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Tim Challies

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August 20, 2014

It is a question I have received a number of times lately: Can you suggest some blogs written specifically for women? As it happens, I follow quite a few blogs written by (and often for) women. I am going to share a list of them today, knowing that I have undoubtedly forgotten some very good ones and owe a few apologies! So please accept this as an incomplete list.

Aimee Byrd. Aimee goes by Housewife Theologian and writes both here and at Reformation21. I enjoy her writing for its depth and its emphasis on spiritual discernment.

Charlene Nelson. Charlene writes articles and poetry and often focuses on theological topics.

The Christian Pundit - This blog includes contributions from William and Rebecca VanDoodewaard. Rebecca posts occasionally, but always with insight.

Elisha Galotti. Unlike most of the other bloggers on my list, Elisha was a friend in the real world before she was a friend online—we’ve known each other since we were kids! I appreciate Elisha’s honesty and her ability to draw lessons out of real life.

Everyone Needs a Little Grace in Their Lives. Amy writes from the mission field, and writes mostly about the realities of life in East Africa.

Gloria Furman. Gloria, who currently lives in Dubai, is well-known as an author and as a contributor to quite a few different sites. Through it all she continues to blog once or twice a week at gloriafurman.com.

Jen Thorn. Jen, husband of Joe (who also has a great blog), is a very good writer.

Jen Wilkin. Jen is author of Women of the Word and blogs occasionally at her own blog (and regularly at other sites). Her favorite subject is knowing and studying the Bible.

Maryanne Challies Helms. She’s my little sister (and she’s on a blog break).

Practical Theology for Women. Wendy’s blog is primarily a lecture to herself (aren’t most blogs?) but you’re welcome to read along. She covers a lot of difficult subjects.

Rebecca Writes. I have been following Rebecca’s blog for the better part of a decade; I love her emphasis on theology and sound doctrine.

Sayable. Lore Ferguson provides gut-honest and theologically-rich insights on all kinds of important issues.

Worship Rejoices. Lindsey has scaled back quite a lot in the past few months, but there is lots to read in the archives, and I hope she will return with more in the future.

Your Mom Has a Blog. I am a relative newcomer to “Your Mom Has a Blog” which is written by Melissa Edgington. She writes well, and always from the perspective of real life.

Group Blogs

Here are a few blogs where you will find content by a variety of people.

Boundless. Boundless (associated with Focus on the Family) focuses on issues related to young adults and has a mix of male and female writers.

CBMW. The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has various “channels,” one of which is dedicated to women. They involve quite a number of writers, many of whom blog elsewhere as well.

Desiring God. The Desiring God blog often welcomes female guest writers.

The Gospel Coalition. The Gospel Coalition offers several new articles each day, and they include many female writers.

Out of the Ordinary. This group blog includes contributions from half a dozen authors who are ”bound by a common love for sound theology and a desire to live out that sound theology in our ordinary lives as we serve our extraordinary God.”

True Woman. The True Woman blog shares new content every day, sourced from a variety of writers (including the occasional article by Susanna Rose, another of my little sisters!).

Let me close with an observation. I was struck, as I went through all the blogs I follow, how many have gone cold. It may be that there has always been this much attrition in the blogosphere, or it may be that blogging is in decline, having given way to other forms of social media. It is hard to know. But I found a lot of blogs—former favorites—that had not been updated in months. Many of them ended with notes from the author saying that she would return at an undefined point in the future. I wonder how many will.

August 20, 2014

Ask R.C. Live - Today at 4 PM EST, R.C. Sproul will be answering questions via Twitter. You can click the link to get more information.

What Are Gospel Issues? - D.A. Carson takes on a phrase we may use a little too freely: “gospel issues.”

The Funniest Joke - Here’s the funniest one-liner of the year: “I decided to sell my Hoover … well it was just collecting dust.” You can read the other finalists as well.

See The Conqueror - This is a great hymn, and I do believe we may soon be singing it at Grace Fellowship Church (sans the bridge).

College Doesn’t Change Your Heart - College doesn’t change your heart; it reveals it. Sammy Rhodes writes from the perspective of a campus minister.

The Heart of Family Worship - This looks like it will be an interesting series on family worship—one of those topics where we can always use a refresh.

Sin is guerrilla warfare that is deadly. Just when you think you are in control, it seeks to devour you. —Ed Welch

Welch

August 19, 2014

Well, at least I won’t go to the grave having accomplished nothing. After more than 130 hours of listening, I finally came to the end of William Manchester’s incredible three-volume biography of Winston Churchill (As you may know, Manchester grew ill and died before completing the third volume, leaving it in the capable hands of Paul Reid). It is a stunning achievement—over 3,000 pages of reading or 130 hours of audio, all focused on just one man. Few men merit such attention. Churchill practically demands it.

A couple of years ago I set out to read a biography of each one of the American presidents, a long-term reading project that is progressing quite well and will probably take ten or more years to complete. I found myself reading biographies of Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Truman and realized that each of their lives intersected that of Winston Churchill; it seemed only right, then, that I would pause and cross the Atlantic for a time. I am so glad I did. (With my brain working the way it does, I paused after the second volume on Churchill to cross the channel and brush up on Hitler.)

Churchill is easily one of the most fascinating historical figures the world has ever known. He left an indelible mark on the world at a time when the entire globe was in utter turmoil. He was a Victorian man in the atomic age, a complex combination of utter self-confidence and pitiful yearning, rude and brusque to so many of those around him, yet kind and loving to the few who captured his affections. He was possessed of a uniquely brilliant mind, a razor-sharp wit, and an almost flawless memory. He was an ideas man, sometimes innovating in amazing ways and sometimes meddling in arrogant ways. He served his nation in several wars, sometimes from the front lines and sometimes from the command centers. His influence extended not only through his native land of England, but also to England’s colonies, her allies, and her enemies. There has never been anyone quite like him, and probably never will be again. No wonder, then, that his life can fill three long volumes.

Manchester’s work in the first two volumes is some of the best biography I have ever encountered. He begins with a long overview of Churchill’s life and a fascinating examination of the cultural context that could very nearly be a book unto itself. And then he simply introduces us to the man himself in exacting detail that somehow never grows even the least bit boring. I have often said there are biographies where you feel like you have learned about the subject, and biographies where you feel like you have met the subject; this work falls squarely in the latter category.

That said, the first two volumes in the series are appreciably better than the third. Reid is a capable author, but, by his own admission, he simply cannot match Manchester’s research, his pen, and his ability to introduce his subject. It’s not that the third volume is bad—not by any stretch. It’s more that the first two are sublime while the third is a little closer to ordinary. Still, far better that Manchester and Reid would collaborate on the final volume than allow it to go unwritten.

If you are an enthusiast of biography or simply have an interest in people who have left an indelible impression on our world, you will not do any better than this magisterial trilogy. It easily ranks as one of the best and most enjoyable biographies I have ever read.

The final words go to Lord Moran whose tribute to Churchill ended in this way: ““The vil­lage sta­tions on the way to Bladon were crowded with his coun­try­men, and at Bladon in a coun­try church­yard, in the still­ness of a win­ter evening, in the pres­ence of his fam­ily and a few friends, Winston Churchill was com­mit­ted to Eng­lish earth, which in his finest hour he had held inviolate.”

August 19, 2014

Here are some Kindle deals for you: Better Love Now by Tommy Nelson ($3.99); Preaching with a Plan by Scott Gibson ($1.99); God on Sex by Daniel Akin ($2.99). That’s all I could find for today!

For the Girls Who Are Waiting - “I don’t regret a single non-kissed moment of my teen years. I don’t regret a single non-sexual moment. If you haven’t been kissed or haven’t had a boyfriend, good. Don’t worry about that.”

What Celebrity Pastor Should I Be Most Concerned About? - “Celebrity Pastors do not simply build themselves. They are built with the help of fans. It’s not wrong or idolatrous to get a photo with a person you admire. Nor is it dangerous to love the preaching or teaching of a particular leader. But at some point admiration turns into allegiance, and allegiance gives birth to adoration, and adoration, when it is full grown, produces idolatry.”

Teach Believers What Happened - Yes! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. We need to carefully teach believers what happened to them and in them when they were saved.

Love Japan - It’s great to see what looks like a great conference in Japan. It looks like an interesting format too…

Wisdom Is A “Who” More Than A “What” - Exactly so! “Jesus is Wisdom. He is the Proverbs wrapped in flesh. They are animated and fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth.”

The Goal of the Christian Life - “When asked what is the goal of the Christian life, a typical mantra heard in evangelical circles is the knee-jerk response, ‘To become Christ-like’.” Daniel Wallace takes issue with that response and offers an alternative.

If you will not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him one day a week. —A.W. Tozer

Tozer

August 18, 2014

I have been thinking about this one a lot, lately. I was thinking about it long before I read Manage Your Day-to-Day, but that book helpfully distilled it to a single sentence: “We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period, and underestimate what we can do over a long period, provided we work slowly and consistently.”

This is our temptation in all areas of life: to look for the quick fix, to look for the one or the few great moments that will accomplish more than the hundreds or thousands of smaller moments. “Anthony Trollope, the nineteenth-century writer who managed to be a prolific novelist while also revolutionizing the British postal system, observed, ‘A small daily task, if it be daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules’. Over the long run, the unglamorous habit of frequency fosters both productivity and creativity.”

The spasmodic Hercules: this is how many of us behave. We behave as if one moment of great activity can overcome a thousand moments of inactivity, as if one moment of taking hold of opportunity will overcome all those moments wasted. The unglamorous habit of frequency is what makes up so much of life’s progress. Yet we are constantly tempted to put our hope in the brief and the glamorous.

I see this in work. We are prone to believe that unless we can block off a significant piece of time to work on that book or project or task, we may as well not even bother. So instead of doing a little work, and advancing a step or two, we let it lie dormant and perhaps waste that time instead. We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period, and underestimate what we can do over a long period, provided we work slowly and consistently.

I see this in parenting. We invest great hope in the big moments, the weekend away with the child or the special night out. But we may neglect those hundreds of evenings where we could simply talk while doing the dishes or where we could pray for just a few moments before bed. We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in their lives in a short period, and underestimate what we can accomplish over a long period, provided we are willing to advance slowly and with consistency.

But most of all, I see this in spiritual growth. We are often tempted to believe that one moment of great spiritual intensity will bring about greater and more lasting change than the oh-so-ordinary means of grace. We can have more confidence in the single three-day conference than in the day-by-day discipline of Scripture reading and prayer, the week-by-week commitment to the preaching of the Word and public worship. We tend to overestimate how much we can grow in a short period, and underestimate how much we will grow over a long period, provided we simply take hold of God’s ordinary means.

This is where so many Christians lose their confidence—they want quick growth and measurable results, and give up far too soon. Their confidence is not in God working through his Word as they open it each morning and hear it preached each Sunday, but in the big conference later in the year, or in that new devotional, or in that new study method. They are distracted and spasmodic rather than consistent and disciplined. They look this way and that, instead of than simply persisting in the means God prescribes.

The fact is, most growth in life—and spiritual growth is no exception—is measured in inches, not miles. The ground an army gains by a slow march is often safer than the ground it gains by charging over it. Spiritual growth is no less real simply because it comes slowly and is difficult to measure. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

Christian, persist. Persist in the ordinary means of grace. Persist even, and especially, when the growth seems to slow. Persist in your confidence that these are the means God gives for your good, for your growth, for his glory.

Snail image credit: Shutterstock

August 18, 2014

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Healing for a Broken World by Steve Monsma ($2.99); Confronting Kingdom Challenges edited by Samuel T. Logan ($1.99); Why Cities Matter by Stephen Um & Justin Buzzard ($1.99); Political Thought by Hunter Baker ($0.99); The Problem of Evil by Jeremy Evans ($2.99); The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer ($2.99).

Wrongful Birth - This is the awful story of a couple suing because pre-birth tests failed to discover their daughter’s genetic abnormality. Had they know it, they would have aborted her.

Iceland’s Aerial Landscapes - Here are some beautiful photographs from Iceland, just for a visual treat.

There Will Be No Sea - R.C. Sproul explains why the Bible says there will be no sea in the new heaven and new earth.

10 Grammar Rules It’s Okay to Break - Most grammar rules are okay to break, at least occasionally. This is a list of 10 of them.

The Ways We’re the Same - We’ve all been there, I guess. Here’s what not to do in an awkward social situation.

The Sin in Our Cynicism - Cynicism is not a Christian virtue or a godly character trait.

The most significant gifts in the church’s life in every era are ordinary natural abilities sanctified. —J.I. Packer

Packer

August 17, 2014

The Internet is awash in “life hacks”—methods and techniques for increasing efficiency or productivity. They are meant to be simple and ultra-practical ways of doing those everyday tasks that make up so much of life. Though many life hacks are novel and ridiculous, there are some that prove themselves both meaningful and helpful, and I have applied many of them to my own life.

I also love to discover new “faith hacks”—practical methods or techniques for living the Christian life. It is not that I want to live the Christian life with great ease and efficiency, but that I love to discover fresh insights from others as they tell how they live as Christians. Over the next while I plan to share some of these with you.

I will begin with this: a simple way to humbly display servant leadership. Though it is directed at church leaders, it is equally applicable to any Christian.

Derwin Gray, pastor of Transformation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, wants his church to be a community of servant-leaders. After all, “servanthood is the essence of leadership and the heart of what it means to be an apprentice of Jesus.” He believes “leadership is embodying what you want others to become.” To have a church of servant-leaders, he and the other pastors must lead the way.

How does Gray display what he wants other people to become? Simple. He and all his staff members park farthest away from the church building. Instead of taking the best spots, they leave those for others, and take the worst spots. The walk from their cars to the church, and from the church to their cars, is a straightforward, tangible display of what they want their congregation to become.

And I guess there is a bonus: They get to meet more people than if they were hustled out the side door and into reserved parking spots.

Do you want to practice servant-heartedness and meet more people at the same time? Consider parking in the farthest spot.

See: Why I Park the Furthest from the Church at Ministry Grid.

Parking lot image credit: Shutterstock