From the Editor:


Taking Risks to Reach People
More Hymns, Less Hugging

Offense of the Gospel
Hidden Talents

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”
(Joseph Addison)

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    Vol. 8, No. 19 May 26 , 2009    
Michael Duduit

This week we celebrated Memorial Day to honor those who gave their lives in service to their country. It is altogether fitting that we celebrate the lives and sacrifice of such men and women.

It strikes me, however, that we in the church all too often ignore the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in service to the Kingdom. There were more martyrs for the Christian faith in the 20th century than in the first 19 combined. Even today, there are faithful men and women in various parts of the world who are suffering and dying because of their faith in Christ.

They are men and women such as missionary Vijay Kumar, who was publicly stoned by Hindu extremists in 2006 for Christian preaching; such as German Tilmann Geske and the Turkish Christians Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, who worked for a Bible publishing group, murdered in 2007 in Turkey; or such as Mushtaq Gill, a Pakistani Christian murdered in February 2009 on the outskirts of Faisalabad because he refused to convert to Islam. They join the saints of Hebrews 11 in the great cloud of witnesses.

The next time you are discouraged by the work God has called you to do, or frustrated by the obstacles that seem to stand in your way, think of these men and women who have given their all to remain faithful to Christ. What would you and I be willing to give?

(You can find information about 21st-century martyrs here.)

Michael Duduit, Editor

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

On this week’s Preaching Podcast: Listen in on a visit with John Ortberg, popular author and pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church.


In his book Communicating for a Change, Andy Stanley points out that we are too often hesitant to try different approaches in our preaching. We defend old habits to excuse our unwillingness to stretch ourselves. Then he poses this question:

“What if you had a 16-year-old son who said he was coming to church one last time and then he was packing up and hitting the road for good. And what if in the middle of the night an angel appeared and said, ‘You can reach the heart of your son if you do exactly what I tell you. Go into your attic and find his old box of Legos. On Sunday preach a message around this one point: Christ came to build a bridge to the disconnected. The entire time you are preaching you are to construct a bridge using his Legos.’ …

“If that really happened to you, I feel confident that you would not respond by saying, ‘But I’m not good with visual aids.’ Neither would you say, ‘I can’t do that in my church. It would require removing the pulpit.’ If you really believed that getting way outside your comfort zone on a Sunday morning would reach your teenage son, you would do it.

“Now please don’t miss this. Next Sunday, somebody’s prodigal son or daughter may slip into the back of your auditorium to give the God thing one last try. And it could very well be that somewhere in your town there is a mom or dad praying like crazy that something significant would happen in the heart of their child. I know you would be willing to do some new and possibly unusual things to reach your own son or daughter. What would you be willing to do to reach someone else’s?” (Click here to learn more about Communicating for a Change.)


Sixty percent of men do not like flowers and embroidered banners in church, according to a survey of 400 readers of United Kingdom’s Sorted, a Christian magazine for men. The new survey implied that men are uncomfortable with physical contact, such as holding hands, and with activities such as sitting in circles to share their feelings. It also suggested that men who go to church would like less hugging and holding hands and more singing of hymns and “proclamational” songs. Some hymns likely to prove a hit with male worshipers are: “Onward Christian Soldiers,” “And Can It Be,” “Guide Me O Thy Great Redeemer,” “Amazing Grace” and “Be Thou My Vision.” (ChristianPost.com, via Pastor’s Weekly Briefing)


Two friends were walking near Times Square in Manhattan. It was during the noon lunch hour and the streets were filled with people. Cars were honking their horns, taxis were squealing around corners, sirens were wailing and the sounds of the city were almost deafening. Suddenly, one of them said, “What an interesting place to hear a cricket.”

His friend said, “You must be crazy. You couldn’t possibly hear a cricket in all of this noise!”

“No, I’m sure of it,” his friend said, “I heard a cricket.”

“That’s crazy,” said his friend.

The man, who thought he had heard a cricket, listened carefully for a moment and then walked across the street to a big, cement planter where some shrubs were growing. He looked into the bushes, beneath the branches, and sure enough, he located a small cricket. His friend was utterly amazed.

“That’s incredible,” said his friend. “You must have superhuman ears!”

“No,” said the man who heard the cricket. “My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you’re listening for.”

“But that can’t be!” said the friend. “I could never hear a cricket in this noise.”

“Yes, it’s true,” came the reply. “It depends on what is really important to you. Here, let me show you.”

He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and discreetly dropped them on the sidewalk. And then, with the noise of the crowded street still blaring in their ears, they noticed every head within 20 feet turn and look to see if the money that tinkled on the pavement was theirs. “See what I mean?” asked the man who had heard the cricket. “It all depends on what’s important to you.” (Keenan Kelsey, Making Choices, via eSermons.con newsletter)


Geoffrey Wilson wrote: “The unpopularity of a crucified Christ has prompted many to present a message which is more palatable to the unbeliever, but the removal of the offense of the cross always renders the message ineffective. An inoffensive gospel is also an inoperative gospel. Thus Christianity is wounded most in the house of its friends.”

From the May-June issue of Preaching …

In an article on “The Power of Multi-Sensory Preaching,” Rick Blackwood talks about the biblical examples of such an approach: “The ordinance of baptism paints a visual picture of a theological reality. We even remind our congregations that baptism is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. They say, ‘a picture paints a thousand words,’ and baptism does just that. It is an explicit image of a great theological truth.

“The Lord’s Supper is even more multi-sensory. The bread is a picture of Christ’s body, and the juice is a picture of His blood. But it’s more than just verbal and visual; it’s also interactive. The congregation interacts with the teaching by eating the bread and drinking the juice. In addition, there is the stimulation of the senses of taste and possibly smell. The Lord’s Supper is the ultimate form of multi-sensory teaching because it interfaces with all five of our senses: hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and maybe even smelling. Talk about graphic!”

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!

Angels & Demons is the new film based on a Dan Brown book–he who authored the earlier The DaVinci Code. Fortunately, this new release is not causing nearly the stir of the first film, but it certainly may raise questions with its mix of fact and fiction. The good folks at Westminster Seminary have created a Web site called “The Truth about Angels & Demons,” which you may find interesting whether or not you see the film. You can find it here.

“Jesus is God spelling Himself out in language that men can understand.” (S.D. Gordon)

Killing Cockroaches (B&H Publishing) may be one of the more distasteful titles you’ll see on bookshelves this year, but the book by Tony Morgan is filled with insightful and practical tips for church leaders. (Sorry, you’ll have to read the book to learn where the title comes from.) Morgan has one of the most widely read blogs among today’s young pastors, and this material is adapted from those brief and timely essays.


Another valuable leadership book is The Leadership Jump (IVP) by Jimmy Long. He deals with the urgent need for baby-boomer pastors and a new generation of church leaders to work together to transition the church into its future. Too often, older and younger pastors are sniping at each other instead of praying and working together to advance Kingdom causes. Here is hoping that Long’s book helps in building a bridge between these two key leadership groups.



Is America a hard place to learn to pray? In his new book A Praying Life (NavPress), Paul E. Miller argues that our national emphasis on productivity and success causes us to cover over our needs instead of bringing them to God. If you would love to have a more powerful and vibrant prayer life, then this book warrants a place on your reading table.

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


A salesman dropped in to see a business customer. Not a soul was in the office except a big dog emptying wastebaskets. The salesman stared at the animal, wondering if his imagination could be playing tricks on him. The dog looked up and said, “Don’t be alarmed. This is just part of my job.”

“Incredible!” exclaimed the man. “I can’t believe it! Does your boss know what a prize he has in you? An animal that can talk!”

“No, no,” pleaded the dog. “Please don’t! If that man finds out I can talk, he’ll make me answer the phone, too!” (cybersalt.org)



Golfer: “I think I am going to drown myself in the lake.”
Caddy: “Think you can keep your head down that long?”

Golfer: “I’d move heaven and earth to break 100 on this course.”
Caddy: “Try heaven, you’ve already moved most of the earth.”

Golfer: “Do you think that my game is improving?”
Caddy: “Yes sir, you miss the ball much closer now.”

Golfer: “Do you think I can get there with a five iron?”
Caddy: “Eventually!”

Golfer: “You must be the worst caddy in the world.”
Caddy: “I don’t think so, sir. That would be too much of a coincidence.”

Golfer: “Please stop checking your watch all the time.”
Caddy: “It’s not a watch; it’s a compass.”

Golfer: “How do you like my game?”
Caddy: “Very good, sir, but personally I prefer golf.”

Golfer: “Do you think it is a sin to play on Sunday?”
Caddy: “The way you play, sir, it is a sin on any day.”

Golfer: “This is the worst course I’ve ever played on.”
Caddy: “This isn’t the golf course. We left that an hour ago.”

Golfer: “That can’t be my ball, it is too old.”
Caddy: “It’s been a long time since we teed off, sir.”

Sometimes you just have to head for the border.

At least that’s what one suspected drug dealer did, following a high-speed chase with Indiana police. He suddenly pulled into Taco Bell, where police apprehended him.

According to a May 13 AP story, Fort Wayne police said that 36-year-old Jermaine A. Cooper told officers he “knew he was going to jail for a while” and wanted to get one last burrito.

Cooper was being held without bail on four counts of dealing cocaine, one count of resisting arrest by fleeing and other charges.

And worst of all: He didn’t even get his burrito.

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