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

Tim Challies

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June 14, 2014

Saturdays aren’t often great days for Kindle deals; today is an exception. Strange Fire by John MacArthur ($0.99); Risky Gospel by Owen Strachan ($0.99); Has God Spoken? by Hank Hanegraaff ($0.99); Manhood Restored by Eric Mason ($1.99); Transformational Discipleship by Geiger, Kelley & Nation ($4.99); and, new from GLH Publishing, Indwelling Sin by John Owen ($0.99).

25 Facts on the Importance of Fathers - Here’s Joe Carter doing what Joe Carter does.

Ecclesiology of the New Calvinism - I certainly don’t agree with all this author says, but I did benefit from his take on New Calvinist ecclesiology (based on the book Creature of the Word). He writes from a confessional Dutch Reformed perspective.

Taking God at His Word - Westminster Seminary held an event to mark the release of Kevin DeYoung’s Taking God at His Word. You can now watch all the video from that event.

A Quest for More - New Growth Press is offering Paul Tripp’s book A Quest for More as a free download. Today only!

Daaaad! - This Father’s Day video rings true.

Christ Receives the Devil’s Castaways - I love these little historical vignettes from Vance Christie. “Lady Huntingdon, a member of the aristocracy in eighteenth-century England, was a zealous Evangelical Christian who heartily supported the ministry of George Whitefield.  She regularly had him speak to aristocratic audiences in the drawing room of her estate mansion.”

Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith. —Hudson Taylor

Taylor

June 13, 2014

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by New Growth Press. They are offering some great resources for parents and their kids. There will be 5 winners this week, and each of the winners will receive 2 sets of the following 3 books. Did you get all of that? It means there will be a set for you and a set for a friend (or your church library):

  • Show Them JesusShow Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids by Jack Klumpenhower. “Millions of church kids are growing up and deciding to leave the church. They listened attentively in Sunday school, made friends, and seemed committed. But one day, they quit. What happened? The Bible says we love God because he first loved us. So if we are not primarily teaching our kids about God’s love for us in Christ, we may miss our opportunity to capture their hearts.  But what does it look like to teach a gospel-centered lesson? Show Them Jesus is an instruction manual for teachers of kids and teens written by a lay Bible teacher with 30 years’ experience.”
  • Gospel Story BibleThe Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski. “As you share these Bible stories together, you and your family will meet Jesus and learn a new, life-changing way of recognizing Christ as the hero of every story. Vibrant illustrations by A. E. Macha, child-friendly discussion questions, and Scripture references accompany each narrative to help you lead your family in exploring the Bible. You will be delighted to discover how easily even a young child can understand the original text of a story that he or she has already come to love. Ideal as a storybook for your preschooler, a devotional for your grade school student, a refresher for the adult believer, or an introduction for the new one.”
  • Long Story ShortLong Story Short by Marty Machowski. “The Bible can seem like a long story for an active family to read, but when you break it down into short sections, as Marty Machowski does, family devotions are easy to do. Long Story Short will help busy parents share with their children how every story in the Old Testament points forward to God’s story of salvation through Jesus Christ. You won’t find a more important focus for a family devotional than a daily highlighting of the gospel of grace. Clever stories and good moral lessons may entertain and even help children, but the gospel will transform children. The gospel is deep enough to keep the oldest and wisest parents learning and growing all their lives, yet simple enough to transform the heart of the first grader who has just begun to read.”

Again, there are 5 prizes to win, so get in on that draw!

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.

June 13, 2014

It’s not the best morning. Yesterday was election day here in Ontario and the results did not go the way I had hoped. We have the same government as the day before, but with a much clearer and stronger mandate. I find it a particularly troubling and even threatening mandate. In the aftermath I find my faith being tested. Can I find joy today? Am I going to believe Romans 13:2 today? “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” God knew this. God saw this. God allowed this. God instituted even these authorities. Will I believe it? Will I find joy in it?

Today is a good day to consider the nature of my faith and, even more so, the object of my faith. Last week I was reflecting on the faith of Abraham and observed this: True faith does not demand answers. We don’t need faith when we have all the answers. We need faith when we don’t have all the answers. We need faith when the way ahead seems unclear or intimidating, when answers are hard to find. Faith is trusting in someone who has the answers we lack. Faith is trusting in the goodness, in the character, of God.

This is the faith I see in Abraham when he assented to God’s demand that he offer his son as a sacrifice to God. God asked Abraham to sacrifice the long-awaited son through whom God had guaranteed a multitude of nations and, even better, a Messiah. “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2).

The promise was made, the promise was fulfilled, and now God threatened to take it all away. But still Abraham obeyed. Why? Because of this: Ultimately, faith is not in an outcome, but in a person. Abraham’s faith was not in Isaac’s survival; his faith was in God. This means he could lose Isaac without losing his faith. He was so convinced of the goodness and faithfulness of God that he was willing to do what looked impossible. He would hold back nothing.

Later, in the book of Hebrews, we read more about Abraham. The author is boasting in God’s people, bragging about their faith, and he says this: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”

Quite simply, Abraham believed the promises of God because he trusted the character of God. He trusted God even when the way seemed so strange, so unclear, so contradictory. The Christian faith is sometimes lampooned as being a blind faith, but that is all wrong. The Christian faith is not a blind faith but a seeing faith. We have seen God and love God and trust him to such a degree that we do not need or demand all the answers. We trust and obey, even when we do not understand and even when we cannot see the finish line.

And today I find myself wondering this: Will I trust God even when the way is unclear and even when I do not understand? Will I joyfully submit to God’s will, knowing and trusting that he is good? Is my faith deep enough to say, “I don’t understand, but I know God is good.” Is my faith in an outcome, or is my faith in God?

I should take a cue from Abraham. God gave Abraham three days to walk from his home to that mountain where he was to offer up his son. But on that long and sorrowful walk where he must have been tempted to despair, Abraham was not brooding. He was not complaining. He was not lamenting. Instead, he was considering how God would use this for good. We are told in Hebrews that Abraham made up his mind that God could and would raise Isaac from the dead. When Abraham was being tested, he chose not to focus on the pain, but on the triumph, and spent his time imagining how God was going to work even this “for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). I should do no less.

God remains. God’s promises remain. My trust in God remains.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

June 13, 2014

I’ve got a few new Kindle deals for you: The Measure of a Man by Gene Getz ($4.99); The Measure of a Young Man by Gene Getz ($2.99); The Majesty of God in the Old Testament by Walter Kaiser ($3.99); God’s Will by J.I. Packer ($3.99).

I Will Not Offer the Lord What Costs Me Nothing - H.B. Charles Jr. is fast becoming one of my favorite bloggers, and especially on the subject of preaching. This is another good article.

To: Dad - This is a sweet article from a daughter to her dad.

Charismatic Teaching Is Breeding Spiritual Havoc - Don’t react emotionally to this one. Read it and at least consider what Mbewe says.

E-Mail: The Relationship Blowtorch - Basically, make email your last resort.

Your Family Tree Explained - My brain hurts whenever I try to figure out all this stuff. The video helps, at least.

A Short History of the Executioner - The history of the professional executioner is a chronicle of perfecting the choreography of death. It’s a bit morbid, but still interesting.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. —Corrie ten Boom

Ten Boom

June 12, 2014

Do you ever have those days where you just want to sin? Sin looks delicious while righteousness looks distasteful. Sin looks satisfying and holiness looks frustrating. You wake up in the morning with a desire to do what you know you should not desire to do. Your heart echoes with what God said to Cain: “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you.” And your desire is for it.

What do you do on a day like that?

Take the Blame

“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:13-15). Sin takes advantage of your sinful desires by promising satisfaction in the expression and fulfillment of those desires. Take the blame for wanting to sin. You want to sin because you are a sinner!

Look for Satan

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith…” (1 Peter 5:8-9). Satan knows you are prone to sin and knows you well enough to know your specific temptations to sin. In the days you are being tempted to sin, you may well be facing his attacks. When sin feels extrinsic, like it is coming from outside as much as inside, prepare yourself to resist the devil.

Talk to God

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. … praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:11, 18a). When tempted to sin, you are told to put on the whole armor of God—the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and so on. Each of these pieces of armor is donned and deployed through prayer. You resist sin and withstand temptation through humbling yourself in prayer and by crying out to God for his strength.

Talk to Someone Else

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). Tell your husband or wife, your colleague, your friend, your accountability partner. Confess your desire. Make it as simple as it really is: “I want to sin today. Sin looks desirable; holiness looks boring.” Ask for their prayer in the moment and ask them to talk to you later to ask if and how you withstood the temptation. Just as they can pray with you now to plead God’s help, they can pray with you later to rejoice in his deliverance.

Preach the Gospel

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Preach this great gospel truth to yourself. As a Christian, you have been purchased by Christ. You belong to him. You are his. You have been given everything you need to resist—the ability and the desire. You are a new creation and both can and should behave as such. Preach the gospel to yourself and remember whose you are.

Resist the Temptation

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). God promises that he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but that he will always provide a way of escape. He will provide a way, but you still need to take advantage of that way. Talk to God, ask him to make the way clear, and ask that he will give you grace to take it. Often resisting temptation is as simple as this: Don’t sin! Resolve that you will not sin and then follow resolve with stubborn obedience.

Rely on Patterns of Godliness

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you … Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience … And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called…” (Colossians 3:5-15). The Christian life is a lifelong obedience of replacing ungodly patterns and habits with godly ones. We continually put off the old man and put on the new. When facing temptation you will be tempted to fall back into old tendencies and habits. Instead, reject the old patterns of ungodliness and rely upon and follow the patterns of godliness you have developed.

Give Thanks

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). If temptation is born out of sinful desire and false promises of satisfaction through what God forbids, the solution is to give thanks. Where temptation focuses on all you do not have, thanksgiving focuses on all you have graciously been given. When you are tempted to sin, thank God for his good gifts. When you have been delivered from the temptation to sin, give thanks for his enabling grace.

Image credit: Shutterstock

June 12, 2014

Success Is Dangerous - Jared Wilson: “It is perfectly normal for humans to prefer success to failure. You’d be a weirdo if you didn’t. And yet it is perfectly normal for humans to taint all their successes with the swelling of their big fat heads. You’d be a weirdo if you didn’t.”

How to Grow Spiritually - It’s far more straightforward than we sometimes think.

Vague Pastors - Here’s an important point from this article: “When you don’t preach on something, you are preaching on that thing. You are just saying what you think won’t be as controversial or the thing that won’t lose you your following.”

Is It AW-gus-teen Or aw-GUS-tin? - Christians have been battling this one for centuries. Can we finally lay it to rest? Probably not.

4 Changes Jesus Second Coming Produces - “There are 318 references to Jesus’ second coming in the New Testament—roughly 1 out of every 13 verses mentions it. … Here are four changes that the imminent return of Jesus should produce in us…”

9 Fascinating Facts About People Who Attend Megachurches - Just like the title says…

If we think we are usually good, then God is usually irrelevant. —Ed Welch

Welch

June 11, 2014

There was a day when one of my fashion accessories talked back. It told me to take a hike. I had said something about it on Facebook or Twitter or snapped a picture of it for Instagram and it was none too pleased. It said it to me nicely enough, but the point was clear: cut it out.

I’ve been learning social media as I go. We all have. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the rest have added something new, something original, to the human experience. We are adapting as we go, learning how to use these things well and learning how not to use them badly. We learn by success and by failure. But we do learn over time. At least I hope we do.

When my children were young and very young, I enjoyed telling people about them through these social media channels. I enjoyed sharing their quirks and foibles, their little triumphs and their little follies. Sometimes I wrote about them and sometimes I snapped pictures of them. It was harmless, I thought. And mostly it was.

But I see it now: Some of these photos weren’t for you or for them—they were for me. My kids were accessories to me, a way of making me look good in your eyes or making me feel good about myself. I would only share the details of their lives and times that helped me in some way. I was using my kids as a kind of fashion accessory, what the dictionary defines as “a thing that can be added to something else in order to make it more useful, versatile, or attractive.” That was it! I was using my kids to somehow make myself more attractive. It was all about me.

But then that day came when I said something about one of them—nothing terrible, nothing humiliating, but something that would have been better to keep quiet. Later that day we went to church and someone brought it up. “Hey, your dad said on Twitter that …” or “I saw that Instragram of you in the …” Embarrassment ensued. Awkwardness. And later, a plea to dad to cut it out, to not use social media in this way again.

And it was then that I realized I had been treating my children as just an extension of myself. When they were babies it was easy enough to tell people about them, knowing they would never know or care what I said or who knew. But then they got a little bit older, and then a lot older. They made a transition into maturity and independence. They didn’t want to be my accessory anymore, to have me publicize what they had said or what they had done. And it was no longer fair of me to treat them that way. It’s not that I can’t say anything about them or share a picture of them, but that at some point it is only fair to ask their permission, to let them in on it, to make them equals, not accessories.

Parents, have an exit plan. Make the transition before they need to beg you to. We love to see pictures of your baby when he is born. We love to see pictures of your daughter when she takes her first steps. We love to hear about the ridiculous things they say when learning to form words and thoughts and ideas. But at some time they will be their own people and those cute things will become private things. Those cute pictures will be family pictures. At some point your kids may no longer find it fun.