From the Editor:

Preaching & March Madness


Sexuality Is Important Topic for Preaching
Why We Need to Plant Churches


How We Live
God — Never Changing

Appearance, Babies

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

"Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals could believe them."
(George Orwell)


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    Vol. 8, No. 11 March 16, 2009    

Michael Duduit

"March Madness" is upon us — that time of year when true college basketball fans are pulling out their hair trying to keep up with all those games at one time.

News articles point out American businesses incur billions of dollars in lost productivity as workers divert their attention to the games and away from their more useful endeavors.

Pastors have too much to do, but we want to keep up with the tournament, as well. In that regard, here are a few tips on ways to watch the games while carrying on your regular duties:

1. While making hospital visits, hang around waiting rooms where the game is playing. Keep a few evangelistic tracts in your pocket that you can pass out during time-outs.

2. When doing outreach visitation, focus on the homes of men who are big sports fans. What better way to build a connection than to join them in an evening of watching basketball? (Be sure to bring along a bag of chips, to show you care.)

3. Plan a sermon series with a title, such as "March Into Madness" (that might be a series about Israel drifting into idolatry) or something similar. Then you can bring a TV to the office and watch games as part of "sermon research."

Feel free to pass along your own tips for the season. I’ll probably use them.

Michael Duduit, Editor

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

On this week’s Preaching Podcast: Reggie McNeal’s latest book is The Missional Renaissance (Josey-Bass). In this podcast, Reggie talks about what is happening in today’s church, why a missional vision is so essential and how that will impact our preaching.


The church’s reluctance to speak frankly about sex has allowed the larger culture to dominate the discussion and press its values on impressionable people, according to Ed Young Jr., Senior Pastor of Fellowship Church in the Dallas area (and a contributing editor of Preaching magazine).

"For year and years, in my opinion, we’ve taken the bed out of the church, and we’ve taken God out of the bed. Well it’s time to, I believe, bring the bed back in church and put God back in the bed," he said. "We’ve been hesitant to talk about something that God was not hesitant to create, and it’s caused a lot of evil. We’ve allowed our culture to hijack sex. A lot of us have not preached about it in a direct way because we’re wanting to steer away from controversy.

"Those of us who teach have a responsibility to talk about controversial issues. I’ve talked about abortion. I’ve talked about same-sex marriage and homosexuality. I talk about premarital sex. I talk about the environment," Young said. "We need to build bridges of love, but also to draw lines in the sand."

A pastor trying to reach a lost community can find himself compromising biblical standards just to gain the approval of an audience, Young noted.

"It’s very easy to sort of go the way of the world, on one hand, and the way of the world would be to become this kind of shock jock, this person who does stuff just to get a laugh, just to get a reaction," he said. "I’m all for using humor. I’m all for doing things that make people think. But there’s a line where we need to be very, very careful that we don’t become just a comedian or a shock jock, that we don’t say things just to get this big-time response or just to be controversial."

While pastors need to be sure they don’t play it so safe that they never really get down to really talking about the issue in a helpful way, there still is a line they shouldn’t cross, Young added.

"You’ve got a line you can’t go over — from bathroom humor to scatological joking to even jokes about someone’s weight," Young said. "I think the overall term that I would use would be discernment. Men and women who teach the truth need to seek and pray for discernment, the wisdom, the ability to make the right calls, especially when they’re rightly dividing God’s Word." (Baptist Press, 3-06-09; click here to read the full story.)


In a chapter in the book InnovateChurch (B&H Books), Dave Earley points out that despite the thousands of churches in the United States, "the recent increase in the number of churches is only about one-eighth of what is needed to keep up with population growth."

In addition to this, a major reason for planting new churches is that, "New churches reach lost people more effectively than existing churches. Churches that are more than fifteen years of age win an average of only three people to Christ per year for every one hundred church members. Churches between three and fifteen years old conversely win an average of five people to Christ per year for every one hundred church members.

"But churches less than three years of age win an average of ten people to Christ per year for every one hundred church members. Truly, when the church exhales churches, it inhales converts." (Click here to learn about the book InnovateChurch.)


Would you like to invest a week and come away with your year’s preaching plan? Preaching magazine and Anderson University jointly are sponsoring the first Preaching Boot Camp, May 18-22, 2009, on the campus in Anderson, South Carolina. The focus of this year’s camp is on planning a preaching schedule, and the keynote speaker is Stephen Rummage, preaching pastor at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte and author of the book Planning Your Preaching (Kregel). Other speakers will include Mike Glenn, Michael Duduit, Ryan Neal and more. Built into the schedule is time for participants to work on their own preaching plan for 2009-2010. To learn more, visit www.preachingbootcamp.com.


Nate Adams is Executive Director of the Illinois Baptist State Association and was a friend of Fred Winters, the pastor who recently was shot and killed in his pulpit at First Baptist Church, Maryville, Illinois. Nate talks about one reporter who called him for "the rest of the story":

"In the closing scene of the movie The Last Samurai, the young emperor of Japan is mourning the death of his mentor, the samurai warrior Katsumoto. With tears in his eyes, he interviews Capt. Nathan Algren (played by Tom Cruise), who was with Katsumoto when he died in battle. ‘Tell me how he died,’ the emperor pleads. And with tears in his own eyes but a slight smile on his lips, Algren replies, ‘I will tell you how he lived.’

"I gratefully and gladly remembered my friend Fred to them and told their audience ‘how he lived.’

"I told them how Fred loved the Lord, his family and his church. I told them how mightily God used him, especially over the past 22 years, to shepherd a church of 30 people into a church of 1,500. I told them of his passion to make Jesus known and to welcome people into the Kingdom of heaven. I told them of Fred’s zeal for truth and sound doctrine. I told them how Fred led the church to aggressively witness, baptize, disciple and give, all for God’s glory. I told them Fred was my friend and my brother and that I would miss him dearly.

"There are many people whose job it has been these past days to ask the questions of how and why Fred died. I was grateful for at least one reporter who asked, ‘How did Fred live?’ I was able to answer that question the same way Captain Algren did in the movie — with a tear in my eye but a faint smile on my lips.

"These days I am learning to bear witness to Fred’s life and not just his death. In fact, I’m confident that many of us who were touched by Fred’s life are doing the same. Leave it to Fred to teach us something, even as he departed for heaven, about how to bear witness to the Lord Jesus, as well." (Baptist Press, 3-12-09; Click here to read the full commentary.)


One day in 1890, an advertizing agent named Mortimer Remington was traveling by rail through New Jersey to a meeting with the Prudential Insurance Company. He passed Laurel Hill, which at the time was an impressive mountain-sized rock (it has since been reduced by quarrying). Remington’s mind went to the Rock of Gibraltar, and he conceived one of the greatest advertising symbols of all time. Even today, the Rock of Gibraltar is the symbol of Prudential with its slogans, "Strength of Gibraltar" and "Get a Piece of the Rock."

David Jeremiah offers the spiritual application: "Even Gibraltar will one day crumble. Only God Himself is unchanging, eternal and permanent. Some picture God almost as an elderly, white-haired Divine logo. But our God is from everlasting to everlasting, and His attributes never change. He is eternally loving, powerful, present and omniscient; and Jesus Christ is also the same yesterday, today and forever.

"It isn’t Gibraltar, but Jehovah who gives us unshakable strength and unfailing hope. Our lives find stability when we get a piece of the Rock." (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 3-06-09)

From the March-April issue of Preaching …

his Preacher to Preacher column, R. Leslie Holmes writes, "Stories abound of how, after the death of his 11-year-old son Willie, Abraham Lincoln went into severe periods of grief. In those dark days of early 1862, Lincoln looked often to Presbyterian preacher Phineas D. Gurley, whose church Lincoln attended but never joined, for a word of comfort. In the eulogy for Willie, Gurley preached that when tragedy comes, one must look to ‘Him who sees the end from the beginning and doeth all things well.’

"He also said that when one trusts God, ‘our sorrows will be sanctified and made a blessing to our souls, and by and by we shall have occasion to say with blended gratitude and rejoicing, "It is good for us that we have been afflicted."’ Dr. Gurley paraphrased Psalm 119:71. Such was the influence of Gurley’s words that it was reported that after Willie’s service Lincoln asked Gurley for the words of the eulogy and that they became his life raft during his intense sorrow.

"What a strange word this is: ‘It is good for me that I was afflicted.’ I do not like it, but there it is. Despite it, it is amazing to me that there are still some people in the church who have bought into the erroneous notion that Christ always shields His followers from pain and heartbreak. Try telling that to the faithful pastors I know who have suffered through cancer with their children and lost the battle — at least for now. Or tell it to a dear friend of mine, head of the most effective cross-cultural program of evangelism I know, whose son was delivered brain damaged by a drunk obstetrician and lived with the effects of medical mistakes for more than 30 years. Christ preserves us from suffering? Hardly!

"In fact, the opposite is the truth, not just for presidents but also for preachers! Some of the best sermons I have heard were preached against a backdrop of the preacher’s personal heartbreak."

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Also in the March-April issue of Preaching: Our annual survey of the year’s best books for preachers, plus an interview with James Emery White, articles on preaching in tough financial times and "Preaching in HD," sermons by Stuart Briscoe, John Huffman, Mike Glenn and much more. Order your subscription today!

Courtesy of Todd Rhoades, here are today’s Top Tithing Tunes on CD! (This link is only for preachers who enjoy music and have a sense of humor — if you do not fit in this category, please move along.) Here’s the link.

"I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much." (Mother Teresa)

In 10 Choices: A Proven Plan to Change Your Life Forever (Thomas Nelson), James MacDonald describes 10 high-impact choices that can help individuals and families achieve the life God wants for them. The book contains lots of illustrations and offers ideas for a potentially very strong sermon series.


Speaking of sermon series, another book that could easily launch an excellent series is Great Prayers of the Old Testament (Westminster John Knox) by Walter Brueggemann. The OT scholar explores prayers by Abraham, Moses, Hannah, David, Solomon, Jonah, Jeremiah, Hezekiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel and Job. The book offers extended exegetical insights on each of the selected prayers.



If you believe it is important for believers to develop a Christian worldview, you will find Living at the Crossroads (Baker Academic) to be a useful resource. Subtitled "An Introduction to Christian Worldview," the book by two Canadian theologians discusses the history of Western culture from the classical period to postmodernity and intersects that story with biblical truth.

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


The proud, young couple brought their newborn son to the pediatrician for his first checkup, and the doctor said, "You have a cute baby."

Smiling, the mom said, "I’ll bet you say that to all the new parents."

"No," he replied, "just to those whose babies are really cute."

"So what do you say to the others?" she asked.

I say, "He looks just like you."


Several members who have been in the hospital are not on their way to recovery, for which we are thankful.

The Jack and Kill Daycare is looking for someone to help part time on Saturdays.

Our Wednesday Night Family Cafeteria meal will feature a variety of Chinese dishes including One Ton Soup.

Events: Dec. 9, Christmas Caroling at the Parkview Nursing Home 7:00 p.m., Dec. 10, Breakfast with Satan 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall.

The Youth Group had a scavenger hunt, did face painting, and played a game called "Find the Gun." They had a great time.

The Pastor’s Corner: A Personal Massage from Jesus

Due to Construction on the North side of the parking lot, we will soon be changing entrances. Please exit the new driveway which is the one in between the old entrance and the old exit. Please exit from the new exit which is the old entrance.

Our Seniors group is sponsoring a dance Dec. 12. You can Dance the Night Away from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m. for only $5 per person.

What are you doing for lunch Tuesday? Local Funeral Director Barry Gilbert will talk about the benefits of cremation.

The Riegieman Chiropractic Center will host Kid’s Day this Saturday. They’ll be treating the youth group to spinal exams, backpack checks, I.D. Cards, etc.

You could have predicted it.

According to a March 9 AP story, a New York man is suing a psychic, claiming she defrauded him of nearly $250,000. The man says he paid her to craft a golden statue that was supposed to ward off negativity, but he claims he never received the statue.

The 38-year-old man also wants the psychic removed from a $700,000 home he bought for her last year.

The lawsuit claims the New York man met the psychic online in 2007, and that he made several large, cash payments to her over a period of several months.

Right about now, I’m sure he needs something to ward off that negativity.

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