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October 09, 2008

After John Piper finished his session, a “True Woman Profile” played on the screen. It was the story of one of the women at the conference and told of her conversion to Christ in prison. This was followed by the Getty’s singing “The Power of the Cross” and “When I Survey.” And then it was Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ turn to speak and she took as her text Romans 11:33-36. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’”

This passage offers a grid to respond to God’s sovereign control over lives and she spent some time looking at the character of God as it is revealed in this text.

She focused first on the word “depth,” saying and emphasizing that there is much more depth to be found in the person and character of God than in anything else in all of creation. And there are riches in God that far surpass any riches this world can offer. God has complete wisdom and knowledge, knowing everything about everything not just on the macro level but also on the micro. He knows all there is to know about the past and the future—your past and future. God’s ways are beyond understanding—they are unfathomable or past finding out. She quoted John Piper who once said, “In every situation, God is always doing a thousand different things that you cannot see and you do not know.” And so she progressed through the passage, providing teaching about each of the phrases.

And then she ask asked what the response is to be to all of this. Paul’s response was simple: To him be glory forever amen. The response is to put God in the spotlight where he belongs. We worship him and give him the glory, submitting lives to his holy, eternal purposes. What does this have to do with being a true woman? It has everything to do with it and DeMoss offered three points of applications.

1. A true woman lives a God-centered life. She lives for God’s glory and pleasure and not her own. When the true woman sees the magnitude of God’s greatness, it gives context to her puny challenges (even challenges that may seem so huge).

2. A true woman trusts God. We live in a fearful world but God has a plan and his plan cannot, will not, be thwarted. God is the one who defines good and the true woman trusts in him and in his definition of what is good.

3. A true woman says “Yes, Lord.” You can’t call him “Lord” and say anything other than “yes.” The true woman recognizes that her life is not her own and she lives for the glory of God. She affirms that God’s purposes for creating male and female are good and wise. She accepts the way God made her and who she is. She does it with a grateful heart. Saying “yes” may mean saying “no” to a lot of other things.

It really comes down to this: trust and obey. The pathway may be scary since we walk by faith and not by sight, but like Paul, eventually we will get to the heights and take in the beautiful vista of God’s will and plan. And then we will stand and be amazed.

At this point DeMoss asked the women to take from the tote bags they were each given the white hankie. This is to be used throughout the event as a symbol of surrender—a symbol of saying “Yes, Lord.” As the women find themselves surrendering to what God is teaching them, they can wave this flag as a visible symbol of a spiritual, inward reality.

And with a final hymn, the first day of the conference came to an end. And just like this, my day needs to come to an end. I’ve been awake for a long, long time now. I’ll be back tomorrow with more updates.

October 09, 2008

The first session of the True Woman Conference was led by John Piper who spoke on “The Meaning of True Womanhood.” He made it clear that he counts it a privilege to address the most influential people in the world (distinguishing, he said, between privilege and authority). There is massive power in this room and he does not take this as a light responsibility. This message is offered as a foundation for the True Woman Manifesto which will be unveiled on Saturday (“a magnificent document” Piper called it).

He began with an assumption: wimpy theology makes wimpy women. The opposite of a wimpy woman is not a brash, pushy, loud, uppity, arrogant Amazon, but a woman of character (and here he provided several examples of faithful, suffering women). Wimpy theology does not give a woman a God big enough or good enough to deal with the realities of life and still rejoice. This poor theology is plagued by woman-centeredness; it does not have the granite foundation of God’s sovereignty underneath; it does not have the structure of a God-centered purpose for all human life.

The ultimate meaning of true womanhood

God’s ultimate purpose for the universe and for all of history (and for you) is to display the glory of Christ in its highest expression in his dying to make a rebellious people his bride. This is the reason the universe exists. Everything exists so this can happen and to make much of it. This is based on texts like Revelation 13:8 (which shows that, before anything was made, before sin existed, God had already planned the death of his Son). Why? Ephesians 1:5-6 says that all was done to the praise of his grace. Putting this together with Ephesians 5:25-27 we see that the ultimate purpose of all things is the praise of God’s grace through the death of Christ.

What does this all mean for true womanhood?

There is nothing wimpy about what God has done; he offers a place to stand when everything around gives way. Proper theology leads to a mind-boggling understanding of true womanhood. What we’ve seen just in these texts (and there are many more) is that masculinity and femininity belong at the center of God’s ultimate purpose. These are not an afterthought of creation and are not peripheral to the purpose of the cross. They are right there at the center at Calvary. So we need to be done with small thoughts about God’s design for womanhood. It is only when we understand God’s design for womanhood that womanhood takes on its true significance.

People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that God made man and woman and then went looking for some kind of analogy to explain what he had done. But nothing could be further from the truth. When God designed this human creature in two kinds, he had the cross in his mind already. This is the very reason that he made us this way! We know this from Ephesians 5:31 where Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 and shows that marriage has always referred to Christ and the church. Thousands of years before the cross, God said that it is about the most important event in history—this is why he made men and women as he did.

What is the ultimate meaning of true womanhood?

“True womanhood is a distinctive calling of God to display the glory of his Son in ways that would not be displayed if there was no womanhood.” When God described the work of his Son as the sacrifice of a husband for his bride, he was telling us why he made us male and female. He made us this way so this relationship would describe more fully the relationship of his son and his son’s blood-brought bride. If you reduce woman to biological features you not only reduce the value of womanhood but reduce the glory given God. We must understand that, in opposition to what the world teaches, womanhood is not incidental to personhood.

Application Question:

Piper offered a couple of questions of application: What does this look like for married women? What does it look like for single women?

Married Women

Marriage is meant to display the covenant-keeping relationship between Christ and the church. Here Piper offered a word on headship and submission, defining both. Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christlike servant-leadership and provision and protection in the home. Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. These two correspond to true manhood and true womanhood in marriage. These differences are essential by God’s design so that marriage will display more fully the glory of the sacrificial love of Christ for his bride and the admiration of the bride for her husband. If you can embrace this truth that your true womanhood ultimately means that your distinctive role in marriage is meant to magnify the glory of God’s grace expressed in the covenant keeping love between Christ and his church, you will have a compass that can navigate hundreds of questions.

Single Women

The Apostle Paul loved his singleness. He loved it because it gave him such radical freedom to get arrested month after month and to be beaten and lashed and shipwrecked. Singleness is a high calling. He celebrated it and called many to follow him in it, even with the beauty of all that marriage displays. Why would he lure some out of pursuing marriage if he made marriage as such a magnificent portrait? In this season of history since the Fall, the natural order God established is not absolute. The reason that rejoicing in singleness is not an assault on God’s glory is that in this world there are truths about Christ and his kingdom that can be more clearly displayed by manhood and womanhood in singleness than in marriage. He offered three things single womanhood can say better than married womanhood:

  1. A life of Christ-exalting singleness bears witness that the family of God grows by regeneration by faith, not propagation by sexual intercourse. The main thing we’re about is growing this family!
  2. A life of Christ-exalting singleness bears witnesses that relationships in Christ are more lasting than relationships in families.
  3. The Christ-exalting singleness of a woman bears witness to the truth that marriage is temporary and finally gives way in the end to the reality of what the portrait points to. A single woman who lives with this in view says something very powerfully about her Savior

Offering a final summary and challenge, Piper said that true womanhood is a distinctive calling to display the glory of the Son in ways that cannot be displayed in any other way. This is true whether a woman is married or single. No matter whether you’re married or single, do not settle for wimpy theology. Do not waste your true womanhood, for it was made for the glory of Christ.

October 09, 2008

And at 6:45 the conference got underway, right on time (though my brain and my computer are still one time zone ahead).

After playing some instrumental numbers, including a very nice Irish reel, Keith Getty and his band led the crowd in “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.” Immediately I noticed how different a sound there is between 6000 women and, as at Together for the Gospel, 5000 men; or maybe it’s as much the feeling as the sound. With men there is a boom when that many voices rise together—something you can feel through the floor and feel in your chest. And though the women sing beautifully, it is not a feeling but a sound.

Bob Lepine took to the stage after the hymn to welcome everyone to the event. He said that 6350 women had registered for the event and that there is at least one women registered from every one of the states but Hawaii and Vermont. There are women here from 8 foreign countries (does Canada count as a “foreign” country?) including 100 from Dominican Republic. He then introduced Nancy Leigh DeMoss who shared some of the purpose behind this event and opened in prayer. The Getty’s took over again, reading from John 1 and singing “In Christ Alone,” “Across the Land,” “Everlasting God” and “Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer.” The Getty’s have their touring band here—guitar, drums, bass and fiddle. Keith plays piano and sings backup on most songs while Kristyn leads. I love hearing them with their band—they are very tight and the fiddle adds such an important dimension to the Irish elements of their songs.

Though I’m sure many of the women here will be blogging about the event, Carolyn McCulley and I have been asked to blog the event in an “official” capacity. We’re sitting in the sound booth, about halfway down the hall, between the guy who says things like “standby for video…roll it!…nice! Very nice!” and the English-to-Spanish translators.

In just a few moments, John Piper is going to take to the stage and offer the conference’s first message.

Incidentally, if you’re watching the live video stream, you’ve got this guy to thank. I find it amusing that all those old(er) laptops arrayed along that shelf are the ones doing all the hard work of rendering the video in its various forms (high quality, low quality, Windows Media, Flash, etc). But it’s probably just the geek in me that is even noticing.


October 09, 2008

It somehow seemed appropriate that both the Captain and the First Officer of the flight that took me to the True Woman Conference were women. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve often wondered if a female pilot would laugh if I said, “I’m totally comfortable with you flying the plane, but, you know, I’ve seen my wife’s spatial sense and, well, would you mind letting a man park it?” (If it’s not painfully obvious, I’m joking—don’t hate me.)

Whenever I leave for a conference I pack all kinds of books, but I generally pick up another one at a bookstore in the airport—something that makes for easy reading when I’ve got all kinds of ambient noise, a seat reclined in my face, and somebody I don’t know snoring on my shoulder. Today it was, finally, Three Cups of Tea and I read the first 150 pages. Overrated but still interesting. I splurged and bought a couple of other books as well—one dealing with the Second World War and one with music. We’ll see.

Anyways, the crowds of women are gathering out in the halls as they wait to head into the convention center. For now, here is the scene inside:


And here, from earlier, are the Getty’s and their band, preparing to lead in worship. Things will get underway in about 90 minutes. Tonight we’ll hear messages from John Piper and from Nancy Leigh DeMoss.


October 09, 2008

Today I’m a True Woman; or I will be, at any rate. This morning, before the sun comes up, I’ll be heading to Chicago to take in the True Woman Conference. This conference promises to be unique among those I’ve attended for the very fact that it is a conference for women (and, in case you’ve never realized it, I’m no woman). Of course I’m accustomed to going to conferences for which I am not the core demographic—I’ve been to pastors’ conferences, youth conferences, preaching conferences and the like. But I don’t know that I will ever have felt so different as I’m bound to feel there in Chicago, Illinois, among 6,000+ women. Time will tell, I suppose.

Anyways, it promises to be an excellent event. The list of speakers is top-notch and it sounds as if True Woman has a unique goal. I’ll tell you more about that once the conference gets underway. For now I’ve got customs to clear and a plane to catch. I’ll check in from the other side. Expect an update later this evening.

March 04, 2008

Get Married by Candice WattersCandice Watters’ professor just about blew her mind. “I was sitting in class learning about all the ways our country was slipping from its constitutional foundations. And in a moment of exasperation, I raised my hand and called out, ‘So what’s the solution?’” It wasn’t what she expected. Her professor told her to get married, to have babies, and to do government (and in that order, too). Here she was, in grad school pursuing a master’s so she could head to Washington and fight for the traditional family. Yet here she was told that she was going about it all wrong. It all comes down to math. “The people who form families, who raise children and send them into the next generation, are the ones who will influence where our government and culture go in the future.” The conversation soon turned in a different direction, but she was changed; she was transfixed. She began to believe that she, too, could and should be married.

November 08, 2006

Wednesday November 8, 2006

Music: “Christianity Today” has a roundup of this year’s Christmas music.

Abortion: A friend passed along this story. “A Pennsylvania school is receiving heavy criticism from pro-life advocates for taking a group of students on a field trip to a local Planned Parenthood abortion business. More than a dozen teenagers from the Solebury School were bused to an abortion center”

Church: Rick Phillips has some good and wise things to say about Ted Haggard and the scandal surrounding him.

Technology: Fox reports that teens are less likely than any other demographic to use email. Instead they rely on social network sites and instant messaging.

People: Tuesdays are for testimonies over at Thoughts and Adventures. This week’s testimony is from Pastor Jeff Noblit.

Books: Crossway has updated their list of upcoming books through Spring of 2007. It looks like there will be some great titles coming from Wheaton, Illinois next year!

August 30, 2005

I am not aware of a large number of children that read this site, but despite that I’d like to begin this article with a quick warning. What I am writing about in this short series deals with a subject that is best-suited for adults. So if you are still young, I’d prefer you had your mom or dad read it first and decide if this is something they would like you to read. Fair enough?

And by now the rest of you are probably curious. Today I would like to write about a subject I didn’t ever anticipate I would research and post about on this site. It is a controversial subject and one that is often avoided within Christian circles. The most people hear about this subject from within the church is, “Christians don’t do that!” So in this article and the one that follows I would like to bring a biblical perspective to autoeroticism, or the act of providing sexual pleasure to oneself. I am deliberately avoiding the “m-word” associated with this activity simply because, based on the vast amount of junk mail I receive, it seems to be a favored word for spammers and people who wish to share their perversions with the world through email, trackbacks and so on.

The Bible is silent on explicit discussion of the subject of autoeroticism. There is no place in Scripture where we will find a clear statement allowing or condemning the practice. Thus we have to begin our study by attempting to come to a biblical understanding of sexuality - God’s purpose and design in human sexuality. Once we understand this we will have a foundation upon which we can build an understanding of autoeroticism.

God’s Design for Sex

We will begin by providing the groundwork for a theology of sex. This is a topic that could consume as much time and space as we chose to give it, so we will discuss it only briefly. Consider this nothing more than a framework. Much of the following was drawn from Sex, Romance and the Glory of God by C.J. and Carolyn Mahaney. Much of that book is available as a chapter in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor.

A Gift From God

Andy Warhol said, “Sex is the biggest nothing of all time.” Andy Warhol was dead wrong. Sex is a gift of God and it is good because the God who gave us sex is good. We glorify God when we use this gift in the way God intends and when we use it to His glory. In Genesis 2 we read about the creation of a woman. After God gave Eve to Adam the Bible tells us, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). It is God who designed sex and who gave it to us. It is a good gift and one that must be used as the Creator intends.

For Marriage

When God gave sex to humans, He also provided a restriction. Sex is to be enjoyed only within marriage. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4). God gave us this restriction not to be burdensome, but to increase the pleasure and intimacy found in God-glorifying sex.

For Our Pleasure

God created sex to be pleasurable. What more evidence do we need than the clitoris, a part of the body that has only one function - to receive and transmit sexual pleasure. And not only is sex pleasurable, but it is mutually pleasurable, allowing the husband and wife to give and receive pleasure at the same time. This leads to mutual sexual fulfillment. A servant’s mindset is crucial in the marriage bed so each partner primarily seeks after the interests of the other. “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:3-4).

For Intimacy

Humans are not entirely capable of comprehending the depth of intimacy brought about by sexual union. The word “know” is often used in Scripture to speak of the deep, intimate knowledge brought about by sex. God also speaks of the husband and wife being of “one flesh” through this act. Carolyn Mahaney writes, “Marital sex is the pinnacle of human bonding. It is the highest form of the communication of love - a language that expresses love without words. It calls forth the deepest, most powerful emotions. It creates intimacy within marriage like nothing else. In fact, as we give and receive the gift of lovemaking, this intimacy will grow stronger and more precious as they eyars go by. Each encounter will lead us to a deeper ‘knowing’ of the one we love” (Sex, Romance and the Glory of God, page 107).

For Procreation

Sex is a means of pleasure and intimacy, but also has the purpose of procreation. Through the joyful act of sex he also works through us in creating new life.

These five points provide a framework for a biblical understanding of sex.

Culture and Sex

Our culture often promotes a view of sex diametrically opposed to what Scripture teaches. This is a view that makes sex appear as little more than a biological function. Men have a sexual appetite they must fulfill and hence they hunt around much like a male dog seeks out a female who is in heat. Like a dog, a man can barely even help himself from fulfilling his craving. Television and movies now portray women in a similar light - as sexual creatures who are able to seperate love and marriage from the act of sex. Yet biblical sexuality is far different.

Eugene Peterson, in his paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 6:16-18 brings wisdom that reads more like a commentary on this passage than a translation of it. “There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, ‘The two become one.’ Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never ‘become one.’ There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for ‘becoming one’ with another.” And not only do we violate our own bodies, but the bodies of those with whom we have sex. Sex outside of marriage is a perversion of God’s intent.

Perhaps the clearest biblical teaching on sexuality is found in the Song of Solomon. This book portrays a man and woman who are desperately in love with each other. “These two desperately desire to be together, but not simply so they can experience sexual gratification. They want to be together because they are in love, and the sex they enjoy with one another is an expression of that love. Their mutual attraction is not primarily hormonal. It is primarily relational” (Sex, Romance and the Glory of God, page 85). The sex that is so beautifully depicted in Song of Solomon, (the great sex!), is founded primarily on relationship, not technique or the mere fulfillment of animal urges. The consumation of the sexual act is only one place on a long continuum filled with relationship, loving words, expressions of desire and finally physical intimacy. If we were to read Song of Solomon as a textbook on how to have sex we would misread Solomon’s intent. The book is a guide on how to build a loving, intimate relationship.

The ultimate purpose of sex, then, is to provide ultimate intimacy between a husband and wife. There is no greater expression of vulnerable intimacy between human beings, and this is a large part of what makes marriage so unique.

In our next article we will build upon this theology of sex and discuss autoeroticism.