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

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

A La Carte

June 07, 2016

One Facebook, Two Worlds, Three Problems

Trevin Wax did a litlte digging and experimenting and tells how Facebook’s news algorithm works (and why it’s really not a good thing).

Living a Life of Stunning Significance

Richard Phillips: “What a difference it makes when a Christian man realizes that he does not have to be a fighter pilot, a movie star, or a pro athlete to have a life of significance and value.” Indeed.

Tozer vs. Lewis

Justin Taylor points to an important difference between A.W. Tozer and C.S. Lewis. 

Spirit-Leaning Worship Leading

There’s lots of good food for thought in this article from Jamie Brown. “Could I (and my worship team, or choir), and could my church, become so good at ‘doing church’ or making good music, or sticking to our liturgy, to the point that we’re no longer asking for, expecting, and depending on the empowering work of the Holy Spirit in our midst? Yes, I could.”

Why Do You Want Me Dead?

You’ll appreciate reading this 11-year-old wheelchair athlete telling the culture to get over itself.

This Day in 1891. 125 years ago today, English Baptist Charles H. Spurgeon preached his last sermon at London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle. *

The Problem with the Pinterest Dream Wedding

This is so true: “There seems to be a subtle, but growing, pressure on couples to make their wedding day better than others, a kind of competition to have the Pinterest dream wedding. No one says it outright (it would sound ridiculous). But it happens, and it seems to me like it happens a lot.”

Death Photography

Isn’t this interesting? And morbid. The BBC writes about the Victorian tradition of death photography.

Flashback: What’s in “The Look?”

“We all know the look. It’s that lust-fueled glance, the eyes that linger too long, the neck on the swivel, the hopeful glimpse of something forbidden. It may not be a full-fledged sexual fantasy, it may not be all Jesus meant when he spoke of committing adultery in the heart, but it is not far off.”

Carson

Sometimes the most godly thing a mouth may do is keep silent. —D.A. Carson

June 06, 2016

Talking to Your Children About Transgender Issues

Russell Moore discusses what “Christian parents need to do when discipling their children to think about gender identity questions, and why hard conversations about controversial topics are essential.”

The Sims

Speaking of which, this is important news if your children play The Sims. “An update for the latest version of the game, The Sims 4, released on Thursday, dismisses gender boundaries altogether.”

When Did the Animals Exit the Ark?

Answers in Genesis tries to pin down a tentative dating for Noah’s ark.

5 Distinguishing Marks of a Fruitful Church

Jared Wilson distinguishes between marks that may mark a fruitful church and marks that definitely do.

Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?

“Mosquitoes have been much in the news lately because their bites can spread nasty diseases like the Zika virus, but regardless of whether mosquitoes are carrying a dangerous pathogen, their bites can be exasperating for a simple reason: They itch.” Here’s why.

This Day in 1844. 172 years ago today, English merchant George Williams founded the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) out of his London meetings for prayer and Bible reading. *

Evangelical History Blog

Justin Taylor and Thomas Kidd have begun a new blog together titled “Evangelical History.” It should be a good one!

Gifting My Body to Science

John Piper recently explained why he believes Christians should not be cremated. He returns to a similar subject: Can I gift my body to science?

Flashback: Satan Loves to Sail with the Wind

This short reflection on Satan is so very important. Here’s how it begins: “Satan loves to sail with the wind, and to suit men’s temptations to their conditions and inclinations. If they be in prosperity, he will tempt them to deny God; if they be in adversity, he will tempt them to distrust God; if their knowledge be weak, he will tempt them to have low thoughts of God…” 

Horton

The gospel is not wishful thinking. It’s not just optimistic or sentimental uplift. It’s the announcement of a fact. —Michael Horton

June 04, 2016

It is a joy to be in Seattle for the Ligonier Ministries West Coast Conference. I played my part yesterday by teaming up with Nathan Bingham on a pre-conference dedicated to being digital disciples. Today I head home just in time to watch my daughter perform at her ballet recital. While I travel, you read. Here are some suggestions:

Retirement Reexamined

“This kind of carefree, work-free post-retirement life is a widely shared dream today, but it does not align with a Christian understanding of work and vocation. Retirement and old age do not signal the end of one’s vocation…”

How Do I Trust My Spouse After Adultery?

“It is right, healthy, and normal to feel the weight of this sorrow and to take your time to process all that has happened to you. It is possible, however, over time, and with help, to overcome the broken trust and renew a healthy relationship. The key to rebuilding trust is to give it in stages.”

Play Hard

I hadn’t thought of it this way before: “The spirit of play is part of the creativity of rest.”

13 Reasons We Need Church History

Matt Hall offers 13 reasons we can’t afford to forget about church history.

A New Journal

Reformed Theological Seminary has just announced a new online theological journal titled Reformed Faith and Practice (RF&P). It’s free for the taking!

Contraband Corned Beef

That time an astronaut brought his own lunch into space.

This Day in 1820. 196 years ago today, Elvina Hall died. She wrote the hymn, “Jesus Paid it All.” *

A Fatal Theological Oxymoron

Peter Jones explains why “gay Christian” is a fatal oxymoron.

Faithfulness and Fruitlessness in Ministry

I think pastors will be both challenged and encouraged by Jeremy Walker’s article on faithfulness and fruitfulness in ministry. I especially appreciate his second call: Make sure you are preaching Christ, not just about Christ.

Flashback: When It’s Time for the Talk

I am often asked about resources to help when it’s time for “the talk.” Here are some suggestions.

Horton

The church is not only where disciples go once a week; it’s where disciples are made. —Michael Horton

June 03, 2016

I did not find much noteworthy today for Kindle deals. However, you may want to note that Westminster Books has a good deal on a new book titled Unshakable that looks ideal for students. They have discounts on a few other related titles.

The Sun Is Always Shining in Modern Christian Pop

“Jamie Grace’s ‘Beautiful Day’ was one of the top 10 Christian songs of 2014 and has a typically peppy chorus: ‘This feeling can’t be wrong / I’m about to get my worship on / Take me away / It’s a beautiful day.’ Switch it out for Pharrell’s ‘Happy,’ and a congregation might not be able to tell the difference.”

Died: Robertson McQuilkin

It seems fitting to include a link to this after the previous one. “Robertson McQuilkin, who stepped down from the presidency of Columbia Bible College and Seminary (now Columbia International University) in 1990 to care fulltime for his ailing wife, Muriel, has died. He was 88.”

Legalism

The current issue of Tabletalk deals with legalism. You can read many of the articles for free online.

How Is Your Phone Changing You?

In every way, basically. This video explains.

Four Warning Signs You May Be Wandering from the Truth

“You don’t want to be that person. So, you need to be alert to the danger. You may know someone who is wandering, and God may use you to bring a wanderer back and help them get rooted in the truth.”

This Day in 1905. 111 years ago today, founder of the China Inland Mission, Hudson Taylor, died. *

The Politics of Never Growing Up

Samuel James considers for a moment the portrait that is currently emerging of the young American adult.

Untangling the Air Traffic Network

Here are some neat visualizations of the world’s air traffic.

Flashback: The Cost of Radical Generosity

“I was actually just starting to feel a little sorry for myself. I was on the sidelines at my daughter’s soccer game while a group of parents stood behind me laughing and chatting.”

Thomas

Grateful law-keeping is the saved sinner’s response to received grace. The rest of our lives are a way of saying, “Thank you.” —Derek Thomas

June 02, 2016

Through Hell and Back

Relevant has a story on Rob Bell and what he’s up to now. “Five years ago, Rob Bell wrote a controversial book, left the huge church he started and moved to L.A. But he says what he’s doing now is more pastoring than ever.”

One-Thing Shops: Soda, Los Angeles

Next time I’m in Los Angeles I need to visit this store!

Beyond Original Sin

CMI critiques the work of Denis Lamoureux whose work I’ve also encountered a number of times. “In an article published in Perspectives on Science and Christian Belief, he denies the doctrine of Original Sin. Science, he believes, has shown that there never was a historical Adam and therefore there never was an original sin.”

At the Intersection of Sex and the School

I really enjoyed Al Mohler’s recent conversation with Professor Jonathan Zimmerman. They have a lengthy discussion on the history (and future) of sex education in schools.

Read More Blogs

I appreciate Seth Godin’s point here. “Good blogs aren’t focused on the vapid race for clicks that other forms of social media encourage. Instead, they patiently inform and challenge, using your time with respect.” He also tells why neither Facebook nor Google want you to read blogs.

The Way Canadians Say “About”

When I speak in the US, I try to fit an “about” or two into my introduction just to please the crowd. But maybe what you think you hear (aboot) isn’t actually what I’m saying… 

This Day in 553. 1,463 years ago today, the Second Council of Constantinople closed, having condemned Nestorian teachings. *

Seven Ways to Improve Your Preaching

Kevin DeYoung offers some tips for preachers. I especially appreciate his point about points: “Make sure your points point to something.” A sermon with a good outline is so much easier to follow than a sermon with a poor outline (or with no outline at all).

Flashback: 1 Triangle, 3 Corners, 4 T’s

To know what God says to us, and how God means for us to live, we need to do a little bit of work. Every Christian, and every preacher in particular, has to go from the text to today. We all wonder, “But what does this mean to me?” or “What does this mean to my congregation?”

Sauls

It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, not our repentance that leads God to be kind. —Scott Sauls

June 01, 2016

Alarmism And Transgendered Kids

Rod Dreher writes about transgendered kids and teens: “Ten, twenty years from now, there are going to be a lot of maimed, broken people staggering around. This episode in history will be looked back on with horror.”

Why Patience Doesn’t Come Naturally

Sam Storms writes about his natural impatience. “It grieves my heart that I’m as selfish as I am. It grieves me even more that I don’t have enough confidence in the goodness and sovereignty of God and the truth of his Word that I would trust him when things don’t go my way.”

What Does It Mean to Take the Lord’s Name in Vain?

You probably won’t be surprised to learn there is much more to it than simply speaking God’s name in anger or as an insult.

7 Questions to Ask an Older Mother

These are wise questions from Melissa Kruger.

Died: Jan Crouch

Jan Crouch, cofounder of Trinity Broadcast Network, died on Tuesday. Christianity Today provides a brief overview of her life and legacy.

After 30 Years It’s Good to Be Married

This is a sweet article and one that’s good to see in a mainstream publication.

This Day in 165. 1,851 years ago today (according to tradition), apologist Justin Martyr was beheaded for his faith in Christ. *

How Budget Airlines Work

This video tells how budget airlines work and how they make so much more money than many traditional airlines.

The Benedict Option

You’ve probably heard someone talk about “The Benedict Option.” In this article Carl Trueman describes it a little bit and how it is not as silly as a lot of people make it out to be.

Flashback: The Bestsellers: The Shack

This entry in my series The Bestsellers looks at what may be the least likely bestseller of them all: The Shack. It has sold 20 million copies and will soon be released as a movie.

Spurgeon

It is easier to save us from our sins than from our righteousness. —C.H. Spurgeon

May 31, 2016

Hearing the Voice of the Lord in Your Pastor’s Sermon

“Reformed churches believe God still speaks. While we do not believe he speaks via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we believe that via preaching God’s voice is as real and vital to us as it was through the mouths and pens of prophets and apostles. How can we say this?”

My Son Taught Me About Privilege

Amy tells about a growing understanding of the blessing (and sadness) of privilege. “It hit me that one of the (many) privileges of being wealthy is the ability to see my children find their potential. And have a shot at reaching it.”

Hughes Oliphant Old: A Personal Remembrance

It’s always a joy to read a remembrance of a godly man or woman. 

Rise of Ad-Blocking Software Threatens Online Revenue

I’m linking to this article from the New York Times because it is on a subject I wrote about last week.

Why I Sit at the Front

Yes, even something as simple as where you sit at church has significance (and can be a means of loving others).

This Day in 1638. 378 years ago today, founder of Connecticut, Thomas Hooker, preached the opening sermon at First Church of Hartford. *

Fiftieth Birthday Reflections

I enjoyed David Murray’s reflections on his fiftieth birthday. (And happy birthday, David!)

The Keyhole Seven

This longform article explains a sad situation. “When a group of canyoneering beginners were swept away in a flash flood last September, it was the worst disaster in Zion’s 97-year history. And it illustrates a growing question: How far should national parks go to keep their visitors safe?”

Flashback: Well-Planned, Hard, Sweat-Inducing Prayer and Work

Do you find prayer difficult? Then take that as a challenge, not as a reason to give up! “Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan.”

Carson

It is better to pray often with brevity than rarely but at length. —D.A. Carson

May 30, 2016

No Small Breaches

John MacArthur explains that “integrity isn’t usually forfeited in a single moment of spectacular failure. Instead it’s slowly chipped away at by small compromises repeated over time, until the façade of righteousness collapses and the secret hypocrisy is exposed.”

The Summer of Great Family Reads

Redeemed Reader has suggestions for you and your family.

10 Things You Should Know About Satan

Sam Storms rounds them up for you.

Which Animals Were On the Ark with Noah?

This article explains how you can reconcile a relatively small ark with a massive number of animals. “Which animals boarded the Ark with Noah? Did any of them fail to make it? Could millions of animals really have squished themselves in Noah’s ship for a yearlong voyage in the rough and open seas? Though Genesis 6–7 do not enumerate the creatures on the Ark with Noah, these chapters give us clues to their silhouettes. The images that emerge are striking.”

Beware the Busyness of Summer Break

“I have heard so many people say things like, ‘I was reading my Bible and praying consistently until summer, and then things just got too busy.’ Most churches experience less attendance, less excitement, and less generosity during June, July, and August.”

The Left Won the Culture War

“Ideological lines in U.S. politics are shifting and blurring rapidly: The rise of Donald Trump, the popularity of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the resurgence of libertarianism prove at least that much. It’s reasonable to assume that religious conservatives, too, are rethinking their role in American society and politics.”

This Day in 1972. 44 years ago today, Chinese evangelist, Watchman Nee, died in prison. *

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Graphic Design

This is really neat: The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s ‘listening guides’ make use of symbols and morse code-like notation to aid the experience of a live performance.

Flashback: The Soul’s Thirst

“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.”

Horton

It was Satan who first corrupted God’s word by addition, then by subtraction, and then finally by direct contradiction. —Michael Horton