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Tim Challies

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September 2010

September 27, 2010

I was out of town for most of the weekend, away on the elder retreat I mentioned last week. When I returned I had hundreds and hundreds of blog posts all queued up in my RSS reader. I hit the “Mark All As Read” button. I just didn’t have time to read through hundreds of posts this morning (or to skim through them, for that). However, I did have a few things bookmarked that I wanted to share with you. A La Carte should go back to normal tomorrow.

Piper Quotes - This blogger has compiled a list of good Piper quotes. A couple of favorites: “… But that’s another sermon. And it’s really good, really precious. I haven’t written it yet …” and ” I don’t know about you, but I was really helped by my sermon last week.”

Shepherd Press Conference - There are a lot of conferences coming up this weekend. One that looks good is the Shepherd Press Authors conference. The theme is “Rejuvenating the Gospel in your Marriage and Family! 7 Shepherd Press Authors offer biblical wisdom that has the power to transform your marriage.” If you’re in the vicinity of Harrisburg, PA you’ll want to check it out.

FIve Ways to Change Your Ways - I enjoyed this series on the Competent Counseling blog. He offers a series of contexts or relationships and suggests five biblical ways of change.

iPhone: A Blind User’s Review - The Atlantic has a fascinating review of the iPhone written by a person who is blind. He says things like this: “I have seen a lot of technology for the blind, and I can safely say that the iPhone represents the most revolutionary thing to happen to the blind for at least the last ten years.” It’s fascinating to read about how the phone allowed him to “see.” (HT:JT)

That God normally operates the universe consistently makes science possible; that he does not always do so ought to keep science humble. —D.A. Carson

September 26, 2010

Yeah, I know that I posted a prayer yesterday. But this is another great one I came across (one drawn from The Valley of Vision but which I stumbled across while reading some other web sites). It is titled “Continual Repentance.” I think these lines are particularly good: “I need to repent of my repentance; I need my tears to be washed; I have no robe to bring to cover my sins, no loom to weave my own righteousness.”

O God of Grace,

You have imputed my sin to my substitute, and have imputed his righteousness to my soul, clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe, decking me with jewels of holiness. But in my Christian walk I am still in rags; my best prayers are stained with sin; my penitential tears are so much impurity; my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin; my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance; I need my tears to be washed; I have no robe to bring to cover my sins, no loom to weave my own righteousness; I am always standing clothed in filthy garments, and by grace am always receiving change of raiment, for you always justify the ungodly; I am always going into the far country, and always returning home as a prodigal, always saying, “Father, forgive me,” and you are always bringing forth the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it, every evening return in it, go out to the day’s work in it, be married in it, be wound in death in it, stand before the great white throne in it, enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding righteousness of salvation, the exceeding glory of Christ, the exceeding beauty of holiness, the exceeding wonder of grace.

September 25, 2010

A prayer to pray after you finish praying—it’s a bit odd, I admit, and yet it makes some sense. At least it makes sense when you read it and pray it on your own. Who hasn’t felt like this when they pray?: “O God of grace, I bewail my cold, listless, heartless prayers; their poverty adds sin to my sin.” Have you ever wanted to pray better? Have you ever realized just how poor you are at praying? Then read and pray this prayer from The Valley of Vision:

O God of grace,
I bewail my cold, listless, heartless prayers;
their poverty adds sin to my sin.
If my hope were in them I should be undone,
But the worth of Jesus perfumes my feeble breathings, and wins their acceptance.
Deepen my contrition of heart,
Confirm my faith in the blood that washes from all sin.
May I walk lovingly with my great Redeemer.
Flood my soul with true repentance that my heart may be broken for sin and unto sin.
Let me be as slow to forgive myself as thou art ready to forgive me.
Gazing on the glories of thy grace may I be cast into the lowest depths of shame.
and walk with downcast head now thou art pacified towards me.
O my great High Priest,
pour down upon me streams of needful grace,
bless me in all my undertakings,
in every thought of my mind,
every word of my lips,
every step of my feet,
every deed of my hands.
Thou didst live to bless,
die to bless,
rise to bless,
ascend to bless,
take thy throne to bless,
and now thou dost reign to bless.
O give sincerity to my desires,
earnestness to my supplications,
fervour to my love.

September 24, 2010

Free Stuff Fridays

Another Friday, but a slightly different one for me. I am spending the day with the other elders at Grace Fellowship Church and together we are praying for our church and planning how we can lead it in the months and years to come. Good times!

But meanwhile, I’ve got another great giveaway for you. This week’s sponsor is CBD Reformed, a company you know well by now. They are offering 5 prizes, each of which will consist of the following 3 books:

  • Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller – Retail price $19.95
  • The Westminister Theological Wordbook of the Bible – Retail price $39.95
  • The Cross-Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney – Retail price $9.99

CBD

I suppose you know about Mahaney’s and Keller’s books, but the other looks interesting as well. “Biblical words and phrases often appear deceptively simple, yet conceal layers of history, meaning, and cultural significance. This enlightening resource takes you to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek roots of many key terms: ‘Justice’, ‘Son of Man,’ ‘Resurrection,’ ‘Kingdom of God,’ and explains the profound theological and ethical concepts behind the words they embody.”

They are also offering a 4-day sale (September 24-27) on these books. This sale is open to anyone who cares to take advantage of it. Those Henry commentaries for $30 look like a pretty good deal!

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.

September 23, 2010

Several years ago I introduced a program called Reading Classics Together. The impetus for this project was the simple realization that, though many Christians want to read through the classics of the faith, few of us have the motivation to actually make it happen. I know this was long the case for me. This program allows us to read such classic works together, providing both a level of accountability and the added interest of comparing notes as we read in community. Those who have participated in each of the programs will now have read Holiness by J.C. Ryle, Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen, The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross by A.W. Pink, The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, Real Christianity by William Wilberforce, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs, Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes and, most recently, in trying something a little bit different, Spurgeon by Arnold Dallimore. That is quite a solid collection of classics! I have benefited immensely from reading these books and know that others have, too.

The format is simple: every week we read a chapter or a section of a classic of the Christian faith and then on Thursday we check in at my blog to discuss it. It’s that easy: one chapter per week.

The Holiness of GodIt has been a few weeks now since we finished reading the last classic together and that makes it time to announce the next book we’ll be reading. Ignoring the brief break we took to read a biography, the last classic we read together was from the Puritan era. I thought it would make sense to zoom forward in history to almost the present day. The next book I want to read with you is R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God. I am convinced that this is destined to be a classic in its own right—one that will be read 50 and 100 years from now. James Montgomery Boice agreed saying, “It may be a bit early to call R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God one of the classic theological works of our time. But if it does not have that status yet, it is well on the way to achieving it.”

Now celebrating 25 years of publication, this classic can help you better understand the biblical picture of God’s awesome holiness and why it is so foundational to God-centered, God-honoring theology and Christian living. In The Holiness of God , R.C. Sproul demonstrates that encountering God’s holy presence is a terrifying experience. Dr. Sproul argues that this struggle is nonetheless necessary because it is the only way to cure our propensity to trust in ourselves and our own righteousness for salvation.

This is the kind of book that every Christian should read and the kind that is ideally suited for reading more than once. So if you have read it before, don’t think that means you can’t read it with us again.

Let’s start reading together on October 14. That gives you three weeks to find a copy of the book, something that will not prove difficult since it is very widely available. For October 14 please get ahold of a copy of the book and read the first chapter. And then simply return to the blog on that day and we can compare notes.

Now, you need to get a copy. Westminster Books has it at $13.99. Amazon has it at $10.07 or $9.57 for the Kindle. And if you’d like to go straight to the source, to Ligonier Ministries, you can find it there for $8.40 or in the exclusive pocket-size edition for just $4.00 (It is also avaiable in Spanish, if you prefer).

So go ahead and get yourself a copy. And then let me know if you intend to read along with us. Just leave a comment…

September 23, 2010

Every Wednesday evening we drive to church to particpate in the mid-week service. And every Wednesday we drive past a little mall where, in the parking lot, a big group of car enthusiasts meet (at least they meet in spring, summer and fall). They all park their classic cars or their sports cars in big rows; they pop the hoods and then stand around talking, admiring one another’s vehicles. Every week I have the urge to drive into the parking lot, park my minivan among them, pop the hood and just stand there, looking proud.

Remembering Mary - This is a great blog post in which the author, Elizabeth DeBarros, remembers her aunt Mary. “If she were still alive, these Orwellian  days would be no match for my grandmother. She could defy an entire institution with a single phrase. The day she gave birth to a baby girl with Down syndrome, she did.”

SharedBookShelves - This is kind of an interesting idea. It’s a way for members of churches to build a book-sharing catalog.

Nextflix - Canada has finally gotten Netflix, though it’s online-only. It’s like we’ve moved from the dark ages to the information age, just like that.

All of Those Conferences - Erik Raymond reflects on all of the pastors’ conferences today. “One prevailing question I have with regard to attending or hosting a conference is with regard to goal setting. Why would I go? Why are they hosting? What’s the point?”

Free Downloads - Day One Publications has some interesting little booklets available for download. They deal with topcis of basic theological interest.

BOOK - This video introduces a revolutionary product: the Bio Optical Organiced Knowledge device. Watch the video to find out about its amazing advantages!

The glory of the gospel is that when the church is absolutely different from the world she invariably attracts it. —Martyn Lloyd-Jones

September 22, 2010

This week on the podcast David and I do something a little bit different—we answer questions from those who listen to the show (and those who don’t listen to it, I suppose). In just a few minutes we offer quick answers to these questions: What view of Creation do we hold to? What constitutes a truly happy Christian? Are there many Christians in the United States who can truly be content in any circumstance? How can God foreordain sin and yet not be held morally responsible for it? What do you believe about women teaching at conferences and in other non-preaching roles? Should a complementarian pastor accept a call to an egalitarian church?

If you want to give us feedback on the podcast 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.

September 22, 2010

Yesterday Aileen and I went to the funeral of our young neighbor. It was at a United Church, a Canadian denomination that has long since abandoned the truth. One of the song selections was “Amazing Grace” and this was the first time I’ve seen a hymn book with the alternate lyric “that saved and strengthened me” in place of “that saved a wretch like me.” Yet everyone knew the song by heart, I suppose, because everyone sang of their own wretchedness.

Listen Up! - This excellent little book is available, only for the next 48 hours, at $1 per copy through Westminster Books. It’s a great one to buy by the box and hand out at church. Mark Dever gives this book to every new member of his church as a way of helping them learn how to benefit from the sermons they hear.

Witnessing to Witnesses - My buddy Ian has put together a wrap-up of a series of posts directed as witnesses to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Ian says “Most work that I’ve read about the Watchtower Society have been from the outside looking in, so Matt’s perspective has been refreshing and unique. In them he deals with the history of the Society, their failed prophecies, their unique theological perspectives and their teachings about the gospel. Matt also gives some practical application for how to press home the truth-claims of the biblical gospel to the Jehovah’s Witnesses we encounter.”

Spiritual Dehydration - CJ Mahaney writes about the causes, symptoms and treatment of spiritual dehydration.

Mecca Diaries - I found this an interesting video; it simply gives an insider’s view of what happens when Muslims make their pilgrimage to Mecca. It is a sympathetic view of the journey, but quite an interesting one.

World’s Scariest Job - “World’s scariest job” may be slightly overstating it, but this would be far too terrifying for me.

All the compasions of all the tender fathers in the world compared with the tender mercies of God would be but as a candle to the sun or a drop to the ocean. —Matthew Henry