From the Editor:

The Authority of God’s Word

Trimming Your Sermons
What Preaching Alone Can Do

Christmas, Witness
Christmas, Shifting Responsibility

Link of the Week


And Finally…

"The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity."
(J.I. Packer)

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    Vol. 7, No. 44 December 16, 2008    

Michael Duduit

Fred Craddock shook the homiletical world nearly 40 years ago with his book As One Without Authority. Citing that book in his recent commencement address at Southern Baptist Seminary, Al Mohler goes on to remind us Craddock’s title does not adequately describe those who faithfully proclaim God’s Word:

"The preacher’s authority is a delegated authority, but a real authority. We are assigned the task of feeding the flock of God, of teaching the church, of preaching the Word. We do not speak as one who possesses authority, but as one who is called to serve the church by proclaiming, expounding, applying and declaring the Word of God. We are those who have been called to a task and set apart for mission; as vessels who hold a saving message even as earthen vessels hold water.

"Our authority is not our own. We are called to the task of preaching the Bible, in season and out of season. We are rightly to divide the Word of truth, and to teach the infinite riches of the Word of God. There are no certainties without the authority of the Scripture. We have nothing but commas and question marks to offer if we lose confidence in the inerrant and infallible Word of God. There are no thunderbolts where the Word of God is subverted, mistrusted or ignored.

"The crowds were astonished when they heard Jesus, ‘for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.’ Congregations are starving for the astonishment of hearing the preacher teach and preach on the authority of the Word of God. If there is a crisis in preaching, it is a crisis of confidence in the Word. If there is a road to recovery, it will be mapped by a return to biblical preaching." (Click here to read the entire address.)

This Christmas, we celebrate not only the gift of the Christ child, but the privilege of proclaiming His truth to a lost world. Merry Christmas!

Michael Duduit, Editor

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MichaelDuduit

This is the last PreachingNow of 2008. The next issue will be dated January 6, 2009.


In the most recent issue of his Ministry Toolbox newsletter, Rick Warren offers some suggestions for tightening those sermons. Among his suggestions:

Background material: I hate to tell you this, but your members aren’t nearly as fascinated by archeology and linguistics as you are. Do as much background study as you can in the exegesis, but share as little of it as possible in your sermon. Remember, preaching is not a seminary class. You are preaching for life change. You don’t have to explain everything about a text to your congregation. Describing too much detail of the text can actually hide or dilute the power of the text. When you pay too much attention to secondary issues, you miss the point and purpose of the verse. Figure out the purpose of the text and emphasize that.

Points: The Puritan preachers often would use 30, 40 or 50 points in their sermons. But exhaustive sermons are exhausting to the congregation. Here is a principle of life — confinement often produces power. When an artist confines his painting to a canvas, a picture comes out. When water is confined to one channel, it produces hydroelectric power. When pianists confine their playing to the score, music is produced. When you confine your sermons to fewer points, you get a sermon with power.

Quotes and illustrations: You’ve got to trim your illustrations, too. Often we spend way too much time telling a story. Don’t draw out your stories; condense them. A good story becomes a great story when you use as few of words as possible. Take a look at all of your stories. Can they be any shorter? Also, don’t forget to take a look at your quotes. Sometimes you will find an archaic quote that has a kernel of a good idea in it. Well, just rephrase it. Shorten it to give it zing. You also can look at limiting the number of quotes or outside illustrations you’re using if your message is too long. (Click here to read the full article.)


In a recent article for www.PreachingToday.com, Craig Brian Larson talks about some things that biblical preaching can do that "individual Bible reading, memorization and meditation does not:

  1. Good preaching rescues us from our self-deceptions and blind spots, for left to ourselves we tend to ignore the very things in God’s Word that we most need to see. Preaching is done in community, covering texts and topics outside of our control.

  1. Preaching brings us before God’s Word in the special presence of the Holy Spirit, who indwells the gathered church.

  1. Good preaching challenges us to do things we otherwise would not and gives us the will to do them. God has put within human nature a remarkable power to spur others to take action.

  1. Good preaching brings us into the place of corporate obedience rather than merely individual obedience. This is a uniquely corporate discipline the church does together as a community, building up individuals and the community at the same time. We are not just an individual follower of Christ; we are members of His church and are called to obey the call of God together with others hearing the same Word.

  1. Good preaching contributes to spiritual humility by disciplining us to sit under the teaching, correction and exhortation of another human. Relying on ourselves alone for food from the Word can lead to a spirit of arrogance and spiritual independence.

  1. Good preaching gives a place for a spiritually qualified person to protect believers from dangerous error. The apostles repeatedly warned that untrained and unstable Christians — as well as mature believers — are frequently led astray by false doctrines. Christians are sheep; false teachers are wolves; preachers are guardian shepherds. A preacher is a person called and gifted by God with spiritual authority for the care of souls in the context of God’s church." (Click here to read the full article.)



Florida in April? Sounds good, doesn’t it? What will make it even better is investing three days that can change your ministry forever.

Make your plans 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," and 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.



In the Dec. 11 edition of his Turning Point Daily Devotional, David Jeremiah writes: "A gospel group called The Williams Brothers had a hit with their song, ‘I’m Just a Nobody.’ It was about a down-and-out man who lived on the streets and spent his days telling people about Jesus. He was laughed at and harassed by passersby, but that didn’t stop him. The chorus of the song was his life message: ‘I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody who can save anybody.’

"The shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem might have felt the same way when the angels from heaven appeared to them: ‘Why did God choose us, a bunch of nobodies, to be the first to hear of the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem?’ They were just a bunch of nobodies who probably later told everybody about the Somebody in Bethlehem who could save anybody. Why did God reveal Himself to shepherds instead of to important royal officials? Perhaps to signal the kind of king who was coming into the world: gentle and humble, a servant-Shepherd who came to tend to God’s flock.

"If you sometimes feel like a nobody, rejoice! God seems to gravitate to the nobodies of this world when He wants them to meet Somebody who can save everybody" (www.davidjeremiah.org).


"An old pioneer traveled westward across the great plains until he came to an abrupt halt at the edge of the Grand Canyon. He gawked at the sight before him: a vast chasm one mile down, 18 miles across, and more than 100 miles long! He gasped, ‘Something musta happened here!’

"A visitor to our world at Christmastime, seeing the lights, decorations, trees, parades, festivities and religious services, also probably would say,’Something must have happened here!’ Indeed, something did happen. God came to our world on the first Christmas" (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited).

From the January – February issue of Preaching …

In a sermon by Mike Milton, he indicates, "It was Lesslie Newbigin who said that if the Church does not exist to fulfill God’s purposes on earth, then it ceases to be a church … If a minister is not toiling and striving to preach Jesus as Savior to the whole world, if a minister is not looking to preach Jesus as
Savior to his flock, to his community, and to the whole world, if he is not a global-minded minister concerned about the purposes of Jesus Christ in the earth, then he ceases to be a minister of Christ.

"I am a reserve Army chaplain. Recently I did my duty at my new duty station at the Pentagon. While there I talked to a number of our military leaders, and I heard over and over again that one thing they were concerned about is that our nation seems to forget we are at war. Things look peaceful because there are no firefights in the streets of New York, and many in the media seem to focus on other things. The truth is we are at war. Our troops are holding the peace we won in Iraq and battling with Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan and in other parts of the world. They were telling me that we are acting like we are at peace, but we are at war. Thus, we must work, pray and support our troops in the battle.

"One of the greatest devices of the devil is to make us believe we are at peace. The Bible tells us we are in spiritual warfare.
We are all soldiers in the army of the Lord. Our work is spiritual, not physical. Our weapons are supernatural. The work of the minister is to toil and strive to preach Jesus as Savior to the world. This is a ministry and a minister and a believer’s work that is approved by God."

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 January-February issue of Preaching: A series on missional preaching, including an article by Ed Stetzer and interviews with Stetzer and Dan Kimball, plus Al Mohler on Preaching & Theology, Ben Awbrey on Preaching with Unction and much more. Order your subscription today!

It’s that time of year: time for all of America to watch It’s a Wonderful Life on TV. The holiday classic is a tale of commitment and sacrifice, according to www.MovieMinistry.com‘s Marc Newman. In an article on the film, he writes: "Unlike most modern romance films that count on people locking eyes across a crowded room, and falling in love while nearly total strangers, It’s a Wonderful Life takes its time, revealing to us the character qualities that make people good spouses. The movie is a little more than two hours in length, yet it takes more than 50 minutes to get to the first kiss, followed immediately by the wedding. We pull for George and Mary because they possess all the prerequisites people should look for in a potential spouse: commitment, self-sacrifice, patience, tender-heartedness and an eye to the welfare of others. They are kind and constant people in an often ruthless world. George does not yet know it, but he is about to build a ‘great big thing’ — a wonderful life."

You can read the full article here.


Two-year-old Sarah and her 13-year-old sister had been fighting a lot, so Sarah’s parents, trying to take advantage of her newfound interest in Santa Claus, reminded the 2-year-old that Santa was watching and doesn’t like it when children fight. This had little impact.

"I’ll just have to tell Santa about your misbehavior," her mother said as she picked up the phone and dialed. Sarah’s eyes grew big as her mother asked "Mrs. Claus" (really Sarah’s aunt; Santa’s real line was busy) if she could put Santa on the line. Sarah’s mouth dropped open as Mom described to Santa (Sarah’s uncle) how the 2-year-old was acting. When Mom said Santa wanted to talk to her, she reluctantly took the phone.

Santa, in a deepened voice, explained to her how there would be no presents Christmas morning to children who fought with their sisters. He would be watching, and he expected things to be better from now on.

Sarah solemnly nodded to each of Santa’s remarks and silently hung the phone up when he was done. Mom asked, "What did Santa say to you, Dear?"

Sarah sadly said, "Santa said he won’t be bringing toys to my sister this year."



~ Ever since they hit the big time, those Keebler Elves act like we don’t exist.
~ Santa keeps asking, "Does this suit make me look fat?"

~ Blitzen is always mistaking us for chew toys.

~ Now we have to work through coffee breaks thanks to the McCaughey septuplets.

~ Next to "Race" on the census forms, there’s never a box marked "Elf."

~ The health plan doesn’t cover sleigh rash. (From Mikey’s Funnies)

One Florida man may not be singing "I’ll Be Home for Christmas" this season — and all because of a Christmas tree.

A 37-year-old man, who lives with his parents, was arrested on a felony assault charge after he used a Christmas tree as a weapon in an attempted attack on his father, according to a sheriff’s report.

According to an arrest report, the man lost his temper and threw a 3-foot-tall Christmas tree at his father. The tree missed, but the son then tried to use the steel base from the tree to strike his father.

His father and mother were able to grab his arms to prevent the attack, which the report said could have caused serious injuries because the metal base weighs about 5 pounds.

The son denied trying to strike his father; no reason for the attack was given (Sarasota Herald Tribune, 12-2-08).

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