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

Tim Challies

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June 23, 2015

Here are some new Kindle deals: Radically Normal by Josh Kelley ($1.99); God’s Indwelling Presence by James Hamilton ($0.99); Believer’s Baptism by Thomas Schreiner ($0.99); The New Testament by David Allan Black ($2.99); The People of God by Trevor Joy ($2.99); A Christ-Centered Wedding by Catherine Parks ($2.99); The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses by Chris Bruno ($5.99); Exalting Jesus in Galatians by David Platt ($2.99); A Simplified Harmony of the Gospel by George Knight ($2.99).

Real Conversations with Dad - I completely identify with this: The majority of parenting is done in those sweet, mundane, meaningful little moments.

Pit Stops - You might find this dead boring, but I found it strangely fascinating. It is a series of pit stops from different kinds of car race.

Cigars, The Christian, and the Glory of God - Joe Thorn is starting a series on cigars. I can’t stand the things, but am interested in his take on them.

#PrayForCharleston - “Charleston, South Carolina will always be the place I call home. From my youth, I walked her ancient streets, climbed her shrines to days past, snuck into her private gardens, and enlisted into her Corp of Cadets.”

A Killer Drug Crisis - Weekends are the time I tend to read longform articles. I learned a lot by reading this one from Macleans.

Why Would God Choose Me? - John Piper explains how he explains election.

The Confederate Flag - If you are wondering what Christians are saying about the current controversy surrounding the Confederate flag in South Carolina, this article will get you caught up.

If the college you visit has a bookstore filled with t-shirts rather than books, find another college. —Al Mohler

Mohler

 

June 22, 2015

In Martin Luther’s hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” the great Reformer penned these memorable words: “The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure, one little word shall fell him.” One little word. One little word is all that stands between Satan and his complete destruction.

Satan may rule as prince in this world, but his reign is fragile. He can reign only as long as the King permits. We see a powerful glimpse of his fragile power in one of Jesus’ greatest miracles.

Jesus and His disciples have sailed across the Sea of Galilee and landed on the far shore. They have arrived at a place inhabited by one of the most pathetic and tragic figures we could ever imagine—a man oppressed by not only one demon, but an entire legion of them. He has been driven far beyond the brink of insanity. He lives in the tombs outside the town. He runs naked through the hills, crying out in agony, bashing and bruising himself with rocks, attacking anyone who passes by. Chains cannot hold him; friends and family cannot restrain him. He is under the full control of the powerful Prince of Darkness.

And then Jesus arrives. The very moment Jesus sets foot on the shore, this man comes running. He comes running, naked and bleeding and unkempt, and falls down at Jesus’ feet. He falls down in submission, in terror. One of those demons cries out and says, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” And just like that, the tables have turned. The powerful demons are quaking in fear of One infinitely more powerful.

I recently taught this story to children and told them this: Imagine you are outside playing when the neighborhood bully comes your way. He walks up to you, shakes his fist in your face, and says, “I am going to pound you.” You know he is too strong for you, so you grit your teeth and prepare to get hurt. But then suddenly his eyes grow wide, his expression changes—is it fear?—and a bead of sweat trickles down his face. He raises his hands in surrender, backs away, turns around, and runs.

What happened? You turn around, and just a little bit behind you, you see your dad. He is marching toward you and toward that bully. He is rolling up his sleeves. He is coming to your defense. That bully is powerless in the presence of someone much stronger than he is.

And this is exactly the situation we find here. The demons, who had held such power over this man, are utterly powerless in the presence of Jesus. With a word, just one little word, He drives them from that man, He sends them into a herd of pigs, and they are destroyed. And He does it all to prove this: Satan may be the prince of this world, but Jesus is the King.

Lion
Image credit: Shutterstock

June 22, 2015

This week’s Kindle deals from Crossway are all about the Bible: Understanding Scripture and Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible by Wayne Grudem, C. John Collins & Thomas Schreiner ($2.99 each); Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church by Michael Lawrence ($3.99); Welcome to the Story by Stephen Nichols ($2.99). Also consider The Saint’s Everlasting Rest by Richard Baxter, which is new from GLH Publishing ($0.99).

Tullian Tchividjian Resigns - Here is very sad news from Florida: “Popular pastor and author Tullian Tchividjian has resigned as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church,” citing “ongoing marital issues” and “an inappropriate relationship.”

How Pixar Enchants Us - “Arguably no film studio in the world expends so much energy actively trying to fail. And succeeding at it.”

Reflections from an AME Prayer Vigil - Rich Phillips: “Last evening I was greatly blessed, together with many members of the congregation I serve, to participate in a prayer vigil for the nine victims of the racist attack on Emmanuel AME in Charleston.”

The Death Treatment - This long, difficult article from The New Yorker shows what seems to be the inevitable slide once euthanasia becomes legalized.

15 Prayers from the Bible - Here are 15 prayers drawn from specific passages of the Bible. It is good to pray God’s Word back to God!

Thinking in Public - I really enjoyed Al Mohler’s conversation with Grant Wacker as they discuss the life and legacy of Billy Graham. It may sound dry, but I assure you it is not.

We can all look at life and agree that there are some parts that have no purpose—like neckties or cats. —Matt Chandler

Chandler

 

June 21, 2015

Few people have had a deeper impact on my way of thinking than John Stott. In his little book Your Mind Matters, he writes about the importance of being Christians who use our minds. But knowledge is not an end in and of itself. Rather, all that knowledge is meant to lead somewhere.

Knowledge should lead to worship. The true knowledge of God will result not in our being puffed up with conceit at how knowledgeable we are, but in our falling on our faces before God in sheer wonder and crying, “O the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Whenever our knowledge becomes dry or leaves us cold, something has gone wrong. For whenever Christ opens the Scriptures to us and we learn from him, our heart should be aglow within us. The more we know God the more we should love him.

Second, knowledge should lead to faith. We have already seen that knowledge is the foundation of faith and makes faith reasonable. “Those who know thy name put their trust in thee,” wrote the psalmist. It is our very knowledge of God’s nature and character which elicits our faith. But if we cannot believe without knowing, we must not know without believing. That is, our faith must grasp hold of whatever truth God reveals to us. Indeed, God’s message brings no benefit unless it meets with faith in the hearers. This is why Paul does more than pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened to know the greatness of God’s power which has been demonstrated in the resurrection; he adds that this power which God accomplished in Christ is now available to use who believe. The first and necessary step is that we know in our minds the magnitude of God’s power, but this should lead us to appropriate his power in our lives by faith.

Third, knowledge should lead to holiness. We have to see how the more our knowledge grows, the greater our responsibility to put it into practice. Many biblical examples could be quoted. Psalm 119 is full of aspirations to know God’s law. Why? In order the better to obey it: “Give me understanding, that I may keep thy law and observe it with my whole heart.” Thomas Manton, the Puritan minister, who at one time was Oliver Cromwell’s chaplain, likened a disobedient Christian to a child suffering from rickets: “Rickets cause great heads and week feet. We are not only to dispute of the word, and talk of it, but to keep it. We must neither be all ear, nor all head, nor all tongue, but the feet must be exercised!”

Fourth, knowledge should lead to love. The more we know, the more we should want to share what we know with others and use our knowledge in their service, whether in evangelism or ministry. Sometimes, however, our love will restrain our knowledge. For by itself knowledge can be harsh; it needs to sensitivity which love can give it. This is what Paul meant when he wrote: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”

Knowledge is indispensable to Christian life and service. If we do not use the mind which God has given us, we condemn ourselves to superficiality and cut ourselves off from many of the riches of God’s grace. At the same time, knowledge is given us to be used, to lead us to higher worship, greater faith, deeper holiness, better service. What we need is not less knowledge but more knowledge, so long as we act upon it.

Image credit: Shutterstock

June 20, 2015

Kim Ransleben writes about When the Wages of Sin Is a Grandbaby. “Her weeping came ahead of her presence, causing my heart to pound. As a mom of three, it wasn’t the first time a crying child had entered our bedroom hours after we thought they’d gone to sleep…”

This is the first I have heard of Walter Milne, one of Scotland’s Protestant martyrs. Aaron Denlinger tells his story well.

You may enjoy this longform article called Aneurysm. It is a neurosurgeon simply writing about the work he does. (Note: It includes a bad word or two.)

David Murray draws some principles out of The Most Painful Interview He’s Ever Watched. Because sometimes it is just so hard to say, “I was wrong.”

Here is A Monumental Display of Mercy. “The late Christopher Hitchens formulated (and forever repeated) a superficially clever challenge to people of faith: ‘Find one good or noble thing,” he said, “which cannot be accomplished without religion.’ The astonishing rejoinder to Hitchens comes now from the family members of those who were gunned down Wednesday night in Charleston, South Carolina.”

Thanks to Reformed Presybterian Theological Seminary for sponsoring the blog this week with Sacrifices by Fire.

If community in your local church is not dependent on God’s supernatural Spirit for its lifeblood, it is not evidently supernatural. —Jamie Dunlop

Dunlop

 

June 19, 2015

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by CBD Reformed. As they always do, they are giving away some great prizes. There will be 5 winners this week, and each of them will receive the following 3 books:

  • Encounters with JesusEncounters With Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions by Timothy Keller - Retail price $15.00
  • Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means For You and Me by Kevin DeYoung - Retail Price $17.99
  • Prone To Wander: Prayers of Confession and Celebration by Barbara Duguid & Wayne Duguid Houk - Retail Price $14.99

In addition, CBD Reformed is offering a 4-day sale (June 19 - 22) on the following three products:

Enter Here

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.

June 19, 2015

I am a voracious and omnivorous reader. While necessity dictates that I focus much of my attention on Christian books, I supplement with all kinds of other genres. Here are a few of those other books I have enjoyed over the past couple of months. (If you are looking for Christian book suggestions, you can browse my Book Reviews section.)

Empire of DeceptionEmpire of Deception by Dean Jobb. You have heard of Charles Ponzi, I am sure, and his infamous scheme to enrich himself at the expense of others. If history rewarded the greater scandal, the scheme would actually be called the “Koretz Scheme” after Leo Koretz. Koretz was a master swindler who carried on a very similar racket for a much longer period of time and with much greater personal reward. In Empire of Deception Dean Jobb tells the fascinating story of a forgotten figure. And it is not only Jobb who fascinates, but the thousands of people whose naivite and greed made them such easy marks. This tale makes for great summer reading and in the telling provides important lessons for us all. (Buy it)

So You Have Been Publicly ShamedSo You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. All through history shaming has been used as a tactic for punishing and preventing poor behavior. Shaming conjures up images of people in the town square with their head in the stocks. Eventually, though, shaming was banned for simply being too cruel. But shaming has made a sudden and vicious comeback in the digital age. Ronson traces some of the best-known recent cases of public shaming and suggests that we urgently need to address this behavior. While we must insist on justice for those who do wrong, we also need to ensure that we protect the innocent and allow due process before using our social media powers to shame whoever we believe is guilty. (Note: This book provides many real-world examples and, therefore, needs to be rated PG-13, especially because of the kind of language it quotes.) (Buy it)

Wright BrothersThe Wright Brothers by David McCullough. It is for good reason that David McCullough has twice won the Pulitzer Prize. Few historians have his ability to recount history with such skill and verve. His latest, and perhaps final work, is a biography of the Wright brothers. From their humble beginnings as bicycle mechanics in Dayton, Ohio, they achieved lasting, worldwide fame as the first to successfully take to the air in a machine-powered aircraft. This account is both thrilling and fascinating, a quintessentially American tale of opportunity, ingenuity, and determination. No one could tell it better than McCullough. All of his works deserve to be read, and this one is no exception. (Buy it)

Dead WakeDead Wake by Erik Larson. WORLD magazine named Dead Wake their history/biography book of the year and said this: “[Larson] masterfully tells the story of those responsible for sinking the Lusitania and makes us empathize with the ordinary men, women, and children who were war’s collateral damage. That appeal to emotion as well as intellect makes Dead Wake our history/biography book of the year.” I quite agree with their enthusiasm and their assessment. I found just one matter to critique: At times the author tiptoes a little too close to outright mellodrama for my tastes. Still, it is a fascinating and enjoyable read and a wonderful example of popular history. It is another ideal pick for lakeside summer reading. (Buy it)

The Successful Virtual Office in 30 Minutes by Melanie Pinola. You can only expect so much from a low-cost, 30-minute investment. However, if you are looking for some helpful tips on working from a home office or coordinating remote teams, I believe that this book will prove itself worth the time and cost. It offered me several useful refreshers and a handful of valuable tips. Since I read it I have implemented a few of its ideas to good effect. I intend to return to it regularly. (Buy it)

CatmullCreativity Inc. by Ed Catmull. Ed Catmull has been with Pixar Animation Studios since its founding and currently serves as its president. In Creativity Inc. he shares many principles that will be of special interest leaders and creatives. Of course there are thousands of books that share similar principles. But what Catmull’s book different is that he is able to describe them through the many successful and popular movies he has been involved with over the years (including Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and so on). If you have enjoyed Pixar films in the past, and if you are involved in leadership or creativity, you may find this an especially accessible book. (Buy it)

Man Who Saved the UnionThe Man Who Saved the Union by H.W. Brands. I listened to The Man Who Saved the Union as part of my project to read a biography of each American president (see Biographies of U.S. Presidents). Brand’s telling of Grant’s life is lively and written at just the right pace. Of particular interest is Grant’s anonymity and consistent history of failure leading up to the war contrasted with his status as a national figure and presidential candidate by the end of the war. (Buy it)