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Tim Challies

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February 22, 2015

This week I read some of Richard Sibbe’s work The Love of Christ and was struck by an excerpt from one of his sermons in which he writes about the presence of Christ in and among his people. Here is how he wants to encourage you:

What a comfort is this to Christians, that they have the presence of Christ so far forth as shall make them happy, and as the earth will afford. Nothing but heaven, or rather Christ in heaven itself, will content the child of God. In the mean time, his presence in the congregation makes their souls, as it were, heaven. If the king’s presence, who carries the court with him, makes all places where he is a court, so Christ he carries a kind of heaven with him. Wheresoever he is, his presence hath with it life, light, comfort, strength, and all; for one beam of his countenance will scatter all the clouds of grief whatsoever. It is no matter where we are, so Christ is with us. If with the three children in a fiery furnace, it is no matter, if ‘a fourth be there also,’ Dan. 3:25. So if Christ be with us, the flames nor nothing shall hurt us. If in a dungeon, as Paul and Silas were, Acts 16:24, if Christ’s presence be there, by his Spirit to enlarge our souls, all is comfortable whatsoever.

It changeth the nature of all things, sweeteneth everything, besides that sweetness which it brings unto the soul, by the presence of the Spirit; as we see in the Acts, when they had received the Holy Ghost more abundantly, they cared not what they suffered, regarded not whipping; nay, were glad ‘that they were accounted worthy to suffer anything for Christ,’ Acts 5:41. Whence came this fortitude? From the presence of Christ, and the Comforter which he had formerly promised.

So let us have the Spirit of Christ that comes from him; then it is no matter what our condition be in the world. Upon this ground let us fear nothing that shall befall us in God’s cause, whatsoever it is. We shall have a spirit of prayer at the worst. God never takes away the spirit of supplication from his children, but leaves them that, until at length he possess them fully of their desires. In all Christ’s delays, let us look unto the cause, and to our carriage therein; renew our repentance, that we may be in a fit state to go to God, and God to come to us. Desire him to fit us for prayer and holy communion with him, that we may never doubt of his presence.

February 21, 2015

Carl Trueman has wise words about Bondage to Pornography. “One would not allow alcoholics to have the last word on liquor licensing laws or crack addicts on drug policy. Yet when it comes to sexual morality, that is the kind of world in which we now live.”

This is a good one: Spurgeon on Christians who Rail Against the Times

Michael Wittmer writes about Rejoicing in Lament.

You have heard of the florist who has been sued because of her decision not to provide flowers for a gay wedding. Here is her response to the Attorney General’s offer.

To Shill a Mockingbird shows that lots of people are trying to figure out where this sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird came from.

Thanks to RPTS for sponsoring the blog this week with their article Where Professors Learn.

What I appreciated most about this article on Church Splits is the comparison to a split atom.

Take a saint, and put him into any condition, and he knows how to rejoice in the Lord. —Walter Cradock

Cradock

February 20, 2015

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by a first-time sponsor: Zoe Clothing Company: Christian Apparel For the Whole Family. Here is what they say about their company:

Zoe Clothing Company is a Christian design company based out of Los Angeles, passionate about merging the truth of God’s Word and the beauty of thoughtful design into clothes that matter. Our desire is to be a vessel by which men and women can express with their style what they hide in their hearts, and our hope is for the light of Christ to shine brightly in the world as our customers seek to be lamps in darkness, cities set on hills.

Our shirts are printed with hymn lyrics and Bible verses that demonstrate the beautiful gospel message with which God has illumined our lives. Whether it’s telling the world that we are pilgrims living in a place that is not our home, or reminding our children that they are precious in His sight, we hope our clothes aid in your witness to the world!

There will be 5 winners this week, and each winner will receive 1 shirt of their choice.

Zoe

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.

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