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Tim Challies

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May 2011

May 31, 2011

Every week Ligonier Ministries has a feature they call $5 Friday in which they offer up a selection of resources priced at (you guessed it) $5. This Friday they would like to offer at least 1 book or DVD of our choosing. I have narrowed down the choices to 5. All you need to do is vote. Whichever one gets the biggest share of the votes will be offered this Friday for $5.

Here are the options:

Clear? So go ahead and vote. Then check in on Friday and you can buy it at that price.

(If you are reading on Facebook or RSS you will need to click through to my blog)

May 31, 2011

Desiring God Ministries has posted John Piper’s long-awaited interview with Rick Warren. This has brought to completion the invitation Piper extended to Warren to speak at the 2010 Desiring God National Conference. The interview was supposed to happen at that event, but in the end Warren was unable to travel to Minneapolis and the interview was postponed. The men got together on May 1, 2011 and this video is the result.

Today I want to offer up some thoughts on it. I do so because over the years I have come out as a bit of a critic of Rick Warren and his ministry. This is not something I am entirely comfortable with, but it was no surprise to me that when the interview was posted I began to receive questions; people wanted to know what I thought of it. And, frankly, I wanted to know what I thought of it. So what I intend to do in this article is simply let you into my mind as I wrestle through the interview and its implications.

Before I begin, let me say a word about critiquing Warren. Many people seem to imagine that there is some kind of a Calvinist conspiracy against Rick Warren. I will grant that there are many outrageous critics out there who seem to put Warren in the same league as Jezebel and Judas. Despite such people there are many others who have good, legitimate critiques of the man and his ministry. I think we need to be careful that we do not combine these 2 groups—that we do not ignore legitimate critiques because of the outrageous ones.

Having said that, let me tell you where my mind went as I watched and read the interview. I am very glad to hear from you whether my thinking has gone off-track or if I am just plain wrong. The comments are open and I will be reading them as I am able.

1. Awareness

I find myself aware of my youth. As I begin to think through this issue I immediately realize that both of these men are old enough to be my father and I want to be very careful that I do not play the role of the impulsive, self-assured, prideful young(er) man. The Bible commends age and maturity and this leaves me inclined to doubt my own interpretation when it conflicts with those who are older than I am. Both of these men have far more knowledge of Scripture than I do and both have much greater ministry experience. Both have obviously been used by the Lord in unique ways.

May 31, 2011

On Friday night my son had a baseball game; we went to watch and it was cold enough out there that we broke out our winter coats. Today, factoring in the humidity, we are expecting to break 100 degrees. Canada is truly odd that way.

Wilson on Productivity - These are some good thoughts on productivity. 

Commuting and Divorce - Granting that there is a bit of an agenda behind this article, the facts are interesting enough: with a commute comes an increased likelihood of divorce. 

Fair - Ed Welch says “fair” is a 4-letter word. “It’s a child’s first sentence, perhaps a senior’s last, and it makes many appearances in between. So who would have thought that fair is a dirty word? It should never be spoken within the boundaries of the Kingdom of Heaven; it is never spoken there. You have to leave the throne room before it can be muttered.”

Technology as an Alternative to Love - This is probably worth thinking about.

Coming Home - A photo gallery from LIFE of soldiers returning from war.

Last Goodbye - In honor of Memorial Day, Christian Rapper Tedashii released this track/video from his new album (which releases today, as it happens).

Get on fire for God and men will come and see you burn. —John Wesley

May 30, 2011

I recently posted an article detailing how I get things done. Some who read that article were interested in a little bit more detail about the programs I depend upon. So here is the answer—a list of software that makes my life easier. Note that this article deals with software I’ve got install on my desktop computers, not on my iPad or iPhone (though where there are iPad or iPhone versions of the software I may have those as well).

ReederReeder - Reeder is a program that makes reading RSS feeds through Google Reader a much better experience. I’ve been using it since the early beta stage and since then it has grown in all the right directions. It simply takes all of the RSS feeds you’ve collected through Google Reader and makes them easier to read. It also offers the one-click to save them to Instapaper and other similar utilities. The iPad app is just as good.

Value: Speeds and beautifies the process of reading blogs.

BywordByword - Byword is a great little program for a writer. It offers what many programs offer today—the ability to write in a full-screen environment that blocks out all distractions. What makes it unique is its emphasis on beautiful typography and on de-demphasizing anything but the text you are actually working on in the moment. The only way it could be better is if you could copy and paste from there into blogging software. Unfortunately, for the time being, that will cause you to lose rich formatting. I use Byword for most of my writing these days, whether blog posts or sermons.

Value: Makes writing more efficient and more beautiful.

Word for MacWord - When I first switched to Mac, one of my greatest joys was in getting away from using Microsoft Word. It remained that way for a year or two, but once I began working on a new book I realized that Word is a program I just couldn’t get away from. Yes, Apple’s Pages can access Word files, but if you are trying to translate formatting, commenting, tracked changes, and so on, it gets messy. So I had to go back to Word. The latest version is quite a substantial step forward, easing some of the pain.

Value: Standard software for sharing text

The Souls Thirst
May 30, 2011

Every soul thirsts. This thirst may not be obvious in every moment, but at some point and to some degree every soul thirsts after something, something it does not have. We are rarely content in our current condition, rarely content just the way we are. But while we all thirst, we do not all thirst in the same way. Donald Whitney’s book Ten Questions To Diagnose Your Spiritual Health has much to say about this. Whitney identifies 3 ways in which our souls thirst.

The Thirst of the Empty Soul

The soul of the unbeliever is empty toward the things of God. Until the Spirit fills the soul with his presence, it is devoid of any love for God. Without God, the unbeliever is constantly looking for something, anything. But he is unable to fill the emptiness. This is something many people do not understand, but something the Bible teaches clearly: While the believer’s soul is empty because he does not know God, he does not and cannot seek to fill it with God. Many people believe that unbelievers are truly seeking after God but unable to find him. The Bible tells us, though, that the empty soul is unable to understand or satisfy this thirst. Not only that, but the empty soul does not want to understand this thirst, and would not, even if it were possible. The empty soul is completely and fully opposed to God; it is deceitful and desperately wicked. As Paul writes in Romans 3:11, quoting David, “no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Psalm 14:2).

Thus the empty soul is left seeking to be satisfied by other things, fleeting things, good things and bad things. It seeks satisfaction in work, family, love, sex, money and everything else the world has to offer. It may seek satisfaction in religion and even the Christian faith, but it never truly seeks God and thus never truly finds him. Until the Holy Spirit enables that soul to understand the source of his thirst and enables him to see the One who can satisfy, he will continue to look in vain. “Just because a man longs for something that can be found in God alone doesn’t mean he’s looking for God,” says Whitney, “Many who claim they are questing for God are not thirsting for God as he has revealed himself in Scripture, but only for God as they want him to be, or a God who will give them what they want.”

The Thirst of the Dry Soul

There is a second type of spiritual thirst, and it is the thirst of the dry soul. This is a thirst that is felt only by those who believe. It does not indicate that he has fallen away from the Lord, but that he is in a dry place spiritually and that his soul is in need of refreshment. There are three ways a Christian can become spiritually arid:

The first is by drinking too deeply from the fountains of the world and too little from the river of God. When a believer drinks too much of what the world has to offer and too little of what God offers, his soul becomes parched. Giving himself over to his sin means he has turned his back on God, even if only for a while. He has allowed his soul to run dry.

The second way a believer can become arid is what the Puritans referred to as “God’s desertions.” There are times in life when God’s presence is very real to and other times where the Christian feels only his absence. The Christian knows that God’s absence is merely a matter of perception and that there is never a time where he actually withdraws. However, there are seasons in which he removes from his children a conscious knowledge of his presence.

The third way a believer becomes arid is fatigue, either mental or physical. Becoming burned-out by the cares and concerns of the world will cause a believer to focus too much on himself, thus turning his thoughts away from God.

The dry soul yearns for God and nothing else will satisfy. This soul has tasted God, it has seen God, and it wants nothing more than to return to being close to him. And when the soul is dry, God is faithful and good to provide the nourishment the soul desires. He fills, he restores and he satisfies.

The Thirst of the Satisfied Soul

The final type of spiritual thirst is the thirst of the satisfied soul. The satisfied soul desires God precisely because he is satisfied in him. There are many biblical examples of this, but perhaps one of the clearest is the apostle Paul who, in Philippians 3, went to great lengths to describe the depth of his relationship with Christ, but then added the words “that I may know him.” His satisfaction in Christ and the deep love and affection he felt for God only stimulated his desire to know him more. Paul wanted nothing more than to know and love God. His satisfaction made him thirsty for more. Thomas Shepard wrote “There is in true grace an infinite circle; a man by thirsting receives, and receiving thirsts for more.” This is not a cycle of frustration, where the Christian continually laments that he does not know more, but a cycle of satisfaction and earnest desire.


Let me close with a prayer of A.W. Tozer. “O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made thirsty still.” Amen! It is my desire, and the desire of all who believe and thirst after God, that we may be filled with longing to long after God, and to thirst that we may be thirsty still. God grant that we may be men and women who, being satisfied, thirst for him!

Image credit: Shutterstock

May 30, 2011

Female Beauty Matters - Mary Kassian weighs in on what I wrote last week about women and physical beauty. She says it better than I did and from a strong biblical standpoint. “In my opinion, the answer to the conundrum surrounding the discussion about female beauty is not to diminish or deny its importance, but to exalt and embrace the all-surpassing beauty to which it points.”

A Ritual of Remembrance - “Every half hour, a new sentinel guards the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery with one mission: to seek perfection in remembrance.”

Do What Your Heart Tells You - It’s not good counsel, that. “This sounds so simple and liberating. It’s tempting to believe. Until you consider that your heart has sociopathic tendencies.”

The Case Against the Em Dash - It’s been a while since I’ve had a good link here for the grammar (or punctuation) geeks. I admit, I use the em dash too often—it’s a bad habit, I guess.

Childhood Hero - Conrad Mbewe writes a tribute to his childhood hero. (Don’t let the second-to-last paragraph, which deals with a disputable matter, distract from a sound article).

Monergism Deals - Monergism is the first to offer a good discount on Iain Murray’s new biography of John MacArthur.

Lightroom - Meanwhile Amazon has Adobe Lightroom on sale. It’s a great bit of software if you are into photography and today only it’s available at a really good price.

True and Better - This is good stuff from Tim Keller.

No sinner was ever saved by giving his heart to God. We are not saved by our giving, we are saved by God’s giving.A.W. Pink

May 29, 2011

The holiness of God is his glory and crown. It is the blessedness of his nature. It renders him glorious in himself, and glorious to his creatures. “Holy” is more fixed as an epithet to his name than any other. This is his greatest title of honor. He is pure and unmixed light, free from all blemish in his essence, nature, and operations. He cannot be deformed by any evil. The notion of God cannot be entertained without separating from him whatever is impure and staining. Though he is majestic, eternal, almighty, wise, immutable, merciful, and whatsoever other prefections may dignify so sovereign a being, yet if we conceive him destitute of this excellent perfection, and imagine him possessed with the least contagion of evil, we make him but an infinite monster, and sully all those perfections we ascribed to him before.

May 28, 2011

My son had a baseball game last night, the first of at least 3 he is to play this weekend as part of a tournament. He was on second base and ended up on the wrong side of a triple play. I guess he’s a true baseball fan because on the way off the field he high-fived the guy on the other team who turned the play. I was proud of him. When your son inherits your lack of athletic ability, being a good teammate is your highest hope for him!

That Others May Live - “The United States military has entire units devoted exclusively to saving lost soldiers downed in hostile territory. The USAF pararescue forces have one stated mission: rescue. As a believer and a missionary, I am inspired by their motto…”

Maple Syrup Reactors Safe - “Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper addressed growing public concerns about the safety of his country’s maple syrup reactors Thursday, reassuring citizens that the sucrose fission facilities posed little risk of failure and there was absolutely no reason to be concerned.”

Live Simulcast Event - This looks like an interesting event; it is being simulcast around the world so you may be able to find a local location to take it in.

Being a Healthy Pastor - There are some good words here for pastors. 

What Song? - This is strangely fascinating. If you ever see me listening to something on my iPhone, it’s probably Max McLean. (HT:Z)

The Himalayas are the raised letters upon which we blind children put our fingers to spell out the name of God.J.H. Barrows