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

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

A La Carte

May 11, 2011

I was doing a phone interview last night and had a rather awkward moment. I was in the basement and as I was answering a question, I spotted a hamster in the window well, trying to get into our house (or get out of the window well). I hadn’t expected that. When the interview wrapped up, I managed to track down its grateful and relieved owner (who lives 2 doors down). End of story.

More Friends Online - This seems rather significant. “There really is something in that lingering suspicion that most users of social networking sites have more friends in cyberspace than reality.The average person has in fact double the amount of online friends than physical ones.”

Underage Facebook Users - I am often asked in interviews how we should train our children to use social media responsibly. Here’s a good place to start: don’t cheat the system and get them a Facebook account before they are old enough to legitimately have one. And yet there are currently 7.5 million Facebook users who are underage (who have lied or whose parents have lied to get them an account).

Starbucks, Vocation and the Mundane - Here are some interesting thoughts from Matt Perman about vocation.

Unspoken Truths - As cancer ravages his body, Christopher Hitchens is finding his voice leaving him. You can’t help but pity the man; you can’t help but pray for him.

The ‘Education’ Mantra - “One of the sad and dangerous signs of our times is how many people are enthralled by words, without bothering to look at the realities behind those words.” Ain’t that the truth! Thomas Sowell writes about “education” and how it is one of those words.

Thriving at College - Speaking of education, my friend Alex Chediak wants you (or your kids or your grand kids) to thrive at college. And that just happens to be the title of his new book. Here is a very positive review of it.

The King’s English - Now this is pretty clever. This video ties into a unique blog effort. In honor of the 400th anniversary of the King James Version, this blogger “will blog on a phrase each day that has passed into common parlance: popular phrases like ‘labour of love’, ‘beast of burden’, ‘wits’ end’ and ‘scapegoat’; but also phrases that should be more popular, like ‘filthy lucre’ and ‘gird up thy loins’.” (see http://kingsenglish.info/)

We spend our years with sighing; it is a valley of tears; but death is the funeral of all our sorrows.  —Thomas Watson

May 10, 2011

Why Won’t God Just Tell Me What To Do? - “That would certainly make things simpler in life, wouldn’t it? Like if there was a blank page at the back of every Bible, and every morning you woke up and there was a personal, hand-tailored message for you from God. Telling you where to eat lunch. Letting you know how to get another job and when it’s going to happen. Informing you of the right choice to make about your relationship.” (HT:Z)

Roasted Peanuts - One of my favorite all-time Peanuts strips. As the commenter says, “There is spite, and there is this.”

Cursive Will Never Die - I found this a rather interesting article. “Cursive writing is in decline, says the New York Times. Should we panic?”

God’s Bankers - A reader forwarded me this article, from The Independent. It discusses how evangelical Christianity is taking a hold of the City of London’s financial institutions.

The Danger of Sitting - Apparently a job that keeps you as static as mine does isn’t a good thing. I’ve been thinking of making a standing desk. This may fast-track me. Probably not.

Zombie Consumers - “Economy watchers looking for a spark of life in the exhausted, debt-ridden American consumer are quick to latch on to any signs of a pulse.” What grabbed me in this article was the point that the economy is coming back to life when personal debt begins to rise again. Haven’t we learned anything?

A Parody - This is a good parody of our cultural obsession with video games. (HT:KD)

As the wicked are hurt by the best things, so the godly are bettered by the worst. —William Jenkyn

May 09, 2011

I spent a lot of time reading this weekend. Reading on the Internet, that is. And now when it comes to A La Carte I find that I’ve got about 100 articles bookmarked. Well, 20 or 30 anyway. So let me see if I can make up an interesting mix that reflects the eclectic nature of what I was reading.

Books About Heaven and Hell - Randy Alcorn has written an article on 90 Minutes in Heaven, Heaven Is Real and other books in that “been to heaven (or hell)” genre.

A Surprising Way to Love Your Wife - Here’s a must-read article for the husbands out there. Wives, if you want your husband to read it, just print it off and tell him that I said he’d enjoy it.

Shakespeare, Aesop or KJV? - A quiz that is more difficult than you might think.

My Husband’s Other Wife - I found this a moving article. “Shortly after my husband John and I were married, on a day he was at work and I was home moving my things into his house, I opened a cardboard box in the attic. It was filled with photos of his other married life, the one he’d had with his first wife, Robin Goldstein. She was 28 when they got married, and six months later she was diagnosed with breast cancer. My husband was nursing her at home when she died just after her 34th birthday. The box contained wedding photos, honeymoon photos, and random snapshots of parties and birthdays.”

7 Thoughts - Douglas Wilson offers 7 thoughts on the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. This is very good and helpful stuff.

Lessons from the Coverage - Speaking of Bin Laden, this site looks at the way the news exploded into the world and shows the kind of challenge this presents to old media.

Creepy and Cool - Z says this is the creepiest and coolest thing he’s seen in a long time. I’d tend to agree. It makes me think we’ve been wasting our kids’ kindergarten years.

The Lord knows I go up this ladder [to be hung as a martyr] with less fear, confusion or perturbation of mind than ever I entered a pulpit to preach. —Donald Cargill

May 07, 2011

It’s funny what happens to Saturdays when the family grows. Already I’ve taken my son to baseball practice, my daughter to ballet and worked over tomorrow’s sermon in the meantime. Next up is a list of chores (passport photos, baseball helmets, groceries). I remember when weekends were relaxing. But I think it’s a fair trade.

Blood on the Carpet - I thoroughly enjoyed this blog post, which includes the longest run-on sentence you’re ever likely to read.

Your First Name and Your Age - “What’s in a name? Your age, for one thing. Names, like clothing and music, go in and out of fashion, and each generation chooses different ones than the last, until, like a giant Jeopardy wheel, the same ones come around again. Note that as the years progress the list becomes more multi-cultural; many names from the mid-20th century were of English origin or Biblical. Popular entertainers and cultural figures (such as Prince William) also impact the list.”

Moms, Former Moms, Wannabe Moms - “Mother’s Day is a tricky holiday. Like any holiday, it is sweet for some and bitter for others. For some, it’s both. I remember feeling on the outside looking in on Mother’s Day, first as a single woman and then after I miscarried our first. Our church had an entrance near the nursery called the Family Entrance. Could I use it? Were we a family?”

Give Her a Chance - This may make sense only to Canadians. I enjoyed the subtle sarcasm in this article. While you’re at it, read this one (again, I think only Canadians will care).

VW Tests - This is strangely satisfying to watch.

May 06, 2011

It’s been a cool and rainy spring—enough so that my son’s baseball season has already been delayed twice. The fields are just too wet to play on. However, we are hoping to finally get the first practice in tomorrow, with a game to follow early next week. It’s back to the diamond at last.

U-S-A - Here is a brief history of the U-S-A! chant that America loves and the rest of the world doesn’t.

High Art - I guess you have to be a bit of a geek to enjoy this one. It talks about the iconic beauty of the Boeing 747 and compares it to the bland nature of the Airbus A380.

Truth in Love - I appreciated Michael Haykin’s reflections in a new article which begins like this: “In one of his books, Francis Schaeffer depicts the two problems that can afflict those desiring to be true to the Christian Faith in days when biblical truth is under attack. On the one hand, some become hard and brittle in their response to errorists and develop low tolerance levels.”

Where Is the Steeple? - Veith shares an article from USA Today about the decline of the steeple (and with it traditional church architecture) and asks a few questions: “Architecture, like other art forms, expresses meaning.  Do you know why older churches built steeples?  Why they had bells?  What does it mean that today’s churches tend to use cheap materials?”

Three Things Obama Got Right - This is an interesting take on President Obama and the aftermath of killing Osama Bin Laden. John Mark Reynolds believes “President Obama made the right call to take out bin Laden, the right call to end torture of prisoners, and was right not to release the bin Laden photograph.”

Twain’s Autobiography - If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, you may enjoy reading this review of Mark Twain’s recently-published autobiography.

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling ‘darkness’ on the wall of his cellC.S. Lewis

May 05, 2011

The Slippery Story - It’s been very interesting to see how the story of Bin Laden’s death has changed over the past few days. The Atlantic tries to make some sense of it. I wonder how much of the changes are based on misinformation that came through today’s way-too-fast news cycle.

Victory Over or Struggling With? - That’s an important distinction. “In Evangelical circles, in pastoral care, and in the biblical counseling world, it seems to me that we spend much more time preaching, teaching, and counseling about ‘victory over,’ and much less time journeying with and pondering ‘struggling with,’ ‘fighting with,’ or even ‘victory in.’ Do we perhaps sometimes mistakenly convey the impression that applying biblical principles eliminates the battle, the struggle?”

You Might Be An Idolator If… - Here’s a short list from Stephen Altrogge’s new book.

The Kids With George W. Bush - Denny Burk: “TIME magazine has a fascinating story on the children who were with President Bush on 9-11 when he received the news that America was under attack. They are all very appreciative of his calm response and that he didn’t immediately storm out of the room.”

E-Readers Fail at Education - I’m not too surprised that e-readers aren’t make big inroads into the classroom. It’s the reasons that I find interesting (and understandable).

Ten Years of Innovation - Here’s a good reminder of how much the way we communicate has changed in the just the past 10 years. “As I woke this morning I was struck by that fact. In less than 10 years the world and the technology we use to experience it has changed so completely. On September 11, 2001 there was no iPhone, there was no Twitter, there was no YouTube. But there was a basic human desire to connect, to share experiences and to have our experiences shared and understood by others.”

What are the heavens, the earth, the sea, but a sheet of royal paper, written all over with the wisdom and power of God? —Thomas Brooks

May 04, 2011

Anatomy of a Fake Quotation - This is interesting: “Yesterday, I saw a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. fly across my Twitter feed:  ‘I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.’ - Martin Luther King, J’.  I was about to retweet it, but I hesitated.  It didn’t sound right.  After some Googling, I determined that it was probably fake, which I blogged about last night.”

Tornado Before and After - Amazing satellite photos of before and after the tornado.

Long Work vs. Hard Work - A quick but important distinction courtesy Seth Godin.

Praying For … Me - Paula Hendricks: “I thought you’d be interested in reading several prayers Nancy Leigh DeMoss has prayed for herself over and over again through the years. Then, I’d love to hear what prayer(s) you regularly pray for yourself.”

Here We Go Again - “I heard some really discouraging and sobering news the other day, and I wanted to take a break from Greek instruction to share it with you.” This is an important article from Bill Mounce.

Fed Up With the Fed - I enjoyed Sowell’s look at some of the evasive phrases used by politicians. Because “when people in Washington start creating fancy new phrases instead of using plain English, you know they are doing something they don’t want us to understand.”

Dead Authors on Twitter - Results vary a lot, but some of these Twitter accounts from long-deceased authors are pretty funny (or clever or…).

There are times when God asks nothing of his children except silence, patience and tears. —Charles Seymour Robinson

May 03, 2011

It is a double birthday in the Challies home today, with my wife turning [something] and my youngest daughter turning 5. Question is, when there are two birthdays, do you do one cake and put both names on it? Or do you do a cake each? I’m going with the one cake this year…

You Have Multiple Blood Clots - David Murray writes about a medical crisis he faced last week. (This is also the reason that David and I have not recorded a podcast in a couple of weeks)

eBook Sale - At Cruciform Press we are having a Mother’s Day sale on a couple of books that mom might like.

A Praying Life - Speaking of ebooks, Paul Miller’s A Praying Life, a really good book on prayer, is available for free for the Kindle. Get it soon because it won’t be free forever.

Reformed Rap - Christianity Today puts the spotlight on Reformed rap.

Now - My little sister, who lives in Ringgold, Georgia, writes about life after the tornado that flattened so much of her town. “We have our power back, we have our water back…we can surf the net.  It’s amazing what these crews have done in just a couple of days.  We sit here and we feel guilty…just a block over there are people who have no homes…everything is gone.  Again, we thank God for what we do not deserve.”

9Marks - The newest 9Marks newsletter is out and it focuses on issues related to church membership. I tend to read it for the book reviews.

Jesus Wants My Heart - Daniel Renstrom has released an EP of children’s music (iTunes only). Go ahead and buy it and you’ll be helping fund a full-length album for kids. And why not check out his other albums—they are well worth the purchase.

God’s Holiness - A sermon jam featuring Richard Ganz.

If you don’t believe in the devil’s existence, just try resisting him for a while. —Charles Finney (yeah, I know, it’s Finney; but it’s a great quote)