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

Tim Challies

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August 16, 2014

Summer is quickly winding down, isn’t it? We have two weeks of summer vacation remaining up here in Canada, and then, the day after Labour Day, life goes back to normal. As a person who is very dependent upon routine, I’m looking forward to it!

Here are just a few Kindle deals for today: A Model of Christian Maturity by D.A. Carson ($2.99); Israel by Daniel Block ($2.99); Abortion by R.C. Sproul ($2.99); it’s not a Christian book, but it’s a good one by one of my favorite authors: The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough ($2.99).

Thanks to Books at a Glance for sponsoring the blog this week. I depend upon sponsorships to balance out the expenses the blog incurs, and am grateful to Books at a Glance for their support.

I appreciate these 8 Tips for Talking To Your Kids About Sex.

Every now and again—usually a couple of times a year—Amazon puts board games on sale for 24 hours. Today’s the day for a selection of strategy games. Power Grid, Dominion, Pandemic, 7 Wonders, Diplomacy—these are some of the best games you can buy. Check out the list here.

Aileen and I visited Niddrie last year, and we each left a bit of our heart there. I love what the Lord is doing there, in calling people to respond to the gospel. He Was a Rat is a powerful testimony to God’s grace.

Joe Thorn, in his series on The Lord’s Supper, says something I fully agree with: Sip It, Don’t Dip It. “I know that some of you will read this and think that this is straining out a gnat, missing the forest for the trees, or spending too much time on a trivial matter. But in my estimation this is an important matter we should consider seriously.”

Can we really find joy in suffering? Yes, it is actually possible.

Here’s how to make the perfect paper airplane. You know you want to try it.

No soul shall ever come to Heaven, but the soul which has Heaven come to it first. —Jeremiah Burroughs

Burroughs

August 15, 2014

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by Moody Publishers. They are offering some excellent books this week. There will be 5 winners, and each of those winners will receive the following 5 books:

  • HolcombIs It My Fault: Hope and Healing for Victims of Domestic Violence by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb. “Is it My Fault? proclaims the gospel of healing and hope to victims who know too well the depths of destruction and the overwhelming reality of domestic violence.”
  • Pulling Back the Shades by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery. “Christian women don’t have to choose between being sexual and spiritual. They have legitimate longings that the Church has been afraid to talk about, and books like Fifty Shades of Grey exploit.”
  • LettersLetters to a Birmingham Jail:  A Response to the Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Bryan Loritts, John Perkins, Crawford W. Loritts Jr. and John Piper. “Letters to a Birmingham Jail is a collection of essays written by men of various ethnicities and ages, yet all are committed to the centrality of the gospel, nudging us to pursue Christ exalting diversity.”
  • Finding God at the Kitchen Sink: Search for Glory in the Everyday Grime by Maggie Paulus. “Finding God at the Kitchen Sink is a collection of reflections, written for those who long for solace in the middle of chaos and those looking for grace in a fallen, confusing and disorderly world.”
  • God’s Pursuit of Man by A.W. Tozer. “Although written two years after the publication of The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer’s God’s Pursuit of Man sets forth the biblical truth that before man can pursue God, God must first pursue man.”

Enter to Win

Again, there are 5 prize packages to win. And all you need to do to enter the draw is to drop your name and email address in the form below. (If you receive this by email, you will need to visit challies.com to enter.)

Giveaway Rules: You may enter one time. As soon as the winners have been chosen, all names and addresses will be immediately and permanently erased. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes Saturday at noon.

August 15, 2014

5 Principles of the New Sexual Morality - Alistair Roberts lays out 5 principles of the new sexual and relational morality. You need to understand this to understand the great shift happening around us today.

How the Sun Sees You - This is a fascinating video that demonstrates how the sun sees you.

Balancing Authority and Wisdom - H.B. Charles Jr. offers wisdom on how to balance authority and wisdom as a guest preacher. Because these things can go way wrong.

To Date or Not to Date? - Aimee Byrd reflects on an article that has been making the rounds the past few days—an article suggesting that courtship just hasn’t worked.

Robin Williams’ Most Uncomfortable Role - There are some insightful comments in this article: “It’s tempting to think that Robin Williams could have been lifted out of a state of despondency if only he had been able to read all the Twitter comments praising his amazing career as a great actor. Yet this would not be a safe assumption.”

J’adore Paris - These timelapse videos are starting to get a little repetitive, but this one, displaying the beauty of Paris, offers a few tricks and surprises. (Don’t miss the footage after the credits.)

Child Labour Crisis - This is a brilliant bit of satire.

A Technology Fast. Kind of. - John Dyer makes some insightful observations about technology in this article.

You may be singing ‘Holy, holy, holy,’ but if you aren’t thinking about God while singing it, you are not worshiping. —Donald Whitney

Whitney

August 14, 2014

Many times over the years I have invited readers of this blog to join me in a reading project, mostly as part of a program I’ve called Reading Classics Together. We’ve read some incredible books together—Holiness by J.C. Ryle, Christianity & Liberalism by Gresham Machen, The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards, The Cross of Christ by John Stott, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks, and a whole lot more.

I think it’s time to begin another classic. In this case, I’d like to return to one of the very first we read together. Of all the ones we have read, it remains my favorite, and certainly the one that has made the deepest impact in my life. It is John Owen’s The Mortification of Sin (or Overcoming Sin and Temptation). It is the absolute best book available on the life-long challenge of putting sin to death. Unless you’ve completely eradicated sin in your life, I know you’ll benefit from reading it.

Will you read it with me?

John Owen is known as being one of the greatest theologians in the history of the church and one who offered penetrating analysis of the human condition. Though his works are reputed as being difficult to read, they always prove worth the effort. Jerry Bridges says, “To read Owen is to mine spiritual gold.” Mark Dever says, “Sin is tenacious, but by God’s grace we can hate it and hunt it. John Owen provides the mater guide for the sin-hunter.” And Phillip Ryken insists that, “John Owen is a spiritual surgeon with the rare skill to cut away the cancer of sin and bring gospel healing to the sinner’s soul. Apart from the Bible, I have found his writings to be the best books ever written to help me stop sinning the same old sins.” Are you getting the theme there?

Here is how the program works: Each week we will read one chapter. Then, on Thursdays, visit my site and I will have an article on that chapter along with a place for you to add your comments or a place for you to link to your own blog (or Facebook or any other place you have been discussing it). The idea is to read the book together, so we can benefit from one another’s insights and have mutual accountability as we press on in our reading.

How do you participate? Simply by getting a copy of the book and reading along. You don’t need to register, you don’t need to comment, you don’t need to do anything other than read one chapter per week.

Buying the Book

OSAT

I am going to read Overcoming Sin and Temptation, a slight modernization of the work, edited by Justin Taylor and Kelly Kapic. This edition maintains the unabridged text, but provides useful introductions and editorial assistance. For example, the editors footnote difficult or obscure words, update archaic language (i.e. they change “thee” to “you”), transliterate words that Owen provided in the original biblical languages, and so on. They also add helpful introductions to the sections. They maintain the full impact of Owen’s words while removing some of the hindrances experienced by the modern reader.

However, if you would like to read the original, you are more than welcome to do so and will benefit just as much. Here is where you can track down the book:

Let’s Get Started

I plan to post an article on chapter one on September 4, and continue every Thursday after that. There are 14 chapters, meaning the program will last for 14 weeks. All you need to do is obtain a copy of the book and read chapter one prior to September 4.

Why don’t you leave a comment below if you plan to join the program (or if you’ve got any questions).

August 14, 2014

Here are today’s Kindle deals: B&H has 3 titles by William Lane Craig & Paul Copan at $2.99 each: Come Let Us Reason, Passionate Conviction, and Contending with Christianity’s Critics. Also consider Well-Driven Nails by Byron Yawn ($0.99); The Love of Wisdom by James Spiegel & Steve Cowan ($2.99); Marriage Matters by Winston Smith (free).

God Does Not View Your Labors as ‘Filthy Rags’ - “What does God think of our good works after we are saved? Here, unfortunately, Christians often receive mixed messages. Somewhere along the way we have begun to believe that our pride is best held in check, and God’s grace is most magnified, when we denigrate all our efforts and all our labors as merely ‘filthy rags’ in the sight of God.”

Don’t Look Down on Me - This video is worth watching. In it, a little person displays some of his challenges.

Two Gardens - J.D. Greear has been doing some good blogging lately, and this article is no exception.

Christian Sexual Morality in a Same-Sex Marriage Future - “Churchgoing Christians who support same-sex marriage are more likely to think pornography, cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, polyamory, and abortion are acceptable. And it’s reasonable to expect continued change in more permissive directions.”

10 Tips for Christian Leaders - Here are 10 social media tips for Christian leaders who don’t want to be self-promoting jerks.

When Dad Is Dying - Megan Best has helpful counsel for those end-of-life decisions.

A religion of head-knowledge and theories will prove of no avail either in this life or that which is to come. —C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon

August 13, 2014

I have watched the avid outdoorsman, the fisherman, come slowly drifting by. He goes by morning after morning, day after day, always at the same time, always casting into the same locations. He is patiently waiting for the big one, waiting for that hard strike, that long battle that will land him his prize.

I do not fish, but I do read, and I find them similar. The avid reader takes in book after book, day after day, searching each one, looking carefully for those few but important ideas. Four hundred pages—or eight hundred—is a small price to pay for an idea. It is a small price to pay for knowledge that leads to application that leads to life change.

Sometimes you need to do a lot of reading to come away with one really good idea. Some books yield nothing but nonsense; some yield nothing but ideas you have come across a thousands times before. But then, at last, you find that one that delivers. There is such joy in it. Such reward.

The fisherman is rewarded when at last he has his fish. He takes a picture of it, weights it, takes it home, has it mounted, and displays it for the world to see. The reader is rewarded when at last he has his idea. He takes that idea, he thinks about it, he talks about it, he weighs and considers it, and he integrates it into his life.

No wonder, then, that we love to read. We read to discover that prize. We read to learn, and we read to live.

August 13, 2014

Here are today’s Kindle deals: John MacArthur’s 4-volume commentary on Matthew is $8.54; New from GLH Publishing is Christian Love by Hugh Binning ($0.99).

When to Speak Up… Or Not - There is some wisdom in this article about when to speak up, and when not to.

Celebrity and Credibility - I enjoyed this article by Jeremy Walker in which he reflects on Christian celebrity.

Between Days - This sad video aptly illustrates the brevity of life.

5 Things You Can Do for the Christians in Iraq - Philip Nation offers 5 things you can do for the Christians in Iraq.

The Lord’s Supper - Joe Thorn is doing an interesting little series on the Lord’s Supper (from a Baptistic perspective).

Ghost Estates - Here’s a photo essay about Ireland’s strange ghost estates.

If we do not abide in prayer, we will abide in temptation. —John Owen

Owen

August 12, 2014

It is a question I often receive: What books do you recommend for new Christians? There is a short list of books I would love for every Christian to read shortly after they put their faith in Christ: Jerry Bridge’s The Discipline of Grace and R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God, to name just a couple. Another one I recommend widely is Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. First published in 1991, the book has finally been expanded and updated in a second edition. It is better than ever.

Whitney bases the book around a simple command from 1 Timothy 4:7: “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” Whitney explains, “If your purpose is godliness—and godliness is your purpose if you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, for He makes godliness your purpose—then how do you pursue that purpose? According to this verse, you “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” It is absolutely crucial that the Christian discipline himself to live a distinctly Christian life.

In the first chapter Whitney dives right into the concept of spiritual disciplines, explaining that they exist for the purpose of godliness. They do not save us and do not make God love us more; rather, they are the means God uses to conform us to Christ’s image. “The Spiritual Disciplines are those personal and interpersonal activities given by God in the Bible as the sufficient means believers in Jesus Christ are to use in the Spirit-filled, gospel-driven pursuit of godliness, that is, closeness to Christ and conformity to Christ.”

Through eleven chapters Whitney explains and unpacks ten important disciplines. He covers the disciplines of Bible intake (which receives two chapters), prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning. As he does this, he provides a framework for living a God-glorifying Christian life.

The book has several notable strengths.

First, it is bounded by Scripture. It would be easy to go far beyond the limits of Scripture, and to make every good idea a biblical discipline. Whitney allows Scripture to speak and always submits to its authority. This is especially noteworthy since so many similar books tend to tip into mysticism or to advocate practices that are unbiblical. Whitney teaches nothing but what is modeled in Scripture. He advocates a sola scriptura spirituality.

Second, the book draws deeply from the Puritans and other Christians who have been committed to lives of godliness. Whitney pulls out many powerful quotes and illustrations drawn from days gone by.

Third, the book is broad, covering ten important disciplines ranging from those done in quiet and secrecy (fasting and solitude) to those done in public view (worship and evangelism). Through the eleven chapters, the reader will receive Bible-based guidance that will impact every area of life.

Fourth, the final chapter is a powerful call to persevere in these disciplines. If you are like me, you find it simple enough to maintain a discipline for a week or two, but then find your self-control lapsing and your old habits returning. These disciplines may bear some fruit if practiced for a week, but they will bear much better and much more lasting fruit if practiced over an entire lifetime.

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life was a book I read almost a decade ago—the first book I ever read on the subject of the spiritual disciplines. It proved foundational to my life and faith, and its lessons remain with me to this day. I am thrilled that there is now a second edition that has been both improved and expanded. I cannot commend it too highly.

Note: Dr. Whitney has recently begun to blog at The Center for Biblical Spirituality. It may be a good blog to begin following.