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

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

March 23, 2015

Here a some Kindle deals to start the week: The Last Days of Jesus by Andreas Kostenberger & Justin Taylor ($3.99); A Shelter in the Storm by Paul Tripp ($2.99); Scandalous by D.A. Carson ($2.99); How God Became Jesus by Michael Bird ($4.99); A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible by Leland Ryken ($4.99); Know the Heretics and Know the Creeds and Councils by Justin Holcomb ($3.99 each).

The Archive of an Interesting Life - It’s not a junk drawer — it’s the archive of an interesting life.

The Grace in Going to Church - I like this one: The simple grace of committing to a church and going there week in and week out.

Al Mohler on Keeping the Southern Baptist Faith - WORLD magazine interviews Al Mohler.

The Wonder of Sunday Morning - Trevin Wax reflects on the sweet wonder of a normal Sunday morning.

Homecoming - Those who have followed Kara Tippetts’ blog for the past few years will want to read about her homecoming.

John Calvin’s 4 Rules of Prayer - Joel Beeke distills some of Calvin’s wisdom on prayer.

Christian, beware of thinking lightly of sin. Take heed in case you fall little by little. —C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon

March 22, 2015

Later this week I will be at McMaster University to speak to students there about knowing and doing the will of God. Few areas of Christian theology have generated more controvery and more bad teaching than this one. In his book Prayer, Tim Keller illustrates how even good men can take impressions, feelings, or promptings much too far.

If we leave the Bible out, we may plumb our impressions and feelings and imagine God saying various things to us, but how can we be sure we are not self-deceived? The eighteenth-century Anglican clergyman George Whitefield was one of the spearheads of the Great Awakening, a period of massive renewal of interest in Christianity across Western societies and a time of significant church growth. Whitefield was a riveting orator and is considered one of the greatest preachers in church history. In late 1743 his first child, a son, was born to he and his wife, Elizabeth. Whitefield had a strong impression that God was telling him the child would grow up to also be a “preacher of the everlasting Gospel.” In view of this divine assurance, he gave his son the name John, after John the Baptist, whose mother was also named Elizabeth. When John Whitefield was born, George baptized his son before a large crowd and preached a sermon on the great works that God would do through his son. He knew that cynics were sneering at his prophecies, but he ignored them.

Then, at just four months old, his son died suddenly of a seizure. The Whitefields were of course grief-stricken, but George was particularly convicted about how wrong he had been to count his inward impulses and intuitions as being essentially equal to God’s Word. He realized he had led his congregation into the same disillusioning mistake. Whitefield had interpreted his own feelings—his understandable and powerful fatherly pride and joy in his son, and his hopes for him—as God speaking to his heart. Not long afterward, he wrote a wrenching prayer for himself, that God would “render this mistaken parent more cautious, more sober-minded, more experienced in Satan’s devices, and consequently more useful in his future labors to the church of God.”

The lesson here is not that God never guides our thoughts or prompts us to choose wise courses of action, but that we cannot be sure he is speaking to us unless we read it in the Scripture.

(HT: STR)

March 21, 2015

There is a handful of new Kindle deals today: Ego Trip by Glynn Harrison ($0.99); To Live Is Christ To Die Is Gain by Matt Chandler ($2.51); A Tale of Two Sons by John MacArthur ($5.69).

Mental Floss explains How a Brilliant Intelligence Officer Used ‘Monopoly’ to Free WWII POWs. It’s an interesting story.

BBC has great footage of the recent total solar eclipse.

An unlikely friendship joins Christian efforts to battle high-interest loans: How a Twitter Feud over Same-Sex Marriage May Doom Payday Lending.

Here’s the Christian’s call: Come and Die. “Have you ever seen a military recruitment poster or TV ad that showed wounded soldiers? Ever seen one that showed soldiers taking bullets, medics administering morphine to blood-gushing comrades, or an array of battle-hardened quadriplegics?”

A Good Mentor Slows You Down. And, I suppose, at times he might speed you up as well! But the point is well-taken.

Thanks to RPTS for sponsoring the blog today with their article Technology and the Christian Life.

Tim Keller nails it, in this excerpt from The Meaning of Marriage: You Never Marry the Right Person.

In heaven we shall see that we had not one trial too many. —C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon

March 20, 2015

For those who are counting, this is the 300th edition of Free Stuff Fridays. Do the math, and that means readers have won somewhere around 4,500 books. Not bad! This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by CBD Reformed. And as they always do, they are giving away a pretty good prize package. There will be 5 winners this week, and each of the winners will receive the following 3 books:

  • KellerJesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God by Timothy Keller (Retail Price $16.00). “An insightful and revelatory look at the life of Christ by the man Newsweek called ‘a C.S. Lewis for the 21st century.’ Join Keller as he explores the Gospel of Mark; demonstrates how the story of Jesus is cosmic, historical, and personal; and encourages you to re-examine your relationship with God. Previously published as King’s Cross.”
  • Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive by Thom Rainer (Retail price $12.99). “Whether your church is vibrant or dying, whether you are a pastor or a church member, Autopsy of a Deceased Church will walk you through the radical paths necessary to keep your church alive to the glory of God and advancement of Christ’s Kingdom!”
  • Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross: Experiencing the Passion and Power of Easter, Edited by Nancy Guthrie (Retail Price $12.99). “In Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, editor Nancy Guthrie draws from works and sermons of twenty-five classic theologians and contemporaries to bring you and your family into an experience of the passion of Christ. Combining the victory of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and Scripture, she draws you to the cross throughout the Easter season and beyond.”

In addition, CBD Reformed is offering a 4-day sale (March 20 - 23) on the following three products:

Enter the Draw

All you need to do to enter the draw is to drop your name and email address in the form below. (If you receive this by email, you will need to visit challies.com to enter.)

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.

March 20, 2015

Here’s a little grab-bag of Kindle deals: HarperCollins Atlas of Bible History ($3.99); Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told by Bradley Wright ($0.99); God’s Lyrics by Douglas Sean O’Donnell ($5.29).

Magna Carta - “One of two beautifully illustrated animations telling the story of Magna Carta, to celebrate the 800th anniversary of it’s creation, and the re-union of two of the original parchments at the British Library in London - with the added bonus of being voiced by Monty Python’s Terry Jones!”

Things I Would Do Differently If I Were Raising My Children Again - Mark Altrogge explains what he would do differently if he had to do it all again.

Pastor, Should You Write that Book? - I’m doubling down on The Blazing Center today, but I really enjoyed this article from Barnabas Piper. He explains why some great sermon series make lousy books.

Rethinking The Bible For A Mobile World - “Former Apple designer Kory Westerhold, now a product design at Twitter, partnered with his childhood friend Yahoo design director Aaron Martin to create a beautiful, modern Bible app.”

Our Everyday Obedience - You’ll like this one, I think.

Airport Codes - You probably need to be a bit geeky to care about this: an explanation of various airport codes.

The humble soul endeavors more how to glorify God in afflictions, than how to get out of them. —Thomas Brooks

Brooks

March 19, 2015

I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and at this time of the year my desk is almost overflowing with all of them. Here are a few of the highlights that have shown up in the past few weeks.

PhilippiansPhilippians: A Mentor Commentary by Matthew Harmon. The Mentor commentaries from Christian Focus has long been an excellent and trustworthy series. Harmon’s volume now extends the series to Philippians. I have only skimmed through the book, but have already found some excellent insights. It comes with endorsements from Thomas Schreiner, Douglas Moo, Robert W. Yarbrough, Justin Taylor, and James Hamilton. Here is the publisher’s brief description: “Christians throughout the centuries have loved Paul’s letter to the Philippians for its call to rejoice in the gospel of Jesus Christ regardless of life’s circumstances. But our familiarity with the letter can cause us to neglect or overlook Paul’s message to the Philippians. Dr Matthew Harmon in this uplifting and inspiring work brings context and application to this wonderful book.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

ActsActs by Guy Prentiss Waters. Mentor commentaries is not the only series that has grown this month. Evangelical Press Study Commentaries is another fantastic series and it has now added a volume on Acts written by Guy Prentiss Waters who is Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. Derek Thomas commends the volume with these words: “Dr. Waters is the ideal commentator on Acts. Scholarly, pastoral, theological all these and more combine in making this my first resource for Luke s second volume. An outstanding contribution to the series and deserving of the appellation, Essential!” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

MacArthurThe Shepherd as Preacher: Delivering God’s Word with Passion and Power, edited by John MacArthur. This is the first of a short series of books called “The Shepherd’s Library,” and the material is a kind of “best-of” from the many years of The Shepherd’s Conference. Here is the publisher’s description: “When you consider all that God desires to accomplish through preaching, it becomes apparent why it’s such a big deal. It’s God’s main means of feeding, comforting, correcting, and protecting His people—as well as pointing unbelievers to Christ. Such an enormous responsibility deserves a pastor’s best. In The Shepherd as Preacher, you’ll find the best encouragement and guidance available on how you can preach God’s Word God’s way. With John MacArthur and other outstanding Bible teachers, you’ll survey the essentials every minister needs to know, including the focus and purpose of biblical preaching, the character of a faithful preacher, the keys to effective preaching, how to preach in the Spirit’s power.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

BillingsRejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ by J. Todd Billings. I have heard a lot about this book, and every word of it has been glowingly positive. The publisher says, simply, “A Christian theologian shares his journey, struggle, and reflections on providence, lament, and life in Christ in light of his diagnosis of incurable cancer” but you may gain more insight by Michael Horton’s endorsement: “Every chapter brims with pools of insight, pointing us beyond platitudes to the God who has met us—and keeps on meeting us—in the Suffering and Risen Servant. This is a book not just for reading but for meditation and prayer.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

ThiseltonThe Thiselton Companion to Christian Theology by Anthony Thiselton. This is a big reference volume that looks very helpful. “Covering everything from “Abba” to “Zwingli,” The Thiselton Companion to Christian Theology offers a comprehensive account of a wide sweep of topics and thinkers in Christian theology. Written entirely by eminent scholar Anthony Thiselton, the book features a coherence lacking in most multiauthored volumes. Drawing on his encyclopedic knowledge, gained from fifty-plus years of study and teaching, Thiselton provides some six hundred articles on various aspects of theology throughout the centuries. The entries comprise both short descriptive surveys and longer essays of original assessment on central theological topics…” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

30 Events30 Events That Shaped the Church: Learning from Scandal, Intrigue, War, and Revival by Alton Gansky. I like books like this one, that approach history not only chronologically but also thematically. “The church of today did not appear on the earth fully formed; rather, it developed over the centuries. Following Jesus’ command to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth, the apostles and their spiritual descendants have grown the church through times of peace and times of war, through persecution and pilgrimage. The church that began as a ragtag group of Middle Eastern fishermen, tax collectors, and zealots became the multiethnic, multifaceted church we know today through historical events that, while they may seem distant, have a direct effect on our everyday lives. Now thirty of these course-altering events are brought vividly to life by consummate storyteller Alton Gansky. Spanning twenty centuries of history, this lively book will entertain, educate, and enlighten you even as it enriches your appreciation for those who have come before us in the faith.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

March 19, 2015

Here are just a couple of Kindle deals: The Shorter Catechism Made Simple by Andrew Conway ($0.99); Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall is a fun and easy read for just $1.99.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth - This is an amazing interactive graphic about what happens when you go down, down, down…

It’s Not You, It’s Me - “God has a multitude of arrows in his quiver that enable him to hit his mark. Sometimes he does so in surprising, even humbling ways.” Yes he does.

RaceTogether - What happens when you go into Starbucks and, at their invitation, ask to speak about race?

The Millennial Adulthood Decision - “Millennials are often labeled as the self-centered, ‘Me’ generation, and I’ve always hated that stereotype because I didn’t really see it. Now I do. Millennials think adulthood is more self-empowerment than self-sacrifice. This explains everything.”

Of Serial Killers, Hiding Sins, and the Glorious Hope of Forgiveness in Christ - It is good to be reminded of the hope and power of the gospel.

Why I’m Not a Feminist - From the True Woman blog: “I’m just not a feminist. Here’s why…”

An argument may remove doubt, but only the Holy Spirit can convict of truth. —Ravi Zacharias

Zacharias

March 18, 2015

I read a lot of books. I read a lot of books because I just plain love to read, and a read a lot of books because, as a reviewer, I receive a lot of them and am always trying to keep ahead of the growing piles. But the more I read, the harder I can find it to answer this question: What is a good book? What are the marks of an especially good book?

I was recently reading Iain Murray’s short biography of Amy Carmichael and in there he quotes A.W. Tozer who once said, “The work of a good book is to incite the reader to moral action, to turn his eyes toward God and to urge him forward.” And yes, this a good criteria; a good book will urge its reader to do something, to become something, to make some significant and lasting change to life. Murray goes on to say, “Amy Carmichael’s writings belong to that category. Numbers who took her books up only out of interest, put them down to pray.” Prayer: That may be the best moral action of all because it ought to come before anything else we do, any other changes we make, any other plans we form.

So I paused and began to think of the books that have caused me to stop and to pray, to put down the book and to go straight to the Lord. And here are just a few of them:

  • The Cross He Bore by Frederick Leahy. Few books have impacted me as deeply as this one, with its slow, beautiful meditations on the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. When I reviewed it ten years ago I wrote, “I was often compelled to stop and worship, to stop and meditate, or to stop and dry my eyes, thanking Christ for His immeasurable sacrifice.”
  • The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. The Holiness of God is remarkably effective in two ways: In exposing the sinfulness of the reader, and in exposing the holiness of the Creator. As I came to a deeper understanding of my own depravity, I couldn’t help but to come to a deeper appreciation of God’s holiness. I had to stop and pray often, calling upon God for his forgiveness and thanking God for his mercy.
  • A Praying Life by Paul Miller. I have learned not to take it for granted that a book on prayer will actually help me pray. Certainly, though, the best ones do, and Paul Miller’s A Praying Life is one of them. It gave me a hunger for prayer; I looked forward to getting to the end of a chapter so I could immediately start applying it.
  • John and Betty Stam by Vance Christie. It is not only theological works, or Christian living works, that can drive us to pray, but also biographies. One biography that caused me to put it down to pray was Vance Christie’s work on John and Betty Stam. The Stams were such normal, relatable people who had such great love for the lost, that when they faced the ultimate cost of their faith, I just had to ask God to give me that confidence and that fervor.
  • Look and Live by Matt Papa. There is something beautifully poetic about this book. Papa teaches no new truths, but finds new and fresh ways of explaining those same old truths we love so much. Several times I was captivated by the beauty of the good news, and could only pause to pray.
  • Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen. Of all the books I have ever read, besides the Bible, I don’t think any has done such a work in my soul as Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation. I have read it repeatedly, and every time it has forced me to pray, to confess sin, and to seek God’s grace as I attempt to grow in holiness.

I’m sure there are others besides these 6, but they give just a sampling of books that meet that precious criteria: “Numbers who took her books up only out of interest, put them down to pray.”

What are some of the books that fall into this category for you? What are books that have forced you to stop and to pray?

Image credit: Shutterstock