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Tim Challies

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June 20, 2008

Earlier today Dennis Rainey sent the following email to some of his friends. I share this because it is just such a wonderful testament to God’s grace in the lives of these people. Only Christians can have such hope even in the face of devastating adversity.


On Thursday, Miss Molly made her way to her new home in heaven around 6:15 pm. Her last day with us began with a pretty average sunrise, but the sunset that closed out her Coronation Day was spectacular.

As we left the hospital, thunderstorms had blown up over the mountains resulting in a dazzling sunset splashing platinum gold shafts of light all over the Rockies. The light behind the clouds was brilliant. It was as though the sun was declaring, Magnificent Molly is home! What a homecoming it must have been…saying good bye and letting her leave this earthly home was one tough assignment for a young mother and father and a couple of families that had become hopelessly attached to this fragile little girl.

The Scriptures declare, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” That verse challenged our faith all day long, but it was nonetheless a day ordered by God’s sovereign hand of love and mercy.

Jake and Rebecca spent nearly all morning with Molly. As we arrived, Beth, Molly’s nurse and an angel herself, told us that Molly’s vital signs were slipping. Her little heart was racing at over 170 beats per minute and she was receiving 100 per cent pure oxygen, yet, her oxygen saturation level in her blood stream was down to 80. She was losing color. The nurse told us that it was Molly’s way of telling her parents, “it’s time for me to leave you and go home to heaven.” I am weeping as I write these words, none of us wanted Molly to leave.

Around noon, Rebecca and Jake honored all of us as grandparents by giving us the honor and privilege of holding Molly and gave us a moment to say good bye. None of us expected we’d get that treat. We didn’t want to rob them of one moment with their precious daughter.

Barbara got to be first. It was quite a maneuver to make sure all the wires and tubes that were supporting Molly’s life didn’t get tangled, but finally there she was in her arms, Mimi’s granddaughter. Barbara kept saying how much of an honor it was hold this little princess of the King. She held her close and cooed words of love and admiration over her beautiful face. Smiles and tears mingled.

Jake’s parents soaked all of her they could in and when it was Bill’s turn, he stroked her face, tenderly whispered his love for her and shared his favorite Scriptures with her. Pam beamed as she gently rocked Molly and sang “Jesus Loves Me” to her. Both Bill and Pam just held her, kissing her face, holding her little hands and weeping as they said good bye.

As Molly was placed in my arms she felt so warm, just like every other newborn. I tried to sing to her and I doubt that she recognized “Jesus Loves Me” as I choked out the words through tears.

Jake who was video-taping, asked me, “Papa, why don’t you tell Molly a story…one of your ‘Speck People’ stories?” I have to tell you that ‘speck stories’ are adventure stories of tiny little people and equally tiny little creatures who live in a make believe microscopic world, facing any number of challenges that demand courage and faith. Our kids were enthralled with these tiny people stories and now I am telling them to my grandkids. The stories always take the Speck People to the very edge of danger…and then I close, by saying, “And you’ll have to wait until tomorrow night to hear the rest of the story.” My grandkids love these ‘continue’ stories. (honestly, I’m not all that good at it…I just make it all up as I go.)

So here’s Jake asking me to tell a story…and I respond to Jake, “You aren’t going to ask me to do that, after I’ve just blubbered my way through a simple song like “Jesus Loves Me”, are you?” Jake was joined by Rebecca in saying a resounding yes—they wouldn’t let me off the hook.

So Rebecca and Barbara surround me as I held little Molly, looked into her face and began my story. A Speck grandfather and his Speck granddaughter went fishing for tiny speck fish. My story was less than 60 seconds long and I looked up into Rebecca’s face and she had the biggest grin, dimples and all. She was loving the moment. As I concluded my story, I told Molly, “the Speck grandfather and granddaughter took their fish and ate them, and then they encountered something that you would never expect or believe…and…you will have to wait until I get to heaven to hear the rest of the story!” At this point I was sobbing, but I got the words out…and Rebecca and Jake started laughing. I will never forget the look pure joy on this young mom’s face.

Rebecca’s laughter has always been contagious and I too began to really laugh. One other detail of importance is that all of us had been gingerly holding Molly, afraid that the stress of handling her might be more than her little body could handle. Jake and I looked at the heart and oxygen monitor to see if our hearty laughter had stressed her system, but the opposite was happening-they were going up! Her oxygen saturation which had been at 80 shot up to 92, then 94, 97, 98, 99…we just kept laughing and her oxygen level went to 100 per cent, which it hadn’t been in 24 hours. All four of us cheered with raised arms like at a football game. It was a moment of sheer delight and mystery. A small thing, perhaps? Yes, no doubt. But in the valley of the shadow of death, God gave us laughter.

Christians are the ONLY people who can laugh in the midst of such a crisis without despair-we KNOW where we are headed. Heaven is certain because of what Jesus Christ did for us through His death for our sins. Because He lives we who believe have the hope of life after death. If a person places faith in Christ for forgiveness of his sins, surrenders his life to Him, then he can be certain of heaven too. It’s the ultimate reason why death is different for a true follower of Christ. And it’s why we could laugh as our beloved Molly was about to leave us.

Laughter stopped and the tears flowed again as I was told it was time for me to say good bye. Rebecca was now holding Molly. Barbara and I knelt beside her as I read her my good bye letter:

Mighty Molly

I just met you-I feel cheated.
I don’t want to say good bye.

I know I’ll likely see you in a couple of decades or so-in light of eternity, it won’t be long, really.
Still I don’t want to say good bye.

You will always be My Molly, my granddaughter.
I’m really sad that I won’t be getting to spoil you
with a doll,
or go sneak chocolate,
or take you on ice cream dates,
and eat chocolate pie and pudding.
Laughing all the time at what your mommy and daddy would say if they knew what we were doing.
I don’t want to say good bye.

Your 7 days sure brought a lot of joy to your mom and dad’s face—
I’ve watched them drink you in with their eyes, kiss you from head to foot, stroke and caress you.
Your parents loved you well—God couldn’t have given you better parents. Courageous parents.
They have loved you with a sacrificial love that only a very few little girls like you ever get to experience.
Because it hurts their hearts so much,
Oh, how I really don’t want to say good bye.

And so, Sweet Molly until that day in heaven
When we will celebrate the Greatness of our God together,
(then we will go sneak chocolate and go on an ice cream date)
I MUST say good bye.

Good bye Molly Ann.

I love you,
 Papa

Molly Ann Mutz
June 13, 2008-June 19, 2008

We cannot Lord, Thy purpose see
But all is well that’s done by Thee.

Dennis
Psalm 112:1-2

May 31, 2008

My recent travels allowed me another opportunity to really put my Kindle to the test. (Because I live in Canada, several of its best features are only available to me when I head south of the border.) And having done so I can’t deny that I like it better than ever. Beyond the benefits I laid out in my recent review of the Kindle, here are five good reasons to own one.

Thousands of Free Books

Just about any book that is available in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) or in e-book format can be read on your Kindle. That gives you a vast library to build upon.

If you would like to build your library of Christian classics, visit CCEL. Browse through the library and download any of the books in PDF format. You can download books by Edwards, Bunyan, Augustine, Chesterton and just about any other classic author you can think of. There are literally thousands of titles there for the taking.

If you are a fan of John Piper, visit Desiring God and download any of Piper’s books for free in PDF format.

If you would like to catch up on classics or just browse other free e-books, visit Feedbooks. They have thousands of great titles available, all of them entirely free. Go there to download your fix of Orwell, Austen, Dickens, Tolstoy, Hawthorne…

How do you get these books to your Kindle? Easy. When you buy a Kindle, Amazon gives you an email address (your-username@kindle.com). Simply email the file to your address. Amazon will covert it and for $0.10 send it immediately and wirelessly to your Kindle. Want to save the dime? Then send the file to your-username@free.kindle.com. Amazon will convert the file (for free) and send it back to you via email (for free). You then simply copy it to your Kindle using the USB cable.

Buy Books Anywhere and Anytime

While enjoying a brief break at a recent conference, and while sitting in the back row of a university chapel, I felt the urge to buy a new book that I could enjoy while traveling home (and something that would be a little lighter to read than the Banner of Truth titles I had stuffed into my suitcase!). Within sixty seconds, using nothing but my Kindle, I had purchased a book and had begun reading it. Just like that. Using your Kindle you have access to well over 100,000 books at any time and any place.

You will also never have to worry about books going out of stock. When books run out of stock at Amazon or your local bookstore, they are always available on the Kindle. Anywhere, anytime. When the books go out of print, I suppose they’ll still be available for download to your Kindle.

Check Your Email Anywhere—For Free!

Many people pay a lot of money for the ability to check their email via their cell phone. With the Kindle you can actually check your email remotely and entirely free wherever you can get a Sprint cell phone connection. The same technology that allows you to purchase books anywhere allows you to check email anywhere. And it’s entirely free. You may wish to purchase the $3 e-book How to Use the Amazon Kindle for Email & Other Cool Tricks: Read and Answer Email Anywhere, Anytime on the Amazing Amazon Kindle… to read instructions on how to do this (and to learn some other interesting tips and tricks…like how to play Minesweeper on your Kindle).

Free Wireless Internet Everywhere

It’s true—you can use the Kindle to surf the web wirelessly…anywhere. Anywhere serviced by Sprint, at any rate. Granted it’s not going to look wonderful since the Kindle does not do color and isn’t meant to display pretty graphics, but it you want to visit sites you like to read (and remember, the Kindle is a reading device) you can do so from anywhere using the same cellular service for which everyone else pays $60/month.

Read the Bible

A quick search turned up at least eight different Bible translations already available for the Kindle (ESV, KJV, NIV, NASB, etc). They all cost less than $10. This article outlines some good suggestions for using the Kindle for Bible study. As with any other book, you can take notes, highlight passages, search for words and phrases and otherwise interact with the text of Scripture.

May 11, 2008

I went looking this morning for a prayer for Mother’s Day. I guess the Puritans didn’t celebrate Mother’s Day (wasn’t Hallmark around back then?) but I did find this prayer for the family in The Valley of Vision. It is called simply “Family.”


O SOVEREIGN LORD,
Thou art the Creator-Father of all men, for thou hast made and dost support them;
Thou art the special Father of those who know, love and honour thee,
who find thy yoke easy, and thy burden light,
thy work honourable,
thy commandments glorious.
But how little thy undeserved goodness has affected me!
how imperfectly have I improved my religious privileges!
how negligent have I been in doing good to others!
I am before thee in my trespasses and sins,
have mercy on me,
and may thy goodness bring me to repentance.
Help me to hate and forsake every false way,
to be attentive to my condition and character,
to bridle my tongue,
to keep my heart with all diligence,
to watch and pray against temptation,
to mortify sin,
to be concerned for the salvation of others.
O God, I cannot endure to see the destruction of my kindred.
Let those that are united to me in tender ties
be precious in thy sight and devoted to thy glory.
Sanctify and prosper my domestic devotion,
instruction, discipline, example,
that my house may be a nursery for heaven,
my church the garden of the Lord,
enriched with trees of righteousness of thy planting,
for thy glory;
Let not those of my family who are amiable, moral, attractive,
fall short of heaven at last;
Grant that the promising appearances of a tender conscience,
soft heart, the alarms and delights of thy Word,
be not finally blotted out,
but bring forth judgment unto victory in all whom I love.

March 29, 2008

We are just a couple of weeks away from Together for the Gospel—undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated conferences of the year. I first mentioned a few weeks ago that at the conference there will be a small gathering geared specifically to Canadians and to people with an interest in ministry to Canada. This is a ministry of Grace Fellowship Church of Toronto and there are no expenses involved. It will be lead, at least initially, by my pastor Paul Martin and myself. We simply wish to invite all of the Canadians in attendance as well as anyone who has an interest in ministry in Canada, to meet with us for a short time after the day’s proceedings wrap up on the Wednesday of the conference.

We will be meeting in Room 112 at 9:30 PM on April 16 (or as soon as the day’s final session ends). This room is right within the convention center immediately below the main hall where the conference will be held. We know this will mark the end of a long day, so we will not keep you for long.

The purpose of this brief gathering will be to help network Canadian pastors and church leaders with a shared love of the Gospel as well to enable the flow of information on events and happenings between our churches. We do not wish to create another association or denomination or publication or anything of the sort and we are not formally associated with Together for the Gospel! Our goal is to help Canadian pastors network with each other at today’s event, as well as to begin a small website devoted to highlighting information of the Lord’s work that would be of interest across our country.

We will start by creating a database of names that will receive regular email updates as information is sent to us. We hope to allow your church to alert other like-minded Christians of events or needs as they arise.

If you are interested in attending, please mark the date and time on your calendar. If you’d like to ask questions, if you would like to let me know that you will be attending, or if you cannot attend but would like to be added to the email list, you can send me a note by clicking here. I have already received plenty of such notes and will be sending a brief email to everyone by way of reminder. Meanwhile, please spread the word to anyone you know who will be at the conference and who may be interested in attending.

We hope to see you there!

March 12, 2008

Some time ago I was talking with a friend who pastors a church in this area and we discussed how much we enjoy what is being accomplished and modeled through Together for the Gospel. We talked about how we wish something like that could happen in Canada. And from there we realized that maybe, just maybe, it can happen. There are going to be plenty of Canadians attending Together for the Gospel and it seemed to us that it would be wise to try to gather them in one place, even if only for a few minutes.

And so the purpose of this post is to announce a small gathering by and for Canadians during Together for the Gospel (Louisville, Kentucky - April 15-17). This is a ministry of Grace Fellowship Church of Toronto and there are no expenses involved. It will be lead, at least initially, by my pastor Paul Martin and myself. We simply wish to invite all of the Canadians in attendance as well as anyone who has an interest in ministry in Canada, to meet with us for a short time after the day’s proceedings wrap up on the Wednesday of the conference.

We will be meeting in Room 112 at 9:30 PM on April 16 (or as soon as the day’s final session ends). This room is right within the convention center immediately below the main hall where the conference will be held. We know this will mark the end of a long day, so we will not keep you for long.

The purpose of this brief gathering will be to help network Canadian pastors and church leaders with a shared love of the Gospel as well to enable the flow of information on events and happenings between our churches. We do not wish to create another association or denomination or publication or anything of the sort and we are not formally associated with Together for the Gospel! Our goal is to help Canadian pastors network with each other at today’s event, as well as to begin a small website devoted to highlighting information of the Lord’s work that would be of interest across our country.

We will start by creating a database of names that will receive regular email updates as information is sent to us. We hope to allow your church to alert other like-minded Christians of events or needs as they arise.

If you are interested in attending, please mark the date and time on your calendar. If you’d like to ask questions, if you would like to let me know that you will be attending, or if you cannot attend but would like to be added to the email list, you can send me a note by clicking here. Meanwhile, please spread the word to anyone you know who will be at the conference and who may be interested in attending.

We hope to see you there!

February 23, 2008

Next week I have the opportunity to offer both Chuck Colson and Iain Murray. I’d love to get some feedback from the readers here about what I might want to ask them. Read on…

In a couple of months I’ll be attending and writing about the Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference this May (it runs from the 27th to the 29th) down in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (can you believe I actually found a direct flight from Toronto to Harrisburg? I wouldn’t have believed it was possible). Though I’ve come to know Steve Burlew quite well (he heads up Banner in North America), I have never attended one of their conferences or visited their headquarters. I am looking forward to getting to know one of the original Reformed ministries! In conjunction with the conference, I’ve been given the opportunity to interview Iain Murray—one of the keynote speakers at that conference. I will be interviewing him next week.

Now Iain Murray is a hero to me. His books have impacted me deeply and have impacted many people I love and respect. I am really looking forward to interviewing him. I have a short list of questions prepared, but would be glad to accept some of yours. If you have something you’d like to ask Iain Murray, let me know and I’ll consider sending it through.

Meanwhile, Chuck Colson is about to embark on a blog tour (sound familiar?) to promote his new book, The Faith (subtitled “What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters”). Because the book was late arriving from the publisher, I haven’t yet had opportunity to read it, and my spot was bumped from day one to day six or seven. I will only be asking him one or two questions, but would like to make them count. I don’t want to toss him a softball, but would like to ask something Interesting and thought-provoking. I’ve got some ideas, but once more would love to receive some ideas. So if something comes to mind, shoot me an email or leave a comment.

January 06, 2008

For a long time now I’ve been reading David McCullough’s biography of John Adams. Because the book has collided a little bit with vacation and with some “necessary” reading, it has taken me a long time to get through it, even though it is a very enjoyable read. Within the book I’ve found a couple of great quotes from the pen of John Adams—quotes that have stuck with me. Adams is in some ways a man after my own heart and he shows it in these words:

I want to see my children every day. I want to see my grass and blossoms and corn … But above all, except the wife and children, I want to see my books.”

Those words resonate with me. My books are among my greatest pleasure and when I find I do not have time to read, I miss it a lot. There is pleasure to be found both in the books and in the experience of reading them.

And again:

The only way to compose myself and collect my thoughts is to set down at my table, place my diary before me, and take my pen into my hand. This apparatus takes off my attention from other objects. Pen, ink, and paper and a sitting posture are great helps to attention and thinking.”

I, too, find that I can get very little thinking done, and cannot hold my attention for long, if I do not do my thinking with the assistance of pen, ink and paper.

January 01, 2008

I love the dawning of a new year. I tend to view life in “chunks,” in periods with a defined beginning and end. When driving home from Tennessee yesterday I inadvertently grouped the drive into pieces in my mind and felt relief and success with the completion of each portion—from Tennessee to Cincinnati, from Cincy to Detroit, and from Detroit to home. I do the same with periods of time, enjoying the beginning of one period and looking forward to reaching the end of it. A new year is an obvious period to focus on examining success in reaching goals and in looking towards new goals. I do not usually bother with new year’s resolutions. But I do see January 1 as a good day to focus on what I’d like to accomplish and what I’d like to prioritize in the weeks and months to come.

I went looking today for some guidance on how to approach a new year. I found myself reading a grand old Puritan prayer and wanted to share it with you. Taken from The Valley of Vision, this prayer is known as “Year’s End.” I adapted it slightly to change antiquated language to slightly more modern language. But this is as I would pray it today…and as I have prayed it today.

O Love Beyond Compare,
You are good when you give,
when you take away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.
You have loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love redeemed my soul;
You love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Your goodness has been with me during another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Your goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With you as the blessed Pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless you that you have veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If you have appointed storms of tribulation,
you will be with me in them;
If I have to pass through storms of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see your face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith will not fail;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify yourself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel suitable always
for your use.

What a beautiful prayer that is, that God would use us to further His purposes. Another prayer from the same book begins by saying “Length of days does not profit me unless the days are passed in your presence, in your service, to your glory.” Another year will profit us nothing if we do not live it in and through a for the Lord.

I received an email this morning and this was a suggested New Year’s text. I can hardly think of a better one for meditation on this day. It is Proverbs 30 and verses 8 and 9.

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

Oh that God would simply sustain us through another year, giving what we need rather than what we want, and giving only that which we can handle and that which we can use for His glory. May 2008 be that kind of year for you and for your family, and for me and mine.

December 28, 2007

I’ve got two quick book updates for you. And then I’m going to relax for the rest of the morning before heading into Chattanooga for the Reality Check Conference which begins later this evening. I’ll be bringing live updates from that event from this evening until Sunday morning.

First off, my book is now in stock at Amazon. So if you’ve been waiting to buy The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment at Amazon, you can now do so and get it shipped immediately. Once you buy it, be sure to write a review and post it at Amazon (whether you love or hate it)! I’ll let you know as it becomes available at other booksellers. I believe Monergism Books and Westminster Books will have it in stock in the next few days.

UPDATE: My book is now listed at Monergism Books. You can access it by clicking here.

Second, my friends at Monergism Books are having an “End of the Year Sale” that they are proclaiming their biggest sale ever. There are well over 100 products on sale and many at pretty deep discounts. It’s worth noting that all ESV Bibles are 45% off in case you’re in the market for a new Bible.

You can see the sale by clicking here.

December 18, 2007

Some time ago (July of this year) I posted a link to a book and said it is the best $4.03 you’ll ever spend. I don’t know that I ever told you what happened after that. Basically, and as I understand it, it went something like this: Within a couple of hours, the book had sold out at Westminster Books. A short time after that, the publisher sent all the available copies in the warehouse, but those too sold out. Then the publisher sent all the available copies from their warehouse in the U.K. and those also sold out. And then the publisher had no choice but to order a reprint since the book was basically completely sold out. Well, six months later, the book has been reprinted and is back in stock. Some of those who ordered it have since confirmed that it was a very worthwhile book. So for those who were not able to get one of the books while they remained, here’s a copy of the original post and the original link. Enjoy!


I was poking around a little bit today and found what I consider to be just a great deal. I’m posting for no other reason than to tell you that this represents what I’m sure you’ll agree is the best $4.03 you’ll ever spend. It’s one of my all-time favorites and a book worth reading at least once per year.

If you disagree and are absolutely convinced that another item worth $4.03 would have been a better buy, well, tell me what it is because I don’t believe it’s possible.

That is all.

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