Follow Along

Get new posts by email:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

Love Walked Among Us - Review & Discussion Guide

I was having a great conversation yesterday with a friend about this terrific book (which has a new cover and is now available in multiple formats) and realized that my short review isn't available on my blog anywhere.

So here it is:

Loved Walked Among Us has quickly become one of my “everyone” books.

As soon as I read it, I ordered a case of copies to put in the hands of everyone in our church and everyone who crossed my path.  Paul Miller’s keen study of how Jesus loved people is fresh, unique, and eminently readable–full of winsome wisdom in succinct sentences and 3D stories.

Everyone can profit from reading it–from closet Pharisees (like me) to honest unbelievers searching out the true identity of Jesus.  Miller takes us on a tour of the gospels, shining a spotlight on the surprising ways and whys of Jesus’ love for people and connecting the dots to our lives today.  The book is the condensed fruit of a longer study of the Person of Jesus available on the author’s helpful website: SeeJesus.net.

The only thing missing in LWAU is a chapter by chapter discussion guide for small groups, so I wrote one for our church.  Love Walked Among Us climaxes with our Lord’s death and resurrection, making it a great book for everyone to read as Easter approaches.  Buy two copies: one to read and one to give away.

***

This review was originally published in EFCA Today (Winter 2009) and is used with permission.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

#22. What should we pray for?

Christian Prayer Catechism: Question #22

Q. What should we pray for?

A. We should pray for whatever concerns us and those we are called to love.


The Bible gives us a host of things to pray for (ex. Matt. 6:9-15, 1 Tim. 2:1-2, Col 4:2-5). Nothing in life is off-limits for prayer. We need to pray for ourselves, loved ones, church family, for the advance of the Gospel, for government, for health and healing, for spiritual warfare, etc.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

And the Winner Is...

... Heather Dobo!

Congratulations, Heather, on winning a copy of God Made All Of Me by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb.

Thank you, everyone, who entered the contest and shared with others about this helpful new resource.

Remember, New Growth Press is offering about $100 worth of free resources for those who pre-order a copy before it comes out on September 8th. Check out the website for details.

Interview with Authors
Info-Graphic About Child Abuse

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I Don't Hate My Guts Anymore - Health Update

Rejoice with me!

My surgery on July 29th was a success, and I'm well on the way to recovery.

Today I had my last follow-up visit with my surgeon, and he has cleared me, as I feel able, to go back to work, exercise, and activity.

I still have various post-surgery aches and pains, get tuckered out easily, and need to be careful how I add things to my diet, but I'm feeling much better, have lost 34 pounds, and am happy to have regained a properly working digestive system. (I guess I won't write that book on Resisting Diverticulitis after all).

I have so many things I'm thankful for:

- My remarkable wife who walked with me every step of this difficult Summer.

- Prayerful and caring friends and family. Visits, cards, calls, a load of gravel, help for Heather, and so much more.

- A supportive team of church elders and a congregation that have given me time and space to heal.

- The skillful hands of my surgeon and the expertise of his medical team.

- An amazing set of nurses and aides on the third floor at Dubois Hospital. Today, I dropped off a few dozen donuts to say thanks for their excellent care for me those 11 days I live under their watchcare. They have a difficult job, and they do it with panache.

- Lessons I've learned in the school of affliction. As I begin to feel better, I don't want to forget them.

- These and so much more are my Lord's mercies which are served up fresh and hot each day.

I'm really excited about to getting back into full time active ministry: preaching the word, equipping the saints, shepherding the flock, and making disciples of Jesus Christ.

I know that each day I get is a gift, and I resolve to use them for what really counts--His Kingdom and His righteousness.

An Interview with Justin and Lindsey Holcomb about #GodMadeAllOfMe

Sexual abuse hurts children, families, and communities like few other sins. The statistics are dishearteningly high and the painful results are utterly devastating.

And yet, most parents have been almost completely unprepared to talk to their children about how to prevent and respond to sexual abuse. I know that when my kids were little, I had almost no idea of what to say to them that would be helpful without frightening them.

That's why I'm excited about this brand new book from Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, God Made All Of Mewhich comes out on September 8th.

I've gotten a sneak peak, and it's very good. I wish it existed ten years ago!

The Holcombs were kind enough to answer some questions* about this new resource.

What prompted you to write God Made All of Me? Who are you hoping will read and use it? Why did you use the "children's storybook" approach?

The book is for 2-8 year olds. We wrote it because we have two young children and know that
parents need tools to help talk with their kids about their bodies and to help them understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touch. It allows families to build a first line of defense against sexual abuse in the safety of their own homes. Our goal is to help parents and caregivers in protecting their children from sexual abuse. Because private parts are private, there can be lots of questions, curiosity, or shame regarding them. For their protection, children need to know about private parts and understand that God made their body and made it special.

Our hope is that parents and caregivers will use this book to help you in protecting their child from sexual abuse. We want parents and caregivers to be smarter and better prepared than those who would want to harm children. While we know that actions by adults can be more effective than expecting children to protect themselves from sexual abuse, children still need accurate, age-appropriate information about child sexual abuse and confidence their parents and caregivers will support them. That is why we used the storybook approach.

In God Made All of Me, you were intentional about using the terms “appropriate” and “inappropriate,” when referring to kinds of touch, instead of the words “good” or “bad.” Why is that?
It is important to be clear with adults and children about the difference between touch that is appropriate and touch that is inappropriate. Experts discourage any use of the phrases “good touch” and “bad touch” for two main reasons. First, some sexual touch feels good and then children get confused wondering if it was good or bad. Second, children who have been taught “good touch” or “bad touch” would be less likely to tell a trusted adult as they perceive they have done something bad.

To your child say something like: “Most of the time you like to be hugged, snuggled, tickled, and kissed, but sometimes you don’t and that’s OK. Let me know if anyone—family member, friend, or anyone else—touches you or talks to you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.”

Is there a way to educate our children about this without instilling fear?

To teach children about sexual abuse it is important to explain about private parts. Clearly identify for your child which parts of their anatomy are private. Explain to your child that “some places on your body should never be touched by other people—except when you need help in the bathroom, or are getting dressed, or when you go to the doctor.” You can do this with young children during bath time or have your child dress in a bathing suit and show them that all areas covered by a bathing suit are “private.” The bathing suit analogy can be a bit misleading because it fails to mention that other parts of the body can be touched inappropriately (like mouth, legs, neck, arms), but it is a good start for little ones to understand the concept of private parts.

To teach about sexual abuse offenders, it is important to teach your kids about “tricky people.” Tricky people are grown-ups who ask kids for help or tell kids to keep a secret from their parents. Teach your kids not to do anything or go anywhere with any adult at all, unless they ask for permission first.

Aside from reading your book to our kids, what are some practical things we parents can do to protect our children from sexual abuse?
In our book, the last page is to parents and called, “9 Ways to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse.” Some of the key practical things parents can do are: teach proper names of private body parts, talk about touches, throw out the word “secret,” and identify whom to trust. You can read about all 9 here.

This subject is so hard to talk about. What advice do you have for parents who want to create an open environment in their home, so children always feel comfortable talking to them about issues related to their sexuality or body?

We remind parents that some people are out their looking to prey on our children. We have a duty to protect and prepare them for the world and to fight for them. By talking with them candidly (and again developmentally appropriate) about their bodies we are setting up safe guards around them.

Dr. John T. Chirban has written an excellent book How to Talk to Your Kids about Sex that we highly recommend to all parents. He explains: “Someone is going to teach your kids about sex…shouldn’t it be you?” His book gives parents tools to talk with their children about the connections between sex, intimacy, and love.

Thank you, Justin & Lindsey, for visiting my blog and, more importantly, for creating this helpful resources for children, parents, and care-givers. May the Lord use it to protect thousands of children from evil.

***

Exciting offer from New Growth Press:

If you pre-order God Made All of Me by September 7 and receive $100 worth of free music and books. Visit www.godmadeallofme.com for more information.

To keep up with Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, visit www.godmadeallofme.com. You can also like and follow Justin or Lindsey's pages on Facebook or follow them on Twitter (@justinholcomb and @lindseyholcomb).

And don't forget to enter my contest for a free copy of "God Made All Of Me."


* Some of these questions were supplied by the authors--very helpful for getting to the central ideas of the book.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

Win a Copy of "God Made All Of Me" by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb


I'm excited about this new book, #GodMadeAllOfMe to help children be safe from abuse. It's from the authors of Rid of My Disgrace and related resources.  I wish it had been available when my kids were little.

On Tuesday, I'm going to publish an interview I did with the Holcombs about this book.

Starting today, I'm offering a contest to win a free copy.

Entering this contest is very simple:

1. Leave a comment on this post (either here or on Facebook) with your name on it.

2. Wait to see if you win. I'll be drawing the names out of a hat. It's that easy! (Don't forget to check back or subscribe to updates to find out if you win--I'll need your mailing address if you do.)

You can also increase your chances of winning by posting about this contest on your social media page (FB, Twitter, Blog, Pinterest, etc.). Just send me an email or leave a comment with the link so that I know that you've expanded the reach of the contest. For each time you link to the contest, you get your name added to the hat one more time (limit of 7 chances, the contest ends at 12am EST on Tuesday night, August 25th).

I'll announce the winner on Wednesday.

By the way, if you can't wait for my contest to end to order your book, New Growth Press is offering about $100 worth of free resources for those who pre-order their copy before it comes out on September 8th. Check out the website for details.


Pictured below is an infographic from the Holcombs about this important topic:


Thursday, August 20, 2015

#21. How much faith is required to receive answers in prayer?

Christian Prayer Catechism: Question #21

Q. How much faith is required to receive answers in prayer?

A. A little bit of faith in a very big God is required to receive answers in prayer.


It is the object of our faith, not the subjective amount, that counts (Matt. 17:20). We are to have faith in God, not faith in our faith. Our confidence must be in God and not in getting "answers." A lot of faith in an inch of ice will get us cold and wet. But a little bit of faith in three feet of ice will support an SUV crossing a lake.

Monday, August 17, 2015

"Pass the Salt." Corrie ten Boom on Gossip

In her excellent little devotional, Not Good If Detached, Corrie ten Boom has a chapter dedicated to resisting gossip.

It starts with this epigraph:

"It is just as bad to be drunk with gossiping as with liquor. Gossip is the most insidious of all the compensations for an inferiority complex. It is not only a sin—it is paranoid."

Then as the chapter progresses, ten Boom tells the story of how a group of students at a Summer camp learned together how dangerous and destructive gossip could be and strategized on practical ways how they could resist it:
I tell them how years ago in a girls’ summer camp the atmosphere was almost spoiled by the campers because of their negative talking about
each other. So we made a camp rule that before saying something
negative we had to mention ten virtues of the person concerned. Sometimes it was impossible to find ten virtues, and so the negative thing could not be told. In the event of being able to find ten virtues, we would be so impressed at having done so that it seemed a pity to mention the negative at all!
One student tells us that in her campus, if anyone gossiped during meals, someone would say, “Pass the salt.” That was the code words to warn people that gossip was abroad. This idea is very simple and practical.
I like that--"pass the salt." Not to exclude people but to have a community-level agreement to lead conversations into loving territory.

***

Note: Not Good If Detached is published by CLC Publications, the publisher of Resisting Gossip.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Thursday, August 13, 2015

#20. What does it mean to pray "in faith?"

Christian Prayer Catechism: Question #20

Q. What does it mean to pray "in faith?"

A. Praying in faith is resting on God’s ability to do what He promises and anything else that He wants to do.


We are called to unconditionally trust in God’s promises. Faith is believing that God is trustworthy. We are also called to trust that God knows what is best and to submit our requests to Him for His consideration. We don’t presume upon God in areas where He has not revealed His will, but we do trust Him with them (Mark 11:24, James 1:6, Matt. 21:22). We need to believe that God has omnipotent power and is willing to use it for our benefit and His glory (Heb 11:6). Our faith must be absolute that God will act if He has specifically and unconditionally promised to do so (ex. James 1:5, 1 John 1:9), but it must also be confident that God will act in wisdom when a request seems consistent with God’s will but is not specifically promised in Scripture.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Resisting Gossip Adult VBS Class at the Federated Church

Earlier this Summer, my friend Ed Huntley, a pastor at The Federated Church sent me this note about Resisting Gossip:

***

Hey Matt,

Ed Huntley here, to tell you that the book that Connie and I bought when we saw you in April is going to be used, along with your videos and the group workbook (both of which I just ordered), when I lead our Adult Vacation Bible School here in August.

Connie has devoured the book, and I'm going to be reading it this coming week on vacation, and I suspect that it's going to bear some good fruit in our lives and in the lives of the people we're serving.

Just wanted to encourage you with this news, and I'll be giving you a report after the AVBS, assuming the folks don't run me out of town for ruining their fun!

Bless you, brother!

Ed.

***

And just yesterday, he sent along his full report with permission to share it with you. How encouraging! What a joy it is to see God using this material in ministry to His church.

***

Hey Matt, here's my report. In a word, it was GREAT! As I wrote the other day, the people were VERY interested in your material and greatly challenged by it. They also enjoyed the way that you delivered the message, with a different setting each lesson.

I've attached the note-taking sheets that I prepared for each lesson. You might want to take a couple of minutes to review what I did, because it will show you how a fellow pastor used your material. I showed your lesson, and they took notes, and then we discussed what we heard, to make sure everybody "got it" and to apply the lesson.

The positive critiques are many: your teaching is solid, your delivery is so creative, your focus on the sin is strong and your application of the gospel is equally strong. You make people squirm but you also give them hope; you're an excellent pastor/teacher!

One small "negative" critique: the audio on lesson 10 was very different from every other lesson, too much bass, difficult to understand at certain points. Perhaps it was a problem on only my DVD?

Here's the ultimate compliment: One of our students is teaching a ladies' Sunday School class, and she asked if she could show the material to her class. I passed it on to her on the last day, and they will be studying it starting this coming Sunday! So your teaching is going to continue to ruin people's fun, for the glory of God!

Blessings,

Ed

***

Note for those new to these resources: The videos Ed is talking about are free, downloadable, and shareable on this website. The group workbooks he's mentioning are Resisting Gossip Together (linked to extra material here) and correspond lesson by lesson with each video and each chapter in Resisting Gossip.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Father and Son (Unusual Blossoms)

Not Heather's Normal Blossoms to Photgraph

Thursday, August 06, 2015

#19. What does it mean to pray "in Jesus’ name?"

Christian Prayer Catechism: Question #19

Q. What does it mean to pray "in Jesus’ name?"

A. Praying in Jesus’ name is praying in Jesus’ authority through Jesus’ sacrifice for Jesus’ will.

Jesus has asked us to pray in His own name (John 14:13-14, 15:16, 16:23-24). This is not a "magic formula" for us to be certain to say at the end of each of our prayers, but it is important. A name in Scripture stands for a person and their authority (Acts 3:6, 4:7, 16:18, 1 Cor 5:4, Prov. 22:1). Therefore, to pray "in Jesus’ name" means to pray with the authorization of our Lord. This authorization comes because of the death and resurrection of Christ. He has authorized us through His Crosswork. Wayne Grudem adds, "[It is] also praying in a way that is consistent with his character, that truly represents him and reflects his manner of life and his own holy will" (Systematic Theology, pg. 379). What a privilege and what a responsibility!

Saturday, August 01, 2015