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

Tim Challies

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July 14, 2014

I’ve got some new Kindle deals for you today. To Live is Christ to Die Is Gain by Matt Chandler ($3.99); The Message of Acts by John Stott ($2.99); Ten Myths About Calvinism by Kenneth Stewart ($2.99);  The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever ($0.99); Learning Evangelism From Jesus by Jerram Barrs ($2.99); Reaching the Lost by Bobby Jamieson ($0.99); Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? by Thomas Miller ($2.99); Christian Focus has some of their Jungle Doctor books on sale ($2.99 each): Jungle Doctor Spots a Leopard, Jungle Doctor and the Whirlwind, Jungle Doctor’s EnemiesEyes on Jungle Doctor, Jungle Doctor’s Crooked Dealings.

Does He Need to Confess Adultery? - I appreciate Russell Moore’s answer to this difficult question: Does a man who had a brief affair several years ago need to confess it to his wife?

Cheap at Sea, Pricey on the Plate - Most weekends I enjoy reading a few longform articles. This one from The Globe and Mail was quite interesting as it simply follows a lobster from the sea (where it’s cheap) to the plate (where it’s expensive).

Arminianism FAQ - Roger Olson is probably the foremost champion of Arminianism today. He has put together a helpful FAQ that answers common questions about Arminianism. Start at that link and navigate to parts 2 and following. (I remain a Calvinist, but am glad to have firm answers to these questions.)

Open Letter to Gospel-Centered Preachers - Nick has an open letter to gospel-centered preachers. What he says is worth considering.

The Wonder of the Word - Matt Boswell considers the wonder of the Word in corporate worship.

Working Out Before Work - Here, from QZ, is a complete guide to working out before work.

Little learning and much pride come of hasty reading. —C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon

July 13, 2014

Who is the most important person in your church? On one level it’s kind of a silly question to ask. Yet in his book Healed at Last, Scott Blackwell provides an answer that is both sweet and encouraging. He tells about his friend Steve who has been profoundly disabled since birth.

He has been forever wheelchair-bound, and his arm and head movements are often uncontrolled or controlled with difficulty—especially when he gets excited. His speech is difficult to understand, and his vocabulary is limited. Because he was born in the 1950s, those who cared for him made certain assumptions about his ability to learn, respond and understand. He was institutionalized and given minimal stimulation and therapy—such was the state of rehabilitation for the profoundly disabled back then. It was assumed he would never be able to read, so he was never taught. Now, in his fifties, Steve is thoroughly dependent on the aid of others. He requires assistance to eat, drink, bathe, dress, toilet, and so on. Steve also constantly battles the kind of respiratory and gastro-intestinal disorders that life lived full-time in a wheelchair bring. All this is so much more difficult to witness knowing that trapped within Steve’s dysfunctional body is a sharp and inquiring mind that was left untended and ignored for years.

Yet, as Blackwell points out, Steve finds joy despite such severe challenges.

Steve is the most joy-filled and enthusiastic believer in Jesus I think I’ve ever met. He’s bright, intelligent, witty, stubborn, passionate and compassionate. He holds down a job and, every time I talk with him, he insists that he is far too busy. His grin and his “G’day” is one hundred percent genuine for every person he meets. He insists on having his Bible open at the right passage with the rest of us, even though he cannot read it. The phenomenal thing about Steve is that somehow he manages to view every day of struggle as another day of triumph, and this he does, by his own testimony, through his faith in Christ. Hope and trust in God’s promises burn brighter in Steve than in anyone else I’ve ever met. In our church it’s impossible to preach about the return of Jesus, or the great resurrection day, or even death, without being interrupted by the man in the front who is madly flailing his arms around and shouting with excitement, “No more chair!”

After telling more about Steve’s deep faith and his sure hope that one day he will stand on his feet before his Savior, Blackwell says this:

Personally, I think it is possible that this makes Steve the most important person in our church. Once, during a rare moment of melancholy, he asked me why I thought God had caused him to live out his life in a chair. I thought for a long time before I said I didn’t know for certain, but that maybe his disability and his chair were meant for our teaching, blessing and benefit. I suggested that, possibly, it was God’s intention that through Steve our church might learn great lessons about patience, love, endurance, joy, compassion, hope and faith. I said to him (and I believe it is true) that he is perhaps our most dynamic and effective evangelist and pastoral worker. His look of surprise and shock actually made me laugh out loud. It had never occurred to him that this was what he was for us. He was just Steve.

Through my friend Steve, God has worked wonderful deeds of spiritual growth and maturity in our church.

July 12, 2014

We arrived safely to our quiet spot in South Carolina, after a very long and scenic drive that took us through ONNYPAWVVATNNCSC. And here we are. Again, it will be light blogging for the next week as I focus on unwinding. (But I can’t not write at least a bit since it is the most relaxing part of my life.)

A shout-out goes to the folk at Bristol Caverns in Bristol, TN. We dropped by to take a tour of the caverns and met our tour guide Doug who turned out to be a reader of this site. The caverns are well worth the hour-long tour.

This Is Mindy - This is a hard-to-read article from former porn producer Donny. He describes how he recruited a girl named Mindy and then destroyed her life. The point of the article: there is a terrible hidden cost to pornography.

The Vanishing Screwball - Baseball lovers may enjoy this longform article from the New York Times on the screwball and why almost nobody throws it anymore.

The Unexpected Answers of God - Jon Bloom explains that we are often unprepared for the kind of answers we receive from God. And I think he’s absolutely right.

Foods that Taste Bad - Ever wondered why that glass or orange juice tastes unbearable after brushing your teeth? This article explains.

Theology, the Last Resort - Here is some thought-provoking stuff from J.D. Payne.

The Vatican’s Bank - Did you know the Vatican has a bank? Neither did it. Foreign Policy says that its history “reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages.”

When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head. —C.H. Spurgeon\

Spurgeon

July 11, 2014

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by our friends at Harvest House Publishers. They are giving away 5 prize sets today, and each of the prizes will contain the following 3 books:

  • LifelinesLifelines for Tough Times by Mike Fabarez. “When tough times hit, we often find ourselves vulnerable—to doubt, fear, worry, even depression. We ask, “Does God care? Has He forgotten me?” So why does God allow suffering? Author Mike Fabarez—who is well acquainted with deep pain himself as the father of a special-needs child and as a pastor who has counseled many through life’s hurts—looks to the truths of Scripture for answers. Along the way, he shares… how complete trust in God alone can restore your confidence and hope; the power of focusing on God’s eternal goals for you in life’s temporary setbacks; God’s promises to love and protect you no matter what happens. This book will not only help you understand why God allows suffering—it will provide you with the resources to stand strong, rest in God’s care, and endure!”
  • Things That Go Bump in the Church by Mike Abendroth, Clint Archer & Byron Yawn. “What does the Bible say about the important topics you hear about in sermons every week? Authors Mike Abendroth, Clint Archer, and Byron Yawn explore issues where confusion abounds — critical issues such as: Hell: What does the Bible say about hell being a real place of future punishment? Demons: Just how much influence do demons really have in the life of a Christian? The secret to overcoming fear is knowledge. As you carefully compare your church doctrine with what the Bible says, you’ll gain confidence in knowing the truth and be able to discern and apply it. The more you know what God’s Word says about things that go bump in the church, the less hesitant you will feel about discussing them with others and living according to them.”
  • PreachingThe Kind of Preaching God Blesses by Steve Lawson. “A powerful must-read for every minister who desires to preach God’s Word in a way that truly exalts the Lord and nourishes His people.  In 1 Corinthians 2:1-9, the apostle Paul wrote about the keys to effective preaching. In this compact yet dynamic book, readers will learn about… the priority of biblical preaching—an urgent call to every minister; the poverty of modern preaching—what is lacking in today’s pulpits; the preeminence of Christ in preaching—making Jesus the dominant theme; the power of the Spirit in preaching—replacing self-confidence with God-dependence; This is a passionate appeal to Christ-centered preaching—the kind that God blesses, the kind that brings real revival in people’s lives. Great for pastors, Bible teachers, and Christian students aspiring to a teaching ministry.”

Enter to Win

Again, there are 5 prize packages to win. And 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.

July 11, 2014

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Running Scared by Ed Welch (free); The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative by Steven Mathewson ($2.99); Union with Christ by Todd Billings ($3.99); Promises of Grace by Bryan Chapell ($1.99); Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore (just a good, fun summer read) ($3.99).

eBooks for Sale - Westminster Books has begun offering eBooks. And to get things started, you can get 2 books of your choice published by Crossway for just $1.99 each. You can see the list of books here.

China Beachhead - WORLD has an important report from China: “Pro-life efforts are growing in the nation with the most abortions. But saving lives in the womb is an enormous challenge—even within the church.”

Don’t Touch the Button - Here’s why you should never touch the elevator buttons when you’re in a hospital.

Unbroken - Here’s a trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation of Unbroken. (The book is just $4.99 at Amazon.)

Entangled in Photons - “If you’re after science that makes you question your place in the universe, focus on that phrase ‘light years’, one that astronomers use so casually.”

How Do You Prepare Your Teenager for Adulthood? - Here are a couple of suggestions from Brian Croft.

Our little time of suffering is not worthy of our first night’s welcome home to Heaven. —Samuel Rutherford

Rutherford

July 10, 2014

My vacation begins today and that means I’ll be scaling back my writing for a week or so. It will be either A La Carte or another article most days, not both. I’d love your prayers since we have a lot of driving to do while we head very far south (and since we’ve got Aussies, of all people, taking care of our place while we’re gone!).

Here are some Kindle deals: Reckless Abandon by David Sitton ($0.99); 7 Truths That Changed the World by Kenneth Samples ($2.99); From Tyndale to Madison by Michael Farris ($2.99); Christless Christianity by Michael Horton ($3.49); Beyond Belief by Josh Hamilton ($2.99).

Comfort for Christian Parents of Unconverted Children - Jim Elliff: “All Christian parents wish that God would show us something to do to secure our child’s salvation, and then ‘we’ll do it with all our might’ because we love our child so much. Yet, God has not made salvation the effect of somebody else’s faith; our son or daughter must come to Christ on his or her own.”

Why Do Catholics Pray to Mary? - This episode of Ask Pastor John has Michael Reeves as a guest and he explains the history behind Roman Catholics and their devotion to Mary.

War on Religious Liberty - Denny Burk points to a chilling new front in the war on religious liberty in the United States.

Married to Darwin - Marvin Olasky: “Theistic evolutionists say we must bend or die, but when we bend on something so basic, where do we stop? Is our chief task to glorify our Creator or to be glorified by other creatures? When Darwin trumps the Bible, what are we worshipping?”

A Sexual Revolution for Young Evangelicals? - Are we in the midst of a sexual revolution for young evangelicals? Russell Moore says no.

Evangelicals Who Are Not Evangelicals - Thomas Kidd says “There are at least four types of Christians who often get cast as evangelicals who really are not evangelicals, if that term has any meaning.”

I would not give much for all that can be  done by sermons if we do not preach Christ by our lives. —D.L. Moody

Moody

July 09, 2014

I have written about envy before and have referred to it as “the lost sin.” Envy is a sin I am prone to, though I feel like it is one of those sins I have battled hard against and, as I’ve battled, experienced a lot of God’s grace. It is not nearly as prevalent in my life as it once was. Recently, though, I felt it threatening to rear its ugly head again and spent a bit of time reflecting on it. Here are three brief observations about envy.

Envy is Competitive

I am a competitive person and I believe it is this competitive streak that allows envy to make its presence felt in my life. Envy is a sin that makes me feel resentment or anger or sadness because another person has something or another person is something that I want for myself. Envy makes me aware that another person has some advantage, some good thing, that I want for myself. And there’s more: Envy makes me want that other person not to have it. This means that there are at least three evil components to envy: the deep discontent that comes when I see that another person has what I want; the desire to have it for myself; and the desire for it to be taken from him.

Do you see it? Envy always competes. Envy demands that there is always a winner and a loser. And envy almost always suggests that I, the envious person, am the loser.

Envy Always Wins

Envy always wins, and if envy wins, I lose. Here’s the thing about envy: If I get that thing I want, I lose, because it will only generate pride and idolatry within me. I will win that competition I have created, and become proud of myself. Envy promises that if I only get that thing I want, I will finally be satisfied, I will finally be content. But that is a lie. If I get that thing, I will only grow proud. I lose.

On the other hand, if I do not get what I want, if I lose that competition, I am prone to sink into depression or despair. Envy promises that if I do not get that thing I want, my life is not worth living because I am a failure. Again, I lose.

In both cases, I lose and envy wins. Envy always wins, unless I put that sin to death.

Envy Divides

Envy divides people who ought to be allies. Envy drives people apart who ought to be able to work closely together. Envy is clever in that it will cause me to compare myself to people who are a lot like me, not people who are unlike me. I am unlikely to envy the sports superstar or the famous musician because the distance between them and me is too great. Instead, I am likely to envy the pastor who is right down the street from me but who has a bigger congregation or nicer building; I am likely to envy the writer whose books or blog are more popular than mine. Where I should be able to work with these people based on similar interests and similar desires, envy will instead drive me away from them. Envy will make them my competitors and my enemies rather than my allies and co-laborers.

What’s the cure for envy? I can’t say it better than Charles Spurgeon: “The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the divine presence, worshiping God and communing with Him all the day long, however long the day may seem. True religion lifts the soul into a higher region, where the judgment becomes more clear and the desires are more elevated. The more of heaven there is in our lives, the less of earth we shall covet. The fear of God casts out envy of men.”

July 09, 2014

The Perfect Family - That Greg Lucas guy can flat out write. “God in His sovereignty builds families. They are His work, His masterpiece, for His glory and our highest good. God makes a place for the destitute. He fathers them, defends them, rescues them—and He gives them to us for a family. What a lovely, messy, wonderful, disorganized, beautiful, loud, perfect group we are!”

A Company Liberals Could Love - Ross Douthat offers some important points about Hobby Lobby.

Evangelicals and Cities - I quite agree with Kevin DeYoung: “The evangelical advocacy for the city is a discussion in dire need of clarity.” If you’ve got some extra time, some of the comments are helpful as well.

Designer Babies - This is an interesting article about designer babies. Though it doesn’t look at the issue from a biblical perspective, it highlights some very legitimate concerns.

First Among Equals - What does it mean for one elder (or pastor) to be first among equals? Jonathan Leeman answers.

Exodus: Gods and Kings - “From acclaimed director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Prometheus) comes the epic adventure ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings,’ the story of one man’s daring courage to take on the might of an empire.” It releases in December, I believe.

Only God is capable of telling us what our rights and needs are. You have to surrender that right to Him. —Joni Eareckson Tada

Tada