Resisting Gossip: Free Video Curriculum

This week, Pastor Matt Mitchell, author of Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue has released two new Resisting Gossip resources.  The first is a bible study curriculum that dives deeper into the content first introduced in the book Resisting Gossip.  The second is a series of videos to supplement the curriculum which are being offered for free on Matt’s website. These videos are also offered on DVD for those who prefer a physical format.

I encourage you to dive into these resources.  Gossip is a destructive, ugly sin that we can all fall into too easily. Matt’s curriculum shows us exactly what the Bible says about gossip and what we can do to flee from the temptation.

Top 10 Gospel Books for Children

As I’m often asked for book recommendations on various subjects, I decided to put together an online list of my top ten books in various categories. Basically, if I was only allowed 10 books in my library on that subject, these are the ten I would choose. Previous posts include:

Today I’m listing Top 10 Gospel Books for Children.  I put this question out on my Facebook page last week after a friend asked me for recommendations for their eight-year-old who was showing interest in the gospel.  Here are my favorite responses – this time not in any order of preference. Please make further suggestions in the comments and I’ll add them under Reader Suggestions.

God’s Providence by Sally Michaels, part of the Children Desiring God series.  Thanks to Phillip and Ian for pointing us to this author.

Westminster Shorter Catechism for Kids (series of workbooks) by Caroline Weerstra.  Recommended on Facebook by Colin.

Pictorial Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.  Recommended by Katherine and Angela.

The Lamb by John R. Cross.  Recommended by John.

Julie suggested books by Susan Hunt, saying, “My children really enjoy these and they are practical.”  One of Hunt’s newest for children is Cassie & Caleb Discover God’s Wonderful Design.

Who Is God? (And Can I Really Know Him?) by John Hay and David Webb.  This one is often used as a homeschooling textbook and the publishers also offer a journal and coloring book to go along with the text.  Recommended by Colin.

Big Book of Questions & Answers: A Family Devotional Guide to the Christian Faith by Sinclair Ferguson. Recommended by William.

Leading Little Ones to God: A Child’s Book of Bible Teachings by Marian M. Schoolland.  Recommended by Sarah who says, “An oldie but simple and complete! I like the questions at the end of each message along with the short memory verses.”

The Gospel for Children by John Leuzarder. Recommended by John and Charles

Jesus Teaches Us How to Be Wise by Sinclair Ferguson, part of a series of “Jesus Teaches Us How to…” books. Recommended by David

A Young Person’s Guide to Knowing God by Patricia St. John.  Recommended by Amian and Angela.  Amian said: “Patricia was a writer of the old school. My daughter (now 38) always says ‘No-one understood children and young people like Auntie Patricia’. The Gospel is very clearly set out in all of her children’s books.”  Angela remarked, “…Patricia St John’s books are brilliant, gentle but clear in their message and engaging for children.”

Dear J: Christian Letters to a Young Friend by Margaret R. Macleod. Recommended by James and Nancy.  This one is out of print, but you can buy used copies on Amazon.

Fair Sunshine: Character Studies of the Scottish Covenanters by Jock Purves.  Recommended by Isobel who enjoyed them as a child. She said, “When I was that age and seeking, I found the lives of missionaries fascinating and the stories of the covenanters challenging.”

Jungle Doctor and the Whirlwind (Jungle Doctor Series Book 1) by Paul White.  The whole Jungle Doctor series was recommended on my Facebook page.  Angela said, “[This series has] an excellent way of communicating the way of salvation and gospel truths to children of this age.” and Isobel remembered them from her childhood, “So glad you can still get the Jungle Doctor series, they were my favs over fifty years ago!”

How God Sent a Dog to Save a Family (Building on the Rock) by Joel R. Beeke and Diana Kleyn. The Building on the Rock series was recommended by Angela.

See also God’s Alphabet for Life Devotions for Young Children by Joel Beeke and Heidi Boorsma.

Wait Till You See The Butterfly by Doreen Tamminga, a collection of short stories that Angela “can’t recommend highly enough.”

The Doctrines of Grace by Shane Lems.  Michael recommends this for older children, “especially as an introduction to the Reformed faith.”

There are also many children’s books by R C Sproul including The Donkey Who Carried a King.

Reader Suggestions

Ordinary v Radical

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World by Michael Horton.

Michael Horton says that despite the similarities in cover design, despite “radical” being in the subtitle, and despite numerous pops at “radical Christianity” in the book, “I’m not going after Radical.”

I don’t quite understand the defensiveness.

He also says that “Those who think I am going after the book admit that they haven’t read mine yet, but they suspect that Radical is the target. It’s not.”

Well, I’ve read the book, and if Radical is not at least a major part of the target, it’s the most accidental bullseye I’ve ever seen.

Again, not quite sure why that should be a worry, especially as at no point does Horton personalize the issues or take down people by name. It’s a careful, courteous, and humble book – Horton targets himself as well.

It does come across as a rather negative book overall, mainly because while there are so many areas to critique in “extraordinary” evangelicalism, there are really only a few “ordinary” alternatives which Horton keeps coming back to: preaching, prayer, sacraments, and the community of faith in the local church. 

There is much worthwhile fresh content in the book, but those familiar with Horton’s writing and broadcasting will recognize many of his favorite bogeymen: pietism, activism, revivalism, dramatic conversions, and so on.

This book needed to be written and no one better could have written it than modern evangelicalism’s “Jeremiah.” It serves as a helpful counter-balance to some of the “extraordinary” books and movements that have swept up many young Christians with unsustainable expectations, but who are now running out of steam. To them, this will be a breath of welcome and reinvigorating fresh air.

And for ordinary Christians who just regularly plod along to ordinary churches, to ordinary worship, to ordinary Christian friendships, to ordinary Christian service, and then out into our ordinary jobs, this book will greatly encourage you that it’s in these very ordinary settings that our extraordinary God does radical things.

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World by Michael Horton.

The Most Powerful Video Illustration of the Gospel I’ve Ever Seen

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a powerful illustration of the Gospel as this video. Want to understand your adoption by your heavenly father better? Watch what Detective Mook does and worship your heavenly father?

A challenging adoption: “We end tonight with a detective who took on one of the most challenging cases of his career.”

A head-and-heart adoption: “Solving it took teamwork between his head and his heart.”

A merciful adoption: “Most of the kids who come into this gym are street-kids, many of them have been born into poverty.”

A searching adoption: “When they stopped showing up at the gym one day, Jack went out and found the older boy.”

A compassionate adoption: “He looked terrible, bags under his eyes, 12 years old….What no one knew was just how bad these kids had it. They were in a foster home and had foster parents who were extremely abusive and neglectful.”

A sovereign adoption: “They had had it as worse as any other kid that has lived in the city of Pittsburgh…and I’d had enough of it.” “Jack Mook took matters into his own hands…and got the kids placed in a new home.”

A sacrificial adoption: ”…And got the kids placed in a new home…his.”

A beneficial adoption: One of the kids said, “I slept the best I ever did that night.”

An enjoyable adoption: Mook said “I’m loving this. It’s awesome. It’s the best thing I ever did in my life.”

A full adoption: “This week he went to court and did one better…adopted the boys and made them Mooks.”

A happy adoption: “You’re a Mook,right? You happy? Good!

And I just love the next line when Mook says “Good, now you’re going home to cut my grass,” and the journalist closes with, “Safe to say, the thought of chores has never been more welcome.” Isn’t that exactly how the adopted Christian feels about obeying and serving God? It’s no chore; it’s so welcome.

Youtube entitled the video “From man’s man to family man.” From the perspective of being adopted, we could call it, “From no man to God’s man” (or woman).

Simplify: Ten Practices To Unclutter Your Soul

Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul by Bill Hybels

My wife put me on to this one after hearing Hybels interviewed on Moody Radio one day and I’m glad she did. It’s an enjoyable read, with lots of anecdotes, outlining ten practical ways to unclutter your soul.

Most helpful chapters for me were chapter one on sustainable energy levels, chapter two on scheduling, and chapter seven on friendships, the latter being my favorite and the area I’d like to work on most.

If you read it all in one sitting (as I did) then you’ll probably feel a bit overwhelmed and your mind will be more cluttered than ever. Probably better to read a chapter, think about it, discuss it with your husband/wife/friend, and try to implement one or two action items per chapter. Then go on to the next one, maybe a couple of weeks later.

My Favorite Quotes

On God’s Call
Simplified living is about more than doing less. It’s being who God called us to be, with a wholehearted, single-minded focus. It’s walking away from innumerable lesser opportunities in favor of the few to which we’ve been called and for which we’ve been created.

On Energy Levels
If you choose to live with more energy reserves in your life, you will without a doubt disappoint some people. Trust me, you have to fight to keep your life replenished. No one else can keep your tank full. It’s up to you to protect your energy reserves and priorities.

Of all the leaders I’ve had the opportunity to meet—from CEOs to nonprofit execs to politicians to church leaders—guess which type is most likely to have a problem with being overwhelmed, overscheduled, and exhausted? Senior pastors!

If you look at what’s underneath the skyrocketing use of pornography these days, a lot of it is connected to depletion, isolation, and exhaustion.

Spending time with God each day is the antidote to one energy-killer in particular: image management

Exercise and proper rest patterns give about a 20 percent energy increase in an average day, average week, average month.

On Scheduling
My schedule is far less about what I want to get done and far more about who I want to become. Let me repeat: My schedule is far less about what I want to get done and far more about who I want to become.

How would you spend your time if God were in charge of it?”

I’m of the opinion that the thoughtful arrangement of your daily and weekly calendars is one of the holiest endeavors you can undertake.

On Friendship
By evaluating, pruning, expanding, bordering, and deepening your relationships, you can maximize the energy and joy they bring to your newly simplified life.

If I were to wrestle friendship in all its complexities down to just a few short words, I would define it like this: to know and be known.

Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul by Bill Hybels.

Triple Your Beauty Intake

The Apostle Paul commands us to think upon whatever is beautiful, lovely, and praiseworthy in order to enjoy the peace of God which passes understanding (Phil. 4:7-9).

But in a day when many of us live among steel and concrete boxes of varying sizes and shapes, it’s often very difficult to locate beauty in our immediate surroundings. At best our eyes feast on the mundane and the monotonous, at worst on decay and brokenness. Our noses are blocked with dust and grime, our ears are assailed with traffic and jackhammers, and our taste buds are dulled with mass-produced junk food.

We need to get out of the city, see the stunning mountains, savor the fragrance of the forest, taste the thrill of fresh and healthy produce, and listen to the exquisite bird songs.

Or if that’s too difficult, then get a BBC documentary like Planet Earth or Deep Sea. Travel our beautiful world, and plunge into our magnificent oceans from the comfort of your favorite armchair. Find ways to increase your intake of beauty through your various senses.

Let me help get you started with this stunning film of Danny Macaskill cycling the Cullin Ridgeline in the Isle of Skye. It brought back a lot of memories for me as I started in the ministry in these same Western Highlands in similar stunning scenery.

But it’s not just the beautiful scenery, it’s also the beautiful camerawork, and even the beautiful cycling skill, surely an incredible example of having dominion over the earth and subduing it. Feast your eyes…and your soul.