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Preaching is a mysterious business, and in some ways it's more mysterious to me now than when I started out. Sometimes the message you wish you could put in the discard pile will be the one God uses to change someone's life. Giving a bad message can bring just the humility you need to remember that preaching—and the kingdom in general—is never subject to human management or control.

What should we aim to hear when we're done preaching? After Jesus' first sermon, people were cut to the heart, and they asked what they needed to do to be saved. That's not a bad response to pray for. It sure beats Ruga Ruga Ruga.

John Ortberg is pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.

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Criticism  |  Preachers  |  Preaching  |  Teaching
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