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Tim Challies

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November 27, 2007

Last Monday I announced that anyone who pre-ordered my book over the next week would be eligible to win a $100 gift certificate to Westminster Books or, as a consolation prize, a copy of the Literary Study Bible. Thanks to all of you who took the opportunity to buy the book. I ran the numbers and randomly selected the winners. And here they are. The first place prize goes to Ryan Higginbottom and the Bible goes to Debora Todd. Congratulations to the two of you. As for everyone else, well, at least you got a book out of the deal!

For anyone who has not yet ordered the book, you can do so right here.

November 25, 2007

King for a Week is an honor I bestow on blogs that I feel are making a valuable contribution to my faith and the faith of other believers…or sometimes just because I really like them. It is a way of introducing my readers to blogs that they may also find interesting and edifying. Every two weeks (or so. That is theoretical. Practically, I don’t get around to updating as often as I should and we’ve been know to have kings for a month or two!) I select a blog, link to it from my site, and add that site’s most recent headlines to my right sidebar. While this is really not much, I do feel that it allows me to encourage and support other bloggers while making the readers of this blog aware of other good sites.

This week’s King for a Week is Stand to Reason, a blog associated with (obviously) Stand to Reason. This organization was founded by Greg Koukl and Melinda Penner in 1993 to “equip Christian ambassadors with knowledge, wisdom, and character.” It “trains Christians to think more clearly about their faith and to make an even-handed, incisive, yet gracious defense for classical Christianity and classical Christian values in the public square.” The blog, which was started earlier this year, furthers this goal with regular updates dealing with a variety of subjects, most of which have to do with apologetics and worldview. Though the site tends to be pretty American-centric (perhaps a bit too much for this Canadian’s liking!) it is still a good source of information and of thought-provoking content. It’s a good one to add to your RSS reader or to your list of daily stops.

In the coming days (and/or weeks) you will be able to see the most recent headlines from this blog in the sidebar of my site. I hope you will make your way over to look around.

November 23, 2007

I am not usually a big bargain hunter, but since we’re going to be down in Georgia for Christmas this year, I’ve been keeping an eye out for good deals at American-based e-commerce stores. After all, if we’ll be in the U.S. for Christmas, it means I can buy things online, have them shipped to my parents, and enjoy the deals that can be found online (deals that quickly become anything but when having to pay international shipping rates and duties).

Here are a few “Black Friday” deals I’ve found that may interest you.

Amazon is having a Black Friday sale and is offering a few good deals. To be honest, it is a little bit disappointing, but if you root around you can find a few really good deals. Some of them are available in limited quantities so you have to be fast. There are whole sections of books and software titles that are on sale.

Monergism Books is having a Thanksgiving Day sale and is offering quite a few good deals. The complete Calvin Commentary set for $169 seems particularly good to me but there are lots of other specials worth looking at as well.

Lifeway has a few deals including The Nativity Story DVD for $10, The End of the Spear for $5 and Tony Dungy’s biography for $13.49. There are also some good CD deals to be had for about $5. Some of these deals run only for a couple of hours so check soon if you’re interested.

Family Christian is having an “After Thanksgiving” sale. Though it’s dominated by ChurchMerch and garbage, there are a few notable items, including the NIV Archaeological Study Bible, a couple of audio Bibles, and some decent albums.

Christa Taylor is offering 20% off on everything in her catalog from today until the 26th.

If you come across any other deals on items that may be of interest to Christians, feel free to post a link in the comments section. As always, shop and read with discernment! There is far more bad than good at many of these places…

November 21, 2007

I’m off to a late start today. We had a regularly scheduled parent-teacher kind of conference for my daughter (who is in Kindergarten/Preschool) and my wife had to first observe her in her class for an hour and then to speak with the teacher for a few minutes. Turns out our girl is near the top of her class in everything. So we’re pleased! But, because I had to keep an eye on the baby while Aileen was at the school, I’m running a couple of hours late. So I’m going to use this opportunity to mention a few things that have been on my mind recently. These are some of the articles, products or sites I’ve bookmarked over the past few days.

Rebellion of Thought

Here’s an interesting-looking product I just stumbled across yesterday. Rebellion of Thought is a DVD that seeks to answer these types of questions: “What is post-modernism? How has it affected our culture? How will it impact our future? What is the role of the church in a post-modern world? Does man truly need God or is God merely a fairytale idea left-over from a past cultural experiment? These questions are the launching point for Rebellion of Thought, as filmmakers, The Brothers Williamson, examine a new generation that refuse to accept authority, code and convention. How do believers in Christ express their faith in a compelling, relevant way?” The DVD features interviews with such notables as D.A. Carson, Jim Spiegel and Gene Edward Veith, Jr. You can view a trailer here at the film’s official website. The film can be purchased through Amazon: Rebellion of Thought.

Amazing Grace

Last night Aileen and I sat down to watch Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce (through the Playstation 2, as it turns out, since it refused to play in our DVD player). We both agreed that the movie was well done and definitely worth the two hour investment in time. It is rare to see a movie where the hero is a true Christian and one who was motivated primarily by his faith. Though it was not without its flaws and small historical inaccuracies (for example, Wilberforce would never have known the hymn “Amazing Grace” set to the tune we sing it to today) it was largely accurate. The filmmakers made a point of having Wilberforce declare that he did not find God, but that God found him (which is exactly how Wilberforce would have said it himself). I loved hearing Newton declare, “I am a great sinner, but Christ is a great Savior.” While I thought the film could have played up Wilberforce’s motivation a bit more, showing that his faith was a prime motivator in his quest to end slavery, I still thought they captured his trials and stubbornness. The acting was top-notch and the sets were very good. If you haven’t seen it yet, consider renting or buying it. You can get it, of course, at Amazon: Amazing Grace.

The Future of the World in 23 Pages

The Independent, quite provactively, really, calls “Policymakers’ Summary of the Synthesis Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment” the future of the world. “For all but the most perverse of sceptics, it ends the basic argument. And it also urgently warns that the risks are greater, and possibly closer in time, than was appreciated even six years ago, when the third assessment was published.” They compare it to Scripture. “It is chapter and verse, it is Holy Writ: you may not agree with it, but this (backed up by the full reports) is what the world scientific community thinks. Its opening words are magisterial – almost Biblical – in tone. ‘Warming of the climate system,’ it pronounces, ‘is unequivocal’ . It goes on to spell out that the atmosphere is rapidly warming, snow and ice are melting across the world, and the global sea level is rising at an increasing rate; yet the problem is solvable if governments act decisively.”

Regardless of your view on human agency in global warming, such a document can be alarming. But as Christians we know that not even the best and the brightest scientific minds can predict the future of the world with any accuracy. One thing we can predict, I think (and with some accuracy) is that if these people have their way, we’ll “solve” the “problem” with a whole lot more legislation, many new government controls, and a great deal of new spending.

Scarlet

Stephen Lawhead fans will be delighted to hear that Scarlet, the second part of his “The King Raven Trilogy” is available. It seems to have been released a couple of months ago and somehow slipped past my radar. It continues Lawhead’s alternate telling of the story of Robin Hood. I reviewed the first book Hood. The second is available now at Amazon: Scarlet.

Kindle

On Monday Amazon finally introduced the world to it’s new Kindle wireless reader device. Though it launched to lukewarm reviews, Amazon quickly sold through their initial stock and have begun a waiting list. The product uses what they call a revolutionary electronic paper technology that allows electronic reading to feel more like reading a book on paper than on a typical computer screen. The screen has no backlight, so does not tire the eyes (but also cannot be used in the dark).

My first thought was that the Kindle is almost unbelievably ugly and that it looks like a relic of the 1980’s. John Gruber at Daring Fireball thinks it will fail: “So the Kindle proposition is this: You pay for downloadable books that can’t be printed, can’t be shared, and can’t be displayed on any device other than Amazon’s own $400 reader — and whether they’re readable at all in the future is solely at Amazon’s discretion. That’s no way to build a library.” I am inclined to agree, but would still be interested in giving it a go. Business Week takes another position and declares that Kindle is the iPod of books. Time will tell. I am asked to read a lot of manuscripts these days and can’t help but think the experience would be more enjoyable on that screen rather than on a computer screen. Maybe if the Kindle were just a couple hundred dollars less expensive.

You can take a look at the Kindle right here.

November 19, 2007

Buy my book and win $100. Just like that…

The Discipline of Spiritual DiscernmentIt has been a few weeks now since my book became available for pre-order. I offer my thanks to the hundreds of you who have been kind enough to order a copy (and special thanks to Aileen who volunteered to take on the task of organizing all of the orders—putting them into a spreadsheet and printing up address labels. She spoils me.). I’m looking forward to getting all of those books signed and sent and on the way! It won’t be long now…

There are just a few weeks left before the pre-order period is going to end. At that point I’m going to need to tell the publisher how many copies to send to me when I’m down in Chattanooga for a conference at the end of the year. So your opportunity to pre-order a signed copy is quickly coming to an end.

I know there are a few people who are holding back. They are planning to buy the book, but not quite yet. To give some incentive to these people, I’m offering a special deal for the next seven days. Every person who buys a copy of the book before the end of the day on November 26 will have the opportunity to win a $100 gift certificate for Westminster Books (Do note that, at the moment, Westminster ships only to U.S. addresses. Feel free to write them and register your discontent with this policy if you live outside the States. Demand your right to good books at low prices!).

For each copy of my book you buy you will be given one ballot and at the end one person will take home a $100 gift certificate which will be sent to you in time for you to use it for Christmas shopping. As a consolation gift (and a pretty good one at that), I’ll add in a copy of The Literary Study Bible for a second place winner. I’m happy to ship this Bible anywhere, so non-U.S. residents can still win something!

I don’t expect thousands of people to jump at this offer. Therefore, those who do take it are going to have pretty good odds of winning that gift certificate. So what are you waiting for?

You can learn about the book, read the endorsements, and buy it right here.

Buy It!

Make it a Gift

Some readers have asked if the book will be available on time for them to give as a Christmas gift. Unfortunately, it will not. However, if you would like to make a gift of it, I can offer you a card you can print and give to your loved one(s). The card will say something to the effect that you’ve got the book on order and that it will arrive (signed by the author!) very shortly after Christmas Day.

November 11, 2007

Today is the day of rest - the day God has graciously given us that we might rest in Him. Today, while digging around in my files, I came across a favorite hymn—“Safely through another week,” penned by John Newton. It seemed a good hymn to ponder on a Sunday afternoon (even though it is clearly intended for Saturday evening reflection). It speaks of God’s grace in granting health and safety through the week gone by, of anticipation in meeting with God in worship, of the power of the Gospel as it is carefully carried by God’s servants, and finally, of joyous anticipation of the coming of the culmination of so many Sabbath days. “Thus may all our Sabbaths prove till we join the church above!”

Safely through another week God has brought us on our way; Let us now a blessing seek, on th’approaching Sabbath day; Day of all the week the best, emblem of eternal rest, Day of all the week the best, emblem of eternal rest.

Mercies multiplied each hour through the week our praise demand; Guarded by almighty power, fed and guided by His hand; Though ungrateful we have been, only made returns of sin, Though ungrateful we have been, only made returns of sin.

While we pray for pardoning grace, through the dear Redeemer’s Name, Show Thy reconciled face, shine away our sin and shame; From our worldly cares set free, may we rest this night with Thee, From our worldly cares set free, may we rest this night with Thee.

Here we come Thy Name to praise, let us feel Thy presence near, May Thy glory meet our eyes, while we in Thy house appear: Here afford us, Lord, a taste of our everlasting feast, Here afford us, Lord, a taste of our everlasting feast.

When the morn shall bid us rise, may we feel Thy presence near: May Thy glory meet our eyes, when we in Thy house appear: There afford us, Lord, a taste of our everlasting feast, There afford us, Lord, a taste of our everlasting feast.

May Thy Gospel’s joyful sound conquer sinners, comfort saints; May the fruits of grace abound, bring relief for all complaints; Thus may all our Sabbaths prove till we join the church above, Thus may all our Sabbaths prove till we join the church above!

I trust that the remainder of your Lord’s Day will be a beautiful, peaceful, meaningful time of rest and remembrance. And may all our Sundays prove this way until we enter into the long-awaited eternal rest that this day foreshadows.

November 10, 2007

I’ve been wondering…why is it that I am much more bothered by a sin someone committed against me, than the fact that I committed that I went ahead and blundered into the same sin? How is it that, when the person sinned against me, I did not learn a lesson and allow this to persuade me from sinning in the same way? I should have known better, but I went ahead and did it anyways. Winningly, even.

I’ve got so many questions about sin and so much to learn about my own willingness to fall into it. I’m hoping John Owen’s unparalleled ability to bring Scripture to bear on sin will help me sort these things out.

As you may know, we’ll be read John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation together beginning this Thursday. And this is the last reminder! If you’d like to read more about this effort, simply click here: Reading Classics Together: Overcoming Sin and Temptation. At last check, well over 100 people had indicated that they were going to join in. So why not succumb to the peer pressure and join in? You need only read one short chapter per week and return here to discuss it (or even just to read other people’s thoughts about it). There’s still time to join in!

Endorsements

Here are just a few endorsements for the version of Overcoming Sin and Temptation that we’ll be reading together:

“The greatest Christian writers are those who most powerfully project to spiritual readers the knowledge of God, of ourselves, and of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Among these are Augustine, Calvin, Edwards, and the Puritan John Owen, who ought to be better known than he is. The editors of this volume have worked hard to make Owen’s unrivalled insight into the Christian’s inner war with sin accessible to all, and the result is truly a godsend. Filled with classic devotional theology which, like Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, needs to be read again and again to be properly grasped, we have in the three treatises presented here a companion for life.”
     —J. I. PACKER, Professor of Theology, Regent College

“No writer has taught me more about the dynamics of the heart and the deceitfulness of sin than John Owen. Reading his writing has been lifechanging, although at times his seventeenth-century style can be a challenge to modern ears. How grateful I am that Kapic and Taylor have invested their time and considerable skills to bring Owen’s profound and practical teaching to a modern audience. Read this book carefully; it will help you understand your heart and experience God’s grace.”
     —C. J. MAHANEY, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Gaithersburg, Md.

“John Owen’s three treatises on sin, mortification, and temptation are a priceless treasure. To read them is to mine pure spiritual gold. Unfortunately, as in mining, reading Owen is hard work. Now, through skillful editing, Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor have made Owen’s work accessible to modern readers while still retaining his unique writing style. Anyone concerned about personal holiness will profit from reading this new edition of a classic work.”
     —JERRY BRIDGES, Navigators Community Ministries Group

“Sin is tenacious, but by God’s grace we can hate it and hunt it. John Owen provides the master guide for the sin-hunter. Kapic and Taylor bring together three of Owen’s classics, clarifying them in simple ways—but all the substance, the careful, hounding arguments are still there to train our spiritual sight and love our souls.”
     —MARK DEVER, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

November 09, 2007

Have you ever stopped to ponder what it might have been like for the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness, knowing that each day they would completely exhaust their food supply? Have you thought what it would be like knowing that they would go to bed with no food, but that the next day their supplies would be fully and miraculously replenished? It is an interesting, thought, really, and one that is worth considering.

In the Wilderness

Imagine that you are an Israelite father or mother and that you have three or four young children depending on you. Imagine putting these children to bed in the evening, knowing that there is not a bit of food to be found anywhere in your tent. Just to be sure, you wander over to the fridge and open it up. The glare from the light shows nothing but the glistening white of the inside of the Kenmore. There is nothing on any of the shelves; nothing in any of the drawers. There isn’t even a mostly-empty jar of relish left over from when you made burgers a few weeks earlier. There isn’t a clove of garlic or an old stick of butter. There is nothing. You close the door and open the freezer and as you wave your hand to brush aside the mist, you see that every corner of the freezer is empty. You turn to the nearby pantry and, looking high and low, see that there is not a bag, not a box, not a jar to be found. You have no food. Nothing.

As you tuck your daughter into bed that night, she says, “Daddy, what will we eat for breakfast tomorrow?” And with utter sincerity and utter confidence you say, “God will provide.” And, despite the bare cupboards and the empty fridge, you are able to go to sleep that night with full confidence that there will be food for you the next day. When you wake in the morning, you unlock the tent door, step outside, and see the world around covered in food like frost on a cold morning. You are able to quickly and easily collect enough food for the day, and can head inside knowing that the children will have all the food they need that day. As you nuke their mannapancakes, you whisper a prayer of gratitude that God provided again. Yet again.

But you also know that God has provided for only that day. The manna that lay on the ground was not enough for today and tomorrow. As the sun rises in a few minutes, the manna will melt into the ground and be gone. God has not provided for a week or a month or a quarter—He has provided for only one day at a time. You have heard of people who doubted God’s providence and hoarded manna, packing it into Tupperware and stuffing it into the deepest recesses of their fridges, freezers, and cupboards. But when they took it out and tried to eat it, they found it was rotten and disgusting, crawling with worms and smelling worse than sandaled feet in a hot desert. You know that as day fades into night, and as you prepare the evening meal, you’ll find that you have just enough manna to eat, and that as you close your eyes in sleep, you’ll lie in peace, knowing that God will provide again tomorrow. But only for tomorrow.

God knows better than to give manna for a month. If He did that, you know that you would soon forget about your reliance on Him. For twenty nine days you would forget what it was like to lay down at night with your only confidence being in God’s provision. Instead you would lay down knowing that the cupboard was stuffed full of manna. And you would forget about God, at least until the end of the month came around. Perhaps then you would begin to call out to Him again and begin to beseech His provision. You know the lesson God wants you to learn.

I’ve often wondered how the faith of the Israelites could ever waver. I’m sure you’ve wondered the same. How could the Israelites constantly turn against God despite all He had done and all they had witnessed. They had seen God do miraculous deeds in leading them out of Egypt. They had seen His hand time and time again as they made their way toward the promised land. And every morning God delivered food, food that was abundant and delicious. Every day He gave them what they needed for the day, and asked them to trust that He would do the same tomorrow. Never did He let them down and never did He give them cause to doubt His providence. But they did. They doubted His motives, they doubted His ability and they doubted His sincerity.

Unchanging Promises

God’s promise to provide has not changed. God still promises that He will provide and He still promises to provide only for today. Jesus says, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? … Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:25, 34). And yet there are times when we still find ourselves paralyzed with fear, looking into the future and seeing not God’s strength, but our own weakness; we looking forward and see our inability rather than God’s power. But God still promises manna in the morning—He promises that He will take care of our needs.

There was a time in my life, just a few years ago, when money was tight. It was tight enough that Aileen and I often really doubted that we would be able to pay our rent and car payments. Some days we didn’t even know how we would be able to buy groceries. I would often wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, my heart pounding, wondering how I would scrape together enough money to keep us in our house. I would sometimes sit down with a pen and piece of paper and try to plot out the next few months—this was the money we anticipated spending and this was the amount I thought I would bring in between then and now. Rarely were these exercises any sort of comfort. More often than not they would increase my despair, leaving me to conclude that there was nothing I could do—we would lose our car and be forced to move.

But that never happened. There was always manna in the morning. God always provided, though only one day at a time. And he has continued to do so. I don’t remember the last time I woke up in the night with my heart pounding, panicked at the thought of the bills lying on my desk. It’s not that we have become wealthy or that our bills have decreased. Rather, God has helped me to understand that He has promised manna in the morning. When I am tempted to worry, I need only look to His promises and then to look to the past where I can see His hand of provision, day after day after day. He has always given manna in the morning and I have confidence that he will do so again tomorrow.