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Tim Challies

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August 2011

August 26, 2011

Cruciform Press is looking for a bit of tech help. On September 1 we plan to release a book by John Ensor, a pastor who has published a couple of fine books with Crossway and who has been active in the trenches of the pro-life movement for many years. As his pro-life ministry expands into China and Africa, he’s releasing an important little book called Innocent Blood: Challenging the Powers of Death with the Gospel of Life.

The book addresses issues that are as serious as they come, not to mention highly sensitive and emotionally charged. John is gentle and compassionate, but clear in his biblical convictions on the issues of life, and he wants to be able to take questions and interact with readers of Innocent Blood on a blog.

We just need someone to set up the blog for us, so that it’s live right around September 1. We can’t pay you, but we will gladly acknowledge you in the blog credits and in our social media channels.

If you think you may be interested, please check out this link for more info. Thanks so much!

August 26, 2011

Free Stuff Fridays
This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by CBD Reformed, a company that regularly sponsors these giveaways. This week they are offering 5 prizes, each of which contains the following 3 books:

  • Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas - Retail price $29.99
  • Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears  - Retail Price $22.99
  • Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper -  Retail Price $13.99


Bonhoeffer MetaxasHere’s a bit of information about the one that may interest you the most. “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy is the first fully comprehensive biography of Bonhoeffer in more than 40 years. Written by best-selling NY Times author Eric Metaxes, he presents both sides of Bonhoeffer’s life, as theologian and as conspirator drawing them together to tell a searing story of incredible moral courage in the face of monstrous evil.”

“Presenting a deeply moving narrative, using previously unavailable documents—including personal letters, detailed journal entries, and first-hand personal accounts, Metaxas reveals dimensions of Bonhoeffer’s life and theology never before seen. Furthermore, Metaxas presents the fullest accounting of Bonhoeffer’s heart-wrenching 1939 decision to leave the safety of America for the lion’s den of Hitler’s Germany, and using extended excerpts from love letters and coded messages written to and from Bonhoeffer’s Cell 92, we are allowed to see for the first time the full story of Bonhoeffer’s passionate and tragic romance.”

In addition, CBD Reformed is offering a 4-day sale (August 26 – August 29) on the following three products: 

Anyone can take advantage of those sales, regardless of whether you enter the giveaway and regardless of whether you win the giveaway.

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.

Note: If you are reading via RSS or email, you may need to click through to see the form.

August 26, 2011

Lightning
Wednesday evening brought us a storm unlike any I’ve ever seen. For 30 or 40 minutes we sat under a tornado watch—almost unheard of around here—with near-constant lighting, countless thousands of flashes of it, bringing staccato bursts of light to the night. The sky flashed like it does at the grand finale of a fireworks show, sparks to the left, to the right, directly overhead, each one bigger than the last. Huge forks reached for the ground, first to the west, then right over our house. I watched all of this through a gap, a window in the trees that tower over our home.

All the while thunder rolled in the background, a deep, continuous bass punctuated by sudden cracks and peals, some so loud and sudden, coming without warning, that my heart would pound in my chest (and I’m not easily startled!). I could feel the thunder more than I could hear it. It was there, it was present, almost in physical form. My hand on the door frame could feel its rumble as it gently shook the house and occasionally jolted it. Sirens began to wail as emergency workers went about their business.

In one moment I saw a bolt of lightning begin in the eastern sky and streak toward the west. It faded and jumped back, flickering like a snake’s tongue. As it disappeared, a long, low roll of thunder followed it back, from west to east, tracing the path of the lightning, answering it. 

The wind was strangely calm around our home. The leaves trembled with the rain and moved with the thunder, but there was barely a gust of wind. Great sheets of rain poured down all the while, forming puddles in the grass and torrents in the streets. The storm smelled of whatever it is that storms smell of. Is it ozone? Is it dry ground becoming wet? Whatever it is, it is a distinct smell—the smell of summer evenings.

August 26, 2011

Parenting by Prayer - On parenting and prayer: “My kids are 15, 13, 11 and 3, and one of the main lessons that the Lord has been teaching me especially with the older three is the need to parent them first by prayer, and then by persuasion. As they have gotten older, I’ve come to believe that I spent too much time talking to them about them and too little time talking to God about them.”

Motherhood Is Application - On parenting and transformation: “If I had to pick one word to describe motherhood, I think that word would be ‘transforming.’ The days of a busy mother are made up of millions of transformations. Dirty children become clean, the hungry child fed, the tired child sleeping.”

Teaching the Trinity to Kids - One parenting and teaching: “Years of teaching 4 to 6 year old kids in SS has convinced my wife and me that music is a great means of helping children memorize Bible verses and doctrines.   I know nothing about the psychology of this, I have simply observed that words put to music stick in young minds more easily than words on their own.”

The Old Guys - This blog s a good one. Just about every day it shares a single great quote from an old, dead pastor or theologian. I guarantee you’ll benefit if you make it a regular visit.

Is Steve Jobs Dying for Us All? - Michael Horton asks the question. “Steve Jobs can’t really die for us. In fact, he is, like us all, a prisoner of sin and death. We may have better machines, but we will never emancipate ourselves from sin—and its penalty of death. By affirming death, Jobs proves himself not to be a very orthodox Buddhist. Now, we hope and pray, he will embrace the only solution. This gospel not only saves us from our sins; it saves us from the feverish and ineffectual striving to make something of ourselves, to be something, to become immortal at least in our legacy.”

Christ’s Omnipresence - Phil Johnson takes on a tough doctrine here. “So what about Jesus’ omnipresence? Did He not have to divest Himself of that attribute in order to be incarnated in a real human body? Didn’t he need to cease being everywhere present so that He could enter this world as a Man? Wasn’t His omnipresence necessarily suspended when He was placed in a manger?”

God is a sure paymaster, though he does not always pay at the end of every week. —C.H. Spurgeon

August 25, 2011

Forgive me for sharing a list of 30 Minute Reviews even though I posted another batch yesterday. I have a big backlog of books piled up on my desk, and having spent at least 30 minutes in each one of them, I am eager to provide these short reviews. Publishers are releasing plenty of good books these days and I’m glad to be able to draw your attention to a few of them.

Come to the WatersCome to the Waters by James Montgomery Boice - Though James Montgomery Boice died over 10 years ago, his words live on. In this new book, D. Marion Clark has compiled a year’s worth of daily devotionals drawn from Boice’s sermons and unpublished writings. They are based upon texts from Genesis all the way through Revelation. In his introduction to be book Clark writes, “These devotions are not intended simply to make you a better person. They are to lead you again and again to your only hope—Jesus Christ—for glorifying God. If you ever heard Dr. Boice preach or if you have ever read one of his books, you will know roughly what to expect here: systematic, God-honoring, Christ-exalting exposition of Scripture that is not only preached but also applied.

Everyday PrayersEveryday Prayers by Scotty Smith - One morning Scotty Smith decided he would open up the Bible, turn on his laptop, and begin praying through some of his favorite verses of Scripture. In order to force himself to move at a slow pace and in order to help with his concentration, he elected to type out these prayers. A few weeks later this had become a habit and from there a discipline and a delight. He began to share select prayers with a few friends, then with a list of people and then on a blog. I have often linked to or reprinted those prayers. Baker has now taken 365 of them and compiled them in a book aptly titled Everyday Prayers. What has always appealed to me about Smith’s prayers is that, compared to some other prayer books (such as The Valley of Vision) they are just so normal; they are in the language I use every day. For that reason I find them tremendously helpful.

August 25, 2011

Reading Classics Together
Last week we began reading through John Stott’s classic work The Cross of Christ. The book began by pointing out the centrality of the cross. This week’s reading was chapter 2 which asks and answers an all-important question: Why Did Christ Die?

Why Did Christ Die?

I enjoyed this chapter not only for what it teaches but also for its literary qualities. Stott writes in such a way that by the end, truth is cascading upon truth, and the heart is lifted in praise. It truly packs a punch.

To answer the question Why Did Christ Die?, Stott first looks to the Roman leaders, the Jewish leaders and then to Judas Iscariot, showing how each one played a role in Jesus’ death. But where the chapter begins to really pull together is toward the end where he shows that the truest and deepest answer leads us not to blame others, but to blame ourselves.

Herod and Pilate, Gentiles and Jews … had together “conspired” against Jesus (Acts 4:27). More important still, we ourselves are also guilty. If we were in their place, we would have done what they did. Indeed we have done it. For whenever we turn away from Christ, we “are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace” (Heb 6:6). We too sacrifice Jesus to our greed like Judas, to our envy like the priests, to our ambition like Pilate. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” the old negro spiritual asks. And we must answer, “Yes, we were there.” Not as spectators only, but as participants, guilty participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, bargaining and handing him over to be crucified. We may try to wash our hands of responsibility like Pilate. But our attempt will be as futile as his. For there is blood on our hands.

Stott now provides one of his best-known quotes:

August 25, 2011

Steve Jobs - I guess you’ve heard by now that Steve Jobs has had to retire as CEO of Apple. This article offers a look at his impact of his career. “Most people are lucky if they can change the world in one important way, but Jobs, in multiple stages of his business career, changed global technology, media and lifestyles in multiple ways on multiple occasions.”

The Oncology Waiting Room - In this month’s issue of Tabletalk, Mike Pohlman writes about the gospel and the oncology waiting room.

Insect Portraits - This is amazing stuff. “The ‘portraits’, taken with a scanning electron microsope (SEM) by Steve Gschmeissner, reveal the tiny world that surounds us, yet still evades our view.”

Who’s Your Daddy? - I must be getting old. “The freshmen class entering college this Fall has no remembrance of what life was like before the Internet, what this whole Communist Party fuss was about in Russia, and that Amazon was once just known as a river in South America. Ferris Bueller is old enough to be their dad, and they probably don’t know the name of the bar where everybody knows your name.”

Don’t Eat the Placentas! - It’s not the article I am linking to here as much as one of the paragraphs; it struck me as being near-brilliant. “Most of the time I regard magazines as a treat. I read them when I’m taking a bath, when I’m traveling, or when I’m having a meal alone. They’re the potato chips of my reading life: I can grab a handful, feel a twinge of self-indulgence, and yet feel good about not destroying my appetite for more serious stuff.”

Consecutive Expository Preaching - David Murray writes about the pros and cons of consecutive expository preaching (i.e. preaching through books of the Bible in a verse-by-verse fashion).

Dominionists - Douglas Groothuis: “In the August 15 issue of The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza asserts that Bachmann has been ideologically shaped by ‘exotic’ thinkers of the dominionist stripe who pose a threat to our secular political institutions. The piece—and the much of the subsequent reaction to it the media—is a calamity of confusion, conflation, and obfuscation.”

If you would have God hear you when you pray, you must hear him when he speaks. —Thomas Brooks

August 24, 2011

Here is another batch of 30-minute reviews. These are all books I have received over the past few weeks, but have been unable to read in full. Instead, I have given each of them at least 30 minutes and tried to get as much of a feel for the book as possible in that time.

Unseen RealitiesUnseen Realities by R.C. Sproul - Unseen Realities is a rarity in that it is an R.C. Sproul title published by Christian Focus instead of Reformation Trust (which is associated with Ligonier Ministries). I have read quite a lot of what Dr. Sproul has written on the subjects of heaven, hell, angels and demons and he is always both biblical and practical. Dr. Sproul remains one of my favorite teachers and in this small volume—a collection of selected writings on the topics—he helps us understand those things that we must believe even without being able to see or touch them. He shows how these things truly matter and how they necessarily impact our lives in the here and now.

Practicing AffirmationPracticing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree - Since 1997, Sam Crabtree has been serving as Executive Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Unless I am mistaken, Practicing Affirmation is his first book and it comes with quite an interesting subtitle: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God. I would be tempted to say this is a niche topic except that (I hope!) we all seek to offer words of praise and affirmation to those who are not God. At some level, then, this book must apply to all of us. According to the publisher it “sounds a call to recognize and affirm the character of Christ in others. When done well, affirmation does not fuel pride in the person it refreshes, but honors God. All who are discouraged in relationships will find wisdom and practical insight in this book.” It comes endorsed by C.J. Mahaney, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Joni Eareckson Tada and includes a foreword from John Piper.