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Tim Challies

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June 2010

June 25, 2010

Free Stuff Fridays

I had all sorts of wonderful plans on what I was going to write today. It was going to be witty and compelling and brilliant. But then I realized with a start that it’s Friday and that I’m due to speak at a men’s retreat this evening. There are several hours of driving between myself and the location of that retreat, so I need to be on my way (where on earth did this week go?). However, I do have this edition of Free Stuff Fridays for you. I trust it will prove a suitable alternative!

This week’s giveaway is once again sponsored by the new CBDReformed.com. It is, you remember, a storefront owned and operated by Christian Book Distributors and one geared specifically toward a Reformed audience. They say “In order to serve an important segment of our customers more fully, we have developed a more focused website with author, publisher, and product selections reflective of the topics, issues, and concerns of discerning readers from a reformed perspective.  We intentionally feature new and classic titles you’re looking for, authors you appreciate, and viewpoints you value. This increased concentration of thoughtful resources ensures that they will not get lost in the standard mix of a more general product line.”

Giveaway

CBDReformed is offering five prize packages, each of which will contain the following three books:

  • Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D.A. Carson (Retail price $15.99)
  • George Washington’s Sacred Fire by Peter A. Lillback (Retail price $24.95)
  • The Godly Home by Richard Baxter (Retail price $17.99)

In addition, CBDReformed is offering a 3 day sale (June 25-28) on the following two products. These are available immediately and for anyone who cares to take advantage of them.

  • The Cross of Christ by John Stott — CBD exclusive edition (only paperback edition available); retail $17.99/sale $6.99
  • ESV Study Bible hardcover 50% off; retail $49.99/sale $24.99

Giveaway Rules: You may only enter the draw once. Simply fill out your name and email address to enter the draw. 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 25, 2010

Increasing the Earning Power of Your Children - Andy shares an easy way of increasing the earning power of your children. “Want your children to go further in their education–high school, college, maybe more? Want them to earn more as adults? Here’s one key predictor of educational attainment and earning power. Is it IQ? Is it economic status? …”

Complemegalitarianism - Kevin DeYoung has a good series he has just finished up. He looks at whether Christians can hold to some kind of blended view of complementarianism and egalitarianism (terms the return to gender roles within marriage and within the church).

Dockery’s Summer Reading List - David Dockery has put together a summer reading list. There are some good choices on it. It couldn’t possibly be more differnet than Al Mohler’s list.

June 24, 2010

It’s easy to grow discouraged at the state of the church. As a person who invests a lot of time and attention to studying the church, her health and what Jesus requires of her, I often find myself prone to lamenting her state. Writers from all backgrounds and denominations have written about the church, and I have read many of these books and publications. The standard book begins with a few chapters outlining all the ways the church has failed with the rest of the book providing the solution. If only we did this or that or the other thing, we would make the church what she was intended to be. I haven’t read too many books that give the church a pat on the back and say “good job!” Maybe for good reason. Maybe not. When I wrote The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment I was deliberate in not doing that, in not giving a long list of all the ways the church has failed. What real value would there be in spreading that seed of discouragement?

Here are just a couple of examples of people who have taken on the church in recent years. Rick Warren wrote the mega-seller The Purpose Driven Church and in it he proclaimed that the church has lost sight of her purpose and that God was calling her to rediscover it. Millions of pastors bought and read this book and began what Warren refers to as the Second Reformation—a Reformation of purpose. A couple of years ago I counted six or seven books in the Christian bookstore heralding “the next Reformation,” yet all of them pointed towards a different basis for this Reformation. The men and women of the Emergent community (does anyone even remember Emergent anymore?) continually wrote indictments of the church, showing how, in their view, she has failed in the modern world and is primed to be an even greater failure in the postmodern world. A person who was fully immersed in the emerging church sent me an email once and wrote about “denominational distinctives that strive to keep us divided” as if churches are purposely focusing on the distinctives in order to drive wedges between them and other believers. There are any number of other authors that identify problems and tell us how to fix them. Many people are proud to be believers, yet are ashamed to be part of the church, the visible body of Christ. They portray the church as being purposeless, intellectual and ancient, knowingly and joyfully trapped in the past, snickering as we watch our neighbors fall into the abyss.

June 24, 2010

Email and Offline Relationships - TIME has a worthwhile article on the way email can potentially damage offline relationships. “It’s possible that instead of fostering real friendships off-line, e-mail and social networking may take the place of them — and the distance inherent in screen-only interactions may breed feelings of isolation or a tendency to care less about other people. After all, if you don’t feel like dealing with a friend’s problem online, all you have to do is log off.”

Christ & Katrina - Russell Moore writes about visiting his hometown for the first time after Hurricane Katrina. “For a week I didn’t know if my parents and grandmother and other relatives were alive or dead. I watched the images on television, pacing the floors as I saw landmark after landmark wiped off the map. The mausoleums in some of the graveyards are said to have opened, with coffins and bodies floating down the streets. But the round-the-clock cable networks didn’t prepare me for seeing my post-Katrina hometown with my eyes for the first time. My boyhood prophecy charts prepared me more.”

Pray for Joni Eareckson Tada - CT reveals that Joni Eareckson Tada will be undergoing surgery for breast cancer.

Pornography and Your Brain - Here’s a good article on the ways pornography changes your brain. This is an area of growing interest and increasing concern. “This article will seek to answer two questions: (1) Biologically, is the brain affected by pornography and other sexual addictions? (2) If so, and if such addictions are widespread, can they have a societal effect as well?”

June 23, 2010

Forerunner of the Charismatic Movement“I look back upon him with awe, as on the saints and martyrs of old. A holy man, in spite of all his delusions and errors. He is now with his God and Saviour, whom he wronged so much, yet, I am persuaded, loved so sincerely.” So said Robert Murray McCheyne of Edward Irving. And in those words McCheyne aptly summarizes the legacy of Irving, a man of unusual ability, a man who by so many appearances genuinely loved the Lord. And yet he was a man who had some very strange and dangerous beliefs and a man who was fascinated with spectacular manifestations of spiritual gifts. He was the forerunner of the contemporary charismatic movement.

Born in 1792, Edward Irving was a Scottish preacher, a man who had inherited the legacy of a deeply theological faith. Licensed to preach in the Presbyterian churches, he quickly became noted as a speaker and preacher for his intellectual and eloquent sermons. But he was also known as a kind and attentive pastor who found great joy in visiting the homes of the people in his care. He loved these people deeply and was committed to them. He was at times shockingly arrogant and at other times deeply humble.

In 1822, after several years of ministry in Scotland, Irving was invited to take the pastorate at Caledonian Church in London. His eloquent speech was soon noticed by many of the London elite and Irving’s star rose quickly until his church was one of the most popular in the city. In these years Irving became interested in, and then obsessed with, prophecy and the charismatic gifts. And it was not long before these emphases dominated his ministry and dominated his church. Services became a cacophony of tongues, of prophecy, of elements that began to overtake the preaching of the Word.

June 23, 2010

Ligonier Valley Study Center - This article discusses the early years of Ligonier Ministries (or The Ligonier Valley Study Center as it was known at its beginning). It’s always amazing to see what God can do with such small beginnings.

Learning to Lead - Melissa shares a heartfelt video from Matt Hammitt of the band Sanctus Real. He reflects on the song “Lead Me.” The song expresses Matt’s cry to be a godly husband and father and to lead his family as God would have him lead it.

Toronto Pastors Conference - My buddy Ian reflects on the recent Toronto Pastors Conference, explaining why it was a valuable event and linking to the audio resources.

Days With My Father - This is a touching photo essay that’s worth a few minutes of your time.

And the Oscar Goes To… - An article about the plague of diving in soccer today.

June 22, 2010

As you read this, I’m on my way home from Orlando, Florida. I’ve been here with the family for nearly a week now, first to take in Ligonier Ministries’ National Conference and then to grab a few days’ vacation. This is part one of our two-part vacation this summer—a bit later on we’ll be headed for a state park in Virginia.

I was busy from Thursday morning until Saturday afternoon and, quite literally, did not venture outside until then. On Thursday I spoke at the pre-conference which dealt with digital living. It was quite a good and useful event, I think, and featured talks from myself, Burk Parsons, Al Mohler and Ed Stetzer. If you read blogs, use Twitter, have a Facebook account or are otherwise engaged in social media, you may want to check out the audio or video. I think it will prove worth your while and hopefully it will help you understand these technologies a little bit better and help you use them in a way that honors God.

June 21, 2010

It strikes me often how life is cyclical; how things I wrestle with and ponder and pray about will come to the forefront of my life and faith a month or a year or two years later. One of the biggest blessings of having a journal (which is often how this site functions for me) is that I can go back and see how I dealt with these things in the past. It is good to see how situations repeat themselves but how my responses may vary with time and Christian experience.

In the past couple of years I’ve often given a lot of thought to the nature and strength of my faith: the things of God in which I have great faith, and those in which I have little faith or even no faith at all. These times of reflection has been both a delight and a sorrow; a joy and an embarrassment.

I have seen that my faith can be pictured as something like a line graph. Certain points along the x-axis are very high along the y-axis and, I trust, almost unshakable. I believe, for example, that God exists. This is a faith that God has placed in my heart and I do not believe that it can be shaken or destroyed—I never struggle with whether or not God exists. Beside that there are other high points in my faith: the Bible is God’s Word to us and is without error; God has saved me and adopted me into his family; God loves me; there is a heaven; Jesus Christ died to take the penalty of my sin. These are all areas in which I have a good deal of faith and I praise God for this.

As we travel down the x-axis, down towards the long tail (that portion of the graph which skirts the 0 on the x-axis, but doesn’t quite reach it), we come to areas where my faith is not quite so strong. Here we will find my belief that God truly does desire to bring me the best through adversity. Here we will find my belief that God does hear and answer prayer. These are things I believe, but without the strength of conviction of those I listed earlier. They are areas where I tend to see emotion come into conflict with knowledge—with what I know to be true but often don’t accept as truth.