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January 16, 2011

Do you ever find that you just don’t know how to pray? You know that you need to pray for someone, but you don’t know how? That is a great time to turn to the Bible and to pray to God the words of God. Mary Kassian once wrote a brief overview of praying Scripture and I thought I’d share it with you today. It’s quite helpful as you consider one way of taking the words of the Bible and turning those into prayers. Note that I am not endorsing lectio divina here (and neither is Mary, I’m sure); rather, I am simply saying that there is real value in searching Scripture for application that can be immediately prayed to the Lord.

Here is how Mary encourages you to pray Scripture:

1.  Read
Read a passage of Scripture slowly. Let’s use a passage from Psalm 1:1-2 for example:

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

2.  Reflect
Think about how to personalize the text and apply it to your own life. Take note of any particular verse or phrase that seems to be of particular importance. For instance, in the above verses you might take note of the word “Blessed” and “delight is in the law of the Lord.” You might want to think about where you are seeking happiness and delight. Do you delight in God’s Word?

3.  Resonate
Respond to/agree with the passage by praying it back to God. Pray the words of the Scriptures, applying them to your life or circumstance. You could pray Psalm 1:12 in the following way:

“Lord, please help me not to walk according to the advice of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of scoffers. Help me find my happiness and delight in Your word, and to meditate on Your word all the time.” (Or, you could pray this as an intercessory prayer for your husband, children, or for a government official, church leader, or friend.)

4.  Receive

Keep Reading this article at the True Woman blog.

January 15, 2011

Here’s the second edition of Weekend A La Carte (since last weekend’s effort seemed to be appreciated). I’m running a wee bit late this morning. But it’s Saturday, so it’s all good…

Depression’s Odd Filter - Ed Welch on depression: “Somehow, from the mouths of other people to your ear, all words of blessing and encouragement get tumbled upside down and backward and confirm your suspicions about yourself. You are an abject failure. Unloved. Unlovable. And everyone knows it.”

The Primetime Pastor - This doesn’t sound good: “For TLC, apparently, it’s out with Palin and in with the outed. Ted Haggard, the onetime anti-gay gay preacher will be debuting on cable this weekend — as the star of his very own reality television show.”

FedEx vs UPS - If you’re interested in weird facts like I am, this infographic may appeal. It compares FedEx and UPS.

Stop Feeding the Homeless - When red tape goes overboard: “Bobby and Amanda Herring spent more than a year providing food to homeless people in downtown Houston every day. They fed them, left behind no trash and doled out warm meals peacefully without a single crime being committed, Bobby Herring said.That ended two weeks ago when the city shut down their ‘Feed a Friend’ effort for lack of a permit. And city officials say the couple most likely will not be able to obtain one.”

The Millennials - Thom Rainer on the millennial generation: “I have identified Millennials to be those born between 1980 and 2000, primarily on the basis of clear spikes in the number of live births during these years. The research for the book specifically examined older Millennials—those born between 1980 and 1991. This representative sample has given us a clear look into who the Millennials are.”

The blindness of unbelievers in no way detracts from the clarity of the gospel; the sun is no less bright because blind men do not perceive its light. —John Calvin

January 14, 2011

Free Stuff Fridays

This week’s sponsor of Free Stuff Fridays is Bob Kellemen of RPM Ministries. Bob is a biblical counselor who has written 5 books and who writes for Discerning Reader, Gospel Coalition, and other ministries.

Bob is giving away 5 prizes. There will be 2 packages that contain Soul Physicians and Spiritual Friends (which together retail for $80). There will be 3 prizes each containing 3 books that together retail at $55.00: God’s Healing for Life’s Losses, Sacred Friendships, and Beyond the Suffering. Here is some information about the books:

PhysiciansSoul Physicians: A Theology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction - The Remedy to Secular Psychology: Everyone talks about biblical counseling but what makes biblical counseling truly biblical? Soul Physicians equips readers to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth by speaking the truth in love. It explores biblical answers to life’s seven ultimate questions. Discover how to understand people, diagnose problems, and describe solutions–biblically.

FriendsSpiritual Friends: A Methodology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction - Everyone talks about doing biblical counseling, but what does it look like in real life? Spiritual Friends equips readers to develop twenty-two biblical counseling skills. With 1000s of illustrative interactions and 100s of skill-building exercises, it’s a biblically relevant training manual and a relationally practical workbook for relating God’s truth to human relationships.

HealingGod’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting - Are you ready for real, raw, honest, and hopeful conversation about suffering, loss, and grief—from a Christ-centered perspective? When life’s losses invade your world, learn how to face suffering face-to-face with God.

BeyondBeyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction - If you love stories of victory snatch from the jaws of defeat; if you have a passion for multi-cultural ministry; and if you want to learn life lessons from the legacy of the heroes of the Black Church, then Beyond the Suffering is the book of choice. Through 100s of first-person narratives  of remarkable men and women, readers learn how to move beyond suffering to the place of Christ’s healing hope.

FriendshipsSacred Friendships: Celebrating the Legacy of Women Heroes of the Faith - Celebrate the incredible stories of over fifty amazing Christian women. Sacred Friendships gives voice to the voiceless as it narrates how godly Christian women have provided soul care and spiritual direction for the past 2,000 years.

Giveaway Rules: You may only enter the draw once. Simply fill out your name and email address to enter the draw. 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.

January 14, 2011

I took my van in to the mechanic to have the rear wiper fixed (the whole arm had sheered off). On the way there I realized I was only a few kilometers away from needing an oil change, so figured I’d get that done as well. And now the mechanic calls to tell me that a ball joint is very nearly shot. And then that the ball joints aren’t sold separately but only attached to an arm or something like that, which means they cost a lot more. My morning is suddenly getting really expensive. And it’s not even 8:30 yet. It’s good thing this mechanic is a friend of mine…

Revolutions and Resolutions - This is a moving article from Delorenzo Flyer, a missionary with Africa Inland Mission. He writes about the genocide there and says “There are a million individual stories that define these tragedies – lost in the history books when they are written, but vastly more meaningful to actual history. A pastor in one of our partner churches in Torit shared part of his story with me in December.”

Banished Words - Here’s a 2011 list of words and phrases that ought to be banished because of overuse (or sheer stupidity, I suppose). Examples include “epic,” “fail,” “live life to the fullest.”

Are We Too Obsessed with Facebook? - The answer it seems, is yes, as this infographic clearly illustrates. For example, a study shows that 48% of 18 to 34 year-olds checks Facebook as soon as they wake up. Obsession? Sure sounds like it.

Sexual Detox - Christian Book Notes has a kind review of Sexual Detox. “If you are going to purchase one book on sexual immorality to give to a young man, I would recommend giving them Sexual Detox.  It is short and will keep the reader’s attention.”

NYC Pregnancies - This is almost too awful to believe: just about 40% of pregnancies in New York City result in an abortion.

Adopt Rinah - This is a fantastic little video:

Football Miss(es) of the Year - Just a little something to brighten your morning:

If I have observed anything by experience it is this: a man may take the measure of his growth and decay in grace according to his thoughts and meditations upon the person of Christ, and the glory of Christ’s kingdom, and of his love. —John Owen

January 13, 2011

I don’t know that I’ve ever done something quite like this before, so let’s try something new. A year ago, two days after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, I took a stab at suggesting what the late Neil Postman, the author, media theorist and cultural critic, might have to say about it. I suggested that this earthquake was an example of the kind of news that surrounds us today—news that elicits emotion from us, but news we can really do nothing about. In the end, news like this is often barely distinguishable from entertainment to us.

Here we are one year later. I think it’s an interesting exercise to re-read the article and see if any of what I wrote there (again, trying to channel Postman) has proven true.


Haiti

Yesterday, as an aspect of researching the book I’m working on, I read (re-read, actually) Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves To Death. The timing was interesting, coming as it did just one day after the horrifying earthquake in Haiti. Postman’s book deals with media in an age of entertainment and I found many of the lessons he teaches in the book immediately applicable to the situation in Haiti. Let me summarize some of them.

January 13, 2011

There appears to be a truck from the electric company parked out on the street. So I’m going to hurry today’s A La Carte out onto the Interwebs just in case they’re about to shut down our power. I’m hoping that’s not the case since it’s well below freezing today and we depend upon electric heat…

The Message of the Bible - Dane Ortlund asked a long list of people to summarize the Bible in one sentence. The results are quite interesting.

Parenting: It’s Never an Interruption - Paul David Tripp on parenting: “Parenting is all about living by the principle of prepared spontaneity. You don’t really know what’s going to happen next. You don’t really know when you’ll have to enforce a command, intervene in an argument, confront a wrong, hold out for a better way, remind someone of a truth, call for forgiveness, lead someone to confession, point to Jesus, restore peace, hold someone accountable, explain a wisdom principle, give a hug of love, laugh in the face of adversity, help someone complete a task, mediate an argument, stop with someone and pray, assist someone to see his heart, or talk once again about what it means to live together in a community of love.”

Boomerang GMail - I’ve really been enjoying this Firefox/Chrome add-on that allows you to schedule emails to be sent to you (or others) and also allows you to “boomerang” emails to your inbox if they haven’t been responded to within a certain amount of time. Very handy!

The Gospel in a Break-in - I enjoyed this short article from Brian Croft: “After the morning service on Sunday, I walked over to see what everyone was starring at through the window of the sanctuary.  It was 4 men, dressed in black, trying to break into the car of one of our church members.  So, how did I see the grace of the gospel in this?”

The Most Amazing Press Release - A good little bit of satire from TechCrunch.

Cracks in the Crystal Cathedral - CT writes about the problems faced by the Crystal Cathedral. “Some are tempted to hit the man while he is down, but this is unwise. Robert Schuller is not the problem—contemporary evangelicalism is. Schuller was only leading the parade of those who believe they are responsible for making the gospel relevant. The lesson is not that Schuller got it wrong or that his theology is out-of-date; it is not that we just need to find a better, more current point of cultural contact. The lesson is that our attempts to find and exploit a point of cultural contact inevitably end in bankruptcy.”

Play - I haven’t taken a look at the organization that made this, but I enjoyed the video:

One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives. —Mark Twain

January 12, 2011

A short time ago, while posting a poem titled “I Looked for Love in Your Eyes,” I lamented that while there are many, many books written to help men overcome an addiction to pornography, there is very little written to help the women who have been victims of a husband’s addiction. Shortly after I received an email from Vicki Tiede who has written just such a title. Her book, titled Mosaic Heart: Spiritual Healing in the Midst of a Husband’s Addiction to Pornography (Update: The book has been released as When Your Husband Is Addicted to Pornography) will be published by New Growth Press, probably about a year from now.

HeartI asked Vicki if, in the meanwhile, she’d be willing to do an interview to offer some words of help to women who are struggling with the effects of their husband’s sin. She was kind enough to do so. Here is what I asked her:

What is the scope of this problem? How many women are struggling with the effects of a husband’s addiction to pornography?

For nearly every man who regularly views pornography, there is likely a wife or girlfriend experiencing the fallout resulting from his choices. According to TopTenReviews.com, 28.8 million U.S. men regularly visit pornography websites. 50-60% of Christian men struggle with addiction.

From a wife’s perspective, is there a difference between an addict and a more casual user? Should there be?

This is a great question. First let me give you a technical response and then I’ll give you a heart response. The term “addiction” implies that there is a progression, tolerance, and an inability to stop the behavior even when there is a desire to stop. A single act of viewing pornography would not be an addiction. However, a “casual user,” indicates more than a single act and I would suggest that a “casual user” is already on the slippery slope of addiction. Pornography has a snowball effect; what may begin as seemingly “innocent,” occasional visits to a porn site often slowly increases to greater frequency of visits and for larger amounts of time.

Sadly, this increased exposure to porn results in desensitization and tolerance, so when free internet pornography no longer satisfies their supposed needs, some men expand their repertoire to include subscription pornography, massage parlors, strip clubs, prostitutes, hotel rooms, and travel expenses for clandestine affairs. So to answer your initial question - Is there a difference between a one-time exploration and an addiction? Yes. Is there a difference between an addict and a more casual user? No, there is not enough difference to suggest that we can dismiss casual use as harmless.

Now, here’s the heart response of a wife … I would ask the question, “Is the betrayal any less heartbreaking if a husband only has an extra-marital sexual affair ‘once in a while,’ and he insists he can ‘stop having affairs anytime he chooses to do so,’ than if he seeks sexual fulfillment from someone other than his wife several times a week and can’t stop himself?” It seems ridiculous to even answer such a question, doesn’t it? Whether a man claims to be a casual user of porn or is addicted, his wife still experiences the same feelings of rejection and loss.

To be honest, in my book I tell women that they should thank God if their husband is struggling with his addiction to pornography. That struggle is an indication that the Holy Spirit is at work. It’s when a husband feels no conviction for his sexual sin that hope seems harder to hold onto.

What is the struggle of women whose husbands are battling (or perhaps given over to) pornography? What do men need to know about the way a husband’s use of pornography tends to affect his wife?

January 12, 2011

Here in Toronto we largely avoided the first bunch of winter storms that pummeled the continent. But it appears that we’re now making up for lost time. We had a big one last week (a completely unexpected, ninja kind of a storm), we had a good one last night, and apparently several more are on the way. My wife is awfully excited. Me, well, not so much.

Valentine’s Day Is Coming - It’s going to come up fast. Thankfully my friend Becky makes awesome things that your wife will love. You can get 15% off all orders over $35 when you use the coupon code ‘challies15’ during checkout. The offer is valid until Tuesday, January 18.

Ex Nihilo - The winter edition of Southern Seminary’s magazine is now available online. “With content taking on the doctrine of creation, the publication carries the theme of ex nihilo (Latin, “out of nothing”) to draw attention to one of the most fundamental and distinctive tenets of the Christian worldview - that God the sovereign Creator brought the universe into existence out of nothing.”

Guaranteed Happiness? - CNN has an interesting article about the lottery and whether or not the big win makes people happy in the long-term.

Shot in Head, Sneezing Bullets - I’m posting this one only because it’s so bizarre. Here’s the headline: “Italian man shot in head sneezes out bullet and lives.”

What Makes the King James Great? - Leland Ryken offers 4 reasons that the King James Version of the Bible is great. “The publication of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611 was the most important event in the history of book printing as a whole, inasmuch as it is the bestselling English book of all time.  I tell my students that the publication of the King James Bible was the most important event in the history of English and American literature.”

E-Book Trends - Michael Hyatt writes about some of the trends he foresees when it comes to e-books.

Toowoomba Flood - Here’s just a little glimpse of the flooding that’s happening in Queensland, Australia:

If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.C.H. Spurgeon