Posted 12/5/13 at 4:36 PM | Tim Challies
As a cofounder of Cruciform Press, I like to provide occasional updates on news and tell you about our most recent titles. Our November release, Does God Listen to Rap? Christians and the World’s Most Controversial Music, seems to have come at a good time. As many of you know, a panel at a conference of the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches was recently asked to share their thoughts on Christian rap. They were highly disapproving, igniting an Internet firestorm of sorts.
What’s interesting is that Curtis Allen wrote this book in part to respond to a similar frenzy. A rapper before he became a Christian, Curt continued to use his gifts for the church after his conversion. As Reformed rap started to gain a foothold several years ago, some well-known preachers began to endorse it. In the Foreword, Owen Strachan even recounts a public rap battle between Curt and him that didn’t end too well for Owen. But after becoming the first rapper to perform during a worship service at John Piper’s church, Bethlehem Baptist, Curt found himself in the position of defending Christian rap, and he wasn’t sure if his superficial reasons were biblical enough. FULL POST
Posted 12/5/13 at 8:56 AM | Tim Challies |
Gossip is a serious problem. It is a problem in the home, in the workplace, in the local church and in broader evangelicalism. It is a problem in the blogosphere, in social media, and beyond. In his book Resisting Gossip, Matthew Mitchell defines gossip as “bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart” and shows that when the book of Proverbs uses the word “gossip,” it does so in the noun form, not the verb form. In other words, the Bible is concerned less with the words that are spoken and more with the heart and mouth that generate such destruction. Words matter, but they are simply the overflow of the heart. As always, the heart is the heart of the matter.
Here, drawn from Mitchell’s book, is a gallery of gossips, five different gossiping people you will meet in life. FULL POST
Posted 12/4/13 at 8:56 AM | Tim Challies
At one time or another, most of us witnessed the devastation that comes through infidelity in marriage. We have seen marriages stretched almost to the breaking point and we have seen marriages destroyed by an unfaithful husband or unfaithful wife.
Affairs do not begin with sex. Falling into bed with a man who is not your husband or a woman who is not your wife is simply one step in a long chain of events, one decision in a long series of poor decisions.
Last weekend I teamed up with Denny Burk to speak at a conference about sex and its cultural counterfeits. Denny preached a powerful message about the blessing and importance of sexual intimacy within marriage and as he did so, he referred to one of his favorite preachers, Tommy Nelson, who provides 6 “e’s” to describe the “ease” with which people fall into extra-marital affairs. They are worth considering. (Note: I am writing from the perspective of a man, but this as easily applies to women.) FULL POST
Posted 12/3/13 at 9:24 AM | Tim Challies
Rick Warren is one of the bestselling Christian authors of our time. While he has written too few books to compete with the likes of Max Lucado for the greatest number of books sold, the few books he has written have uniformly made their way to the bestseller lists. Where most successful Christian authors have their books sell in the thousands or maybe the tens of thousands, Warren’s sell in the millions or even the tens of millions.
I have often wondered about why Warren’s books are so successful and here is what I understand as a key factor: He does not simply write books; he creates programs. His books reflect a mountain of ambition. The Purpose Driven Church was not merely a description of what the New Testament says about church, but a complete program for how to view church and do church. The Purpose Driven Life was not merely a Christian living book, but a church-wide program meant to impact every member, every attender, and every sermon and small group over a period of time. Rick Warren’s latest book is titled The Daniel Plan and, like its predecessors, it is part of a much wider program—a program meant to revolutionize the lives of those who participate in it. (Do note that this is not The Daniel Diet. Warren does not take the description of Daniel’s diet and make it prescriptive as others have done.) FULL POST
Posted 11/27/13 at 9:33 AM | Tim Challies
A question I often receive is this one: “Can you give me some advice on writing a book review?” I’ll be the first to admit that I cannot tell you how to write an academic review or one you would want to submit to a journal. I became a book reviewer rather by trial and error and only through a very informal medium. Even then, I focus almost entirely on popular-level reviews of popular-level books. Having said that, I typically use a loose formula that I think can be helpful and that often resonates with readers.
As you write a book review, it is important to ensure you are properly understanding the book and its author. Therefore, the first thing to do is to identify the book’s topic, audience, purpose and and structure. Here are questions to ask and possibly answer in the opening paragraphs. FULL POST
Posted 11/26/13 at 3:29 PM | Tim Challies
I am in the unique and enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books and I like to provide regular roundups of some of the best and brightest of the bunch. Of all the books I have received recently, here are the ones that appear most noteworthy.
(Note: These are largely academic and pastoral titles, so if you don’t know what to buy a pastor or seminary student for Christmas, anything from this list will make him happy!)
Galatians by Douglas Moo. Moo’s commentary on Galatians has been highly-anticipated and the early endorsements and reviews make it clear that it’s a must-have for anyone who wants to better understand the book. “In this addition to the award-winning BECNT series, highly regarded New Testament scholar Douglas Moo offers a substantive yet accessible commentary on Galatians. With extensive research and thoughtful chapter-by-chapter exegesis, Moo leads readers through all aspects of the book of Galatians—sociological, historical, and theological—to help them better understand its meaning and relevance.” Thomas Schreiner’s endorsement is representative: FULL POST
Posted 11/26/13 at 8:28 AM | Tim Challies
For quite some time now, Malcolm Gladwell has been one of my favorite authors. He is a skilled wordsmith to be certain, but what compels me even more is the way he draws connections between facts and statistics that otherwise seem to have nothing in common. His great strength is finding significance and even fascination in the mundane. The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers were all fascinating books (and, incidentally, they are currently all just $3.99 on Kindle).
Gladwell’s latest is David and Goliath and here he challenges how we tend to think about obstacles and disadvantages. Where we do all we can to avoid obstacles and disadvantages, and where we consider them necessarily negative, Gladwell believes they can actually make us better and stronger. “David and Goliath is a book about what happens when ordinary people confront giants. By ‘giants,’ I mean powerful opponents of all kinds—from armies and mighty warriors to disability, misfortune, and oppression.” Each of the chapters tells the story of a different person who has faced a great challenge and been forced to respond to it. FULL POST
Posted 11/25/13 at 4:28 PM | Tim Challies
Series Introduction: I live in a small house. I work in a small office in a small church. For those reasons and others I will never have a huge library. When I add a book I almost always remove a book, a practice that allows me to focus on quality over quantity. Over the past couple of years I have focused on building a collection of commentaries that will include only the best volumes on each book of the Bible. I know when I’m in way over my head, so before I began I collected every good resource I could find that rated and reviewed commentaries. I studied them and then began my collection on the basis of what the experts told me. Since I did all of that work, and since I continue to keep up with the project, I thought it might be helpful to share the recommendations.
My focus is on newer commentaries (at least in part because most of the classics are now freely or cheaply available) and I am offering approximately 5 recommendations for each book of the Bible, alternating between the Old Testament and the New. Today I have turned to the experts to find what they say about 1 Peter.
Thomas Schreiner - 1, 2 Peter, Jude (New American Commentary). There appears to be a strong selection of excellent commentaries on 1 Peter and most of the experts rate Schreiner’s at or very near the top. This is hardly a surprise since many of his commentaries are considered excellent. Carson commends it as “one of the most impressive volumes in the [NAC] series, nicely displaying Schreiner’s combination of exegesis and theological reflection couched in admirable clarity.” (Amazon, Westminster Books) FULL POST
Posted 11/25/13 at 10:09 AM | Tim Challies
It began harmlessly enough—just a little bit of numbness in three toes. At first it was no more than an annoyance, but then the numbness spread to her foot and began to creep upward. Soon it was accompanied by fatigue, nausea, headaches. She visited a doctor and then a neurologist who promptly arranged a battery of tests. And then the diagnosis: “I am so sorry, but it is a brain tumor.” Though the tumor was benign, it was in a bad spot, right at the junction of the brain and the spinal cord. In that moment she knew her life had changed forever.
This is the story of Elaine Grant, a dear friend of my family’s, a sister in Christ, and a woman of exemplary Christian courage.
Let’s back up a little bit, all the way to the early 80’s. Back then Elaine lived just down the block from my family in a beautiful North Toronto neighborhood. She and my mother were both young moms, dedicated to raising their children. Elaine was articulate, meditative, and the kind of person who read right through the Globe and Mail, Canada’s weighty, national newspaper. The two families bonded immediately. FULL POST
Posted 11/22/13 at 9:25 AM | Tim Challies
When we were trying to acquire our current facility, the former Compaq Center, there was one man I really wanted to get on our team. We needed to have the Houston City Council members vote for us because it was a city-owned facility. This one man knew all the people in the city. He was very influential. I thought if we could just get him on board, then surely we would get the votes that we needed. I called and called, but for some reason, he wouldn't call me back. I knew friends who knew him. They put in a good word for me. Still nothing. At one point, we got word back that this man was actively against us. He wasn't in neutral; he was on the opposing team! At that point, I realized I couldn't make this happen in my own strength. I quit trying to manipulate things and trying to convince everybody. I said, "God, it's in Your hands. I know You already have the right people lined up. I know You already have it figured out. So God, I'm just going to stay in that place of peace." FULL POST