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November 25, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include John G Paton: South Sea Island Rescue ($2.99); everPresent by Jeremy Writebol ($0.99); Called Together by Jonathan Dodson ($0.99); Make, Mature, Multiply by Brandon Smith ($0.99); Sent Together by Brad Watson ($0.99); Gospel Advance by Alvin Reid ($0.99); A Primer on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by Winfield Bevins ($0.99); Gospel Amnesia by Luma Simms ($0.99); Sound Words by Jeremy Carr ($0.99); A Beginners Guide to Family Worship by Winfield Bevins ($0.99); The Stories We Live by Sean Post ($0.99); Proclaiming Jesus by Tony Merida ($0.99); Prayer Life by Winfield Bevins ($0.99).

Westminster Books

Westminster Books has just added IVP ebooks and they’ve got a great selection of them on sale for just $1.99. This deal lasts for only a couple of days, so don’t dawdle. The no-brainers include: Basic Christianity by John Stott, Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves, God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts, and Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer. There are many others besides.

Credo Magazine

There is a new issue of Credo magazine free to read and download. This issue looks at John Owen, the prince of Puritans.

Doctrine Matters

Kevin DeYoung says it well: “Christianity is much more than getting your doctrine right. But it is not less. You can have right doctrine and not be a Christian. You can know all sorts of true things about Jesus and not be saved.” 

What Is Thanksgiving Day?

Stephen Nichols: “We might think that times of adversity and challenge would spawn ingratitude, while times of prosperity would spawn gratitude. Sadly, the reverse is true.”

Thanksgiving Flight Patterns

There are some neat graphics here that show where Americans are flying for Thanksgiving. Since 1% of the country flies somewhere this week, there’s lots of information to work with.

Laquan McDonald and the Christian Response

“When the police arrived, Laquan refused to put down the knife or to turn himself in. This was an illegal action in which jail time was certainly the deserved outcome; but not death.” This article suggests ways Christians can respond to another tragic death.

This Day in 1742. 273 years ago today, the Scottish Society for the Propagating of Christian Knowledge approved David Brainerd as a missionary to the New England Indians. *

Finland Timelapse

Here’s another country I need to add to my list of places to visit. You know what to do: Full-screen and HD.


We are not sent into the pulpit to show our wit and eloquence, but to set the consciences of men on fire. —Solomon Stoddard

Do More Better
November 24, 2015

Do More BetterI am really excited to announce that one week from today you will be able to purchase my new book Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity. I wrote this book because I believe God calls each one of us to emphasize productivity in our lives. He calls each of us to emphasize a particular form of productivity—the kind that emphasizes stewarding our gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.

I don’t want you to do more stuff or take on more projects or complete more tasks. Not necessarily. I don’t want you to work longer hours or spend less time with your family and friends. I want you to do more good. I want you to do more of what matters most, and I want you to do it better. That’s what I want for myself as well. Whether you are a professional or a student, a pastor or a plumber, a work-from-home dad or a stay-at-home mom, I believe this book can be valuable to you.

I am no productivity guru. I am a writer, a church leader, a husband, and a father—a Christian with a lot of responsibilities and with new tasks coming at me all the time. I wrote this short, fast-paced, practical guide to productivity to share what I have learned about getting things done in today’s digital world. It will help you learn to structure your life to do the most good to the glory of God.

The genesis of this book was a blog series I wrote right here. Since I wrote that series, I have been able to respond to mountains of reader feedback and, even better, to hear from many of you as you’ve applied and practiced it. In Do More Better, you will learn:

  • Common obstacles to productivity
  • The great purpose behind productivity
  • 3 essential tools for getting things done
  • The power of daily and weekly routines
  • And much more, including bonus material on taming your email and a collection of quick tips to improve your productivity.

It really is possible to live a calm and orderly life, sure of your responsibilities and confident in your progress.

You can do more better. And I would love to help you get there.

There are three ways you can receive the book:

  • Amazon: Do More Better will be available on Amazon in both print and Kindle formats on December 1, 2015. Other retailers will follow in early 2016.
  • Cruciform Press: It will be available in epub and pdf formats at Cruciform Press on December 1.
  • Become a patron. All Patreon supporters will receive an electronic copy of the book on December 1.

ESV Mens Devotional Bible
November 24, 2015

The ESV Men’s Devotional Bible is a rare product—it is a devotional Bible I may actually use. While I receive many similar products, I have never found one that intrigued me enough to commit to using it day-by-day. Sometimes this is because the editors have decided to push a wooden format that does not interest me; sometimes it is because of low-quality devotional material; sometimes the Bibles or the devotional material are just hopelessly hoaky. But here is a Bible that does not force a format, that brings devotionals from trusted, skillful writers, and that does not stoop into silliness.

The format of the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible is simple: Interspersed within the biblical text are 365 page-length devotionals. The reader is the one who chooses how he will encounter these devotionals—there is no built-in reading plan or format. Instead, it is meant to fit different ways a man may read his Bible. I would suggest putting it to good use in either of these two ways:

  1. Use it with your current Bible-reading plan or, if you do not follow a plan, simply use it as your daily reading Bible. As you read the text, you will encounter the devotionals, sometimes one per day and sometimes more.
  2. Read the 365 devotionals sequentially, one per day. Before you read the devotionals, read the texts associated with them. These texts are often one or two chapters in length—just about right for your morning reading. If you do it this way you will encounter much of the Bible’s storyline over the course of the year. Because there is at least one devotional in each book of the Bible, you will have at least one reading from each book.

As for the devotionals themselves, they are prepared by men you may already know and trust: R. Kent Hughes (Genesis), Graeme Goldsworthy (1&2 Kings), Sam Storms (Joshua), Alistair Begg (Esther), Jared Wilson (Luke), Justin Holcomb (Acts), and James Hamilton (Revelation) among them. While I did not read all of the devotionals, I did read enough to conclude that they are biblically-sound and also applicable to life. I read enough of them to conclude that I want to read the rest.

Here is a sample devotional I chose at random. It is associated with Genesis 39 and is titled “The Energizing Power of God’s Presence.”

Joseph was so extraordinary that, even in the context of the greats of the Bible, he towers like a skyscraper. As to why this is so, the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife leaves no doubt: Moses’ narrative voice-over at both the beginning and end of the account states that Joseph was successful because the Lord was with him (stated twice at the beginning of the story (Gen. 39:2–3) and three times at the end (vv. 21–23). So we must understand that the unseen hand in the story is God’s, who was present and working on Joseph’s behalf in his phenomenal rise, his humiliating downfall, and his quick restoration to prominence.

But it is one thing to be outside the story and observe that God was with Joseph, and quite another to be Joseph inside the story and believe that God is with you, when all you have worked for is being ripped from you because of your integrity. And here Joseph shines because he knew that God was with him as he refused Mrs. Potiphar’s advances, declaring to her, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (v. 9). The grand deterrent to the seductive pleas was Joseph’s awareness that God is present and sees all, and that a sin that no one else knows about, committed behind locked doors in a dark room, is actually committed in the presence of a holy God.

Such a temptation! Joseph was 17 or 18 years old (see 37:2), and surely his hormones were raging, so that he brimmed with sexual curiosity and drive. The rationalizations were so natural and logical. No one would ever know (see 39:11). He was a slave. His life was not his own. And besides, a little strategic fornication could benefit his career. But Joseph said no!

What a towering figure Joseph had become. Never once, whether in prosperity or adversity, had Joseph doubted God. He sense and appropriated God’s presence in every circumstance. And never had Joseph been more of a success than now. He dwarfed the monuments of the Nile.

How does the story of Joseph intersect our lives today? It does so beautifully and powerfully in the incarnation of Christ the Messiah, who is Immanuel, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). Brothers, the key to our day-to-day success is to believe this with all our being, and conduct every moment of life in the dazzling reality of Christ’s presence.

Apart from the biblical text and the 365 devotionals, the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible also offers new introductions to each book of the Bible “that will orient the reader to what God is saying to us through that particular portion of his Word. We have especially focused in these introductions on the way any given book of the Bible speaks to a man’s heart.” At the end of the Bible are 14 articles dealing with a variety of pertinent topics: Ed Welch deals with pornography, David Powlison with a man’s identity, Thabiti Anyabwile with a man’s inner life, and Ray Ortlund with fathering.

This is a devotional Bible done right. I highly recommend it to you while personally looking forward to enjoying it for many years to come.

The ESV Men’s Devotional Bible is available in Hardcover, Cloth over Board, TruTone, and Kindle. You can find it at Amazon or Westminster Books.

Note: There is also an ESV Women’s Devotional Bible which my wife enjoys very much. It follows much the same format, though obviously prepared with women in mind.

November 24, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler ($1.99); Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper ($2.84); Why Believe the Bible? by John MacArthur ($1.99); Baptist Foundations edited by Mark Dever ($0.99); Beat God to the Punch ($2.99) and Manhood Restored by Eric Mason ($0.99); The People of God by Trevor Joy ($2.99); Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper ($2.99); Nothing Is Impossible with God by Rose Marie Miller ($0.99); And He Dwelt Among Us by A.W. Tozer ($1.99).

The Evangelical Theological Society after Obergefell

I am no scholar, so rarely pay much attention to the proceedings of the Evangelical Theological Society, but this year seems to have been particularly important. Denny Burk reports.

Does God “Want” All to Be Saved?

Michael Kruger takes on the always-controversial question. “But, our answer to these questions depends on what we mean when we say that God “wants” something. And when we talk about what God wants we inevitably must talk about the “will” of God. And this is a subject that requires some careful nuance.”

Arrests in the Amanda Blackburn Case

You may have heard of the tragic, awful death of Amanda Blackburn, the pastor’s wife who was raped and murdered in her home. Two men have now been arrested in connection with the murder. Her husband has continued to shine the light of Christ even in this dark time.

Immigration and the Moral Status of Borders

Here’s an interesting take on immigration and refugees. “Do we think borders are good or bad, a necessary evil or a moral necessity? My contention is that those who argue for open borders undervalue a sense of place and the integrity of nations like Britain and Australia as political communities; but those who argue for closed borders overvalue the likes of Britain and Australia as political communities.”

This Day in 1572. 443 years ago today, John Knox, the most notable of the Reformers of Scotland, died in Edinburgh. *

Enduring the Winter

Norway offers help in enduring the long winter.

9Marks Mailbag

I continue to enjoy the 9Marks Mailbag. Even if you don’t agree with all the answers they provide, they’re sure to get you thinking. This week’s headline: “Must Preachers Be Seminary-Trained?; Baby Dedications; Elders Disagreeing Over Calvinism.”

Why Him, Why Me?

For a longer read, try this story from ESPN. “Two tragic collisions on the football field, separated by 26 years, have brought together a high school linebacker and a former college running back in search of the answer to a life-altering question.”


Everybody thinks sanctification looks like strength. Really what it looks like is weakness. —Ed Welch

November 23, 2015

As a young man, I often spent time around older men so I could receive their wisdom and counsel. I wanted to hear about their experience of living as Christians, and especially their experience of growing in holiness. I wanted their assurance that they had seen significant success in the battle against sin—not just that they had made hesitant little tip-toes toward holiness, but that they had become far more holy than they ever would have thought possible.

Sadly, few things were as alarming and discouraging as hearing older men talk about their sin. This was especially true of sexual sin. Not once did I hear men testify to pronounced, significant success in this area. Rather, I heard them speak of it as a constant trial and as an area of very little progress. Most often it was said not with brokenness but with a kind of wink-wink nudge-nudge. “I’m only human, you know.” “I may be fifty, but I’m still a man.” These men had given up the most blatant outward expressions of sexual immorality, but still had eyes that wandered and they still lived with fantasies playing in their minds.

What I kept hearing was, “Give it your best shot. Get rid of the most blatant sins. Don’t look at porn or commit adultery, but be realistic as well.” It’s like these men had reached a grudging, reluctant point of obedience that had smoothed out the roughest edges. And then they had determined that this was far enough. They thought it was unrealistic to expect much more of themselves. I was devastated when I heard an older friend I admired more than just about anyone else say, “I don’t think it matters where I get my appetite, as long as I eat at home.” Was that really the best I could hope for, that I’d be outwardly faithful to a wife but inwardly I would wander? Could I expect that I’d never really progress much beyond where I was as a young man? Did I have to resign myself to living forever with a mind that wandered and dreamed of all I didn’t have?

All the while I was reading the Bible and heard God say “[Treat] older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all [or absolute] purity” (1 Timothy 5:2) and “but among you, as is proper among the saints, there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or impurity” (Ephesians 5:3). I read about Job and the covenant he made that he would never look with lust upon a young woman. What I longed to hear from an exemplary older man was, “Yes, you can be far holier than you ever thought possible. I know, because I am far holier than I ever would have thought possible.”

It took many years and a lot of pondering God’s Word before I realized that God really can make his people far holier than they thought possible. The change began with a simple but life-changing realization: God would not tell me to do something I could not actually do. I read, “[Treat] older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:2) and understood that God was saying, “You actually can treat older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. You actually can be far purer than you ever thought possible.” I read, “there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or impurity” and understood God was saying, “You actually can live without the constant sin and guilt of wandering eyes and a daydreaming mind. You can when you’re walking with me.”

I came to understand that God’s commands are not suggestions. They are not vague notions of propriety. They are not tasks or to-dos. Not to the Christian, that is. To the Christian, God’s commands are promises. They are promises that you really can be this, you really can have this, you really can do this if you take hold of what he offers. God does not merely give the command and then leave you to your own devices. That would be impossible. No, God gives the command and offers the means to obey and fulfill the command. He gives you the desire to put that sin to death, he gives you the desire to come alive to righteousness, and he gives you the Holy Spirit to make it all possible. When he gives you all this, there is nothing more to need! God commands so you can take hold of his promise and see him prove himself faithful. You actually can obey him all the way. You actually can be free from the sin, and not just in its broadest, most blatant forms.

To young men I want to say this (and young women and older men and older women): You can be far holier, far purer than you ever thought possible. You really can. You may not see your sin so completely and utterly vanquished that it never raises its ugly head again. But you can see massive, unbelievable success against that sin. You can, because God gives you a command. And where he gives a command, he also gives the means to obey.

Image credit: Shutterstock

November 23, 2015

Crossway has several Christmas-themed books on sale for Kindle including: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy and The Innkeeper by John Piper ($3.99 each); Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus by Nancy Guthrie ($2.99); The Three Wise Women by Christin Ditchfield ($1.99); The Invention of Lefse by Larry Woiwode ($1.99). Also consider The Dating Manifesto by Lisa Anderson ($2.99); Wisdom & Wonder ($0.99) and Rooted & Grounded ($1.99) by Abraham Kuyper; Setting Our Affections upon Glory by Martyn Lloyd-Jones ($2.99). Not surprisingly, Amazon is offering Kindle devices for sale as part of their Black Friday week event.

The Bible App Deep Dive

I enjoyed this extensive review and comparison of various Bible apps. It’s fun to see how far apps have come over the past few years.

Holiday at the Dictator’s Guesthouse

If you’re in the mood for a long read, you’ll enjoy reading about one eccentric who decided to travel to North Korea in order to leave a Bible behind. It didn’t go very well.

Don’t Forget These Heroes of Paris

The terrible events in Paris did not unfold without some heroics. “At center stage in this show of courage and compassion were men and women who risked their lives to save others.”

Questions Through the Decades

Alan Wilson shares a series of questions which characterise each decade of life.

This Day in 101. According to tradition, Clement of Rome, “the first apostolic father,” died 1,914 years ago today. *

Syria’s Lost Children

Even while people consider how to help Syrian refugees, it is important that we do not lose sight of who many of them actually are. “Photojournalist Magnus Wennman traveled around Europe and the Middle East, capturing these children of war as they tried to find some rest in a frightening, uncertain world.”

Forgetting to Preach the Gospel

The new emphasis on gospel-centered preaching is a good thing. “As with any philosophy, it is often easier to believe in theory than it is to implement in practice. In this blog we will look at three common ways that those committed to gospel-centered preaching unintentionally forget to preach the gospel.”

Why Fractals Are So Beautiful

“You don’t have to look hard to notice aspects of nature that clearly don’t fit the Euclidean framework. Rivers, mountains, coastlines, lightning, our circulatory system: Where’s the symmetry and structure? Where’s the order? The answer, as mathematicians are discovering more and more often, involves fractals: geometric figures that occur in nature, even in seemingly chaotic systems.”


When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink of understanding the Gospel. —Tim Keller

Letters to the Editor
November 22, 2015

Blogs were never meant to be one-way communication. Because of the increasing difficulty in maintaining a helpful commenting section, I have recently added a Letters to the Editor feature. Today I share some of the letters to the editor that have come in this week—letters that are representative of the ones I received recently. I would invite those of you who read the blog regularly to consider reading these letters as a part of the back-and-forth between writer and readers.

Comments on Comments

I know others are disappointed with the demise of the comment section but I wanted to let you know how much more I enjoy the letters to the editor feature. While it wasn’t a huge problem with this blog, comments sections too often become a place for disrespect, argument, and unrelated rabbit trails and can be frustrating to wade through (not to mention the occasional raising of my ire!). With the letters feature, I just get the highlights (and a few lowlights) that are relevant to the topic at hand. Keep up the good work!
—Rick E, Hillsboro, OR


I miss the comments section. I miss the encouragement of people who agree and the thought provoked by those who don’t… Or those who wish to add something. I’m not a commenter, but I’m a reader. Thanks!
—Jenny S, Mankato, MN


Tim-I sure appreciate your Best Commentaries recommendations. What I REALLY miss is the comment section where many other Bible students and seasoned expositors added their recommendations to your list of helpful commentaries. The collected experience and wisdom was much more than comments- but help for us other expositors always seeking the best tools. Please bring these back. Thanks!
—Dave S, Dover, PA

Tim: To this point I have not found a way to maintain the old commenting threads without also opening up new ones. For now it looks like the section is either on or off. I’m working on it.

Comments on Jesus Calling and last week’s Letters to the Editor

I assume that I will not be the only one to comment on the Letters to the Editor #5. I want to commend you for posting the article that you did regarding Jesus Calling. You asked to become very unpopular; it shows that you’re not about blogging in order to gain the affirmation of the populace. Thank you for writing articles that are concerned with the approbation of God. Let me make three observations about the responses to your article. 1) All of the responses that you posted were written by women. Was that purposeful? Would you say that most of the responses you received were from women? I just want to point out that the demographic that love Jesus Calling the most seems to be middle aged women (like Sarah Young). Funny how Jesus sounds like a middle aged women in SY’s writings. 2) Many of the objectors to your article used their own experience as an argument for the validity of the book. The readers are so quick to justify their use of the devotional by the fact that THEY, and those dear to them, use it. Hmmm. Since when have our experiences fully vindicated us with respect to our opinions? 3) Why are we glossing over the fact that our hero (SY) has claimed, via her preface, that she wanted something more than Scripture? That claim alone should set off red flags. She has just claimed that God’s voice in Scripture is not, and was not, enough for her; there are no two ways about it. You can’t get around that. Sarah Young’s claims are alarming.
—Caleb H, Cambridge, ON

Tim: You were not the only one to comment on the fact that all the letters to the editor related to Jesus Calling were written by women. That is because all (or nearly all) the letters I received about Jesus Calling were by women. In my view this simply shows the core demographic that is purchasing, reading, and sharing the book.

Comments on A Call for Christian Extremists

Applause for your article, A Call for Christian Extremists. A couple of reflections: Among my like-minded heirs of the Reformation, the principled reaction to these thoughts are that Jesus saved us, He’s sanctifying us, that there’s nothing really to require that we get very extreme. This is the response of both orthodox and Arminian groups. My response to them in turn is that there are a lot of scriptures that hold out for us our high calling in Christ Jesus, and encourage us to press in. The other note is that from fellowship with Catholics I heard the idea, “The only tragedy is not to be a saint.” That came from some literary source. Being a saint is another name for Christian Extremist. It seems to me that there’s no room among the heirs of the Reformation for heroic holiness, especially as it resembles Catholicism.
—Bruce M, Arlington, MA


Hi Tim, I want to agree completely with your article about Christian extremism - as I agree with nearly everything else you post. And yet, I don’t. Not quite. Here’s my quibble.

I think that the call to Christian extremism, to be zealots for a cause, finds expression only secondarily in good works. That’s hard to say, because I don’t for a moment want people to think they are unimportant. I agree they are essential. I am glad to have you calling us to be zealous for good works. Yet I believe they are still secondary. Because our true cause, the area where we truly need to focus our zeal and extremism, is the gospel of Christ. Like Paul, in the end we must be determined to know nothing except Christ crucified. That’s what it’s truly all about. That’s our cause. And the reason I think this is a point worth making, is because it’s this very distinction that differentiates Christians from the world. The world loves good works. The world hates Christ’s cross. Good works will earn us the world’s approval, but only the gospel of Christ crucified will change hearts. By all means let’s be extremists. But our cause is not good works. Our cause is Christ.
—Tim Z, Wangaratta, Victoria, Australia

Tim: I don’t disagree with you. However, a zealous love of the gospel will necessarily work itself out in good works. And these good works will be a distinctly Christian kind—done for the good of others and the glory of God. Anyone can do good works, but only Christians can perform the biblical definition of good works which are those done to God’s glory.

Comments on A Charle Brown Religion

I have always loved Peanuts and good old Charlie Brown. The Christmas special is much loved in my household and is watched numerous times each Christmas season. In fact I even trace my conversion to the special. When I was in my late teens, one viewing I was so overwhelmed by Linus reading from Luke, that after the show was over I had to leave the room and compose myself. It’s not cool or tough to see a 18-year-old weep. Raised in a non-Christian home with respect towards the Church, this special was all the Bible I would hear. Although I did have believing grandmothers, I was indifferent to religion. This began for me a serious look into Jesus and I began to read my Gideon New Testament. A few years later I was converted through a sermon that I was in Church for because of the young woman I was dating, whom I was trying to impress. She is now my wife of 28 years. But I look back at moment and it’s clear that God’s word—thanks to Sparky and through Linus—began something in me. So has been always a bit sad knowing Schulz drifted. But he stilled used Linus and the Bible throughout Peanuts. I will always enjoy Peanuts.
—Reg S, New Minas, NS

Comments about Protect Your Family With Circle

Thanks for reviewing Circle. I’ve look at the website and contacted the company and am very excited about this and how it will help families. It should be noted however, for your Canadian readers (I am one), Circle will be available for sale in Canada in 2016 according to the contact I’ve had with the company.
—Jon D, New Minas, NS

Tim: Wait, there are 2 comments in the same week from New Minas, NS? Wikipedia says the town has a population of 5,000. What are the chances?


Hey Tim, would love to use this but when I went to order there was no option for Canada. How un-Canadian of you bro! Thanks for all you are doing for the kingdom. You and your family are in our prayers.
—Quentin W, Calgary, AB

Tim: This is correct. Circle plans to release the device beyond America in 2016. But, if you are like most Canadians, you ought to know how to work around such geographic limitations!

General Comments

I just had a brain spasm because my husband asked me if I knew that there was a new Indelible Grace album. Back in April, I pledged to support the IG VII on Kickstarter. I discussed this support at the time with my husband. Over the last several months, each time there was an update, I told him about it. On Sunday I got the download code for the new album and downloaded it, and have been listening since. This morning I put a link to the Bandcamp page on my facebook. So when my husband asked if I knew there was a new Indelible Grace CD, I looked at him like he was from another dimension. He explained that nothing is real to him until Challies links to it. Thought you’d want to know.
—Lindele E, Alexandria, VA

Tim: Now that’s just plain funny.