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

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

counseling

July 08, 2011

This week’s guest on The Connected Kingdom is Paul Tautges. Paul is a pastor, author, counselor and father of ten(!). He has recently begun a new blog called Counseling One Another. In this podcast, the last one we’ll be recording until after the summer, David and I speak to Paul about the importance of setting counseling within the context of Christian discipleship (which in turn takes it out of the exclusive hands of the experts).

If you want to give us feedback or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You will always be able to find the most recent episode here on the blog. If you would like to subscribe via iTunes, you can do that here or if you want to subscribe with another audio player, you can try this RSS link.

September 20, 2010

Living in a Fallen World is a new series of booklets published by Day One Publications. I have been looking forward to seeing this series and was glad to have the first 8 show up in the mail today. The publisher says they are “small booklets that provide biblical help and practical guidance to people who find themselves in difficulties because of living in a fallen world.” And that about sums it up. Each one is printed in a small format and weighs in at just about 64 pages. They are priced to be bought and sold in bulk—$3.50 each at retail pricing. They are exactly the kind of books you’d want to have available to you at church—short, biblical and inexpensive enough to give away.

You can visit this page to check out the series and to purchase any volumes that interest you.

Here are the 8 booklets available immediately:

HelpHelp! I Have Breast Cancer by Brenda Frields - The sense of shock at receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer is very real. Once the shock wears off, your mind seems to explode with questions. Am I going to need chemotherapy and radiation? Am I going to be disfigured by a surgical procedure? Who will take care of my family while I’m ill? Am I going to die? Is God punishing me? This honest account of a personal battle with breast cancer gently helps you to confront your fears, doubts, and worries, and points you toward the solid hope that is in Jesus Christ, who alone can provide peace and strength to face the future.

HelpHelp! My Baby Has Died by Reggie Weems - The greatest grief any parent can endure is the death of a child. No other human experience compares to it. Words are insufficient to describe the emotion. This booklet is offered as encouragement from one fellow sufferer to another. It is brief and will not answer every question about your experience or your baby. But it does answer one very important question. There is indeed a God, and he is faithful and worthy of your trust, even now—especially now. He is the eternal, inextinguishable hope for grieving families.

HelpHelp! He’s Struggling With Pornography by Brian Croft - This is an unprecedented time. Sexually explicit material is more readily available now than ever before, and a struggle with pornography is often the greatest snare for a Christian man today. Though Christians have been transformed by faith in our Savior Jesus, we are harmed by our sex-saturated culture. So how can a Christian man find victory over pornography? This booklet presents the only true solution: God’s power working through the gospel within the context of the local church.

HelpHelp! My Marriage Has Grown Cold by Rick Thomas - When two people choose to live in marriage for the rest of their lives, there will be challenges to work through. The transformation from two independent people to a one-flesh, other-centered union is not easy. Perhaps you are finding that your relationship that began so warmly has started to turn cold. Where can you turn for help? This booklet offers practical counsel from the Bible, helping you to work through marriage challenges in a God-honoring way.

July 17, 2008

This morning we kick off the fourth round of Reading Classics Together, an effort in which we read some of the great Christian classics together and convene here once a week to discuss them. In the past we’ve read J.C. Ryle’s Holiness, John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation and A.W. Pink’s The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross. We’ve had hundreds of people participate by reading the books together and discussing them each week. All along we’ve been reading some of the classics of the Christian faith—books many of us wish to read but books few of us have ever made time for. And now we begin on the fourth classic—The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards. Well over 100 people have agreed to participate in reading this book together…and it all begins today. This is going to be our toughest challenge yet, I’m am sure!

“Read Religious Affections, at all costs read Religious Affections! And anything else you can get your hands on by this great saint.”
—John Piper
I generally follow a certain format in posting about the chapters we are reading, but will deviate from that today. The assigned reading for this morning was simply the book’s Preface. The Preface is short and contains little of real substance, but I guess we need to begin somewhere! Edwards uses it to state the purpose for which he has written this book. He will seek to answer this question: What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and entitled to His eternal rewards?

Sam Storms summarizes the book’s purpose by saying, “He endeavored to identify what constitutes true and authentic spirituality. Or, to put it in the form of a question: Are there certain features or characteristics in human thought and behavior that serve as ‘signs’ of the saving activity and presence of the Spirit of God? Again, is it possible for us to know with any degree of certainty whether or not a person who claims to have experienced the saving grace of God is truly born again?” This is essentially the same question said in many ways and it is the question we expect Edwards to answer in the text of this book. We will do well to keep this question in mind each week as we give ourselves to reading The Religious Affections. And it is an important one to answer for, as Edwards says, “it is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not discerned and distinguished, that the devil has had his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ.” From the earliest days of the church until today, the devil has done much damage to the cause of Christ in the world by men and women deluded into thinking that they are Christians when they are not.

It is my hope and expectation that this book will arm us to better discern the state of our own hearts and to see and understand the defining characteristics of those who belong to Christ. To quote Edwards, “It greatly concerns us to use our utmost endeavors clearly to discern, and have it well settled and established, wherein true religion does consist.”

Next Week

Next week we will begin to discuss the heart of the book and I’d suggest we read all of Part I. In my book this comes to 32 pages—a rather long reading, but I think it makes sense to attempt to read it as a unit rather than dividing it rather artificially. I’ll try to keep future readings shorter since I know that 32 pages of Edwards may prove a challenge (or a chore!) but please bear with me. Just read five pages per day through the week and you’ll have no trouble keeping up.

Would You Like to Participate?

If this is the first you’ve heard of Reading Classics Together and it sounds like something you’d like to participate in, we’d be glad to have you along. I will be reading from the Banner of Truth edition of the work, but you can follow along in any of the unabridged editions (of which there are many available). For technophiles, there is a Kindle edition available for only a couple of dollars. For those who are not interested in spending money, CCEL has the complete text available in HTML, PDF and other formats right here.

If you wish to purchase a printed copy of the book, you can do so from Amazon, Westminster Books, Monergism Books or just about anywhere else good Christian books are sold.

We are only a few pages into the book so it’s definitely not too late for you to begin reading with us.

June 26, 2008

To this point the “Reading Classics Together” effort has gone very well, at least by my assessment. We’ve read J.C. Ryle’s Holiness, John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation and A.W. Pink’s The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross. We’ve had hundreds of people participate by reading the books together and discussing them each week. All along we’ve been reading some of the classics of the Christian faith—books many of us wish to read but books few of us have ever made time for. And now it is time to decide on the next classic we’ll read together.

There are two names that were continually in my mind as I pondered where we should go next: John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards. The potential trouble with both of these men is that their seminal works are, in a word, long. If we are to read a long work I wonder if I may just be reading alone by the end. Regardless, I have decided that works of this quality will be worth it. And so I am proposing that our next book be The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards (all 350+ pages of it).

Here is what the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University says about the work:

A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections stands as Edwards’s most penetrating interpretation of the awakenings of his time, not to mention one of the most penetrating of any time. As in Some Thoughts, he argued against the extremes of emotionalism on the one hand and intellectualism on the other. Affections were essential to true religion, but they had to be tested. First, Edwards lays out his religious psychology of affections, which encompassed both understanding and will and involved the total range of human faculties. Answering critics of the revival, Edwards then discusses at length a series of “negative” signs, or unreliable criteria for judging the graciousness of affections. Finally, and most famously, he provided twelve “positive” signs for self-examination. The twelfth sign, which Edwards gave the fullest treatment, was the importance of Christian practice as evidence of the state of the heart. Here, for Edwards, was the ultimate standard for visible sainthood.

It is going to be a demanding read, and something of a long one, but I know the payoff will be worth every second spent in the book.

I will be reading from the Banner of Truth edition of the work, but you can follow along in any of the unabridged editions (of which there are many available). For technophiles, there is a Kindle edition available for only a couple of dollars. For those who are not interested in spending money, CCEL has the complete text available in HTML, PDF and other formats right here.

If you wish to purchase a printed copy of the book, you can do so from Amazon, Westminster Books, Monergism Books or just about anywhere else good Christian books are sold.

We will target July 17 as our start date. That gives you three full weeks to secure a copy and to read the Introduction and Preface. Then, every Thursday following, we’ll read a portion of the text and discuss it together.

It would be a helpful gauge of participation if you’d post a comment on this post indicating that you’d like to read this book with us. So if you are going to read along, let me know, either with a comment or a quick email. I’m looking forward to reading this next classic with you!

June 25, 2008

Since last week’s little contests went over well, I thought I’d try another one. The style is similar—here we have a list of 21 quotes. Each of these quotes are endorsements for a book and each is written by J.I. Packer (quite the prolific reader and endorser!). As I am flying to Vancouver for a meeting tomorrow, it seemed to me that Packer would be an appropriate subject.

Your task is to send me a list of the titles and author(s) for each of these books. Send your list (partial or full if you can figure out all of them). Whoever gets the most right will win a $50 gift certificate for Westminster Books. Should two or more correctly identify all of the books, I will randomly select a winner from among them. Where the book’s author or title is explicitly mentioned in the endorsement, I have replaced them with [Author] or [Title].

Now I know that you can probably Google most or all of these—and that is not against the rules. By why not at least think about them first and see if you can figure them out. There is no advantage to being the first to submit your answers, so don’t feel you need to hurry. Just get your answers in before 12 PM Eastern tomorrow and I will announce a winner as soon as I can get to a computer and tally it all up.

Submit your answers here.

  1. The healthy biblical realism of this study in Christian motivation comes as a breath of fresh air. Jonathan Edwards, whose ghost walks through most of [Author]’s pages, would be delighted with his disciple.”

  2. This extended declaration and defence of the penal substitutionary view of Christ’s atoning death responds to a plethora of current criticisms, many of them in-house, with a thoroughness and effectiveness that is without parallel anywhere. The book’s existence shows that a British evangelical theology which exegetically, systematically, apologetically and pastorally can take on the world is in process of coming to birth. I hail this treatise as an epoch-making tour de force, and hopefully a sign of many more good things to come.”

  3. [Author]’s insight into human nature, divine grace, and Christian life yields a better blueprint for marriage than the self-absorbed rule-ridden role-play with which too many stop short. This is a wise and liberating book for struggling couples—and many others, too.”

  4. In this crowded world of Bible versions [Author]’s blend of accurate scholarship and vivid idiom make this rendering both distinctive and distinguished. [Title] catches the logical flow, personal energy, and imaginative overtones of the original very well indeed.”

  5. It is a privilege to commend so sensible, clear and fruitful an overview of basic Christian belief.”

  6. [Author]’s disarming introduction to personal faith is a modern classic. Long life to it!”

  7. Following in the footsteps of the late great Francis Schaeffer, two leading scholars here give wide-ranging guidance on how today we may show we are Christians by our love.”

  8. Brilliant [Author] is one of God’s best gifts to our decaying Western church, and would-be learners and teachers of the faith will gain hugely from these fascinating pages.”

  9. Clear, well informed, up to date, and firmly anchored in the mainstream of Christian wisdom. Oriented to the church, the Holy Spirit, and the future in a biblically proper way, this work transcends the rationalism and individualism that mar some of its predecessors…An outstanding achievement.”

  10. [Author] rises grandly to the challenge of the greatest of all themes. All the qualities that we expect of him—biblical precision, thoughtfulness and thoroughness, order and method, moral alertness and the measured tread, balanced judgment and practical passion—are here in fullest evidence. This, more than any book he has written, is his masterpiece.”

  11. [Author]’s offensive against Arminian-type views of election among evangelicals is a very solid piece of work. The thoroughness of its arguments gives it conclusive force.”

  12. Here is a modern reader’s edition of a classic Puritan work by a classic Puritan author. It is a powerful Trinitarian profiling from Scripture of the truth that fellowship with God is and must ever be the inside story of the real Christian’s life. The editing is excellent, and the twenty-seven-page introduction and the thirty-page analytical outline make the treatise accessible, even inviting, to any who, with Richard Baxter, see “heart-work” as the essence of Christianity. [Author] is a profound teacher on all aspects of spiritual life, and it is a joy to welcome this reappearance of one of his finest achievements.”

  13. Careful, thorough, wise, and to my mind, convincing.”

  14. Here is the quintessence of the gospel, the new wine of God’s kingdom at its purest for us today! Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest [title].”

  15. Thought is packed tight in this masterful survey of the covenantal frame of God’s self-disclosure in Scripture, and for serious students it is a winner.”

  16. This 25-year-old classic still makes one think, pray, get real with God, repent, and find joy in wise obedience more effectively than any other book I know. I cannot recommend it too highly.”

  17. [A] sober, encouraging book…The two sides of the author, the biblical scholar who reads, thinks, and misses no detail and the pastoral teacher who understands people, feels with them, and cares for them, combine here to give us a treatment of suffering under God’s sovereignty which is outstandingly accurate, wise, and helpful. All who follow the author’s fast-flowing argument will find their heads cleared and their hearts strengthened.”

  18. Honest historian [Author] informs us straightaway that he views the Christian story through the lenses of Protestant, Reformed, evangelical, baptistic, free-church spectacles. His telling of the tale, journalistic in style while scholarly in substance, then proves his point. You will find this book clarifying and invigorating.”

  19. [Author]’s exciting study…is a major step forward in the reappraisal of Puritanism…no student in the Puritan field can excuse themselves from reckoning with this important contribution.”

  20. I commend this eager and warm-hearted tour guide to the Book of Common Prayer with much enthusiasm …”

  21. This racy little book open up a far-reaching theme. With entertaining insight [Author] looks into the attitudes, alliances, and strategies that today’s state of affairs requires of believers. Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox alike need to ponder [Author]’s vision of things—preferably, in discussion together. What if he is right?”