Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

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January 23, 2015

Spoiler Alert - This is an interesting one from Slate: “Children’s birthday parties are getting more and more extravagant. Here’s how we let it happen.” I have noticed this trend!

Going Paperless - This is a long but helpful guide on going paperless. It’s easier than ever!

What I Saw at the Abortion - Trevin Wax: “Ross Douthat linked to this first-person testimony from Richard Selzer, a surgeon, as an example of a pro-choice person who can’t ‘unsee’ what they’ve witnessed in an abortion.”

When You’re Prayerless - “Prayerlessness is not fundamentally a discipline problem. At root it’s a faith problem.” And it happens to all of us sometimes.

Under the Microscope - You know you want to see what some common objects look like under the microscope.

Patterns of Evidence - Here’s another review of the new documentary film Patterns of Evidence.

3 Leadership Lessons from Winston Churchill - Gavin Ortlund looks to Winston Church to find 3 important leadership lessons.

When we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing. We worship anything. —G.K.Chesterton

Chesterton

January 22, 2015

I knew next to nothing about my wife on the day I married her. We had dated for a few years, we had spent countless evenings talking on the phone, we had attended church, we had organized events, and even run a business together. But despite all that, we still barely knew one another. The knowledge we had was genuine, but it was shallow. Still, that small amount of knowledge was enough to compel us to invite our friends and family to a little church in Ancaster so we could pledge our lives to one another.

I have never had a moment’s regret for marrying Aileen (which is not the same as saying we have never had disagreements or difficult times). This is remarkable when I consider how little I knew of her on the day of our wedding. I loved and appreciated her as far as I knew her, but in retrospect can see how little knowledge I really had.

Fast forward through sixteen years of marriage, and our knowledge has increased dramatically. It has increased to a level that all those years ago would have seemed downright creepy. Through the pleasure of living together, the toil of working together, the intimacy of sleeping together, the delight of having children together, and all the normal joys and trials of life, we have come to know one another in a much deeper way. I love her much more now than I did at the time, because today’s love is based on much more substantial knowledge.

Don’t hear me saying that I have now learned everything about her, as if sixteen years has been sufficient for that. I am fully aware that, should the Lord grant us thirty-two or sixty-four years together, I’ll look back and marvel at how little I knew of her in 2015. This is part of the joy of marriage—spending a lifetime growing in my knowledge of, and therefore love for, another person. This is part of the honor of marriage, that another person would allow me to know her to this degree, to allow me to know her mind, body, and soul.

When I first began writing these words, I intended to make a comparison to the Christian’s relationship with God. And there is a sense in which the comparison works. But there is another sense in which it fails.

When you became a Christian, you did so on the basis of partial knowledge. You had genuine knowledge of genuine truth, but it was very limited knowledge. Still, it was enough—it was enough to see yourself as a sinner and Christ as a glorious Savior, and so you put your faith in him. But to some degree it was still a leap in the dark. Then, as you have grown as a Christian, you have inevitably come to a better and deeper understanding of God, and his glory and grace; that small faith has been rewarded as it has grown into a fuller and more robust faith. You love for God has grown as your knowledge of God has increased.

But God’s love for you has remained unchanged. It has not grown a bit, and that’s because God’s knowledge of you has not advanced one bit. Before you were born he knew everything you would be. “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). Before he saved you, he knew everything you would do: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). He knew it all. His knowledge of you was complete and is complete. His love for you was complete and is complete. It will never change. It can never change.

Image credit: Shutterstock

January 22, 2015

Here are a few new Kindle deals: On Guard by William Lane Craig (free); The Forgotten Trinity by James White ($1.99); Heresy by Alister McGrath ($1.99). (Complete list)

How Small Is an Atom? - Very small, apparently, according to this video.

Books on Sale - This week’s deals from Westminster Books include excellent resources for middle schoolers.

I’ve Sinned; Now What? - Here are eleven reminders for dealing with sin.

The Boy Who Didn’t Come Back From Heaven - The Guardian: “Alex Malarkey co-wrote a bestselling book about a near-death experience – and then last week admitted he made it up. So why wasn’t anyone listening to a quadriplegic boy and a mother who simply wanted the truth to be heard?”

5 Scientific Problems with Current Theories of Biological and Chemical Evolution - Justin Taylor summarizes some work from the Discovery Institute.

Before He Preachers - Thom Rainer makes six observations about speaking to the pastor right before he preaches.

Idolizing the Bible - Is it possible for Christians to idolize the Bible?

God never made a promise that was too good to be true. —D. L. Moody

Moody

January 21, 2015

I receive the emails often, the emails from the man who wonders how he, he of all people, could possibly lead his family. He has blown it. He has sinned too often, too flagrantly, too publicly. Usually it is the porn: She found the stash on his hard drive or the links in his browser. Hard-earned respect was demolished in a moment.

Aside: Men, don’t you know what it does to your wife’s heart when she learns this about you? Don’t you care how it destroys your reputation in her eyes? Don’t you fear how it shatters her confidence in the man she married? 

Or maybe it wasn’t porn, but years of apathy, of neglect. How could he lead after so many years of being so passive? Or maybe it is neither porn nor apathy, but fear, fear of a woman who is so much wiser and so much more knowledgeable, who knows so much more about the Bible and so much more about the God of the Bible. How is he supposed to lead his wife and family when she is the one who knows so much more?

Whatever the reason, he hasn’t led. He hasn’t given direction to the family, he hasn’t called the family together for devotions, he hasn’t prayed with the kids, he hasn’t stepped up and been a leader. And the longer he goes, the harder it gets.

This is the most difficult time to lead. The most difficult time to lead is when you have forfeited the respect of those who are meant to follow you, when your confidence, and theirs, is shattered. But this is also the most important time to lead. This is where a real man will, and must, lead.

No one leads because he is worthy of the honor. In all of human history there has only been one person who was a worthy leader, and only one person who perfectly succeeded in his leadership. The rest of us, the best of us, are unworthy. We fumble along. We lead and stumble. We lead and fail. We lead and lose our way. We lead and hope desperately to learn something from it all. In all of human history there has been only one person who was a worthy leader, but the call to lead goes to the unworthy as well. And so we lead. Like it or not, confident or not, skillful or not, we lead.

We don’t lead because we are worthy, but because we are called. You don’t lead because you are worthy, but because you are called. And, my friend, you have been called— commanded and called by God himself. If you are a husband, you have been called. If you are a father, you have been called. You have been called to lead—you and no one else. You have been called to lead despite your sin and your failure, despite your fear and apathy. There is no backup plan, there is no one to lead in your absence, no one better suited, no one better qualified.

It won’t be easy, but it will be right, and God always blesses when you do what is right. So ask forgiveness for your sin. Turn away from those failures. Put to death the doubt and pride that traps you in inactivity. And lead. Lead gently, lead humbly, lead prayerfully. But lead.

If you won’t lead, who will? If not today, then when? You know what to do. So do it.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

January 21, 2015

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Recovering Redemption by Matt Chandler ($2.99); Gospel-Centered Teaching by Trevin Wax ($2.99); The People of God by Trevor Joy & Spence Shelton ($0.99); Ordinary by Tony Merida ($4.99); Autopsy of a Deceased Church by Thom Rainer ($4.99); The Wisdom of Narnia by Pauline Baynes ($0.99); The Church by Richard McBrien (this is history of Catholicism by a liberal Roman Catholic may be of interest to some readers) ($3.99). Complete List.

Women’s Discipleship and the Mommy Blogosphere - Hannah Anderson has some valuable things to say about the mommy blogs—their strengths and their weaknesses.

God’s Light in Our Darkness - “Being ‘saved’ doesn’t save us from facing sickness and sword, including depression. However, God does promise to give us the proper footing as we walk through hard terrain.”

How Should We Respond? - Justin Taylor suggests an appropriate response to the new reports that a fragment from the gospel of Mark dates to the first century.

The Gospel in Colombia - The Gospel Coalition reports on the state of the church in Colombia.

Husbands, Pray with Your Wives - Wendy Alsup encourages husbands to love their wives by praying with their wives.

Stop Obsessing - Mike Wittmer gives you 4 good reasons to stop obsessing about heaven.

When a man truly sees himself, he knows nobody can say anything about him that is too bad. ―D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Lloyd Jones

January 20, 2015

I didn’t actually intend to review this book. It showed up at my door and a brief glance turned into a quick skim turned into a full read turned into a review. As a committed reader always looking for something new and interesting, I just love it when that happens.

There is a new religious movement alive today that is gaining momentum and claiming followers. Like so many movements before it, it began in the United States and has since spread around the world. I have seen many manifestations of it right here in Canada. It is called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and it is the subject of God’s Super-Apostles, where it receives some well-deserved scrutiny.

The New Apostolic Reformation is a movement that is set on returning apostles and prophets to the church. Its adherents believe “that God always intended for apostles and prophets to govern the church, not only the early church, but the church during each generation. Yet their rightful place of rule has been neglected by Christians for centuries,” replaced, in most cases, by pastors and elders. This movement is apostolic because it restores apostles and prophets to the church, and it is a reformation because its leaders hold that, like the Protestant Reformation before it, it will transform the church.

NAR is associated with well-known leaders like C. Peter Wagner, Rich Joyner, Mike Bickle, Bill Johnson, and Cindy Jacobs, and organizations such as The International House of Prayer, The Call, GOD TV, Trinity Broadcasting Network, and Charisma magazine. You may know you have encountered it when you hear buzzwords like activation, dominionism, generational curse, prayerwalking, soaking, or spiritual mapping. There are currently something like 3 million people in America who are actively associated with NAR, and hundreds of thousands or even millions more who would be loosely associated or who have been influenced by its teachings and teachers. It is, in short, a powerful and growing movement.

In God’s Super-Apostles R. Douglas Gievett, professor of philosophy in the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, and Holly Pivec, a researcher and journalist, combine forces to examine and respond to the NAR movement. Modeling their work after the Bereans of Acts 17, they look at this new movement and then simply turn to God’s Word to see if it can be supported by the Bible. And, not surprisingly, they find that many of the movement’s boldest and most distinct claims are not only missing from Scripture, but completely opposed to it.

They first look to the NAR teaching about apostles, then go to the New Testament examples and descriptions of Apostles, and compare the two. NAR’s beliefs and leadership do not hold up well under such examination. The authors do the same with prophets, and again find that NAR offers something very different from what the Bible holds out. Then they look at some of NAR’s distinct teachings about spiritual warfare and the promise (which often becomes a threat) of apostolic unity. They close with an examination of miracles and miracle workers, disputing NAR’s understanding of miracles and casting doubt on the many of the claims of miracles.

This book may draw some comparisons to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire, but even while it reaches many of the same conclusions, it is a very different work in that it focuses far less on individual manifestations of the movement’s flaws and foibles, and more on a framework meant to understand and interpret it. It may be tempting to immediately write off the authors as people who have a deeper agenda than exposing the worst of the movement, but they anticipate and answer this:

Some readers may suspect that the authors are anti-charismatic. They may expect us to argue that the miraculous gifts described in 1 Corinthians 12—including the gifts of prophesying, healing, and speaking in tongues—are no longer active in the church today. This is not our objective. Many Christians around the world, including charismatics and classic Pentecostals, believe that the miraculous gifts are still active, and we do not dispute their belief. We’ve tried to show that NAR teachings do not represent the views of most charismatics or classic Pentecostals, but are, rather, entirely different.

If I have a concern with the book it is its logical and methodical style. Of course I found this very helpful, but I am not sure how many of NAR’s adherents will be convinced. You have heard it said that you cannot reason someone out of an irrational position and, sadly, many people who are swept up in NAR may be almost immune to the kind of reason the authors bring to bear here. They have been trained to look past the Bible to signs and wonders and prophecies; many have tacitly or even outright denied that the Bible is their norming norm, their sole final authority. Yet the authors have done the right thing and simply held up NAR to the light of Scripture; it is my hope that many people within the movement will read the book and at least consider it.

God’s Super-Apostles is a clear and winsome work that provides just the right depth of examination, and that comes to clear and biblical conclusions. It is worth reading whether you wish to better understand NAR or if you wish to evaluate its claims.

January 20, 2015

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Finally Free by Heath Lambert ($3.99); Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (A new edition edited by Kevin DeYoung) ($3.99); The Forgotten Trinity by James White ($1.99); A Model of Christian Maturity by D.A. Carson ($2.99); The Crucified King by Jeremy Treat ($1.99); The Unbelievable Gospel by Jonathan Dodson ($3.79). You can find a complete list here: Kindle Books Deals for Christians.

Zobrist’s Goodbye - I enjoyed reading what Ben Zobrist did as he left Tampa Bay (after being traded to the Oakland A’s).

20 Things for My Daughter - This is a great list: 20 things Melissa wants her daughter to understand about being a woman.

This Will Revolutionize Education - “Many technologies have promised to revolutionize education, but so far none has. With that in mind, what could revolutionize education?” This is quite an enjoyable video.

Undeveloped World War II Film Discovered - You might like this video in which the Rescued Film Project discovers and processes 31 rolls of film shot by an American WWII soldier over 70 years ago.

The Oldest Gospel Fragment - “A text found on papyrus used on a mummy mask may be the oldest copy of a gospel known to exist—a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year AD 90.”

What Did Jesus Mean? - What did Jesus mean when he said we would do greater work than he would do? Here’s R.C. Sproul’s explanation.

We are not primarily called to do something or go somewhere; we are called to Someone. —Os Guinness

Guinness