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From the Editor:


Back to School

Articles:

The Redemption of Creation
Preaching to Nourish

Illustrations:

Desire, Selfishness
Opportunity, Witness
Skill, New

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf

Humor

And Finally…
 

"The man who smiles when things go wrong has thought of someone to blame it on." (Robert Bloch)


 

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    Vol. 8, No. 31 September 1, 2009    

Michael Duduit

It’s back to school time for the kids, but what about for preachers?

One of the characteristics of all great preachers is that they are learners. They are constantly searching for new books and new resources that will help them strengthen their skills and offer new insights for ministry. That’s why powerful preachers tend to be rabid readers, with a book or two always at hand — or, these days, a Kindle at the ready.

As the kids head back to school, why don’t you establish your own continuing education plan for the remainder of 2009? Pick out a conference to attend; select two or three new books that look like they’d be helpful. If you stopped short of your educational goals, start looking at options for continuing your ministry education.

After all, why should the kids have all the fun?

Michael Duduit, Editor
michael@preaching.com
www.michaelduduit.com

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

On this week’s Preaching Podcast: Calvin Miller visits with Michael about his early life and ministry as related in his memoir, Life Is Mostly Edges.


THE REDEMPTION OF CREATION

In Who Gets to Narrate the World? (IVP), the final book before his death, Robert Webber argued that much of our culture’s secularization came from the church’s shift in viewing the incarnation’s impact as simply personal rather than also comprehensive of all creation.

"God, in the incarnation, took up unto himself the entire creation, so that the creation redeemed by God himself is now to be once again, as in the Garden, the theater of his glory. The ancient church understood the impact of creation, incarnation and re-creation on all of creation, and that is why Christians were the leaders in the arts, in learning, and in the sciences. The Christian faith narrates the world and gives shape to culture-making and to all of civilization."

In the modern view of the incarnation, however, Webber says, "The historic understanding of the incarnation as the assumption of the entire created order has been replaced by a view that in the incarnation God stepped into history to save souls. The focus is no longer on the cosmic work of God in history but on personal salvation. The language often used to describe salvation through Christ expresses this shift. We speak of God ‘saving souls.’ We focus then not so much on God who redeems the world but on Christ who saved me.

"Obviously it is true that God has saved me. We don’t want to lose that personal touch. What I decry here is the loss of the cosmic vision, the idea that God’s work of redemption narrates the entire world. . . . God redeemed all of life by the cross and empty tomb, so that when he returns to the earth not just souls but all of creation will be made perfect. . . .

"The assumption that the true me is a soul that lives inside of and is redeemed from the body to soar into some kind of ethereal realm is not Christian, it is Gnostic. And this is the primary spirituality of the New Age religion of our time. The current misunderstanding of the incarnation logically results in a split between the sacred and the secular because if Christ only redeems souls, the stuff of this world is unredeemable. This split in turn resulted in our loss of God’s narrative of the world. Modernity began to see creation and all of life apart from God. The origin, meaning and destiny of the world found new gods in reason and science. Creation separated from redemption will always result in the secularization of life." (Click here to learn more about the book Who Gets to Narrate the World?)


PREACHING TO NOURISH

Sinclair Ferguson, in a chapter in the collection Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching (Reformation Trust), argues for the necessity of preaching that nourishes the whole person, not simply the mind.

"There is an important balance to be pursued here — the balance of ministering to the understanding, affections, and will. It is very easy to lose sight of this.

"Many years ago, I had the privilege of preaching on a few occasions to a particular congregation. During this period (and with no connection between these events!), the pastor of the church received and accepted a call to serve elsewhere. Friends whom I made during these occasional visits confided in me some time after the departure of their pastor (to whom they were extremely loyal): ‘As we have sought to assess the impact of these last years of ministry on our lives, we have come to this conclusion: while we were thoroughly well-instructed, we were poorly nourished.’

"There is a difference between a well-instructed congregation and a well-nourished one. It is possible to instruct, yet fail to nourish those to whom we preach. It is possible to address the mind, but to do so with little concern to see the conscience, the heart, and the affections reached and cleansed, the will redirected, and the whole person transformed through a renewed mind. By contrast, in the picture of preaching first painted for Timothy (2 Tim 4:1-2), Paul is teaching us how to preach to the heart in a way that will nourish the whole person." (Click here to learn more about the book Feed My Sheep.)


DESIRE, SELFISHNESS


In film, a MacGuffin is a plot device used especially in crime dramas, thrillers and adventures to propel a story forward. It can be anything — a suitcase full of money, a secret weapon, a priceless artifact — what it is often has little relevance to the movie. The only important thing about a MacGuffin is that the characters in the story all want it. That desire forms their motivations and creates all of the existing conflict.

Unfortunately, real life is filled with MacGuffins, and they rarely bring about a happy ending. That is, people have a tendency to desire things that add nothing but conflict to their lives. (Today in the Word, May 2007)

OPPORTUNITY, WITNESS

Long ago, missionary Barnabas Shaw arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, hoping to preach the gospel. When authorities forbad him from doing so, he purchased an ox cart and started upcountry, giving God the reins, so to speak. The oxen lumbered into the interior, and a month later Shaw met a tribe of Hottentots coming in the opposite direction. They were traveling to Cape Town in search of a missionary to teach them about God’s Word. Shaw spent many years with this tribe, establishing a thriving work that endures to this day.

David Jeremiah writes: "The apostle Paul longed to preach in Rome. When he was arrested in Jerusalem, it appeared his prayers would go unanswered. Yet God, in His own way, sent Paul to Rome, with the Roman government paying the fare.

"If we have a yearning for God’s work, He will open the doors in His own way. If we long to witness, He’ll give us souls in His own time. It might not happen as we expect, but we should always expect the unexpected from Him." (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 8-28-09)



From the September-October issue of Preaching …


In the sermon "Can God Forgive Me?" Max Lucado says, "Adam and Eve did what fear-filled people do. They ran for their lives. ‘Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid"’ (Gen. 3:8-10).

"Fear, mismanaged, leads to sin. Sin leads to hiding. Since we’ve all sinned, we all hide, not in bushes but in 80-hour workweeks, temper tantrums and religious busyness. We avoid contact with God. We are convinced that God must hate our evil tendencies. We sure do. We don’t like the things we do and say. We despise our lustful thoughts, harsh judgments and selfish deeds. If our sin nauseates us, how much more must it revolt a holy God! We draw a practical conclusion: God is irreparably ticked off at us. So what are we to do except duck into the bushes at the sound of His voice?"
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Every issue of Preaching contains insightful articles
on preaching, plus great model sermons and practical resources. If you’re not a
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_______

Also in the September-October issue of Preaching: "What Would Jesus Tweet?" (on preaching and social networking sites), interviews with Mark Batterson and Jud Wilhite, Stan Toler on "Preaching and Leading," and much more. Order your subscription today!

The current issue of Preaching magazine features a cover article on how social networking sites can be used by preachers. Among the most popular are Twitter and Facebook. If you haven’t begun to use either one, give them a try and discover how many of your church members are already there! Click here for Facebook and here for Twitter.

"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards; if you disgrace yourself, you can always write a book." (Ronald Reagan)

Preachers are always on the lookout for good commentaries, and the Brazos Theological Commentary in the Bible is an outstanding new series that will be welcomed by those who preach and teach the Word. Two of the most recent volumes — in what will eventually be a 40-volume series — are Jonah by Phillip Cary and Deuteronomy by Telford Work. Both are clearly written and offer valuable insights into the biblical text.

 

In The Jesus You Can’t Ignore (Thomas Nelson), John MacArthur paints a picture of Jesus unlike that offered by many. He demonstrates that the Jesus of the New Testament was blunt, confrontational and passionate about drawing people to the Kingdom.

 

 

Is a picture really worth a thousand words? It is if you are trying to solve problems or sell ideas, according to Dan Roam, In his intriguing book The Back of the Napkin (Portfolio), Roam shows how to clarify a problem or persuasively present an idea to others by using simple visual-thinking tools. While written primarily for business leaders, preachers and church leaders will find many helpful insights.

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


SKILL, NEW

Bob had been playing golf for years. He always used the very finest equipment, but his technique never improved a bit.

His friend Sam watched as he teed up at the first hole and promptly drove a brand new ball into the woods. On the second hole, Bob drove another new ball into a lake. On the third, he lost a new ball in another part of the woods.

"Why don’t you use an old ball?" Sam asked.

"I’ve never had an old ball," Bob said. (Mikey’s Funnies)

 

DOGS’ LETTERS TO GOD

Dear God,
When we get to heaven can we sit on Your couch? Or is it the same old story?

Dear God,
If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad dog?

Dear God,
Why do humans smell the flowers but seldom, if ever, smell one another? Where are their priorities?

Dear God,
More meatballs, less spaghetti, please.

Dear God,
When we get to the Pearly Gates, do we have to shake hands to get in?

Dear God,
Are there dogs on other planets, or are we alone? I have been howling at the moon and stars for a long time, but all I ever hear back is the Schnauzer across the street.

Dear God,
Are there mailmen in Heaven? If there are, will I have to apologize?

Dear God,
We dogs can understand human verbal instructions, hand signals, whistles, horns, clickers, beepers, scent ID’s, electromagnetic energy fields, and Frisbee flight paths. What do humans understand?


This was one unlucky thief — and one fortunate car owner.

Nineteen-year-old Anthony McRae was driving to the Gillette, Wyo., police station to report his Ford Bronco had been stolen. On the way, Anthony spotted the vehicle, called 911 and began following it. Eventually the Bronco pulled over and the driver asked McRae why he was following him. When McRae told him, the driver jumped out and ran.

According to an Aug. 19 AP story, police later arrested a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of larceny. "Police claim the teen stole the SUV after leaving a hospital where his father had taken him for a drug test because he’d been given a misdemeanor citation for marijuana use."

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