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Tim Challies

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August 01, 2014

For many years now I have relied on advertising to cover the costs associated with hosting and maintaining this site. As the site has grown (there were well over a million visits last month!) I have relied on several different forms of advertising to do this. Almost a year ago I decided I would abandon the model that places a long series of banner ads all over the site and move instead to sponsorships—Christian companies or ministries that will exclusively sponsor the site for a week at a time. My friends at Church Plant Media asked to sponsor the site for several months and that made it very easy on me. Their period has now come to an end, so you are going to begin to see new sponsors each week.

Here is how this will look to you, the reader. Each Monday I will tell you who is sponsoring the site for that week, and they will provide an article introducing themselves, their product, or their service. I am being extremely careful in vetting these sponsors and trust that each one of them will be both relevant and theologically-sound. The sponsor will also provide a banner ad that will appear in the side’s sidebar (in the body of the article if you are reading on a mobile device) or at the bottom of the article if you are reading via RSS or email. These articles will be clearly marked as “sponsored” since they are written from an advertiser to you. Here is what you will see:

Sponsored

It is that simple!

As for you, I would appreciate it if you would at least consider reading those sponsored posts that look interesting to you, and clicking on the banners that seem relevant. I am hoping sponsorships will prove to be a means for you to learn about products and services that can be very helpful to you.

If, on the other hand, you are an advertiser interested in sponsoring the site, please contact me for details. Spots are filling very fast, so don’t wait too long!

September 22, 2013

There was a time in the history of this site when I would debut a new design every year or two. I was a web designer in those days, and often used the site as a kind of laboratory for new ideas and new methods of programming. But as the site grew and I worked my way out of web design, I gave that up and focused more on the content.

But, many years later, I’ve finally moved to a new design. This is easily the most significant update in the history of the site. From the moment I first began considering an overhaul, I wanted this to be a design that would help you, the reader. I wanted to emphasize simplicity and reduce clutter. And I think I have a much better idea of the site’s identity and the way you like to use it than I did when I last created a design. As much as anything, we have seen the rise of mobile devices and the old site simply did not function well on iPhones, iPads and all those other small devices.

Here are a few of the most significant changes:

Book Reviews. I know that book reviews are one of the primary reasons people visit this site. I put a fair bit of effort into designing a new book review section and formatting book reviews in a more helpful way.

Book Recommendations. I built an entirely new section of the site that offers book recommendations on a wide variety of topics. This is a section that I will be continually adding to.

July 25, 2012

This is just a quick note about a section of my site that, if you didn’t already know about it, might come in handy for you. I have recently put quite a lot of work into making it more organized and, therefore, more helpful.

I read and review quite a few books, which may well be one of the reasons you visit this site (or one of the reasons you first began to visit). Whether you’re looking for a recent review or wanting to read some of the ones I’ve done in the past, there’s a page on my site that makes that very easy (scrolling through pages of old blog posts not required!).

That would be my book reviews page. At the top of the page you’ll see featured slots for the top reviews for this month, this year, and all-time. Scroll down just a little bit and you can browse through every review I’ve done either by category (Fiction, Bestsellers, Christian Living, Theology, etc.) or by author.

Hopefully the features on this page will keep you from having to scan through too much other content and give you more time to actually read the reviews, or, better yet, the books themselves! Of course if you are looking for a specific book you can always use the search functionality that is at the top of each page.

July 21, 2012

The house keys have been passed to our house-sitters, the dog has been sent to a pet penitentiary, and I am on vacation. I have fled the city (and the country, for that) with the wife and kids so we can spend a week with my parents, brother, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews and miscellaneous others. We will be braving the Virginia heat and pretty much taking over a state park.

While we are away we intend to avoid any kind of connectivity to the Internet and pretty much every device that looks or functions like a computer. This is getting more and more difficult to do and required quite a lot of Pharisaical negotiation. You don’t realize how much you depend on electronic devices and Internet connections until you consider getting rid of it all. Someone should write a book about that.

Here is what we came up with:

  • GPS: Permitted. Reading a map is so last century, so we’ll rely on the Garmin to get us where we’re going. Plus, how else can we stop at every Chick-Fil-A between here and there?
  • Mobile Phone: Permitted en route, forbidden on location. Our van isn’t getting any younger, so I’ve got AAA on speed dial. Once I get to the park I’m turning it off.
  • Computer/iPad: Forbidden. If I want to write (which you know I will) I’m going to have to rely on, um, what do they call it…Paper!
  • Internet: Forbidden. Of course there’s no wifi in the state park and I’ve got no data plan in the US, but I will still have to avoid the temptation to drive to a McDonald’s just to get in a quick email fix.
  • Kindle: Permitted. With five readers in the family, we’d have to pull a trailer full of books if we didn’t bring our Kindles.
  • iPods: Permitted en route, forbidden on location. The kids saved up their paper route money and bought iPods. They can listen to music and play Dragonvale in the car, but can’t use the iPods once we arrive.

Even though I will be offline, there will be plenty of new content here at the blog. Monday and Tuesday will bring a really interesting interview with R.C. Sproul; you won’t want to miss it. Later in the week there will be a word about the next Reading Classics Together (you’ll want to join in the fun this time), a book review and, of course, Free Stuff Fridays. There will be no A La Carte until I return. See you on the other side of this self-imposed blackout!

April 11, 2012

In April of 2010 I announced a program called Friends of the Blog. With the costs of maintaining this blog on the rise, Friends of the Blog allowed readers to support the site while receiving tangible benefits. The program worked out very well and for that reason I renewed it for 2011 and again for 2012. And that leads me to announce Friends of the Blog 3.

This year builds on what I’ve done in the past two years which means that  the benefits from the program will be given to Friends over the next 6 months or so. They will include books, music and gift certificates along with a couple of exclusive draws and giveaways. Some people remarked last year that they weren’t sure when the benefits were available to them, so I’ll seek to send out email reminders throughout the year to make sure you all get full value for your money.

So here is some of what Friends of the Blog will receive:

  • A $15 gift certificate for Westminster Books
  • A $15 gift certificate for The Good Book Company
  • A $15 gift certificate for ChristianAudio
  • Discount and free shipping codes for CBD (Christian Book Distributors)
  • A couple of free books and/or ebooks
  • Free music
  • A free video teaching series from R.C. Sproul
  • Deals, specials, coupons, etc
  • Other things to be announced over the course of the year

I think you’ll see right away that there is a lot of value there—$150 at least and probably much more than that. And we’re just getting started. This is a year-long effort and I hope to add some more things over the course of the year. When you sign up, you get everything there plus whatever else comes in over the year. And all the while, you’ll be supporting the costs associated with hosting, maintaining and overseeing the site. If you sign up (or renew) in the next month, you could also win one of two Kindles.

The cost remains the same as the last two years—just $39.

If you joined Friends of the Blog in the past year, your account should be automatically renewed on the anniversary of the date you signed up. And if you didn’t join last year, well, why don’t you consider it this year? It will prove well worth it, I’m sure.

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

December 31, 2011

This may be one of those articles that is far more interesting to me than to anyone else, so you may need to bear with me. But at the end of the year it is always interesting to me to see which articles gained the most attention in the year that was. There are always a couple of surprises. Here, then, are the top 10 articles from 2011.

The Driscolls and Real Marriage - This article was a late-comer, being published in December, but it quickly gained enough attention that it made it to the #10 spot. This was not a review of the Driscoll’s book Real Marriage, but an assessment of the grid they use to evaluate the “Can We _______?” questions that may arise in the marriage bed. A review of the book will be the first real article I publish in 2012.

Divided The Movie - This documentary, pushing the Family Integrated Church movement, made a lot of waves in 2011 and I decided to go ahead and review it. I found it offensive and unbiblical on many levels and this ignited some controversy. But I stand by what I said: If you think Family Integration is best for your church, by all means, do it. But it’s impossible to sustain a sound biblical argument that this is the way a church has to be in order to be faithful to Scripture.

Why John Piper Should Not Have Invited Rick Warren - I wrote this article in 2010 after hearing that John Piper had invited Rick Warren to speak at the annual Desiring God conference. This follow-up reflected on what had happened there and what it meant.

The Secret - This is a book review for a book that came out a long time ago. The Secret was published in 2007 but continues to sell, which is remarkable for a book that is just so utterly ridiculous. This is a classic example of a book that strikes right at the depraved human heart, making us believe that we are godlike and that we can have all the things we want (since that will always make us happy, right?).

Facebook Makes Us Miserable - This article simply looked at the way that Facebook makes us compare ourselves to others. In doing that it exposes a deep-seated discontentment or envy. When we look at other people on Facebook, we naturally assume that their lives are better than ours and we then feel miserable about ourselves. 

December 27, 2011

Last week I asked if some of you would like to take The 3650 Challenge with me (reading 3650 chapters of the Bible in 2012). I expected that 50 or 100 of you might like to join me. I was more than a little surprised to see well over 800 join up, with more joining every day. This is going to be fun!

If you’d like to join us, the best place to go is the Facebook group.

To do these readings we will follow Professor Horner’s Bible Reading Plan. Lots of people have been asking for some guidance or direction, so here goes. Professor Horner’s Bible Reading Plan has you reading ten chapters of the Bible every day. You will read one chapter per day from ten different lists. On January 1, you will read Matthew 1, Genesis 1, Romans 1, and so forth. On January 2, you will read Matthew 2, Genesis 2, etc. On day twenty-nine, you will have just finished Matthew, so you will go to Mark 1 on the Gospel list; you’ll also be almost to the end of 2nd Corinthians and Proverbs, you’ll be reading Psalm 29 and Genesis 29, and so forth. When you reach the last chapter of the last book in a list, you start over again. It’s that simple. 

What you will need to do is download this document that explains the plan in more detail and tells you which books of the Bible each of the ten lists contains. So go ahead and download it and print yourself a copy. It will tell you the lists and will also give you some handy bookmarks to mark off your progress.

Before I get to specific resources, I want to say this: One key to the program is to stick with it for at least 30 days. You will need to make that commitment right from the beginning or you may find yourself quickly running out of steam. Ten chapters per day is demanding, but once you commit to it and do it for a while, you will begin to find it more of a joy than a burden.

In the meantime, as you plan for a January 1 start, here are some useful resources.

Bookmarks

If you are doing the reading plan using your Bible, you will probably want to use a series of bookmarks to mark off your daily readings. You can download the document I linked to above and get bookmarks there. There are also four color variations available here.

YouVersion

YouVersion is a web site and mobile app that combines a couple of great features: many translations of the Bible and many reading plans. You can go to YouVersion and create an account; once you have done that, you can sign up to do a reading plan. I have been using their version of Professor Horner’s plan for several months now and intend to begin fresh on January 1. Why? Because they make it easy for me to listen to the 10 chapters per day on my iPhone while I am out for a walk or commuting to the church office. At least for the time being I enjoy listening to the Bible, so intend to do the plan that way.

On the plus side, their app makes it easy to engage with Scripture while in the car or out walking. On the downside you need a data plan to do this. Also in the negatives column is the fact that the app can be a little bit flaky, especially with the newest version; often the readings do not get properly “checked off” and a week later you’ll receive a reminder telling you that you haven’t done it. But overall, it’s a solid app and serves its purpose well.

Apps

There are lots of apps that can help you on your way.

YouVersion - I’ve already mentioned YouVersion. It is an all-in-one solution that will allow you to listen to or read the program day-by-day.

The Ten Lists - This site can help you day-by-day.

Bible Bookmarks - Bible Bookmarks is an easy-to-use iOS application that will allow you to keep track of where you are at in Bible reading systems.

Olive Tree - Here is a tutorial on using Olive Tree for your readings.

In the end, though, whether you listen or read, whether you use a printed Bible or electronic Bible, the most important thing is just to do it. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted from the main thing, which is to meet God in his Word. 

September 02, 2011

Every now and again I like to remind people of one of the programs I offer at this site. It is called Friends of the Blog. Friends of the Blog is primarily a means of supporting this site, but it offers a unique incentive to do so. Friends receive all kinds of great things—books, gift certificates, music, magazines and so on.

So here is some of what Friends of the Blog receive:

  • A gift certificate for Westminster Books
  • A gift certificate for The Good Book Company
  • Books from Randy Alcorn, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and others
  • ebooks
  • Downloadable music albums
  • Free video teaching series from R.C. Sproul and David Murray
  • A gift certificate for Reformation Art
  • Deals, specials, coupons, etc

I think you’ll see right away that there is a lot of value there—$160 at least. 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 all the while, you’ll be supporting the costs associated with hosting, maintaining and overseeing the site.

The cost  is just $39.

This is the second year I’ve run this program. If you joined Friends of the Blog in the past year, your account will be automatically renewed on the anniversary of the date you signed up. And if you didn’t join last year, well, why don’t you consider it this year? It will prove well worth it, I’m sure.

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

April 19, 2011

In April of 2010 I announced a program called Friends of the Blog. With the costs of maintaining this blog on the rise, Friends of the Blog allowed readers to support the site while receiving tangible benefits. The program worked out very well and for that reason I have renewed it for 2011. And that leads me to announce Friends of the Blog 2.

This year is the same but different. It is the same in that Friends of the Blog will receive all kinds of great things—books, gift certificates, music, magazines and so on. It is different in that more of those things will be spread out across the calendar year. And I think, in the end, there will be even more of it.

So here is some of what Friends of the Blog will receive:

  • A gift certificate for Westminster Books (increased from $10 to $15 this year!)
  • A gift certificate for The Good Book Company
  • Free books
  • Free ebooks
  • Free music
  • Free video teaching series from R.C. Sproul and David Murray
  • A gift certificate for Reformation Art
  • Deals, specials, coupons, etc
  • Other things to be announced over the course of the year

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 all the while, you’ll be supporting the costs associated with hosting, maintaining and overseeing the site.

The cost remains the same as last year—just $39.

If you joined Friends of the Blog in the past year, your account should be automatically renewed on the anniversary of the date you signed up. And if you didn’t join last year, well, why don’t you consider it this year? It will prove well worth it, I’m sure.

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

December 30, 2010

One day away from the end of 2010, I went looking through the statistics software that runs behind-the-scenes at my web site to see which articles were the most popular. And just for your amusement I thought I’d share them with you.

Two observations: first, it was a little surprising to me how many of them were written prior to 2010—so some of the most popular articles were ones I wrote as far back as 2006. And second, it’s notable how many of the most popular articles are book reviews—fully half of them.

So here they are, the top ten articles from 2010.

10. A New Kind of Christianity - This was my review of Brian McLaren’s latest book. Quite needless to say, I wasn’t a big fan of it.

9. Black Friday & Cyber Monday - Rather on a whim I decided to create a post that would offer a round-up of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that might interest my readers. It was popular enough that I think I’ll turn it into an annual feature.

8. Crazy Love - Francis Chan’s book seems to be picking up steam as time goes on, which meant that more and more people were looking for a review of it.

7. Joel Osteen or Fortune Cookie - I had some fun in this post, comparing the wisdom of fortune cookies with the wisdom of Joel Osteen.

6. 90 Minutes in Heaven - This book review has made the top-ten list since 2006. It’s an awful book but one that people just keep buying and believing.

5. The Secret - This book review has been in the top-ten posts of the year since 2007. I believe it remains strong in part, at least, because the author brought out her latest piece of junk book in 2010.

4. I Looked for Love in Your Eyes - This is a poem anonymously shared by a reader of this site and it went viral very quickly. Considering it was posted just a couple of weeks ago, it’s remarkable how many times it was read.

3. Sexual Detox: The E-Book - Sexual Detox

2. Why John Piper Should Not Have Invited Rick Warren - When John Piper asked Rick Warren to be a speaker at Desiring God’s national conference I wrote an article expressing my concern.

1. A Review of The Shack - There are actually several pages related to The Shack that rate among the top pages of the year. Combine them all and they are many multiples higher than any other page on the site. They were also the top pages from 2009. While The Shack’s popularity has crested, it still remains a popular and controversial book.

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