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

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

General News

September 19, 2010

A few weeks ago I introduced you to Professor Horner’s Bible-Reading System in a post I titled Ten Chapters Per Day. As you remember Professor Horner’s system is simple but unique—“every day you read ten chapters of the Bible. That seems like a lot, so stick with me as I explain it. Each of the ten chapters will be from different books, which is to say that at any given time you’ll be reading ten books of the Bible concurrently, one chapter per day. So on day one of the system you will reading the first chapter of Matthew, Genesis, Romans, 1 Thessalonians, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Joshua, Isaiah and Acts. You will read each of these books, one chapter per day, and then go on to other books before repeating it all again. This means that every year you’ll read through all the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the Old Testament wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the Old Testament History and Prophetic books about 1 12 times.”

As I mentioned in the original post, I dislike the idea of reading the Bible through a system, and yet I cannot deny that it has been very good for me; it has worked very well. Several months after beginning, I’m still sticking with it, reading ten chapters on weekdays and 5 chapters on Saturday and Sunday.

There were a lot of comments on the blog post and many more across Twitter and Facebook. I know that many people decided to give the system a try after finding out about it. I ran into a couple of them just the other day at a local pastors’ fellowship. And now I find myself curious—how many of you have stuck with it? And how have you been enjoying it? Have you found that it allows you to read the Bible in a new way? Or have you found the systemic nature of it too restricting? Are you enjoying reading at ten chapters per day, or do you find this too much?

Let me know how you’ve been faring.

September 13, 2010

Take Words With YouA few months ago my friend Tim Kerr, pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Toronto gave me permission to share Take Words With You, a prayer manual he has written. It is a small book that contains over 1600 scripture promises and prayers meant to help God’s people pray more effectively. The promises are arranged around the cross—its purposes and rewards.

Tim recently updated the book to a new edition. It includes a useful defense of why God loves it when we pray his promises back to him and it also includes a guide on how to best use the manual in prayer.

Take Words With You is ideal for printing and using during times of private or corporate prayer. In fact, you’ll see that you can easily print it in 8.5” x 6.5” format and spiral bind it if you so desire. Here is how Tim introduces this little book:

Many years ago I discovered a precious truth regarding prayer: God loves to hear his own words prayed back to him! When a small child crawls up on the lap of their father and says, “Daddy when are you going to take us to the zoo like you promised?” the father smiles and assures his child he has not forgotten and is very much looking forward to doing what he promised (when the time is right). In the same way, our heavenly Father delights to hear us remind him of his promises to us. The Bible is in fact a great big prayer manual that should fill and guide our prayers each and every day.
It is hoped that the many promises of God written here will be prayed back to God in prayer as we seek to enter into God’s purposes accomplished for us through Christ’s cross. Sometimes we remember the gist of a promise but cannot remember what was said or where it is found in Scripture. This manual has been written to make that process easier by organizing the promises of God by categories and themes.

Click below if you’d like to download it for your own use. Feel free to pass it around or print it as you see fit.

May 29, 2010

As a book reviewer I am constantly receiving new books in the mail, the majority of which are unsolicited (which is to say that they just show up). Sometimes publishers send them, sometimes authors or publicists, sometimes just people who really want to see a review of a book they’ve enjoyed.

For sake of interest (and maybe in the hopes that you’ll be able to sympathize with my plight in choosing which to review) I thought I’d let you see the list of books that showed up this week and then do a little poll, letting you have your say. As you can well imagine, choosing which to review is quite difficult. Most of them look good, but I’ll only have time to read and review a couple before the next batch shows up. Over the past few weeks I’ve done two of these polls and have been glad to be able to start reading the books you want to see reviewed. Rather than make this post really long with descriptions of the books, I’ve just added links to Amazon if you want to read more about any of them.

Do note that Doctrine by Driscoll and Breshears and Humanitarian Jesus by Buckley and Dobson are already on my reading list based on previous polls. Both should get a review in the next couple of weeks. For that reason I’ve left them off of the poll.

So here are the books that showed up this week:

Beyond all the books, I also received a CD, My Cry Ascends: New Parish Psalms by Gregory Wilbur (produced by Ligonier Ministries) and two DVDs, Speaking the Truth in Love to Muslims from Vision Video and then the DVD version of Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad. And finally, I received Soul, which I understand to be a young adult adaptation of Christianity Explored. It is a DVD and comes with a leader’s guide and a study guide.

Vote For a Review

  • “Mere Churchianity” by Michael Spencer
  • “Before God” by Mike Sarkissian
  • “What Is Vocation?” by Stephen Nichols
  • “The Prism and the Rainbow” by Joel Martin
  • “Spiritual Parenting” by Michelle Anthony
  • “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr
  • “What Is the Gospel?” by Greg Gilbert
  • “What Did You Expect?” by Paul Tripp
  • “It Is Well” by Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence
  • “God’s Lyrics” by Douglas O’Donnell
  • “Tributes to John Calvin” by David Hall
  • “Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church” by Michael Lawrence
  • “Burning Down The Shack” by James DeYoung
  • “The Sword” by Bryan Litfin

May 24, 2010

Today is known as Victoria Day up here in the Great White North. Way back in the middle of the nineteenth century Canada declared this day, May 24, a holiday, in honor of Queen Victoria’s birthday. And after she died it was officially established as a national holiday. Since then, “May Twenty-Four” as it’s known colloquially, has become Canada’s unofficial start to summer. This is typically the weekend when people head to their cottages for the first time and when those who stay behind get started on their gardens (since by now it’s pretty much a sure thing that there won’t be any more frost at night). Traditions on the day involve barbecues, beer and fireworks (not always the best combination). Many people refer to the day as “May Two-Four,” a reference to a case of beer.

This year has been especially warm and today is supposed to be beautiful—around 25 degrees (that’s 80 for you Americans) and sunny. It’s about the perfect weather for a day away from the desk; a good day to pick up the year’s first sun burn.

My plans today involve a little bit of reading, a little bit of writing, a little bit of hanging around and maybe a bike ride with the kids. Later in the day I’ll be heading out with the family to spend the evening with some friends. It’s got all the makings of a good day.

To keep you occupied as you go about your daily toil (you Americans can make fun of me in turn next week when you have Memorial Day) here are a few interesting and/or amusing things to read.

Creator or Curator - David Murray offers some good thoughts on the difference between preachers who are creators and preachers who are curators.

Crackdown in Bangkok - A series of powerful photos from Thailand.

The Black Keys to Amazing Grace - Thabiti posts an interesting video that includes a great rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

Pray for a Cure - There’s a Bible for everything and everyone. The Pray for a Cure Bible stands as further proof.

Football’s for Girls - But hockey’s for men. First, here’s a story about Duncan Keith, a good Canadian boy, who lost seven teeth in a hockey game…and just kept playing. And then here’s a commercial about soccer/football.

May 09, 2010

How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read is a book by Pierre Bayard, a professor of French literature at the University of Paris. In what is a bit of a provocative book and one that relies on more than a small measure of wit, Bayard argues that not having read a book does not need to serve as an impediment in having an interesting and intelligent discussion about it. He goes so far as to argue that in some cases the worst thing you can do, the thing that would most dishonor a book, is to read it.

“Reading is first and foremost non-reading,” he says. “Even in the case of the most passionate lifelong readers, the act of picking up and opening a book masks the countergesture that occurs at the same time: the involuntary act of not picking up and not opening all the other books in the universe.” Therefore even the most prolific reader does far more non-reading than he does reading and makes far more decisions not to read than to read. Non-reading is a genuine activity as much as reading is a genuine activity. It is not just the mere absence of reading; it is a choice not to read particular works. And yet, he argues, non-reading should not prohibit us from having intelligent and guilt-free discussion about books we have chosen not to read.

So tell me. What do you think of his book?

May 06, 2010

Yesterday I spent some time thinking about how and why and where we all buy our Christian books. I started with the question, “Why do people shop at one e-commerce store and not another.” And from there I just found more and more questions that were asking for answers.

I started writing out such questions and before I knew it I had put together a survey suitable for Christian readers. And I’d love it if you’d take 2 minutes to complete the survey. It asks for no identifying information and really shouldn’t take you more than a couple of minutes. After we’ve gotten a good quantity of responses, I’ll let you in on the results.

Click here to take the survey

February 22, 2010

This morning I want to provide a few updates on life, books and web sites.

First off, I owe you an update on The Next Story, the book I’m writing. To this point, progress has been slow—discouragingly slow, really. Yet I’ve got hope that things will pick up soon. I have been focusing on gathering and pondering ideas more than actually putting ideas into words. So while the manuscript still has a word count of approximately 0, I think I’m getting to the point where the ideas are coming together in my mind. That means that I’ll soon be ready to write. In fact, I plan on spending most of today working my way through a couple more books with the hope that tomorrow I’ll have enough firm ideas in place that I can begin to work on some of the chapters. In the future I’ll try to write an article on the actually process I’m going through as I put this book together. For now, though, I covet your prayers and hope to have some good reports soon.

January 23, 2010

Over at 10MillionWords I’ve been working hard, reading all of the New York Times bestsellers that have been on the list so far this year. Just yesterday I posted a review of one that I found particularly interesting because it deals with a topic that is innately theological. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert is a book about marriage.

At the end of her bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert fell in love with Felipe. Four years later she returns to tell their story. Having fallen in love with this Brazilian man, Gilbert began to build a life with him. But before long the Department of Homeland Security intervened, deporting Felipe for spending too much time in the United States despite not being a citizen. The only solution, the only way to gain his citizenship, was for the two of them to marry. Yet both of them, scarred from prior divorces, had no desire at all to marry. In fact, they had both sworn off marriage, vowing to remain together, but unfettered by that age-old institution.

“…I was not convinced that I knew very much more than ever about the realities of institutionalized companionship.” says Gilbert. “I had failed at marriage and thus I was terrified of marriage, but I’m not sure this made me an expert on marriage; this only made me an expert on failure and terror, and those particular fields are already crowded with experts. Yet destiny had intervened and was demanding marriage from me, and I’d learned enough from life’s experiences to understand that destiny’s interventions can sometimes be read as invitations for us to address and even surmount our biggest fears.” Yet the reality was that if she wanted to live her life with Felipe, she would have to marry him. “Within one year—like it or not, ready or not—I had to get married. That being the case, it seemed imperative that I focus my attention on unraveling the history of monogamous Western marriage in order to better understand my inherited assumptions, the shape of my family’s narrative, and my culturally specific catalogue of anxieties.”

This book, half travelogue and half sociology, follows her as she and Felipe travel through Asia while they wait for the U.S. government to grant him permission to enter America and get married. As she travels she researches marriage, trying to get to the bottom of what it is and why it is so fundamental to humanity. Committed is, then, a book about marriage. In its own way it is pro-marriage, I suppose, though only if we grant quite a wide understanding of what marriage is.

You can read the rest of the review at 10MillionWords


Here are a few other books I’ve reviewed recently: