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Tim Challies

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November 2010

November 30, 2010

You’ll usually find the ninth chapter of John placed under a heading such as “Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind.” You know the story, I’m sure. It is the one where his disciples, as they passed a man who had been blind since birth, ask him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus replies “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” He then spits on the ground, makes mud, anoints the man’s eyes with it, and tells him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. As soon as the man washes away the mud, he receives his sight and testifies to the work of God. As is so often the case, the religious leaders are furious and prove themselves to be the ones who are truly blind and ignorant haters of God.

Pause for a second and think about it. Can you imagine what it must have been like to so suddenly gain sight? Imagine what it must have been like to go from darkness, from nothingness, to suddenly seeing clearly and with crystal perfection. Imagine for the first time seeing your parents and friends and seeing the place you had sat and begged day after day. Imagine seeing your first plants and animals and gasping in wonder at the sheer beauty of creation. We tend to take these things for granted. Imagine seeing your own reflection and learning what you look like. Imagine suddenly becoming aware of all you had missed for so long. In the days and hours after the miracle, this man had seen so little. His mind must still have been reeling as he tried to make sense of so many new sights. It’s almost unimaginable.

At the close of the chapter there is once sentence and one phrase, really, that gives me a brief but glorious glimpse of the Lord’s work. It comes after the man returns from the pool at Siloam, and after he is interrogated by the Pharisees and cast out of the temple for testifying that only God could perform such a work as instantly and perfectly healing eyes that had never seen. Having heard the news, Jesus seeks out this man. When he finds Him he gets right to the point. “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” he asks him. The man replies, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” And here are the words that thrilled my heart. “You have seen him,” says Jesus. “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”

November 30, 2010

And another month draws to a close. I may have said something like this at the beginning of November (or October or September). But somehow it feels like the pace of life is accelerating, like time is just going by at a ridiculous rate. If you have figured out a way of slowing down time, do let me know.

Touching Sensitive Areas (TSA) - Doug Wilson does a great job in this article. You may need a thesaurus. “If they were worried about terrorists, they would be looking for terrorists, and not for my nail clippers. Their procedures are risible, their hubris astounding, their reasons justifying that hubris minimal, and their folly incandescent.”

ESVs On Sale - For the next couple of days Westminster Books has all of their ESVs 45% off. That includes pew Bibles and the paperbacks that are great for handing out in large quantities.

A Bully Finds a Pulpit - This article from the New York Times points out one of Google’s major failings: it doesn’t distinguish between good press and bad press. Therefore either one can help people rise through the rankings. And that in turn means that some people will deliberately seek to generate bad buzz. Which, as you can appreciate, isn’t a good thing.

The Zuckerberg Revolution - This article offers some good thoughts on the printing press and social media. The author suggests that social media have increased the volume of our communications yet diminished the substance of them.

Pray! App - I haven’t had time to use it yet, but this app looks useful. It’s meant to be used in organizing prayer requests in a simple, logical, efficient way. I’m not nuts about using technology for things like this, but that’s preference more than law.

What I receive for my ministry is not a tenth of what I could readily earn in an engagement infinitely less laborious and harassing than my present position; although, be it added, I would not leave my ministry for ten thousand worlds.C.H. Spurgeon

November 29, 2010

Black Friday has come and gone but Cyber Monday still offers an opportunity to save some money on online purchases. Here are some of the deals I’ve found:

 

Amazon

Amazon has all kinds of deals on all kinds of items. Some of the deals come and go very quickly, so keep an eye on the site. Note that most of the product categories have their own deals listed, besides the main deals page I’ve linked here:

  • Cyber Monday deals
  • It’s not a bad idea to keep an eye on the Gold Box deal. For now it’s a TV, but it may change later in the day.

Two things to note about Amazon deals. First, note that you can use the category dropdown to see all the deals in a specific category. Then note that the page lists available deals and ones that will be coming soon. There is a countdown timer beneath each of these listings to tell you when specific products will go on sale. You may need to be fast on some of them.

 

Centricity Music

Centricity Music is offering all of their albums (downloadable versions) at just $3.99 from Friday until Monday. I particularly recommend:

 

Christian Book Distributors & CBD Reformed

CBD and CBD Reformed are offering deals for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. A few highlights:

To find other deals, visit any of the links above and then look to the sidebar on the left of the screen. There you can sort by the amount of the discount being offered. You’ll find a few good bargains if you click around.

 

ChristianAudio

ChristianAudio is offering 2 great books at just $2.98 each:

  • Wrestling with an Angel by Greg Lucas
  • Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung

While you’re there (and if you haven’t done so yet) be sure to download John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life (which is free until the end of the month) and check out the twice-yearly sale which features most of the books on the site for $7.49.

 

Getty Music

Getty Music has 3 gift packs, each of which includes several CDs and/or DVDs at reduced prices. If you use the coupon code Christmas10 you can get a further 10% off. The middle pack, with 2 Getty albums and a Townend album, is probably the best one.

 

Good Book Company

The Good Book Company is offering 25% off everything on their site from 5am on Friday until Midnight on Monday. Just visit the site to take advantage of the deal as the discount has already been applied.

 

Grace & Truth Books

Grace & Truth Books is having a weekend-long sale featuring discounts on several sets and a wide variety of books.

 

Ligonier Ministries

Ligonier Ministries is offering a list of products at a very steep discount. You can find books, teaching series, Bibles, etc.

 

Logos

Logos has an interesting special going on. You’ll have to visit their site to get the details, but essentially you can submit three products to them and ask for a discount. They’ll then get back to you with the prices they can offer you. Sounds like a neat idea.

 

Matthias Media

Matthias Media has an interesting deal. They have 7 books at $5 each, but you need to buy at least 3 to get them at that price (you can buy up to all 7 if you want). The list includes the ministry must-have The Trellis and the Vine. You’ll get free shipping if your order total exceeds $60.

 

Monergism Books

Monergism Books is offering several Black Friday deals. Also, you can use coupon code blackfriday2010 to take 10% off your order if your total is $50 or more. That coupon code is good until Saturday at 11:59 PM.

 

New Growth Press

New Growth Press will be offering a special deal on Cyber Monday. They are doing 2 for 1 on their new bestselling devotional book Long Story Short.

 

Reformation Heritage Books

Reformation Heritage Books is offering a long list of books, most of which are priced at $10. Some of these deals are really good, some not quite so much, so you may want to price compare a little.

 

Seeds Family Worship

Seeds Family Worship, which sets Scripture to upbeat, fun music, has 30% off their CDs from Friday to Monday. Use the coupon code THANKS30 to take advantage of the deal.

 

Sojourn Music

Sojourn Music is offering all four of their (excellent) CDs for just $20 + $6 shipping. This is a Friday-only deal.

 

Westminster Books

Westminster Books is having a big sale on Cyber Monday. All ESV Bibles are 45% off.

Also, they’ve put a list of my favorite books on sale (5 good biographies, 5 favorites from 2010). Add any of them to your cart and they’ll automatically deduct 10%.

 

If you know of other stores that will be having sales on items that should be of particular interest to Christians, do let me know.

Note: I know some will accuse me of feeding a conusmeristic culture with this post. But as I figure it, this is the time where many of us will be beginning (or completing) our holiday shopping. If there are savings to be had, we may as well take advantage…

November 29, 2010

UnbrokenThe book is always better than the movie, right? It seems that way to me, even with movies as good as the Lord of the Rings series. The movies were amazing, but the books were still better. It seems inevitable that Unbroken will appear on the silver screen before long (and, if the rumors are to be believed, it will star Nicholas Cage). Before it does, make sure you read the book. Unbroken is, in a word, amazing—easily one of the best books I read in 2010. It’s written by Laura Hillenbrand who also penned Seabiscuit. This new book has shot straight to #2 on the New York Times list of bestsellers just days after its release.

Unbroken tells the tale of Louie Zamperini, a character who is so much larger than life that I can’t believe I hadn’t encountered him before. Zamperini grew up in California in the 1930’s, a troublesome kid who was constantly stealing, constantly fighting, constantly getting into trouble. He was that kid, the kid who was known by the police, the kid who was every teacher’s nightmare. He was also lightning fast, eventually becoming a member of the 1936 U.S. Olympic team where he ran the 5,000 meter race and even had the opportunity to meet Adolf Hitler.

War came in 1941 and, like so many men his age, Zamperini joined up, enlisting in the United States Army Air Force. He was made bombardier in a B-24 bomber and posted to Hawaii. He took advantage of all the world had to offer, drinking and carousing with the best (or worst) of them. On May 27, 1943, while searching the ocean for a crashed plane, his own plane suffered mechanical failure and plunged into the ocean. Zamperini survived the crash along with two other members of the crew. They were adrift in the Pacific for 47 days, living off whatever rain fell from the sky and whatever food they could somehow pluck from the ocean. Though one of the men eventually succumbed to starvation, the two who remained were eventually “rescued” by the Japanese Navy, some 2,000 miles from where the plane had crashed.

Zamperini’s war was about to get far worse.

November 29, 2010

I hope and trust that you enjoyed your weekend. I’m glad to report that it was a good one for the Challies family. It was quiet and mostly-unremarkable—just the way we like it.

Cyber Monday - I have put together a roundup of Cyber Monday deals (and it’s being continually updated). Check the link for some good deals.

Who Needs Marriage? - You may have heard the results of the latest study which showed that marriage is increasingly seen as being completely irrelevant. Dr. Mohler looks at the study and asks if you’ve got answers to the marriage questions.

New from Indelible Grace - The new Indelible Grace album releases today. It’s a live album titled The Indelible Grace Hymn SIng: Live In Nashville.

John from R.C. Sproul - R.C. Sproul’s commentary on John is available for free on Kindle, today only.

Wrestling with an Angel - Here’s a nice review of Greg Lucas’ Wrestling with an Angel. It’s a book I’ve enjoyed, one I’ve given to unsaved neighbors, and one I’ve read aloud to my family. This reviewer says pretty much the same: “Wrestling With An Angel is a Christmas gift to the Church.  The Body of Christ needs these stories of grace.  When you order your copy, go ahead and order multiple copies (there are bulk discounts) because you, like me and my wife, will be giving this book to others.”

The Grace of God - Michael Oh wrote a touching article for Desiring God titled “The Grace of God in Our Circumstances.” “If you have the ability to eat three times per day and have shelter over your head, you are better off than many people in the world. If you earn $25,000 per year, you are the richest 10% of the world. You are rich. In fact if you earn $2,200 per year you are the richest 15% of the world.”

Bowen’s Heart - You may have heard about the medical problems experienced by Bowen Hammitt, son of Matt Hammitt (who leads the band Sanctus Real). He and his family were recently featured on ABC World News. You can read about Bowen and watch the news report here.

Hate, like love, picks up every shred of evidence to justify itself. —Os Guinness

November 28, 2010

Today the majority of those who read this site will be heading to church to hear a pastor preach the Word of God. A while back I jotted down several quotes about the Bible and thought I’d share them today. Hopefully many of you can read them before hearing the Word preached today. Each of these is worth reflecting on:

“One of the many divine qualities of the Bible is that it does not yield its secrets to the irreverent and the censorious.”
J.I. Packer

“The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.”
AW. Tozer

“I hold that the words of Scripture were intended to have one definite sense, and adhere rigidly to it—To say the words do mean a thing merely because they can be tortured into meaning it is a most dishonorable and dangerous way of handling Scripture.”
J.C. Ryle

“Inasmuch as all Scripture is the product of a single divine mind, interpretation must stay within the bounds of the analogy of Scripture and eschew hypotheses that would correct one Biblical passage by another, whether in the name of progressive revelation or of the imperfect enlightenment of the inspired writer’s mind.”
—The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

“We approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world.It is easy to be unaware that it has happened; it is hard even to begin to realize how profoundly tradition in this sense has moulded us.”
J.I. Packer

“God sometimes blesses a poor exegesis of a bad translation of a doubtful reading of an obscure verse of a minor prophet.”
—Alan Cole

I especially enjoyed Cole’s quote as I think all of us can think of times we have unintentionally misinterpreted something in the Bible, yet God has been good to us to bless us despite ourselves. J.C. Ryle’s quote stands as a warning that to use the Bible flippantly and outside of proper methods is both dishonoring and dangerous. The Chicago Statement reminds me that Scripture must (and will) interpret Scripture, not correct it.

The Bible is the way God has chosen to reveal himself to us. What a privilege that today we can hear him speak.

November 27, 2010

Here’s another of Scotty Smith’s prayers that I particularly enjoyed. As I’ve said before, what I like about these prayers is how real they are; they’re not full of fancy words and Christianese. They’re not too polished or perfect—they’re just heartfelt prayers. If you didn’t read it a couple of days ago, be sure to read A Prayer About My Dad’s Welcome Home.

In the meantime, here is “A Prayer About Jesus’ Tenacious Questioning.”

Jesus, we’re always vulnerable to the destructive power of sin, but it seems like we’re especially vulnerable when there’s some kind of emotional upheaval in our hearts. Like Cain, when we’re angry and sulking about something or someone (Abel), we can be easily “had” by sin, giving into its desire—its seductive and destructive ways. O for the Day when the season of sin’s pleasure will be ended forever (Heb. 11:25; Rev. 21:1-5).

Jesus, thank you for tenaciously pursing us and asking searching questions like, “Why are you angry?”, or, “Why are you so downcast?”, or “What do you fear?”, or “Why are you so quiet and distant?” Though you know the answer to these and every question you ask, we probably don’t. Gracious heart-knower, show us our hearts… show me my heart. What are these emotions really saying? What sins are waiting to take these feelings and have a destructive field day?

I wish we only had to think about the sin that’s crouching just outside the door—the tempter and temptress without just waiting to pounce. But the truth is, Jesus, until you return to finish making all things new, we’ve got to be wise to the sin that’s crouching inside of us, as well. Like Paul, the very things we don’t want to do, we still do… and the very things we want to do, they’re not easily done. We long for more freedom to live and to love as we’re loved by you.

How I praise you there’s no condemnation hanging over me for my sin… for you hung on the cross in my place. How I praise you that to be tempted is not an act of sin, for even you, Jesus, were tempted. I would despair if this were not the case. You have mastered sin for us. You’ve exhausted its penalty and broken it’s power. Sin will not have dominion over us ever again.

In this good news… in this gospel.. I trust today. As you show me my vulnerable heart, Jesus, show me your compassionate and loving heart ten times over. That will more than meet my need. So very Amen, I pray, in your strong, present and redeeming name.

November 26, 2010

Free Stuff Fridays

I’m not just providing a roundup of great items to buy at a discount today; I’m also giving away some great stuff. This week’s Free Stuff Fridays sponsor is CBDReformed, a regular sponsor of these giveaways They are offering five prizes, each of which will contain the following three items:

In addition, CBD and CBD Reformed will be having many titles on sale during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so be sure to visit their sites today and Monday to take advantage of the deals.

Free Stuff Fridays

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.