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Tim Challies

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A La Carte

July 19, 2016

I have been a guest on a couple of different podcasts recently: Tech Reformation where we discussed social media, news, and blogging. Then I was also on These Go to 11 where they asked me questions to American politics but from a Canadian perspective.

The Immaturity of Addiction

“When someone begins to abuse substances repeatedly, they are often exchanging responsibility for pleasure.” This can be seen as an expression of immaturity.

Lemonade Stands Ethics: Serious Questions and Answers

This is just serious enough to make the point. “It’s that time of year when we again consider Christian morality and lemonade stands. Below find answers to common questions.”

The Legacy of One-Point Calvinism and Casual Churchianity

John Piper: “I grew up among a few million ‘one-point Calvinists’ who misunderstood their one point: ‘once saved, always saved.’ In general, it meant, if Johnny asked Jesus into his heart at age six, left the church at sixteen, mocked Jesus for ten years, and died in Vietnam with a bullet hole through his playboy bunny, he was in heaven.”

4 Simple Steps for Doing Bible Word Studies

George Guthrie follows up a previous post with an instructive one on doing word studies.

Stargazer Fish

Stargazers have eyes on the top of their heads. They bury themselves in the bottom of the sea and just wait for something to blunder on by. Check out the video.

If It Makes You Happy

This article at Reformation21 really digs down to the bottom of the “if it makes you happy” way of thinking that’s so pervasive today.

This Day in 1649 367 years ago today, Edward Winslow helped organize the Society for Propagating the Gospel in New England for the purpose of bringing the gospel to American Indians. *

Five Things I Pray I Will Not Do as a Senior Adult in the Church

Thom Rainer is thinking about being a senior (which is coming right up) and considering the kind of senior he does not want to be. “I have five specific prayers. They are for me. They are for my attitude about my church. They are reminders I will need to review constantly.”

Flashback: So You Want To Sin, Do You?

So you want to sin, do you? I get that. I’ve been there. I’ve been there today. And yesterday. And the day before. Can I beg just four or five minutes of your time? Then you can go and sin all you want. But first I want you to read just a few words and take a moment to consider them.

Luther

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me. —Martin Luther

July 18, 2016

 

Encouragement, Confession, and Concern

Garrett Kell was at this weekend’s big event on The Mall and writes out his thoughts on it. “I didn’t see or hear everything during those seven hours, but I saw much of it. And as I watched, I found myself encouraged, convicted, and concerned.”

5 Principles for Studying the Trinity

Gavin Ortlund: “The Trinity has been ‘trending’ lately in the blogosphere. I think that is a good thing insofar as theological debate often leads to greater theological clarity. Rather than wade into the contested areas, I thought it might be helpful to offer a broader, more constructive post for those of us (like myself) who, particularly in light of the controversy, see our need to keep “beefing up” our understanding of the Trinity.”

The Fjords of Norway

Here’s a beautiful timelapse film of Norway. And then here’s a haunting one of Fukushima.

The Calvary Option?

Carl Trueman: “The world around may legitimate whatever sleaze, self-indulgence and self-deception it may choose. It may decide that black is white, that up is down, and that north is south, for all I care. The needs of my congregation—of all congregations—will remain, at the deepest level, the same that they have always been, as will the answers which Christianity provides.”

The L.E.D. Quandary

Here’s an interesting one on L.E.D. lights. “Building bulbs to last turns out to pose a vexing problem: no one seems to have a sound business model for such a product. And, paradoxically, this is the very problem that the short life span of modern incandescents was meant to solve.”

This Day in 1965. 51 years ago today, R.C. Sproul was ordained by the Pittsburg Presbytery in the United Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A.

“Forced Love” Is the Wrong Way to Look at It

Yes, let’s be done with this unfair caricature of Calvinism.

Headphones Everywhere

“Anyone who has recently spent time in a public space—traversing the aisle of an airplane, say, lurching toward your seat adjacent to the toilet, trying to shift your backpack without thwapping a fellow traveller on the forehead—has likely noticed the sudden and extraordinary ubiquity of headphones.” Indeed.

Flashback: 10 Ways To Resist The Devil

It is one of the Bible’s many sweet and powerful promises: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The question is, though, how do we do this? In very practical ways, how do we resist the devil? Here are 10 of them…

Spurgeon

When your will is God’s will, you will have your will.C.H. Spurgeon

July 16, 2016

 

Why the Planned Parenthood Videos Didn’t Change the Abortion Debate

It was a year ago that the Planned Parenthood videos were released. “The videos garnered a surprising among of media attention, sparked congressional hearings, and launched dozens of investigations into Planned Parenthood (PP). But a year later, not much has changed. And many people are wondering what went wrong.” He speculates on what happened.

The World’s Largest Model Railroad

There are some terrifically eccentric people out there and this is one of them. (His model railroad is huge but kind of low quality, isn’t it?)

Church Aflame

You may enjoy, and may even need, this call to evangelism. “If Christianity is simply about being nice, I’m not interested. What happened to radical Christianity, the un-nice brand of Christianity that turned the world upside-down? I’m ready for a Christianity that ‘ruins’ my life, which captures my heart and makes me uncomfortable.”

A Love Like That

This is a sweet description of the love of Charles and Sarah Hodge. Kevin DeYoung brings the application: “Married couples, if you imagine that your final moments together will be like this, rejoice and again I say rejoice.”

I Tripped and Fell at the Olympics

Jim Ryun: “I tripped and fell at my final Olympics. It was one of the best things to happen to me.”

Eight Mistakes Churches Make on Their Websites

I’m sure I’ve seen all of these at one time or another. Most of them I’ve seen recently…

This Day in 1674. 342 years ago today, Isaac Watts was born in Southampton, England. He would write over 600 hymns. *

The Incredible Complications of Living Atop the U.S.-Canada Border

What happens if your town, or even your house, spans an international border? This article tells about a guy whose backyard is in the US while his front yard is in Canada.

Flashback: 3 Helpful Instructions on Keeping a Journal

It’s not meant to “advocate a tell-all diary, but a prudent, humble, and appropriate record of our experiences and observations of God’s providence.”

Pulpit Aflame

My gratitude goes to Reformation Heritage Books for sponsoring the blog this week with “Pulpit Aflame.”

Watson

Are there not millions of us who would rather go sleeping to hell; than sweating to heaven? —Thomas Watson

July 15, 2016

Westminster Books is having an open box sale on ESV Bibles with many of them up to 70% off. You’ll need to act fast because they will be gone quickly. And now, some links for your reading pleasure:

Ten Key Questions for Sermon Preparation

Darryl Dash offers some great questions for preachers to consider.

The Gospel of the Kingdom Is Like an Old Hymn

Jared Wilson: “The gospel is an old hymn. The gospel is sheet music printed in antiquarian typeface on a yellowed page in a dusty book. It’s the ‘old, old story’ and the ‘old rugged cross.’ It is four verses—and please don’t skip the third verse to expedite the invitation!”

4 Reasons Why Every Bible Reader Should Do Word Studies

George Guthrie says “In this post I want to make a case for learning the basics of doing word studies, whether we are pulling out the shovel of deeper Bible study or the trowel of basic Bible reading. Here are 4 motivations…”

Searching for a Soul Mate

You’ve heard the concept of soul mate, but do you know where it came from? Its origin highlights why it’s mostly an unhelpful and unrealistic concept.

Harambe, Human Value, and Palatable Civil Religion

Canon and Culture looks at recent incidents of human violence and compares them to incidents of animal violence. “These incidents provide a window into our society and, despite the unthinkable and horrific nature of their tragedy, provide opportunities for reflection.”

This Day in 1852. 164 years ago today, following the Great Awakening, Hawaii sent out its first missionaries to the Caroline Islands. *

The Sound So Loud That It Circled the Earth Four Times

Here’s the tale of a sound so loud it circled the earth four times. It is the loudest sound ever heard on earth.

Jesus’ Delay and Jairus’ Daughter

Why would Jesus have delayed in healing that girl?

Flashback: Looking Forward to the Reward

“Is it wrong to be motivated by rewards? Somehow in my mind it seems like the reward must negate the joy or the purity of obedience, and especially when it comes to the way I handle money. Shouldn’t I want to give out of the joy of obedience? Shouldn’t I want to give simply because I love the God who commands me to give generously?”

Dyer

To bless God for mercies is the way to increase them; to bless Him for miseries is the way to remove them. —William Dyer

July 14, 2016

 

Be a Church With Small Groups, Not a Church of Small Groups

Here’s an important distinction. “Small groups should not become a replacement for the main church meeting. If your small group becomes your church, you are missing out.”

Matt Chandler’s Challenge to Men

Randy Alcorn: “One of my deepest concerns is to see men, young men in particular, who have become increasingly content with doing little in life, sometimes resulting in their wives becoming their caregiver and provider and, effectively, the sole parent of their children.”

The Heart of Hospitality

There are many people who feel this way. “The truth is, for a long time hospitality was hard for me. I often thought that hospitality was something you only did when you were prepared and had all your ducks in a row. I thought that my home needed to be a certain size and my cooking skills up to a certain level.”

Young Pastors & Fighting From Falling

There are lots of good points in this article, but I think number 2 stands out: We all need to be perfectly content to remain unknown if God’s will is for us to be unknown. “Obscurity is not a danger to faithfulness. On the contrary, obscurity may be essential to a faithful ministry. We ought to beware of wanting to matter.”

Russia Enacts Laws to Restrict Religious Freedom

Joe Carter explains the situation in Russia where the government has just passed laws that will greatly reduce religious freedom.

Expectant Prayer for the Nations

This seems like an appropriate follow-up to the previous article. As we pray for other nations, we can and should pray with faith and confidence.

This Day in 1575. 441 years ago today, reformer and Bible translator Richard Taverner, died in England. *

Obergefell One Year Later

Writing as and for Millennials, these authors say, “For our generation, addressing Obergefell in a compelling manner requires understanding its emotionally subjective nature.”

Flashback: The Narrowest Religion in the World

“The Christian religion is at once the broadest and the narrowest in the world. It is a faith that admits every possible kind of person. But it admits them in only one way.”

Sunday

The fellow that has no money is poor. The fellow that has nothing but money is poorer still. —Billy Sunday

July 13, 2016

 

Logos users will want to take note that John MacArthur’s commentaries are finally available again.

Self-Disclosure in Dating

Winston Smith offers brief, wise counsel on self-disclosure while dating.

Josh Harris Rethinks His Approach To Courtship

NPR did a brief feature on Josh Harris and discussed his updated views on dating and courtship.

When a Pastor Is Also a Police Officer

I enjoyed this interview: “I’m a pastor at a mid-sized suburban church as well as a deputy sheriff in the same area. By day, I have the joy of leading people to follow Jesus. By night, I’m a public servant, performing the standard duties of a patrol officer—from answering 911 calls to patrolling to providing presence in the community to assisting people.”

Two Kinds of Voting, Two Kinds of Disruption, and Two Kinds of Unrighteousness

I am linking to this article because I saw a number of people I respect say very positive things about it.

Five Questions to Ask Before You Consume Cannabis

Recent developments “that Christians will need to think more carefully about marijuana than most of us have until now. Not everyone will be tempted to consume pot, but most everyone will be in a position to advise someone who is considering it.”

This Day in 1813. 203 years ago today, Adoniram and Anne Judson first laid eyes on Rangoon, Burma. It would be five years before the Judsons baptized their first convert. *

How Jeff Bezos Is Hurtling Toward World Domination

Here’s an interesting one on the rise and dominance of Amazon. “Today, the question is not whether Amazon can survive but whether we can survive without Amazon.”

Pastors, Let Your Deacons Serve

Matt Capps wisely addresses a very common issue.

Flashback: How We Do Family Devotions

I wrote this to give an idea of how to do family devotions and to show how simple it can be.

Spurgeon

Everything that God does to His people is all love. Sometimes the love is a little disguised, but the love is always there.C.H. Spurgeon

July 12, 2016

As you read this, I should just be touching down in London as I make my way to Oxford. I will be there for a week to participate in a writing workshop led by Douglas Bond. I have never done anything like this before and am very excited for the opportunity to engage in some “professional development.” I hope to update you once or twice to let you know what I’m up to. In the meantime, here are some links for today.

But first, today is Prime Day at Amazon. I’ve been over the Atlantic all night so haven’t been able to check out the deals, but I’m hoping they have deals on print and Kindle books. Take a look and see. I’m sure they’ll at least have deals on Kindle devices.

Three Questions for Bible Journaling

“The Bible was full of notes, dates, testimonies of answered prayer, prayers for family members and church members, and other items that revealed her deep love for Christ. After seeing her Bible, I was reminded of the value of journaling all of the ways God reveals himself through his word.”

8 Ways Churches Can Capitalize on Pokemon Go

It looks like Pokemon Go will be one of the themes of the summer. And, surprisingly, it is bringing many people to churches. Here’s one person’s take on how to capitalize. (For context see this news article.)

I’m Never Bored, and I Think It Might Be Killing Me

I am convinced that our brains need a certain amount of boredom.

10 Things You should Know about Race and Racism

Sam Storms offers another of his “10 things” articles, this one on race and racism.

This Day in 1536. 480 years ago today, Desiderius Erasmus, first editor of the Greek New Testament died in Basel. His work was the foundation for many of the translations that changed the world. *

Null Island

Here’s an interesting little video on “Null Island.”

Hole-Boring, Fuse-Lighting Prayer

“Here’s a wonderful analogy for prayer from Norwegian author Ole Hallesby, quoted in Tim Keller’s Prayer…”

Flashback: 3 Errors of Musical Style that Stifle Community

It is ironic that music, an element meant to draw Christians together in mutual love and service (see Colossians 3:16) has become a force for significant division within the church.

Stott

The Christian leads by example, not force, and is to be a model who invites a following, not a boss who compels one. —John Stott

July 11, 2016

 

The Playschool Tragedy for Twentysomethings

This is true for so many people: “The twenties have become this new kind of ‘paradise’ in between childhood and real adulthood, when you can party hard, experiment with new things, and spend lots of money without feeling the consequences.”

17 Benefits to Reading the Entire Bible

17 seems like a lot, but I bet we could come up with many more!

You Are Smart Enough to Study the Bible

This article seems an appropriate follow-up to the previous one. “Few people use those words, but this captures the general sentiment. Many people feel inadequate or intimidated by the task of studying the Bible, so they never attempt it.”

Speaking Like a Christian

The last few days have offered many opportunities for all of us to speak like Christians (or not to speak like Christians).

This Day in 1979. 37 years ago today, David Platt was born. Happy birthday David!

Why Single Is Not the Same as Lonely

Sam Allberry: “It has become an unquestioned assumption today: Singleness (at least godly singleness) and intimacy are alternatives. A choice to be celibate is a choice to be alone. No wonder for so many this seems too much to bear. Can we really expect someone to live without romantic hope? It sounds so unfair.”

6 Reasons Why You Should Pray

David Qaoud looks to John Calvin to find 6 reasons you ought to pray.

Daily Quote Graphics

I’ve been looking for an appropriate place to store the daily quote graphics you find in A La Carte. I think Flickr is a good solution. So here’s the complete solution (at least for the ones available in high-resolution).

Flashback: 12 Ways To Preserve Christian Unity

“Satan hates God and therefore he hates God’s people, the church. His great plan for the church is to cause Christians—true believers who ought to be together in the gospel—to find ways of disagreeing among themselves, to divide, to be bitter and jealous, and ultimately to ‘bite and devour one another’ (Gal. 5:15). Here are twelve ways that you can repulse Satan’s attacks.”

Spurgeon

Do not give fair names to foul sins. Call them what you will, they will smell no sweeter.C.H.Spurgeon