PreachingNOW Vol. 7, No. 6 February 5, 2008 From the Editor: That’s Why They Play the Game Articles: A Word for the Preacher What the Unchurched Think Illustrations: Men, Christian Life Stress, Rest Marriage, FearBible Lesson Link of the Week Preacher’s Bookshelf Humor And Finally… “I used to say civilization is going to the dogs. But I quit saying that out of respect for dogs.” (Vance Havner) Sign up now for a 1-year subscription to Preaching Magazine. That’s 6 great issues for only $39.95-a savings of over 15% off the newsstand price! Subscribe Today Vol. 7, No. 6 February 5, 2008 Michael Duduit What an amazing Super Bowl this year! Too often the game has been anti-climactic – a one-sided contest that failed to live up to all the promotion and hype. But this year was a hard-fought battle between two outstanding teams that went right down to the wire, and the winning team was the one which few expected to take the trophy. That’s why you have to play the game. It’s been that kind of year in politics, too. One candidate seems to be riding high, only to take a tumble as the next one comes from behind to win. A candidate is all but counted out of the race, only to end up resurging and becoming the favorite for the nomination. That’s why you have to count the votes. Ever felt that way about your ministry? Despite all the hard work and long hours you’ve invested, sometimes it seems like things never will improve. Then, when you least expect it, a new presence of God’s Spirit sweeps through your church and lives are changed forever. That’s why you have to trust the Lord. Michael Duduit, Editormichael@preaching.comwww.michaelduduit.com Visit Preaching.com this week and check out my podcast interview, plus our featured video and audio sermons of the week. Go to www.preaching.com to learn more. A WORD FOR THE PREACHER In his wonderful new book Doctrine that Dances (B&H Publishers), Robert Smith reminds us we need our own walk with God even as we minister to others: “As exegetical escorts, we often carry the Word for the benefit of others. We always have a word for the church. Wouldn’t it be strange on Sunday morning for the pastors to say to their congregations, ‘The service is cancelled for lack of a Word from God’? The challenge for preachers is to have a word from God for themselves! Wouldn’t it be unimaginable and unthinkable for a gas truck to be stranded on the side of the road? A gas truck has two tanks: one for the station it is delivering gas to and the other for the fueling of its own engine. The gas truck might be full of gas for its regular deliveries, but it is going nowhere because its own personal gas tank is empty. Preachers of the Word cannot afford to run out of gas because their own spiritual vitality is at stake. They cannot entertain the possibility of even running on fumes. The result is personal dryness and emptiness.” (Click here to learn more about Doctrine that Dances.) WHAT THE UNCHURCHED THINK America’s unchurched are willing to hear what people have to say about Christianity, but a majority also sees the church as a place full of hypocrites, according to a LifeWay Research study. Seventy-two percent of those interviewed think the church “is full of hypocrites.” Yet 71 percent said they believe Jesus “makes a positive difference in a person’s life” and 78 percent would “be willing to listen” to someone who wanted to share what they believe about Christianity, while 64 percent think “the Christian religion is relevant and viable for today.” Seventy-two percent of unchurched adults believe God, a higher or supreme being actually exists. Only 48 percent agree there is only one God as described in the Bible, and 61 percent believe the God of the Bible is no different from gods or spiritual beings depicted in non-Christian religions. Up from 17 percent in 2004, 22 percent of Americans say they never go to church – the highest ever recorded by the General Social Survey. Seventy-nine percent of unchurched Americans think Christianity today is more about organized religion than about loving God and loving people; 86 percent believe they can have a good relationship with God without being involved in church. Forty-four percent say Christians “get on my nerves.” Yet, 89 percent of the unchurched have at least one close Christian friend. While turned off by church, 78 percent are willing to listen to someone who wants to talk about their Christian beliefs. The number rose to 89 percent among adults ages 18-29. Additionally, 78 percent say they would enjoy an honest conversation with a friend about religious and spiritual beliefs, even if they disagreed. Only 28 percent think Christians they know talk to them too much about their beliefs. (Baptist Press 1/9/08, via Church Leaders Intelligence Report) HEAR SOME OF AMERICA’S MOST INSIGHTFUL PREACHERS AT NCP 2008 Plan now to join us for the 19th annual National Conference on Preaching, which will be held April 7-9 in suburban Washington, DC. “Preaching and the Public Square: Where Do Pulpit and Culture Meet?” is the provocative theme of the three-day event. You’ll enjoy insights and inspiration from some of America’s finest preachers and teachers, including: Chuck Colson Rick Warren James MacDonald Barry Black William Willimon A.R. Bernard Mark Batterson James Emery White Robert Smith Jr. J. Alfred Smith Timothy Warren Greg Thornbury and many more. To learn more or to register, visit the NCP website at www.preaching.com/ncp or call (toll free) 1-866-460-0950. MEN, CHRISTIAN LIFE In the fall 2007, Blueberry Ford in Machias, Maine, was renovating their show room. The dealer took advantage of this event and took the opportunity to have a sales promotion. All around the dealership were yellow signs in the style of yellow caution signs that one would see at a construction site. On the signs printed in black letters were the words “Under Construction: Price Reductions.” As I was having my car serviced, I was waiting in the customer lounge and noticed one of the signs on a door near the lounge. At first it seemed pretty normal; the signs were all over the place. Eventually the humor of it hit me. Someone had put one of the signs strategically under the “Men” sign on the men’s room door. Now the message was “Men Under Construction: Price Reduction.” I am glad the construction project that Christ began in me when He saved me has not reduced my value in the eyes of the Lord. I am truly a man under construction, yet my value is in the fact that God made me and that He has a claim on my life. God loves me, and He never will give up on me. I am His work in progress. (Robert Weaver, Wilson’s Beach United Baptist Church, Campobello Island, NB STRESS, REST Mark Earley recently observed: “From Starbucks, to Red Bull, to No-Doz, Americans are showing signs of addiction to caffeine. Sixty percent of us drink a cup of coffee a day. On average we will drink 52 gallons of soda this year. And Starbucks – they get a whopping $5.3 billion of our collective dough. Whether we are chemically stimulated because we do not get enough sleep, or whether the caffeine itself is depriving us of precious rest, we also are sleeping less than ever before. Americans get an average of six and a half hours of sleep a night, a 25 percent drop since the early 1900s. No wonder we are stressed.” (Breakpoint, 1-17-08) From the March-April issue of Preaching …In a sermon about time, pastor Mike Glenn observes: “Anytime Jesus was asked to give a prediction, anytime people pressed for a sign, He would always tell them, ‘You be obedient in this moment. You pay attention to the opportunity in front of you and we’ll let tomorrow take care of itself.’ Jesus would always remind His disciples the future is already finished. We have that handled. What you need to be aware of right now is what moment God has given you. What is before you now? “But a lot of us like to live as the early disciples lived. We want to live like children whose parents have gone out of town for the weekend. So we leave Frito bags and open cans of Coke all around the house, and we can guess when our parents are going to come back. In those last few hours of Sunday afternoon we clean up the house like crazy, assuming that the mess never seen is the mess never made. “A lot of us want to live our lives that way with Jesus. We watch for the signs. Jesus said that is like the man who knew what time his house was going to be broken into. “Did you hear that? You didn’t, because you didn’t laugh. If you had heard it, you would have fallen over laughing. This is the story Jesus tells them. He says, ‘It’s like the man who is sitting in a gathering, looks at his watch and goes, “Sorry, guys, I’ve got to go.” Why? “There’s a guy who is going to break in my house at 9:30 and I really want to be there when he breaks in.”’ “If you knew your house was going to be broken into, you never would have left it. You would be prepared for the break in. Jesus said, ‘In the same way, you know I am coming back. Why do you live as if I never will?’” _______ 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 March-April issue of Preaching: Insightful articles on preaching and culture, plus our annual survey of the past year’s best books for preachers (including out Preaching Book of the Year and our Top Ten list), sermons by Chuck Swindoll and Stuart Briscoe, and much more. Order your subscription today! PastorLife was created by the Georgia Baptist Convention as a subscription-based resource for pastors, but now provides a nice collection of sermons and illustrations at no cost. You can visit the site by clicking here. “Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” (Martin Luther) Any pastor who has been in service for many years knows the public perception of clergy has changed significantly. Now in his book God’s Ambassadors (Eerdmans), E. Brooks Hollifield has provided a substantial and interesting history of Christian clergy in America. Church leaders will benefit from understanding how the ministry has changed since the nation’s earliest days. Speaking of history, those who like to study the history of preaching will enjoy Preaching Politics: The Religious Rhetoric of George Whitefield and the Founding of a New Nation (Baylor Univ. Press) by Jerome Dean Mahaffey. He argues that Whitefield’s preaching helped create an American religious identity that prepared the way for the American Revolution. It’s not a new idea, but it’s one that Mahaffey argues well. (Click on the title to learn more or order from Amazon.) The issue of suffering is an ever-present concern in Christian ministry, and most of us touch on that issue from time to time in preaching. A new helpful resource is Lynn Gardner’s Where Is God When We Suffer (College Press Publishing). A long-time Bible college professor, Gardner shares out of his own experience, then does a good job of surveying biblical insights about suffering. This will be a useful tool as we preach and teach on the subject. MARRIAGE, FEAR One Sunday morning, everyone in a bright, beautiful, tiny town got up early and went to the local church. Before the services started, the townspeople were sitting in their pews and talking about their lives, their families, etc. Suddenly, Satan appeared at the front of the church. Everyone started screaming and running for the front entrance, trampling each other in a frantic effort to get away from evil incarnate. Soon everyone was evacuated from the church, except for one elderly gentleman who sat calmly in his pew, not moving, seemingly oblivious to the fact that God’s ultimate enemy was in his presence. Now this confused Satan a bit, so he walked up to the man and said, “Don’t you know who I am?” The man replied, “Yep, sure do.” Satan asked, “Aren’t you afraid of me?” “Nope, sure ain’t,” said the man. Satan was a little perturbed at this and queried, “Why aren’t you afraid of me?” The man calmly replied, “Been married to your sister for more than 48 years.” (Pearlygates List) BIBLE LESSON The pastor called all the children up to the front for the weekly Bible story. Little Jimmy listened intently to the story of Lot. The pastor said, “The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city, but his wife looked back and was turned to salt.” Very concerned, Jimmy asked, “What happened to the flea?” THINGS YOU DON’T HEAR ANYMORE ~ Be sure to refill the ice trays — we’re going to have company after while. ~ Watch for the postman — I want to get this letter to Aunt Mary in the mail today. ~ Don’t slam the screen door on your way out! ~ Don’t forget to wind the clock before you go to bed. ~ Why can’t you remember to roll up your pant legs? Getting them caught in the bicycle chain so many times is tearing them up. ~ You have torn the knees out of that pair of pants so many times there is nothing left to put a patch on. ~ Don’t go outside with your good school clothes on! ~ Be sure and pour the cream off the top of the milk when you open the new bottle. ~ Take that empty bottle to the store with you so you won’t have to pay a deposit on another one. ~ Quit jumping on the floor! I have a cake in the oven and you are going to make it fall if you don’t quit! ~ Let me know when the Fuller Brush man comes by — I need to get a few things from him. ~ You can walk to the store; it won’t hurt you to get some exercise. ~ Don’t sit too close to the TV. It is hard on your eyes. ~ Get out from under the sewing machine; pumping it messes up the thread! ~ Go out to the well and draw a bucket of water so I can wash dishes. ~ No! I don’t have nine cents for you to go to the show. Do you think money grows on trees? ~ If you get a spanking in school and I find out about it, you’ll get another one when you get home. ~ Quit crossing your eyes! They’ll get stuck that way! (from Mikey’s Funnies) Leave it to a French news agency to report that Britons are losing touch with reality. Nearly a quarter of present-day British citizens believe Winston Churchill was a mythical character, according to a UKTV Gold television survey, as reported by Agence France-Presse. The same percentage also thought Florence Nightingale was not a real person. Among the top ten persons considered to have been myths were Mahatma Gandhi and the Duke of Wellington (who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo). However, 58 percent of respondents thought Sherlock Holmes – the fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – was a real person. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.