Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

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November 2011

November 26, 2011

No End to Eurogedden - I found this article rather interesting, and particularly the distinction made between the 2 sides of the Euro divide. “In effect, there is already two currencies: the ‘Lutheran Euro,’ characterized by Germany, the Netherlands and Finland. The label has nothing to do with religion but with countries that are based on Protestant work ethic, discipline and thrift. Then there is the ‘Latin Euro,’ characterized by France, Italy, Spain and Portugal where style is often more important than substance and hard work can be a curiosity.” Could you also divide that by Protestant and Catholic?

A Grumpy Old Lady - Mary Kassian shares a lesson she learned from a grumpy old lady.

How Reading Has Changed - This article looks at the ways reading has evolved in 2011 (or online reading, at least). I think one of the more fascinating and hopeful developments is the growth of social reading.

Sleep vs Internet - “The internet reaches into so many areas of our lives that one in four people now spend longer online than they do asleep, a survey has revealed.”

A Muslim Challenges Ravi - Ravi answers a challenging question.

That every person should grow up and do evil can be no coincidence. It calls for an explanation. —John Gerstner

November 25, 2011

Free Stuff Fridays
This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by CBD Reformed (a company that is also offering up some great Black Friday deals today). This week’s giveaway is a big one (with a retail value of $368 per winner)! As always, there will be 5 winners. Each one will take home the following:

  • MacArthur Study BibleESV MacArthur Study Bible - Retail price $44.99
  • Spurgeon’s Sermons, 5 Volume Set - Retail Price $200.00
  • Hodge’s Systematic Theology, 3 Volumes - Retail Price $100.00
  • At The Throne of Grace by John MacArthur - Retail Price $22.99

In addition, CBD Reformed is offering a 4-day sale (November 25 – November 28). Anyone is free to take advantage of these offers:

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, you’ll need to click through to see the form.

November 25, 2011

By popular request, here is a listing of some of the best Black Friday book deals for Christian readers. Note that most of these are Friday-only deals and that in many cases there is limited inventory. In other words, don’t dawdle!

$5 and less:

Bibles:

Other Notable Book Deals:

Audio Books:

eBooks

November 25, 2011

It is going to be an abbreviated A La Carte this morning as I’ve got to update my Black Friday article before all of those sales get away from me. There are lots of good deals waiting for us today.

One Brings a Song - Christa Wells offers up a free song for a Thanksgiving treat.

Most Tweeted Moments - Here are some of the most-tweeted moments in the history of Twitter. It’s amazing to think that some news moments explode with literally thousands of tweets per second.

Is There Anyone There? - A short video.

Training the Kids - David Murray on training children to use Facebook for God’s glory (Here’s a tip: Don’t break the rules and let them have an account before they turn 13. That’s getting them off to a bad start).

Salvation in sin is not possible; it is always salvation from sin. —C.H. Spurgeon

November 24, 2011

Here is another roundup of 30 Minute Reviews. These are noteworthy books that I did not have time or opportunity to read from beginning to end. Instead, I tried to spend at least 30 minutes with each—enough to get a sense of what the book is all about.

AthanasiusAthanasius - Simonetta Carr is building a fantastic series of biographical books for children and Athanasius now joins John Calvin, Augustine of Hippo and John Owen. Future volumes are expected to include Lady Jane Grey, John Knox and Jonathan Edwards. “A complex and fascinating character, Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, is best remembered as the Father of Orthodoxy, upholding the doctrine of the Trinity against the Arian heresy. In the newest addition to the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series, author Simonetta Carr introduces children to the life and times of this important church father who tirelessly defended the Nicene Creed, which many of us today recite as a confession of our faith.” This is a series you’ll want your children to have access to.

What Do You Think of MeWhat Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? - This strangely-titled book comes from the pen of Edward Welch. I read it in manuscript form and wrote this blurb: “When we make people big, we necessarily make God small in comparison. This sin of pleasing people ahead of God, this fear of man, is the kind of sin we dress up and excuse and neglect; we have made it respectable. In What Do You Think of Me?, Ed Welch carefully, surgically, exposes people-pleasing for what it is. He lets it be ugly—all sin is ugly!—and offers a much more satisfying vision rooted in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Whether you are young or old (but maybe especially if you are young) you would do well to give this book a read.” This book is, in some ways, an extension to or expansion of Welch’s classic When People Are Big and God Is Small.

November 24, 2011

ChristianAudio - ChristianAudio is having their twice-yearly sale where they put pretty much everything on sale at $7.49. You can check my list of Black Friday deals to see which ones will be even cheaper tomorrow.

I Think Before I Tweet - This is a phenomenon I’ve noticed as well: Once you begin to tweet, you start to think like a tweet. Or something like that. “As I go about the day, I find myself thinking of things that I could tweet about. When I see a strange person in line at a store, I think about something clever I could say. When a company offers me poor service, I think about how I could slam them and get something back from it. When I read about major world events, I think up little jokes to make light of them.”

Wives Speak Out - Kathleen Nielson has an interesting article at The Gospel Coalition. She finds “voices from women in Christian marriages aiming by God’s grace for that gospel model of loving headship and respectful submission taught in the Scriptures and acted out by Christ himself. I asked this group of ten women one question: How has your husband encouraged you to grow and use your gifts for the kingdom?”

The Most Amazing Window - This is kind of cool. “The most amazing window ever created by humankind is not on this planet, but floating in space, the most spectacular part of the International Space Station. It’s the ISS Cupola. This animation shows how it was installed.”

Tebow Responds - Love him or hate him, you’ve got to respect the guy for standing firm in the faith.

Brinicle - The BBC has a really interesting video about a “brinicle.”

Our thanks should be as fervent for mercies received as for petitions sought. —Charles Simmons

November 23, 2011

I have always loved language, and the English language in particular. In fact, part of the reason I love to read is not to learn new things, but to learn how other people use words. When I read an author like Malcolm Gladwell, a very gifted writer, I learn more about language than about the topic of his book.

While I have always enjoyed using words and studying language, my love of English grew during my college years when I studied other languages, primarily those from which English is derived—Latin, Greek, and to some extent, French. I also studied linguistics and, of course, the English language itself. I came to love understanding how people use words to craft ideas. There is a good reason that people continue to study Shakespeare in high school despite increasingly antiquated language. Shakespeare was a master of the language, a master word crafter, and we can all benefit by reading what he wrote. The same is true of Dickens or any other number of authors.

Let me jump from Shakespeare to Bible translation. Whenever I take the time to read the Bible slowly and meditatively—and this is particularly true of reading the Old Testament—I am struck by the beauty of the language. While I do not know Hebrew, I often hear people speak of the poetic nature of the language which leads even the prose to have poetic qualities. And I see this reflected in the English. At least, I see it reflected in the English when I read it in certain translations. 

For day-to-day reading I tend to rely on the English Standard Version. Now, I’ve heard it said that to be one of today’s New Calvinists you pretty much need to use the ESV. Let me say that I am not ESV fanboy. However, I do find that it is a superior translation and one that does a wonderful job of seeking to capture the beauty of the language. This cannot be said of all Bible translations. I have come to love the little literary devices, the metaphors and phrases used by the ancient writers and find that they add so much to the reading of the text. Without a translation that accurately rendered these sayings we would lose so much of the flow and meaning of the text.

There is so much beauty in the prose of the Old Testament and I love that I can have access to a translation (and to several translations, really) that carefully and accurately renders the metaphors and phrases used by the original authors. Let me provide you with a few examples from Kings. I am going to use the ESV as my standard essentially-literal translation. I do this not necessary to indicate that it is superior to the others within the category, but simply because it is the translation I use the most.

I’ll begin with 1 Kings 2:2 where King David gives his final wishes to his son Solomon. The ESV renders David’s words like this: “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man.” The other essentially literal translations agree with this translation and the NASB, KJV and NKJV are all very similar. There are two constructs here that I love: “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” and “show yourself a man.” Let’s see how several other common translations render this particular verse:

  • “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, show yourself a man.” (NIV)
  • “I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man.” (NLT)
  • “My son, I will soon die, as everyone must. But I want you to be strong and brave.” (CEV)
  • “I’m about to go the way of all the earth, but you—be strong; show what you’re made of!” (Message)

As we see, the NIV renders the verse in a way that is consistent with the original text. The NLT deviates a little bit, expanding the meaning of “the way of all the earth” to “where everyone on earth must someday go.” It also says, “be a man” rather than “show yourself a man.” The CEV further interprets the verse, removing any sort of literary device in both parts. The Message does a little better, maintaining the first half of the verse but removing the “show yourself a man.”

What is lost in the NLT and the CEV is the metaphor “the way of all the earth.” It is an important term, beautifully poetic, and one that is worthy of some time in meditation. There is a depth of meaning to that phrase that is clearly missing in words like “I will soon die, as everyone must.” Readers of the NLT and CEV have no access to this phrase and miss out on the wonderful opportunity to meditate upon it and learn from it.

November 23, 2011

I apologize for the extensive downtime yesterday. It turns out that one user somewhere in the world was working overtime at trying to bring my site down. Eventually the site administrators figured it out and blocked him. It seems now that all is well. Hopefully it will remain that way.

Bibles on Sale - Westminster Books has all of their ESV Bibles on sale over the holiday weekend. There are lots of great prices to take advantage of!

New Translations - Speaking of the Bible, Andy Naselli has information about a couple of new translations (probably not ones you’d want to use as your primary Bible).

Innocent Couples - A funny video. I probably would have walked out.

Megachurch Bubble - “Most megachurches — which earn that label around the 2,000-attendance level — are led by baby boomer pastors who soon will hit retirement age and without suitable replacements in the pipeline. And some fear the big-box worship centers with lots of individual programs no longer appeal to younger generations.”

Legalizing Group Marriage - You know this battle is coming up very soon. “Three different strands are coming together to legalize group marriage:  the far left, the far right, and the new reproductive technology.” 

Strachan and Her.menuetics - Denny Burk gives the background to an interesting exchange about biblical femininity (and other associated topics).

You don’t need to work to make Christianity controversial. Just read sentences from the Bible. —John Piper