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Tim Challies

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December 2010

December 31, 2010

Free Stuff Fridays

I guess this is the final Free Stuff Fridays of 2010. I’m glad to say that there will be many more of them in 2011 and beyond. But for now, let’s see what we’ve got to giveaway for today.

HamiltonThis week’s edition of Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by CBD Reformed. They are giving away 5 prizes, each of which will contain the following 3 great books:

  • God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment by James Hamilton – Retail price $40.00
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis – Retail price $13.99
  • A Portrait of Paul by Rob Ventura & Jeremy Walker – Retail price - $18.00

Additionally, CBD Reformed is offering a 4-day sale (December 31 – January 3) on the following three products. Anyone is free to take advantage of these deals:

There are 5 prizes to win, so get your name in ASAP.

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.

December 30, 2010

One day away from the end of 2010, I went looking through the statistics software that runs behind-the-scenes at my web site to see which articles were the most popular. And just for your amusement I thought I’d share them with you.

Two observations: first, it was a little surprising to me how many of them were written prior to 2010—so some of the most popular articles were ones I wrote as far back as 2006. And second, it’s notable how many of the most popular articles are book reviews—fully half of them.

So here they are, the top ten articles from 2010.

10. A New Kind of Christianity - This was my review of Brian McLaren’s latest book. Quite needless to say, I wasn’t a big fan of it.

9. Black Friday & Cyber Monday - Rather on a whim I decided to create a post that would offer a round-up of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that might interest my readers. It was popular enough that I think I’ll turn it into an annual feature.

8. Crazy Love - Francis Chan’s book seems to be picking up steam as time goes on, which meant that more and more people were looking for a review of it.

7. Joel Osteen or Fortune Cookie - I had some fun in this post, comparing the wisdom of fortune cookies with the wisdom of Joel Osteen.

6. 90 Minutes in Heaven - This book review has made the top-ten list since 2006. It’s an awful book but one that people just keep buying and believing.

5. The Secret - This book review has been in the top-ten posts of the year since 2007. I believe it remains strong in part, at least, because the author brought out her latest piece of junk book in 2010.

4. I Looked for Love in Your Eyes - This is a poem anonymously shared by a reader of this site and it went viral very quickly. Considering it was posted just a couple of weeks ago, it’s remarkable how many times it was read.

3. Sexual Detox: The E-Book - Sexual Detox

2. Why John Piper Should Not Have Invited Rick Warren - When John Piper asked Rick Warren to be a speaker at Desiring God’s national conference I wrote an article expressing my concern.

1. A Review of The Shack - There are actually several pages related to The Shack that rate among the top pages of the year. Combine them all and they are many multiples higher than any other page on the site. They were also the top pages from 2009. While The Shack’s popularity has crested, it still remains a popular and controversial book.

December 30, 2010

The year is quickly drawing to a close. Blink. It’s gone. It seems that life goes by so quickly. I wonder if it will seem the same in heaven, or if time will pass slower as we draw the greatest value out of each and every day.

New Year’s Resolutions - Mint.com offers up some new year’s resolutions that will improve your finances in 2011.

Snow Flakes - Here are some snow flakes as seen under an electron microscope. I’m not surprised to see that they are even more beautiful when seen at the microscopic level.

The First Decade - Life offers up a collection of the photos we’ll all remember through the first decade of the 21st century.

Television by the Numbers - This is an interesting infographic.

An Open Letter to Derek Webb - Frank Turk pens an open letter to Derek Webb. It’s worth reading.

Give Your Pastor a Break - Kevin DeYoung offers a word on behalf of pastors. “The point of my plea is simple. For any elders, deacons, trustees, committee chairs–to anyone with authority over the fringe benefits for your pastor in 2011–please make sure there is enough time for a real vacation and some kind of study leave.”

Are You SAD? - David Murray addresses Seasonal Affective Disorder:

Are you SAD? from Puritan Reformed on Vimeo.

I have taken my good deeds and bad deeds and thrown them together in a heap, and fled from them both to Christ, and in him I have peace. —David Dickson

December 29, 2010

I’m on vacation this week—not the kind of vacation where we all jump in the car and drive to warmer parts of the continent, but the kind of vacation that allows me to just stay around the house and do what I love to do—hang out with the family and read good books. I guess they now call this a staycation. I’m on a serious history kick these days, reading biographies and histories of World War 2. Great stuff. As much as I enjoy reading all the Christian books, I still love to read history most of all. Michael Korda’s Hero was a fantastic biography of an eccentric British war hero while Berlin at War is essentially the biography of the city during the Second World War. I’m also slowly working my way through John Keegan’s The Second World War, the first general history I’ve read in quite a few years.

Obviously, unlike my last vacation, this is not a digital vacation like I took last summer where I headed to the middle of nowhere, far away from cell towers and Internet and other trappings of a digital world. But I am trying to be on the computer less, to check email less, and so on. Because that allows me to be more fully present with my family.

Yesterday I took the family to see the movie Tangled in 3D. It was a good one—lots of fun and without all the subtle (or not-so-subtle) adult humor that’s become a part of too many kids’ movies. The 3D was well-done; far better than it was in Up which is, I believe, the last one we saw in 3D. They charged us $10 to see the movie and that price included the glasses. At the end they encouraged us to recycle the glasses so we could do our bit for the environment. I decided to keep mine just out of spite for the prices they charge us. Whenever I go to a movie I find it hard to believe that they can actually convince me to part with $23 in exchange for 2 bags of popcorn and 2 cups of Coke, which all together can’t cost them more than $0.50. It’s depressing.

As for the rest of the week, we really do not have a lot of plans. We’ll mostly just hang around the house, I think, taking it easy. And that sounds awfully good to me.

December 28, 2010

Death of the Grown-UpWhere have all the grown-ups gone? It’s a question that has perplexed me. Why is it that young people these days seem unwilling, or perhaps unable, to grow up? What is so attractive about youth, about perpetual adolescence, that is so attractive? My wife and I have discussed these things at length, trying to understand why so many of the young people we know (young people who are really not so young anymore) seem stuck. They are working on second or third college degrees; they are living at home with mom and dad, even into their thirties; they are looking at marriage only in their late twenties or early thirties. What is happening? When I was young I could hardly wait to pass through my teenage years so I could live life as an adult and in so doing I think I followed generations before me. What has happened since?

December 28, 2010

Yesterday my wife painted the girls’ bedroom (green on 2 walls, pink on the other 2—there’s something we’ll have to change if we ever decide to sell the place), hung a closet organizer and completely rearranged their room. She’s omnicapable, that wife of mine. And the girls are the happy beneficiaries.

4 Great Doctrines - J.C. Ryle on 4 great doctrines to always keep in mind.

Mchaseteely - This daily reader of this blog is currently deployed in Afghanistan and is documenting his time with some amazing photographs.

Serving a God of Miracles - WORLD’s cover story is an interesting one. “For doctors like Richard Bransford, enemy warfare begins in the womb. The spinal column fails to form, an infection leaves fluid on the brain, or genetic makeup jumpstarts any number of crippling diseases. In Africa, where Bransford works, such disabilities are both more common and less treated than in the United States. The UN estimates that up to 20 percent of the population in some African nations is disabled.”

Just Follow Jesus - Here’s another interview with Derek Webb. What he says (and sings) continues to concern.

Communicating Love - Brian Croft lists a few of the ways in which he communicates love to his wife.

Best Mac Apps of 2010 - TUAW offers a roundup of some of 2010’s best Mac apps.

Don’t Text and Drive - AT&T has a new documentary that ought to convince you why you shouldn’t text and drive.

The dangers to our spiritual welfare from success are far greater than the dangers from failure. —Aruthur C. Custance

December 27, 2010

I always close a year with two lists—a list of my favorite books and list of my favorite albums from the year that was. I recently posted my list of books and today want to offer you my list of music. As always, allow me to give a couple of caveats: these are my favorite albums of the year, which is very different from saying that these are the best albums of the year in any objective sense. Also, these are not all “Christian” albums (a difficult label to apply at the best of times). With those caveats aside, here, in no formal order, are my favorite albums from 2010.

Pieces of a Real Heart by Sanctus Real - I’m of the opinion that this is Sanctus Real’s best album. There’s a gut-honestly and spiritual depth about it that takes it to the next level. If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to check out my interview with lead vocalist Matt Hammit.

Suburba by House of Heroes. SuburbaThis album was good, but still a wee bit disappointing. I had really enjoyed their previous album and felt that this new one was just a little bit of a letdown after The End Is Not the End. I’d tend to label this one as “fun” more than “serious.”

Light the Horizon by Bedouin Soundclash - I had never listened to Bedouin Soundclash before I found this album, but was immediately drawn in by “Mountain Top.” Beyond that excellent song there are plenty of others that are good and feature a really original and compelling sound. I like these guys. And not just because they’re from Canada.

The Rock and the Tide by Joshua Radin - The Rock and the TideI feel like a girl saying this, but I’ve always had a bit of a soft-spot for Joshua Radin. I just love his music. “Streetlight” is the best track from this album, I think. I’ve been known to just put this one on repeat.

Flags by Brooke Fraser - She writes music for Hillsong, but also records solo albums. And Flags is a good one. “Something in the Water” just draws you in and the rest of the songs hold you. My kids love listening to this one just as much as I do.

Gravity & Gladness by Matt Boswell - Gravity and GladnessOur Glorious God is probably my favorite worship song from 2010. “Christ is Risen Indeed” is another great one. There’s really no reason not to get a copy of this album right away. Note that you can download (for free) one of Matt’s previous albums if you’re a Friend of the Blog.

All by Myself by Brian Regan - This may be cheating a little bit since this is a comedy album. But it’s downright hilarious. There are a few that fall a little bit flat without being able to see Regan’s facial expressions and body language, but it’s funny nonetheless.

Yellow Tag Mondays by The Farewell Drifters -Yellow Tag Mondays A bluegrass album? I know, I know. But this one is exceptionally good. And i’m ready to call it my favorite album of 2010. I’ve listened to this one way more times than can possibly be healthy (as my kids will no-doubt attest). These guys make music that is just plain fun. Be sure to check it out.

Other albums I enjoyed:

  • Me in Motion by Me in Motion
  • Vagabonds by The Classic Crime
  • Horseshoes & Hand Grenades by Disciple
  • Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You… by Wakey Wakey (try getting “The Oh Song” out of your head)
  • Live Horses by Needtobreathe (if only they had reduced the spoken bits a little)

December 27, 2010

One of the things Aileen got me for Christmas was Baseball: The Tenth Inning, Ken Burns’ update to his classic documentary series on the game (it covers the last 2 decades). Though it’s necessarily selective in the issues it discusses (it focuses a ton of attention on Boston and New York, for example, but none on the rise of the Rays or the resurgence of the Tigers), I really enjoyed it, more than the original series I think. If you’re a bsaeball fan, you should probably grab it.

Bundle Up, It’s Global Warming - I’ve gone on record as a global warming skeptic. And articles like this aren’t about to sway my mind. An article in the NY Times explains how global warming causes global cooling.

Hitchens vs. Blair on Religion - My friend Ian gives his take on the recent debate between Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens, deciding that Hitchens did a better job in this debate.

The Watchword - A young friend of mine has begun a unique blog. His first entry is called “The Watchword” and is a very interesting story of conversion.

In the Beginning - Here’s a free song that may interest you. It’s based on John 1.

Silly Ideas that Made Millions - Here are a few of them.

Oprah or Religion? - You decide. (HT:MK)

Difficulties in the way to heaven serve to bring us to a despair of ourselves, not of God. —Thomas Manton