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Tim Challies

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July 20, 2015

The Bible gives us many motivations to do battle with sin and to persist in putting sin to death. We battle sin because of a newfound desire for righteousness. We battle sin out of love and loyalty to Christ. We battle sin out of hatred for the consequences of sin. But one reason Christians too often overlook is this: we battle sin as an expression of love for others.

In the first eight verses of 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul commands the Christians in Thessalonica to put to death all expressions of sexual sin. They are to abstain from sexual immorality and instead learn how to control their bodies in holiness and honor. They are to trade the passionate and out-of-control lust of the pagan for the loving self-control of the Christian. And as Paul completes this brief teaching on sexual immorality, he turns immediately to a related topic: the love of one Christian for another. When he has finished condemning their lust, he affirms and encourages their love.

I am convinced that there is a connection here. As Paul tells the church to turn away from lust, he tells them to turn toward love. It’s easy to see why: lust destroys love. A person driven by selfish lust cannot act in selfless love. A person who is controlled by lustful desires and lustful deeds no longer has a mind filled with Spirit-motivated desires and a life marked by Spirit-motivated deeds. The area of lust, especially as it is so commonly expressed in pornography, may be the clearest example of the value of putting sin to death as an expression of love for others.

A commitment to pornography destroys the ability to take seriously a command like this one, which Paul gave to Timothy: “[Treat] older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Tim. 5:2). A man who is dedicating himself to pornography, who is objectifying women for his own gratification, cannot treat younger—or older—women with purity and dignity. His lust destroys his ability to love.

A commitment to pornography destroys the ability of a man to enter into church leadership. Paul also said to Timothy, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (3:1). Young men who will not do battle with this sin are rendering themselves unavailable for ministry. There are men with great God-given abilities who could be stepping out as the next generation of Christian leaders, except that this sin continues to dominate their life. If they will not put it to death for their own sake, surely they can put it to death as an expression of love for a church that needs strong leaders.

In all of these ways and so many more, a Christian’s lust interferes with the ability to love. In all of these ways and so many more, the Christian could express love for his brothers and sisters by putting sin to death.

Image credit: Shutterstock

July 20, 2015

Here are a few Kindle deals: The brand new John Newton on the Christian Life by Tony Reinke is $5.99, as is Jonathan Aitken’s excellent biography aptly titled John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace. On a different note, consider Rosaria Butterfield’s The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert which is just $0.99 for the new expanded edition. (Also, I noticed Downton Abbey is on sale on Blu Ray today.)

Police or Pastor? - After an incident of domestic violence, who should a woman call first, her pastor or the police?

Edge of Stability - This photographer has captured some incredible footage of storms and other bad weather.

An Ugly Mirror for America - I’m glad to see CNN dedicating some space to the ugly situation with Planned Parenthood. “The detail is up for lawyers to debate. What matters about this video is what it appears to reveal about the reality behind America’s sanitized image of abortion; the reality of what an abortion is and how it morally compromises us all.”

You Can Do it, Baby! - “Our culture is rich with esteem-boosting platitudes for young dreamers, but the assurances are dishonest and dangerous.”

Ink - I enjoyed watching this short celebration of ink. Yes, ink—plain old ink on paper.

Praying the Bible - You can sign up to join Don Whitney on a 5-day journey to learn a simple, practical, and biblical approach to prayer that will turn duty into delight.

Too Busy for God’s Word? - Bambi Moore has some encouraging and challenging words for all of us, but perhaps moms in particular.

The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 AM for a glass of water is a child. We have that kind of access. —Tim Keller

Keller

 

July 19, 2015

I do not remember when or how I first came across the 4 questions that John Wesley proposed we consider when spending money, but it was probably in a Randy Alcorn book. Wesley believed in the value of introspection, perhaps to a fault, but understood that he was accountable to God for the way he used each and every penny. These questions guided him and I think they merit our consideration as well.

His first question was a foundational one. “In spending this money, am I acting as if I owned it, or am I acting as the Lord’s trustee?” In other words, he always wanted to check his own heart to make sure that when he took out his wallet, it was with an understanding that he would be spending God’s money on God’s behalf. He wanted to always remind himself who actually owned the money.

The second question was this: “What Scripture passage requires me to spend this money in this way?” He did not just want to know that the Bible allowed him to spend it that way, but actually required him to do so. He wanted to spend every bit of money in a way that God had commanded, not just permitted.

The third question he would ask is this: “Can I offer up this purchase as a sacrifice to the Lord?” Wesley wanted to be able to let go of anything he purchased and make it an offering to the Lord. He wanted to be able to say, “I made the purchase, I completed the sale, but I did it for you. It’s yours to use as you will.”

Wesley’s final question was, “Will God reward me for this expenditure at the resurrection of the just?” He wanted to know that when he stood before the Lord and this purchase was weighed in the balances, he would hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Those are 4 great questions that bring biblical wisdom to bear on the way we use our money.

July 18, 2015

Here are a couple of Kindle deals for you: The Lost History of Christianity by Philip Jenkins ($1.99); All that Jesus Asks by Stan Guthrie ($1.99); The Christian Husband by Bob Lepine ($1.99).

Eylenad is a beautiful film that displays the beauty of Iceland. You know the drill: HD and full-screen.

Tomorrow you will be gathering with God’s people to worship him together. Are you prepared?

I do not often link to The Onion (fake news) but in this case I will make an exception for this great headlne: “Child’s Description Of Heaven During Near-Death Experience Specifically Mentions Book Deal.”

Sometimes we think our prayer requests are too trivial—why would I bother God with something like that? Do it anyway. God is glad to hear your prayers.

Steven Kryger provides his rationale for removing extremely effective pop-up ads from his site. I like the way his mind is tracking here.

Aaron Denlinger continues his look at some Scottish martyrs with a brief biography of Helen Stirk who, in 1544, was charged with meeting to read and study an English Bible.

It’s true: God will give you more than you can handle. But not more than he can handle.

Thanks to Avant Ministries for sponsoring the blog this week with The Spiritual Impact of ISIS.

We must not allow anything in our churches to compete with the high visibility of the gospel. —Ray Ortlund

Ortlund

 

July 17, 2015

This week’s sponsor of Free Stuff Friday is CBD Reformed. As they always do they are giving away a great prize package. There will be 5 winners this week, and each of them will receive the following 3 books:

  • Everything a Child Should Know About God by Kenneth Taylor - Retail price $19.99
  • Fighting Satan: Knowing His Weaknesses, Strategies, and Defeat by Joel Beeke - Retail price $12.00
  • The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller - Retail Price $16.00

In addition, CBD Reformed is offering a 4-day sale (July 17 - 20) 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.

July 17, 2015

Here are a few Kindle deals that may be worth a peek: The Religions Next Door by Marvin Olasky ($0.99); The Illustrated Life of Paul by Charles Quarles ($0.99); Raising Responsible Teens in a Digital World by Brian Housman ($0.99); A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Enhanced edition) ($0.99); Key Words of the Christian Life by Warren Wiersbe ($0.99). (If you are especially interested in knowing or praying the Psalms, take a look at Westminster’s deal on the ESV Psalter.)

Long-Term Fruitfulness or Short-Term Flashiness - Jamie Brown has something for you to consider if you are involved in leading music at your church.

The Pacific Crest Trail in Three Minutes - It’s not the best video you’ll ever see, but it’s still a stunning look at what you’ll encounter if you hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

The Grotesque Business of Planned Parenthood - “It’s hard to have an honest debate about abortion in this country, when the issue is so often shrouded in evasion and deception. That’s why we all owe a debt to Deborah Nucatola. She is willing to tell it the way it is.”

So Cute, So Creepy - Here’s some amazing photographs by a guy who loves to take pictures of caterpillars. Yes, caterpillars. And the photos are stunning.

Focus on Flow - Email really is amazing disruptive to your creative work. This article calls you to focus on flow rather than email.

Online Bible Resources - Nathan Busenitz provides a list of free, bookmark-worthy resources that will help with Bible study or sermon preparation.

The Day After a Bad Night - Here’s what to do the day after you’ve had a sleepless night.

Jesus had every reason to be proud yet he was humble, and we have every reason to be humble yet we’re proud. —Burk Parsons 

Parsons

 

July 16, 2015

I am a committed blogger, but a sporadical journaler. If blogging is thinking out loud and in public, journaling is thinking quietly and in private. I am convinced that both practices have value, and I have often regretted my lack of dedication to the discipline of keeping a journal.

This regret was heightened as I encountered a little postscript at the end of one of John Flavel’s books. Having written a couple hundred pages of theologically-dense teaching on God’s providence, he closes with a simple plea to Christians to maintain a journal that records specific instances of God’s compassion and care. He does not advocate a tell-all diary, but a prudent, humble, and appropriate record of our experiences and observations of God’s providence. He suggests that keeping this kind of journal can benefit and enrich not only ourselves but also other believers. He offers these 3 helpful instructions.

First, understand that your memory is far too slippery to entrust with all of the amazing providences you have encountered in your life. It is true that we do not easily forget the things that greatly affect us, but still, new impressions have a way of overwriting existing ones. One wise man has said, “My memory never failed me because I never trusted it.” Writing down our important memories secures against forgetting them and has the added benefit of making them useful to others. Why would you carry all of this treasure to heaven with you? By writing down your memories you can leave them as a legacy to those who follow you. The loss of your money, your property, and your possessions counts for nothing next to losing the record of God’s faithfulness to you.

Second, do not simply record these treasures in a book, but also ensure that you refer to them often. When you experience wants or needs or difficulties, or when temptations assault you, turn to the written record of God’s past graces. When when are in any kind of distress it will do your soul good to see how God has faithfully delivered you from similar situations in the past.

Third, be careful not to diminish your past difficulties and dangers when comparing them to newer ones. Whatever is beside us always appears most significant to us. Just as the land seems to shrink as the sailor sails away from it, so those troubling situations can seem to grow smaller as time increases the distance between them and us. By reading the accounts of God’s mercies you will remember that in the past you have faced dangers just as great and fears just as terrifying. For this reason make sure you do not only record the facts, but also your emotional and spiritual experience of them. Write them as if you will need to cling to them in the future.

These are Flavel’s 3 simple instructions on maintaining the most helpful kind of spiritual journal.

The End

If you have been reading The Mystery of Providence with me, this brings us to the end of our reading. I hope and trust you enjoyed the book. I found it deeply encouraging and hope to return to it often in the future. Thanks for reading this classic with me!

Image credit: Shutterstock

July 16, 2015

Planned Parenthood, Abortion, and the Conscience of a Nation - You will benefit from reading Dr. Mohler’s analysis of the breaking news surrounding Planned Parenthood. His conclusion: “A nation that will allow this, will allow anything.”

Thank You, Mark Oppenheimer - Like Andrew Walker, I tend to believe that the sexual radicals are overplaying their hand.

The Sanctified Introvert - Here’s a brief, wise word that applies to introverts (and extroverts, I suppose).

Why Is Evolution so Widely Believed? - We have all wondered this one, I think: If there are so many good scientific arguments against evolution, why is it so widely believed?

7 Gospel-Centered Principles for Protecting Your Marriage - There is lots of wisdom in this article.

How I Started Praying the Bible - Here’s a good follow-up to yesterday’s review of Don Whitney’s new book Praying the Bible (my review).

This Is Not Natural - You eat a lot of chemicals. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

How great an injustice it is to know about eternal suffering and do nothing.  —Michael Oh

Oh