Thursday, September 03, 2015

Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue



One Year Old!

Resisting Gossip was released on September 3, 2013 by CLC Publications.

Learn More

Preview, download, and read the endorsements, table of contents, foreword by Ed Welch of CCEF, introduction, and first chapter here.

Follow the story of the publishing or Resisting Gossip and discover many of the ways it's being used around the world by subscribing to the email newsletter.

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.

Now Even More

Go deeper into Resisting Gossip with the new participant's guide and Bible study Resisting Gossip Together, the corresponding video teaching series, and the Spanish version, Resistiendo el Chisme.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Thursday, July 30, 2015

#18. What does it mean to pray "in the Spirit?"

Christian Prayer Catechism: Question #18

Q. What does it mean to pray "in the Spirit?"

A. To pray "in the Spirit" is to pray knowing God is present and active in my life.


God the Spirit is on site and constantly at work in every believer’s life. We need to pray, therefore, in dependence on Him and His work. It’s not some "spooky" trance, but it is supernatural. Wayne Grudem says, "To pray ‘in the Holy Spirit’ then, is to pray with the conscious awareness of God’s presence surrounding us and sanctifying both us and our prayers" (Systematic Theology, pg. 382).

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Second Printing for "Resisting Gossip Together!"

Rejoice with me!

CLC Publications has had to order a second printing of Resisting Gossip Together, the participant's guide and Bible study.

To learn more about Resisting Gossip Together, read this interview I did with the Biblical Counseling Coalition.

I also have a page on this blog dedicated to extra resources that fit with RGT and each lesson in the book also has a corresponding video that teaches the essential message of each chapter.

It's wonderful to hear stories of people who are using RGT to deepen their understanding of the biblical teaching on gossip and also bring together a study group to work through the material with one another.

Pastor Brad Bigney of Grace Fellowship Church in Florence Kentucky recently said, "A+++ I would use them again." So encouraging!

A great place to purchase Resisting Gossip Together is Westminster Bookstore who also has a starter pack of 5 books and study guides at 35% off the list price.

Monday, July 27, 2015

"I Hate My Guts" - Surgery Wednesday

Unflattering Photo by Robin Mitchell
Both readers of this blog will have noted that there hasn't been much fresh content here this Summer as I've been dealing with diverticulitis and other intestinal difficulties.

As I said in church a few weeks ago, Heather has started saying to me, "I hate your guts!" And so do I. It's been a difficult Summer with office visits, "listening to my body" (which apparently speaks a foreign language I haven't learned), and trying to estimate my limits.

At the same time, I know that so many more people have gone through so much worse than I have. I am grateful for each and every day and the gifts in each and every day. God's mercies are daily served up fresh and hot. I've been trying to learn spiritual lessons from our Lord's School of Affliction and lean on Him for peace, joy, and wisdom.

This path led me to the hospital again over the weekend because of increased pain even while on  antibiotics. And now we've confirmed a surgery (a bowel resection, sorry for the gory details) on Wednesday.

This is a great relief to me because, while painful to undergo and to recover from, it should solve most of the problems I have been experiencing this Summer.

So if you have been praying for me--thank you--this is an answer to them!  I feel very loved and cared for by my friends, family, and church family.

Pray for me as I continue in the hospital being prepared for surgery. I feel better today than I have in some time. Pray also for Heather and the kids and for our loving church family.

My friend and author photographer, Schenley, captioned the above photo as "This is going on the back of your next book, Resisting Diverticulitis: Winning the War of the Leaking Gut (or, What Happens When You Ask God to Teach You Through Your Suffering.)"

I hope that's not my next book title, but I think it's pretty funny. Maybe I shouldn't hate my guts after all...

Now at CCEF: Keeping Gossip Out of Prayer Requests

CCEF has published my article "Keeping Gossip Out of Prayer Requests" on their blog.

I'm looking forward to sharing a breakout session at their upcoming national conference "Side by Side: How God Helps Us to Help Others" in October.

My talk will be: "Behind Their Backs: When Side-by-Side Ministry Is Distorted by Gossip"  and is described this way in the conference schedule:
Gossip is notoriously hard to define and even harder to resist. It is as alluring and addictive as it is dangerous and hurtful to others. This workshop will equip those involved in personal ministry to grow in their ability to recognize gossip when they encounter it, to resist gossip when they are tempted to listen or pass it on, and to respond in faith and love when they are the unwitting target of harmful clandestine talk.
I love the ministry of CCEF (I call myself a "CCEF-Junkie") so it's a great privilege and deep pleasure to partner with them in this conference. I can't hardly wait.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

#17. What does it mean to "pray without ceasing?"

Christian Prayer Catechism: Question #17

Q. What does it mean to "pray without ceasing?"

A. Praying without ceasing is living our lives "on speakerphone" with God.


Praying "without ceasing" is not being constantly on our knees and disengaged from the rest of the world. It is, however, maintaining a vital connection with God through directed thoughts, meditation, simple spoken and unspoken prayers, and conscious and unconscious dependence on God in Christ throughout our days (Neh. 2:4, 1 Thess. 5:17).

Sunday, July 19, 2015

[Matt's Messages] "Encounter the God of the Universe"

“Encounter the God of the Universe”
Family Bible Week 2015
July 19, 2015 :: Psalm 147

As you’ve seen today, the theme of our Family Bible Week was “To the Edge,” and the subtitle of our theme is our title for today’s message, “Encounter the God of the Universe.”

And by that, we don’t mean encounter the god that the universe is. We mean encounter the God who made the universe in which  we live. Encounter the  God Who created everything that there is.

That’s the God our kids have been learning about all week long.

And when I thought about that theme, my mind went to the 147th Psalm, especially verse 4 which Marilynn put on the cover of your bulletins today.

Psalm 147 is about encountering the God of the universe. And more than just encountering Him, worshiping him, and more than just worshiping Him, wondering at Him, and more than just wondering at Him, putting our hope in His unfailing love.

I have just three short points this morning. All are application.

This psalm wants us to encounter and respond to the God of the universe in at least three ways.
Worship, Wonder, and Hope.

Let’s take those one at a time.

#1.WORSHIP!

Did you hear all of the worship words in this psalm?

It starts and ends with the call, “Praise the LORD!”

Praise YHWH!

Do you know what the Hebrew is for that?

Hallelujah!

V.1 “Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!”

It’s just right to praise God!

And to sing to God. V.7 “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.”

And the guitar, and the bass, and the keyboard, and the drumset!

Verse 12. “Extol the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion...”

Praise, Sing, Extol. Those are worship words.

This psalm wants us to encounter the God of the universe and bring Him the worship that He deserves.

Let me ask you a question.

Does the psalmist give us any reasons to worship God?

You bet he does. This psalm is just loaded with reasons to worship God.

And they turn on two different points.

One is that God is the amazingly powerful creator of everything and Lord of the universe and the other is that God lovingly cares for His people, in this case, the Old Testament people of Israel.

V.2 “The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

This psalm was probably written after the exile of Israel when they were being restored to the land. The story covered in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah which the adult class talked some about this week.

The LORD cares for His people. Verse 13 has the same theme.

“He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.”

God provided for Zion, for His covenant people. Including giving them the Law. V.19

“He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws. Praise the LORD.”

Again, that’s in the age of the Old Covenant. God had a special relationship with Israel, and the psalmist says that because of that God’s people should worship Him.

But most of the verses talk about how powerful He is over all of creation and how that should lead us to worship.

V.8  “He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.”

V.15 “He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes [remember snow and frost?]. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.”

Do you see how God is credited with being responsible for nature?

How God is in control of everything, including the weather?

Everybody cares about the weather, but none of us can control it.

But God can!

And because of that, God deserves our worship.

More than that, God deserves our wonder.

#2. WONDER!

Our praise should be full of marveling at God’s majesty.

This theme is so clear in verse 4.

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”

This is a God who deserves astronomical praise!

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.”

That is a mind-blowing statement.

Do you know many stars there are?

Cody asked the kids that question during Family Bible Week, and one of them said, “There must be a least a hundred!”

Without Googling does anybody want to take a stab at how many stars there are?

It’s not millions.

It’s not billions.

It’s 70 billion trillions.

That’s 7 times 10 to the 22nd power.

If I’m doing the math correctly, and that’s always a possible concern, 70 billion trillion is a 7 with 22 zeroes after it.

And that’s just the stars in what astronomers call the "Observable Universe."

There may be and most probably is more than that out there.

Now, get this and get ready to wonder:

Our LORD determines the number of those stars.

And the psalmist says that He calls them each by name.

Now, I don’t know if that means that God has His own pet name for each individual star, but it does mean that He created each one and is Lord over each one.

Doesn’t that make your brain bubble?

Wow!

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”

Wonder!

When Heather and I were in California last month, we walked on the beach in Carlsbad each night.

And one night while we were there, Heather was taking pictures, and I just watched the waves come in and go out. Come in and go out.

And I thought about how many grains of sand there are and how I could never keep track of them, coming in and going out.

And right now, that same spot I was standing in the waves are still coming in and going out. Pounding away.

And I thought about how God knows every wave pounding that spot on that beach for however long.

Pound, pound, pound.

And more than that, He knows every spot on every beach in the world.

Pound, pound, pound.

The Lord Jesus said that every sparrow that hits the ground is known by God the Father.

“He determines the number of the stars [more than 70 billion trillion!] and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”

Wonder at the God of the Universe!

But not just at how big God is.

Wonder that that God wants a relationship with you!

That’s what’s been so amazing for our kids to think about this week.

The God of the universe who is not impressed by anything or anyone, wants us to enter into a personal relationship of faith and followership with Him.

This psalm wants us to know that it’s because we’re so wonderful ourselves.

V.6 “The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.”

He’s not impressed with the proud.

He’s not impressed by anyone or anything. V.10

“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”

He’s not looking for help.

He’s not look for strength.

He’s not looking for strong people to join His team.

He just wants us to fear Him and hope in Him. V.11

“The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”

#3. HOPE!

You know when I first read this psalm this week, it seemed a little proud.

Especially in verses 19 and 20.

“He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws. Praise the LORD.”

It sounded a little snooty to me.

But it’s not like that. This is WONDER. This is amazement.

This is the psalmist saying, “He paid attention to us? Little old Jacob? Little old Israel? He loved us? He reached out to us? The God who made everything. Who just says the word and it rains or snows or frosts or burns, or hails or blows or flows?”

That God has reached down to us?

Not the strong? But the humble?

Not the powerful but those who fear Him and put their HOPE in His unfailing love.

That’s who?!

That can be me.

That can be you.

That can be us.

Hope in God’s unfailing love.

The God of the universe is worthy of our worship.

When we encounter Him, we will wonder and praise and extol and sing.

And that God has invited us to put our faith in Him and Him alone.

Hope in His unfailing love.

And you and I know so much more about this God than the psalmist did.

We know that this God who names the stars humbled Himself and came to earth as  a little baby.

Jesus.

And then lived a perfect life and died on the Cross to save us from our own sins.

And then came back to life to give us life.

That’s unfailing love!

And it is our own only hope.

“The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”