From the Editor:

The Future

Being a ‘Transitional Leader’
Bart Interrupted

Support, Accountability
Warnings, Fathers

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.”
(Gilbert Highet)

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    Vol. 8, No. 16 April 28, 2009    
Michael Duduit

What’s around the corner?

That’s a hard enough question to answer looking ahead a day or even a week, so how can you reasonably expect to look ahead a century?

I just finished the book The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century (Doubleday) by George Friedman. He is founder and CEO of STRATFOR, a leading private intelligence and forecasting company. In other words, corporations and governments pay him big bucks to tell them what is likely to happen in the future.

It’s a fascinating book as he explores the geopolitical realities of our day, and projects likely scenarios for the coming decades. For example, in contrast to those who think China is the great future opponent of the United States, Friedman explains why Russia and China will drop off the scene as major powers and why the next world war will pit the United States against Japan and Turkey.

Of course, as interesting as it is to read such prognostications, we do so with the recognition that we view the future as through a glass darkly. Could anyone in 1909 have guessed I’d be sitting at a laptop today writing something that could be projected around the globe in a matter of seconds? We don’t know what we don’t yet know.

Yet we do know that a sovereign God has His hands on history. Whatever happens in the spheres of tribes and nations, He is in control. And that allows me to rest a lot easier, no matter what is in the headlines.

Michael Duduit, Editor

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

On this week’s Preaching Podcast: Michael Quicke is former principal (president) of Spurgeon’s College in the United Kingdom and now teaches preaching at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. In this edition of the podcast, we visit with him about preaching, worship and leadership.


In his Tuesday Morning newsletter, Tom Barnard points out that in basketball, transition “refers to the process of changing from defense to offense, or from offense to defense. Teams that excel in transition basketball generally win. Those that don’t, lose. Stephen Covey has taken the expression ‘transition’ and made it applicable to leadership in other things. He calls people that excel in changing the tempo of their environments, ‘transition persons.’

“‘A transition person is one who breaks the flow of bad — the negative traditions or harmful practices that get passed from generation to generation, or from situation to situation, whether in a family, a workplace, a community, or wherever. Transition persons transcend their own needs and tap into the deepest, most noble impulses of human nature.’ (Everyday Greatness, 2006)

“Covey goes on to say, ‘In times of darkness, they [transition persons] are lights, not judges; models, not critics. In periods of discord, they are change catalysts, not victims; healers, not carriers.’ He concludes, ‘Today’s world needs more transition persons.’ And let me add, in today’s church, we could use a lot more transition persons. We have plenty of judges, critics, victims, and carriers.

“How can ordinary people become ‘transition persons’? Here are some suggestions to start. If you need more help, buy the book, above. Following are some ideas that I find relevant to where I am. Feel free to edit and add to fit the circumstances you are facing today.

• Evaluate the situation where you are now. What ‘harmful practices’ need to be addressed? How long have they been allowed to exist? Who are the negative voices that have crippled the efforts of those who have preceded you? How frequently have there been changes at the top leadership level?

• Determine responsibility and accountability lines. How much authority do you have? For what are you responsible? To whom are you accountable? Does your organization have a mission statement? If so, how widely is this mission statement understood and followed?

• Take charge of the situation within your organizational framework. This will require wisdom and patience, but it also requires courage and discipline. Don’t worry about the things you cannot change. Devote your efforts to the things you can change.

• Create a dream. You may not have a ‘dream team’ yet, but without a dream, the team you have will not produce results worth anything at all. A dream begins with a vision of what the organization can do, if everyone is pulling together in the same direction. Lincoln once said, ‘Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.’

• Gather around you a team of workers (including volunteers). You are looking for people on whom you can count to help share the responsibility and carry out the mission of your organization. As in basketball, use your ‘bench players’ to take pressure off the ‘starters.’ The bench players must observe what’s going on during the game, so that when they are called upon, they are ready and motivated to hit the floor running.

• Overcome adversity. No plan is perfect at the outset, but perfection will come with practice, time, and perseverance. Flexibility and adaptability are key components of a management plan.

• Reward effort. Personal notes and frequent phone calls to the members of your team will build their confidence and self-esteem. Remember, head coaches are not paid for playing; they are paid for their effectiveness in encouraging those on the team to do their best. And best is always better than better.” (To subscribe to his newsletter, send your name and e-mail address to barnard22@cox.net.)


Bart Ehrman is one of those “biblical scholars” who has little good to say about the Bible. His latest book is called Jesus Interrupted, and in a recent blog entry Ben Witherington takes Bart apart. He concludes one post this way:

“The attempt to trace radical diversity back into the New Testament period is doomed to failure because it is not grounded in a fair historical reading of the original source documents. Equally unfair and historically inaccurate is the notion that high Christology or Trinitarian orthodoxy was something only cooked up in centuries subsequent to the New Testament era, particularly in the fourth and fifth centuries. To the contrary, we already see a proto-orthodox theology in the New Testament itself in Paul, in John, in Hebrews, in Revelation. Christ is already viewed as deity by Paul and other New Testament writers; and already in various places we hear about Father, Son and Spirit all being called God in the New Testament. That this high Christology and Trinitarian theology is further developed after the New Testament era is beyond dispute. But those developments were founded on and grounded in the orthodoxy that already existed in the apostolic era.

“Let me be clear. If you do not like these Christian ideas, that is fine. But what you cannot do is say that the earliest Christians did not believe things like the deity of Christ or the virginal conceptions. The attempt to make fourth-century Christians the inventors of high Christology imposes a myth of origins on Christianity that amounts to a rewriting of history in a false way. Distaste for this or that theological idea should not be allowed to lead to a truly biased and unhelpful interpretation of the historical facts about what the earliest Christian believed. The transcript of their faith is found in the New Testament itself, a collection of apostolic and sub-apostolic documents. One is free to disagree with their theological perspectives, but one is not free to say they didn’t hold such views or to suggest that there were widely divergent and contradictory beliefs about such subjects amongst early orthodox Christians. This is simply not true.” (Click here to read the full post.)


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.


In his One Minute Uplift newsletter, Rick Ezell writes: “Faithfulness is not just a religious duty that we employ on Sundays or when we are supposed to be Christian. When we tire of our roles and responsibilities, it helps to remember God has planted us in a certain place and told us to be a dependable and reliable accountant or teacher or parent or engineer. Christ expects us to be faithful where He puts us.

“In the 11th century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery, asking to be accepted as a contemplative and spend the rest of his life in the monastery.

“‘Your Majesty,’ said Prior Richard, ‘do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king.’

“‘I understand,’ said Henry. ‘The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.’

“‘Then I will tell you what to do,’ said Prior Richard. ‘Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you.'” (To subscribe go to www.rickezell.net.)


In a recent issue of the SermonCentral newsletter, Mike Wilkins tells this story: A particular church looked as if it was really thriving: they had about 500 people attending, had many outreach ministries reaching their community, and many people were coming to Christ and to church through their ministry. The problem was that the church was not growing in numbers — people were leaving as quickly as they were coming in. They began to do some research on the people who were leaving; and they found that the majority who left were not attending another church, they just stopped going to church at all. Because of their inability to hold people, they were actually de-evangelizing their neighborhood. Those who were leaving were almost impossible to bring back into any community of faith.

The senior pastor realized that something had to be done, so he called up the last 12 people to be baptized and invited them to supper at his house. These were all new Christians and very excited to be invited to the pastor’s house. After supper he sat them down and asked if they wanted to know the future. They all said, “Yes!” So he said, “Statistically speaking, in the next two or three years, two of your marriages will have broken up, and the shame will cause you to leave the church. Three of you will have a conflict with someone in the church, and you will leave the church. One will have a tragedy and lose faith and leave. Two will have a moral failing and leave, and two will lose interest and drift away. In two to three years, out of this group only two of you will be attending church, and only one of you at this church.”

There was dead silence in the room. All these wide-eyed Christians were about to say, “Surely not I, Lord.” When one of them spoke up and said, “What can we do to change the statistics?” the pastor said, “You can get together and, as a group, decide that you are not going to let anyone go.”

That is exactly what they did — these strangers formed a small group and supported each other through the tragedies, divorces, conflicts and failings. In four years, only one had left the church. The church went from losing 10 out of every 12 converts to losing only one. That church that was so great at evangelism learned it the hard way.

From the May-June issue of Preaching …

R. Leslie Holmes observes, “The work of a preaching pastor is altogether too difficult for any one human being. We are usually a driven people. For many of us, our sense of having been called by God brings with it a great awareness and the fear that we might fail and bring upon ourselves some kind of professional and personal shame.

“If we are not careful, we can resort to shallow measures of success in ministry: the kind of quick-fix and inflated numbers that have brought our country to an era of financial collapse. We need to realize that God’s measure of success for pastors is not bigger congregations and budgets. If that were the measure, then Sun Myung Moon is one of the most successful pastors in our generation and some of those organizations we list as cults are flourishing far more than most of us.

“The ‘nickels and noses’ measure of success that drives Wall Street must never be ours. Successive analyses of the causes of the current worldwide economic crisis often point to people who fell for that ‘bigger-is-always-better’ lie. Nor is God’s measure of successful ministry measured by our outreach to the rich and famous in our various towns. If that is success, then Jesus was less than stellar.”

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 May-June issue of Preaching: The Teaching Pool, The Power of Multi-sensory Preaching, plus sermons by Charles Stanley and much more. Order your subscription today!

This year is the 500th anniversary of the birth of reformer John Calvin. If you are looking for works by Calvin, a good place to visit is the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (maintained by Calvin College, no less). You can read works about Calvin and more than 500 works by him, including many of his commentaries, sermons and the Institutes (in English or Latin). Click here if you are predestined to do so.

“You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” (A.J. Gordon)

Grant Wacker is a well-known historian of American religion, and in Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (Harvard Univ. Press) he offers a fascinating portrait of the life and development of American Pentecostalism during the first quarter of the 20th century. Given his own upbringing in a Pentecostal home and church until college days, Wacker treats his subject with fairness and sensitivity.


Alister E. McGrath is a gifted theologian and trained scientist, and he brings both gifts to bear in his excellent new book, A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology (Westminster John Knox). Based on his 2009 Gifford Lectures (at the University of Aberdeen), McGrath’s book is not light reading but will provide solid insights as he explores the intellectual virtues of a Trinitarian natural theology.



Even as we read great books to develop the mind, it is also urgent that we feed the soul. In Longing for God (InterVarsity Press), Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe share with us the spiritual insights of classic writers of the past, shaped around “the seven primary paths to God that have developed throughout Christian history.” The writers on which they draw range from the ancient church fathers to the 20th century. The reader will find much here to feed his or her soul.

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


One Sunday morning when my son, David, was about 5, we were attending a church in our community. It was common for the preacher to invite the children to the front of the church and have a small lesson before beginning the sermon. He would bring in an item they could find around the house and relate it to a teaching from the Bible.

This particular morning, the visual aid for his lesson was a smoke detector. He asked the children if anyone knew what it meant when an alarm sounded from the smoke detector.

My child immediately raised his hand and said, “It means Daddy’s cooking dinner.” (from Mikey’s Funnies)



New Orleans Saints running back George Rogers, when asked about the upcoming season: “I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first.”

Upon hearing Joe Jacobi of the Redskins say: “I’d run over my own mother to win the Super Bowl,” Matt Millen of the Raiders said: “To win, I’d run over Joe’s mom, too.”

Torrin Polk, University of Houston receiver, on his coach, John Jenkins: “He treats us like men. He lets us wear earrings.”

Football commentator and former player Joe Theismann, 1996: “Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”

Senior basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh: “I’m going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes.”

Bill Peterson, former Florida State football coach: “You guys line up alphabetically by height.” And, “You guys pair up in groups of three, and then line up in a circle.”

Boxing promoter Dan Duva on Mike Tyson going to prison: “Why would anyone expect him to come out smarter? He went to prison for three years, not Princeton.”

Stu Grimson, Chicago Blackhawks left wing, explaining why he keeps a color photo of himself above his locker: “That’s so when I forget how to spell my name, I can still find my clothes.”

Lou Duva, veteran boxing trainer, on the Spartan training regime of one boxer: “He’s a guy who gets up at six o’clock in the morning, regardless of what time it is.”

Chuck Nevitt, North Carolina State basketball player, explaining to Coach Jim Valvano why he appeared nervous at practice: “My sister’s expecting a baby, and I don’t know if I’m going to be an uncle or an aunt.”

Frank Layden, Utah Jazz president, on a former player: “I told him, ‘Son, what is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?’ He said, ‘Coach, I don’t know and I don’t care.'”

Shelby Metcalf, basketball coach at Texas A&M, recounting what he told a player who received four Fs and one D: “Son, looks to me like you’re spending too much time on one subject.”

In one Swedish church, art is created block by block.

According to an April 12 AP story, the Onsta Gryta church in the central Swedish city of Vasteras celebrated Easter by unveiling a 6-foot-tall status of Jesus — created out of 30,000 Lego blocks.

The project was created over an 18-month period by 40 volunteers. The Lego sculpture is a copy of the “Christus” statue by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, which is on display in Copenhagen.

Although the statue appears all white, a church spokesman said there were colored blocks used; but all are on the inside and not visible to observers. (Click here to see it for yourself.)

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