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

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

A La Carte

May 17, 2016

Persistent Prayer to a Loving Father

“Persistent prayer proves hard for many Christians. We may labor on our knees for years as we pray for our unbelieving child, an empty womb, our spouse to be converted, the friend battling cancer, depression to no longer have a hold, a sin to lose its grip, or the gift of just one good friend.”

The Prayers of One Faithful Lady

I enjoyed this little story from the life and ministry of D.L. Moody.

Why Do Old Books Smell So Good?

This short video explains that distinctive odor.

Absurd Creatures

God sure did create some amazing creatures, like this frogfish. (And some disgusting ones, like this sea snail.)

Why Legalistic Preaching Doesn’t Work

David Prince: “The goal of much preaching in both liberal and conservative churches is to make good people a bit better, but it never works. Legalistic, moralistic preaching exacerbates sin rather than killing it. Consider some of the reasons why.”

This Day in 2005. 11 years ago today, The Gospel Coalition kicked off their first Council Conference. *

From 1970s-Era Academic ‘High Theory’ to Transgender Bathrooms on Campus

There’s an important warning in this historical look at how we got to where we are today.

Mothers, Bathrooms, and the Idol of Feelings

It is so interesting to see how different Christians are processing transgenderism and the new rules surrounding it. I appreciate much of what Abigail says in this article. (See also John Piper: Will You Use Target’s Transgender Bathroom?)

Flashback: 8 Features of the Best Kind of Calvinism

Here are 8 fundamentals for the best kind of Calvinism.

Spurgeon

A Jesus who never wept could never wipe away my tears. —C.H. Spurgeon

May 16, 2016

Are You a Closet Annihilationist?

Denny Burk comments on an article that discusses changing Christian views on hell.

The Power of Conformity

Rod Dreher shares a letter from one of his readers that explains some of the radical change we see around us (and why it should concern us).

The Tender Heart of a Woman

Melissa appeals to both husbands and wives in this article.

Doctors Opting Out

Here’s a pressing issue for Canadian doctors: “Naylor has no desire to quit medicine. But she says she is appalled at the thought she could be forced to refer patients seeking assisted death to an obliging doctor.”

On Apple Music

This article neatly summarizes a lot of my concerns with Apple Music and, beyond that, with some of the loss that has come with digital music.

The Continental Divide of Theology

Steve Lawson: “Geography is not the only place we find a great divide. There is a high ground that runs through church history as well—a Continental Divide of theology. This great divide of doctrine separates two distinctly different streams of thought that flow in opposite directions.”

This Day in 1805. 211 years ago today, Henry Martyn arrived in India to aid William Carey with translation work. *

You Can’t Mess It Up

There’s a lot of comfort in knowing that you can’t actually mess it up.

Flashback: How Far Is Too Far?

“I am accustomed to giving the easy answer: ‘It’s not about how far can we go, but how holy we can be. You are asking all the wrong questions!’ That may make me feel smart and a little bit godly, but it’s not exactly a satisfying or helpful answer.”

Carson

The price of diluting God’s wrath is diminishing God’s holiness. —D.A. Carson

May 14, 2016

I am glad to be preparing this A La Carte in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I am here to speak at a conference through the afternoon, then will fly home this evening so I can worship with Grace Fellowship Church tomorrow. It should be a good weekend. As always, your prayers are appreciated.

Regulating Screen Time

Here’s one for parents: “The blunt force tool of ‘screen time’ doesn’t really do much to help us avoid the damaging uses of screens or habituate us away from the tendencies toward vapidness and self-focus that are so common on screens.”

15 Discernment Diagnostics

Kevin DeYoung: “Biblical discernment takes years of prayer, preaching, and practice. But there are certain questions that may be help us sift the good from the bad. Here are 15 discernment diagnostic questions I suggested to my congregation.”

Singing Songs from Questionable Sources

Bob Kauflin answers this question: “For the past year, I’ve struggled with the idea of playing ‘good’ songs (obviously room for defining some terms there…) from questionable ministries. In playing their songs, am I advocating for their entire ministry? In playing their songs, am I necessarily pushing my people towards their church (i.e., when the CCLI info pops up at the end of the song)?”

Transgendered Men Do Not Become Women

“Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men,” he said. “All (including Bruce Jenner) become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they ‘identify.’ In that lies their problematic future.”

Why Do We Major in the Minors?

R.C. Sproul offers a compelling answer.

Explainer: Federal Government Issues Letter on Transgender Policy

Joe Carter takes on his persona as The Explainer to tell what happened here: “On Friday, May 13, the Obama administration sent a letter to all public schools in America notifying teachers and administrators of the regulations they must comply with in regards to their students’ ‘gender identity.’”

Tomorrow in 1984. 32 years ago tomorrow (May 15), Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer died. Schaeffer was also a prolific author and the founder of L’Abri (“the shelter”), a ministry to intellectuals *

Share In Suffering as a Good Soldier

Ray Ortlund: “Sharing in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus is wonderful to me, because he is. I know you feel the same way.”

Flashback: 8 Items for Christian Parents to Ponder

“He wants you, the parent, to seriously consider the responsibility that God has entrusted to you for each one of your children. And, at least for me, each of them felt like a gut-punch.”

Confronting the Current Church Leadership Crisis

Thanks to Biblical Eldership Resources for sponsoring the blog this week!

Stiles

The most loving thing we can do for people is to introduce them to Christ. —Mack Stiles

May 13, 2016

The Moral Revolutionaries Present Their Demands

Al Mohler says, “The terms of moral surrender have been delivered to us, and they are absolute and unconditional. Just ask Japan and Germany what that means.”

The Family Idols

There is an important challenge in this article from Nick Batzig. He shows that even something as good as family can disguise idolatry.

Abortion and the Problem of Personhood

Jonathan Leeman and Matthew Arbo get right to the heart of the issue. “One way or another, whether in the language of science (what is a human?) or philosophy (what is a person?), we find some way to demote ‘it.’ The zygote, the embryo, the fetus—words that belong in an alien movie—are not fully us.”

Should I Tell My Spouse about Struggles with Sexual Purity?

That’s a pressing question within many marriages. Garrett Kell offers a wise answer that gives leeway for different marriages.

3 Neglected Objects of Stewardship

It’s not just money we are to steward for the glory of God.

This Day in 1963. 53 years ago today, Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor and author A.W. Tozer died. Tozer wrote classics such as The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy*

President Obama: Accept Transgenderism or Else

Denny Burk responds to the news that “President Obama has released a letter directing every public school in the country to recognize and accept transgender identities.” You may also want to read Joe Carter’s Glossary for the Gender Revolution (which really reads like a dictionary of depravity).

Baby Bison vs Wolf

It’s nice to see that sometimes the good guy wins.

Flashback: The Difficult Goodbye

“She had been weeping for the entire half hour it took us to travel from home to the airport. Her cheeks were stained by tears, her eyes full of them, when she hugged me and kissed me and kissed me again. ‘I love you daddy. I’m going to miss you so much…’ And a moment later, ‘Daddy, why is it so hard to say goodbye?’”

Greear

Standing in the presence of God with sin would be like tissue paper touching the surface of the sun. —J.D. Greear

May 12, 2016

Troubleshooting the Celebrity Pastor Problem

I appreciate Jared Wilson’s thoughts on the celebrity pastor problem in today’s church.

Goose Finds Cop

Can this actually be real? “On Monday, Givens was sitting in his patrol car in a parking lot when he was accosted by one very unexpected visitor who seemed dead set on getting his attention.”

Two Methods of Bible Study

I think we know these two methods intuitively, but it’s still good to have them both laid out like this.

Stop Complaining

Yes, just stop complaining. “This pervasive discontentment colors virtually every area of modern life. Man’s rebellious default setting is to grumble, complain, argue, and whine about anything and everything he doesn’t like.”

The Style of Black Preaching

Here’s an interesting look at the distinct features of traditional African American preaching.

Eight Tips for Beginning Preachers

Jason Allen: “Looking back, there are a few tips I wish I had been given as a beginning preacher. Let me share eight of them with you…”

This Day in 1792. 224 years ago today, “Father of Modern Missions” William Carey publishes his highly influential book on the importance of evangelism. *

Stephen Curry’s Ultimate Career Mixtape

I’m no fan of basketball, but I do appreciate athleticism. And, wow, this guy is an athlete.

Jack Chick Really Means Business

Here’s an interesting look at some of the ethos behind Jack Chick and his infamous tracts.

Flashback: Drinking It Straight

Thinking back to the days when I attended churches where the pastors felt the need to make sure we weren’t “drinking” the Bible straight…

Alexander

Thank God that He doesn’t wait until we take an interest in Him before He takes a profound interest in us by His grace. —Eric Alexander

May 11, 2016

Restroom Laws and Jim Crow

It’s a big question today: Are restroom laws that respect privacy the equivalent of Jim Crow laws?

Planetary Transit

NASA got some amazing footage of Mercury making its way between us and the sun, something that happens just 13 times each century.

Where’s Your Heart?

Randy Alcorn: “Do you wish you cared more about eternal things? Then reallocate some of your money, maybe most of your money, from temporal things to eternal things. Put your resources, your assets, your money and possessions, your time and talents and energies into the things of God. Watch what happens.”

Love the Season You’re In

This is a good exhortation from Kim Shay: Love the season you’re in and don’t wish you were in a different season of life.

Essentials in the Ministry of the Lord

Geoffrey Kirkland: “I like to make it a habit to read through the Pastoral Epistles regularly and in one sitting so that the Spirit of God exhorts my soul with truths from Holy Scripture regarding the ministry of the Lord. I want to remain on track. I want to major on the essentials. I must prioritize what God tells me to focus on and avoid what He tells me to flee from. Today I want to highlight seven essentials in the ministry of the Lord.”

Teaching: Ten Top Tips?

Andrew Wilson has ten great tips on confidently studying and teaching God’s Word but without getting yourself into interpretive trouble.

This Day in 330. 1,686 years ago today, “Roman emperor Constantine, the first Christian emperor, inaugurates Constantinople as his capital on the site of the Greek city of Byzantium.” *

Pixar - What Makes a Story Relatable

This is a great look at Pixar movies and what makes them so good.

Flashback: The One Sure Mark of Christian Maturity

“What does it mean to be a mature Christian? I think we tend to believe that mature Christians are the ones who know a lot of facts about the Bible. Mature Christians are the ones who have their theology down cold. But…” 

Ryle

Prayer and sinning will never live together in the same heart. Prayer will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer. —J.C. Ryle

May 10, 2016

An Open Letter to Someone Having an Affair

Brad Hambrick pens a letter to someone having an affair. “An affair is a relationship built on deceit and artificially fueled by the passion-allegiance of a shared secret and not having to bear the weight of day-to-day life. The story line of ‘forbidden love’ evaporates as soon as there are ‘shared responsibilities’ and no ‘them’ to keep ‘us’ apart.”

Walking Through a Graceless Door

“For centuries the Roman Catholic Church has had Jubilee years. It is a quick way to get many people to Rome. Boost the economy, give exorbitant amount of money to the church and sustain them for decades to come.” As it happens, 2016 is a Jubilee year.

The Coyote and Rightly Assessing Social Media Influence

Mike Leake helps put things in perspective. “As I scroll through my Twitter feed I’m thinking a bit about the coyote. Social media has the capacity to create a bit of coyote in all of us. It’s easy to overestimate our influence. The whole machine is designed to place us at the center of our own little universe. Twitter is especially prone to this.”

Donald Trump’s Feud With Evangelical Leader

This is what Mike referenced in the article (above) with Trump calling out Russell Moore: Trump tweeted “Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!” 

Questions Before You Lead a Meeting

“I want to grow in my ability to lead meetings - to run better meetings, and serve those I am meeting with. Here is my game plan for preparing for meetings that are productive and an encouragement to all who attend.”

This Day in 1886. 130 years ago today, Karl Barth was born. * (You may be interested in D.A. Carson’s Evangelical assessment of Barth.)

Supporting White Christians When They Attempt to Work for Racial Justice

I appreciate this from Jemar Tisby: “Even though ethnic minorities call for white, evangelical Christians to speak up and be allies for racial justice, their sincere attempts to do so often get the side-eye.”

How Much It Costs To Give Birth

This should be a simple question, right? How much will it cost to give birth in this hospital? But no, it turns out very difficult to find answers.

Flashback → Ordinary: Christian Living for the Rest of Us

I will still write this at some point. “I have had far more ideas rejected than accepted. Books on simplicity, the environment, evangelism, pornography and probably many more besides have received the trademark ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ There is one that haunts me: Ordinary: Christian Living for the Rest of Us.”

Stott

Possessions are only the traveling luggage of time; they are not the stuff of eternity. It would be sensible therefore to travel light. —John Stott

May 09, 2016

I’m Still a Complementarian… And There’s Still That “But”

I’m glad to read people’s struggles to better understand, define, and appreciate complementarianism. This kind of discussion should prove fruitful!

How We Pray

There are lots of points made in this survey on prayer, but perhaps this is the most important: “Reid said the most striking result was the evidence that prayer habits often carry through from childhood. The survey showed that if people prayed as children, they were overwhelmingly more inclined to pray as adults, and the opposite was also true.”

9 Perspectives on Trump, Clinton, and the Evangelical Christian Voter

Just like the headline says… 

Unsolicited Advice for My Three Sons

Two caveats: This is not written by a Christian and you won’t agree with all of it. But still, there is some good stuff here.

Say Hard Things

“When was the last time someone told you you were wrong? If you can’t remember, you may have reason to be concerned. Sometimes the most loving thing someone can do for us is point out an error or inconsistency in the way we think or live.”

This Day in 1619. 397 years ago today, the six-month long Synod of Dort ended, having confirmed the authority of the “Heidelberg Catechism.” *

The Day We Discovered Our Parents Were Russian Spies

“For years Donald Heathfield, Tracey Foley and their two children lived the American dream. Then an FBI raid revealed the truth: they were agents of Putin’s Russia. Their sons tell their story.”

The Feed Is Dying

“The feed is dying. The reverse-chronological social media feed — the way you’ve read Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs (which is to say, the internet) at various points over the last decade, updates organized according to the time they were posted, refreshed at the top of the screen — no longer really makes sense.”

Flashback: Matthew 18 in a Shrinking World

From a few years ago, but still timely: “The Internet has made the Christian world much smaller, allowing more Christians to have a voice that extends across the globe. And with this new ability to communicate comes new questions about how we are to deal with conflict, how we are to deal with questions and concerns.”

 

Horton

Racism is nothing more than collective narcissism: I love my group above all others because I love myself. —Michael Horton