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Tim Challies

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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

January 19, 2015

Have you ever compared the front and back of a tapestry? The front of a tapestry is art. In the hands of a skilled weaver it displays incredible artistry and fine detail. The world’s best art museums collect the world’s best tapestries and display them there as examples of a rare but beautiful form of art.

The back of a tapestry is a mess. A tapestry is made by weaving together different-colored threads, and the images and designs are created by the interplay between the different colors and textures. What is clear on the front is opaque on the back. The back shows something of the image, but it looks more like a child’s attempt than a master’s: it lacks nuance and clarity and detail. Where the front is smooth, the back is covered in knots and loose ends.

We are meant to see and admire the front of the tapestry, not the back, and this has often served as an illustration of the truths of Romans 8:28: That God promises to use every single event in our lives to bring about good. Though I have often heard Joni Eareckson Tada use the illustration, I believe it originated with Corrie Ten Boom and her poem “The Master Weaver’s Plan.” “Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow; / And I in foolish pride / Forget He sees the upper / And I the underside.” It serves as an effective illustration for the truth that for now we get to see only the underside of all God is weaving together in this world, while clinging to the promise that someday we will see the upper side and marvel at what he has been doing.

But it illustrates something else equally well. I have been thinking a lot lately about good deeds—not the good deeds people do to try to earn the favor of God, but the good deeds people do when they already know that Christ has earned them the favor of God. Titus 2 calls us to be people that are zealous for good works; in Matthew 5 Jesus tells us to let our light shine before others by doing good works; Ephesians 2 tells us that God’s very purpose in saving us was enabling us to glorify him by the good works we do for others. As Christians we are to be known for our good works—those things done for the glory of God and the good of other people.

And so we go through life doing these good works, and far more often than not, these are small and seemingly inconsequential deeds. We rarely talk a person out of recklessly taking his own life; we rarely write a check that utterly transforms a life or ministry; we rarely save a drowning child or defuse a ticking time bomb. Instead we interact with people for moments at a time and attempt to say something—anything—that may be encouraging; we write small checks and place them in the offering basket; we have brief conversations with children, and we share just a shred of the Good News with that taxi driver.

Most of our good deeds go unnoticed and unmarked by others. I suspect that even we ourselves fail to notice or remember the majority of the good deeds we do. But not God. God sees them all, knows them all, remembers them all, and uses them all.

Just as some day we will see the beautiful tapestry God has been weaving through our suffering, through the events we never would have chosen, in the same way we will see the tapestry this Master Weaver has been creating through those good deeds. We will see how a kind word resonated in a person’s heart even days and weeks later; we will see how that small amount of money was used to accomplish something amazing; we will see how that little shred of the gospel was the pebble in the shoe of the person who had hardened himself against God.

Some day God will show us his tapestry, we will see how God has woven each of these little deeds together to his own glory, and we will rejoice.

Here is Corrie Ten Boom’s poem:

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.

January 19, 2015

Crossway has reduced the price on several volumes of the excellent Preaching the Word commentary series to $5.99 each: Job, ProverbsLuke, Revelation. Also consider: Jesus on Every Page by David Murray ($1.99); Standing Strong by John MacArthur ($2.99); Alone with God by John MacArthur (free).

Gigapixels of Andromeda - NASA recently released an incredibly detailed photo of the Andromeda galaxy. This video shows it off. It’s amazing.

A Story About a Bird - I enjoyed Elisha’s account of someone simply taking the time to encourage her.

Developing Godly Qualities in Children - Randy Alcorn: “Teaching our children the truth is absolutely necessary, but it is not sufficient. The solid foundation for a life is not just hearing the words of God, but doing them.”

Euthanizing God? - This is an important article that deals with the growing likelihood that euthanasia will soon be considered a legitimate option in Canada and beyond.

The Path to the Attack at Charlie Hebdo - The New York Times has a long but interesting piece on the attacks in Paris.

Heavenly Lies - Mike Wittmer writes about Alex Malarkey and his new claims that he didn’t go to heaven after all.

2 Principles to Consider - Here are 2 principles to consider before you pick up and move to a new town.

We should be content to be abased and obscure provided Christ is honored and exalted. — Thomas Manton

Manton