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

Tim Challies

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General News

September 01, 2006


Desiring God has launched their new web site. While the site design has not changed drastically, it is a little bit cleaner and a tad more contemporary. The changes are evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and this is often a good thing. But behind the design lurk some great new features. Rather than describe them myself, I will provide the brief summary supplied by the webmaster.

We are pleased to announce the new desiringGod.org, which we have redesigned from the ground up. We invite you to enjoy our new site and offer you this quick summary of what is new to help get you started.

Our New Site is Easier to Use

First, you will find our new website even easier to use. We want you thinking hard about what we have to say in our sermons and messages—not about how to use our site. You will find improved organization and navigation that allows you to:

  • Always know where you are on the site, and quickly get from one spot to another

  • Discover related content more easily

  • Browse our resources and products in multiple ways, such as our sermons by date, Scripture text, series, topic, occasion, or title

  • See what resources we recommend as most fully articulating our essential ideas, many featured with short audio excerpts to help give you the big picture.

  • Explore an improved topic index

  • View your search results in tabs for each site section

  • Find helpful additional information on our more detailed product pages

  • Purchase, donate, and register for conferences more easily

  • Set up an account and manage your account information more easily

  • Learn about our ministry more easily in About Us

Our New Site Has More Content

Second, you will find an even more complete library of John Piper’s resources. We have added much additional content and several new types of content in our Resource Library. You can:

  • Listen to 25 years of John Piper’s sermon audio
  • Watch videos of the sermon each week (and over the next several months we will post our entire 4-year video archive)
  • Move quickly among the audio, video, and manuscript of a message in a single interface
  • Listen to and watch the messages in a new media player
  • Begin to find more than 200 previously unposted articles and “lost” sermons, as we post them over the next several months
  • Listen to audio questions and answers
  • Listen to and watch audio and video message excerpts
  • Subscribe to our weekly sermon podcast (coming soon) and daily radio podcast

Our goal has always been to serve you by providing God-centered resources from the ministry of John Piper. Now we hope that you will find that content even more accessible and easier to use.

As a web designer I understand the difficulties inherent in upgrading such a massive site. I know also of the inevitable complaints and criticism they will receive, for people tend to react negatively (and often blindly) to change. Still, I think they did a good job on this upgrade and am confident that the site will continue to serve the Christian community. Well done, Desiring God!

Desiring God National Conference News

Here is some related news. The Desiring God National Conference has sold out. I remember noting last year that, while the main part of the auditorium was filled, there were many seats available in the overflow seating. This year they will be full!

The conference organizers write:

We rejoice that so many of you will be with us, yet we also regret that more cannot attend. If you are interested in being added to a waiting list, please contact us at 1.888.346.4700.

Please keep praying for this event, that God would be glorified and his people blessed. Audio of the conference sessions will be made available for free online just a few days after the conference.

NOTE: There will be no on-site or walk-in registration.

August 19, 2006

My first liveblogging opportunity happened just about a year ago when I was asked to blog the 2005 Desiring God National Conference. I knew nothing about the art of liveblogging (and neither did anyone else I knew) so I just sort of made it up as I went along. I was gratified to see that the response was good and than many people took the opportunity to visit my site to read about the conference as it progressed. It was an unexpected surprise that many people attending the conference enjoyed reading my summaries in the evenings after they returned to their hotel rooms. It seemed to all involved that the experiment had been a success.

After Desiring God, I was able to liveblog the Shepherd’s Conference, Together for the Gospel and WorshipGod06 as conference organizers began to see that liveblogging adds an interesting and helpful dimension to a conference. I learned something new at each of these events and at this point I feel that I’ve got a fairly good handle on how liveblogging works, though in a sense I continue to make it up as I go since there is not an objective standard on what it involves and how to do it right. I am continually grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to attend such wonderful conferences and to listen to the teaching of some godly men. The fact that this is a unique blessing is not lost on me.

Future liveblogging opportunities continue to roll in. I have already accepted several exciting opportunities for next year and am considering a couple more. It seems that I may have the opportunity to attend a diverse number of conferences in the coming year. It really is my joy to prayerfully consider each of these events and to attempt to serve the body of Christ in providing updates from the conferences. At the same time, I feel a bit hesitant since I am not sure how liveblogging fits the model of what I do with my blog. I also find it difficult to be away from home. As much as I love attending conferences, it is always difficult to go away and I always look forward to returning to my family. And so I have some mixed emotions as I look to the future.

While I consider my future in regards to liveblogging, I thought it might be helpful to know the opinions of the readers of this site regarding these conferences. Feel free to answer these questions as objectively as you like. Any other advice or information you have would be appreciated. Do you find it is an interesting and helpful addition to this site to have blogs written about the various conferences? Do you think there are ways that I could make liveblogging a more helpful service? Are there some conferences you think would benefit from liveblogging? Do you think it would be beneficial if I blogged more or fewer conferences? I guess I am just looking for information and advice that will help me as I consider blogging future events. I appreciate any you’re willing to provide!

July 22, 2006

Yesterday my son and I made our annual or semi-annual trip to the Rogers Center to take in a Bluejays game. We chose a good night. The Jays were playing against their arch-rivals the Yankees, and were playing before one of the biggest crowds in recent memory. The last time I was part of a crowd of over 40,000 people must have been during the Bluejays’ glory days of 1992 to 1993. It was the first time I can remember that the section I wanted to sit in was sold out, leaving us to sit up in the 500-level. After the first fourteen Yankee pitches, the Jays had no outs and 4 runs. They Jays played well throughout and took the game 7-3. The official recap of the game mentioned that the crowd was rowdy. It was, indeed, a rowdy crowd which tends to add to the overall entertainment value.

But as I watched the game, a question came to mind. The rivalry between Toronto and New York has existed for many years, but continues to heat up. Of course there is lots to dislike about the Yankees and their spendthrift ways. As you may know, their payroll is often greater than the combined efforts of five or six smaller market teams. Needless to say, they always compete and are always dangerous. Everyone loves to hate the Yankees.

While there are always a good number of Yankee fans in the crowd, many of whom travel to Toronto from Buffalo and upstate New York, the crowd was, as we’d expect, clearly in favor of Toronto. And not only that, but they despised New York. Alex Rodriguez, whose massive contract has come to represent much of the absurdity of major league sports, was a particular target of the crowd. He has been having a difficult time in the field of late and continued to disappoint last night, committing one error, losing an easy pop fly and escaping another error only by the grace of the scorekeeper. The crowd was soon chanting “A Rod! A Rod!” Boos reigned down upon him whenever he came to the plate or was involved in a play. Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi also faced the jeers of the crowd. Throughout the game, the upper decks rumbled with the sound of “Yankees Suck! Yankees Suck!” I think there was more cheering against New York than there was for Toronto.

I love this dynamic of professional sports. I love that people can boo a player but yet cheer for him when he is later traded to their team. I love that people can yell and scream and take these things so seriously, and yet not seriously at all.

But I wonder, is this behavior Christians should endorse? Is this behavior Christians should participate in? When a person becomes a player in professional sports, is he inviting this kind of mockery? Or should we be supportive of all players? I can certainly not endorse this behavior in the little leagues, but I wonder if it is just part of the game when playing in the majors. What do you think?

I got to thinking last night…I don’t know that I’ll ever be sufficiently sanctified to cheer for Alex Rodriguez.

June 15, 2006

Dr. Mohler just posted on his blog to say that he will be a guest on the Larry King Show tonight at 9 PM EST.

“I am scheduled to discuss the issue of homosexuals and the Christian ministry on tonight’s “Larry King Live” show, on CNN at 9:00 e.d.t.

Other guests are to include Andrew Sullivan, Bishop Frank Griswold, Bishop Gene Robinson (the first openly-homosexual bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA), and the head of the American Anglican Council.”

It looks to me like Dr. Mohler is outnumbered, though I’m sure he’ll do just fine in standing for biblical truth. You can read Dr. Mohler’s post here, though there’s really no reason since I took the liberty of copying and pasting the whole thing.

May 31, 2006

Christian Books Distributors is offering an incredible pre-order price on a classic series of books: Philip Schaff’s History of the Christian Church, an 8-volume set examining the history of the church from the time of Christ all the way until after the time of the Reformation. The series usually sells for approximately $250, but for a limited time CBD is selling it for $49.99. I am assuming that they are being straight with us when they say that this price will not last. This is a great series for any library (and it looks great on the shelves too)! Here is the detailed description from CBD:

“Philip Schaff (1819-1893) was a German Reformed church historian, born in Switzerland. He was educated at Tubingen, Halle, and Berlin, and later took a position as Professor of Church History at Union Theological Seminary, New York. Schaff bases his work on the premise that church history in order to be valid and valuable must deal with three factors: 1) God through Christ, 2) man as a responsible moral creature, and 3) Satan as a real being employing the Anti-Christ as his agent at the end of time. Schaff begins his history with an examination of the preparation for Christianity in Judaism and the heathen world and the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The 8 volume series concludes with a general introduction to modern church history and a thorough analysis of the productive period of the Reformation, tracing the Protestant movement in Germany and Switzerland to the close of the 16th century. There are footnotes, charts, maps and each volume contains its own alphabetical index. Schaff taught church history at German Reformed Seminary in Mercersburg, Penn., and Union Theological Seminary in New York. He was involved in the formation of the Evangelical Alliance, the revision of the English Bible (the Revised Version), and the Alliance of the Reformed Churches. Schaff was founder of the American Society of Church History.”

If you’d like to order it, here is the information you need:

3196X: History of the Christian Church, 8 volumes History of the Christian Church, 8 volumes
By Philip Schaff
April 05, 2006

Ah, the joys of blogging. I was far from thrilled to find an email in my inbox shortly after nine o’clock this morning telling me that my site was enduring a massive spam attack. My site faces vast quantities of spam, often even hundreds of them an hour, thousands of them a day. The more the site grows, the greater the number of attacks. This particular deluge was apparently big enough that it was dragging down the entire server and my site would have to be taken down, suspended, until I could deal with it. This strikes me as being a little bit like removing a splinter with a chainsaw—it’s the right idea but a tad more forceful than necessary. A phone call to the technical support gurus did nothing but assure me that they would deal with this as soon as they could. Oh, but that department isn’t available for another few hours. Here’s the catch: the company wants me to deal with the problem, but they lock out my account and all access to the server. Interesting strategy.

I called back a few minutes ago and sweet-talked my way into having the site re-opened. The person who insisted he did not even know where the abuse department was, mysteriously found his way to them and had the account re-opened nearly instantaneously.

Anyways, I trust and hope that things are returning to normal and that there will be no more problems. For the time being I have removed the ability to send a trackback to my site, so don’t expect to be able to do that for the next little while. I am having to face the fact that budget hosting can only work for so long and I will have to upgrade to something a little more robust. As you might expect, this will come with a price tag, though thankfully it should not be too terrible. A few months ago I had to change my commenting system to deal with site growth and now I’ve had to remove trackbacks. Lousy, dirty spammers! As a friend said this morning, “These days you could probably add spammers to the list of those you are doing battle against: Spammers, rulers, powers, world forces, etc…”

But I will be thankful that the site continues to chug along and that it has been brought back to life. This morning I felt a little bit like a person who went for a walk and returned home to find that someone had broken in and stolen his journal. I feel better now that it has been given back to me!

March 18, 2006

A few years ago my wife and I decided that we would invest in sets of toys, rather than buying seemingly random pieces of various sets. We learned this lesson the hard way, actually, as when my son was young, we would buy him toys based on criteria little more advanced than simply purchasing what caught our eyes in the toy story as we shopped a day or two before his birthday. But as he got older, and as we added a daughter to the mix, we came to see the value of buying sets of toys. Playmobil has quickly turned into a favorite, so now, whenever the time comes to buy the children a gift, we tend to buy another Playmobil set.

The kids are building quite a collection. Playmobil is a wonderful toy in that there is a wide variety of sets available and the toys are very well-made: they are very difficult to break and only deliberate effort will actually crack that tough plastic. However, because they are composed of many pieces, and often very small pieces, the toys do tend to break apart into their component parts. We have learned that when the toys begin to fall apart, the children quickly lose interest in them. Several months ago we bought the Playmobil zoo set. The children loved with it and played with nothing else for several days. But their play soon caused the pieces of the set to become scattered. Through the ensuing weeks, the set fell into a greater state of disrepair. The fences ended up in one bin of toys and the animals in another. The roof fell off the entrance to the zoo and the souvenir stands disappeared. Eventually the children abandoned it altogether.

And so this morning my wife and I gathered together all of the scattered pieces of Playmobil in order to reconstruct the sets. We built castles and tree houses, holiday homes and Viking hideouts. We built the zoo back to its former glory. The animals are now back in their cages and a roof once again adorns the entrance way. Civil War soldiers (armed with muskets) are touring the zoo alongside Vikings (and their swords) and pirates (with their cutlasses). Little stuffed animals and tiny balloons are, once again, for sale at the souvenir stands. And lo and behold, the children are now enthusiastically playing with their toys. Unless I miss my guess, I’m thinking they will be playing with it for the rest of the day. I wouldn’t be surprised if Playmobil keeps them occupied all day tomorrow as well.

It’s not that they ever really grew tired of their Playmobil, or that they stopped liking it. It’s just that, as it fell into pieces, they didn’t care to expend the effort in gathering the pieces together and repairing it themselves (or asking mom and dad to repair it for them). They probably did not even stop to think about the fact that they were using it less and less. And then one day they stopped using it altogether.

Said otherwise, they were happy playing with the toy as long as it was easy. But when it required just a little bit of time and effort to maintain their play, they gave up.

As I thought about this, while assembling yet another building, I reached two conclusions. First, I am heading out this afternoon to buy some glue. We’ll make sure that these toys have less opportunity to become scattered around the house. Second, the children are not a whole lot different than me. I realized that my pursuit of God has often resembled the children’s pursuit of play. As long as things are fun in my spiritual walk, I enjoy it. But when this pursuit begins to resemble work, I can start to drift away and to find other things to occupy my mind. I love being a believer and learning about God as long as it seems like fun. But when it requires concentrated effort, I am prone to give up and to find other things to do, all the while wishing that someone would come along and make it fun for me again. I guess, like the children, I still have lots of growing up to do.

March 09, 2006

Today marks the opening day of the Ligonier Ministries National Conference. It kicks off this morning with several pre-conference sessions dealing with “The Intimate Marriage.” This morning’s epeakers are Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. and Dr. Kenneth Jones. Joni Eareckson Tada was expected to speak but apparently was advised by her doctor to cancel her committment due to health concerns.

The conference proper begins this evening with sessions by Dr. John MacArthur (speaking on “Jesus, the Head of the Church”) and Dr. R.C. Sproul, Sr. (speaking on “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church”). The conference continues tomorrow and Saturday with such notable speakers as Dr. J. Ligon Duncan, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, and Max McLean. There are also several more sessions led by MacArthur and Sproul, as well as a few question and answer periods.

All-in-all it looks like it will be an edifying conference for all who attend. One of those who is going to attend, Brian, has asked if I would create an article about the conference so that he, and anyone else who reads my site and happens to be in attendance, can post comments about the various sessions. I guess it will be a bit like liveblogging, but with the action happening in the comments section rather than as seperate articles. So be sure to check the comments for this thread as the conference progresses and we’ll learn what God is teaching those fortunate enough to attend this conference! If anyone else who is at the conference would like to post, please feel free!