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Tim Challies

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July 25, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include Sex and the Supremacy of Christ by John Piper, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung; Rid of My Disgrace by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb; Designed for Joy edited by Jonathan Parnell & Owen Strachan; A Grief Sanctified by J.I. Packer; The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis Volume 1 and Volume 2. Because of new Amazon policies, I can no longer link to the deals directly. For now I will direct you to this spreadsheet as I look for a better option: Kindle deals for Christians.

3 Things Sin Can’t Do To the Christian

Cody Barnhart offers “three things to remember about sin to remind yourself that it has ultimately lost its power in your life. These reminders help us eliminate the shame we feel after disobedience and push us to repent of our sin even when we’re tempted to wallow in it.”

The Likelihood of Increased Persecution in America

Randy Alcorn writes about what seems to be the unavoidable conclusion that there will be increased persecution of Christians in the near future.

How ‘Free Grace’ Theology Diminishes the Gospel

You may enjoy this review of a new book by Wayne Grudem. “How does saving faith relate to repentance? Does it always produce good works? Should we ever doubt our faith is genuine? And what does it mean to say we’re justified by faith alone? These are the sorts of vital questions Grudem tackles in this book.”

How Do Hummingbirds Fly Without Crashing?

“A new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that Anna’s Hummingbirds connect different visual cues to keep from crashing into things duiring their high-speed journeys to collect pollen.”

You Have Enough Time to Study the Bible

Ryan Higginbottom allows for extraordinary circumstances but says “Among Christians, I suspect busyness is the top excuse for not studying the Bible. It seems we don’t have enough time for God’s word. I’ve made this excuse many times myself.”

This Day in 1899. 117 years ago today, Stuart Hine was born. While an English missionary to the Ukraine, he penned the English words to the Swedish hymn we know today as “How Great Thou Art.” *

Why We Don’t Punish Our Kids

Sara Wallace distinguishes between two words: “We want to be parents who discipline rather than punish. While we don’t necessarily know if our children are Christians, this is one of the most tangible ways we can point them to the hope of a Savior.”

Word Study Missteps

George Guthrie continues his series on doing word studies the right way (or, if you prefer, not doing them the wrong way).

Flashback: We Are All Virgins Now

Virginity matters because sexual purity matters because God says it matters. But it is not the highest of virtues. It is not the measure of a godly young man or young woman. It is not the goal and the measure of Christian living.

MacArthur

Example is the most powerful rhetoric. —John MacArthur

July 24, 2016

Last week I was in England and spent a fair bit of time touring sites related to church history. As we passed by a church building in Cambridge, our host said as an aside, “That was Charles Simeons’ church.” I immediately took note because lately I’ve been so enjoying Simeons’ work. I purchased his strangely-titled Horae Homileticae for Logos and have found it a brilliant resource for Bible study and preaching preparation—one of my new favorites. In this work, a commentary on large swaths of Scripture, he shows an amazing ability to explain and apply the text. Here is an example from Matthew 5:14-16 (“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid…). Be sure to read the second part since there’s gold there—a serious challenge to every Christian.

How we may become lights to the world. Simple as this question may appear, there are few who would answer it aright. Almost all would propose to attain this distinction by doing; and would be shocked at being told that it must be attained by believing: yet that is the very way by which our blessed Lord has taught us to seek it: “Believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.” This, of course, is not to be understood as though a bare assent to any truths whatever would sanctify the soul: it is to be understood as directing us to the Gospel, and to the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in it. To believe in the light, is to look for salvation entirely through Him whom God has set forth to be a propitiation for sin; it is to live altogether by faith on him, and to make him our all in all. This would render our union with Christ productive; and would lead to our perfect renovation after the Divine image. Then should we “shine indeed as lights in a dark world;” and God himself would be glorified in us.

What we should do if we have already attained that honour. Remember that the eyes of all are upon you, and that God’s glory in the world is very greatly affected by your conduct. Any fault in you will soon be noticed by the world. They who pay little regard to the stars that shine in their orbits, will yet be observant enough of a falling star  and, in like manner, they who overlook the radiance of ten thousand saints, will mark with triumph the fall of a professor, and derive from it an argument against all serious religion. Be on your guard then against every thing which may either eclipse your light, or cause it to shine with diminished splendour. Be earnest also to get forward in your Christian course. The brightest of us emits only as yet the faint gleam of early dawn: “our profiting must continually appear;” and “our path be as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

July 23, 2016

Once again it has been rather a slow week for Kindle deals. I’ll keep my ear to the ground next week and hope for better things! Until then, here are some links I think you’ll enjoy.

The Perfect Spouse Will Not Complete You

So true: “If you asked most people, they would affirm that there is no such thing as a perfect spouse. However, I’m betting that most of those same people would probably also affirm the ‘perfect-for-me’ theory of spousal selection. That is the idea that there is some perfect person somewhere on the planet, and if they could just find them, the two would be perfectly happy together. Their interests, strengths, and shortcomings would all blend in perfect relational harmony.”

Pastoral Burnout: Its Causes and Its Cure

“What is a pastor to do when feeling ‘exhausted and depleted’? Should pastors entering the ministry do so on the assumption that they will one day burn out and throw in the towel? Where can such tired ministers turn? Where can discouraged shepherds go for the shepherding of their own souls?”

World-Building in The Lord of the Rings

This video explores and explains Peter Jackson’s successful world-building in The Lord of the Rings. (Note: I just noticed there’s a dumb, off-color little phrase in the final second of the video, following the credits.)

New Studies in Biblical Theology

Logos users will want to check out this sale on the NSBT series, edited by D.A. Carson. “Each volume in NSBT explores an important biblical theme, tracing its development across a biblical book, biblical writer’s work, or the entire canon of Scripture.”

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

It is still baffling that a modern airliner could just completely disappear. Popular Mechanics says, “We’ve gone through two years of clues and conspiracy theories and false starts. But to understand how we’ve come to this point, it’s necessary to review the clues that search officials possessed, and how they interpreted them.”

This Day in 1846.170 years ago today, Canadian hymn-writer William R. Featherstone was born. He composed “My Jesus, I Love Thee” before turning 16. *

Stop Trying to Make the Bible Relevant to Teenagers

Eric McKiddie says, “In my years in youth ministry I’ve seen unhelpful and even harmful methods of trying to make Scripture relevant.”

Should Your Church Build a Bigger Building?

Jonathan Leeman answers a question from someone concerned that his church is expanding its building.

Flashback: Jesus Repulses, Jesus Draws

When we preach Jesus today, we preach for a response. And there is always a response. Jesus repulses and Jesus draws. But an encounter with Jesus never accomplishes nothing.

God’s Mysterious Ways

My gratitude goes to P&R for sponsoring the blog this week with “God’s Mysterious Ways.”

Newton

How unspeakably wonderful to know that all our concerns are held in hands that bled for us. —John Newton

Free Stuff Fridays Updated
July 22, 2016

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by P&R Publishing who also sponsored the blog this week. They are giving away 5 sets of 5 book from their Living Word Bible Studies by Kathleen Nielson. The Living Word Bible Studies offer a guide into deeper study of God’s Word, one whole book at a time. Five days of questions in each lesson lead the way to careful textual study, with helpful context and commentary woven throughout. The aim is to read the Scriptures—and to learn to read the Scriptures—with ever increasing discernment, delight, and conviction.

Each of the winners will receive:

  • Isaiah. “Sometimes called the ‘Romans of the Old Testament,’ the book of Isaiah is a theological masterpiece. Not only does it deliver some of the most beautiful poetry in the Bible, but it also gives us a glimpse into God’s perspective on human history and his magnificent redemptive plan. Kathleen Nielson helps us apply this book to ourselves as the people of God and points us to our Savior, the promised Messiah.”
  • JohnJohnJohn: That You May Believe guides you through what many consider to be the most artful and poetic of the gospels. Opening with a remarkably beautiful, mind-stretching statement of who Jesus is, John clearly reveals Jesus’ identity as the promised Christ, the Son of God, come to bring life to those who believe in his name. Its portrait of the Word made flesh rewards careful study so ‘that you may believe’.”
  • Nehemiah. “Nehemiah is not only an example of great leadership; his story shows us in living color God’s sovereign plan to work through his people for his redemptive purposes in Jesus Christ. Kathleen leads us to immerse ourselves in a dramatic story of God’s people led by a godly leader at a crucial point in salvation history. As we follow the rebuilding of the wall, we witness God’s faithfulness in preserving a chosen people according to his promises, and we realize our need for a savior.
  • ColossiansColossians and Philemon. “Colossians and Philemon are two of Paul’s ‘prison epistles’—letters written while he was imprisoned for preaching Jesus Christ as Lord. Even in the face of persecution, prison bars could not contain Paul’s zeal for the gospel. In his letter to the Colossian church he sounded the alarm of false teaching and encouraged the believers to find sufficiency in Christ. In his letter to Philemon he pleaded for mercy and forgiveness for a runaway slave. Kathleen Nielson helps us see how these messages are still relevant and alive in many ways.
  • Proverbs. “A proverb is wisdom in a poetic nutshell: it is small, like a nut, and gives more and more flavorful meaning as we keep pondering it. In the book of Proverbs we find divinely inspired observations concerning how to live rightly as the people of God. Proverbs’ wisdom is far from theoretical; wisdom given by our Creator relates to every part of his creation—from our words, to our friendships, to our money, to our marriages and children—and on and on. Kathleen Nielson guides us in how to digest the poetry of Proverbs and relish this part of God’s revelation with thankful delight. She encourages us to hear and respond to wisdom’s call and let the light of Christ illuminate our lives.”

Enter Here

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. If you are viewing this through email, click to visit my site and enter there.

A Model of Determination
July 22, 2016

Today I want us to travel together into the past, to England in the late 1700’s. King George III is on the throne, though this is before the madness that would mark his final days. The Industrial Revolution is well underway and life is changing as people begin a great migration to the cities to pursue those new factory jobs. On the other side of the Atlantic the American colonies have recently declared their independence.

Let’s zoom in on the year 1789 and the city of London. A well-dressed man walks into the British parliament and he delivers a daring speech. He makes a bold proposal. He wants to bring to an end a great evil, an evil he believes is staining his entire nation.

At this time in history, England is a nation that not only allows slavery, but actually condones it and supports it. In fact, the English economy has come to depend on it. British ships are constantly sailing down the African coast and as they go they are capturing men, women and children and shipping them across the Atlantic into a life of slavery. Countless thousands of these slaves will die along the way. Families are ripped apart; women are treated savagely; children are torn from their parents. These slaves are regarded as less than human, unworthy of rights and freedoms. North American plantations are producing vast wealth and making England a rich nation, but only at this cost—the cost of allowing and advocating slavery. Slavery is so much a part of the economy that almost nobody believes that anything can ever change.

WilberforceBut one man does. One man believes he can make a difference. His name is William Wilberforce. Wilberforce had become a member of Parliament in 1780 when he was only twenty-one years old. Five years later he experienced a great change in his life when he read a Bible and came to believe that he was a sinner who needed to be saved by Jesus Christ. That experience forever transformed his life and now, just 4 years later, he has come to see slavery as a great and reprehensible evil and he will dedicate his life to ending it. He believes that whether a person has dark skin or light skin, whether he was born in Africa or England, all are equally created in the image of God. All human beings have equal dignity and worth because all are equally made in the image of the Creator. None has the right to enslave another.

And so this man stands in front of his fellow members of Parliament and makes a speech in which he pleads justice for slaves and he proclaims that slavery is immoral, it is wrong. He is being very strategic here. He is not proposing that slavery be done away with all together. Not yet. There will be time for that. First he simply proposes that the slave trade be regulated and curtailed. Yet even with this modest proposal he is defeated. It is not even close.

He is defeated and slavery continues. Those ships continue to steal thousands and thousands of people and take them far away. But Wilberforce will not stop fighting. He will not go away. He brings bills again in 1791, 1792, 1793, 1797, 1798, 1799, 1804, 1805. And every time he is defeated. He is defeated by filibuster. He is defeated by illness. He is defeated by unrest and rebellion among slaves. He is defeated by international interests that simply refuse to allow the slave trade to die. He is defeated by plain old bigotry.

But still he does not give up. He does not surrender. His enemies come up with a strategy: If we can destroy the man we can destroy the cause. Even when great personal attacks come against him, even when people try to destroy his name and reputation, he persists. He fights on.

Much later he reflects on this time and says, “So enormous, so dreadful did the slave trade’s wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for abolition. Let the consequences be what they would: I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition.

His first success comes in 1807, almost 20 years after he first began his crusade. In this year his persistence leads to a bill to abolish the slave trade in the British West Indies. Now, suddenly, the slave trade is illegal. This does nothing for those who are already slaves, but it is a start—an important start. And that day, too, will come. Wilberforce will live to see the triumph of his cause when slavery is finally and completely abolished. He is a man who changed the world by staying committed to his cause, by staying committing to his principles, by staying committed to what he knew God had called him to do.

We look back on William Wilberforce today and see his life and times as a great triumph of good over evil. Rightly do we regard him as a heroic figure. But his life was one of constant battles and discouragement. The one great victory came only after many, many crushing defeats. It was his persistence that changed minds, that changed his nation, that changed the course of history. If he had grown weary, if he had lost his confidence in his cause, he would not have rewritten history. He would not have been the hero he is today.

William Wilberforce exemplified one great but rare characteristic, one great but rare Christian trait. He was a model of determination. A model of persistence. A model of perseverance as he pursued what he knew God had called him to do. God had given him a desire and an opportunity and he persisted until he had completed the work God had called him to.

(Sources: William Wilberforce: A Hero for Humanity, Amazing Grace)

July 22, 2016

Westminster Books is offering a great discount on Behold Your God, a video series that features some excellent teachers and preachers. You may also want to check out their most recent list of book deals.

On the Kindle front I couldn’t see much beyond Choosing To See by Mary Beth Chapman which may interest some. Those who enjoy historical fiction may appreciate Douglas Bond’s new book The Revolt. Click here to see the deals.

Divine Simplicity and the Trinitarian Controversy

“Given the confusion that has surrounded the recent trinitarian debate, I thought it would be useful to find someone who could write a relatively straight forward post explaining the different terms being tossed around in this debate so far.”

7 Ways to Deal with Doubt

Michael Patton offers seven principles to consider when dealing with doubt.

14 Tools to Help You Avoid Distractions

“As hard as it might be to avoid every kind of distraction, though, at least we have tools that can give us a boost when our willpower starts to waver. Try one of these distraction-busting tools to get back to doing what matters most.”

Daily Slogging in the Power of the Spirit

Ray Ortlund: “I am not impressed by young pastors who seem too eager to publish books and speak at big events and build ‘a platform.’ They are doing the work of the Lord, which is good. But I’m not impressed. What impresses me is my dad’s daily slogging, year after year, in the power of the Spirit, with no big-deal-ness as the goal or the payoff.”

Rome Burned But Nero Never Fiddled

Timothy Paul Jones corrects a little piece of history.

This Day in 1926. 90 years ago today, J.I. Packer was born. What a blessing he has been to the church… 

Am I a Noisy Gong?

“Ministry would be fine if it weren’t for all the people.” That line always gets a laugh but it also reveals something concerning. Aaron Menikoff has a good article about it.

Gender, Marriage, Hell’s Gates, and Your Church Documents

Churches need to take note: “Churches presently enjoy a number of significant protections, but there is reason to believe that churches will be vulnerable to a variety of legal challenges in the years ahead, as anti-discrimination laws are updated following Obergefell. Thankfully, there are some simple things we can do to protect our gospel work against some charges of discrimination.”

Flashback: Theological Heroes and Villains

I want my heroes to be good, only good, and my villains to be bad, only bad. I can deal with this. The trouble comes when I see vices in my heroes and virtues in my villains. That is where it all gets complicated.

Thomas

Sin tastes sweet but turns bitter in our stomachs. Holiness often tastes bitter but turns sweet in our stomachs. —Gary Thomas

July 21, 2016

You know you ought to pray. You know that God invites and even commands you to pray. He loves to hear from you, loves to know you. Yet there are times when your soul feels bone dry, when even opening your mouth to pray seems an impossibility. What do you do?

Just Pray

Perhaps the hardest thing to do in those times is to even make the effort to pray. Just pray. It is always the right thing to do. Pray short if you need to. Tell God you are struggling to pray. But somehow just pray.

  • And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:17-19)

Pray the Gospel

Try some of these passages, all of which Jerry Bridges recommended as keys to his prayer life. As you pray them, confess who you are and remind yourself what God has done in Christ for you. Kindle even a small flame in your soul with the warmth of the Good News.

  • As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)
  • “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)
  • All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
  • Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. (Romans 4:7-8)
  • There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
  • There are many others, including Psalm 130:3-4; Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 38:17; Micah 7:19; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 8:12; and 10:17-18.

Pray Boldly

Boldness can be hard to come by in times of spiritual dullness or crisis, but boldness is the Christian’s birthright. Pray boldly, confident that Christ has opened the way to the Father and all of his blessings.

  • Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Pray Confidently

Pray boldly but also pray confidently, relying not on your own words or wisdom, but on the Spirit’s intercession.

  • In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)

Pray for Wisdom

Pray acknowledging your lack of wisdom not only to face your situation but even to know how to pray about it. Pray for wisdom because, as God says:

  • If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)

Pray to Believe and Accept God’s Promises

The promises of God are good and sweet and comforting if only you will believe and accept them. Pray that God will help you to!

  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Pray for Peace

God is the giver of the truest, deepest soul peace. Pray that he will grant his peace to your soul.

  • Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

Pray for Faith to Know that God Is With You

Finally, pray for the faith to believe that God does not leave or forsake the ones bought with his Son’s blood. He is always near, always with you.

  • Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

July 21, 2016

I have returned home from my week-long writer’s workshop in England. It was a very interesting time and at some point, perhaps on the other side of this jet lag, I’ll let you know about it. But for now, enjoy these articles:

Christian Audio $4.99 Sale

Christian Audio has a whole load of books at just $4.99 each and quite a few of them are even new releases. (Also, don’t forget about the bundle I created with them to get you started on a free trial membership).

CBMW’s New President

Yesterday CBMW announced that Denny Burk has become the new president. Here he talks about his vision for the organization.

Which Countries Have the Most Immigrants?

There’s lots of politicizing in this article, but also lots of interesting facts. Naturally, I found the comments about Canada especially interesting.

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Prayer

Melissa offers a few common sense tips on prioritizing prayer even as a busy mom.

As Seemed Best to Them…

And, on the subject of parenting, Nick Batzig offers some helpful thoughts as well. “Most of us would admit, if we were honest, that we often wish that the Scriptures were a detailed handbook for what to do in each and every interaction with our children. While the Bible speaks both directly and indirectly to every aspect of parenting, it does not give us a detailed checklist that–if husbands and wives would simply consult in each and every interaction with their children–would guarantee a favorable outcome.”

Back to the Early Church?

“While there were some great things happening then, I’m not so sure that I am eager to get back to the early church days. They, too, had their problems. Here are a few reasons why we might put the brakes on the glamorization of the early church.”

When We Say, “I Forgive You”

“What do we mean we say, ‘I forgive you’? More importantly, do we mean what the Bible means? When we really dig into Scripture’s teaching on forgiveness, we find that it stretches and challenges us, forcing us into the uncomfortable territory of being more like Jesus.”

This Day in 1936. 80 years ago today, American missionary to the Congo, Bill Chesney, was born. He would be martyred by rebel groups at the age of 28. *

Why Red Light Cameras Don’t Work

Or, at least, why they aren’t an awfully good solution overall.

Flashback: 7 Different Ways to Read a Book

Just like the title says: Here are 7 different ways to approach a book.

MacArthur

The single greatest support of truth in your preaching is the power of an exemplary life. —John MacArthur