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October 12, 2010

I want to remind you about rather a unique program I offer here at the blog (one that hundreds of you have already taken advantage of and seem to be enjoying). It is called Friends of the Blog.

This is a program I established in order to give people an opportunity to support this blog and, at the same time, to find a creative way of thanking them for doing so. The idea was to ask people to help support the site while returning far more value to them. And by and large I think the program has done very well in that way. Some benefits have come and gone while others have arisen. But through it all, I think the value has remained oustanding.

Let me tell you what’s in it for you if you become a Friend of the Blog.

There are deals and gift certificates for when you shop:

  • $10 gift certificate for Westminster Books
  • $15 gift certificate for The Good Book Company
  • Discounts on all purchases at Vision Video and on a subscription to Modern Reformation magazine

You’ll also get free books:

  • 4 new a-list books or DVDs of your choice from Zondervan (you can choose 2 today, 1 in a couple of weeks, and 1 in a couple of months)
  • 1 new book from Reformation Heritage Books (later this week)
  • a free 6-month subscription to Christianity Today

And there is lots to listen to:

  • 10 full-length albums, available for immediate download in mp3 format including albums by Sovereign Grace Music, Indelible Grace, Christa Wells, Shai Linne, Sojourn, and more.

That’s not all; there will be other things coming your way over the life of your subscription. But that’s still hush-hush.

But best of all, you’ll get a warm, fuzzy feeling for supporting this blog (and its author). Win-win.

Friends of the Blog

October 04, 2010

Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who Are Sick of PornI announced last week that Cruciform Press, the publishing company I have co-founded is now officially in business. Our first two books are available right now.

The first of these books is my own: Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who Are Sick of Porn. If you have been following this site over the past year you know that Detox first made its appearance as a series of blog posts and, subsequent to that, as a free e-book. And now, at long last, it’s a real book.

This new book is much improved from the free version I gave away. It has been professionally edited, it has been expanded and it has been reorganized. It is, in every way, a better book.

Here is a brief introduction to it:

Sick of porn? Time to detox. A huge percentage of men need a porn detox, a moral and psychological reset. Do you? If so, whether you know it or not, pornography has corrupted your thinking, weakened your conscience, warped your sense of right and wrong, and twisted your understanding and expectations of sexuality. You need a reset by the One who created sex.

In this book, I hope to help you reorient your understanding of sex, both in the big picture and in the act itself, according to God’s plan for this great gift. I want to help you detox from all the junk you’ve seen, all the lies you’ve believed. This is not an easy process. It is rarely a quick process. It involves a letting go of old realities and an embrace of a new normal. To be willing to go through it you need to see how bad your current situation really is, and how the path you are on leads no place good. You need to see that the path of porn leads only to more isolation, guilt, alienation, and pain. Whether single or married, such a reset to normal is the only thing that can ever equip you to become a pure, loving, attentive, sacrificial husband. But you already know you need to change.

Few Christian men indulge in porn without realizing they need to quit. Every Christian guy who looks at porn wants to stop, but many of us want to stop just a little bit less than we want to keep going. The problem isn’t knowledge-it’s desire and ability. So sin prevails. Here’s a promise. You’ll never stop until you begin to see the monstrous nature of the sin you’re committing. You’ll never stop until the sin is more horrifying to you than the commission of the sin is enjoyable. You’ll need to hate that sin before you can find freedom from it. That means you need more grace. You need to cry out to be changed and to see the monstrous nature of this sin. And then you need to behave in faith that God will meet you with grace as you act to cut off the porn and begin the reset.

This is a book specifically geared to young men, though older guys have been benefitting from it as well.

Here are a few of the endorsements:

In an age when sex is worshiped as a god, a little book like this can go a long way to helping men overcome sexual addiction.” (Mark Driscoll)

Tim Challies strikes just the right balance in this brief but necessary work. His assessment of the sexual epidemic in our culture is sober but not without hope. His advice is practical but avoids a checklist mentality. His discussion of sexual sin is frank without being inappropriate. In a day when it can almost be assumed that every young male struggles with pornography, lust, and masturbation, this book will be a valuable resource. I’m grateful for Tim’s wisdom, candor, and grace.” (Kevin DeYoung)

In an era in which every man is online, pornography is not just a problem for Christian men; it is THE problem. All men face the temptation of this mind polluting, heart-hardening, soul-deadening sin. Many men, young and old, in our churches need Sexual Detox. This is a welcomed book. In a short, compressed format Challies identifies the toxic nature of this sin and offers practical, doable and, above all, gospel-centered hope for men. I want every man I serve and all the guys on our staff to read this book.” (Tedd Tripp)

I believe this is the kind of book that you can buy to keep on-hand and give away. I plan on keeping a few copies around to give out to young men because, trust me, just about all of them need some manner of detox. So why don’t you consider doing that?

The best place to buy it is directly from Cruciform Press. There you can buy it in Print or PDF with ePub available very soon. You can visit ChristianAudio to purchase the Audio book if you prefer to listen.

September 15, 2010

Just for fun I spent some time rooting around the statistics software that tracks my site and dug up the most popular pages on this blog through 2010 (so far). To this point there have been nearly 2.5 million visits to the site, so there is quite a large amount of data to sort through. Here, for your interest or amusement, are the top-ten pages since January 1, 2010:

10. iPad: The Greatest Disappointment in Human History - Just making it to the list at the #10 spot is this post which laid out my initial thoughts on Apple’s iPad, penned immediately after it was unveiled (but before it was available). I still agree with a lot of what I wrote there, though obviously I was being deliberately hyperbolic.

9. The Problem with Pastor as Rock Star - This one was actually a guest post written by Ed Stetzer and posted to the blog while I was on vacation. Ed took the time to pen a substantial article and motivated a small army of social media users to read it. The results? #9 on the list.

8. Crazy Love by Francis Chan - Chan’s book continues to sell, recently surpassing its 1,000,000th copy in print. And as it continues to sell, people continue to want to know if it’s worth reading. My thoughts on the book are somewhat mixed, but overall I think it’s a worthwhile read.

7. A New Kind of Christianity - This is a review of Brian McLaren’s most recent book and this review compares McLaren and his book to a prostitute described by George Orwell. This is probably my favorite bit of writing all year: “Here McLaren turns up the light and we see what his faith, what his Christianity, really is. We see it in all its toothless, caked-on horror. This new kind of Christianity is simply paganism behind a thick coating of false humility and biblical language. It is an expression of rebellion against God far more than it is a pursuit of new intimacy with the Creator. And like Orwell’s whore, many will go to this book seeking intimacy with God only to content themselves with rebellion against him. For each is satisfying in its own way.”

6. Book Review - 90 Minutes in Heaven - Here is another book that just keeps selling despite it being near-complete nonsense. I read recently that 23 Minutes in Hell, one of this book’s many imitators, has just surpassed a million copies sold. I guess this shows that fiction remains the most popular Christian genre. Zing!

5. Book Review - The Secret - Of course The Secret has sold more copies than the rest of the books (so far) put together. It’s New Age poppycock that teaches that all of the universe is governed by a mysterious law of attraction. Oprah and other big-name celebrities have made it a phenomenon.

4. Joel Osteen or Fortune Cookie? - The inspiration for this bizarre post struck at my second favorite Thai restaurant. I guess it tickled a few funny bones. I simply listed a bunch of quotes and asked people to identify if they came from fortune cookies or from Joel Osteen. It is more difficult than you might think. Todd Friel subsequently did a version of it on his show.

3. Sexual Detox: The E-Book - Sexual Detox is an e-book I released about a year ago and one that has been downloaded tens of thousands of times. It is just a few days away from being available in a much-improved version in paperback, e-book, and audio book.

2. Why John Piper Should Not Have Invited Rick Warren - This post was my reaction to John Piper inviting Rick Warren to speak at this year’s Desiring God National Conference. I sought to provide a measured reaction which condemned neither man but expressed concern with allowing Rick Warren the platform Piper has offered him.

1. The Shack by William P. Young - This will come as no surprise, I’m sure. Young’s book continues to sell (though it has started to fall off the bestseller’s list at long last) and Christians continue to grapple with it. I believe this was the most-read page in 2009 as well and won’t be too surprised if it continues its reign into 2011.

July 08, 2010

The problem with writing a book is that, as an author, you feel like you need to practice what you preach (OK, I guess that’s not really a problem, is it?). And while I believe in the necessity of occasionally fasting from technology, I’ve found that I’m not very good at it—at least, not for very long. But now as I take a week off from all of my work responsibilities I am seeking to implement a lesson I learned last year. If I don’t take a break from technology, I’m not really taking a break at all. I had a vacation last year, but didn’t truly “vacate” because I continued to be as wired as ever.

So here’s the plan. For the next week I am not going to be checking email. I also won’t be tweeting or Facebooking or even blogging. I am going to simply cease to exist electronically. When I tell people this they give that low whistle and say, “That’s going to be tough.” And that may be the case. But I am really looking forward to it, both for the benefits I believe will come from it but also as a kind of case study. I think it’s going to make this a true vacation.

Here’s the auto-reply message I’ve setup within email:

I am taking an electronic vacation which means that I will not be checking email or blogging between July 9 and July 16. There is a very good chance that when I return to the digital world I will erase the hundreds (thousands?) of emails that will have accumulated.

Therefore, if the email you sent me is very important, it would probably be wise to send it again sometime around July 17.

As for the blog, there will continue to be daily content here for you. I have asked a series of friends to each provide an article and those are all queued up and ready to go. Some of these people you will know and others you will get to know through their posts. Obviously there will be no A La Carte updates (those will resume July 19), but you will still be able to come here and read something good every day.

I’ll see you around the 17th!

July 07, 2010

Are you a Friend of the Blog? It has been a few months now since I rolled out the program and to this point I’m very happy with the results; I’ve been blessed by the many of you who have chosen to support my web site in this way. And I hear from more and more of you that you’re pleased with the results of your membership.

To those who are not aware of how the program works, let me give you a quick overview. When you become a Friend of the Blog, you receive a list of great benefits. Among these are:

  • A $10 gift certificate from Westminster Books
  • You choose 4 new books or DVDs from Zondervan (including Tim Keller’s new DVD Gospel in Life)
  • A subscription to Christianity Today
  • 1 book from Reformation Heritage Books
  • Album downloads from bands and artists you like (there are eight there now and more to come)
  • Deals and savings from other stores
  • You support this web site
  • More to come…

This comes to at least $160 in value and there are more things to come that will make it better value still. This is a year-long effort and more will be added over the course of the year. When you sign up, you get everything there plus whatever else comes in over the year. And through it all you’ll be supporting challies.com.

If you’re really a book addict, you may want to become an Affiliate and refer friends, earning $5 in Westminster Books credit with each person you refer. Already lots of people have earned some good credit from Westminster.

The cost to become a friend is just $39 for the year. Do the math and I think you’ll find that it’s more than fair value.

You can get all the details at Friends of the Blog. Check it out and join in the fun!

Sign Up

April 20, 2010

Last week, amidst all the busyness of a three-day trip to Louisville and announcing a new podcast and a new publishing company, I also announced a new program called Friends of the Blog. Since so many readers of this site were enjoying Together for the Gospel at the time, far from their computers and RSS readers, I wanted to give the program another mention. I’m grateful for the many of you who have already participated and want to make sure all the rest of you are aware of it.

Here are some of the highlights of what you gain as a Friend of the Blog:

  • A $10 gift certificate from Westminster Books
  • You choose 4 new books or DVDs from Zondervan (including Tim Keller’s new DVD Gospel in Life)
  • A one-year subscription to Ligonier Ministries’ Tabletalk magazine
  • Album downloads from bands and artists you like (four to start, more coming soon)
  • Deals and savings from other stores

This comes to at least $160 in value and there are more things to come that will make it better value still. This is a year-long effort and more will be added over the course of the year. When you sign up, you get everything there plus whatever else comes in over the year. And through it all you’ll be supporting challies.com.

There are also things to win including, right off the top, a Kindle. Everyone who signs up as a Friend by the end of April will be entered into a drawing for that Kindle. If you’re really a book addict, you may want to become an Affiliate and refer friends, earning $5 in Westminster Books credit with each person you refer. Already lots of people have earned some good credit from Westminster.

You can get all the details at Friends of the Blog. Check it out and join in the fun!

April 12, 2010

This is the first of three big announcements I’ll be sharing with you this week. Today’s keyword is Friends, tomorrow’s keyword is Cruciform and Wednesday’s keyword will be Connected. Stay tuned as you won’t want to miss any of them.

By the end of this post I will have told you something, I will have offered you something and I will have asked you for something. That’s just so you know what to look for. So here goes.

This blog has become a major part of my life. For the past seven years (or very nearly so) it has been a daily part of my life even. I’ve grown awfully attached to it over the years and really can’t imagine life without it. It has given me near-endless opportunities to serve, to be served, to grow in grace and to meet so many brothers and sisters in Christ. Any success it has seen has been entirely unexpected and stands as clear evidence of God’s grace to me. I am very grateful to you, the readers, for making it part of your lives as well. It’s truly humbling. I probably do not say that to you often enough.

So that’s what I wanted to tell you.

Now let me talk about an exciting new program I’ve put together.

Recently the expenses associated with the blog have begun to rise. The hosting costs are sixteen times greater than when I started out and I’ve also had to invest thousands of dollars in infrastructure, such as moving to the new software package that drives the blog today. This is really just the cost of having a blog that is independent and heavily-visited (compare it to a business that, when it grows, needs to move to bigger and more elaborate offices). It’s nothing I resent or regret, of course—it’s just reality. For some time now I have been running ads to offset those expenses and to free up a bit more of my time for the writing and maintenance of the site; they’ve generally done a good job of it. But always I’ve been wanting to think creatively and outside of that proverbial box, hoping I could eventually trim back ads in favor of something else. I’ve wanted to find a way of bringing value to you, the reader, and to the people you buy books from, the people whose music you listen to, the people whose magazines you read. I think I’ve found a unique way of doing that.

Today I am asking if you would like to help out by becoming a Friend of the Blog.

Friendship has its privileges in this case. Here are some of the immediate highlights for anyone who becomes a Friend of the Blog:

  • A $10 gift certificate from Westminster Books
  • A $20 gift certificate from ChristianAudio (for the first 250 Friends only so don’t dawdle! They will go fast.)
  • You choose 4 new books or DVDs from Zondervan (including Tim Keller’s new DVD Gospel in Life)
  • A one-year subscription to Ligonier Ministries’ Tabletalk magazine
  • Album downloads from bands and artists you like (four to start, more to come)
  • Deals and savings from other stores

There are also things to win including, right off the top, a Kindle. Everyone who signs up as a Friend by the end of April will be entered into a drawing for that Kindle. If you’re really a book addict, you may want to become an Affiliate and refer friends, earning $5 in Westminster Books credit with each person you refer.

So that’s what I’m offering you. I think you’ll see right away that there is a lot of value there—$160 at least. And we’re just getting started. This is a year-long effort and more will be added over the course of the year. When you sign up, you get everything there plus whatever else comes in over the year.

And what I’m asking for is $39. All of this (and more!) is yours for that price—the cost of a one-year membership. I’ve worked hard to make this the best deal it could possibly be. And I will continue to do so.

You can get all the details at Friends of the Blog. Check it out and join the club!

February 27, 2010

Today is the long-awaited site upgrade. It’s long-awaited in my books, anyway. I designed this new version of the site several months ago now. It has taken a long time to come to fruition, primarily because I’ve been so busy with the rest of life.

First off, if you are a RSS subscriber, you will probably not notice much of a difference except that you may find that the feed has “reset” meaning that it says there are twenty or more unread items. I do apologize for this; it should just happen this once.

As much as the site has received a visual redesign, there are even bigger changes behind the scenes. I’ve upgraded from Movable Type to Drupal as the backend software. That has given me infinitely more options and abilities.

December 13, 2009

You know that every now and again I like to post a prayer here. Sometimes it is a prayer from long ago, sometimes it is a prayer that is much more recent. This week I was looking at pastor Scotty Smith’s blog and came across a great prayer—one I could fully identify with and one I so badly needed to pray, too. Smith based it on this passage: “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:16-19).

Here is his prayer:

*****

Dear Lord Jesus, I’m very much convicted by and drawn to Mary’s response, early in her journey of nursing you and knowing you—the very God who created all things, sustains all things and makes all things new. She “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

“Hurrying off” like a shepherd to tell others about you has always been easier for me than sitting still… and letting you tell me about yourself.

It’s always been easier for me to talk than to listen, to stay busy than to relax, to be “productive” than to be meditative… I confess this as sin, Lord Jesus. This isn’t okay. It can be explained, but not justified. For knowing about you is not the same thing as knowing you. An informed mind is not the same thing as an enflamed heart.

To know you IS eternal life, and I DO want to know you, Lord Jesus, so much better than I already do. Lead me in the way of treasuring you in my heart and pondering who you are… and pondering everything you’ve already accomplished through your life, death and resurrection… and everything you’re presently doing as the King of kings and Lord of lords… and everything you’ll be about forever in the new heaven and new earth, as the Bridegroom of your beloved Bride. There’s so much to treasure and so much to ponder…

It’s not as though I’m a stranger to treasuring and pondering, for I treasure and ponder a whole lot of things, Lord Jesus—things, however, that lead to a bankrupt spirit and an impoverished heart.

May the gospel slow me, settle me and center me that I might be able to say with the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps 73:25-26).” So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ name.

November 01, 2009

It was November 1, 2003 when I decided I’d commit to blogging every day for a full year. I was getting lazy with blogging and had given it little effort in the weeks leading up to that day. I figured I should either commit to doing it on a very regular basis or give it up altogether. A year later I had managed to blog every day and thought it would be good to renew the commitment. I’ve done that every year and here we are, six years later. I suppose the 2193 days in the counter down at the bottom of the site must reflect those six years plus the couple of leap years that have gone by in the meantime.

Though this site dates back to September of 2002, I pretty much think of November 1, 2003 as the day it really began. It was the day that I really fell in love with writing and the day I realized that blogging would be the primary way I’d express myself in writing. I continue to blog daily simply because it is my way of carrying on the commitment. I have always thought that if I start taking the occasional day off, I’ll soon taking off far more than the occasional day. On those days when I’m feeling dry and tired and beat up, it is only my commitment to blog on a daily basis that motivates me to sit down and write. It has been an amazing discipline in this way. I’ve stuck with blogging much longer and with much greater commitment than any previous hobby. And I don’t intend to give it up anytime soon.

It seems appropriate today to thank you, the readers, who continue to visit the site. I am exceedingly grateful, humbled and surprised that you continue to do so. Some of you have been dropping by since before November 1, 2003 and I’m glad to count many of you as friends. I’ve been honored to meet so many of you at churches and conferences and all sorts of other places.

Today seemed like a good time to mention that, as of tomorrow, I will be launching a second blog. I expect that things here at Challies.com will remain pretty much the same. But as of tomorrow I will launch a new site in a new location based around a whole new idea. It will not be a daily site, like this one, but may turn out to be near-daily. Check in tomorrow and I’ll give you about 10 million reasons that you might want to check out that site as well.

Until then, enjoy the rest of your Lord’s Day!

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