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Take a Logos Course With Me
April 28, 2016

Many of the great joys I’ve had in the years I’ve been running this site are the ones experienced doing projects together. We’ve read a long selection of classic Christian books together, we’ve memorized Scripture, and a whole lot more. Today I’m wondering if you would like to take a course with me. A little while ago I approached Logos to ask if they would be willing to open up a course in their Mobile Ed platform. They said they’d be glad to do so, and after weighing the various options, I selected one that I thought would be interesting, helpful, and appropriately challenging to any Christian. It usually costs $229.99, but they are giving us access for free!

The course is titled Introducing the Gospels and Acts: Their Background, Nature, and Purpose and is taught by Dr. Darrell Bock, research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Bock is the author of a number of important works, including highly-regarded commentaries on Luke and Acts. Here is the course’s description:

Study the key events of the Gospels and the book of Acts with prolific New Testament scholar Dr. Darrell L. Bock. Dr. Bock walks you through the pivotal events of history that shaped the social, religious, and political environment of Jesus and the early church. Find out why the religious leaders wanted Jesus crucified and how the resurrection demonstrated God’s approval of Jesus as Messiah. Discover how the early church remembered, shared, and recorded the events of Jesus’ life, and how those events became the catalyst for ministry in the book of Acts. Learn about the literary features of the gospel genre and why some “gospels” were not included in the New Testament. Dr. Bock—an internationally recognized authority on theology and culture—developed this course for the Mobile Education platform so that you can read the Gospels and Acts with fresh eyes.

Upon successful completion you should be able to:

  • Understand the effect of Hellenism on Second Temple Judaism
  • Discuss the significance of the temple in Second Temple Judaism
  • Summarize the ways in which Jesus created conflict with the religious leaders
  • Compare and contrast the canonical Gospels with the “missing gospels”
  • Explain the issues of authorship and date associated with each Gospel
  • Describe the concept of resurrection in Judaism and the Graeco-Roman world
  • Discuss the significance of the resurrection in each Gospel account and to the gospel message
  • Summarize the key events in the life of the early church

In other words, you will gain a lot of information about the background to the Gospels and the book of Acts that should, in turn, help you better understand, interpret, and apply them. Not only that, but if you decide to take more courses, this will earn you the first of five credits you need for the New Testament: Foundational Certificate Program.

What’s Involved

I will be taking the course over a period of 8 weeks. Logos has already divided it into 8 roughly equal parts, setting a good pace for us. We will complete each week’s lesson by watching the videos and, optionally, completing the reading; I will post something about it on the blog each Thursday. We can also discuss what we are learning via the Faithlife group. The course is driven by videos but includes two kinds of option reading: “Suggested Reading” (which you have full access to) and “See Also” readings for which you may need to purchase supplementary materials. However, the course works just fine without those “See Also” readings. You will also see transcripts for all of the videos in case you prefer to read than watch or, even better, do both at once.

All you need to do is sign up, either by using your existing account or by creating a new one. If you own the Logos software, it will appear there. If not, you can take it entirely through the web. If you’ve been meaning to try Logos and haven’t ever gotten around to it, this may be a good time to download what they call the Core Engine. When you sign in, the course will appear there for you.

We will begin officially on May 2. That gives you a few days to sign up and get settled. Then, on May 2, check the curriculum and begin watching the videos for Unit 1. You will probably want to bookmark this page since that’s where most things will be happening.

Sign Up

If you would like to join the group, simply click the link “Follow” in the box below and you will be taken to a Faithlife group (Faithlife is the parent company of Logos). (Alternative: Click here.)


That’s all you need to do. Sign up and then, on Monday, begin to make your way through Unit 1.

April 28, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include just a few: War of the World Views by Ken Ham ($2.99), A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada ($1.99), and Picture Perfect by Amy Baker ($1.99). Also, today is the last day to get Visual Theology from Westminster Books at $10. It will ship in a week or two—as soon as they receive more.

Thoughts On The Rise And Fall Of Pastors

This is a really good and really urgent article by Scott Sauls.

When Prayer Feels Like a Chore

It is sad but undeniable that sometimes the great privilege of prayer can feel like a chore or burden.

Canonicity: Why These 66 Books?

This is helpful: “We believe in the 39 books of the Old Testament, because the Lord Jesus Christ affirmed the Old Testament. And we believe in the 27 books of the New Testament, because the Lord Jesus Christ authorized His apostles to write the New Testament.” Affirmed and authorized—hold on to those two words!

Is it Biblical for Churches to Require a Tithe?

The answer is pretty obvious but the explanation and pastoral applications are well worth reading.

See No Evil

“If there’s any good reason to distrust the self-awareness of contemporary progressives, it’s the cultural epidemic of pornography.” Quite right! 

This Day in 1948. 68 years ago today, pastor Richard Wurmbrand, founder of Voice of the Martyrs, was captured on his way to church and held hostage as Prisoner Number 1. Over time, he was a prisoner for over 14 years. He tells his story in Tortured for Christ. *

The Problem With Baby Dedications

Andrew Wilson isn’t against baby dedications, but against the terminology. Hear him out! 

Young Men — Is This You?

This lays down the challenge for young men: “ ‘Need’ is a strong word. But I use it intentionally and I use it passionately. Yes, I use it urgently. Our culture desperately needs men. Not boys! We have plenty of boys. The church needs men, real men, godly men, holy men, biblical men. As a minister of the gospel, as a student of Scripture, as a biblical counselor, and as a man after God’s own heart, I will list 8 traits that should characterize men. So — young men: is this you?”

Holiday in Poland

What a beautiful video of Poland!

DeYoung

If you are not concerned about holiness, you are not concerned about the Great Commission. —Kevin DeYoung

3 Ways College Students Can Do More Better
April 27, 2016

When I look back on life, one of my real regrets is not making more of my college experience. Those years offered unique opportunities to grow in knowledge and wisdom but also to grow in character and godliness. Unfortunately, I was unfocused and immature. I wasted many golden opportunities and excelled only at euchre and finding ways to get by with as little work as possible.

Recently I spoke with my friend Peter Krol, president of the campus ministry DiscipleMakers, and spoke to him about productivity principles for college students. What principles could help students avoid the mistakes I made? Could the kinds of principles I lay out in my book Do More Better provide structure so students could not only make the most of their studies but also make the most of the other opportunities afforded by these unique years? A few weeks later we enjoyed a long lunch meeting and he told me that yes, he thought they could. He offered feedback so helpful I asked if he would write it out for me and for you. I’m grateful that he was willing to do so. Here, then, courtesy of Peter, are “3 Ways College Students Can Do More Better Through Finals Week and Into the Summer.”


According to the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, almost 75% of American college freshmen consider it “essential” or “very important” to help others in difficulty. Almost 40% want to become community leaders. And both of these figures are at 50-year highs.

Seventeen years of student ministry have shown me that, for many Christian students, the spirit may be willing, but the flesh, as they say, is weak. Or busy. Or swamped, crushed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. And with less than a month remaining in the semester, bare survival has long since snuffed the smoldering wick of idealism. It may be “essential” to help others in difficulty, and it may be “very important” to become a community leader. But right now, we’ve just gotta get by.

Now what if I told you it didn’t have to be that way? What if Ecclesiastes got it right? “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth. … Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10). Yes, your youth is vanity. That means this next month will be but a breath, long forgotten by the time you’ve clocked any serious life experience. But the way you handle this breath, this season, could set you up for greater success in the next. And the next. And the next.

With a little effort, we can remove some of your heart’s vexation and some of your body’s pain so you actually can rejoice in your youth. You’ll give God greater glory, and you’ll do more good for others. Here are a few tips.

1. Make a List and Stick to It

As a place to begin, I propose a discipline so simple, you may be tempted to disregard its usefulness. But hear these words of wisdom from my 7-year-old daughter, who included the following in her first self-published masterpiece, the Book of Lists:

What I Do When I Wake Up

  1. Wake up.
  2. Jump out of bed.
  3. Get dressed.
  4. Go downstairs.
  5. Do your schoolwork.
  6. Eat lunch.
  7. Ask to be askoozd [Editor’s note: excused].
  8. Hop out of your seat.
  9. (On Tuesday and Saturday take bath.)
  10. Play with small toys.
  11. Eat dinner.
  12. Get ready for bed. (Get your peejays on and brush your teeth and yous the potty.)

I confess she’s rather extreme. She gets it from her mother, whose first reaction upon reading Confessions of an Organized Housewife was, “I can do better than that.” But don’t miss my point here: A list will streamline your life, and it can do some of your thinking for you. Take 30 minutes to create a master list of every assignment yet to be completed. To do this, gather your syllabus from each course and enter your final exams, papers, and projects into Todoist (or another task management program—learn to use this kind of software!). Assign each task with the proper due date, and order the list chronologically.

Now try an experiment with me. Give yourself no more than 60 hours per week for your work time. Enter those hours on your calendar. During those 60 hours each week, do the following:

  1. Work hard. No social media, streaming video, or other distractions; only classes and true work time.
  2. Do the next thing on your list, even if it’s not due for a few more days.

Outside of those 60 hours, don’t do any schoolwork. Spend time with friends, work out, invest in extracurriculars, catch up on social media, and do whatever you find restful and enjoyable in the sight of God. Don’t forget to spend time helping others in difficulty and developing as a community leader. “Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes” (Ecclesiastes 11:9). And of course, your options for personal time are not without bounds. “But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment” (Ecclesiastes 11:9).

Make your end-of-semester list and stick to it. If you pursue this discipline, I am willing to bet you will not only have a reasonably painless end to your semester, but you’ll be able to get more sleep, beat deadlines, and do greater good for your community. I dare you to try it and prove me wrong.

2. Set Goals for the Summer

Don’t waste your break. Though it may not feel like it, you probably have more discretionary time and money right now than you will have in the next 4 decades. But without thoughtful intentions, your summer will sprout wings and fly to the moon. Come August, you’ll wonder how it went by so fast.

The easiest way to plan for the summer is to set a few goals. Consider:

  • What parts of the Bible do you want to read for the first time or study more deeply?
  • What books would you like to read?
  • What people would you like to meet with for outreach, encouragement, or discipleship?
  • What would you like to learn, and from whom? How can you get yourself around people who live the kind of life you would like to live before Christ, so they can rub off on you?
  • Where can you volunteer your time?
  • How can you get more involved in your church?
  • What other projects would encourage you?

I majored in music and minored in classical Greek, so my sort of fun was along those lines. After my sophomore year, I spent the summer transcribing a brass quintet piece from a recording, all for a friend’s wedding the following September. Because the sheet music wasn’t published or available for purchase, I had to spend dozens of hours generating it myself. This project shaped me into both a better friend and a better musician. The following summer, I wrote my own translation of Matthew 1-7. It wasn’t very good, but it strengthened my passion for the ancient language and for God’s word. [A note from Tim: I began a business, hired several fellow college students, and learned how to be an entrepreneur.]

Whatever your lawful passions, find a way to put them to use this summer. Picture yourself four months from now and looking back on your break. What would you like to say you accomplished for the glory of God and the good of others?

3. Create a Productivity System for Next School Year

Your list of books to read this summer should include Do More Better[Full disclosure: Tim may have threatened to plagiarize my daughter’s Book of Lists (see above) and claim it as his own if I didn’t say this. Or, I may simply believe it to be true. You decide.] The summer provides an opportunity to both reflect on the past school year and prepare for the coming one, and Do More Better describes a vision for productivity and a system of tools that will help you to thrive through the challenges. But you’ll want to get the system in place before the new semester hits. Once the busyness sets back in, you’ll be tempted to slide back into the old ways of doing things. And you’ll be right back where we started this post (willing spirit, weak flesh). [From Tim: If you read the book and have questions or concerns, please get in touch; tell me Peter sent you, and I’ll make sure I provide a personal reply.]

I’m praying for the next generation of students to profess Christ and do more good for the world better. With a dose of courage and discipline, you’ll become effective community leaders, well equipped to help others in difficulty.


Peter Krol is president of DiscipleMakers campus ministry. He blogs at Knowable Word, where he helps ordinary people learn to study the Bible.

Image credit: Shutterstock

April 27, 2016

There are some good Kindle deals today: B&H has put many of their New American Commentary Studies on sale for $0.99 each: Believer’s Baptism by Thomas Schreiner; Enthroned on Our Praise by Timothy Pierce; God’s Indwelling Presence by James Hamilton; The Lord’s Supper by Thomas Schreiner; The End of the Law by Jason Meyer; That You May Know by Christopher Bass. Also, many volumes in the Perspectives series are also $0.99 or $2.99: Perspectives on the Ending of Mark; Perspectives on Your Child’s EducationPerspectives on the Doctrine of God; Perspectives on Election; Perspectives on Church Government; Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual FormationPerspectives on Spirit BaptismPerspectives on Christian WorshipPerspectives on the Extent of the AtonementPerspectives on Our Struggle With Sin.

If You’ve Cheated, Should You Tell Your Spouse?

“Adultery is devastating. In the aftermath of an adulterous affair, the offending spouse must first turn away from sin through repentance before God. But after such repentance takes place, there’s another question that has to be answered: Should you confess the adultery to your spouse?” Russell Moore answers.

Should Christians Cremate Their Loved Ones?

John Piper: “My proposal in this article is that Christian churches be willing to help families financially with simple Christ-exalting funerals and burials, so that no Christian is drawn to cremation because it’s cheaper.”

Edwards and Interpreting Providence

Thomas Kidd writes about Jonathan Edwards and interpreting providence.

Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel Church

Whatever you think of Bethel Church, I suspect you’ll be interested in this longform article from Christianity Today.

Home Row

Yesterday I was a guest on Home Row, Jeff Medders’ podcast about writing. I really enjoyed the conversation!

Love & Bragging

There are lots of good takeaways in this article. “The last thing that makes sense is for a human—something which can’t go a few days without food and water, gets sick, smells, uses the restroom, sins, can do nothing to get itself to heaven, deserves hell, has to spend ⅓ of its life sleeping, and then be buried in the ground—to brag.”

He Will Hold Me Fast

Southern Seminary’s Norton Hall Band sings a sweet rendition of “He Will Hold Me Fast.”

This Day in 1667. 349 years ago today, at age 58, English poet John Milton sold the copyright to his religious epic “Paradise Lost” for ten English pounds (less than $30). *

The Spirituality of Snoopy

I enjoyed this article on the spirituality of Charles Schulz. 

Themelios 41.1

There’s a new edition of Themelios available. You can read it on the site or download it to read later.

Ferguson

By definition we cannot “qualify” for grace in any way, by any means, or through any action. —Sinclair Ferguson

Coming Soon: Visual Theology the Book
April 26, 2016

It was a week ago today that we released my new book Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God (which, of course, I co-authored with Josh Byers). Now, just a week later, it’s out of stock at Amazon, Westminster Books, Lifeway, CBD, and pretty well every other bookseller. I’ve had a number of people get in touch to ask why they can’t track it down. I did some digging and conference calling this morning and came up with an answer. The long and the short of it is this: You bought every single copy. Let me tell you how this happened.

Before a book is released, the publisher makes a determination of how many copies they think will be purchased over the first few weeks or months. The last thing they want is to order too many since then they will eventually have to heavily discount those copies just to get rid of them. Instead, they estimate how many they will need and plan to order more when inventory begins to diminish. That’s just good business.

When Visual Theology went into pre-order, it began to sell pretty well, so the publisher, HarperCollins Christian Publishing (aka Zondervan), ordered first one and then two reprints. They had assumed that a book with the word “theology” in the title would necessarily limit itself to a relatively small market. Apparently not! Since the book released last Tuesday there has been yet another reprint but even then, by the time it arrived in the warehouse, every single copy was already spoken for and thousands more were backordered. It was even the publisher’s bestselling title to the American Booksellers Association last week. (The ABA accounts for stores that are not part of the Christian Booksellers Association). The new printing, which they just tripled in size, will take place this week and should arrive at the warehouse on Monday, May 2. It will then be forwarded to the various retailers for distribution. The publisher had no idea that the book would be of such interest. Neither did the authors.

So here’s what you need to know: If you ordered your copy on or before last Sunday, it will probably arrive in the next couple of days. If you ordered it yesterday or today or if you order it any other time this week, it will probably arrive around the middle of next week. If you have been planning to order it anyway, the best bet is probably to do that sooner rather than later just in case the backorder grows beyond the size of the next printing.

On behalf of myself and Josh, please accept our gratitude. It has been a thrill to see so many of you enjoying the book with both its words and pictures. It has been our prayer all along that it will serve you well. We continue to pray that it will do so.

VT

Visual Theology FAQs

Here are answers to some of the questions we have been receiving over the past few days:

  • Can I purchase posters or digital files of the graphics? In most cases, yes. Most of the book’s graphics are already available at visualtheology.church. You’ll also find a lot of graphics there that are not in the book. We are regularly adding more.
  • Can I purchase or download PowerPoint slides to go along with the book? You will be able to very soon. We are working on them and hope to have them available within a week or ten days. We had underestimated how many people would request them so had not made this a matter of priority. Lesson learned!
  • Is there a study guide or facilitator’s guide to the book? Not yet, but there will be. These, too, are underway. We hope to release these free in the next couple of months and certainly before the fall season.
  • Will there be a sequel to Visual Theology? One thing at a time! But if you know what you’d like to see in a second volume, be sure to let us know via social media.

VT

Your Days Are Numbered
April 26, 2016

Of all the gifts God gives us, few are more precious and few are more fleeting than the gift of time. Most of us feel sharp twinges of regret when we look at the way we’ve used or abused the time that has been given to us. There are so many forces competing for it, so many bad things and, even harder, so many good things. Our days are numbered; how can we ensure that we are using them for the best and highest purposes?

John Perritt provides some answers in his new work Your Days Are Numbered: A Closer Look at How We Spend Our Time & the Eternity Before Us. “Wasting time may not seem like a big deal to some,” he points out, “except for the fact that our time really isn’t ours, but God’s. Not only that, but it is a limited resource. You can be the richest person in the world and you still can’t buy more time. The reality is, there is a clock ticking somewhere, right now, and it is the clock of your life. Seconds that add into minutes, which add into hours, which add into days are ticking off your life.” This is a sobering reality and for some a depressing one. For the Christian, though, it is a challenging opportunity. Perritt says, rightly I think, that the way we use our time is one of the most pressing issues today, and one that encompasses so many others. For example, pornography is a plague today, but one that would go into great decline among Christians if they only determined they would refuse to waste a moment in idleness and sin.

Discussions about our use of time often generate regret and guilt, but Perritt is quick to address those in the best possible way. “Jesus perfectly spent His days living for the glory of God so that you, by faith, have perfectly lived for God’s glory. As we move forward in this book, the foundational truth of — Jesus righteously lived every second of His life to redeem your time — must be at the forefront of your mind. If you lose sight of this truth, you will either live in guilt or self-righteousness. Guilt, because you can’t measure up, or self-righteousness because you’re going to try and do a bunch of stuff for Jesus. Yes, strive for righteous living, but know that Jesus already accomplished that task for you. Your time is already redeemed.” This simple truth brings great relief and also great freedom. Christ has already lived time perfectly on our behalf, freeing us to claim his accomplishments. We then have the joy of living out of gratitude for what he has done on our behalf, something that should motivate us all the more to ensure that every moment counts.

Though Your Days Are Numbered is a little book, it packs an outsized punch. Perritt examines hobbies in both their blessings and their distractions and he diagnoses the trivialities that can consume so much of our time, explaining that “innocent things often become deadly in the hands of our Enemy.” He looks at the epidemic of busyness and then at our dislike of the mundane moments that inevitably comprise the majority of life.

He also offers biblical practices that can assist us as we attempt to live out our days for the good of others and the glory of God. He explains stewardship and the understanding that our days rightly belong to God. In a particularly strong section he discusses the goodness and necessity of sabbath rest. He gives pointers on balancing life’s responsibilities and the importance of never neglecting life’s non-negotiables—devotion, worship, family, and even evangelism. He wraps up with reflections on some necessary disciplines and on God’s good sovereignty.

In the end, he provides a short, winsome book stuffed full of practical wisdom. He offers solutions for challenges that apply to every human being but focuses equally on challenges unique to our twenty-first century context. He uses God’s enduring Word to prove the value of time and explains the joy and blessing of using time to carry out the most important of all missions.

(A final note: I might suggest reading Your Days Are Numbered, and following it with Kevin DeYoung’s Crazy Busy, and then finishing with my Do More Better. These three would provide a complementary one-two-three punch that will motivate you to structure your life to live for the good of others and the glory of God. And even with all three, you’re only looking at about 300 pages of reading.)

Image credit: Shutterstock

April 26, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include Preaching the Old Testament by Scott Gibson ($2.99) and NIV Zondervan Study Bible edited by D.A. Carson ($4.99). Beyond that, you may be interested in the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary which are $4.99 each.

Some people have been asking about purchasing Visual Theology. As far as I can tell, it is sold out everywhere (though I hear rumor it may be available at some local Lifeway stores). You can backorder it at Amazon, Westminster Books, and other retailers. I suspect Amazon is the way to get it soonest. (If you’re in Canada, Indigo has 3 left in stock.)

When Character Matters Less Than Talent

This is so important: “If you look at some of the celebrity pastors who have recently fallen you can see a pattern. They had obvious talents and gifts and passion, but there were a few questions about character. But we let some of those character issues slide in the hopes that character would eventually catch up with the talents.”

Remembering Marshall Harrison Brown

I don’t know Jamie Brown or his father Marshall Harrison Brown, but I sure did enjoy reading this sweet, gospel-drenched remembrance.

The Least Attended Church Gathering

You can probably guess what the least attended church gathering is. Nick explains and diagnoses. It strikes me that all 4 of the reasons he offers can apply to individuals as much as their churches.

A Song in Malawi

I really enjoyed this video of a little Presbyterian church in Malawi singing praise last Sunday. (This church is associated with my friend Fletcher and Joy to the World Ministries.)

Facebook Isn’t the Social Network Anymore

“Now there are signs that it may have peaked. Not as a media platform, or as a place where people simply spend time on the web, and certainly not as a business. But as a social network per se—a place where people go to connect with friends and acquaintances—Facebook may be just beginning to wane.” But don’t think that its losing purpose or influence.

Ten Cravings of the Sinful Nature

Just how sinful and obnoxious is the sinful nature? This article gives some glimpses.

This Day in 2006. 10 years ago today, Together for the Gospel hosted their first conference—and I liveblogged it! *

A Virtual Reality Check

Is virtual reality the next big thing? If so, this article offers valuable thoughts on its potential blessings and costs.

Six Major Theses

This summary from Eerdmans gives a preview of Richard Longenecker’s massive new commentary on Romans

Platt

The martyrs did not die because they believed the gospel, they died because they proclaimed the gospel. —David Platt