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November 18, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include one of my favorite Michael Horton books, Putting Amazing Back into Grace ($2.99). Also consider Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God by C.J. Mahaney ($2.99); Going Public by Bobby Jamieson ($4.99); Scripture Alone by James White ($2.99); and these 3 from Christian Focus: Joseph by Liam Goligher, Jonah by Colin Smith, and Daniel by Sean Michael Lucas ($2.99 each). You may want to download Don’t Follow Your Heart by Jon Bloom which is available free at Desiring God.

10 Questions about Adventism

Nathan Busenitz is finding out what I learned a little while ago: That critiquing Seventh Day Adventism brings about some harsh responses.

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. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.”

If We Perish, We Perish

Amy makes an important point here: “It’s ironic that two months ago, when a drowned toddler was the Face of the Refugee, there was only criticism for those countries who didn’t open their arms wide.  Now, when the Face of the Refugee is a terrorist, those same doors are slamming shut.”

How One Man’s Face Became Another Man’s Face

(Note: Since I shared this today, NY Mag has added an inappropriate ad for another article in the right sidebar. My apologies.) “Patrick Hardison’s face was not always his own. Three months ago, it belonged to a young Brooklyn bike mechanic.” This article (which contains a handful of swear words) describes a procedure on the very frontier of medical science: a face transplant.

Christmas Books

Westminster Books has deals this week on Christmas books. There are some good choices there for individuals and families.

This Day in 1874. 141 years ago today the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was founded in Cleveland. *

Talking with Catholics about Jesus

Mark Gilbert: “Here are my answers to some great questions a student at a theological college asked me about talking with Catholics about Jesus.”

For the Love

TGC has a helpful review of Jen Hatmaker’s popular new book For the Love. They point out strengths and weaknesses and make it sound like there are probably better books to read.


No man more truly loves God than he that is most fearful to offend Him. —Thomas Adams

Protect Your Family with Circle
November 17, 2015

The Internet has become an indispensable resource for the home and family, but every parent has grappled with properly managing and overseeing that resource. We all know the dangers that lurk out there, yet still believe in the value of maintaining access and the necessity of training our children to use it wisely. As the Internet matures, we are gaining some great new tools to help us.

DeviceCircle is an interesting new device and app that allows parents to manage all of their home’s connected devices. Recently Kickstarted into existence, it is now available to the public. Circle, which looks like nothing more than a tiny little white box, manages every device connected to your home network and does this by offering parents a collection of services that can reduce or deny the functionality of those devices.

The short form of my review is this: Consider buying it. I think it will prove well worth the $99 investment. (Also, it has a 30-day no-questions-asked return policy, greatly reducing any risk and allowing a thorough testing period.)

What follows is the longer form of my review. I will tell you about my experience with the product and suggest where it may be especially helpful.


Circle Setup Setting up Circle is quick and easy. While the Circle app which configures and controls the device is currently only available for iOS devices (iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad), Circle manages every device that connects to your home network, regardless of platform. In other words, you need an iOS device to do setup and management, but it will manage and oversee every kind of device—personal computers running Windows, mobile phones running Android, PlayStations, smart TVs, and so on. Circle does promise that in 2016 they will extend this management software to Android.

Setup involves plugging in your Circle, wirelessly connecting the device you will use to manage your Circle, and following a few simple steps to connect Circle to your router. This takes no more than 2 minutes and is guided entirely by the app.

Once that initial setup is complete, you will need to create a user account for each person in your home, a process that takes around 30 seconds per person. Then you simply browse through the listing of all the devices connected to your router and assign them to the appropriate users—your iPhone is associated with your account, your son’s PlayStation with your son’s account, your wife’s laptop with your wife’s account, and so on. Devices that are shared by multiple users are added to a general home account.

November 17, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include Christians in an Age of Wealth by Craig Blomberg ($3.99); Their Rock Is Not Like Our Rock by Daniel Strange ($4.99); John Wesley’s Teachings by Thomas Oden ($2.99); Urban Legends of the New Testament by David Croteau ($4.99).

Amazon also has quite a list of Ravensburger games and puzzles on sale today. They have some excellent ones.

Discipleship, Rest and Reading

It has been a while since Thabiti Anyabwile last updated his blog, but he came back strong with this article. It’s geared toward pastors but has wisdom for all of us.

When You Indulge in Porn, You Participate in Sex Slavery

Andy Naselli makes the case. I do not disagree.

We Cannot Look the Other Way

No, we cannot. David Altrogge wants to tell you about this documentary 3801 Lancaster: American Tragedy about the infamous Kermit Gosnell case. I have seen it and recommend it.

Immigration Policy

Kevin DeYoung has penned a really strong article on immigration policy and some of the dangers of elevating compassion as the primary decision maker.

This Day in 3 BC. According to early church father Clement of Alexandria (c.155–c.220), Jesus was born 2,018 years ago today. Merry Christmas? *

Irony’s Dead And Planned Parenthood Killed It

Here’s a brief take on Planned Parenthood’s outrageous tweet.


God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. —C.S. Lewis

A Call for Christian Extremists
November 16, 2015

The effects of extremism have been on display all weekend. Even this morning they are splashed across every television screen, every news site, the front page of every newspaper. The attacks in Paris have shown us extremism at its most brutal and bloody, the kind that celebrates death, destruction, and mayhem.

But did you know that the Bible calls Christians to extremism as well? It calls Christians to be zealots in a cause, to go to great lengths to carry out extreme deeds in the name of Jesus. We see this in Paul’s little letter to Titus where we are reminded of Jesus Christ, “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

We, too, are to be extremists. We, too, are to go to extreme measures to serve our God. And here are our marching orders: Do good. We are to bring glory to God by doing good for others. Allah may be glorified in maimed bodies and blood-soaked city streets, but God is glorified in acts of love and deeds of kindness. He is glorified in deeds done not to earn favor with God, but deeds done as an expression of gratitude because we have already received the favor of God. God is glorified as we serve others in his name. God is honored in the costly sacrifice of love.

Jesus himself spoke of the primacy of good works: “Let your light shine before others,” he said, “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). His friend Peter said it as well: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles [those who do not adhere to Christian teaching] honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). The Apostle Paul would also echo the theme: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). The theme pervades and dominates the New Testament. Does it pervade and dominate your life?

We make God’s love and presence known in these good works, these deeds done for the glory of God and the good of other people. These deeds communicate something of the heart of God and his love for mankind. And so he calls us to take every possible opportunity to love others with the love of God. We are to be thoughtful and creative, to apply ingenuity in our attempts to shock others with our deeds of love and kindness. We are to give generously of our time, talents, money, and whatever else God has given us. We are to forget about ourselves in service to him, to be willing to face pain, harm, or even death as we do these deeds.

So Christian, with zealotry on every heart and in every mind today, perhaps this is a time to ask about your own level of extremism. Are you eager to do good for others? Is this what motivates you? Is this the natural expression of your faith in Jesus Christ? Could it be said that you are a good works zealot? God calls you to nothing less.

Image credit: Shutterstock

November 16, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester ($3.99); To the Glory of God by James Montgomery Boice ($1.99); A Theology for Family Ministry by Michael Anthony ($2.99); and three by Joel Beeke: Meet the Puritans ($2.99), Taking Hold of God ($2.99), and Puritan Evangelism ($0.99).

Rise of the College Crybullies

Here’s an interesting analysis of what’s going on at college campuses. “The status of victim has been weaponized at campuses across the nation, but there is at least one encouraging sign.” In a similar vein: A Crisis Our Universities Deserve.

The Islamic Revolution Comes to Paris

David Murray: “If the world is spared long enough, I believe that many will look back on these years and say, ‘That was a revolution. The world was radically and irreversibly transformed in the first 10-15 years of the 21st century.’”

Who Do I Make the Effort to Notice?

Amy provides an international perspective on the situation in Paris. “We mourn more deeply when the tragedy happens closer to us. We become more frightened when we can picture it also happening to us.” The message from Uganda is similar.

What’s a Budget?

Here’s a good way of understanding a family budget: “A budget is the numerical expression of an individual’s or family’s mission and priorities.”

This Day in 1855. 160 years ago today, “Scottish missionary-explorer David Livingstone first sees and names Victoria Falls (in modern Zimbabwe) during his first missionary journey though Africa.” *

‘I’m an Evangelical’: Rescuing the Term

Stephen Nichols: “To be an evangelical is to be about the gospel, and the gospel is ultimately content-rich.”

The Funniest Animal Photos of 2015

Sometimes nature is beautiful. Sometimes it’s goofy.

PDF Expert 5

This iPhone app is usually $9.99 but for a short time is free.


On this side of the cross misery persists, but the scales are tipped in favor of joy. —Ed Welch

Letters to the Editor
November 15, 2015

A couple of months ago I made the decision to remove the comment section on my blog. I did so largely because comments can only succeed where there is good moderation, and I was increasingly unable to provide that. In lieu of comments I have decided to accept (and encourage) letters to the editor. Today I share some of the letters to the editor that have come in this week—letters that are representative of the ones I received this week. I would invite those of you who read the blog regularly to consider reading these letters as a part of the back-and-forth between writer and readers.

November 14, 2015

Like so many others, I sat transfixed last night, caught by the horror of what was unfolding in Paris. What is there to do but mourn the depravity of man. Denny Burk asks you to consider praying the words of Psalm 10.

Three Joel Beeke books are on sale for Kindle: Meet the Puritans ($2.99), Taking Hold of God ($2.99), and Puritan Evangelism ($0.99). You may also enjoy We Believe by Matthew Sims ($2.99) and Crazy Love by Francis Chan ($2.99).

The Illusion of Respectability

You will enjoy reading about Allen Guelzo’s first meeting with Cornelius Van Til. “ ‘Dr. Van Til, why did you decide to devote your life to the study of philosophy and the teaching of apologetics?’ And I then sat back to allow the metaphysics free room to roll. Van Til never blinked.”

22 Mistakes Pastors Make in Practicing Church Discipline

Jonathan Leeman lays out a long list of ways that pastors can go wrong in practicing church discipline.

Making Jesus Central in Your Family’s Life

Jamie Brown offers “some important foundational ways you can help your kids see and savor Jesus Christ.”

Why I’m Complementarian

Gavin Ortlund explains why he holds the complementarian position.

The Mustard Seed

Here’s an enjoyable short film for you: “Jesus compared the kingdom of God to one of the smallest seeds on Earth and over 2000 years later, the truth of this teaching can be seen all across the globe.”

Capture and Save Great Quotes

Here’s a bit of guidance on how to capture and save the great quotes you encounter while reading.

This Day in 1741. 274 years ago today at 27 years old, preacher and revivalist, George Whitefield, married widow Elizabeth Burnell. *

Absurd Creature of the Week

Wired’s absurd creature of the week is always an interesting read.

The Reformed Holiday Gift Guide

I’m grateful to Missional Wear for sponsoring the blog this week with “The Reformed Holiday Gift Guide.”


Only God can make the depraved heart desire God. —John Piper