-written discussion of what faith is, why it is so important and how we can grow in our own faith. This could prompt some interesting sermon ideas, as well as provide an excellent resource to share with young believers.


Nathan Busenitz, an associate pastor with John MacArthur, has written Reasons For Why We Believe (Crossway), a useful apologetics tool which offers a well-organized treatment of reasons we believe in God, Jesus and the Bible. This will be a helpful resource for pastors and church leaders.

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


An investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The banker complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied, “Only a little while.”

The banker then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish.

The fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The banker then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a nap with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I play guitar and sing with my friends. I have a full and busy life.”

The banker scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to a big city where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

“About 15 to 20 years,” the banker replied.

“But what then?”

The banker laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”

“Millions? Then what?”

The banker said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a nap with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could play your guitar and sing with your friends.”


In anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday, here are


1. Salmonella won’t be a concern.
2. Everyone will think your turkey is Cajun-blackened.
3. Uninvited guests will think twice next year.
4. Your cheese broccoli lima bean casserole will gain newfound appreciation.
5. Pets won’t bother to pester you for scraps.
6. No one will overeat.
7. The smoke alarm was due for a test.
8. Carving the bird will provide a good cardiovascular workout.
9. You’ll get to the desserts more quickly.
10. After dinner, the guys can take the bird to the yard and play football.
11. The less turkey Uncle You-Know-Who eats, the less likely he will be to walk around with his pants unbuttoned.
12. You won’t have to face three weeks of turkey sandwiches.

It probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

Now Galen Mitchell knows that a blowtorch is a less effective cleaning tool than one might initially assume.

In fact, Galen set fire to his west Georgia home last week as he cleaned cobwebs from exterior eaves with a blowtorch. Winchell noticed the blaze when he saw smoke pouring from the attic, according to a Nov. 6 AP story.

Coweta Fire Investigator James Gantt says the fire was contained to one part of the house, but the entire home had smoke and water damage.

No one was hurt. The same cannot be said for Galen’s cleaning reputation.

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