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

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

June 29, 2011

Where Are the Presses? - A little insider’s perspective from a major publisher: “When people visit InterVarsity Press, they often ask where the printing presses are. I show them our copiers—the closest thing we’ve got. Our books are printed all over the country and sometimes around the world—all on printing presses owned by others. Even the biggest publishers do not own printing presses. Why?”

Small is the Kingdom Big - Ed Stetzer: “Too many church leaders are like the teenage girl who thinks the beautiful actress she sees every day on TV is normal. It is a skewed view of reality. Actually, what’s normal (and very valuable) is small churches living on mission in their contexts, being about the business of the kingdom of God.”

Pastor Paul Martin - My friend Julian, who recently left Grace Fellowship Church to begin a church plant (and whose position at the church I have assumed) has penned a loving tribute to Paul Martin, the guy I get to work with every day. It’s worth the read.

Brave - The trailer for the next Pixar movie.

Yali Jubilee - I enjoyed this video, showing a jubilee held to mark the 50th anniversary of the gospel coming to the Yali people.

Hate, like love, picks up every shred of evidence to justify itself. —Os Guinness

June 28, 2011

Counterfeit GospelsAnother book about the gospel. We have seen the release of all kinds of books about the gospel lately—books defining the gospel, books preaching the gospel, books sharing how to live with the gospel at the center of life. Is there any room for another one? Absolutely there is, and Trevin Wax has delivered it in the form of Counterfeit Gospels: Discovering the Good News in a World of False Hope.

Wax is convinced there is crisis in the church today, a crisis created by counterfeit gospels—gospels that appear to have elements of the real thing, but which are, at heart, fraudulent. This crisis has 3 elements:

  • A lack of gospel confidence - we have lost our faith in the power of the gospel to change life.
  • A lack of gospel clarity - we are unsure of what the gospel message truly is.
  • A lack of gospel community - devoid of confidence and clarity, our churches have begun to lose their distinctiveness. We’ve lost what makes the church the church.

Against this crisis Wax proposes that the gospel is like a three-legged stool with each leg absolutely critical to a proper understanding of the message; without each of the 3 legs, the stool cannot stand. First, there is the gospel story, which is the overarching grand narrative we find in the Scriptures. Second, there is the gospel announcement, which is that Christ died for our sins and was raised. And third, there is the gospel community, the people who herald the grace of God and spread the good news of what Christ has done.

June 28, 2011

Yesterday the fire department showed up at my kids’ school during their almost-year-end fun day. They said something about a fire drill and lined all of the kids up. Then they turned the hoses on them. My kids seemed to regard it as the best thing that’s happened to them in a long time.

What Not to Share - I just came across this blog which features a mother-daughter team writing about life as pastors’ wives. This article about what not to share between a pastor and his wife is definitely worth the read.

Fallout Shelter - The Atlantic gives a tour of a 60’s era fallout shelter.

Leisure Reading Racial Gap - This column by Mark Bauerlein is perhaps a bit random, but it’s interesting nonetheless. he talks about the racial reading gap.

Contentment - Amy does it again, this time discussing contentment.

Multi-Site Goes Interstate - From CT: “Pastor Mark Driscoll’s megachurch recently announced plans to expand into Portland, Oregon, and Orange County, California, using multi-site campuses that feature live bands and a sermon piped in from the main campus in Seattle.”

In the Footsteps of Hitler - Conrad Mbewe recently traveled to Germany and was rather shaken by his experience. It’s worth reading about it as he reflects on the nature of evil.

Surviving the Age of Distraction - “Read a book with your laptop thrumming. It can feel like trying to read in the middle of a party where everyone is shouting…” This article on distraction is a good read.

No sin is small. It is against an infinite God and may have consequences immeasurable. No grain of sand is small in the mechanism of a watch. —Jeremy Taylor

June 27, 2011

I grew up in a Christian culture in which very little evangelism took place. How little? The first believer’s baptism I ever witnessed was my wife (she was my girlfriend at the time) and that was when we were eighteen or nineteen. It was the first time our church had ever baptized an adult. And what’s more, it was the first time most of the people who attended that church had ever seen an adult get baptized.

A few years after my wife’s baptism we moved away from the town we had grown up in so we could be closer to my place of business. In the past decade we have been members of two different churches that place much greater emphasis on reaching the lost. We have seen many, many people come to faith, including several who are now close friends. We have seen lives altered dramatically and have seen more baptisms than we can count—baptisms in churches, rivers, pools, and a really big, ugly aluminum tank. We have shared in the joy of seeing people profess their faith by being baptized. It truly is one of the greatest joys of any church.

Over the years I’ve had to reflect on what made the churches I attended as a child and teenager so ineffective at evangelism. While there are several reasons I could provide, and they are of varying importance, there is one that I believe stands at the foundation of the rest: These churches often regarded the unbeliever as the enemy. Of course the church would never have articulated that belief, but it seemed to be deeply rooted.

This attitude manifested itself in many ways. One of the clearest ways was among the children of church members. They would rarely, if ever, be allowed or encouraged to play or even interact with the unsaved children in the neighborhood. I knew an “urban missionary” whose children were confined to their backyard and were forbidden from playing with the other children. The churched children were not allowed to play with other children lest they become corrupted by their worldliness.

My observation was that this approach failed and failed badly. First, the church was not faithful in its calling to take the gospel throughout the world. They preferred to exist in an enclave, safe from outside influences. Second, and ironically, the children developed a fascination with the world. I believe this was, in large part, because access to the outside world had been denied to them and they had never seen the pain and heartbreak that are the inevitable results of forsaking God. The world can look awfully attractive until a person sees the results of giving himself over to it. Third, the parents were prone to ignoring worldliness in their own children. I know that I saw more drugs, more drinking, more disrespect and more awful behavior in the Christian schools I attended than I did in the public schools. This isolation simply did not work. What I saw was that we do not need the world to teach us worldliness. Worldliness arises from within.

June 27, 2011

Evil for Evil - This is a good and important article about prison rape. “[M]ost of the perpetrators were not other prisoners but staff members—corrections officials whose job it is to keep inmates safe. On average, each victim was abused between three and five times over the course of the year. The vast majority were too fearful of reprisals to seek help or file a formal complaint (emphasis mine).”

Ghosts of WW2 - This person has taken modern photographs and blended them with photographs from World War 2 with very interesting results.

Your Social Media Profile - This seems kind of scary, doesn’t it? “The FTC has given thumbs up to a company, Social Intelligence Corp., selling a new kind of employee background check to employers. This one scours the internet for your posts and pictures to social media sites and creates a file of all the dumb stuff you ever uploaded online.” This makes it harder than ever to escape past misdeeds.

You’re Worse Than You Think - Bob Glenn offers a word to pastors: “One of the occupational hazards of pastoral ministry is that you are often the subject of people’s destructive criticism, gossip, slander, misrepresentation, foolish inferences, ignorant speculations, and the like. And any pastor who’s being honest with himself - even a hard-nosed guy like me - will admit that the hurtful things people say are just that - hurtful. They hurt.”

The Tragic, Ironic Consequences - “Abortion has become the primary means of eliminat­ing unwanted females across the globe. More girls than boys are now being killed by abortion. To kill an unborn female is to kill a young woman. There can be no equal rights for all women until there are equal rights for unborn women.”

Surprising His Sister - You’ll probably cry when you see this. My question is, why? What is it in us that turns on the waterworks when we see something like it?

As creatures, we have no right or reason to expect that at every point we shall be able to comprehend the wisdom of our Creator. J.I. Packer

June 26, 2011

I am a lover of quotes and, though I’ve never gotten too organized in managing them, I do like to collect and ponder them. Here are a few from Charles Spurgeon on a variety of topics.

To begin, a word on introspection (perhaps a good one for bloggers):

I do not believe in keeping a detailed diary of each day’s experience, for one is very apt, for want of something to put down, to write what is not true, or at least not real. I believe there is nothing more stilted or untruthful, as a general rule, than a religious diary; it easily degenerates into self-conceit.

And yet…

The other day, I saw John Wesley’s diary, or rather, horary, for it had in it not merely an entry for every day, but for every hour; and not only for every hour, but usually there was a distinct occupation for every twenty minutes. The good man made his days to have many hours in them, and his hours seemed to have more minutes in them than most men’s hours have, because he did not waste any of them, but diligently used them all in his Master’s service. 

A word on doubt:

Some of you are always fashioning fresh nets of doubt for your own entanglement. You invent snares for your own feet, and are greedy to lay more and more of them. You are mariners who seek the rocks, soldiers who court the point of the bayonet. It is an unprofitable business. Practically, mentally, morally, spiritually, doubting is an evil trade. You are like a smith, wearing out his arm in making chains with which to bind himself. Doubt is sterile, a desert without water. Doubt discovers difficulties which it never solves: it creates hesitancy, despondency, despair.

And one on sin:

As for the drops of dew twinkling in the morning light, as for the drops of the ocean making that vast flood, as for the stars of heaven, and the sand of the sea shore,—the incalculable number of all these sinks into insignificance when compared with the infinite host of our transgressions against thee, O God of heaven and earth! This very day, have there not been more sins than moments, more transgressions than heartbeats, more offences than pulses? God only knows the total of the sins of man. 

And finally, one on wisdom:

Wisdom is man’s true strength; and, under its guidance, he best accomplishes the ends of his being. Wisely handling the matter of life gives to man the richest enjoyment, and presents the noblest occupation for his powers; hence by it he finds good in the fullest sense. Without wisdom, man is as the wild ass’s colt, running hither and thither, wasting strength which might be profitably employed. Wisdom is the compass by which man is to steer across the trackless waste of life; without it he is a derelict vessel, the sport of winds and waves.  

June 25, 2011

Author Interviews - Michael Hyatt has written a good post full of tips for authors who are being interviewed. “If you are a published author—or plan to be one—you will inevitably be asked to appear on a radio, television, or Internet show to talk about your book. It’s critical that you learn to do this well. Assuming you have written a good book, nothing drives sales of it more than publicity.”

Signs Your Sermon Isn’t Going Well - Mike Wittmer offers up a top-13 list of signs that your sermon isn’t going too well.

Dear Photograph - This is an interesting project—to take a picture of a picture from the past in the present. It’s hard to explain, so you may just need to check it out.

What Kind of Theologian Are You? - Because all Christians answer questions like, “Who is God?” and “Who is Jesus?”, we’re all theologians to some degree. So what kind of theologian are you?

Should I Change My Password? - This is a handy little utility. You enter an email address you tend to use to create accounts and it will tell you if you should change your password.

What To Do With the Children? - “Summer offers a unique opportunity to do ministry together as a family. A whole lot of free time offers a whole lot of opportunities to reach out to others and minister side by side. If your kids can get a taste of the value of serving like Jesus did, they’ll be learning an important lesson.”

5 Years of Pastoring - Tim Raymond: “On April 9, 2011, I celebrated five years as Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana.  As I reflect back on these past years there are five main lessons that come to mind…”

How Much to Tip - Here’s an infographic that tells you how much to tip depending on what country you are in.

Passion does not compensate for ignorance. —Samuel Chadwick

June 24, 2011

This is an interesting little excerpt from Iain Murray’s recent biography of John MacArthur. In his Introduction Murray seeks to show what makes a man a leader among evangelicals. He offers a five-point answer:


In brief, an evangelical is a person who believes the ‘three rs’: ruin by the Fall, redemption through Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit. It follows that an ‘evangelical leader’ is a person who stands out in the advancement and defence of those truths. The title does not necessarily imply success judged by numbers and immediate results. on that basis neither Paul nor Tyndale might qualify.