Archives For Andy Naselli

Praying Scripture

Greg Strand – January 3, 2014 Leave a comment

When I served as a pastor in local church ministry, every January I preached on the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading and prayer. Though these are not the only spiritual disciplines, they are two of the foundational God-ordained disciplines that are foundational for spiritual growth. It is true that any spiritual discipline can be undertaken for wrong reasons and with wrong motives. The solution to that is not to avoid the disciplines but to engage in them by the Spirit for the purpose of godliness (1 Tim. 4:8).

Yesterday I focused on the discipline of Bible reading, while today the emphasis is on prayer. One of the important things I learned when I was a seminary student at TEDS regarding prayer was the discipline of actually praying Scripture, praying the Word back to God. Furthermore, I also learned the importance of connecting as many of my prayer requests as possible to Scripture so that what I requested was formed and shaped by God and His Word, of learning to desire what God desired. These two emphases of praying have profoundly shaped how I think about and engage in prayer – communion with God the Father, through God the Son, by/in God the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18).

Andy Naselli recently wrote a helpful article giving “12 Reasons You Should Pray Scripture,” which supports what I write above. I list below the reasons he gives for praying Scripture, while commending the whole article to you.

  1. You should pray Scripture because God’s people in the OT and NT did.

  2. You should pray Scripture because Jesus did.

  3. You should pray Scripture because it glorifies God the Father.

  4. You should pray Scripture because it helps you focus on what is most important.

  5. You should pray Scripture because it helps you focus on praying.

  6. You should pray Scripture because it is entirely truthful.

  7. You should pray Scripture because it helps you pray confidently.

  8. You should pray Scripture because it kindles your affections.

  9. You should pray Scripture because it helps you express yourself appropriately.

  10. You should pray Scripture because it keeps your prayers fresh and specific.

  11. You should pray Scripture because it keeps your prayers in scriptural proportion.

  12. You should pray Scripture because it helps you understand Scripture better.

A few questions of application:

  • What plan do you have in place to nourish your prayer life?
  • How are you intending to grow in prayer in this coming year?
  • What needs to change in your prayers such that they reflect the Scriptures?

“Resisting Gossip”

Greg Strand – September 20, 2013 2 Comments
by Matt Mitchell

by Matt Mitchell

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” Proverbs 26:22

According to many Christians, gossip is generally considered one of the respectable or acceptable sins, and it should not be so. It is sin, which means it is not respectable and it is not acceptable.

Matt Mitchell, pastor of the Lanse Evangelical Free Church, Lanse, PA, has written an important and helpful book on gossip, understanding what it is, recognizing its enticing yet destructive nature, and how, by God’s grace, to overcome it: Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue (CLC Publications).

Mitchell raise a number of questions: What is gossip? What makes gossip wrong? Why do we do it? More importantly, how do we stop it? He then explains why he wrote this important book.

I wrote Resisting Gossip to help ordinary Christians solve an everyday problem for which there has been very few helpful resources. We encounter gossip all the time, but most of us have never been taught how to recognize it for what it is, resist the temptation to pass it along, and respond in faith and love when we are the target. I’m hoping that my book will aid Christ-followers to combat this insidious problem with the promises of the gospel!

The book has four parts: Part 1: Recognizing Gossip; Part 2: Resisting Gossip; Part 3: Responding to Gossip; Part 4: Regretting Gossip. It also includes a final Bonus Chapter for Church Leaders, which addresses ways to cultivate a gossip-resistant church, with a provocative yet profound subtitle, “loose lips sink fellowships, but the gospel wins the war of the wagging tongue.”

Mitchell defines gossip as follows (p.23): “Sinful gossip is bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.”

A “gallery of gossips” are identified (pp. 46-59): 1) the spy; 2) the grumbler; 3) the backstabber; 4) the chameleon; and 5) the busybody.

Mitchell presents five constructive alternatives to gossip (pp. 80-89):

  1. Say Nothing At All
  2. Commend the Commendable
  3. Talk to People, Not about Them
  4. Offer Words of Mercy
  5. Talk to and about the Lord

There is much more, but this gives you a sense of the excellent issues addressed and constructive, gospel-centered way of addressing the sin of gossip. Here are a few recommendations.

The Biblical Counseling Coalition posted a review that consists of the following:

Mitchell has provided a practical guide that helps everyone recognize, resist, respond, and regret this pervasive and insidious sin. Because of its accessibility, strong biblical and theological foundation, and warm-hearted pastoral tone, biblical counselors will find this book an invaluable resource, not only for their parishioners, but for themselves as well.Resisting Gossip’s gospel-centered, elegant simplicity will benefit the church for years to come.

Tim Challies convictingly concludes:

I do not consider myself particularly prone to gossip. At least, I didn’t. But this book showed me that I may be more susceptible than I like to think. I tend to be comfortably legalistic by keeping my definitions so narrow that they exclude me. But by widening the definition of gossip—and doing so biblically, I believe—Mitchell showed me that I may be more of a gossip than I care to admit. And isn’t it interesting that I kept trying to rewrite that sentence to keep from labeling myself a gossip. I will own being drawn to it or prone to it, but I resist owning it.

I enjoyed Resisting Gossip in the most lasting sense, because there were several areas in which it challenged and criticized me and then offered me hope. I was sorry to have to come face-to-face with my proneness to gossip, but in the end, grateful for the rebuke. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…”

Andy Naselli summarizes the book, “It’s convicting, edifying, accessible, and practical.”

Read more about the book. Watch a three minute video in which Mitchell gives a brief statement about gossip and his book.

Karen, my dear wife, asked me, “Do you have this book? It looks good.” My response. I do, and it is!

The Screwtape Letters

Greg Strand – July 30, 2013 Leave a comment

C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters have been very helpful for Christians to think through how the Enemy tempts them and others. Though these letters and conversations are not true, there is much truth that is communicated through them. The sub-title of this book describes the nature of these letters: “How a senior devil instructs a junior devil in the art of temptation.”

Thank you to Andy Naselli who has provided a one-sentence summary of each of the letters Screwtape sends to Wormwood.