From the Editor:

Knowing When to Quit

Swindoll’s Leadership Lessons

Judgment, Preparation
Urgency, Timing

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.”
(Martin Luther King)

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    Vol. 8, No. 37 October 13, 2009    
Michael Duduit

In the book Best Advice (Westminster John Knox), a series of pastors and teachers of preaching are asked to share their counsel with preachers. Among those who have written for this collection is Gardner C. Taylor, one of the great pulpiteers of the 20th century.

Among his many valuable insights for preachers is this on knowing when it’s time to bring the sermon to a close:

“About the length of the sermon I will make two comments. Two Scottish crofters sat together in a highland church. The preacher’s sermon seemed to go on interminably. The first farmer said to the second, ‘When is he going to finish?’ The answer came back, ‘He is finished now; he just won’t quit.’ The preacher does well who cultivates some terminal facility.

“I’m also reminded of an Anglican bishop who attended an evening service in the English midlands. When the service was over, the bishop said to the rector, ‘I thought your sermon to the people this evening was rather brief.’ The rector replied, ‘Better to be brief than boring.’ To which the bishop gave the rejoinder, ‘But, sir, you were both.'”

Michael Duduit, Editor

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

On this week’s Preaching Podcast: Ed Stetzer talks about a recent research project for Preaching magazine and the resulting article, “Sermons that Stick,” which will appear in the Nov-Dec issue. Click here to listen.


Chuck Swindoll was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at last week’s Catalyst ’09 Conference. During his presentation, he described “10 Things I Have Learned During Nearly 50 Years in Leadership.” Here’s the list:

1) It’s lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions. The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is.

2) It’s dangerous to succeed. I’m most concerned for those who aren’t even 30 and are very gifted and successful. Sometimes God uses someone right out of youth, but usually He uses leaders who have been crushed.

3) It’s hardest at home. No one ever told me this in seminary.

4) It’s essential to be real. If there’s one realm where phoniness is common, it’s among leaders. Stay real.

5) It’s painful to obey. The Lord will direct you to do some things that won’t be your choice. Invariably you will give up what you want to do for the cross.

6) Brokenness and failure are necessary.

7) Attitude is more important than actions. Your family may not have told you: Some of you are hard to be around. A bad attitude overshadows good actions.

8) Integrity eclipses image. Today we highlight image, but it’s what you’re doing behind the scenes.

9) God’s way is better than my way.

10) Christ-likeness begins and ends with humility.


In an article in Leadership, Michael Bogart writes: “National Geographic magazine (May 1984) showed through a series of color photos and drawings the swift and terrible destruction that wiped out the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in A.D. 79. The explosion of Mount Vesuvius was so sudden, the residents were killed while in their routine: Men and women were at the market, the rich in their luxurious baths, slaves at toil. They died amid volcanic ash and superheated gasses. Even family pets suffered the same quick and final fate. It takes little imagination to picture the panic of that terrible day.

“The saddest part is that these people did not have to die. Scientists confirm what ancient Roman writers record–weeks of rumblings and shakings preceded the actual explosion. Even an ominous plume of smoke clearly was visible from the mountain days before the eruption. If only they had been able to read and respond to Vesuvius’s warning!

“There are similar ‘rumblings’ in our world: warfare, earthquakes, the nuclear threat, economic woes, breakdown of the family and moral standards. While not exactly new, these things do point to a coming day of Judgment (Matt. 24). People need not be caught unprepared. God warns and provides an escape to those who will heed the rumblings” (Leadership, Vol. 6, No. 4).

From the November-December issue of Preaching …

In an interview with Reggie McNeal, he observes, “There are deeply embedded pockets of our population that are never going to come to church, down to the corner of Third & Main–it doesn’t matter what the church does. I’m trying to help existing churches explore how we reach those pockets of Americans.

“As we know from the Pew study last year, the most comprehensive look at American spirituality, one out of every six Americans now is unaffiliated. It’s the fastest growing company of people in terms of their own spiritual identification–unaffiliated. That goes to one-in-five-men.

“If you peel it further back, for age 29 and younger it’s one-in-four. So we can continue to do church, and reach people who want to be church people; and that’s good. I mean, I work with churches every week; but I’m really trying to beat the drum and trying to help us understand there are entire populations of people we’re missing. We’re the largest English-speaking mission field in the world, and we’re going to have to figure out a way.”

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 November-December issue of Preaching: Interviews with Perry Noble, Ed Stetzer on “Sermons that Stick,” great Christmas sermons and much more. Order your subscription today!

Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City (where Tim Keller is pastor) has a commitment to church planting, not only in New York but in cities around the world. If you are interested or involved in church planting, you’ll want to check out their new page of blogs (including one by Keller) on church planting, which you can find here.

“I have held many things in my hand, and have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.” (Martin Luther)

Scripture is at the heart of the Christian life, and that means it is vital that we be able to read and understand God’s Word. Understanding and Applying the Bible (Moody) by Robertson McQuilkin has been released in a revised and expanded version. This volume offers practical guidance in interpreting Scripture, and the helpful additions to this edition include an expanded bibliography (including Internet resources for biblical study) and a treatment of postmodern presuppositions and how those impact Bible study. This is a good introduction to hermeneutical principles that can benefit pastors and others who want to interpret Scripture more effectively.


Growing with Purpose (Zondervan) by Jon Walker is a wonderful one-year devotional guide that helps you connect with God’s grace each day. Each devotion is brief–you can read most in a minute or two–and biblically based. This is a good resource to use and share with others.



In Jesus Nation (Tyndale), Joseph Stowell talks about the great adventure of being part of the Kingdom. Stowell offers helpful insights about the Christian life as he challenges believers to understand the implications of being a member of Jesus Nation. This easily could spark an interesting sermon series or study group in your church.

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


The late Lewis Grizzard, a humorist and author of many columns and books, was visited by his minister in the hospital. Grizzard was scheduled to have open-heart surgery the next morning.

He confessed to his minister that he had not exactly been a paragon of virtue and asked if there were still time to repent. The minister looked at his watch and replied, “Yes, but I’d hurry if I were you.”  (Johnny Dean, “The Scariest Sound in the World,” via Clergy.net newsletter)



For all of you with teenagers or who have had teenagers, you probably already know
why they have a lot in common with cats:

1. Neither teenagers nor cats turn their heads when you call them by name.

2. No matter what you do for them, it is not enough. Indeed, all humane efforts are barely adequate to compensate for the privilege of waiting on them hand and foot.

3. You rarely see a cat walking outside of the house with an adult human being, and it can be safely said that no teenager in his or her right mind wants to be seen in public with his or her parents.

4. Even if you tell jokes as well as Jay Leno, neither your cat nor your teen will ever crack a smile.

5. No cat or teenager shares your taste in music.

6. Cats and teenagers can lie on the living-room sofa for hours on end without moving, barely breathing.

7. Cats have nine lives. Teenagers live as if they did.

8. Cats and teenagers yawn in exactly the same manner, communicating that ultimate human ecstasy–a sense of complete and utter boredom.

9. Cats and teenagers do not improve anyone’s furniture.

10. Cats that are free to roam outside sometimes have been known to return in the middle of the night to deposit a dead animal in your bedroom. Teenagers are not above that sort of behavior.

Remember above all else, put out the food and do not make any sudden moves in their direction. When they make up their minds, they finally will come to you for some affection and comfort; and it will be a triumphant moment for all concerned. (from Mikey’s Funnies)

If it was an accordion we might understand, but a harmonica?

An Oklahoma man was arrested after beating his roommate with a harmonica, according to an Oct. 8 story in the Tulsa World.

The roommate was in the bathroom getting ready for work when Decai Liu burst in and started hitting him with the instrument. When police arrived, the victim was covered in blood from cuts on his head and face.

Liu has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, likely the first time a harmonica has been considered dangerous without actually being played.

Police are holding the harmonica as evidence.

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