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Tim Challies

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May 25, 2015

Crossway has put the Kindle versions of their Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition series on sale at $2.99 each: Christian Worldview; The Liberal Arts; Art and Music; Philosophy; The Great Tradition of Christian Thinking; Political Thought; Ethics and Moral Reasoning.

Spiritual Dry Spells: Causes and Cures - We all go through a spiritual dry spell at one time or another, don’t we? Here’s a word on causes and cures.

Fifty Shades of Khaki: Biblical Minimalism - Clint Archer on minimalism. “The average American house contains over 300,000 items. The community of modern minimalists I stumbled upon while researching efficient packing strategies strives to prune its inventory of possessions to three digits at most.”

Atheism’s Foundation for Morality - Randy Alcorn: “Choosing moral behaviors because they make you feel happy can make sense, in a Bertrand Russell/Sam Harris sort of way, but what if it makes you feel happy to torture animals or kill Jews or steal from your employer?”

35 Things I Wish I’d Known in High School - Here is some wisdom for young ladies.

Real Glory - This is a good one: “What a day it will be. A day when true honor will be unveiled.”

The Holy Spirit Before Pentecost - This is a helpful illustration of the Holy Spirit before and after Pentecost.

(My graphic designer is on vacation, so I am on a quote graphic hiatus; quotes will return in 2 weeks.)

May 24, 2015

One of the most difficult things to do is to lovingly confront another person about sin, or—even harder—about what may have been sin. In his excellent book Side by Side, Ed Welch offers some practical counsel on doing this well.


The hardest sins to talk about are those we see someone commit, but we receive no invitation to speak. Here, we must decide if the sin is to be called out or covered.

Don’t Be Silent Out of Fear

Most people who have witnessed sin or are even suspicious of it in another don’t regret raising such important matters when they are raised well, but they do regret having been silent.

A church was left dazed when both a men’s leader and a women’s leader left their spouses, wrote a good-bye note to their families, and disappeared together. As a plan for pastoral care gradually developed, over a dozen people in the church said “I should have said something.” They had observed the way the two leaders had interacted and spoken about each other, and they regretted their silence.

When sin becomes public, especially when it is sin that damages relationships or incurs legal problems, so many think, “I should have said something.” Yet we are slow to remember those mental notes. Our fear of people’s angry reactions, the myth that help is needed only when asked for, and our sense that we have no right to say anything because we ourselves are quite a mess—these contribute to safe relationships rather than loving ones.

Don’t Be Silent Out of Anger

If the sin has been against us, our anger is an even bigger problem than fear. The Old Testament puts it this way: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him” (Lev. 19:17). When angry, we might be excellent at talking to others about someone’s sin, but wretched at talking to the actual sinner. Meanwhile, just a smidgeon of humility would remind us that we are rivaling the very sin we oppose as we stand in prideful judgment. If we are stuck in anger, we are the needy ones, and we ask for help.

Get Help

If we have any questions about how to proceed, we ask for help. We are part of a larger body, not private therapists, and we will often ask the larger body to help us to help others. And even when we ask for help, we proceed carefully. Confidences are important to us, and we want to speak well of people, so we might ask anonymously.

“I think I should speak to someone about something I witnessed. Could you help me know what to say and even whether I should say it?”

Just the Facts

Our task is to hold up a mirror so that others see themselves more than they see us. We tell what we have actually seen; we avoid interpretations and usually stay away from speaking of how the actions might have hurt or disappointed us—that can wait for another time.

”The other day I saw you walking down the street with Rich [not her husband]. Is everything okay? Should I be concerned?

”At the church meeting, you seemed pretty angry. I noticed that everyone went silent after you spoke, as if they were afraid to say anything. Could we talk about that?”

”You seemed on edge this morning. When I asked about your upcoming day, you said my question was stupid. Is something wrong?”

I was thinking about our conversation the other day. When you talked about Jackie, you seemed to be holding some things against her. Could we talk about that?”

”When we were talking about your marriage, everything was about her—it was all her fault—and nothing was your own. I know things are complicated, but isn’t our goal to be seeing our own faults long before we see our spouse’s?

Yes, any of those comments would be difficult for most of us. But we are compelled by love. How would we want to be approached by someone who is aware of our public sin?

Be Prepared for Possible Negative Reactions

It doesn’t always go well. The one we approach might get mad at us, which means we have probably identified something important. Anger is usually a self-indictment. Or the person becomes upset because we have been clumsy, self-righteous, or judgmental, in which case we are saddened, ask forgiveness, and grow in wisdom.

And what if the other person does not accept our words and refuses to hear? Perhaps we wait, perhaps we persist because the matter is so important, perhaps we get advice from a wise friend, or perhaps we enlist someone else who has witnessed the sinful behavior and go together (Matt. 18:15-16). Love is what orients us. Fear or anger will blind us, but love and the best interests of others are our guide.

Image credit: Shutterstock

May 23, 2015

Here are a few Kindle deals. Killjoys by Desiring God ($2.99). This is the last day to grab these books from 9Marks: The Gospel by Ray Ortlund; Evangelism by Mack Stiles; Expositional Preaching by David Helm; Sound Doctrine by Bobby Jamieson; Church Elders by Jeramie Rinne; Church Membership by Jonathan Leeman; Church Discipline by Jonathan Leeman ($4.99 each). Also, Mongerism has a whole series of books that is free for the taking.

Here is an important word about Introverts in the Dearest Place on Earth. “Both extroverts and introverts must do the work to see that those with the gift of introversion are a grace to God’s Church. In this sense, I have some considerations for my fellow introverted church members and the extroverts who love them.”

Jonathan Leeman adds an important entry to the ongoing discussion of Can Women Teach Under the Authority of Elders?

Is This What Love Looks Like? I would say it is. “My husband and I have been married nearly 20 years, and because we live in a city (and attend a church) teeming with young, professional singles, we’re often asked about marriage. There are things I wish to tell those eager for advice.”

This is a sad but still helpful article about life in the P.I.C.U. “It is the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, but they call it ‘Pick-You.’ And you wonder over and over why you’ve been picked.”

I appreciate what Jake Meador says about Evangelicals and the Search for Credibility.

This little video goes a long to to debunking the myths of OCD. Of course I’d prefer it if the video also explored the spiritual angle of OCD

Thank you to RPTS for sponsoring the blog this week with the article The Importance of Counseling Training in Pastoral Ministry.

We must be global Christians, with a global mission, because our God is a global God. —John Stott

May 22, 2015

It is time for a new Free Stuff Fridays, and this week’s giveaway is sponsored by Crossway. To mark the latest release in their “Theologians on the Christian Life” series, they are giving away the new volume along with a couple of the ones that preceded it. There will be 5 winners this week and each of the winners will receive:

  • NewtonNewton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ by Tony Reinke. “John Newton is famous for his legendary hymn ‘Amazing Grace.’ Many have celebrated his dramatic conversion from a life in the slave trade to his eventual work to end it. But often overlooked are Newton’s forty years as a pastor ministering to parishioners and friends unsettled by the trials, doubts, and fears of life.Newton is perhaps the greatest pastoral letter writer in the history of the church. He took up his pen day after day to help others fix their eyes on Christ, which, he writes, is the underlying battle of the Christian life. Through a careful study of scores of letters, Tony Reinke brings together Newton’s brilliant vision of the Christian life in one accessible place.”
  • Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God by Dane Ortlund. “Jonathan Edwards is widely hailed as the greatest theologian in American history. In Edwards on the Christian Life, Dane Ortlund invites us to explore the great eighteenth-century pastor’s central passion: God’s resplendent beauty. Whether the topic was the nature of love, the preeminence of Scripture, or the glory of the natural world, the concept of beauty stood at the heart of Edwards’s theology and permeated his portrait of the Christian life. Clear and engaging, this accessible volume will inspire you to embrace Edwards’s magnificent vision of what it means to be a Christian: enjoying and reflecting of the beauty of God in all things.”
  • Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom by Carl Trueman. “Martin Luther’s historical significance can hardly be overstated. Known as the father of the Protestant Reformation, Luther has had an enormous impact on Western Christianity and culture. In Luther on the Christian Life, historian Carl Trueman introduces readers to the lively Reformer, taking them on a tour of his historical context, theological system, and approach to the Christian life. Whether exploring Luther’s theology of protest, ever-present sense of humor, or misunderstood view of sanctification, this book will help modern readers go deeper in their spiritual walk by learning from one of the great teachers of the faith.”

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.

May 22, 2015

I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and every few weeks I like to provide a round-up of what is new and particularly notable. It has been a full month since my last update, and an awful lot of books have shown up since then. I will start with new additions to several excellent commentary series, and then move to a few general interest books.

Edwards LukeThe Gospel According to Luke by James Edwards (Pillar New Testament Commentary). It is always noteworthy when a major commentary series receives a new volume, and that is the case with the PNTC, which is widely regarded as one of the most consistently excellent series. Here is the publisher’s description: “Though Luke is often thought to have a primarily Gentile focus, Edwards counterbalances that perspective by citing numerous evidences of Luke’s overarching interest in depicting Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s providential work in the history of Israel, and he even considers the possibility that Luke himself was a Jew. In several excursuses Edwards discusses particular topics, including Luke’s infancy narratives, the mission of Jesus as the way of salvation, and Luke’s depiction of the universal scope of the gospel. While fully conversant with all the latest scholarship, Edwards writes in a lively, fluent style that will commend this commentary to ministers, students, scholars, and many other serious Bible readers.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Hebrews HughesHebrews by Kent Hughes (Preaching the Word). Previously published in two volumes, Kent Hughes’ excellent commentary on Hebrews is now one volume and updated with the ESV text. “In this insightful commentary, readers will find a gold mine of helpful discussion related to a book of the Bible that is easily misunderstood and often overlooked. Written by a pastor with decades of ministry and preaching experience, this volume abounds with wise insights into the book of Hebrews. With divisions and outlines that are never forced but flow naturally from the Biblical text, this commentary will be a great resource for anyone studying or teaching the book of Hebrews.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Song of Songs DuguidThe Song of Songs by Iain Duguid (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries). Here is yet another series being updated with a volume written by a trusted author. “This Old Testament book, ‘the best of songs,’ has fascinated and perplexed interpreters for centuries. We hear the passionate melody of romantic love, and are confronted by erotic imagery—but whose love is described? Is it a couple’s love for each other, God’s love for his people, or a poem that speaks to love in all its dimensions? Iain Duguid’s commentary explains how the Song is designed to show us an idealized picture of married love, in the context of a fallen and broken world. It also convicts us of how far short of this perfection we fall, both as humans and as lovers, and drives us repeatedly into the arms of our true heavenly husband, Jesus Christ.” (Buy it or learn more at Amazon or Westminster Books)

May 22, 2015

Here are some Kindle deals that may spark your interest: Mom Enough by Desiring God ($2.99); Going Beyond the Five Points is a brand new book by Rob Ventura ($4.99); Buried Hope or Risen Savior? by Charles Quarles ($0.99); Christianity, Cults & Religions by Paul Carden ($0.99).

What Your Church Needs To Know About Church - Here is the one foundational truth every one of us needs to keep in mind week by week.

When Revival Came to Korea - Vance Christie tells about the time revival came to Korea.

Repentant Love - “What happens when the depths of sin and self meet the Jesus of grace and sacrifice? Check out Josh and Suzy’s story to find out.”

Treasuring the Presence of God in Liberty - There are some interesting thoughts on worship in this one.

A Subway Delay Story - This neat little video explains how one little delay can mess up the entire subway line (and how to fix it).

When Jesus Wanted All My Money - I enjoyed reading Craig Keener’s biographical article about obeying Jesus’ commands related to money and possessions.

God does everything for His glory, not because He is an egomaniac but because He’s doing it for our joy. —John Piper

Piper

 

May 21, 2015

Testimony is a good Christian word, isn’t it? It is a word we use to describe a person’s account of their conversion. At Grace Fellowship Church we ask people to share their testimony aloud before they are baptized, and to send it in printed form to the members of the church as they apply for church membership. Sometimes at an evening service we will invite someone to come to the front and to tell us how the Lord saved her. We even keep a big binder full of these testimonies for anyone who would like to read through them—an amazing collection of stories that are so very different and yet all tell the same story.

Do you talk about your conversion? Do you find yourself thinking back to it and recounting its circumstances? Do you remember and share your testimony? John Flavel considers this one of the great joys and responsibilities of the Christian life saying, “This is a subject which every gracious heart loves to steep its thoughts in. It is certainly the sweetest history that ever they repeated; they love to think and talk of it.” Do you?

In chapter 3 of Flavel’s book The Mystery of Providence, Flavel instructs his reader in the importance of considering and recounting God’s providence in our salvation.

In nothing does Providence shine forth more gloriously in this world than in ordering the occasions, instruments and means of conversion of the people of God. However skilfully its hand had moulded your bodies, however tenderly it had preserved them and however bountifully it had provided for them; if it had not also ordered some means or other for your conversion, all the former favours and benefits it had done for you had meant little. This, O this, is the most excellent benefit you ever received from its hand. You are more indebted to it for this, than for all your other mercies. And in explaining this performance of Providence, I cannot but think your hearts must be deeply affected.

But with all the emphasis we place on testimony, there is one kind of person that can sometimes feel a little bit inadequate—the person who grew up in a Christian home, who put his faith in Christ at a very young age and through circumstances that may have long since been lost to the mists of time.

Flavel acknowledges this person, stating that not every Christian can recount the circumstances of their salvation in quite the same way. While for some people salvation was “wrought in person of riper years, who in their youthful days were more profane and vile,” for others salvation came to “persons in their tender years, into whose hearts grace was more imperceptibly and indiscernibly instilled by God’s blessing upon pious education.”

In the former sort, the distinct acts of the Spirit, illuminating, convincing, humbling, drawing them to Christ and sealing them are more evident and discernible. In the latter, these are more obscure and confused. They can remember that God gave them an esteem and liking of godly persons, care of duty and conscience of sin; but as to the time, place, instruments and manner of the work, they can give but a slender account of them.

There is a clear difference between these people, but it is not the difference between genuine and false salvation. Rather, God has simply chosen to bring about the miracle of conversion in a different way.

However, if the work is savingly wrought in them, there is no reason they should be troubled because the circumstances of it are not so evident to them as they are to others. Let the substance and reality of the work appear and there is no reason to afflict yourselves because of the lack of evidence of such circumstance.

In other words, salvation is no more genuine to those who can clearly remember and recount the circumstances that led to their conversion. And I would go so far as to say that the “boring” testimonies of childhood conversions are the most blessed of all. After all, aren’t these exactly the testimonies we wish for our children?

Next Week

We will continue our reading next week with chapter 4: “God’s Providence in Our Work.” Read it by next Thursday and check in to see what I (and others) have to say about it.

Your Turn

The purpose of this project is to read classics together. So do feel free to leave a comment if you have something you would like to say. Alternatively, you may leave a link to your blog or Facebook or anywhere else you have reflected on what you have read.

If you would like to read along with us, we have only just begun, so there is lots of time to get caught up. Simply get a copy of the book and start reading…

Image credit: Shutterstock

May 21, 2015

Here are some Kindle deals that may interest you. New from GLH Publishing is the classic The Glory of Christ by John Owen ($0.99). Other deals include Exploring the Unexplained by Trent Butler ($2.99); The Big Idea of Biblical Preaching ($1.99); I Am a Church Member by Thom Rainer ($2.99). There are lots of other general market deals here. Free today is When Your Husband Is Addicted to Pornography by Vicki Tiede and A Quest for More by Paul Tripp.

Not the Unforgivable Sin - “Divorce is not the unforgivable sin. As a Christian, the only scarlet God sees on you is the blood of Christ, which covers your sins and presents you before God as his blameless child.”

The Financial Ruin of a Christian Family - Denny Burk reports on the latest news about Aaron and Melissa Klein. 

Running From a Bad Church - Trevin Wax urges caution toward those who are running from a bad church situation. 

Voddie Baucham’s Big Move to Africa - WORLD magazine interviews Voddie Baucham, and eventually asks him about his forthcoming move to Africa.

The First 21 Days - This is some remarkable footage of the first 21 days of a bee’s life.

16 Secrets of One Happy Marriage - There is always something to learn from articles like this one.

Sisters, Let’s Become Cheerleaders - Elisha has a good word to herself and other women.

It is a greater mercy to descend from praying parents than from nobles. —John Flavel

Flavel