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Tim Challies

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February 28, 2015

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Hints for Parents by Gardiner Springs ($3.19); Does God Exist? by William Lane Craig ($0.99); Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? by William Lane Craig ($1.99); Answering the Call by John Ensor ($3.96).

Garrett Kell finds a Pattern Among Fallen Pastors. He describes a study that looked at 246 pastors who had experienced moral failure and points to the common patterns.

Erik Raymond is one of my favorite bloggers, and just yesterday he moved his blog over to The Gospel Coalition; adjust your bookmarks accordingly!

This simple comic shows how, and how not, to be generous. “Don’t capitalize on it” is one that seems especially important in the Internet age!

There are some good takeaways from this article on The Pernicious Ideology of Personal Finance Scolds. “The scold focus is solely on accumulating a big enough money pile for oneself, never on the broader economic ecosystem that supports that wealth.”

Sooner or later you’ll want to know this: How to Stop Yourself From Crying. It’s simple enough: distract yourself with pain.

Joe Carter is writing a series on How to Memorize Anything. Memorizing is increasingly a lost art, so I’m glad he’s writing the series.

Thanks to Ligonier Ministries for sponsoring the blog this week with their article R.C. Sproul’s New Hymns to Praise Our King.

A loving God who has no wrath is no God. He is an idol of our own making as much as if we carved Him out of stone. —R.C. Sproul

Sproul

February 27, 2015

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by our friends at Crossway. They are offering 5 prizes this week, and each of the prizes will contain 3 of their brand new books. All 5 winners will receive:

  • The Things of EarthThe Things of Earth by Joe Rigney. “The world is full of good things. Ice-cold lemonade. The laughter of children. College football. Scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. But what happens to these earthly pleasures when Jesus shows up? Do the things of earth grow strangely dim? Or does he shine in all that’s fair? In this book, Joe Rigney offers a breath of fresh air to Christians who are burdened by false standards, impossible expectations, and misguided notions of holiness. Steering a middle course between idolatry on the one hand and ingratitude on the other, this much-needed book reminds us that every good gift comes from the Father’s hand, that God’s blessings should drive us to worship and generosity, and that a passion for God’s glory is as wide as the world.”
  • ExperiencingExperiencing the Trinity by Joe Thorn. “What do you do when you’re at the end of your rope? For Christians, there is only one simple yet profound answer: turn to the triune God. Born out of lessons learned during one of the most spiritually challenging periods of his life, Experiencing the Trinity by pastor Joe Thorn contains 50 down-to-earth meditations on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Overflowing with scriptural truth, pastoral wisdom, and personal honesty, this book reflects on common experiences of doubt, fear, and temptation—pointing readers to the grace that God provides and the strength that he promises.”
  • Luther on the Christian LifeLuther on the Christian Life 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 the Draw

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.

February 27, 2015

I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and with a new year comes a whole new batch of books that qualify as notable. Here are a few of the highlights that have shown up in my mailbox recently.

Tough Topics 2Tough Topics 2: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions by Sam Storms. Between this book and the volume that preceded it (which, curiously, was published by a different publisher), Sam Storms has built quite a nice little collection of good answers to tough questions. Here is the publisher’s description: “Countless people are worried, angry, fearful and just plain confused when it comes to some of the more perplexing issues that life poses and the Bible provokes. Tough Topics 2 provides solid and scriptural answers to 25 such questions. Sam Storms seeks to tackle frustration by looking deeply, not superficially, at what Scripture says, deriving clear and persuasive explanations for these thorny matters.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

HosannaHosanna, Loud Hosannas by Barbara & David Leeman. Here is a unique resource. “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna is a hymnal, it is a textbook, and it is a devotional book. 115 essential hymns that every child should sing. … This book was written for use in worship chapels at Christian Schools, children’s ministries of churches, and family worship.” Keith and Kristin Getty endorse it, saying: “We are so excited about the publication of this hymnbook for children. Our prayer is that our children will be singing theologically-rich hymns such as the ones found here long after we are gone and will continue to pass them on from generation to generation.” For more information visit studenthymnal.com. (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

HappyThe Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Believer in a Gloomy World by David Murray. “Hopelessness has invaded much of our culture, even reaching deep into the church. But while the world is awash in negativity, Christians have resources to live differently. In The Happy Christian, professor and pastor David Murray blends the best of modern science and psychology with the timeless truths of Scripture to create a solid, credible guide to positivity. The author of the acclaimed Christians Get Depressed Too, Murray exposes modern negativity’s insidious roots and presents ten perspective-changing ways to remain optimistic in a world that keeps trying to drag us down. The Happy Christian invites readers to shed negativity and become countercultural missionaries by demonstrating the positive power of the gospel in their lives.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

February 27, 2015

Warming Up Your Car - The current cold snap seems like a good context to share this article about the myth of warming up your car on a cold day.

Three Relationship Rules - You may appreciate these three relationship rules from Ed Welch.

A Three-Parent Baby - How do you make a baby from three parents? Here’s how…

Counter Culture - If you’d like a second opinion on David Platt’s new book (which I reviewed on Tuesday), Al Mohler has written a really helpful review.

Euthanasia Comes to Canada - While we are on the subject of new cultural issues, Canada has recently full-out embraced euthanasia. Obviously this opens up some serious dangers and implications.

Who Turned the Lights Out? - Bob Kauflin writes about the relatively new phenomenon of turning down the lights during a worship service.

Mysteries of Sleep Lie Unsolved - I’m really bad at sleeping and have found the same thing as this author: sleep-tracking devices provide information, but not answers.

Because He’s the living God, He can hear. Because He’s a loving God, He will hear. —C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon

February 26, 2015

The “I love you.” You know the words, and you know the weight they carry. Recently Aileen and I were remembering back to the first time we said those words to one another. Each of us already knew how the other felt, but that did nothing to temper the thrill of actually voicing it and the joy of actually hearing it.

“I love you” marks a milestone in a relationship, and not only a romantic one. Friendships also thrive and deepen with the admission and declaration of love. “I love you” says that this is no mere acquaintance, but a true, deep, and meaningful friendship. I hate that our society threatens the love of friendship by the suspicion of homosexuality, and I want us to push back and to declare that we can love one another in the best and purest way.

But as I considered the importance of the “I love you” I found myself pondering three other words that also cause a relationship to grow and to thrive. A friend recently said something or did something he should not have, and later approached me and so-humbly and so-kindly said, “Please forgive me.” I forgave him, of course. Who am I, a man who has been forgiven so much, that I should withhold forgiveness from anyone else, and especially from someone I love? And I know that in that moment our relationship deepened. It grew in the exchange, in the transaction, of repentance and forgiveness. I felt it, and I knew it.

So I thought about those words and I thought about my friendships. And I believe a relationship grows just as much through “Please forgive me” as through “I love you.” One friend speaking to another and saying, “I love you”—this is where love is declared. But one friend approaching another to express remorse and seek forgiveness—this is where love is displayed and preserved.

February 26, 2015

Here are a few new Kindle deals: Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions by Ken Ham ($3.49); If God Made the Universe, Who Made God? ($2.99); All the Names in the Bible ($2.99); (Here is the Complete List of Kindle Deals for Christians).

6 Rules of Cultural Engagement - Joe Thorn offers guidance on engaging the culture around us.

Congratulating Wesleyan - Carl Trueman congratulates Wesleyan for a ridiculous new step forward in the sexual revolution.

The Medium is the Message - Here’s a helpful 2-minute summary of Marshall McLuhan’s famous aphorism, “The medium is the message.”

Don’t Badmouth Obama - Mark Altrogge explains why you should refrain from badmouthing your president. 

Ligonier Ministries 2015 National Conference - The audio and video for the recent Ligonier Ministries National Conference is now available (for free).

The Greatest Illustrated Story - God does not only tell us the story of what he is doing in this world, but he also illustrates it for us.

A good man is ashamed to speak that which many people are not ashamed to act. —Matthew Henry

Henry

February 25, 2015

There is nothing my dog won’t do for food. There is no command she won’t obey when we are looking, and no rule she won’t break when we are looking away, if only she can get a bit of food in her belly. I guess it is hard to fault her since, as a Lab, every gene in her body drives her to gorge herself. It’s like Paul was writing about her and her breed when he said, ” Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19). Food is her idol, her god, the thing that will motivate her to do anything or everything.

I am no dog, but I, too, am hard-wired for something—for validation. Just as a dog will lie down or roll over or beg or bark on command to get a snausage—doesn’t she realize how pathetic she looks?—, there is not much I won’t do to receive validation, to have others affirm my self-worth according to my criteria. I want to feel special about myself, I want to feel big and important. And when I look for what makes me feel good about myself, I inevitably find my idols. The thing that validates me is the thing I worship, the thing that momentarily takes the place of God in my life.

Lately I have been pondering and listing those things—those things that make me feel so special that I will do irrational things and make poor decisions in order to have them or achieve them. It makes for a pretty ugly and embarrassing little note. I think most of them are best kept between myself and the Lord, but I will give you a couple of examples.

Distant travel validates me. I receive invitations to do a fair number of conferences or speaking engagements over the course of a year, and I make it a point to prayerfully consider each one of them, knowing that I can accept only a few. But I have learned that the farther away the destination, the better it makes me feel about myself. I don’t even know why it works this way, but I suppose I like the idea that people far away are interested in hearing me speak. It feeds my ego. This makes me tempted to accept speaking engagements that will come at the expense of my church and family, even if I can really make no unique contribution to the event, and even if it makes very little sense for me to be involved. I am tempted to accept the event for the worst of motives: for how it makes me feel about myself.

Big audiences at big conferences validate me. I hate to own this one, but it is true: A bigger audience makes me feel more important than a smaller audience. A big audience at a big conference makes me feel awfully good about myself while a small audience at a small conference (or, even worse, a small audience at a big conference) is the kind of thing that can cast me into self-doubt or even despair. Again, there is a temptation to accept an invitation on the basis of how many people will be at the event rather than on any better or more noble criteria.

The irony in these two examples is that I am the ultimate homebody—I find it difficult to be away from home for more than very short stints—, and I am intimidated by large crowds—I find it extremely stressful to be in front of people. Somehow the things that validate me are the things I naturally run away from. I love them and hate them all at once.

I should note that neither of these things is wrong. Traveling distances to preach or to encourage others can be good and noble. Turning down a small event to speak at a large event can be good and God-honoring. But it can also be pure idolatry, a way I look for others to receive what only God is meant to give.

I need to be aware of these things—each of those ugly things on my ugly list. And most of all, I need to remember what is mostly deeply true. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to have the approval of others, and especially to receive the affirmation of God. But the crucial fact is, I already have it through Christ. I am already accepted by God because of what Christ has done, and this acceptance is all I need. When I am at my best it means everything to me. But when I am at my worst, it means nothing.

Image credit: Shutterstock

February 25, 2015

Here are today’s Kindle deals: The God Who Justifies by James White ($2.99); The God Who Is There by D.A. Carson ($3.99); The Ever-Loving Truth by Voddie Baucham ($0.99); In My Father’s House and Conversation Peace by Mary Kassian ($0.99 each); Biblical Authority by James Draper ($2.99).

How Well Do You Know Your Bible? - The new issue of Credo magazine is now available for free online reading or download. This issue’s subject: How Well Do You Know Your Bible? 

That Malaysia Airlines Plane - This guy thinks he knows where that missing Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared to. It seems more than a little unlikely, but it sure is an interesting read.

Why We Pray - This week’s deals from Westminster Books include a new, highly-endorsed book called Why We Pray (along with several other excellent books on prayer).

Iwo Jima and the Monumental Sacrifice - My rule: If Tim Keesee writes it, I read it. I’ve yet to be disappointed.

SDO: Year 5 - The sun is big. And awesome. And beautiful. Check out this video from NASA.

Inviting Children into the Prayer Closet - I sure do feel this one all the way.

Does Your Youth Ministry Mess with Christ’s Bride? - This is an excellent article on both the blessings and potential drawbacks of youth ministry.

Too many church members are starched and ironed but not washed. —Vance Havner

Havner