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

Tim Challies

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March 26, 2016

Kindle deals today include The Story of God’s Love for You by Sally Lloyd-Jones ($1.99); It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke ($1.99); Saved Without A Doubt by John MacArthur ($2.99); Song of a Suffering King by J.V. Fesko ($2.99); God’s Love and The Work of Christ by R.C. Sproul ($1.99 each); How We Got the Bible by Neil Lightfoot ($1.99).

History Today: George Whitefield Founds an Orphanage

This is actually History Tomorrow now, but it’s a good overview of Whitefield’s orphanage.

Don’t Like Diversity? You’ll Hate Heaven

The title about says it all, doesn’t it?

A Horribly Beautiful Friday

Paul Tripp: “At the center of a biblical worldview is this radical recognition: the most horrible thing that ever happened was the most beautiful thing to ever happen.”

AIRTIME

“Set in the desert of Dubai, the urban spaces of Hongkong or the stunning landscapes of Hawaii, ‘AIRTime’ is a 4K drone film, which chronicles a mix of travel experiences filmed across 12 countries over 7 months.” It is stunning.

Tomorrow in 1536. 480 years ago tomorrow, Swiss Protestants in Strassbourg and Constance signed the First Helvetic Confession. *

Bringing Their Faith to Work

WORLD has an article about and for public school teachers who bring their faith to work.

We Will Live Again

This 12-minute video shows the work of the Cryonics Institute as they attempt to preserve bodies for a future where they will be able to revive them and reverse the effects of disease and aging. There are all kinds of spiritual lessons to draw from it!

Thanks to This Week’s Sponsor

Thanks to Tabletalk for sponsoring the blog this week. Get a free trial and CD set on Islam now.

Edwards

The resurrection of Christ is the most joyful event that ever came to pass. —Jonathan Edwards

Free Stuff Fridays Updated
March 25, 2016

This week's Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by Ligonier Ministries who also sponsored the blog this week. Ligonier is offering 5 prizes, each of them an annual subscription to Tabletalk magazine.

Tabletalk is a monthly discipleship magazine written by today’s leading theologians and pastors to help Christians grow in the knowledge of God. An annual print subscription features 12 issues and includes a companion digital edition available on most tablet devices. Daily devotionals make up over half of the content and typically exposit a book of the Bible or a specific topic over the course of the year. A third of the content is themed, dealing with a particular issue, and the rest consists of featured columns addressing a variety of issues ranging from theology to Christian living.

For a limited time, Ligonier is also offering all Challies.com readers a no-risk 3-month trial to Tabletalk that includes a CD set, The Dark Side of Islam. This teaching series from Dr. R.C. Sproul and Abdul Saleeb seeks to expose the true teachings of Islam and explain why fundamentalist Muslims are so aggressive in their attempt to wipe out all other religions. It will also serve as a helpful resource for those witnessing to Muslims in their own communities.

Tabletalk

Enter Here

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. If you are viewing this through email, click to visit my site and enter there.

New and Notable Books
March 25, 2016

When it comes to good books, we are spoiled. We have access to more good books than previous generations could have even dreamed of. That is true whether we want to read Christian Living books or read deep, academic works. Here is a round-up of some of the new and notables that have come across my desk in the past few weeks.

IchthusIchthus: Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the Saviour by Sinclair Ferguson & Derek Thomas. “Ichthus is the Greek word for a fish. Its five Greek letters form the first letters of the early Christian confession that ‘Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Saviour.’ To draw a fish sign meant: ‘I am a Christian.’ To be a Christian, according to the New Testament is to know Christ. But who is he, and what is the meaning of his life? In Ichthus Sinclair Ferguson and Derek Thomas answer these questions by taking us on a tour of nine key events in Jesus’ life and ministry. Their aim is to help us both understand and share the confession of those early Christians who drew the fish sign. Ichthus is a book for everyone and anyone. It will help readers who are already Christians because of what it says about their Master. Those who are wondering exactly what it is Christians believe about Jesus should find many of their questions clearly answered. And those honest enough to admit that they have ignored, or even rejected Christianity but really could not explain what Christians believe about Jesus, will find these pages both clear and challenging. Written by two friends who, between them, have been following Jesus Christ for a total of almost a hundred years, Ichthus will encourage you to share their faith in him.” (Amazon | Westminster Books)

Child in the MangerChild in the Manger by Sinclair Ferguson. This one only came my way recently. The publisher offers this description: “The birth of Jesus divided history into two major epochs. Until the dawn of our hyper-sensitive age, even the way we dated events underscored this. From time immemorial every day, every week, every month, every year has been described as either ‘B.C.’ (‘Before Christ’) or ‘A.D.’ (Anno Domini, ‘in the year of our Lord’). Even the modern, pluralistic style abbreviations, B.C.E. (‘Before the Common Era’) and C.E. (‘Common Era’), cannot obliterate the indelible impress of Jesus birth. For what makes the ‘Common Era’ so ‘common’? And what explains the dividing line date? The answer is the same: the birth of Jesus. At the very centre of history stands the person of Jesus Christ. And he does so because he is at the centre of God’s story.” I offer my own description: It’s by Sinclair Ferguson. Enough said! (Amazon | Westminster Books)

Joel Obadiah Joel & Obadiah: Disaster And Deliverance (Focus on the Bible) by Iwan Rhys Jones. This is a new volume in Christian Focus’ excellent Focus on the Bible series of commentaries which are ideally suited to the general Christian reader. “Disaster and Deliverance, these two words sum up something of the message of both Joel and Obadiah. In Joel, the prophet begins by announcing a disaster in terms of a locust invasion, which has affected Judah. This, however, is but the pretext for warning of an even greater disaster on the horizon for Judah. Nevertheless, the prophet holds out the prospect of deliverance. In the case of Obadiah, the focus is on Edom. Edom’s pride and longstanding hostility against the people of God has led her to be party to an attack upon them, and as a result, she is threatened with disaster. The people of God, meanwhile, are assured of better things at the hand of the LORD. These two prophets and their message of disaster and deliverance will both challenge and reassure all who have ears to hear.” (Amazon)

John commentaryJohn: Jesus Christ Is God (Focus on the Bible) by William Cook. John is a new New Testament addition to the same series. “John’s Gospel is the mature reflections of the last living apostle. John the apostle wrote this book approximately fifty-five years after the resurrection of Jesus. During those years he had reflected on the words and deeds of Jesus and the result is that the pages of the Gospel contain the seasoned thinking of one of Jesus’ closest friends. New Testament scholar William F. Cook brings us the latest in the popular Focus on the Bible series. In a lucid and engaging style, he leads us through the Gospel of John.” (Amazon)

Zechariah BodaThe Book of Zechariah (NICOT) by Mark Boda. The venerable NICOT series continues now with this volume on Zechariah. “Over the centuries, the prophetic book of Zechariah has suffered from accusations of obscurity and has frustrated readers seeking to unlock its treasures. This work by Mark Boda provides insightful commentary on Zechariah, with great sensitivity to its historical, literary, and theological dimensions. Including a fresh translation of Zechariah from the original Hebrew, Boda delivers deep and thorough reflection on a too-often-neglected book of the Old Testament.” (Amazon | Westminster Books)

March 25, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include Cold-Case Christianity ($1.99) and God’s Crime Scene ($3.99) by J. Warner Wallace; The Jesus Storybook Bible and Thoughts To Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones ($1.99 each); Long Story Short and Old Story New by Marty Machowski ($2.99 each).

When I Didn’t Love My Adopted Child

I appreciated this honest bit of writing. “That maternal instinct God gives mothers is an incredible force for good—and something I didn’t have with our adopted daughter like I have with my other kids.”

What Do Expiation and Propitiation Mean?

Let Dr. Sproul explain those important terms which are especially appropriate to consider on Good Friday.

How To Preach A Terrible Easter Sermon

“Like the spirits who plagued the Demoniac, my mistakes in Easter-preaching have been legion. The subject is always lively, but the preaching is sometimes grave! So in a deeply ironical tone, neither to be copied or encouraged, here are seven ways to preach a terrible Easter sermon. Please, I beg of you, do not try this in your pulpit this Sunday.”

Smithsonian Magazine’s 2015 Photo Contest

There are some pretty amazing shots in Smithsonian’s photo contest.

The Quran’s Deadly Role

Nabeel Qureshi writes for USA Today and explains “Western recruits for jihad are inspired by the literal interpretation of Muslim sacred texts. This is what we must fight.”

This Day in 1951. 65 years ago today, missionary and martyr Jim Elliot wrote, “When it comes time to die, make sure that all you have to do is die.” *

How Nike lost Steph to Under Armour

You’ll probably need to be a sports fan, though not necessarily a basketball fan, to find this one interesting.

Adam Young Scores

If you enjoy the music of Adam Young (aka Owl City) you might appreciate this one-year project he has taken on. Every month he is creating a score to go along with a major event, Apollo 11 last month and the Titanic this month.

Keller

Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love. —Tim Keller

The Character of the Christian
March 24, 2016

Today we conclude our series on the character of the Christian. We have been exploring how the various character qualifications of elders are actually God’s calling on all Christians. While elders are meant to exemplify these traits, all Christians are to exhibit them. I have wanted us to consider whether we are displaying these traits and to learn together how we can pray to have them in greater measure. Today, as we wrap up, we will tackle what it means for elders—and all Christians—to be well thought of by outsiders. And, of course, we will ask why it matters.

Paul instructs Timothy, “Moreover, [an elder] must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:7). Paul has already said that an elder “must be above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2), so being respected by outsiders zeroes in on one specific group: those who are outside the church. Yes, even a man’s standing before the world counts as we evaluate his suitability for leadership. John Piper writes, “What it seems to mean is that a Christian leader should at least meet the standards of the world for decency and respectability, for the standards of the church should be higher.” This matters, for as Paul has written elsewhere, the glory of God is at stake: “You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’” (Romans 2:23–24).

So, why include a man’s outside reputation as a requirement for eldership? Alexander Strauch addresses it practically: “NonChristians may know more about the character and conduct of the prospective elder than the church. Quite often the prospective elder’s nonChristian fellow workers or relatives actually have more daily contact with the church leader than do the people in church.” He also says, “If a pastor elder has a reputation among nonbelievers as a dishonest businessman, womanizer, or adulterer, the unbelieving community will take special note of his hypocrisy. NonChristians will say, ‘He acts that way, and he’s a church elder!’ They will ridicule and mock him. They will scoff at the people of God. They will talk about him and will generate plenty of sinister gossip. They will raise tough, embarrassing questions. He will be discredited as a Christian leader and suffer disgrace and insults. His influence for good will be ruined and he will endanger the church’s evangelistic mission. The elder will certainly become a liability to the church, not a spiritual asset.” The gospel itself is at stake in the consistency or hypocrisy of its leaders.

Now, what exactly is the “snare of the devil” that so concerns Paul? I think John Stott gets to the heart of it when he says, “In his malicious eagerness to discredit the gospel, the devil does his best to discredit the ministers of the gospel.” If Satan can discredit the leaders before the watching world, he can discredit the church and its message. Strauch adds, “The devil is pictured as a cunning hunter (1 Peter 5:8). Using public criticism and the elder’s own inconsistencies, the devil will entrap the unwary Christian into more serious sin—uncontrolled bitterness, angry retaliation, lying, further hypocrisy, and stubbornness of heart. What may begin as a small offense can become something far more destructive and evil. Therefore, an elder must have a good reputation with those outside the Christian community.”

What about Christians who are not elders? They too are to pursue the respect of outsiders. For instance, Paul writes, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:5–6). Again, he states, “We urge you, brothers … to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thessalonians 4:10–12). Christians will “shine as lights in the world” when they live “without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” (Philippians 2:15). Similarly, Peter commands, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. … For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:12, 15; see also 1 Peter 3:13–17). What is to be modeled by the church’s leaders is to be obvious in every life. You, too, bear the responsibility to live an unblemished life before the world.

Self-Evaluation

So, how about you? Where do you see signs of encouragement, and where do you see areas that need growth? I encourage you to ask yourself questions such as these:

  • Do you know your neighbors? Do they know you well enough to be able to speak to your character and reputation? How would your unbelieving neighbors describe you and your family?
  • What kind of reputation do you have among the unbelievers you work with? Do you work hard and avoid meddling? (1 Thessalonians 4:10–12; Ephesians 4:28)
  • What would your unbelieving family members say is most important to you? Would they say that your life matches your profession?

Prayer Points

God is able to make more grace abound in your life, so I encourage you to join me in praying these ways:

  • I pray that you would make my life reflect the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23) so that my life would glorify, not shame, your name.
  • I pray that you would help me think about how my attitudes and actions affect others—especially unbelievers.
  • I pray that I would model hard work and respect for authority, and that I would mind my own business in the workplace.
  • I pray that I would be a model of good works at home, at work, and in my neighborhood so that by doing good to others you would be glorified.

Thanks for joining me through this series. I believe that God has helped me grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ as I’ve explored and applied his Word. I hope you can say the same! May God help you and help me to live an exemplary Christian life.

March 24, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include A Simple Christianity by John MacArthur ($1.99), Resurrection by Hank Hanegraaff ($1.99), and two by Michael Kelley: Boring and Wedesdays Were Pretty Normal ($2.99 each).

Logos March Madness has come down to the final four. You can vote for your picks here: Bock vs Wright and Packer vs Marshall. You can also get 45% off authors who were eliminated in the last round.

The Message of Islam vs. The Gospel of Jesus

Don Carson, Graham Cole, Douglas Sweeney, and Harold A. Netland teamed up to write this article that compares Islam and Christianity. “Rather than trying to answer directly whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God, it’s more helpful to consider similarities and differences in the beliefs of Muslims and Christians, noting areas of both agreement and disagreement.”

Shouting “Christ Is Risen!”

Vance Christie writes about William Sangster: “When he learned of the diagnosis, he made four resolutions: ‘I will never complain. I will keep the home bright. I will count my blessings. I will try to turn it to gain.’ Later he wrote: ‘There have been great gains already from my sickness. I live in the present. I am grateful for little things. I have more time – and use it – for prayer.’”

Christ or Chaos?

Check out this week’s deals at Westminster Books for some good deals on apologetic books for new and young believers.

Brussels Points Us to Calvary

It its own way, the tragedy in Brussels points us to Calvary.

Spider Web Time-Lapse

BBC: “We filmed a garden orb web spider building their amazing spider web in this time lapse as well as slow motion footage as they capture their first prey with it!”

Three Mistakes to Avoid in Good Friday Preaching

Pastors preparing that Good Friday message may wish to give this article a read to ensure they aren’t making these mistakes.

This Day in 1820. 196 years ago today, blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby was born. *

Abiding Beats Busywork

There is a good challenge here for pastors. And, as it happens, this passage was in my morning Bible reading, so I especially appreciated the application.

How Many Trees Are There?

How many trees are there in the world? This video takes a shot at an answer. Turns out that previous estimates were way off.

Spurgeon

Fighting sheep are strange animals, and fighting Christians are self-evident contradictions. —C.H. Spurgeon

The Holiness Instinct
March 23, 2016

Though I didn’t know it when I began, this article would come to hang on a single moment, a single moment of temptation. On Saturday I found myself musing on personal holiness and the joyful reality that you can be far holier than you ever would have thought possible. On Sunday I began scribbling thoughts about the fact that God is able to transform you to such a degree that you develop entirely new instincts toward sin so that what was once alluring is now appalling. On Monday I had the unexpected opportunity to see if this was true.

God is wholly and relentlessly committed to our holiness. He is committed to our purity, to putting our sin to death. He is so committed to this that he will create within us a whole new relationship to sin, and even to our favorite pet sins. See, each of us enters the Christian life with sins that are so appealing, patterns of sin that are so deeply entrenched. We wonder if we can ever have freedom from these sins. We wonder if we will ever be able to resist these temptations, if we can ever see deep and lasting change.

As we grow in the Christian life we are challenged to fight such sin. The person who struggles with anger hears a sermon that teaches and applies “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27). He sees his sin with new clarity, he calls out to God for help, and he goes toe-to-toe with the devil to put this sin to death. The person who skims a little off the top or takes it easy at work encounters these words in his personal devotions: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (4:28). He is cut to the heart, asks God for forgiveness, and searches God’s Word for what it says about a life of righteous honesty. The person who loves to gossip suddenly has these words come to mind during a time of corporate confession: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (4:29). She understands that God himself is challenging her and she repents and commits herself to speaking only what edifies and heals.

Over time these people find that the battle grows easier. A day comes when she realizes it has been weeks since she has gossiped, a day comes when he realizes it has been months since he has had an angry outburst. But it gets even better than that. One day she is faced with the temptation to gossip and her first instinct is to reject the opportunity and instead to speak words that give grace to those who hear. One day he is presented with a golden opportunity to enrich himself at someone else’s expense, and without even thinking about it, he turns away, choosing instead to do his work well and to give with generosity. Both understand that this is a profound evidence of God’s grace—he has given them entirely new instincts toward sin. Where their old instinct was to indulge, their new instinct is to refrain. Where their old instinct was toward sin, their new instinct is toward holiness. They now delight to do what is right in an area that was once the source of so much sin and so much temptation.

All of this was on my mind over the weekend. And then on Monday I went to search for something on Twitter. It was an innocent and well-intentioned search meant to help me find and respond to important information. But there at the top of the results, in high definition and impossible to miss, was a pornographic picture of a woman displaying what she offered and inviting me to just click for more. There was a time when that image would have been a sore temptation. There was a time when that image would have been an excuse for indulgence: “Satan tempted me and I barely stood a chance,” I could have said. But not this time. Within the smallest fraction of a second my heart, my eyes, my hand had reacted. My heart had said “no,” my eyes had turned away, and my hand had shut down the app. It was instantaneous. It was amazing. It was instinct. It was a gift of God, transforming and overwhelming a temptation of the devil. It was a moment to give thanks and praise to God. In this area, at least, God has transformed me. He has given me a new desire with a matching new instinct. And I give him the glory.

March 23, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include a few titles: HarperCollins Atlas of Bible History ($1.99); Evolution Impossible by John Ashton ($2.99); Risen: 50 Reasons Why the Resurrection Changed Everything by Steven Mathewson ($1.99); Why People Don’t Believe by Paul Chamberlain ($0.99).

Brussels Pastor: ‘Our City is in Pain’

WORLD magazine talks to a Brussels pastor about the events that unfolded there yesterday.

Rob Ford: 1969-2016

Toronto’s former mayor, Rob Ford, died yesterday. Though he made himself an international laughing stock, please keep his family and young children in prayer. His family has many connections to local churches and Christians, so pray that the Lord would use this for his glory.

Honor Your Wife as the Weaker Vessel

John Piper takes on this tricky text in his most recent Look at the Book.

Political Correctness

Steven Harris looks at the good and the bad of political correctness. “Nevertheless, it is important that we, as evangelicals, realize our dual role in such a chaotic PC culture—advocate and herald.”

Donald Trump: Do Character, Morality and Kindness Still Matter?

I link to very little related to American politics. However, when Randy Alcorn speaks I tend to listen. This article is worth a read. He asks this: What are Trump’s character qualities and moral standards, and should they matter to Christ-followers?

This Day in 1775. 241 years ago today, Patrick Henry (who was a committed Christian) delivered his speech with the famous line, “Give me liberty or give me death.” *

Early Underwater Warfare

“Like the innards of some hellish behemoth gutted on the banks of the Tyne, these photographs show the cramped, claustrophobic interior of U-boat 110.” 

Expositional Imposters

This article has some helpful information on common expositional mistakes.

Carson

The better we know God, the more we will want all our existence to revolve around him. —D.A. Carson