From the Editor:

Bible Across America


Beyond Narrative
Americans Skeptical About the End of the World


Predictions, Lack of Vision
Honesty, Sales

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

"One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar."
(Helen Keller)


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    Vol. 8, No. 8 February 24, 2009    

Michael Duduit

"Bible Across America" is a promotional event sponsored by Zondervan Press, in which company representatives are traveling across the country and inviting people to write one verse of the Bible (NIV), thereby compiling a hand-written text involving several thousand scribes.

It occurred to me that we might try that with preachers: "Sermon Across America," traveling from church to church, inviting pastors to add the next line to the sermon being written by each consecutive preacher.

Some surely will protest that such a sermon is bound to be disjointed, unbalanced, lacking unity and organization.

Pretty much like a few sermons I’ve heard. And some I’ve preached.

Michael Duduit, Editor

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

This week’s Preaching Podcast: An interview with Michael Horton, Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California and author of the new book Christless Christianity. Click here to listen.


In his forthcoming book Preaching from Memory to Hope (Westminster John Knox), Thomas Long writes: "While I am not fully convinced by any of the arguments against narrative preaching, I am chastened by all of them, and persuaded by them of two truths: First, we no longer live in a sleeping Christendom waiting only to be aroused and delighted by evocative stories. The culture has shifted, and we need to take up with purpose Augustine’s two other terms: teaching and ethical speech.

"Preaching today is going to need to learn to speak in multiple voices, some of them more direct, commanding and urgent than narratives. The power in Christian preaching comes not only from narration but also from declaration (‘Christ has been raised from the dead!’), explanation (‘If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied’), invitation (‘Be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord’), confession (‘By the grace of God, I am what I am’) and even accusation (‘O death, where is your victory?’). Every rhetorical instrument of human truth telling needs to be pressed into the service of proclaiming the gospel and must become obedient to that gospel.

"Second, in the light of the vigorous critique of the sloppiest kinds of narrative preaching, preachers do not need to abandon storytelling but to get theologically smarter and more ethically discerning in its practice." (Click here to learn more about the book Preaching from Memory to Hope.)


Despite many popular doomsday predictions, most Americans aren’t concerned that the end of the world will occur in their lifetimes, according to a new study by LifeWay Research. Only 11 percent of the 1,600 people who participated in a survey on the topic said they agree with the statement, "I believe the world will end in my lifetime."

"Many religions predict a time when the world will end, be recreated or experience some cataclysmic transition," Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, said. "For others, that is not a religious issue, but is based on concerns from the environment to nuclear war. However, the belief that ‘the end is near’ is not that widespread, with a strong majority disagreeing with the statement."

The study found that Americans with higher incomes are less likely to believe the world will end soon: 71 percent of people making $100,000 or more disagree the world will end in their lifetimes. Meanwhile, 53 percent of those making $25,000 or less disagree with the scenario, while 15 percent agree. (Baptist Press, 2-16-09; click here to read full story.)


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 an article in Men of Integrity magazine, Gary Richmond shares this story: "The Angola giraffe was giving birth. I stood next to zoo animal keeper, Jack Badal, to watch. She was standing up, and the calf’s front hooves and head were already visible. ‘When is she going to lie down?’ I asked Jack.

"’She won’t,’ he answered.

"’But her hindquarters are nearly 10 feet off the ground!’ I said. ‘Isn’t anyone going to catch the calf?’

"’Try catching it if you want,’ Jack responded, ‘but its mother has enough strength in her hind legs to kick your head off.’ Soon the calf hurled forth, landing on his back. His mother waited for about a minute, then kicked her baby, sending it sprawling head over hooves.

"’Why’d she do that?’ I asked.

"’She wants it to get up.’ Whenever the baby ceased struggling to rise, the mother prodded it with a hearty kick. Finally, the calf stood–wobbly, but upright. The mother kicked it off its feet again! ‘She wants it to remember how it got up,’ Jack offered. ‘In the wild, if it didn’t quickly follow the herd, predators would pick it off.’

"It’s easy for us to view trials as unwelcome intruders in our lives, but they do have a way of prompting us to get up and seek the protection of our heavenly Father." (Gary Richmond, "It’s a Jungle Out There," Men of Integrity, 12-15-2004; via www.PreachingToday.com newsletter)


There have been quite a few wrong predictions in history. In 1901 Wilbur Wright said that man would not fly for 50 years. Henry Ford’s banker told him, "The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty a fad." The manager of the Grand Ole Opry fired Elvis Presley and said, "You ain’t goin’ nowhere, Son." And a Los Angeles surgeon said, "For the majority of people, the use of tobacco has a beneficial effect."  (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 1-29-09)

From the March-April issue of Preaching …

Each year, R. Albert Mohler Jr. writes an exceptional survey of the past year’s best books for preachers. (If you don’t know him, he reads about 17 million books a year–something that’s only possible because he sleeps about two hours a night.) He begins this year’s survey:

"Preachers are communicators of ideas, and as much as we are devoted to the biblical text and are thus first and foremost students of the scriptures, preachers are also avid readers of other material that will help us to be better thinkers, more knowledgeable teachers and more perceptive leaders. To that end, preachers are among the most ravenous readers of books and printed material.

"Each year, publishers release thousands of individual volumes directed toward preachers and others who share the responsibility of teaching and leading the people of God. Even as the current economic crisis finds print media in a state of distress, preachers are not likely to surrender their attachment and dependence on the printed word. In the end, as in the beginning, preachers are, like Paul, those who again and again request ‘the books and the parchments.’"

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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!

Michael Hyatt is President of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In that role, he makes a lot of presentations to various groups. In a recent posting in his excellent blog, he identifies the tools he uses to craft those presentations. (p.s. He doesn’t use PowerPoint; he uses something better.) Take a look at his recommendations here.

"Endless negotiations are like teaching a cat to swim. The cat never learns, and you get frustrated." (Seth Godin)

In Reaching Out in a Networked World (Alban Institute), Lynne Baab explores ways churches can use new media technology to express their own identity and values more effectively. Pastors and church leaders will learn much here about how changing modes of communication can be used as valuable tools for congregations.


The Bible is the divinely inspired revelation of God’s truth, but it is also a centerpiece of the culture that has shaped Christian life and tradition. In The Bible and the People (Yale Univ. Press), Lori Anne Ferrell takes us on a historical journey to examine the role the Bible has played in the life of the church and culture. From medieval illuminated manuscripts to traveling Bible salesmen, it’s a fascinating story.


What has all the preaching and teaching of recent years produced in the lives of believers? The Shape of Faith to Come (B&H) by Brad Waggoner presents the results of a major research study of active Protestant churchgoers, measuring their beliefs and actions against seven standards of spiritual formation: learning truth, obeying God and denying self, sharing faith, serving God and others, exercising biblical faith, building solid relationships and seeking God. It is an interesting–and unsettling–portrait of where the church stands today. It should drive you to your knees, then to your pulpit. (Watch soon for a Preaching Podcast interview with author Brad Waggoner.)

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


One day a man passed by a farm and saw a beautiful horse. Hoping to buy the animal, he said to the farmer: "I think your horse looks pretty good, so I’ll give you $500 for him."

"He doesn’t look good, and he’s not for sale," the farmer said.

The man insisted, "I think he looks good, and I’ll up the price to $1,000!"

"He doesn’t look so good," the farmer said, "but if you want him that much, he’s yours."

The next day the man came back raging mad. He went up to the farmer and screamed, "You sold me a blind horse! You cheated me!"

The farmer calmly replied, "I told you he didn’t look so good, didn’t I?"


Two vultures board an airplane, each carrying two dead raccoons. The flight attendant looks at them and says, "I’m sorry, gentlemen, only one carrion allowed per passenger."

Did you hear that NASA recently put a bunch of Holsteins into low earth orbit? They called it "the herd shot round the world."

Two boll weevils grew up in South Carolina. One went to Hollywood and became a famous actor. The other stayed behind in the cotton fields and never amounted to much. The second one, naturally, became known as the lesser of two weevils.

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank–proving once and for all that you can’t have your kayak and heat it, too.

Two friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened a florist shop to raise the funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from men of God, the rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He begged the friars to close, but they ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he’d be back if they didn’t close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that Hugh, and only Hugh, can prevent florist friars.

Sometimes you just need to know where to go to ask for help.

Apparently one Massachusetts man picked the wrong spot. According to a Feb. 11 AP story, the 21-year-old walked into a police station and asked for help removing a pair of handcuffs dangling from one wrist. He claimed he couldn’t remove the cuffs his sister slipped on him at a child’s birthday party.

Police ran his name through their computers and discovered he had outstanding warrants on charges of driving with a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident, threatening to commit a crime and making annoying phone calls.

Police removed the cuffs–then slipped on a new pair to arrest him.

They never confirmed his story about the party.

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