Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue



New!

Resisting Gossip was released on September 3rd by CLC Publications.

Learn More

Preview, download, and read the endorsements, table of contents, foreword by Ed Welch of CCEF, introduction, and first chapter at the CLC Facebook page.

Order Today

Resisting Gossip is available through these and other booksellers:

Amazon

CLC Book Center

ChristianBook.com

WTSBooks.com

Next Step Resources

and in a growing list of e-book formats.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2014 EFCA Theology Conference

I'm slow, but I get there.

It's been almost 3 months since the EFCA held our 2014 Theology Conference on "Christian Faithfulness in a Changing Culture," but I just finished listening to all of the talks today.

I know that I can be prone to exaggeration, but I don't think it's hyperbole to say that this conference was simply excellent. From the pre-conference exploration of the Trinity (which I reported on earlier) to the lectures by various thought-leaders and also the panels where they interacted, I found myself encouraged, sharpened, and goaded on into better thinking and engagement.

All of the talks are available for download (and FREE, it's our middle name). I'd especially recommend the thoughts about race by Vincent Bacote, the church history informed talk by Jeffrey Bingham, and the incredibly positive and counter-intuitive perspective of Leith Anderson.

Thanks to Greg Strand and the rest of the leaders at the EFCA National office for creating this event--it's a labor of love.

I'm going to make an effort to go to next year's conference on the doctrine of the scriptures.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Gossip Is a Spiritual Issue" by Callie Glorioso-Mays

Relevant Magazine has published an insightful article on gossip by a writer named Callie Glorioso-Mays.

The author opens by confessing her own propensity to gossip and laments that gossip is seen as acceptable and perhaps unconquerable.

She uses evocative word pictures:

Each time we gossip and brush it off as a minor, respectable sin, are we simply strengthening our immunity to the Holy Spirit’s conviction?
Like a house that looks fine except a slightly creaky floor or leaky roof, we want to believe that gossip is a superficial and trivial issue in our lives.
But gossip is more like a house filled with termites, feasting away at the frame of that house and inflicting severe damages. The result is that the fa├žade still stands, but gossip has wormed its way into our core, leaving us a hollowed-out shell.
Glorioso-Mays then goes for the heart of gossip--pride and idolatry. She identifies four different idols that lead to gossip: superiority, retribution, acceptance, and control. Readers of Resisting Gossip will recognize how these would map onto the gallery of gossips of chapter three and could hopefully extrapolate more possible idols that would also lead to gossip as well as gospel solutions to each one.

She ends with a promise of increasing spiritual health if we can cut out our soul-hurting diet of gossip.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus Is Not a Zombie"

 “Jesus Is Not a Zombie”
Resurrection Sunday
Luke 24:1-53 :: April 20, 2014

Well, we all know that on a Sunday when we have baptisms, that I’m just the opening act for the main event.  Amen?

In just a few minutes, we’re going to hear from five young men who are going to tell us their stories of faith in Jesus Christ, and then we’re all going to have the privilege of witnessing their baptisms together.

And it’s very exciting for me because I’m not just the pastor of these 5 guys, but I’m also the Dad of 3 of them. My three sons.

But before we do all that, we need to hear a word from God’s Word.

And that word will come from the Gospel of Luke chapter 24.

For the last 6 weeks, I’ve been reading to you from the Gospel of Luke about what we call “Passion Week.”  Starting with Palm Sunday and the Triumphal Entry and then progressing each week a little further until last week when we read about the crucifixion, death, and burial of our Lord Jesus.

Today, we’ll finish that story.

And let me tell you what we’re going to read.

We’re going to read about Jesus coming back from the dead.

We’ve already said it and sung about it today and had it sung to us. But Jesus didn’t stay dead. He came back to life.

Christ Is Risen.
He Is Risen Indeed.

But what does that mean?  What does that look like?

And what does it mean for us today?

Let me reveal to you the title of today’s message. I told Marilynn that it was a secret and that she wasn’t allowed to put it on the back of the bulletin.

Here it is: “Jesus Is Not A Zombie.”

How’s that for a shocker of a headline?

And 99% of us here say, “Well, yeah. Of course He’s not. I didn’t need to go to church to learn that one!”

“Jesus Is Not a Zombie.”

But I think it needs said today. I’ve had this title rolling around in my mind for the last month as Resurrection Sunday has approached.

Have you noticed our culture’s growing fascination with zombies?

Zombies are everywhere.

It’s mainly a joke, “Are you ready to survive the ‘Zombie Apocalypse?’”

Zombie’s are funny, apparently. I’m not exactly sure why, but people find them so.

But they’re also good for a scare. People love the horror and being shocked.

Zombies are very popular right now.  There are actually books that take Jane Austen (you know, Pride and Prejudice) and add zombies to the story. Who would buy that? But they do.

The most watched basic cable television drama show in history is called “The Walking Dead” which is basically about zombies and people being attacked by zombies. The premiere episode for The Walking Dead’s fourth season (which is now rated TV-MA by the way, worse than TV-14 (I can’t imagine that anyone ought to watch this show), the premiere episode of this show) had 16.1 million viewers. That’s 5 million more than Duck Dynasty.

Our culture is fascinated with zombies.  The undead. The walkers. Those who have died, but are still somehow reanimated, still walking. Still functioning but are no longer really human.

“And what would happen if....?”

Why is our culture so fascinated with zombies?

I don’t know.
Perhaps we want to be shocked so that we feel something.
Perhaps we want some kind of sense of the supernatural, that there is power out there.

Superheroes are even more popular now than zombies, right?  We could talk about that sometime, too.

But why zombies, other than our fascination with darkness, horror, chaos, and evil?

I think it has to do with death and life.

What is death and what is life?  What happens after death?

Could there be life after death, and what would it be like?

Would be it be simple reanimation? Dead body parts come back to a semblance of life?

Or...dare we hope for more?  For true resurrection.

The risen Jesus is not a zombie.

Let’s let Luke tell us what He is really like.

By the way, this picture is actually a picture of a sunset in Oaxaca Mexico, but when I saw it, it made me think of a sunrise in Israel.

That Sunday morning when Jesus was no longer in his tomb.

The women came with the spices. They didn’t know how they were going to get in to Jesus’s body because of that big rock.

But the rock was rolled away, and Jesus wasn’t there.

Two angels were and they said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!”

The women told the men the story but they weren’t believed. Perhaps because they were women but also because their story was so fantastic.

What do you mean he wasn’t there?
What do you mean “angels?”
What do you mean “risen?”

But these two disciples, one of them Cleopas, maybe the other Mrs. Cleopas, encounter Jesus Himself on the road to Emmaus. They were kept from recognizing Him at first, but it was Him!

And after He explained the whole Bible and the whole story, and they broke bread together, they could see that it was Him.

And they ran back to town and met the Eleven and the rest (v.34) and they said “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” And the two said, “Us, too!”

Here’s point #1 of 3 this morning.

#1. THE RISEN JESUS IS NOT A HOAX.

Here is the testimony of these eyewitnesses, (v.34), “It is true!”

This is not just a story that someone cooked up.

It’s not a bedtime story or a fairy tale.
It’s not a myth. It’s not a metaphor.
It’s not just something nice we tell the kids.
It’s not just a story we cooked up to make us feel better.

“It is true!”

This is not a conspiracy to hide the body of Jesus to make people think that we have something good going on in Christianity.

The risen Jesus is not a hoax.

The gospel of Matthew tells us that the chief priests met with the guards who were supposed to have been watching the tomb, and paid them to say, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep” (Mt. 28:11-15).

So there is a hoax about the resurrection, but the hoax is that it didn’t happen.

The truth is that it did.

All of Christianity hangs on that historical claim.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we are wasting our time here this morning.

And these 5 young guys are wasting their time getting baptized.

Because it’s all based upon the fact that the tomb was empty and Jesus had risen as He said.

The Risen Jesus Is Not a Hoax.

Application? Investigate the evidence for yourself.

These were not the only eyewitnesses. The Bible says that there were more than 500 people who saw Jesus alive after His crucifixion.

You might be a skeptic. You might be need to weigh the evidence for yourself.

I know that I have needed that.

And when my faith gets shaken, I come back to the evidence for the resurrection, and I build my faith again on that foundation.

That’s why we’re giving away this book – The Case for Christ. We bought a case of them.  “A journalist’s personal investigation of the evidence for Jesus.”

Chapter 12, “The evidence of the missing body.”

Check it out for yourself. It will change your life.

The Risen Jesus is not a Hoax.

#2. THE RISEN JESUS IS NOT A GHOST.

Did you notice that in verse 37?

The disciples were afraid that Jesus was a ghost.

A disembodied spirit. Perhaps like Samuel a few weeks ago.

“They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.”

He wasn’t a ghost.

He had flesh and bones.

He could be touched.

Yes, He came and went dramatically. Even appearing within locked doors.

So maybe His new body had new properties that were supernatural. But it was definitely Him.

“Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see.”

The risen Jesus is not a ghost.

Application?  Stop doubting and believe.

That’s what Jesus said to Thomas. “Stop doubting and believe.”

Put your doubts away that this is all a game or a ghost story, and believe.

That’s what these 5 young guys are doing by getting baptized today. They are saying that they choose away from doubt and into faith.

They believe.

After you’ve done your investigation, then put your faith in the truth. Don’t waver, don’t wander. Don’t hedge your bets.

Put all of your weight down on Jesus.

Trust Him. Believe.

Because the Risen Jesus is Not a Hoax, and He’s not a Ghost.

And #3. THE RISEN JESUS IS NOT A ZOMBIE.

Is pretty obvious, isn’t it, from reading the story.

He’s not a mummy coming all wrapped up out of the tomb like something from an Egyptian B-Movie. The strips of linen are lying by themselves (24:12).

He’s not a reanimated walking corpse that is somehow dead and also somehow kind of alive.

He IS alive! V.40

“When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.”

Ghosts don’t eat those things. Zombies don’t either.

There is no such thing as zombies.

He is showing them that it is Him, alive, and full alive.

Zombies don’t have a great Bible study conversations like verse 27. “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he expained to them what was said in all of the Scriptures concerning Himself.”

Or verse 44, “‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day...”

That’s what’s happened.

Jesus has risen from the dead.

He’s not a zombie.

The truth is better than any horror story ever imagined.

Jesus is not the walking dead.

He was dead, but He is now alive!

And He’s alive now forever.

That’s what He says in Revelation chapter 1.

The Risen Jesus says to John, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!” (Rev 1:18a).

The book of Hebrews says that his life is now “indestructible” (Heb 7:16).

He’s not a zombie.  Zombies can be defeated and laid to waste. Depending on who’s telling the story, there are lots of ways of stopping a zombie.

But the Risen Jesus is not a zombie.

He is not just reanimated.

He is resurrected!

The perishable has been clothed with the imperishable.
And the mortale has been clothed with immortality.

And death has been defeated.

Application?

Rejoice and Bear Witness.

Rejoice because it means your salvation if you believe.
Rejoice because it means your own resurrection someday.

The Bible says that we will have resurrection bodies like Jesus’ body.

We will not be zombies, either!

Philippians 3, “Our citizenship is heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Phil 3:20-21)!

Rejoice! We have so much more to look forward to if we belong to Jesus!

Rejoice!

And bear witness. Tell the world that Jesus is risen.

That’s what Jesus told these disciples that day. V.47

“....repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

Bear witness.

Tell other people about Jesus.

That’s what these 5 young guys are doing today, as well.

They are telling the nations that Jesus is alive and they belong to Him.

They are being buried with Him in baptism. Down in to the waters symbolizing His death.

And then up out of the water to symbolize His resurrection and anticipate theirs.

Jesus is not a hoax. Investigate the evidence for yourself.
Jesus is not a ghost. Stop doubting and believe.
Jesus is not a zombie. He is resurrected and fully alive forever and ever.

Rejoice and Give Witness to Him.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Anti-Social Media: Whisper, Secret, and Yik Yak

Readers of this blog can probably guess what I think of the new apps for anonymous sharing of secrets.

Very. Bad. Idea.

"A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret." - Proverbs 11:13

"A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends." - Proverbs 16:28

"The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts." - Proverbs 18:8, 26:22

***

"Anti-Social Media" is a new feature/label here on Hot Orthodoxy where we report on and interact with new and disturbing trends in social media that correlate to the problem of gossip.


[RGB Stock Photo by Eric Cortner]

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reading "Risen" Again this Resurrection Season

This coming Sunday is Resurrection Sunday.

Starting Monday, I'm planning to re-read Risen: 50 Reasons Why the Resurrection Changes Everything. (Only $2.99 on Kindle today!)

I read it for the first time last year, and it was one of the 5 best books I read in 2013.

What are your plans to bask in the Risen Son?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Filled Tomb

The Biblical Counseling Coalition has just published a short meditation I wrote on "Reflections on the Burial of Jesus of Jesus for Biblical Counseling."
During this season, we Christians love to talk about “The Empty Tomb” because our Lord is risen. But before He could rise, He had to be buried. Before there was an empty tomb, there had to be a filled tomb.
I very briefly tease out 3 implications: salvation, sadness, and hope.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, April 14, 2014

2 Sermons on Resisting Gossip by Jim Larson

Pastor Jim Larson of Camarillo Evangelical Free Church has recently preached two key messages on the problem of gossip building upon Resisting Gossip.

#1. Recognizing Runaway Conversations (click on 03/23/14). (HANDOUT NOTES)

#2. Resisting Runaway Conversations (click on 03/30/14). (HANDOUT NOTES)

Jim wrote me an encouraging note last week saying that these messages have "made a deep impact on many in the congregation," and that he was recommending that church folks read through Resisting Gossip once a year. It is so humbling and heartening to hear how Resisting Gossip is helping people to change the way they talk to and about others!

If you listen to the messages, you'll hear that Jim himself is a wordsmith:

-  About James 3, he says, "I can't get a charcoal barbeque going with with gasoline and hand-grenades and yet the tongue seems to be that little organ that sets everything ablaze."

-  He describes the talking side of gossip as "active gossip" and the listening side as "passive gossip." (I wish I'd thought of that!)

- He points out that Absalom was the consummate backstabber.

- He says that some people are "absent-mindedly malicious" and that others are "Drive-by listeners" who are gawking at the lives of others.  (I'll be using that one, Jim!)

Jim ends his series saying, "We can do better. We don't have to be enslaved by speaking ill of people, by rejoicing in their weaknesses, by glorying in their dark side. We don't have to be that way. We can be people who rejoice in goodness and righteousness. Who look to build people up, not tear people down."

Amen!