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Posted 1/30/15 at 9:23 AM | Tim Challies

Reviving the Seven Deadly Sins

Are some sins actually worse than others? If so, why? Sure, you can make the case that because God is infinitely holy, even the smallest sin is an abomination to him, and that’s true. But what about the impact of various types of sin in our own lives? From that perspective, some sins are clearly more harmful, and in that sense worse.

This is where the idea of the “seven deadly sins” came from to begin with. The phrase may sound like a medieval holdover, or suspiciously Catholic. But the fact is that down through the history of the church these were the sins that came to be recognized as especially dangerous: pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony, lust. What makes them so deadly? For one thing, these particular sins have a way of embedding themselves deeply into our hearts. When that happens, they become more than mere habits. They actually change us, altering aspects of our character in ways that are not easy to reverse.

Think about it. From time to time we can all be tempted, for example, by greed or sloth. But this is a very different matter from living as someone who is truly greedy or truly slothful. The same is true for pride, envy, wrath, gluttony, and lust. And if the habit-forming, character-altering ability of these seven sins isn’t bad enough, they have also proven themselves to be gateway sins—not merely corrupting vices in themselves but sins that, once welcomed into your heart, open the door to countless other sins. The big seven have had two thousand years to earn their infamy, and they deserve it. FULL POST

Posted 1/29/15 at 12:25 PM | Tim Challies

13 Ways You Waste Your Money

Photo: Flickr/frankieleon - Creative Commons

About once a year I go through a phase—a deliberate phase—in which I evaluate our family finances to see where we’re doing well and where we aren’t doing so well. I especially look for places we are spending money we don’t need to spend—bills that are too high, subscriptions we no longer need, and all of those little money-wasters that eventually add up. And over the years, I’ve collected quite a list of ways that we, and perhaps you, waste money. Here are some of them:

The Daily Latte

I read quite a few books on personal finance and there is a trend I have noticed in recent years: Every book now uses Starbucks as the negative example of financial management. The math really is that simple: $5 per day for that latte, multiplied by 365 days in the year, adds up to an extra mortgage payment or two. And if both of you go every day, the damage is doubled. Consider brewing at home, or at least sticking with the brewed instead of specialty coffees. FULL POST

Posted 1/29/15 at 10:04 AM | Tim Challies

Do You Believe God Will Save Your Kids?

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

There are few things I pray for with greater frequency or intensity than the salvation of my children. I long for them to be saved, and long to be able to be able to call them not only my son and daughters, but my brother and sisters. I long for them to profess faith, and for those professions to be proven true.

I don’t only pray it and long for it. I believe it. I believe God will save them. I believe he will save them because that is what he does—he saves. I believe he will save them because that is who he is—he loves to save. I believe he will save them because from their infancy they have been exposed again and again to the powerful gospel of grace, and that gospel is too good and too powerful to do nothing.

I believe it, but sometimes find myself trying to hedge my bets just a little bit. Sometimes I edge away from the gospel of God’s free grace and begin to trust in works—not their works, but mine. Sometimes I try to bring my works before the Lord, adding a little of my merit to their account. FULL POST

Posted 1/28/15 at 11:19 AM | Tim Challies

How to Offend a Room Full of Calvinists

stop sign
Photo: Flickr/Clover Autrey - Creative Commons

Do you want to know how to make a Calvinist angry? Do you want to know how to offend a whole room full of them? Just bring up the old line about Reformed theology being incompatible with evangelism. We have all heard it, we have all read it, we have all rejected it.

It’s the word on the street, though, that Calvinists make poor evangelists. Many people are firmly convinced that there is a deep-rooted flaw embedded within Reformed theology that undermines evangelistic fervor. Most blame it on predestination. After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel. Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission. FULL POST

Posted 1/21/15 at 3:02 PM | Tim Challies

The Most Difficult Time to Lead

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

I receive the emails often, the emails from the man who wonders how he, he of all people, could possibly lead his family. He has blown it. He has sinned too often, too flagrantly, too publicly. Usually it is the porn: She found the stash on his hard drive or the links in his browser. Hard-earned respect was demolished in a moment.

Aside: Men, don’t you know what it does to your wife’s heart when she learns this about you? Don’t you care how it destroys your reputation in her eyes? Don’t you fear how it shatters her confidence in the man she married?

Or maybe it wasn’t porn, but years of apathy, of neglect. How could he lead after so many years of being so passive? Or maybe it is neither porn nor apathy, but fear, fear of a woman who is so much wiser and so much more knowledgeable, who knows so much more about the Bible and so much more about the God of the Bible. How is he supposed to lead his wife and family when she is the one who knows so much more? FULL POST

Posted 1/16/15 at 10:25 AM | Tim Challies

Book Review: On Guard

book cover

If I could mandate that at least one leader from every church had to read a single book, I don’t think there are too many I would choose ahead of On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church. It’s not that it is the best book I have ever read (though it is plenty good) or that it contains the deepest theology (though there is plenty of good doctrine within its pages). It’s that too many times the purpose and witness of the church has been tarnished by her failure to offer safety and protection to children. This book offers assistance where so many churches have failed.

Deepak Reju is a Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Family Ministry at (Mark Dever’s) Capitol Hill Baptist Church and father to five young children. From that vantage point he sees the danger and the devastation of abuse and its prevalence within the church. And from that vantage point he provides an excellent resource that is meant to help.

On Guard has three broad purposes: to protect children from the horrors of child abuse, to fill a gap in Christian publishing and resourcing, and to provide a comprehensive approach to preventing and responding to child abuse at church. In all three areas Reju succeeds well. FULL POST

Posted 1/15/15 at 9:36 AM | Tim Challies

Should You Make the Move to Logos?

I have written about Logos Bible Software a number of times over the years, and would like to return to it today. I do so after making the rather momentous decision to commit to it—to stop collecting printed commentaries and theological works and to focus on collecting these in Logos instead. After years of dabbling in Logos, the new version, version 6, finally convinced me to make the leap, and for the past few months I have done all my sermon preparation using only electronic resources. To this point I have no regrets.

Here are a few ramblings on Logos from my vantage point.

Apples & Oranges

We cannot make too rigid a comparison between a printed library and an electronic library. While a printed book and a Logos book may contain the same words, they are different media and each has strengths and weaknesses. We need to resist making a 1:1 comparison between the two.

The greatest strength of Logos is its wider system. What a Logos book offers that a printed book does not is integration into that system. When you add a new book to your Logos library, you increase the power and usefulness of the entire system, because that book now links to and from every other book. It is less like adding a printed book to a bookcase and more like adding a new Christian with his spiritual gifts to your congregation—it improves and strengthens the entire system. FULL POST

Posted 1/14/15 at 11:40 AM | Tim Challies

Your Deepest Identity

Photo: Flickr/ryanmilani - Creative Commons

On February 6, 2006, Stephen Harper stood before the Governor General of Canada and recited the oath of office: “I, Stephen Harper, do solemnly and sincerely promise and swear that I will truly and faithfully, and to the best of my skill and knowledge, execute the powers and trust reposed in me as Prime Minister, so help me God.”

In the very moment when he recited that oath, he received a new identity: Prime Minister of Canada. That identity includes what the oath calls powers and trust: he received authority to represent Canada, power to make decisions, and responsibility to lead the nation in ways that are best for all Canadians. As a citizen of Canada, I want my Prime Minister to know who he has become, to know what he is responsible for, to know what authority is his. I want him to take on the full identity of Prime Minister and to behave accordingly; if he will not take on that identity, he cannot do his job effectively. FULL POST

Posted 1/13/15 at 2:11 PM | Tim Challies

One Indispensable Rule

The Bible is a long and at-times complicated book centered upon a short and simple truth: Jesus Christ died to save sinners. The Bible tells the great narrative that is unfolding in this world: the story of God creating, man falling, Christ redeeming, and the end coming to all sin and evil. The Bible serves as our guide to this story and to the characters who play roles in it. It does this through 66 books that span genres, cultures, authors, and centuries. It is a remarkable work that could only have come from the mind of God.

The Bible is a sure and steady guide to life and doctrine, but to be that sure and steady guide it must be properly understood and interpreted. Proper understanding and interpretation is dependent on one indispensable rule: Before you ask, “What does it mean to us now?”, ask “What did it mean to them then?” In other words, before you attempt to apply the Bible to your life and circumstances, anchor it in the lives and circumstances of its original recipients. Application must be related to meaning. FULL POST

Posted 1/12/15 at 3:52 PM | Tim Challies

On Being an Ordinary Christian

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

One of the more popular blog posts I’ve written, and one that seemed to resonate with many of those who read it, is the one in which I declared the goodness of the ordinary, or really, the goodness of being ordinary. Ordinary has since been a popular theme in Christian publishing, with two books now sharing that title, and a host of others carrying similar ones: Boring, Mundane, Normal, and so on. I’m glad for this new emphasis.

Way back when I wrote that article I said this: “Ordinary is a book I have lived. I live it every day. I live an ordinary life, pastor an ordinary church full of ordinary people, and head home each night to my ordinary little home in an oh-so-ordinary suburb. I preach very ordinary sermons—John Piper or Steve Lawson I am not and never will be—and as I sit with the people I love I am sure I give them very ordinary counsel. A friend recently confessed his initial disappointment the first time he visited my home and got a glimpse of my life. ‘Your house is so small and your life is so boring.’ Indeed. It’s barely 1,100 square feet of house and forty hours every week sitting at a desk.” FULL POST

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