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Tim Challies

Tim Challies is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Aileen and a father to three young children. He worships and serves as a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, edits Discerning Reader and is a co-founder of Cruciform Press. He has written The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, Sexual Detox and The Next Story.

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

Posted 1/12/15 at 12:13 PM | Tim Challies

On Waiting Patiently

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

Waiting. For an imperfect and impatient person like me, it is one of the most difficult things to do—to wait with hope and patience and faith. In these few words, though, Charles Spurgeon looks to Psalm 62:1 (“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.”) and provides encouragement.

Blessed posture! Waiting truly and only upon the Lord. Be this our condition all this day and every day. Waiting His leisure, waiting in His service, waiting in joyful expectation, waiting in prayer, and content. When the very soul thus waits, it is in the best and truest condition of a creature before his Creator, a servant before his Master, a child before his Father. We allow no dictation to God, nor complaining of Him; we will permit no petulance and no distrust. At the same time, we practice no running before the cloud and no seeking to others for aid: neither of these would be waiting upon God. God, and God alone, is the expectation of our hearts. FULL POST

Posted 1/9/15 at 10:39 AM | Tim Challies

The Legacy Journey

Let me tell you: It’s not easy being filthy rich. You would know, wouldn’t you? Most of us feel like we live in poverty, but that’s only because we restrict our comparisons to the people closest to us. When we elevate our gaze a little, we see that most of us qualify as being among the richest people in the world. Compared to the mass of humanity, we have fantastic wealth.

For many years Dave Ramsey has taught people how to manage their money well, and countless thousands of people can testify to his impact on their lives. While much of his effort has gone into helping people climb out of debt and live financially sustainable lives, he is now turning his attention to the matter of leaving a legacy.

In his new book The Legacy Journey he deals head-on with first-world wealth and a host of related issues. He builds this legacy journey around a 4-part framework: Now, Then, Us, Them. In the Now stage he wants you to focus on the most immediate issues like getting out of debt, living on a budget, and preparing for emergencies. The Then stage begins to look down the road a little, preparing for retirement, saving for college funds, and setting a future vision. When it comes to Us, it is time to begin to accumulate a generational legacy which will build wealth to leave to children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. And then, with those other pieces in place, comes Them, where you can look around the world and use your wealth to make a major impact on other people’s lives and well-being. FULL POST

Posted 1/8/15 at 3:19 PM | Tim Challies

In Search of Biblical Friendship

As a cofounder of Cruciform Press, I like to provide occasional updates on news and tell you about our more recent titles. One recent release focuses on a subject we often struggle with but don’t often talk about: friendship among Christians.

One of the most fundamental truths about the Christian life is that we were created for relationship. Yet many of us, even active church members, often struggle to form and maintain true, solid friendships. Then, we can compound our problems by being afraid to admit it. We readily imagine that if we don’t have such friendships, we must be deficient or unlovable. Partly this stems from a sense that genuine friendship should “just happen” among believers, as if it were our default setting as Christians, an automatic perk of conversion.

In The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship, Jonathan Holmes wants to correct these and other false assumptions. “Deep and meaningful friendships don’t come easily—even within the church, and sometimes especially within the church. And because from time to time we all sense that things ought to be different, we can find the challenges of biblical friendship perplexing, frustrating, and discouraging.” FULL POST

Posted 1/7/15 at 11:29 AM | Tim Challies

A Master at His Craft

I once watched a master glassblower at his craft. I had pulled off the highway to look for coffee, a small pick-me-up during a day-long drive. And in that search for a decent cup, I spotted his studio, a converted warehouse, far off the main street of a small Pennsylvania town. One of his assistants invited me in and for a time I sat, mesmerized, as I watched him work.

The artist did not say what he intended to make, and for a time it was impossible to tell. He began by gathering molten glass around the tip of a long rod, the glass glowing a viciously beautiful bright orange. He carried that unshapen blob of glass to a workbench and began to roll it back and forth. Then it went to a different furnace, then back to his bench, and back, and forth, and back, and forth, shaped with fire and shaped with force. And then, at just the right moment, he lifted that rod to his mouth and began to blow into it, forming his work from the inside, carefully, gradually, inflating it, adding contours, curves, shapes. It began to take form. The finished work was stunning, a beautifully, perfectly misshapen vase of vibrant greens and bright yellows and subdued blues. FULL POST

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