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

Tim Challies

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August 08, 2014

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored Harvest House Publishers. They are offering a prize package this week that features 4 books they think you’ll love. There will be 5 winners, and each of them will receive these 4 books:

  • Radically NormalRadically Normal by Josh Kelley. “Do you feel that your life is pleasing to God—almost? When you hear about pastors, missionaries, and popular speakers, do you feel just a bit second-class, as if your life appears lukewarm and not as radical as theirs? You’re not alone. A vague sense of guilt is common in the church. We know God’s grace is the key to eternal life, but it’s so much more than that—it’s the key to a joy-filled walk with Him every moment. Josh Kelley shows why you don’t have to give away everything you own to be a fully committed follower of Jesus Christ. He demonstrates that God is crazy about you right where you are; you are just as important as any other member of Christ’s body; the work you do every day can be pleasing to God.”
  • A Year of Prayer by John MacArthur. “This book is filled with weekly inspiration that will greatly enrich your prayer life. You’ll find your prayers becoming more focused, more powerful, more God-centered in ways that are truly life-changing. This collection is comprised of prayers lifted up to God by John MacArthur on the Lord’s Day. They speak of God’s majesty and His wonderful love and care, and make transparent the deepest longings of the human heart. Through these prayers you’ll find yourself lifted up…in true worship, praise, and thanksgiving.”
  • Being a Dad Who Leads by John MacArthur. “As a Christian father, you bear a tremendous responsibility—to raise your children through both biblical instruction and personal example. But how can you succeed in a society that attacks the role of fatherhood and godly family values? Are you sometimes tempted to give in or give up? The rewards of being a dad who leads are well worth making the effort to stand firm. The Bible offers clear guidance for dads on how to parent effectively.”
  • Called to Stay by Caleb Breakey. “Will You Stay? Caleb Breakey prays to God you do. In Called to Stay Breakey takes a refreshingly honest look at the church, the problem of Millennials leaving, and the stark reality of why the church desperately needs them. He holds nothing back as he unleashes an ambitious rallying cry to heal the church and inject his generation’s desire for truth, passion, and conviction into other believers. Caleb knows that answering the challenge of his own generation leads to a transformed church. And a changed church can change the world.”

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.

August 08, 2014

I like to keep an eye out for good deals on Kindle books. As an avid reader, and one who is slowly transitioning to electronic books, I find it hard to resist a great deal. These deals tend to come up day-by-day and last anywhere from a few days to a week. I usually track them in my daily A La Carte posts, but there have been so many deals in the past week, I thought I’d group them all together for you. So here, for the Christian reader, is a long list of some excellent deals. Happy reading!

August 08, 2014

Amazon’s Big Deal is back and that’s good for all of us because it includes some excellent books: Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell ($1.99); Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung ($1.99); Disciplines of a Godly Man by Kent Hughes ($1.99); When I Don’t Desire God and Bloodlines by John Piper ($1.99 each); What Is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert ($1.99); The Insanity of Obedience by Nik Ripken ($2.99); The Promises of God by R.C. Sproul ($0.99); Transformational Disciplineship by Geiger & Kelley & Nation ($1.99). Also, here are a couple of general market bestsellers you may enjoy: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown ($2.99); Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin ($4.99). You can find the complete list of deals here.

Al Mohler Responds to Ann Coulter - “From a Christian concern we cannot leave the issue of the Ebola outbreak without turning to another kind of atrocity. In this case the atrocity was an opinion piece published just yesterday by conservative commentator Ann Coulter.”

Sign - Here’s an interesting idea for a new restaurant.

Was Adam a Historical Person? - “In the modern world, skeptics have long questioned or denied the historicity of Adam.” And the historicity of Adam makes all the difference to our faith.

Marks on the Green Monster - This is fun, but only if you’re a fan of baseball.

Four Moments I’m Preparing Students to Face - “As I listen to and observe the faith journeys of former students and young adults, I often see pivotal moments along the way that constitute ‘make or break’ tests of their faith. Discipling my students, I am preparing them for these four moments.”

I do not think the devil cares how many churches you build, if only you have lukewarm preachers and lukewarm people in them. —C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon

August 07, 2014

I love a church that prays. I love being a part of a church that prays. Every Wednesday night we gather—often a packed-out room full of us—to bring all our petitions and all our praise before the Lord. Far more often than not it is a sweet time of seeking the Lord together. I usually lead these meetings and along the way I’ve learned a few things. Here are some ways you increase the likelihood that your prayer meeting will miss the mark.

Go Unprepared. The best prayer meetings are the ones that have been prepared. Sometimes that preparation involves putting together a list of items you will pray for at the meeting. Sometimes that preparation involves a brief devotional or another means of getting people to think about the Lord before they begin to pray. Sometimes that preparation simply involves praying—praying for the prayer meeting. Either way, I’ve learned that prayer meetings are at their best when the leader has prepared himself and when he is able to bring direction.

Dominate. Sometimes a leader fears silence during prayer meetings, so immediately fills any silence with yet another one of his own prayers. Or he is so sure of his ability to pray that he will go on and on. And on. But there are some people who thrive in silence, who need it for their own private prayers, or who need a few minutes to work up the nerve to open their mouths and pray out loud. (A shout-out to my fellow introverts!) Lead the meeting, but don’t dominate it. And learn to embrace the silence. That silence isn’t wasted.

Only Ask. Without a deliberate effort to be thankful—to consider all the good things God has done and to thank him for them—a prayer meeting will always be dominated by requests. Of course God wants us to bring him our requests. He commands it! But when we focus equally on thanksgiving for answered prayer, we set a tone of expectation that God will hear our requests and respond to them. (This is probably one of the most difficult things to do, at least in my experience!)

Don’t Address Your “Tics.” Some people have prayer tics, little quirks that no one has ever told them about. I have heard people use the phrase, “Father God” a hundred times in a single three-minute prayer, without the smallest inkling that they have done so. Some people preface every prayer request with “just.” “I just pray that you will just grant us…” The thing is that even if you aren’t aware of your tics, everyone else is; you may be oblivious to them, but they are a distraction to others. So, as the leader of a meeting, be sure to ask someone if there is anything you are doing that you ought to stop.

Forget to Pray. We have all been to those prayer meetings that are 90% requests and 10% prayer, or 20 minutes of teaching, 20 minutes of requests and 5 minutes of prayer. Too often prayer meetings are dominated not by prayer, but by talking about prayer. Lead the meeting in such a way that you get to prayer, and get to it quickly. Adequate preparation will help a lot in this regard.

Keep it the Same. While there is comfort in familiarity, there is also joy in freshness. After months or years of doing the same thing in the same way, even the best things can begin to feel boring. Try varying the meeting a little bit—break into small groups, separate the men and women, have someone else lead—whatever it takes. Sometimes deliberate change can bring unexpected blessings.

Be bored. Sometimes prayer meetings are drab because the person leading the meeting seems like he would rather be somewhere—anywhere—else. No one will believe in the prayer meeting more than the leader does. If you aren’t interested, it is unlikely that anyone else will interested. If you don’t believe in the meeting or aren’t interested in it, pray about it until you are. And then lead it willingly and joyfully.

August 07, 2014

B &H has some good Kindle deals today: Perspectives on the Doctrine of God by Various ($2.99); The Lord’s Supper by Tom Schriner & Matthew Crawford ($2.99); Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer ($2.99); Breaking the Missional Code by Ed Stetzer & David Putman ($2.99).

Cultural Disintegration and the Revival of a Moral Imagination - With a title like that, you know it has to be worth reading.

Gay, Christian and … Celibate - Sarah Pulliam Bailey has an interesting article about the changing face of the homosexuality debate.

Is Being a Stay-at-Home Mom Enough? - “Is being a stay-at-home mom enough? Is just being at home with my children today satisfactory? If so, why the tension, and what’s with ‘just’ entering the conversation? (When’s the last time you heard someone say, ‘I’m just a teacher,’ or ‘I’m just a doctor’?)”

Care for Single Women - I have appreciated many of these “Pastor’s Reflections.” This is an important one about the neglect of single women.

We Can’t Ignore Mark Driscoll - This is a level-headed response to some of the recent news about Mark Driscoll.

One Truth that Changes Worship - Jason Helopoulos: “Worship is not so much about what we receive, nor about what we give, rather, it is about being. … Worship is not primarily caught-up with giving or receiving. It is primarily about being, meeting with God. Or more rightly put, God meeting with us.”

Guard your thoughts, and there will be little fear about your actions. —J.C. Ryle

Ryle

August 06, 2014

Why do married couples have sex? And how can they ensure that they keep enjoying the sexual relationship throughout their marriage? This weekend I read through a pair of recent studies from the University of Toronto that offer some intriguing, though not shocking answers.

August 06, 2014

I’ve got just a few new Kindle deals for you today: Learn to Read New Testament Greek by David Alan Black ($7.99); Calvinism by Brad Waggoner & Ray Clendenen ($2.99); Comeback Churches by Ed Stetzer & Mike Dodson ($2.99)

Should I Tell My Spouse about Struggles with Sexual Purity? - Here is a good and helpful article from 9Marks.

Can There Be Thrills in Heaven? - If there is no risk in heaven, can there still be thrills? Randy Alcorns answers.

Perfect For Me - I like this: “My father-in-law has a profound little saying that sums up a biblical attitude spouses should have for one another. She’s not perfect, but she’s perfect for me.”

Top 15 One-Album Wonders - You’ll probably only enjoy this if you’ve been listening to Christian music for a long time.

9 Things You Should Know About Hamas - Courtesy of Joe Carter, here are 9 things you should know about Hamas.

It’s Okay to Believe the Bible - Yes, it is!

A repeated, fundamental assumption in the New Testament is that if you let Jesus into your heart you will let strangers into your home. — Sam Allberry

Alberry

August 05, 2014

Once bitten, twice shy. That pretty much describes my response to most major marketing campaigns by Christian publishers. So often I’ve found that the best books are the ones that appear with the least fuss, and that the ones carried in on the back of a major marketing wave prove to be disappointing. But not always.

Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word has been the beneficiary of some major marketing efforts. It was the talk of this year’s Gospel Coalition National Conference for Women and has been pushed heavily in the blogosphere. And I’m glad to say that it proved my skepticism wrong—it is an excellent little book.

Wilkin loves God’s Word and she loves to teach others to love it as well. Her book is designed to awaken that same love in others, and especially in other women. It is, after all, meant to call women to the Word so they can be women of the Word.

She opens biographically, telling about her growing passion for the Bible—for reading it, for knowing it, for teaching it to others. She explains that the book’s purpose is “to teach you not merely a doctrine, concept, or story line, but a study method that will allow you to open up the Bible on your own. It intends to challenge you to think and to grow, using tools accessible to all of us, whether we hold a high school diploma or a seminary degree, whether we have minutes or hours to give to it each day.”

Before she gets to a method of studying the Bible, she tells about two turnarounds she had to make in her life, where she replaced backward approaches to Bible study with better ones. The first was to allow the Bible to speak of God. She had been approaching the Bible as a book about her, a book answering the question “Who am I?” more than “Who is God?” The second turnaround was thinking that she should allow her heart, rather than her mind, to guide her study of the Bible. She let her feelings dictate what she read and how she read it instead of first allowing it to transform her mind. She wants her readers to know that they cannot love what their minds do not know.