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Tim Challies

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June 2010

June 30, 2010

This morning I read the verses of 1 Timothy 3, a passage that describes the qualifications of those who may be leaders within the church. And having read those verses, which tell of the kind of godly character that must be present in the life of one who would be a pastor or elder, I was drawn to some words from the prophet Jeremiah, words that focus on what happens when we ignore such qualities and raise up unsuitable leaders.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”

The twenty-third chapter of Jeremiah falls near the halfway point of the book, in the midst of a section where the prophet is foretelling the end of the Davidic dynasty and the coming captivity of God’s people. In this chapter Jeremiah pronounces judgments against the false prophets who had become a plague within the nation. Though these words were spoken some 600 years before Christ and in a particular time and context, his words ring as true today as they did then. “They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you’ ” (16, 17).

What was a problem then is a problem now. So many men and women today speak visions of their own minds, and teach what has so evidently not come from the mouth of the Lord. So many say that it shall be well with people whose souls are in grave danger; they seek to show from Scripture that Christ will save those even who have never heard his Word, and who have never humbled themselves before the Lord. They say, “It shall be well with you” to those who sit in the pews but have never had their hearts of ice melted by the Lord. They speak lies and blasphemies, all the while claiming to speak for God.

June 30, 2010

Manute Bol’s Radical Christianity - It was interesting to see an article like this one in the Wall Street Journal. “Manute Bol, who died last week at the age of 47, is one player who never achieved redemption in the eyes of sports journalists. His life embodied an older, Christian conception of redemption that has been badly obscured by its current usage.”

The Yahoo Word List - Yahoo has a very helpful resource “terms related to communications, technology, branding, and other topics that our U.S. editors have encountered frequently.” It’s a great place to check for the spelling of terms, the proper way to do acronyms, and so on.

A Question for Liberty - Justin Taylor has just one question he’d like to have answered by the trustees of Liberty University. And if you’ve kept up with the Ergun Caner controversy, you can guess what the question is. “Was Dr. Caner raised in Turkey as a Muslim terrorist trained in jihad?”

Corporate Sin - I don’t know how I missed this article when it was first posted a couple of weeks ago. In it John Dyer talks about our responsibility in the BP disaster. “If we’ve ever complained about rising gas prices or the cost of air travel, we are participating in the world that drives companies like BP to cut costs. We want them to. We need them to. We don’t really want to know what BP is doing as long as it keeps our vehicles fueled and our computers powered. Not unlike Al Gore, who talks about the environment from the comfort of his personal jet, we love to talk about BP’s problems while consuming the product they provide at every opportunity.”

Shedding Some Light on Twilight - Mary Kassian interacts with the first two Twilight movies, suggesting what it is about them that has drawn in so many girls (and women). “It’s not surprising that young girls are falling for [Edward]. But sadly, their enthusiasm for being the leading lady in a heart-gripping romance lacks discernment. The movie grips them at such a deep emotional level that they shrug off the glaring warnings that indicate that this particular relationship is unhealthy. It’s a counterfeit version of a fairy-tale romance. It looks good and attractive on the surface, but the underlying darkness in Edward will most certainly lead to disaster for Bella. It may go well for a time, but in the end, it will kill her. She’s playing with fire, and she’s going to get burned.”

June 29, 2010

After a one-week hiatus (hey, we’re doing pretty well—10 episodes in 12 weeks) David and I are back with episode 10 of the Connected Kingdom Podcast. This week we discuss vacations and how Christians can do vacations well. We interact with a popular article written by C.J. Mahaney and we also discuss some issues related to Christian character and vacations. All-in-all, I think you’ll find it a helpful listen as you consider going away this summer. I hope you enjoy it!

If you want to give us feedback or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or another program. As always, feedback and suggestions for future topics are much appreciated.

June 29, 2010

8 Writing Tips from C.S. Lewis - Here is a good list of writing tips from C.S. Lewis (some of which have been slightly modernized). “In 1959 an American schoolgirl wrote to C. S. Lewis asking him for advice on the craft of writing. He sent her a list of eight rules, and I add my own editorial comments to each of them.” (HT:TW)

The Albert Mohler Show - I will be a guest on the Albert Mohler show this evening in case you’d like to tune in.

Rejection by Silent Majority - In this brief article Michael Krahn has some good things to say about Chris Tomlin and worship music.

Meet the Rizers - The Resurgence blog introduces The Rizers, a Disney-pop Scripture memory group for kids.

Nourishment for the Soul - Randy Alcorn shares some biblical wisdom on suffering.

Sacrilege - If you want to make a bunch of Canadians mad, this is probably the fastest way to go about it:

The Secret Powers of Time - This is quite an interesting presentation on the ways in which time shapes us (HT:ThePath):

June 28, 2010

Doctrine by DriscollMark Driscoll must be a busy guy. As if his ministry at Mars Hill isn’t enough to keep him busy every hour of the day, he has also written a long line of books, the most recent of which is titled simply Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe. Like several of his previous volumes, this one is co-authored with his friend and theological mentor Gerry Breshears. While using the term “systematic theology” may not be entirely helpful in describing this book, it at least gives an idea of its contents. Doctrine exists to provide an overview of what Christians ought to believe.

As theological tomes go, this one is particularly interesting, particularly effective, in its structure. Each chapter introduces a topic through a single word and then shows how that topic is really all about God. The first chapter is “Trinity: God Is” while the second is “Revelation: God Speaks.” That sets that pattern that continues through each of the book’s thirteen chapters (the last of which, not surprisingly, is “Kingdom: God Reigns.” This beautifully takes doctrine out of the abstract and applies it directly to God himself. It takes a noun and matches it with a verb, showing for example how the doctrine of the church is not about us, but about God, about his desire to send his Word into all the world (the chapter is titled “Church: God Sends”).

June 28, 2010

In Memorian, James Montgomery Boice - Rick Phillips writes about James Montgomery Boice who died ten years ago this month. “In my opinion, the reason for James Boice’s influence and legacy is seldom understood.  What was it about him that drew so wide an audience of pastors and laypeople?  The answer is that as a Reformed theologian, James Boice was a Christian first.”

Ligonier Video - The video for most of the sessions from the recent Ligonier Ministries National Conference is now available. You can check out the pre-conference (Mohler/Parsons/Stetzer/Challies) or the conference itself which featured “Tough Questions Christians Face.” Be sure to note the “THU/FRI” switch at the top of the list of video since that’s how you’ll find all of the video for the second day of the conference. And bookmark it so you can come back when the Saturday videos are available since there were some very good sessions on the Saturday as well.

Kindle Price Drop - I assume most have seen this by now but if not, do take note that Amazon’s Kindle has just seen a very substantial price drop (obviously in reaction to the fast-paced growth of iPad adoption). You can get one now for just $189. Many people consider the Kindle the better reading device so it’s worth checking out.

And while on the subject of Amazon, their Gold Box Deal is worth checking out if you still don’t have a good GPS.

Why Do Couples Start To Look Like One Another? - I feel sorry for my wife when I read this article. Granted this particular article is probably not all that scientific, but it’s a question I’ve heard others ask: Why do couples start to look like one another over time? “Zajonc suggested that older couples looked more alike because people in close contact mimic each other’s facial expressions. In other words, if your partner has a good sense of humor and laughs a lot, he or she will probably develop laugh lines around their mouth — and so will you. “

June 27, 2010

Here is a prayer for the sick or for the spiritually-distressed. It is drawn from the Canadian and American Reformed Church web site. This is a prayer that comes from the perspective of the one so-afflicted and I don’t think it is necessarily meant as a pastoral prayer. It is worth changing the first person plural (we) to the first person singular (I) since in that way it seems to be a little bit more pointed, a little more personal. What I particularly like about it is that it allows the possibility (though it does not demand it) that suffering is a form of chastisement from God. It celebrates God’s sovereignty and his goodness even through suffering.

June 26, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I announced that we’d be taking a slight diversion in reading classic books together and would instead be reading a biography. That project will begin in less than 2 weeks, so I wanted to offer a final reminder about it.

In order to make this program work, I set about looking for just the right biography. I wanted it to cover a person whose life is exemplary and a person who had a remarkable impact on the church. I also wanted to find a biography that was reasonably inexpensive and one that was not too long. And, of course, it had to be written by a superior biographer. All those factors combined to lead me to Arnold Dallimore’s life of Charles Spurgeon. It is 240 pages over 21 chapters, meaning we can quite easily read it in somewhere between 7 and 10 weeks. It is available for around $12 at many online retailers, ensuring that it will not break the bank.