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Thursday, October 30, 2014

2 Sermons on Resisting Gossip by Jim Stewart

I love this!

This week while running the logsplitter to get us ready for Winter, I listened to two really good messages on resisting gossip by Pastor Jim Stewart of North Avenue Alliance Church, in Burlington Vermont:

    Gossip: A Community Killer

    Gossip: Don't Pass It On

Both messages are part of his ongoing series on being "Lonely in a Crowd." People are more technologically connected to each other than ever before and yet report feeling more lonely than ever before. Pastor Jim explains how Jesus is the answer to this problem. In these two messages, he identifies gossip as a community killer, defines it in terms recognizable to readers of Resisting Gossip with a focus on motivation, and lays out strategies for resisting this temptation ranging from very direct to very indirect.

Pastor Jim has read and recommends Resisting Gossip, but he doesn't merely repeat it. He has studied the biblical teaching and presents it in his own words, with his own stories, and in his own very engaging style. I especially enjoyed his unpacking and application of these phrases from 1 Corinthians 13 for resisting gossip: "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." I also thought his explanation of idolatry in our gossip motivations was really well put, "Gossip serves as a substitute for God at that moment."

What a privilege it is to hear how Resisting Gossip is being used! I'm so encouraged that pastors are reading my work and then teaching their flocks what the Bible says about gossip. I pray that churches would be strengthened and biblical community flourish as we grow in our understanding of God's Word.



Today is the last day for Westminster Bookstore's fantastic sale on resources for resisting gossip.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Definition of Gossip and the Art of Pastoring

Recently, I had an email conversation with a wise pastor who had some good practical questions about how to use my definition of gossip in pastoring people. Our interaction demonstrated a few things to me. First, that this is an important thing to be thinking about because it involves real people in real situations. Second, sometimes there are no easy answers. It's an art not a science. Third, pastoring is a terrific privilege and worth the hard work of learning to love people well.

I asked my new friend if I could post our conversation for others to read, and he said yes so long as we kept it anonymous. We don't want to gossip about those who might be gossiping! Below is a lightly edited version. Chime in, too, if you like, in the comments below.

***

Hi, Pastor Matt,

I have a read and watched many of your resources and am thankful for your ministry to the church. I have a couple questions on gossip and would love to hear your thoughts if you have some time:
  • Is it gossip for people to tell me (as a pastor) things in a counseling session? If not why would that be different than one friend coming to another friend to receive counsel? 
  • For that matter is sharing things in counseling, or in small group settings when people share their personal history or testimony in general about family history, conflict, etc. gossip? 
  • Is it gossip to share parts of our story that involve others negatively? A woman in our church often talks with other gals sharing her experience of abuse by her ex-husband. But is she gossiping about him in order to minister to others? 
  • Is it gossip to tell someone to watch out for another person because of danger? Paul seems to do this with various people. If it’s not gossip does that mean one single gal telling another single gal “I wouldn’t date that guy because he did…”? 
  • Can spouses share everything with one another since they are one or is that still gossip? 
  • Last one: if there is distance of relationship does it not counted as gossip? For instance, if someone shares with their friend about how they struggle with their Mom’s trying to be involved in their parenting is it okay to share that since the friend doesn’t know the mom at all and it doesn’t become divisive. 
If your able, thank you in advance, if not no worries.

Pastor Anonymous

***

Pastor Anon,

Great questions! Thanks for asking.

The short answer to all of them is, "It depends." It could be sinful gossip in any of those cases, but it might not be, especially depending upon motivations and how the information sharing was conducted (carefully and in love or carelessly, recklessly, and divisively?).

I've written a brief article about this on my blog, "So, Is This Gossip?" that might be helpful to you.

After reading that, let me know what you think.

Blessings,

-Matt

***

Hi Matt,

Thanks for the quick response. I appreciate it.

I had read that blog and I think I’m still left with questions. I’m sure I’m looking for a hard fast rule that simply doesn’t exist.

Most all of the instances I listed are done in a hidden way so that part of the definition is present. However, the “bad heart” seems hard to define. I think many times the way people defend their (potential) gossip is by saying “I wasn’t doing it to harm anyone I just needed counsel.” While that may be true it can still cause harm. In addition “bad heart” might not be trying to harm another person but rather trying to make ourselves look, appear, feel good, etc. So…I guess maybe a follow up question would be how would you define bad heart in these contexts? And isn’t it possible to do something that’s not from a bad heart but still has bad effects and thus we should refrain to begin with? I don’t know the answers to these…want to help folks not gossip, and not participate in it in my role as a pastor but also don’t want to draw unnecessary and even harmful lines in the sand.

Thanks for listening,

Pastor Anonymous

***

Dear Anony,

I understand. I went looking for those hard and fast rules when I did my biblical research and was disappointed to not find them.

The hard and fast rule we do have is that if we are loving those whom we are talking about and loving those to whom we are talking then we aren't going to be gossiping. What's difficult about that is that we can fool and justify ourselves and others can fool and justify themselves to us.

For ourselves, the more we are aware of our sinful tendencies and the biblical truth that undoes them, the more able we can be to see our own sin and turn away from it. That's the focus of my book. It's written to those who want to resist gossip in their own lives.

In ministry to others, we have to both (1) try not to judge others motives when they are doing something that looks, at first glance, unloving and sinful, and at the same time, (2) be discerning of possible motives that would be sliding a conversation into a dangerous place. We can really tell a lot about why someone is talking about someone else negatively by how they do it. Does it appear to be just someone running someone else down? Do we get facts and story that doesn't help anyone? Is there an attempt to provide alternate explanations for someone else's behavior or do they seem to be jumping to conclusions? Are the warnings being offered to others careful and nuanced based on facts or cutting and rash and based on feelings or hearsay? Is there evidence of the Golden Rule at work in this conversation or is it one-sided? In a conflict, has person A gone to person B, or are they talking about it with people C through Z who don't reasonably need to know any of these facts? Is there an obvious true, constructive, loving purpose to this conversation or is it aimless, careless, entertaining? You're right that our bad hearts may not be malicious to the one we are talking about but they might be careless and not thinking about the one we are talking about. That's a lack of love, as well.

Our pastoral response needs to be in proportion to what we discern is going on. If someone is spreading bad information, it's more cut and dried. If someone is calling families one-by-one in the church about a conflict to make sure that everyone knows all the details and won't go directly to the subjects of the talk, that's more obvious. But a few of your case studies call for more discernment.

Is that helpful? I could write more, but I'm trying to give the principle and let you work it out in your own practice.

-Matt

***

This is good Matt, thanks for helping me to continue to think through this. Appreciate the time very much so.

- Anonymous

***

You're welcome. It's a privilege to have gotten to study this on this level and share with others what I've been learning.

Blessings on you and your church family.

-Matt





Westminster Bookstore's fantastic sale on all resources for Resisting Gossip ends tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Gospel-Centered Counseling by Bob Kellemen

I'm currently reading the new book from Bob Kellemen, Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives.

So far, it's really good. Bob, the executive director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, and a prolific author is well-suited to write this entry-level textbook for equipping biblical counselors.

In the book, he addresses the biblical counselor’s foundational question:

“What would a model of biblical counseling look like that was built solely upon Christ’s gospel of grace?”

And then he breaks that question into 8 ultimate life questions and briefly unpacks how the Bible answers them:

1. The Word: “Where do we find wisdom for life in a broken world?”

2. The Trinity/Community: “What comes into our mind when we think about God?” “Whose view of God will we believe—Christ’s or Satan’s?”

3. Creation: “Whose are we?” “In what story do we find ourselves?”

4. Fall: “What’s the root source of our problem?” “What went wrong?”

5. Redemption: “How does Christ bring us peace with God?” “How does Christ change people?”

6. Church: “Where can we find a place to belong and become?”

7. Consummation: “How does our future destiny with Christ make a difference in our lives today as saints who struggle against suffering and sin?”

8. Sanctification: “Why are we here?” “How do we become like Jesus?” How can our inner life increasingly reflect the inner life of Christ?”

I think this book would serve well those who don't know where to start in both understanding what biblical counseling is and how to practice it. I think that counseling students in Bible colleges and seminaries would especially benefit from reading it. Recommended.

Monday, October 27, 2014

More Sweet Tweets

As the fantastic Westminster Bookstore sale continues, I've seen some more neat tweets about our Resisting Gossip resources--so encouraging!











Sunday, October 26, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "The Worst News"

“The Worst News”
All Roads Lead to Romans
October 26, 2014 :: Romans 3:1-20 

This is the sixth message in our series, and we’re almost to the good stuff.

We’re in the “bad news section” of the book of Romans.

In chapter one, we learned that Paul was unashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

He loves the gospel and loves to share it. He wants to share it deeply with the believers in Rome. The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.

And that power saves because in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed.

A righteousness that is by faith from first to last.

A righteousness that we need. And that comes to us by faith.

But to understand this gospel, this good news, Paul has to take us first to the bad news. Remember this?

What’s the bad news?

The bad news is that we have a righteousness problem. People are un-righteous.

And because of our unrighteousness the wrath of God is coming.

Romans 1:18 – “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness...”

We’ve ruined everything.

We’ve exchanged God for stuff. We’ve worshiped the creation instead of the Creator.

Even though God is plainly there in every beautiful leaf outside, human beings suppress the truth about God and reject Him.

And sin.

And sin, and sin, and sin.

It doesn’t matter if they have the Bible, they have creation, and that’s enough to condemn them when they reject the message of creation.

And then last time we studied chapter two.

And in chapter two, Paul turns around and points the finger at Jews.

The Jews, who had the Bible, were tempted to think that they were exceptions to what Paul was saying in chapter one.

“Yes, those dirty Gentiles are sinners. But we’re the Jews.”

“We have the Law of Moses. We have circumcision. We are pretty good people. We’re not like them.”

“We have a birthright and blessings.”

And Paul says, “No. You, too, are under sin.”

Being pretty good is not enough.
Having the Law is not enough.
Being a Jew is not enough to escape the wrath of God.

God is not impressed with your judging the Gentiles because you who pass judgment do the very same things!

And God does not play favorites. It’s not whether or not you possess the Law. It’s whether or not you obey the Law, live the Law, and you have not! Nobody does.

It’s not enough to be circumcised on the outside. You have to have it on the inside.

The Jews do not get a pass.

They, too, are under sin.

We called that last message, “The Even Worse News.”

I’ll bet you can guess the title of this week’s sermon.

It’s called, “The Worst News.”

Before we can get the Best News Ever, we need to see how low we can go.

***

If you were going to try to get some Christians to get along with each other, what would you say to them? Where would you start?

I said this week on Facebook that I’m tired of death. I had a friend from college whose wife died this week of Cystic Fibrosis and Enterovirus. We’ve all lost someone recently, I feel that.

But I’m not just tired of death. I’m tired of conflict. The world is at war. There is so much conflict all around us. And it’s not just out there in the world. Christians are at conflict so much with other Christians.

I can think of 3 good friends right now that are pastors who are experiencing a high level of church conflict. And I’m trying to be a good friend to them, but it’s wearying for me, and I’m not even in the conflict!

And that’s out there. Even in as sweet a church as we have with 122 years of gospelicious history, we can have conflicts with each other. We can grate on one another. We can stop being patient and kind with one another. We can fail to love each other.

So, here’s the question again. If you were tasked with convincing Christians to get along with each other, where would you start? What would say?

The apostle Paul starts with SIN.

Remember, he’s writing to the Jews and the Gentiles who are both now Christ-followers in Rome. There is tension between these two groups of Christians, the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians.

And Paul wants to help them to relate to one another in peace and unity.

So, he starts by establish that they are both sinners. Both Jews and Gentiles are equally under the power of sin.

That’s what we’ve seen so far. The Gentiles are sinners inviting the wrath of God even though they know better deep down inside. The Jews are sinners inviting the wrath of God even though they know better because they have the Law.

I almost titled this message, “In the Same Boat.”

Jew and Gentile are in the same boat. The same unrighteous boat.

That’s where Paul has gotten us so far and where he’s going to pound on us in verses 9 through 18.

But first, he’s got to bring up a question or really a series of questions.

Here’s the first question. V.1

“What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?”

Quick. What do you think, knowing what I just said and what chapter 2 was all about, do you think Paul will say?

I would guess, “No advantage in a being Jew.” But he says (v.2), “Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.”

Now, Paul is not saying that the Jews have a salvation leg up on the Gentiles.

But he is saying that it is a wonderful thing, definitely an advantage, to have the words of God.

It was a blessing to be a Jew. They had so much. We’ll see more about that in Romans chapter 9.

It wasn’t something to trust in. Don’t trust in your blessings! But they are blessings.

Especially this one–to be entrusted with the very words of God.

The oracles of God.

The commands, the story, the songs, the promises!

“The very words of God.”

You know, for those of us who are Christians today, that’s a big advantage we have.

Are we taking advantage of it?

Yesterday, I lost my Bible. Pretty embarrassing thing for a pastor to do.

I looked all over and eventually Cindy Green told me where it was via Facebook. It was in this pew over here.

Now, that was my Sunday School Bible. The one I use for studying my lesson and going to class.

But what if I had gone a whole week without any Bible and not realized it until a week later?

Isn’t it an amazing thing that I could own a Bible that I just use for Sunday School, and that I have a whole shelf of them in my office. And multiple Bibles on a database on my computer? And access to even more Bibles online?

How many Bibles do you have? How many have you read this week?

“The very words of God.” What a blessing to have! But are we taking advantage of it?

The Jews, in the main, did not. Paul asks his next question. V.3

“What if some did not have faith [in the very words of God]? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness?”

Now, you’ve got to understand what Paul is doing here. Paul is arguing here with some invisible people. They are in Paul’s mind. They are people he’s encountered again and again as he’s preached his gospel. They have objections. They have questions. They have arguments.

I’m going to call them the “but, but, but” people.

“But, but, but.” “What about? What about? What about?”

These folks have questions, objections to what Paul is teaching. And Paul brings their questions into his letter to interact with their arguments.

It’s a very effective way of teaching if you can follow it.

I confess that I can’t always follow Paul, and sometimes my brain hurts when I try.

But let’s try to follow him and see where he leads.

Here’s what I think he’s saying. Some people point to the major failure of the Jews to believe the promises of God and keep their end of the covenant as proof that God isn’t keeping His promises.

“What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness?”

What is the answer to that one?

Uh uh.

Paul has a favorite little phrase which in Greek is “may genoito.” The King James version translates it, “God forbid!”

Back in the 90's we would say, “As if?!”

Today, they say, “Seriously?”

I don’t think so.

The NIV often translates it, “May it never be.”

Not in a 1,000 years. Here in verse 4, the NIV translates it, “Not at all!”

“Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: ‘So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.’”

Even if every single Jew turned out to not believe the promises, even Abraham himself, God will still be true. God will still keep His promises.

Just like Psalm 51 says, God will be proved to be right when He speaks and prevail when He judges.

God hasn’t failed. And He won’t fail. We’re going to find out that even though it looks in the short run like God’s promises haven’t been keeping up, they certainly will. Paul is going to explain this further in chapter 9 when we get there.

But God is righteous. And it comes out even as He judges the unrighteousness of His chosen people, the Jews.

But that leads to another question.  (Do you see how this works?) V.5

“But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us?”

I think Paul means, that if the Jew’s unrighteousness has a certain usefulness to God in highlighting how righteous He is because they failed so miserably, then maybe God is unjust to be mad at them. They were set up for failure to show off God’s righteousness.

What would you say to that?

Paul doubles up his negative response to this question. First he says, (v.5), “(I am using a human argument.)”

In other words, I’m talking like a fool. I am being stupid on purpose. V.6

“Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world?”

That’s the same Greek expression, “may genoito.” Seriously? That’s your question?

“If that were so, how could God just the world?”

It’s just an absurd thought. God is just. He doesn’t do anything wrong. V.7

“Someone might argue, ‘If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?’ Why not say–as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say–‘Let us do evil that good may result’? Their condemnation is deserved.”

Some people are saying that this is where Paul’s gospel leads you. If you believe the gospel of grace, then you might as well do evil that good will come of it.

And that God is unjust to condemn you for sinning because you’re a sinner! It’s just what you are!

Paul doesn’t even bother to argue with them. He just says, “Their condemnation is deserved.”

It’s not worth an answer.

Now in chapter 6, we’re going to see that Paul actually does do some answering of that question. But not because it has merit.

Here’s point #1 of just 2 this morning.

#1. WE CAN’T WIGGLE OUR WAY OUT OF OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS PROBLEM.

When Paul said in chapter one that people are without excuse, he meant it.

We cannot argue our way out of our righteousness problem.

Our problem is that we are unrighteous.

And there is no wiggle room that comes from trying to nullify God’s faithfulness or say that God is unjust to judge us in our unrighteousness because of course we’re sinners.

There is not “but, but, but!” “What about?” “What about?”

I think that a lot of people expect to get into heaven on a technicality.

There’s gotta be some wiggle room.

“Well, sure, hell exists for Satan and Hitler and Osama bin Laden, but I’m not going there.

I’m sure that God isn’t going to sentence me. We’ll work something out.

He grades on the curve, right?

Isn’t there some small print that says that Americans all get in?

Or church-goers?

Well, what if billions of people rejected Jesus. Would they all go to Hell?

I have a hard time believing that.

I don’t think that we’re all as bad as what you’re saying here. I think we must be missing something.”

There is no wiggle room. No arguing ourselves into Heaven.

No lawyering.

No loopholes.

No excuses.

So in verse 9, Paul comes back to what he was talking about in verse 1.  Is there advantages to being a Jew? Yes and No. Yes, it’s a blessing to have the Word. But verse 9...

“What shall we conclude then? Are we [Jews] any better? Not at all!”

Not in any way that saves.  I’ve already shown you this. V.9

“We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.”

There’s no escaping this truth.

Sin is universal. We’re all in the same boat. I don’t care if you are a Jew or a Gentile, you are “under sin.” Under it’s power. Sin is powerful. It’s not just something you do but something that has a grip on you.

And feel the universalness of it. Feel the “all” as Paul begins to quote verse after verse from the Old Testament. Probably from memory. He just reaches back in to his brain and brings out quote after quote about how people are. V.10

“As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.’”

Do you feel it?

It comes out in their words. V.13

“‘Their throats are open graves [you can see the corpse in there!]; their tongues practice deceit.’ ‘The poison of vipers is on their lips.’ ‘Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.’”

And more than words. Actions. V.15

“‘Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’”

That’s what people are like.

There’s no getting around it.

As wonderful as people can be, and there are some pretty nice folks out there. Some are better than others.

As wonderful as people can be, this is what is true.

‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.’”

Jew or Gentile. V.19

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.”

No wiggle room.

The Old Testament has made it clear.

And if you’re a Jew who thinks that all of those passages were just about wicked Gentiles, you haven’t been paying attention.

“...whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced [no more arguments, no more defense, no more ‘but, but, but’] and the whole world held accountable to God.”

No wiggle room.

And here’s the worst news of all.

#2. WE CAN’T WORK OUR WAY OUT OF OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS PROBLEM.

I mean you might say, “Okay, I’ll stop arguing and get to work. I’ll fix this problem. I’ll be good. I’ll do the Law. I’ll do whatever it says. I’ll do the sacrifices. I’ll do the circumcision. I’ll do the feast days. I’ll do the Ten Commandments. I’ll do all 613 commandments in the Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. I’ll get right to work. You’ll see!”

Verse 20.

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”

We can’t work our way out of our sin problem.

The wrath of God is coming, and we can’t dig ourselves out of the holes we have dug for ourselves!

The Jews had the Law and they didn’t keep it.

Nobody keeps it.

No one will be justified in God’s sight by works of the Law.

The best the Law will do is show you what kind of a sinner you are.  Paul will say more about that in chapter 7.  “Through the law we become conscious of sin.”

But law-keeping will not solve your righteousness problem.

If it would, then we wouldn’t have needed Romans 2.

Here’s bad news:

We are bad and God is mad.

Here’s the even worse news:

We have no excuse and no wiggle room and can’t trust in our birthrights or our blessings.  Our condemnation is deserved.

Here’s the worst news of all:

We can’t work ourselves out of this problem.

We can’t solve it on our own.

On our own, we are doomed.

Praise God, we’re not on our own!

I’m not going to explain this next paragraph, but I’m going to read it to you. Look at verse 21.

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

We’ve finally made it back to the Good News!

It’s so good because it answers everything that the Worst News threatened.

We don’t need wiggle room! We have Jesus.

We don’t need to work ourselves out of our righteousness problem, because Jesus’ work solved our righteousness problem!

And now we’re all in the same boat–all of us who believe are in the same boat.

The salvation boat.

With Captain Jesus.

He turns around the worst of news to make it the good news–the gospel.

Have you come to believe the gospel?

Do you understand the bad news?  Do you understand your desperate need?

Do you understand how Jesus is the Savior you desperately need?

If you do, then receive Him as your Savior. Your rescuer. Your redeemer.

And if you already have, then praise Him each and every day all day long that He’s solved the problem you never could.

“Pardon for Sin and a Peace that Endureth.”

Pardon for sin?!  Not wiggling out from under it on a technicality.

Not digging out from under it through many good works.

But that burden of sin taken away because of what Jesus did for you and that gift of righteousness placed on your account all because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.

Great Is His Faithfulness.

***

Messages in this Series

01. All Roads Lead to Romans
02. I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel
03. The Bad News
04. Hope for Holy Sexuality
05. The Even Worse News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fantastic Prices on "Resisting Gossip Together" Packs at WTSBooks.com

I am humbled by the strong affirmation of our new Resisting Gossip resources by the folks at Westminster Bookstore.

Today, they announced their special sale prices in their e-newsletter, including a 5/5 pack of Resisting Gossip and Resisting Gossip Together at 47% off the retail price and $36 less than what it would cost on Amazon to buy them!


I was so encouraged by the letter by a WTS staff member included in the special offer. He said:



Amen. May it be so, to God's glory.

"Songs in the Night" Live & Acoustic by the Gray Havens

Our favorite band has done it again. Dave and Licia Radford have given us another music video in advance of their new album's release on January 6th.

It's live and acoustic, and you can just about feel the heat coming off that fire!



Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mail Call

Look what came in the mail this weekend!

Me and Resistiendo el Chisme

Me and Resisting Gossip Together

All four Resisting Gossip resources, including the new DVD of the video teaching series!

Nothing like physical copies to make it all seem real. I'm a blessed man.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Big Sale at WTSBooks.com!

Looking for the best prices for Resisting Gossip and the brand new Resisting Gossip Together?

The folks at WTSBooks.com them both on sale here.

The special prices include:

Individual Books
Resisting Gossip Together: $4.00 (20% off)
Resisting Gossip: $8.00 (40% off)

Bundles
5 Book + 5 Participant's Guide Pack - $50.00 (47% off) includes .99 UPS Ground Shipping and free USPS shipping

[Coming Soon] 10 Resisting Gossip Together: $30.00 (40% off)

E-Books
Resisting Gossip ebook: $7.99
Resisting Gossip Together ebook: $4.00

It's so pleasing to see these deep discounts. I hope many small groups take advantage of these offers!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Resistiendo el Chisme" is Now Available on Amazon!

Rejoice with me!

The Spanish version of Resisting Gossip is now available here in the United States on Amazon.

Resistiendo el Chisme is published by CLC Colombia and is made available here in the US through CLC Publications.

I'm so encouraged that this resource can now be accessed by a host of people who would never understand the original version.

A request: If you read Resistiendo el Chisme, I'd really appreciate it if you left a positive review on Amazon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Gossip and Prayer Requests" Guest Posts

Yesterday, Ed Stetzer and the Biblical Counseling Coalition both ran versions of my "Gossip and Prayer Requests" article on their blogs, which makes 3 guest post versions of the article, including the LifeNotes one from last week.

So encouraging to see this get out to more people!

Ed Stetzer's "The Exchange" Blog


The Biblical Counseling Coalition "Grace and Truth" Blog


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Resisting Gossip Together was released on Tuesday, October 7th.

View The Resisting Gossip Video Teaching Series online or order the DVD.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sweet Tweets

So encouraging to start getting some good feedback on Resisting Gossip Together and the new videos.

Thank you, friends, for helping get out the word these new resources exist!













Sunday, October 12, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "The Even Worse News"

“The Even Worse News”
All Roads Lead to Romans
October 12, 2014 :: Romans 2:1-29 

Ready or not, after two additional weeks, it’s time for this “sermon casserole” to come out of the oven and be served.

This Fall we began a sermon series that we’re calling, “All Roads Lead to Romans,” and we’ve had 4 messages so far in that series.

In the first one, we remembered that Romans is a letter from Paul to the Roman Christians who were both Jews and Gentiles. And we said that that was important. This letter was to both the Jews and Gentiles who were followers of Christ in Rome.

And apparently they were having trouble getting along. There were tensions between the Jews and Gentiles, and Paul wrote “Romans” in large part to help them iron out their problems. He also wrote to get them ready for his visit, a visit he has longed for for some time. We learned in the second message that Paul wants to share a spiritual gift with them, a deeper understanding of the gospel.

Paul is not ashamed of the gospel, the good news about Jesus.

Why? Because its “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Both of them!

How does that salvation work? Through the righteousness of God.

Romans 1:17. “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”

That’s the power of salvation in the gospel!

And then the Apostle Paul begins to unpack that gospel, that good news.

But before he can really get to the good news, he has to explain, what?

The bad news.

In our third message (remember this?), we learned the bad news.

The wrath of God is coming, we have no excuse, and we’re asking for it. Romans 1:18

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness..”

Human beings have exchanged God for stuff. We have exchanged God for idols. We have worshiped created things instead of our Creator.

And that comes out in all kinds of wickedness, including sexual wickedness. Our fourth message, went deeper into the unholy sexuality that is a product of our fallenness.

We are sexually broken because we are sinners.

But Paul didn’t just talk about sinful sex, he ended Romans 1 with a long laundry list of sins that humans regularly fall into. V.29

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

That’s the bad news.

And today, Paul wants to tell us the “The Even Worse News.”

I told you a few weeks ago that these next few messages aren’t going to be fun. They’ll be true. They’ll be necessary. They’ll be needed. But they won’t be very fun.

Paul has us right where he wants us.

There are some people who have been listening to him so far and nodding their heads.

“Yes!”

They are in the “Amen corner.”

“Amen, Brother Paul, preach it! You said it. Those people are sinners. They deserve the wrath of God. Homo-sexuals. Murderers. Inventors of evil. Drug-dealers. Terrorists. Those who do wrong and approve of those who do wicked things. You tell ‘em!

People like that gotta know what they have coming.”

And in chapter 2, Paul turns around, and he points the finger at those who are agreeing with him.

And he says, “You, too.”

“You are condemned, as well.”

“When I said there was no excuse, I meant there was no excuse.”

Who do you think Paul has in mind here?

In chapter 1 verses 18-32, it was mainly the Gentiles, those who did not have this thing. They didn’t have the Bible. But Paul said that they had enough to condemn them. Everything yells, “God!” including every leaf changing colors out there in the woods. Gentiles without special revelation are without excuse.

Who do you think he’s going to talk about in chapter 2?

The Jews, right? Remember, this is a letter written to both Gentiles and Jews.

The Jews had the Law. They knew about God.

And they would have been tempted to trust in that and to look down their noses at those stupid sinful Gentiles with their wicked ways.

“But that’s not us. We’re the Jews!”

Paul, a Jew himself, says, “I’ve got some even worse news for you.”

Romans chapter 2, verse 1.

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

Paul isn’t going to let anyone get away with anything.

And that’s because God doesn’t let anyone get away with anything.

Those who sinfully judge others, who look down their noses at other people convinced of their moral superiority, are condemning themselves because they aren’t being honest with themselves.

If you are honest, you’d realize that you are a sinner, too.

Now, Paul isn’t saying that we all sin in the same ways. We don’t. Some of us sin in one way and others in another.

But we all sin. And if we act all “holier than thou,” we’re lying. To ourselves. And to others.

But often, we do sin in the exact same ways that condemn in others.

Let me tell you a short gossip story. A few weeks ago, I was in a place of business which will go nameless. I don’t want to gossip about those who were gossiping.

But that’s what they were doing. I was in a place of business and the three or four folks behind the counter were loudly complaining to one another about some drama that was going down on Facebook. They were all complaining about someone’s comments about someone else and saying, “When will people grow up and learn?” And then one of them said, “What happened? I want to hear.” And another said, “I didn’t get the whole story. Wait for me. Don’t show them until I’m back there.”

What were they doing? They were guilty of the very thing they were condemning someone else for. V.2

“Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?”

When we play God and set ourselves up as someone else’s judge and jury, we are setting ourselves up for judgment. V.4

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?”

God has been so kind to all of us, especially to those of us who have the word of God, but that kindness, tolerance, and patience is not an excuse for more sin. It’s supposed to lead us to repent.

And people who think they are “pretty good” or at least better someone else are very tempted to not repent. To not see their deep need for repentance. V.5

“But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.”

Even Worse News Number One:

#1. BEING “PRETTY GOOD” IS NOT ENOUGH TO ESCAPE THE WRATH OF GOD.

It’s not good enough to be better than “those people.”

We all have “those people” in our heads.

Those people who we look down on as despicable.

We might agree that we’re sinners, too, but we weren’t not like them.

We’re not child molesters. We’re not ISIS terrorists. We’re not ... whatever. Fill in the blank. Put your rival political party in the blank.  Put in a people group you don’t care for.

“We’re not like them. We’re pretty good.”

Paul says that pretty good doesn’t cut it. V.6

“God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.’ To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.”

God doesn’t grade on the curve.

I almost titled this message, “Good People Are Bad, Too.”

Paul lays it out in two different ways, two different paths.

He says that those who persistently do good will experience eternal life and blessing.

It doesn’t matter who they are. God is just. If they live the good life and seek glory, honor, and immortality, they will get glory, honor, and peace and eternal life.  Jew or Gentile. God is just.

But, here’s the thing. Nobody does that. Nobody. Nobody.

Now, some people have seen Christians in verses 7 and 10 who having been justifieed live by the Spirit now and get eternal life. That’s a legitimate way of reading the verses, but I don’t think it’s right.

Because we’re deep in the bad news section of the letter.

Paul’s point is that God doesn’t play favorites. It doesn’t matter who you are. He is just. If you lived it out perfectly and persistently, then you would get blessing forever.

But (v.8) for those who “are self-seeking and who reject the turth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

Sound familiar? Sound ironic?

The Jews are not exempt from the justice of God.

If they do evil, they get punished. God is not partial.

A “pretty good” just doesn’t cut it.

“Better than them” just doesn’t hold water.

It isn’t enough to hold back the wrath of God.

Who is the most holy person you can think of? They really live it out. They are good and do what is right.

Whoever it is, whether it be Billy Graham or your grandmother, that person, too, is lost without Jesus.

They are not good enough.

Being “pretty good” is not enough to escape the wrath of God.

No excuse.

Now, that would be very surprising to the Jews reading Paul’s letter. That’s not how they thought.

I almost entitled this message, “Hey! But we’re the Jews!”

They thought of their birthright and the blessings of being Jewish as being excuses for their sins. Because they were the chosen people of God and had been blessed by Him again and again, they were tempted to think that God was not going to treat them the same way He treated “those icky Gentiles?!”

But here’s Paul’s even worse new for them:

#2. HAVING THE LAW IS NOT ENOUGH TO ESCAPE THE WRATH OF GOD. 

Cut out your smug finger pointing!

Just because you have the Torah, doesn’t mean that you are safe. V.12

“All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law [yes], and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”

Do you see what he’s saying?

It’s more of the same thing. The law here is the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, especially those books that explain God’s commands for His people. How God wants His people to live.

We often think of the 10 Commandments as the summation of that Mosaic Law.

If you don’t have that law, like the Gentiles didn’t, then you aren’t going to be judged by it. If you sin, you will perish apart from the law.

But if you have sin under the law, you will be judged by the law.

It’s not whether or not you possess the law, it’s whether or not you live up to it. V.14

“(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)”

Paul is saying that Gentiles don’t have the Torah but they do have consciences. They have a kind of law, a kind of knowledge of right and wrong, and when they do something good, their conscience can say, “That was good.”

And when they do something bad, deep down they know that, too.

You don’t need the Torah to know you’re a sinner.

It helps!  But you don’t need it. You conscience is enough to know that you’re a sinner. V.16

“This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.”

That day is coming and soon.

The Gentile’s secrets will be judged by their inner law.

And the Jew’s secrets will be judged by their law.

But nobody gets off just because they have a law!

It doesn’t work that way.

You see, the Jews had a birthright. They were blessed to have that law. They were blessed to have the promises of God. They were blessed in many, many ways.

But those blessings–that birthright was not something that excused their sin or saved them–by itself–from the wrath of God.

That’s why Paul says the even worse news:

#3. BEING A JEW IS NOT ENOUGH TO ESCAPE THE WRATH OF GOD.  V.17

“Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth–you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: ‘God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’”

As the kids say these days, “Boom!”

Is Paul saying that the law is bad?  No way.

Is he saying that the Jews weren’t supposed to be a guide, a light, an instructor, a teacher? No. They were.

But Paul is saying that they didn’t live up to their calling.

And they couldn’t trust in that calling for their salvation.

They couldn’t trust in their birthrights and blessings...including circumcision.

There wasn’t a greater sign that you were a Jewish man than the mark you carried in your body.

That mark said, “You belong to God.”

But Paul says, “Only if you live out what that mark meant!” v.25

“Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

[It’s not about the sign. It’s about the signfied by the sign.]

A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.”

Here’s the bad news for the Jews.

It’s not enough to just be a Jew.
It’s not enough to have Abraham as your father.
It’s not good enough to have the mark of circumcision or the Law.

You can’t just be a Jew on the outside. That’s not enough to escape the wrath of God if you are lawbreaker, if you are a sinner.

Paul is not saying that every Jew was a thief, or an adulterer, or a idolater.

But he is saying that those who boast about having the law are, to a man, lawbreakers.

And God’s name is blasphemed among the unclean Gentiles because of the sin of the Jews.

Being a physical Jew is not good enough to escape the wrath of God.

Now, what do we do with this even worse news?

Let me suggest three applications.

First, stop passing judgment on others as worse than us.

We often think too highly of ourselves, and we act as judge and jury in situations where we are not qualified to condemn.

Of course, we have to be discerning and make judgments, but we don’t have to be judgmental or censorious or condemn others.

We may be “pretty good,” but we’re not perfect, and we shouldn’t act like we think we are.

Is there an area of your life right now where you have let yourself get all judgmental?

You might not have realized it until just now. It often feels good and right to judge people, but it’s not.

Let’s humble ourselves and stop.

#2. Stop relying on your behavior or your birthright.

Yesterday, I had the chance to explain the gospel with a man who had some deep questions about Christianity.

And he was surprised, I think, that I told him that salvation wasn’t about being good, and doing the right thing, and doing good works.

Of course, we should be good, and do the right thing, and do good works.

But we can’t rely on that for our salvation because we have failed so much.

We have not persistently sought glory, honor, and immortality.

We have, even the “pretty good” among us, been self-seeking and rejected the truth and followed evil.

We have stored up for us wrath.

Don’t trust in your behavior.

And don’t trust in your birthright.

Maybe you can’t relate to the Jew because you aren’t one.

But we all do this sort of thing.

We might not say, “But I’m a Jew.”

Maybe we say, “But I’m an American” of course I’m saved.

or, “But I was baptized by Father so and so.”

Or “But I was born a Lutheran or a Catholic or an Evangelical Free person.”

Or “My grandmother was a godly woman, and I’m her grandson.”

Or “My parents dedicated me to the Lord.”

Or “My dad was a pastor. I’m a pastor’s kid.”

Or “I know my Bible. I got an award at Kids for Christ for memorizing a bunch of verses.”

Or “We were in church every Sunday when I was growing up. And Wednesdays, too.”

Are those good things? Are they blessings? You bet.

But don’t trust in them.

Some people trust in being connected to a pastor.  “I go to Lanse Free Church. Pastor Matt is my pastor.” So what?!

The other day, I was talking to guy who said, “I’m talking to a pastor who is like a holy man, a direct-line to God.”

And I just snorted and laughed at that.

I am just a man.

I have no more of a direct line to God than any other Christian here.

We do have a direct line to God, but I am not it.

I am happy to be your shepherd, but I am not your priest, not your mediator.

Don’t rely on being connected to me to be saved.

Don’t trust in your behavior or your birthright or your baptism or even your spiritual blessings to escape the wrath of God.

Third, Trust Fully in Christ Alone.

This bad news is headed there. I can’t keep from running ahead.

Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone saves us from the wrath to come.

He did what we could not do.

He fulfilled the Law.

He persistently sought glory, honor, and immortality.

He did good and never evil.

He has no bad secrets to reveal on the last day.

He never broke the law.

And when we put our faith in Him, we get circumcised, not outwardly but inwardly, and we become true Jews. By the Spirit, not the written code.

And, amazingly, if we trust in Christ alone, some day, we will experience the praise of God singing over us.

Trust in Christ alone.

And if you are trusting in Christ alone, keep doing it!

And rejoice in that Savior whose grace is greater than all our sin.

A Savior that turns around the even worse news to make it even better than we could ever imagine.

***

Messages in this Series

01. All Roads Lead to Romans
02. I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel
03. The Bad News
04. Hope for Holy Sexuality

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Still Wary and Weary of Self-Promotion

Gentle reader,

You may have noticed that most of my writing here, aside from Sunday sermons and posting Heather's nature photography, has been about a certain set of books and videos which will go nameless and linkless in this post.

In today's publishing world, it's the job of the author to engage his audience and get the word out about his stuff. I have fully embraced that job, in large part, because I believe in the truth I've discovered in the Bible and consider it a responsibility to share it with others. It's been a wild joy to see those nameless, linkless books and videos spread far and wide. It's a God-thing, and I'm celebrating Him and want to celebrate with you.

But I know the tendencies of my deceitful heart are also to snatch at glory and turn even a "rejoice with me" statement into a "look at me" moment. A year later, I'm still wary and weary of self-promotion.

I expect that in the coming weeks these kinds of promotional posts will taper off, and I hope to provide more substantive book reviews and biblical/theological/reflection posts. I'm not retiring from writing and speaking on and against that word that starts with "g," but I am planning to focus my limited time and energies more on my family, flock, and church association for the next few years. 

Thanks for bearing with me, especially if you're turned off by the constant barrage of promotional posts. I'm excited about each one of them and hope they serve others, but I sure don't want my life to be about self-reflecting mirrors. Pray for me that I would more and more reflect the image of Christ (Colossians 3:1-11).

Thursday, October 09, 2014

A Interview about "Resisting Gossip Together"

The Biblical Counseling Coalition has posted a brief interview with me about Resisting Gossip Together and also included the complete course of teaching videos.

Questions include:

1. How does Resisting Gossip Together relate to your previous book, Resisting Gossip?

2. “What is unique about Resisting Gossip Together? How is it designed?”

3. Tell us more about the videos that go along with Resisting Gossip Together.

4. What are your hopes for these resources?



Resisting Gossip Together In Only 6 Weeks

Only 6 Weeks

A group leader recently wrote me with this question, "I will be teaching a six week class at my church using the Resisting Gossip Materials starting in November. Could you let me know what 6 chapters you would pick to focus on, since I won’t have 10 weeks to work with?"

I thought that my response might be helpful for others using the materials under the same constraints:

Here are some possibilities depending on what your goals for the class are:

Option 1

When I do the Resisting Gossip Live Seminar, I don't normally get into the stuff in the later chapters (responding to gossip, regretting gossip, church chapter). So, you could just do the first 6 chapters. That's a simple plan and focuses everything on just the teaching on resisting the temptation to gossip. At the seminar, I normally have Q&A time where I share thoughts on the material in #7-10, as well.

Lesson #1.    What, Exactly, Is Gossip?
Lesson #2.    Why Do We Gossip?
Lesson #3.     A Gallery of Gossips
Lesson #4.    Believing the Best
Lesson #5.     Instead of Gossip: Speaking
Lesson #6.    Instead of Gossip: Listening

Option 2

You can combine a few of the chapters and skip the church chapter. Then you're not dividing up the material as much but still covering everything. Have the group read two chapters but only have one discussion.

1. Lesson #1.    What, Exactly, Is Gossip?
2. Lesson #2.    Why Do We Gossip?
    Lesson #3.     A Gallery of Gossips
3. Lesson #4.    Believing the Best
4. Lesson #5.     Instead of Gossip: Speaking
    Lesson #6.    Instead of Gossip: Listening
5. Lesson #7.    Responding in Faith
    Lesson #8.     Responding in Love
6. Lesson #9.    Regretting Gossip

Option 3

One more approach is to combine it a different way and skip the judging and regretting chapters. Participants can read those on their own and bring the ideas into the discussion if there's time.

1. Lesson #1.    What, Exactly, Is Gossip?
2. Lesson #2.    Why Do We Gossip?
3. Lesson #3.     A Gallery of Gossips
4. Lesson #5.     Instead of Gossip: Speaking
    Lesson #6.    Instead of Gossip: Listening
5. Lesson #7.    Responding in Faith
    Lesson #8.     Responding in Love
6. Lesson #10.   Gossip and Our Church
The option is always available for people to watch the videos for multiple lessons but only discuss some of them.

Your Turn

What plan might you use? Leave a comment with how you would do it.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Thank You!

Acknowledgments for Resisting Gossip Together.

I am a grateful man because I am a blessed man.

Thank you, Heather Joy, for your steadfast love through the ups and downs and twists and turns of this “book thing.” I am a blessed husband. I love you.

Thank you, Robin, Andrew, Peter, and Isaac for being such cheerleaders for Daddy’s book. I am a blessed father.

Thank you, Chuck and Anita Mitchell, for your listening ears, earnest counsel, and overwhelming support. I am a blessed son.

Thank you, Lanse Free Church Family, for praying me through this process and for letting me set aside time to write this guide and to produce the videos. We, as a church, are resisting gossip together! I am a blessed pastor.

Thanks, Gary Foster, for ably representing me once again as my intrepid agent. And thank you, David Almack and your growing team at CLC Publications. It’s a humbling joy to see these resources come into existence and help people around the world. Thanks for giving the videos away online! I am a blessed author.

Thank you, Laurel Eriksen, for the webdesign of matt-mitchell.blogspot.com, especially adding the new page with resources for Resisting Gossip Together. And thank you, Elizabeth Nelson, Dennis Wadsworth, and Dan Ledford for some on-the-spot editing at just the right moment. I am blessed to have you as my friends.

Thank you, David Platt, for the idea of adding “together” to the name of the study guide. When I first read Radical Together, I loved the concept of building community around this teaching. That’s what it’s all about!

Thank you, Spencer Folmar of Third Brother Films, for producing the Resisting Gossip Video Series with such high quality. I wouldn’t have believed that it could be so much fun!

I’m really grateful for those folks who opened up their homes, businesses, or other sites for us to shoot the videos “on location.” Thank you, Cody & Holly Crumrine, Jerome Nevling, Tom & Leesa Folmar, Maxine Orwick of the West Branch Dairy Diner (a.k.a. “The Pumpkin House”), Jeff Spanogle and the Clearfield Alliance Christian School, Bob Selfridge of TMM Data, Joe Greenland and the board of the Oak Hill Memorial Cemetery, and Lanse Evangelical Free Church.

Thank you, Susan Stallings, for being my biggest collaborator on this project. Thanks for sharing all of your notes with me from your women’s Bible studies and giving me permission to freely use your ideas for digging deeper–especially those helpful charts. You’ve taught this material on resisting gossip more than anyone but me! I love your commitment to inductive Bible study and not just fluffy storytelling. Thanks also for your lighting-fast and eagle-eyed editing of the first drafts. This little book may not have ever been finished without you, and it certainly wouldn’t have been as good. I am a blessed nephew.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for these people who have blessed me in so many ways. You are the greatest giver and the best gift of all. May you and your Father get all the glory.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

"Resisting Gossip Together" Releases Today!

Rejoice with me!

My new book Resisting Gossip Together: Participant's Guide and Bible Study is now officially available. I'm grateful to CLC Publications for partnering with me to provide this resource to individuals and groups that want to go deeper in learning how to win the war of the wagging tongue.

Read the introduction here to get a sense of what RGT is all about (see also this interview). You can also find additional information and articles to stimulate further thought at together.resistinggossip.com.

The DVD with the complete Resisting Gossip Video Teaching Series is now
officially available, as well. The entire film series is free for streaming, downloading, and sharing online, too.

A lot to celebrate today. Praise the Lord!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Even More Ideas for Group Leaders Using "Resisting Gossip Together"

An appendix to the Leaders' Guide in Resisting Gossip Together
by Susan Stallings* and Matt Mitchell

Lesson One 

How about starting the first lesson with a party-game of “Telephone?”

There are several versions online:

15 Phrases for the Telephone Game
E-How to Play the Telephone Game
WIKI-HOW How To Play the Telephone Game

You could make some “Buckeyes” or another choice morsel and enjoy them as you talk.


A Recipe for Buckeyes
by Heather Mitchell

Ingredients

18 oz jar of crunchy peanut butter
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 T. vanilla
1/2c. softened butter
12 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 bar of paraffin

Directions

1. Mix and roll peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and butter into balls.

2. Put a toothpick in each ball and chill in the freezer.

3. Melt chocolate and paraffin together in double boiler and partially dip balls, leaving top plain to resemble a Buckeye.



The Digging Deeper section for Lesson 1 fits nicely between questions 2 and 3 of the Questions for Group Discussion.

You can apply inductive study techniques (observation, interpretation, application) to the Digging Deeper Romans passage by having your students ask the “Who, what, why, when, and how” questions.

You might also ask, “Who benefits from gossip?”  (Gossip magazines, media, people who need to know)

Some additional Scriptures to consider:

- James 3:2  - Does everyone fall prey to gossip?

- Proverbs 6:16-19 – How many things on this list relate to gossip?

- Word study:  Discuss the difference between the two possible root words for gossip in Proverbs 18:8 and 26:22, halam and laham.  How might both root words convey an accurate description of the consequences of gossip?

Be sure to end on a positive note with God’s promises to help us deal with this sin.


Lesson Two

You might ask the group to share their favorite book, movie, family story (as long as it is not gossip!), or favorite author. What stories do they like?

The Digging Deeper Bible Study fits nicely between questions 3 and 4 of the Questions for Group Discussion.

You could apply inductive study techniques to the Romans passage in Question 5.  Ask the Who, What, Where, When, and How questions.  There is a good contrast in this passage.  Have your group make two lists – one describing what they were like as a slave to sin and another what they are like as a slave to God. Discuss their observations.

For visual learners, you can make a visual aid representing the truths found in the passages in the Digging Deeper Bible Study, especially Question 4.  Draw a large heart and record words that represent these truths.


Lesson Three

Be sure to use the chart in the Digging Deeper Bible Study. Read and discuss together each of the Scriptures on the chart for the five gossips. Tackle each type individually.

For visual learners, if you have a white board, create the chart and fill it in as your discussion progresses.

The Digging Deeper Bible Study fits nicely between questions 1 and 2 of the Questions for Group Discussion.

Word Studies. In addition to rakil and nirgan, you could lead your group in a study of other Hebrew and Greek words translated “gossip” or related to the concept.

Lashon Seter, Proverbs 25:23

Dibbah, Genesis 37:1, Ezekiel 36:3, Proverbs 10:18

Psithurismos, Romans 1:29, 2 Corinthians 12:20 (This word even sounds like a snake!)

Pluaros, 1 Timothy 5:13, 3 John 10

Dilogos and Diabolos, 1 Timothy 3:8, 3:11, Titus 2:3


Lesson Four

Refer to last week’s chart to discuss the ways each type of gossip is being judgmental.

Discuss these additional Scriptures for being discerning:

- I Kings 3:9, Ezekiel 44:23; Proverbs 15:14; Hebrews 5:14

Do a further word study on katalaleo.

For visual learners you can create a visual aid showing the contrast between a gossip and a Christ-like person as your discussion progresses.

The Digging Deeper Bible Study in Lesson 4 is an extension of Question 4 in the Questions for Group Discussion.


Lesson Five

The warm-up question about accountability might fit better at the end for some groups.

For visual learners, if you have a white board, create the chart on page 46 and fill it in as your discussion progresses.

The Digging Deeper Bible Study fits nicely between questions 2 and 3 of the Questions for Group Discussion.

Ask your group to list ways they can be encouraging to others, things they actually might do or say.

Additional Scriptures – If time, your group can read and discuss the power of the tongue in James 3:1-17.


Lesson Six

The Digging Deeper Bible Study in Lesson 6 is an extension of Question 2 in the Questions for Group Discussion.

Ask the Who, What, Where, When and How questions for the Ephesians 5 passage.

For visual learners, recreate the chart on the board as the group discusses their answers.

Word Study – mimatai – we get our word for mimeograph from that Greek word. It means to make an exact copy of, i.e. to “Xerox” God by sacrificially loving others. In Ephesians 5:1 we are told to be imitators of God.

Additional Scriptures – If time, your group can read and discuss:

- Col. 1:9 – prayer for understanding of God’s will

- Ephesians 4:14-16 – how to avoid listening to the schemes of men


Lesson Seven

The Digging Deeper Bible Study for Lesson 7 fits nicely between questions 1 and 2 of the Questions for Group Discussion.

Along with Group Discussion Question #2, apply inductive study methods to Psalm 140. Who is David speaking with? What kind of relationship does he have with God? What does David ask of God? Why? How does David describe the men who are against him?  How does he describe God?

For the visual learner, list on the board what David asks of God: “Rescue me, Protect me, Keep me, [give me] mercy.”  In another column list the attributes of God that David acknowledges: “Sovereign, strong deliverer, shield, One who secures justice.” Discuss these attributes and why they would give us confidence to trust God with our reputations.

You could also recreate the chart from the Digging Deeper section for the visual learner.

Additional Scriptures – often we need to be patient to wait on the Lord for deliverance from our situation.  Study James 5:7-11, Psalm 130:5, Isaiah 64:4, Romans 8:28, 32.


Lesson Eight

Ask “What does it look like to love someone who is gossiping about you?”  Ask if anyone has had the opportunity to respond in love to a gossip.

For the visual learner put on the board the answers to the question, “When we pray for our enemies, what are some things we should pray for?” (pages 127-128)

Additional scriptures:

- Prov. 17:9, 2 Sam 16:5-13 – King David accepted criticism because he realized God allowed it in his life. God may want to teach us something!

The Digging Deeper Bible Study for Lesson 8 is an extension of Question 5 in the Questions for Group Discussion.

Apply inductive study techniques to the 1 Peter passage in the Digging Deeper Bible Study.  Ask students to list what we are to do if we want to love life and see good days. Then list what else we are to do according to vs. 14-16. Ask your group to think about how to apply these truths in their own lives.


Lesson Nine

The Digging Deeper Bible Study for Lesson 9 is an extension of Question 2 in the Questions for Group Discussion.

For the visual learner, recreate the chart for I John 1:5 – 2:2. Fill it in as group members give the answers.

Additional Scripture and word study – atonement – to cover over.  What did atonement mean in the Old Testament?  Leviticus 16:20-22, 30. Why did it have to be a blood sacrifice?  Leviticus 17:11. What is our response to be?  Hebrews 10:19-25.

Discussion Question 6 is optional. Some groups will want to skip it. Others will use it as a wrap-up of all that has been studied thus far. If your group does it, use a whiteboard and have group members list the characteristics of one who walks with God. Discuss which qualities in Psalm 15 pertain to gossip.


Lesson Ten

In your discussion of Lesson 10, you could shift the focus from your local church to your family or your close circle of Christian friends.

The Digging Deeper Bible Study fits nicely between questions 3 and 4 of the Questions for Group Discussion.

The leader can apply inductive study techniques to the Ephesians 4 passage in Digging Deeper. Ask the “Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How” questions.

For the visual learner, list on the board the answers to Question 4,  Ephesians 4:4-6.

For the visual learner you can list on the board the strategies for unity:

1. Pray Hard

2. Agree to “Bear With” Not “Bite” Each Other.

3. Be Extra Careful with Reputations

4. Call Each Other Out

5. Remember the Gospel



*I’m extremely grateful to Susan Stallings for writing the first draft of this list. She has taught through this material several times to various groups and spent many hours brainstorming and recording ideas for group leaders. I’ve whittled the list down a bit, translated some of it into my own words, and sprinkled in some ideas of my own. If you’re trying to figure out which of us wrote what–she came up with all the good ones.

What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment with your best ideas for maximizing a group learning experience in resisting gossip.