From the Editor:

Sharing the Cure


Redemptive Sermons
Managing Change in a Multi-Generational Church


Speaking, Clarity

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

"No man ever listened himself out of a job." (Calvin Coolidge)


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    Vol. 8, No. 32 September 8, 2009    

Michael Duduit

H1N1 is the new danger on the horizon. This particular flu virus has already taken a number of lives, and experts fear many more could be in danger. As a result, we’re being told — by everyone from President Obama to Sesame Street’s Elmo — that we should wash our hands frequently and sneeze into our sleeves. Such precautions can help avoid unnecessary spread of the virus.

There’s an even bigger danger our world faces, and it poses a far greater hazard than any flu — though it does seem to spread virally. It is called sin, and it will destroy everything we have and all that we are if not dealt with.

The problem is, washing your hands won’t help. In fact, there’s not enough hand sanitizer on the globe to deal with your sin. The only thing that will help is to sanitize your soul, and that takes a Doctor who is unlike any other. You and I need the Great Physician because He is the only one who can cleanse sin and bring permanent healing to our lives.

Preacher, you have the privilege of sharing the good news about the cure. Isn’t it exciting to be in the health care business?

Michael Duduit, Editor

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

On this week’s Preaching Podcast: This week is the second installment of our visit with Calvin Miller, as he talks about his early life and ministry as related in his memoir, Life Is Mostly Edges. Click here to listen.


In his new book Christ-Centered Worship (Baker), Bryan Chapell includes a chapter on sermons that begins with a reminder of the need for expository preaching. Then he continues: "But we need to be clear that the preacher’s concern should not only be instructive. God is active in His Word, convicting the heart, renewing the mind, and strengthening the will. This means that preaching is not simply an instructive lecture; it is a redemptive event. If we only think of the sermon as a means of transferring information, then we will prioritize making the message dense with historical facts, moral instruction, and memory retention devices that prepare people for later tests of formal doctrine or factual knowledge. Such tests are rare. And most persons’ ability to remember a sermon’s content in following days can devastate the ego of a preacher whose primary goal is the congregation’s doctrinal or biblical literacy.

"The needed reordering of priorities will not come by emptying the sermon of biblical content, but by preparing it for spiritual warfare and welfare. Our primary goal is not preparing people for later tests of mind or behavior, but rather humbling and strengthening the wills of God’s people within the context of the sermon. Because God is active in His Word, we should preach with the conviction that the Spirit of God will use the truths of His Word as we preach to change hearts now! As hearts change, lives change — even when sermon specifics are forgotten (Prov. 4:23). …

"The preacher’s obligation to transform as well as inform should compel us to ensure that our sermons are an instrument of God’s grace as well as a conduit for His truth." (Click here to learn more about Christ-Centered Worship.)


In an article for LeadershipJournal.net, John Ortberg writes: "There is an old saying in the church world that ‘the issue is never the issue; the issue is always control.’ And when it comes to generations working together, the question of control is never more than about a micron below the surface.

"We had a conversation around our leadership circle recently about food in the sanctuary. It was fascinating to track the discussion. To some, bringing food into the sanctuary communicates a dumbing down of worship, a devaluing of sacred space, and a loss of transcendence and wonder. The chief justice doesn’t snack on Raisinettes while he’s swearing in the new president.

"To others, being able to bring coffee or a bagel into church communicates a sense of community, warmth, and acceptance that is desperately needed. It’s a way of defusing the expectation of a stuffy, formal, inauthentic, foreign experience that tells me I’m not welcome and the church doesn’t care.

"But underneath the issues of food, or dress, or style, often lies the deeper issue of control. One researcher put it like this: we often think people are opposed to change, but that’s not quite true. Everybody changes all the time — particularly when they are the ones proposing the change. It helps to distinguish between two types of change: technical change and social change.

"Technical change has to do with logistics and props. Switching from typewriters to computers, or pews to individual chairs, or hard copies to email are technical changes.

"Social change has to do with who is making the decision. Social change has to do with who is in control.

"Any time a technical change is made, it raises the issue of social change. Am I and my group gaining or losing our influence? Who gets to call the shots around here? If my influence is receding, then probably my sense of ownership and commitment will diminish as well. This is why trying to sneak changes past people is generally a bad idea.

"Recently we had a conversation about changes in worship at a service where I thought there hadn’t been any change. But someone noted that a worship leader that used to be sitting behind a keyboard is now usually standing behind a raised keyboard. It had not occurred to me that this counted as change. But to somebody else, it was a step in a direction she hadn’t gotten to vote on.

"This also means that on the leadership team, we have to embrace conflict. Where there is a difference of opinion that falls out along generational lines, we have to be willing to enter the tunnel of chaos. If there are not regular, passionate, energized disagreements about what our future should look like, I know I have not done my job as a leader to engage people fully."  (Click here to read the full article.)


In 1991, Michigan’s Timid Motorist Program assisted 830 drivers across the Mackinac Bridge that is five miles long and 200 feet high. The drivers were so scared of heights that they couldn’t drive their own cars. The same year, more than a thousand motorists received assistance at Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge — also 200 feet high and four miles long.

David Jeremiah writes: "In spite of their destination being in plain sight and a history of the bridges being safe, the drivers were paralyzed by fear. The same thing happened to the nation of Israel when they were ready to enter the Promised Land. The land was in plain sight, and they had a history of God meeting their needs; but only three people in the entire nation were willing to exercise their faith and enter the land: Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. The rest said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we’ (Numbers 13:31). That generation of Israelites never reached their destination. Instead, their fear paralyzed them in the wilderness where they died.

"If you can see your destination and have experienced God’s faithfulness in the past, don’t let fear destroy your freedom." (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 9-2-09)


James A. Garfield, prior to serving as President of the United States, was president of Hiram College in Ohio. One day a father asked Garfield if there were a short-cut whereby his son could get through college in less than the usual four years. He wanted his son to get on with making money.

The college president gave this reply: "Of course there is a way; it all depends on what you want your boy to do. When God wants to grow an oak tree, he takes 100 years. When he wants to make a squash, he only takes two months."  (Sermons.com newsletter)

From the September-October issue of Preaching …

In the sermon "Can God Forgive Me?" Max Lucado says, "A standing-room-only crowd packed the residence where Jesus spoke. People sat in windows, crowded in doorways. You’d have thought God Himself was making the Capernaum appearance. Being the sort of fellows who don’t give up easily, the friends concocted a plan. ‘When they weren’t able to get in because of the crowd, they removed part of the roof and lowered the paraplegic on his stretcher’ (Mark 2:4, The Message).

"Risky strategy. Most home owners don’t like to have their roofs disassembled. Most paraplegics aren’t fond of a one-way bungee drop through a ceiling cavity. And most teachers don’t appreciate a spectacle in the midst of their lesson. We don’t know the reaction of the home owner or the man on the mat. But we know that Jesus didn’t object. Matthew all but paints a smile on His face. Christ issued a blessing before one was requested. And He issued a blessing no one expected: ‘Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven’ (Matt. 9:2, NASB).

"Wouldn’t we anticipate different words? ‘Take courage. Your legs are healed.’ ‘Your paralysis is over.’ ‘Sign up for the Boston Marathon.’ The man had limbs as sturdy as spaghetti, yet Jesus offered mercy, not muscles. What was He thinking? Simple. He was thinking about our deepest problem: sin. He was considering our deepest fear: the fear of failing God. Before Jesus healed the body (which He did), He treated the soul. ‘Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.’"

Every issue of Preaching contains insightful articles
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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!

Are you committing ministry pornography? In this brief video clip, Ed Stetzer talks about the mistake of lusting after someone else’s ministry setting, rather than focusing on your own church and community. Click here to watch.

"All men make mistakes, but married men find out about it sooner." (Red Skelton)

Bryan Chapell’s new book Christ-Centered Worship (Baker) was quoted earlier in this issue, but it is worthy of another mention. Chapell is one of the most significant homileticians of our day, and in this masterful work he draws on solid biblical and historical study to help us understand the nature of authentic worship. Chapell offers a helpful blend of background and practical guidance. Whatever the style of worship in your church, you will benefit from engaging with the ideas in this important volume.


Pastor and best-selling author Francis Chan believes the church has neglected the work of the Holy Spirit, and he seeks to remind us of the power and urgency of the Spirit’s work in the church in his new book Forgotten God (David C. Cook). Chan believes that rediscovering the place of the Holy Spirit can bring new passion and power to the lives of Christians today.



A.W. Tozer was a spiritual powerhouse of an earlier day, but he speaks to our own time in Reclaiming Christianity (Regal), a previously unpublished work. Prior to his death in 1963, Tozer talked about what he saw as the "Babylonian Captivity" of the evangelical church. In this book, he challenges us to quit "playing church" and to reclaim the fullness of what God has for us in Christ. No matter when it was written, it is a timely message for today’s believers.

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


Fresh from a visit to the dentist, the man decided to stop at his bank. Barely able to enunciate, he told the teller, "I’m sorry about not speaking more clearly. I’ve had Novocaine."

"You should have used the drive-through," she said.


"Everyone who goes through sounds like you," she explained.



* God bless America thru the night with a light from a bulb!

* Oh Susanna, Oh don’t you cry for me, for I come from Alabama with a band-aid on my knee!

* Give us this day our deli bread! Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Whole East Coast.

* We shall come to Joyce’s, bringing in the cheese.

* Gladly, the consecrated, cross-eyed bear.

* He carrots for you.

* Yield Not to Penn Station.

* Dust Around the Throne.

* Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures, HERE WE GO

* Olive, the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names.

* While shepherds washed their socks by night

* He socked me and boxed me with His redeeming glove.

Sometimes dog chase cars. A North Carolina dog caught one and tried to eat it.

A pit bull managed to bite and deflate all four tires in a deputy’s cruiser near the town of Hope Mills, N.C., according to a Sept. 1 AP story. The car was parked in a driveway while the officer was answering a complaint (about a different dog, in fact).

The dog — who lived next door — didn’t attack the deputy, but he did give the tires a good chomping.  

The dog’s owner is being billed $500 for a new set of tires.

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