Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

July 24, 2015

New deals today include I Am a Church Member by Thom Rainer ($0.99); Revelation commentary by Paige Patterson ($2.99); and Suburbianity by Byron Yawn ($2.99).

5 Reasons to Keep the Kids In - This article largely describes my preference when it comes to children and worship services.

The Coming of the Age of Gibberish - Carl Trueman highlights the kind of ridiculous statement that is suddenly becoming so common.

Logic on Fire - You may have heard of the excellent documentary Logic on Fire which looks at the life and ministry of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The DVD is being offered at quite a discount.

How Boa Constrictors Kill - So maybe boa constrictors aren’t actually killing their prey by suffocation.

The End of Christianity in the Middle East - The New York Times magazine shows how the last vestiges of Christianity are being stamped out in the Middle East.

The Great Work Taking Place in Our World - Rick Phillips reminds us of the great work that is taking place in our world.

Plan B - I was sorry to read this story, about Washington State forcing objecting pharmacists to dispense Plan B.

All the preaching in the world cannot make a man see the truth so long as his eyes are blinded. —C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon

 

Why Bloggers Are Calling It Quits
July 23, 2015

I have been blogging for 12 years now. For at least 11 of those years, people have been predicting the end of the blog. The reasons have changed, but the predictions have been consistent: It is only a matter of time before the blogosphere collapses.

Last month Christianity Today ran an article by Amy Julia Becker titled “Why Bloggers Are Calling It Quits.” She points to high-profile bloggers Andrew Sullivan and Heather Armstrong. Both of them have recently decided to walk away from their blogs at the very height of their popularity. She focuses on several reasons that bloggers quit: They grow weary of the anonymous vitriol that dominates so much online discussion, they realize that these blogs have come to dominate their lives, forcing them to inhabit a fast-paced always-on digital existence, and they want to slow down and to focus on a different kind of writing. Becker laments, “With the constantly changing and endlessly available content, and the pressure for writers to garner as many ‘clicks’ as possible, the Internet lends itself to a loss of storytelling, and a loss of careful thought.”

I do not disagree with all Becker says. I, too, sometimes grow weary of blogs and the blogosphere. I hate that even the most bland or innocuous statement will inevitably be taken by someone somewhere as an outrage. I completely agree that “We need to preserve a place for storytelling that takes time, and thought, and care, storytelling that provides a sense of telos, of purpose and meaning and not just an ever-changing present reality.” But the blogosphere isn’t meant to be a replacement for such works; it is meant to complement them. Ironically, the people who write those great works will immediately turn to the blogosphere to spread the ideas and sell the books. Both media are improved when they work together. We do not need to downplay one in order to give due respect to the other.

I predict that the blogosphere will continue to grow and thrive. At least, the idea of the blogosphere will grow and thrive. The idea that gave rise to the blogosphere is that it offered people with ideas a voice that circumvented the traditional gatekeepers. Newspaper editors no longer stood between opinions and audiences. Book publishers could no longer determine the authors who would introduce and evaluate the big ideas. Magazines and news shows were no longer the only curators of interesting news and information. That anyone today can have a voice seems normal in 2015, but we forget that fifteen years ago it was a novel idea.

Blogs have given a voice to the people, and the people do not intend to give it back anytime soon. News and information, both in its content and curation, has been democratized. I don’t see that changing for a long time. We don’t want to go back to a world where a few giant media outlets control the ideas and suggest how we ought to think about them.

The medium will inevitably evolve and (I pray) mature. Some of the traditional elements of a blog (such as a comment section, which I pretty much leave closed these days) are disappearing or migrating to platforms like Facebook. Some day we may even lose the word “blog.” But the idea is here to say. Yes, a lot of bloggers are quitting. But many others are taking their place.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

July 23, 2015

Today is a good day to stock up on R.C. Sproul books: God’s Love and The Work of Christ are $1.99 each, Pleasing God is $0.99, while How Then Shall We Worship? is free.

Heaven Is a Place for Sale - This article traces a bit of the pre-history of the heaven tourism genre.

Forward from Conversion - Ed Stetzer: “It’s a really bad idea to give birth to a baby and leave them on their own. We call that abandonment. People go to jail for that—and rightfully so. But I think sometimes we do that in church.”

Lighting at 2000 FPS - This is an amazing video that shows lighting at 2000 frames per second.

The Pastor’s Personal Holiness - Nothing is more essential to a pastor’s calling or the ministry he extends to others than his own personal holiness.

New York Times Bestseller - We all know it’s an honor to be a New York Times bestseller. This article explains what that actually means.

After Miscarriage - Jessalyn Hutto has written a helpful book on miscarriage. Over the next couple of weeks she will taking and answering questions through her blog.

The world: Your biggest problem is without. The solution is within. The Bible: Your biggest problem is within. The solution is without. —Matt Smethurst

Smethurst

 

July 22, 2015

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.

This man has a long history of preaching and defending the gospel, but then he makes statements about the inerrancy of Scripture that leave me scratching my head. This woman has had a long and effective ministry of teaching the Bible, but then she allies herself with a ministry that I find very concerning and she quotes an author who is theologically dangerous. Or, on the flip side, this teacher has long questioned some important doctrines, but then he begins to say things that are not only helpful, but uniquely true and insightful.

The problem, I am convinced, is that we expect a kind of consistency that is just not realistic for people so deeply stained by sin. We want our heroes and our villains to be monolithic, to play their roles perfectly. But this world is rarely so clean and neat.

The fact is that we are all a mess of contradictions. We are a mess of contradictions who are highly attuned to other people’s, but blind to our own. We will joyfully believe both A and B, we will joyfully do both A and Not A, all the while thinking that we are being perfectly consistent. But we will not tolerate this in others.

If we demand utter consistency we will eventually abandon all our heroes and miss the virtues of our villains. We will end up on a lonely little island all alone, convinced that we are the only consistent people left. We will follow our consistency to isolation and despair.

I have my heroes just like you do. I have people that I admire, people with whom I have a kind of emotional or spiritual attachment. I may not even know them, but I still look up to them, value their opinions, and even model aspects of my life and faith on theirs. And when I see these contradictions in people who are so godly I can only assume that I must have some significant contradictions of my own. I assume that I am equally blind to these contradictions. I assume that I am equally convinced of the virtues of my vices.

I have learned that I need to choose my heroes carefully. I need to expect that my heroes will be flawed. I need to believe that I am flawed. And I need to force myself to remember that the best of men are but men at their best.

Image credit: Shutterstock

July 22, 2015

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Preaching in the Holy Spirit by Albert Martin ($0.99); The Holy Spirit by Geoffrey Thomas ($2.99); The Holy Spirit and Reformed Spirituality by Joel Beeke & Derek Thomas ($2.99); 50 People Every Christian Should Know by Warren Wiersbe ($2.99); The Real Face of Atheism by Ravi Zacharias ($1.99); 

10 Numbers You Should Know About Planned Parenthood - Joe Carter gives you 10 important numbers related to Planned Parenthood. 

9Marks Collection - Westminster Books has marked down a large selection of 9Marks books. I recommend each and every one of them.

Pursuing Lyrical and Musical Flow - Jamie Brown is writing some very helpful articles for worship leaders and service planners. 

What’s Wrong with Designer Genes? - “We believe the church needs to become aware of this latest scientific development in genetic research, why it was attempted, the fallout and its consequences, and what specific ethical lines it crosses for us as Christians.”

The Missing Ingredient for Sexual Purity - If sexual purity is your struggle, Luke Gilkerson’s article may prove helpful.

The Power of Morning and Evening Routines - The Art of Manliness has a helpful video on the power of building routines into your life.

When we pray together, our needs become public. When he answers, his glory becomes public. —Jamie Dunlop

Dunlop

 

July 21, 2015

One of my favorite things about the New Testament epistles is the personal moments, the personal interactions between the author and his audience. I love to read Paul’s “don’t forget the milk” list at the end of 2 Timothy. I love to read his warm greetings and remembrances at the end of Romans.

One great moment comes in 2 Timothy 3. Paul writes to Timothy and reminds him of the privilege he had as a young man. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).

Paul reminds Timothy of the two most influential people in his young life—his mother and grandmother (see also 2 Timothy 1:5). We learn that Timothy had had the distinct privilege of being raised in a Christian home, and Paul wants him to consider what this had done to him and in him.

What was it that Timothy’s mother and grandmother had done that earned Paul’s praise? What did they do that had made such a difference in his life? It was not having Timothy study and memorize his catechism. It was not teaching him systematic theology. Paul didn’t commend him for all the Bible verses he had memorized or all the songs he knew. He didn’t even mention Timothy having a male mentor or someone who took him under his wing. Those are all good things, but they are not the things that interested Paul here.

Paul says only this: That Timothy’s mother and grandmother had introduced him to the Bible, to what he calls “the sacred writings.” And the Bible had done its work in Timothy. The Bible had made all the difference. It had made Timothy wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. It had saved his soul and turned him into the man he had become.

I find this such a sweet and timely encouragement. There are so many ways in which I feel my failure as a parent. There are so many things I hear other parents doing and find myself wishing that I was doing them as well. But in Paul’s words I am reminded that my primary task as a father is to simply expose my children to God’s Word. Whatever else I do, I must do this. And I do. Day by day we read God’s Word together and week by week we hear it preached and taught together. As much as we can, we make our home one where the Word is present and honored.

I am more convinced than ever that nothing will make a greater difference in the lives of my children than this—than exposure to the perfect, powerful Word of God. If I do that, I am doing the right thing. I am doing the best thing. I am doing the one thing that matters most.

Image credit: Shutterstock

July 21, 2015

Here are a few Kindle deals: Mormonism Unmasked by R Phillip Roberts ($2.99); Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret ($4.61); Answers to Prayer by George Mueller ($4.10); James Robinson Graves by James Patterson ($2.99).

Textiquette for Teenagers - I guess we are all trying to figure out how best to lead our kids in this new world. Here are one dad’s thoughts on “textiquette.”

The Book of Numbers - Here, from The Bible Project, is a neat 6-minute overview of Numbers.

I am going to keep giving room for stories related to Planned Parenthood, mostly because this could be a real tipping-point in America’s relationship to an evil organization. Rosaria Butterfield says honestly, I Thought Planned Parenthood Protected Family Values. Also, Brit Hume has delivered a very powerful commentary on abortion.

Underwater Graveyard - For 70 years, World War II planes have been resting in peace at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Mashable has some some amazing photos.

The Sunday Worship Killer - “Donning the robes of the critic maims and kills many would-be worshipers in churches every single Sunday morning.”

Does Water Ever Expire? - Why does your bottle of water taste bad the day after you open it?

What will really save the lost world? Let me tell you: none of our complaints against it. —Jared Wilson

Wilson