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Tim Challies

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October 2010

October 31, 2010

This week I received Heart Cries to Heaven, a new book from DayOne that is a compilation of prayers composed by David Campell, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle, PA. One of those prayers stood out to me as I considered the week to come in which Americans will head to the polls and elect their new representatives. Here is a “Prayer for Godly Leaders.”

*****

Our great and gracious God,

We pray that you will give us leaders who fear your name. We ask for those who are in authority over us

that they may be men and women of Christian integrity,
men and women imbued with the principles of the Word of God,
who will themselves walk in your ways and set an example in public office.

We ask, Lord, that you will not give us up to the sway of those who care nothing for you and for your laws.

Give us godly leaders, we pray.

We pray, too, for godly leaders within the church.

We pray for the reformation of the visible church and for great revival within its midst. May those who are in the positions of leadership manifest the same qualities that we see manifest supremely in our Lord Jesus Christ, and that, under the leadership of such men, your church would flourish.

Give us all grace, we pray,

Everyone who is a member of this congregation or of another congregation, to be a good and faithful servant of Jesus Christ, each one of us. We pray that you will bless our time together to that end.

We pray that you will stand with your servant as he opens up the Word,
That you will put words in his mouth,
That you will give to us illumined minds and hearts,

and we pray that you will make that Word
written upon our hearts
and make our time together to be truly
a means of grace,
that we, in this week that is before us, may
walk in your ways.

Hear us, O God, we pray, and these prayers and the many others that in the silence of our hearts we would lift to you, the omniscient God.

Hear us, for Jesus’ sake.
 Amen.

October 30, 2010

I receive a lot of books in the mail. If I were to go through them and categorize them, I suspect I’d find that one topic stands apart from the rest—prayer. I’d be surprised if any topic receives as much attention as this one. I suppose this shows that we Christians struggle with prayer—that we just aren’t confident that we are praying well, that our prayers are heard.

I’ve read quite a few books on the subject and wanted to point to 5 that I’ve found particularly helpful. Here they are, in no particular order.

Praying BackwardsPraying Backwards by Bryan Chapell. Where this book helped me most was in leading me to pray with an increased reliance on the work of the Holy Spirit. Here’s how I phrased it in my review: “This book was such a joy to me. It removed a burden I have so often felt in prayer, that I need to say, feel or know just the right things in order to make my prayer effective. But I had never fully understood the Spirit’s role in prayer, that He intercedes in every prayer, taking my limited, far-too-human perspective, and presenting to the Father a prayer that is beyond time and space - a prayer that is formed through the Spirit’s omniscience. No wonder, then, that God can and will answer prayer! I know now that my role is not to feel the need to pray great prayers, but it is to continue to grow in godliness - for even the simplest prayers can be pure and sweet to the Father - that I may more and more resemble the Son to whom I am united.” [Westminster Books | Amazon]

A Praying LifeA Praying Life by Paul Miller. One of the areas in which this book spoke to me was in the way it moved me away from structure, at least in certain cases. We’ve all been taught ACTS or another model for prayer. These are often very helpful guidelines for praying carefully and systematically. But where Miller helped was in freeing me from those under certain circumstances so I could pray “randomly,” praying as my mind moved from one thing to the next. There is a certain freedom I’ve found in that, realizing that structure is not the same as depth. In my review I point to another strength. “Perhaps the greatest strength of this book is Miller’s unrelenting emphasis that prayer cannot be an add-on to the Christian life; it cannot be supplemental but must always be instrumental. This book will equip you to understand prayer properly and, on that firm foundation, to commit yourself to it, with confidence that God is willing and able to hear and answer your prayers.” [Westminster Books | Amazon]

October 29, 2010

Free Stuff Fridays

It’s another Friday which means I’ve got another edition of Free Stuff Fridays for you. And, as it happens, 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:

  • Generous Justice by Timothy Keller – Retail price $19.95
  • The God Who Is There by D. A. Carson – Retail price $16.99
  • Grounded In The Gospel by J.I. Packer and Gary Parrett – Retail price $16.99

Generous Justice is the most recent of these books—one that has actually not yet been released. Here’s a bit of information about it: “It is commonly thought in secular society that the Bible is one of the greatest hindrances to doing justice. Isn’t it full of regressive views? Didn’t it condone slavery? Why look to the Bible for guidance on how to have a more just society? But Timothy Keller sees it another way. In Generous Justice, Keller explores a life of justice empowered by an experience of grace: a generous, gracious justice. Here is a book for believers who find the Bible a trustworthy guide as well as those who suspect that Christianity is a regressive influence in the world.”

CBD

CBDReformed is also offering a 4-day sale (October 29 – November 1) on these books. This sale is open to anyone who cares to take advantage of it.

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.

October 29, 2010

I have nothing (absolutely nothing!) to say today. So let’s get straight to the links.

Underrepresented at Capetown - I missed this article when it was posted last week. Andy Crouch reports on the conspicuous absence of megachurch pastors at the Lausanne Congress. “For megapastors, platform time is the price of participation. Entrepreneurial pastors live to speak. Or perhaps more accurately and fairly, they live to influence, and they exercise much of their public influence by speaking. If they are not given a speaking slot, they are likely to conclude that their time can be better spent elsewhere.” Ouch.

Reformation Study Bible - Ligonier Ministries will send you the Reformation Study Bible for a donation of any amount. The site seems to be having a little site issue at the moment, but I’m sure they’ll resolve it soon.

Sin Neutralizers - “Sin demands a response. And it will get one. The question is not, “Will I respond to sin?” You will. I will. The real question is, “How will I respond to sin?” Sin, like gravity, is one of those unalterable laws: it happens and, therefore, I must interact with it. It is not that we are helpless, or that we are victims to sin, at least not for the Christian.”

Who Needs Porn When You’ve Got MTV? - I appreciated this article, published on an Aussie web site. He talks about the sexualization of our culture as seen through the lens of MTV. (Note: there is a semi-explicit photo accompanying the article)

Easy Bible Verses for Kids - Here are a few simple Bible verses ideal for memorizing with your children.

Vote for Mark - Seminary student Mark Lamprecht (who is often seen around these parts) needs help winning a scholarship. Take 2 seconds to vote for Mark!

When I consider my crosses, tribulations and temptations, I shame myself almost to death thinking of what they are in comparison to the sufferings of my blessed Savior, Jesus Christ. —Martin Luther

October 28, 2010

Last week I spent a day in Grand Rapids and most of that day was taken up with meetings at the head office for Zondervan. As you probably know, Zondervan will be publishing my next couple of books, so we had a series of meetings to discuss, among other things, marketing plans (that’s right—we met to figure out how we can force you to part with a few of your dollars and hand it to us!). We also shot a bit of video and talked about plans for the next book.

As I was touring around the offices, I found quite a few interesting new products, some of which I knew of already and some of which were entirely new to me, that I thought I’d make you aware of. And make sure you read to the end—I’ll make it worth your while (or someone’s while, anyway). Here are a few of the products that caught my eye:

God So LovedGod So Loved, He Gave: Entering the Movement of Divine Generosity by Kelly Kapic with Justin Borger - You may know the name Kelly Kapic as one of the co-editors of the modernization of John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation. If you haven’t got a copy of that book, well, you really need to. It’s a good one. Kapic is also the author of a new book called God So Loved, He Gave. He  managed to get endorsements from a long list of people including Tim Keller, Jerry Bridges (who calls it “an amazing book”), Bryan Chapell, Michael Horton and quite a few others. Here’s the publisher’s description: “God So Loved, He Gave places the practice of giving within the larger story of God’s generosity. Here we discover how our participation in the overflow of divine giving is vitally connected to the Trinitarian nature of God, the unfolding drama of Scripture and ultimately the Gospel itself.” And here is Jerry Bridges’ glowing endorsement: “God So Loved, He Gave is an amazing book. In it Kelly Kapic deftly moves from our being recipients of all God’s generous gifts through Christ to our being stewards of God’s gifts as we share them with others. This book is both encouraging and challenging. It should be read attentively and prayerfully.” [Westminster Books | Amazon]

A God-Sized VisionA God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir by Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge. According to the publisher “In A God-Sized Vision, Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge recount the fascinating stories of revivals throughout history—from biblical times to the Great Awakenings to more recent revivals in China—strengthening your understanding of God’s work in the past and deepening your faith in the possibility of revival today.” This book also sports quite a list of endorsers including Tim Keller and Jerry Bridges (deja vu), Nancy Leigh DeMoss, George Marsden and D.A. Carson. Here is what Keller says about it: “The importance of spiritual revival and the necessity of conversion is being questioned in many evangelical and Reformed circles. I’m so glad that this book is appearing now, as a witness both to how God has worked in the church in the past and what he can do in the future.” [Westminster Books | Amazon]

The Reason for GodThe Reason for God: Conversations on Faith and Life (DVD) - Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God has proven to be a hit and even made its way onto the New York Times list of bestsellers. “Captured live and unscripted, pastor and author Timothy Keller meets with a group of people over six sessions to address their doubts and objections to Christianity. Using literature, philosophy, real-life experiences, and the Bible, Keller and the group explore the truth of Christianity.” This is one that I haven’t yet had time to watch, but I do intend to do that soon. From the bit I have seen it looks like a great setting for conversation and quite a unique format in which to discuss big issues: Isn’t the Bible a myth? Why does God allow suffering? How can God send good people to hell? [Westminster Books | Amazon]

October 28, 2010

Today, in this effort to read some of the classic works of the Christian faith, we come to chapter three of R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God. Sproul introduces the chapter this way: “Here we are, already in the third chapter of this book, and I still have not defined what it means to be holy.” So in this week’s reading he tries to move us toward a definition.

Summary

But that is not an easy task. In fact, he says:

I wish I could postpone the task even further. The difficulties involved in defining holiness are vast. There is so much to holiness, and it is so foreign to us that the task seems almost impossible. In a very real sense, the word holy is a foreign word. But even when we run up against foreign words, we hope that a foreign language dictionary can rescue us by providing a clear translation. The problem we face, however, is that the word holy is foreign to all languages. No dictionary is adequate to the task.

One of the difficulties is that the word holy is used in different ways throughout Scripture. At times it points toward pure, at other times it points toward separate and at other times it points toward transcendent. “When the Bible calls God holy, it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us. To be holy is to be ‘other,’ to be different in a special way.” All of which is to say that there is a mystery to holiness. It is so foreign to us that we cannot fully understand it. We can see glimpses of it, but we cannot wrap our minds around it.

I could not adequately summarize all Sproul says about the deeper meanings of the word, so I will leave you to read that on your own. And seriously, if you aren’t reading the book with us, you should at least pick it up and read it on your own.

October 28, 2010

That was rather an unexpected start to the World Series, wasn’t it? When Cliff Lee faces Tim Lincecum you’re hardly expecting a slugfest. And yet that’s exactly what it turned into. I don’t much care who wins this series, but I’m hoping it can at least remain close enough to be interesting.

Is Music Warping My Child? - Russell Moore pens a good article on music, and whether listening to it will harm our kids.

Martin Luther: In His Own Words - “Most all Christians know the name Martin Luther. Less familiar, however, are his words. This compilation of many of Luther’s most important writings serves as an excellent introduction to those new to Luther. It also provides a fresh medium for people familiar with his writing.” It’s free right now at ChristianAudio.

Luther’s Stand - And while we’re talking about the great reformer, Chris Castaldo has written an account of Luther before the Diet of Worms where he made his most important stand. “Have you ever wondered what Luther’s stand looked like on the ground? Here is a glimpse, starting with the moment when Luther’s covered wagon rolled into town.”

$1 Trillion - Since a trillion is the new billion, it’s worth trying to get some perspective on such a massive number. This inforgraphic helps a little bit.

Lasting Victory - This is just a short article on overcoming pornography, but Brian Croft hits on a very important subject: the role of the local church. “A common flaw in trying to break the cycles of pornography is thinking your one or two random accountability partners are enough.  Daily walking in victory over this struggle requires a community effort and an accountability that stretches far beyond your Christian co-worker asking you questions once a week regarding which internet sites you visited.  The victory comes as spiritual guidance, care, rebuke, and marriage counseling are given by your leaders.”

Yet Remix - Fans of Switchfoot and/or Mutemath will be interested in this free download. It’s a remix of Switchfoot’s “Yet” done by Mutemath’s Darren King.

The Most Popular Name - In a sign of the times, the most popular name in Britain is now…Mohammed.

Snickaloaf - You know you’d love to eat a Snickaloaf:

Not only the worst of my sins, but the best of my duties speak of me as a child of Adam. —William Beveridge

October 27, 2010

Wrestling with an AngelThis week on the Connected Kingdom podcast, David and I interview Greg Lucas, author of the new book Wrestling with an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability and the Lessons of Grace. Greg is the father of four children, one of whom has severe developmental disabilities. Last year Greg began a blog where he began to write about “lessons in the life of a father learned through the struggles of his disabled son.” It is not a blog about disability, but a blog that is all about grace—about lessons learned along the way.

When I co-founded Cruciform Press, Greg was the very first author I pursued and I was thrilled to have him accept and to have him prepare a book with us. That book is now available.

Way back in episode 4 David and I spoke to Justin Reimer, founder of The Elisha Foundation, and Paul Martin. Interestingly, both of those men show up in Greg’s story.

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 will always be able to find the most recent episode here on the blog. If you would like to subscribe via iTunes, you can do that here or if you want to subscribe with another audio player, you can try this RSS link.

And tell you what—I’ll give away a few copies of Wrestling with an Angel for those who give the show a listen (or who don’t, I suppose). Simply leave a comment here and I’ll randomly choose a few of you to win a free copy.