From the Editor:

Prayer & the NFL


Imagination in Preaching
Reaching for a Cause or for Christ?


Future, Faith
Rescue, God’s Loving Care

Golf, Skill

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

"Dreams come a size too big so we can grow into them."
(Josie Bisset)


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    Vol. 8, No. 6 February 10 , 2009    

Michael Duduit

Last week in an online panel at the Washington Post, a panel of sports writers and other NFL observers waxed eloquent on the question: "Is there too much ‘God’ in football?" Most seemed to lean toward the "separation of church and stadium" side of the equation, though some noted anything that helps players and teams perform at their best is to be tolerated–at least so long as they are on your favorite team.

Actually, it seems to me that having NFL players publicly acknowledge their Christian faith is only fair play; preachers have been talking about football for years.

At least in the churches I’ve been in during the years, football terminology runs a close second to the Apostle Paul as a source of metaphor and imagery. Whether we’re talking about "crossing the goal line," "kicking off" a big event or "scoring a touchdown" with a message, we can tip our hats to the big burly guys on the field.

So let’s take it easy on those NFL stars who talk about God on and off the field, OK? I’ll bet some of them are even tithers!

Michael Duduit, Editor

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

This week’s Preaching Podcast: Listen to an interview with Louie Giglio, founder of the Passion conferences, as he discusses how to communicate biblical truth with students and young adults today.


In the new book The Write Stuff (Westminster John Knox Press), Sondra Willobee suggests that "Using imagination in preaching is not the same as making things up. Rather, imaginative preaching starts with the Scripture and tries to express as vividly as possible our experience of God’s presence and power. Imagination is, therefore, an act of envisioning, an act through which we dream another way of being.

"Entering into the world of the Bible, we catch a glimpse of an alternate universe and see what our lives might look like under the subversive reign of God. We tremble with Isaiah amid smoke and fire and thunder in the throne room of God. We round the corner of a stone house and bump into an older brother who sulks outside, while the sound of music and dancing vibrate around his younger brother within. We stand on a rocky shoreline on the island of Patmos alongside John, and we see with him 144,000 white-robed martyrs standing in ranks singing praises to the Lamb. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Click here to learn more about the book The Write Stuff.)


In a recent edition of the Catalyst newsletter, Ed Stetzer writes: "I have been identified with the missional conversation. I believe the church can and must identify with the missio dei and refocus its agenda around the purpose of God. Yet I don’t want missional to mean attacks on mega- and fast-growing churches which are reaching people ‘wrongly,’ while missional churches are reaching few ‘’rightly.’ (Now, take that last sentence and replace the word ‘missional’ with the word ‘reformed’–still works. Now do it with ‘Baptist.’ Yep, that’s 3 for 3. Need I go on?)

"I am not willing to say that a lack of converts is a sign of unfaithfulness, but I am willing to say that too many change movements are not seeing lost people’s lives changed. And I think that is the wrong kind of change.

"So, my Reformed friends, let’s not only read First, Second, and Third John (that is, John Calvin, John MacArthur and John Piper); let’s go plant some more churches. My emerging church friends, let’s take a pause from the theological rethink and head into the neighborhood to tell someone about Jesus. My missional friends, let’s speak of justice, but always tell others how God can be both ‘just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.’ My house church friends, let’s have community, but let’s be sure it is focused on redemption. My Baptist friends, let’s focus more on convincing pagans than Presbyterians. And, my charismatic friends, let’s focus less on getting existing believers to speak in tongues and more on using our tongue to tell others about Jesus.

"Now, I know the preceding paragraph will tick off some of you off–and I am trying to be a bit edgy while making a point–but let me suggest you be less offended at my words and more focused on Jesus’ words: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of nations.’" (Click here to read the full article.)


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 the Feb. 6 issue of his Turning Point Daily Devotional, David Jeremiah says: "When the terrible acts of Sept. 11, 2001, occurred, the world’s reactions could be summarized under one heading: surprise–or, more accurately, shock. When events happen suddenly, we are shocked and surprised, And our reaction illustrates what sets us apart from God: He knows the future and we don’t.

"Time is everything to us. We keep small devices attached to our wrists to tell us of every passing minute, and calendars record the passing of weeks, months and years; But all of our time-keeping and calendar-watching cannot tell us what we would really like to know: the future. No one on earth (besides the perpetrators themselves) saw 9-11 coming, but Someone in heaven did. God even saw it coming before it was planned, because time means nothing to our eternal, all-knowing God. A day to Him is like a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8); He sees everything happening at once.

"You may be surprised–even shocked–by something unexpected that happens today; but remember: God saw it coming and sees how it fits in the big picture of your life. You may not have seen it coming, but God did."


The U.S.S. Astoria was a heavy cruiser that saw duty during World War II’s Battle of the Coral Sea and at Midway, then was sunk in August of 1942 at the Battle of Savo Island. On board in the fight for Savo was Signalman third class Elgin Staples. Sometime around 2 a.m. on the ship’s final day, Staples was blown overboard when one of the Astoria’s gun turrets exploded. In the water, wounded in both legs by shrapnel and in a state of near-shock, Staples was kept afloat by a narrow lifebelt which he had activated by a trigger.

In his book The Grand Weaver, Ravi Zacharias tells the fascinating story of what happened next.

"Four hours after being blown into the Pacific, Staples was picked up by a passing destroyer and returned to the Astoria. Even though the cruiser had been severely damaged, her captain was trying to beach the ship in order to save her. When his attempts failed, Staples found himself back in the water. By now, it was noon.

"This time it was the U.S.S. President Jackson that plucked him out of the water. On board, Staples studied the little lifebelt that saved his life twice that day. He noticed the belt was manufactured by the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio, and carried a registration number.

"Allowed to go home for a visit, Staples related his story to the family and asked his mother, who worked for Firestone, the purpose of the registration number on the belt. She pointed out that the company was holding employees responsible for their work in the war effort and each worker had his/her own number. Staples recalled everything about that lifebelt, including the registration number. As he called it out, his mother’s eyes grew large. She said, ‘That was my personal code that I put on every item I was responsible for approving!’

"His mother had made the belt which had saved his life twice."

Zacharias concludes, "The one who gave him birth and whose DNA he bore gave him rescue in the swirling waters that threatened to take his life. If an earthly parent playing the role of procreation can provide a means of rescue without knowing when and for whom that belt would come into play, how much more can the God of all creation accomplish?" (www.joemckeever.com)

From the March-April issue of Preaching …

In an article titled "Preaching When Times are Tight," pastor David Stokes begins: "During the waning days of The Great War (1914-1918), David Lloyd George remarked, ‘when the chariot of humanity gets stuck, nothing will lift it out of the mud better than great preaching that goes to the heart.’ As a young boy in Wales, he had grown up in a family that included several preachers; so the ways of the pulpit certainly informed and influenced the only Welshman ever to serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He was a man known for his eloquent oratory and inherited from his father the idea of preaching as ‘thoughts that breathe and words that burn.’

"Much has been written during the years about how preaching can aid, inform, inspire and comfort the multitudes when times are tough. When war clouds loom on the horizon, or when hurricane Katrina-like natural disasters strike a community or nation, the person in the pulpit generally gets the chance to speak to larger, and more attentive, crowds.

"Being entrusted with sacred truth, and having a burning desire to speak about matters of great spiritual value, persuading people to focus on such transcendent themes becomes a particular challenge when people are hurting financially. Before we quietly complain that people tend to overlook great moral issues when faced with economic challenges, maybe we had better step back and consider how tight times can become a critical moment for the preacher."

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Also in the March-April issue of Preaching: Our annual survey of the year’s best books for preachers, plus an interview with James Emery White, articles on preaching in tough financial times and "Preaching in HD," sermons by Stuart Briscoe, John Huffman, Mike Glenn and much more. Order your subscription today!

The International Bible Society provides online access to a helpful site containing an introduction to each book of the Bible, taken from the NIV Study Bible. It’s a great site for a quick reference, or to recommend to others for Bible study and reference. You’ll find it here.

"A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it."
(Bob Hope)

It’s commentary week at the Preacher’s Bookshelf. Preachers spend lots of time studying Scripture, so a good commentary is an invaluable resource. Here are some excellent ones fresh off the press.

Robert H. Stein’s volume on Mark (Baker) is part of the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series. Stein, who teaches New Testament at Southern Baptist Seminary, is also one of the general editors of this excellent series, which is designed to help pastors and teachers engage in serious expositional study.


Another helpful resource from the same publisher is the Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms. John Goldingay’s Psalms 90-150 is the third and final volume of his massive commentary on the Book of Psalms. (The last volume alone is more than 800 pages.) Goldingay teaches OT at Fuller Seminary, and his commentary is a premier aid to anyone engaged in serious study of the psalms.


Sorry if it seems like Baker Books week, but the publisher has also recently released two more volumes in its Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament: Acts by Mikeal Parsons and Hebrews by James Thompson. This series is aimed at students who are studying the theological issues in the biblical text, and it deals with the text in "rhetorical units" rather than verse-by-verse; but preachers will find helpful insights in these volumes as they do their own expositional studies.


Finally, pastors will welcome the beginning of a new series, the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. The recently-released first volume is James by Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell. The series promises to be a helpful resource for preachers and teachers who want to draw on exegetical insights from the text without getting tied up in scholarly arguments of little relevance to your work as a biblical communicator.

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


The golfer had a life-long ambition to play one hole at Pebble Beach, Calif., the way the pros do. The pros drive the ball out over the water onto the green that is on a spit of land that juts out off the coast.

It was something he had tried hundreds of times without success. His ball always fell short, into the ocean. Because of this he never used a new ball on this particular hole. He always picked out one that had a cut or a nick.

Eventually, he went back to Pebble Beach to try again. When he came to the fateful hole, he teed up an old cut ball and said a silent prayer. Before he hit it, however, a powerful voice from above said, "Wait! Replace that old ball with a brand new ball."

He complied, sensing the Lord seemed to be implying He was going to let him finally achieve his lifelong ambition. As he stepped up to the tee once more, the voice came down again: "Wait! Step back and take a practice swing."

So, he stepped back and took a practice swing.
The voice boomed out again: "Wait! Take another practice swing."

He did. Silence followed.

Then the voice spoke out again: "Put back the old ball." (Mikey’s Funnies)


1. Laughing so hard that your face hurts.

2. No lines at the supermarket, bank or post office.
3. Taking a drive on a pretty road.
4. Hearing your favorite song on the radio.
5. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.
6. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer.
7. A good conversation.

8. Lying on a warm, sunny beach.
9. Finding a $20 bill in your coat from last winter.

10. Sharing a sunset with someone special.
11. Running through sprinklers.
12. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all.
13. Friends.
14. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.
15. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep.
16. Playing with a new puppy.
17. Having someone play with your hair.
18. Swinging on swings.
19. Making chocolate chip cookies.
20. Holding hands with someone you care about.
21. Knowing you’ve done the right thing, no matter what other people think.

If it sounds too good to be true …

That’s what 30,000 people discovered when they responded to an online ad offering access to a "new technology that harnesses the rays of a computer screen to give office workers a tan while they type."

According to a Feb. 5 report in the Times of London, ComputerTan is actually a ruse by the U.K. skin cancer charity Skcin to raise awareness of skin cancer in the U.K. According to the news report, "Users who registered for a PC tanning session through the fake ComputerTan Web site expected to be bathed in heated rays, but were in fact confronted by an alarming collection of facts about skin cancer and illustrations and photographs of the disease."

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