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Tim Challies

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February 20, 2015

Here are today’s Kindle deals: The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts ($2.99); Defending Inerrancy by Norman Geisler ($2.99); Each for the Other by Bryan & Kathy Chapell ($4.99). New from GLH Publishing is Systematic Theology (all 3 volumes) by Charles Hodge ($1.99).

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson - I enjoyed reading this longform article on [soon to be former] McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson.

The Gospel in the Dominican Republic - I’m thankful for this series from TGC on how the gospel is going forth in different countries from around the world.

The Hopes of Central High - Sports fans may appreciate this profile of Lester Cotton, who will soon be heading to the University of Alabama.

3 Keys to a Better Prayer Life - Here are 3 simple keys to a better prayer life. (Of course the #1 tip is always this: Just pray!)

Phrasing - Andy Naselli introduces “phrasing,” which he says is his favorite way to trace a biblical argument. There are lots of good resources at the link if you want to give it a try.

The Door to a New Vastness - CNN: “Two white specks appearing next to Pluto in the blackness of space may look like faint blips on a screen. Don’t be fooled.”

How Clocks Changed Humanity - This is merely an introduction to the subject, but you may still enjoy this brief video on how clocks changed humanity.

One proof of the inspiration of the Bible is that it has withstood so much poor preaching. —A.T. Robertson

Robertson

February 19, 2015

Sin. I can’t live with it, but time and time again I have proven that I’m just not able to live without it. I know that I have been freed from sin—freed from the power of sin—and yet I still sin. The Bible tells me not to let sin reign, it tells me that if I am truly a child of God I will not go on sinning (Romans 6:12, 1 John 3:9). And still I sin. Even in those times that I focus my efforts on one particular sin I find that I am unable to stop, unable to put it entirely to death. My mind can’t do it, my heart can’t do it, my will can’t do it, my hands can’t do it. It may not reign as sovereign, but it continues to exist as a trial and a steady temptation.

In The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction Sinclair Ferguson writes about this tricky relationship of sin to the Christian and offers these words of assurance: “We are no longer what we once were; we are no longer related to sin the way we once were.” This is important for me to understand and to keep in the forefront of my mind as I battle sin—any sin. I am not what I once was. I am not who I once was. I was once a slave to sin, owned by it, inexorably drawn to it. But now I am the slave to a different master. I am owned by God and subject to him. My relationship to sin has been radically transformed.

And yet I still get angry. I still lash out in anger. I still simmer in anger. I still have desires that stem from anger and suffer the consequences of my anger. And that is just one sin. I still lust and am still jealous and am still thankless and still sin in so many ways. I have died to sin but sin has not yet died within. But here is the difference; here is the change: Sin no longer has dominion. And practically I cannot relate to it as if it has dominion. I have to ensure that my experience of sin is consistent with my theology of sin.

Anger does not own me. Christ owns me. Lust does not motivate me. Christ motivates me. Jealousy does not get the final victory. Christ gets the final victory. The cross stands there as assurance that I have been saved from its power and will some day be fully and finally delivered from its presence. Sin is in me but I am in Christ. And what is in me was put upon him on the cross. He triumphed over it then. He broke its power. And now I just wait, battling all the while, for him to speak the word and bring it to an end once and for all.

Adapted from an article I wrote in 2011.

February 19, 2015

I dug up just a handful of new Kindle deals today: Saint Patrick by Jonathan Rogers ($1.99); Redeeming Church Conflicts by Tara Barthel ($2.99); HarperCollins Atlas of Bible History ($3.99).

Connecting with the Conference - I’m at Ligonier Ministries’ National Conference this week; for those who can’t make it, here are some ways to connect during the event.

When Bible Reading Feels Like a Chore - Here are 3 reasons your Bible reading may feel like a chore.

Keep Your Greek - Sign up for Logos’ mailing list (or just input your email if you’re already signed up) and you will get Keep Your Greek for free. (Also, you may be interested in this pre-order deal.)

Samsung Design - If you’re into technology, you may enjoy this article on why Samsung just can’t quite match Apple when it comes to design. Turns out it’s a systemic issue.

The Caligulan Thrill - “Viewed from one angle, the sexual revolution looks obviously egalitarian. It’s about extending to everyone the liberties. … But viewed from the other angle…”

Greenland - “Google Street View just added a new virtual destination: some of the most stunning landscapes in Greenland, from fjords to viking ruins.”

The Christian life is not one of attained perfection but ongoing purification. —Joe Thorn

Thorn

February 18, 2015

I was having a tough day. Not one of those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days. Just a tough day. A trying day. A long day. Mostly that—a long day.

A friend stepped into my office for just a couple of moments and we spoke about a ministry that concerns us both. I guess she detected something, because a few minutes later she reappeared. All she said was this: “Tim, do not grow weary in doing good.” And then she was gone.

Simple words, but well-timed words. Simple words, but words that carried divine power and authority. I took her words not as advice from a friend, but as instruction and assurance from God. They are, after all, a direct quote from Galatians 6. To me they said, “Yes, it has been a long and trying day. But don’t stop now, because there is still good to be done. You can do it.” Just like that, the words gave me a second wind.

I thought of her words recently while I read a commentary by John Stott. Stott comments on similar well-timed words spoken centuries earlier. These words came to the apostle Paul at a time where he was not just having a long and difficult day, but an agonizing and excruciating season. Here is how Stott describes it:

At one stage in his life he was terribly burdened. He was worried to death over the Corinthian church and in particular about their reaction to a rather severe letter which he had written to them. His mind could not rest, so great was his suspense. ‘We were afflicted at every turn’, he wrote, ‘—fighting without and fear within.’ Then he continued: ‘But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus’ (2 Cor. 7:5, 6). God’s comfort was not given to Paul through his private prayer and waiting upon the Lord, but through the companionship of a friend and through the good news which he brought.

It is the Christian’s great honor and privilege—to speak words that bring life, to speak words that come from the giver of life. Who needs to hear God’s words through you today?

Image credit: Shutterstock

February 18, 2015

Women, Stop Submitting to Men? - This is good stuff from Russell Moore: “Those of us who hold to so-called ‘traditional gender roles’ are often assumed to believe that women should submit to men. This isn’t true.” Not quite.

Bible Translation and I.T. - I appreciate this—a quick look at how I.T. plays a crucial role in Bible translation work.

John Frame’s Writings - This week’s deals from Westminster Books will be of special interest to people who love theology.

The Brown Sisters - “The Brown sisters have been photographed every year since 1975. The latest image in the series is published here for the first time.”

How to Think About Persecution - Here’s some guidance on how to think about persecution when you’re not very persecuted.

Dog Show Look-Alike - This is for-fun only: Match the Westminster Dog show entrants with their dogs.

Age with Zeal - J.I. Packer’s “encouragement is that older people should shun the worldly notion that aging and retirement is a time of inactivity. He suggests that being older is a time to stay active, to keep running the race set before us.”

The softest call from Jesus can silence the Enemy’s greatest roar. —Gaye Clark

Clarke

February 17, 2015

The pushback against the radical Christian life is in full swing. It was inevitable, I think, and healthy. Books like Radical and Don’t Waste Your Life were meant to battle Christian complacency, but in some ways they over-corrected, giving less than a holistic and realistic view of the Christian life. And now authors like Michael Wittmer are attempting to recover some balance.

In his new book Becoming Worldly Saints, Wittmer means to answer this question: Can you serve Jesus and still enjoy your life? Is it possible for you to be fully committed to the Lord and still find time to enjoy life’s pleasures? Or, as some seem to feel, do we need to live lives of utter frugality, sending all our money to the mission field? Are we responsible to share the gospel with absolutely every person we encounter? Should we really feel that constant low-grade guilt that accuses us that we are not doing enough for the Lord? In short, how do we resolve the tension between the pleasures of earth and the purpose of heaven?

Wittmer’s answers are as compelling as any I’ve read. His concern is that in all the good things we do for the Lord, we forget the importance of being human and enjoying God’s good creation. “Our lives will shrivel if we allow our passion for redemption to smother the pleasures of creation. Being a Christian must not become an obstacle to being human. But the problem is even worse in reverse: When we eliminate our earthly pleasures, we inevitably limit the reach of our heavenly purpose. If we want to attract people to Jesus, our lives must be attractive.” We, of all people, ought to enjoy this world and display our love of life.

Our temptation is to make a harsh distinction between loving the Lord and loving the world he has made. However, “Our love for Jesus and his world is not a zero sum game. Attention given to creation is not stolen from its Creator. The more we enjoy God’s gifts for their own sake, the more we can appreciate him. And thank him for, and love with him. … Thank God for the privilege of being human and of being here. Then go have some fun.” God and have some fun and trust that God enjoys your fun as much as you do.

Wittmer structures the book around the story of Scripture—the great work God is doing in this world, which proceeds under the familar headings of Creation, Fall, and Redemption. He shows that God created this world so we could enjoy it and that he still expects that we will find enjoyment in it. He corrects those people who live only for tomorrow, as if the pleasures of this world are meaningless. He shows that our responsibility in this world is to love God, serve our neighbor, cultivate the earth, and rest, and that we need to maintain a balance between these. He shows that the tension we feel is an inevitable result of man’s fall into sin, and he attempts to bring peace between the urgency of the gospel and the demands of being human. In every case he succeeds well.

Can you serve Jesus and still enjoy life? “It starts with your call and ends with it too. Do whatever God is calling you to do, no more and no less. Do it with all your might; then go to bed. Your life will count for eternity, and you’ll probably even like it.”

Becoming Worldly Saints was a joy and a relief to read. Grounded firmly in Scripture and in the best of Christian tradition, it offers a powerful and compelling vision of the Christian life that is equally exciting and attainable. This isn’t settling for a lesser vision of the Christian life—this is living out what the Bible says.

Becoming Worldly Saints is available at Amazon.

February 17, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include Jesus, Continued by J.D. Greear ($0.99); The Complete Spurgeon Sermons on Genesis ($0.99); Preaching the Parables by Craig Blomberg ($3.99); How We Got the Bible by Neil Lightfoot ($2.99); and God as Author by Gene Fant ($0.99).

The Shape of Things to Come - I don’t think you have to be an Apple fanboy to enjoy this (very long!) profile of Apple’s lead designer Jony Ives. (Note: language warning.)

The Murderer Who Became a Missionary - Here is a remarkable historical account. (Update: This story may not be true.)

What ISIS Really Wants - “The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse.”

Away from the Body - Kevin DeYoung writes about being away from the body and being at home with the Lord.

How to Survive Winter in Antarctica - “The last flight out of the South Pole until November departed on Friday. How do the people left behind cope with months of endless darkness and sub-zero temperatures?”

Announcing the NIV Study Bible - Andy Naselli announces the NIV Study Bible. D. A. Carson is general editor; the associate editors are T. Desmond Alexander, Richard S. Hess, and Douglas J. Moo; Naselli is the assistant editor.

The truly wise man is he who always believes the Bible against the opinion of any man. —R.A. Torrey

Torrey