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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 9/30/14 at 8:29 AM | Tim Challies

How to Get Things Done

They are questions I receive often: “Do you ever sleep? Do you work all the time? Do you ever stop?” There seems to be this impression among certain people that either I am an unrepentant workaholic or that I am remorselessly neglectful toward life’s other responsibilities. The truth is far less sordid: I have invested a lot of effort over many years in learning how to simplify life and how to maximize productivity. I love to make the best use of my time and energy, and I am constantly fine-tuning the systems that allow me to remain that way.

Today I am beginning a series of articles that will share some of what I have learned along the way. I do not really know how to teach how to get things done except by allowing you into my life and into my systems. I intend to give examples from my own life, not because they are necessarily the best or only way of doing things, but because they work for me and may give you something to build from. You can take those examples as far as you want, and adapt them so they work for you. If all goes well, we will look at systems and tools and organization and planning, and all kinds of exciting things. But first we have a little groundwork to do. FULL POST

Posted 9/29/14 at 2:53 PM | Tim Challies

All Those Things I Will Leave Undone

I found an old video of my son, a video I did not even know we had. He was two, playing at his grandparents’ house while Aileen and I were at the hospital, waiting for his sister to arrive. He spoke in a little baby voice, talking about his “wittle sistow” who was in mommy’s tummy. It almost broke my heart. Wasn’t it only yesterday that he was two years old? But then how did he get to be six feet tall, and when did he start to shave, and what on earth is he doing in high school? What happened?

Unfinished church sign
Photo: Flickr/djLicious Creative Commons

I consider it one of the great tragedies of life: All those things I will leave undone. All those things I mean to do that I will never do. All those things I will begin but leave incomplete. All those things I long to master that I will not even be able to start. All those things I will actually do, but do partially or badly. FULL POST

Posted 9/28/14 at 12:27 PM | Tim Challies

When Spurgeon Was Wrong

Photo: Public Domain

This week I dug up an interesting quote from Charles Spurgeon. He was thinking about the easy-believism of his day. A vast quantity of people professed faith in Christ, but so few showed compelling evidence of genuine salvation. Spurgeon reflected on this and on those parts of the Bible claiming that Christians will necessarily suffer. And then he said this:

I am glad that there is some trouble in being a Christian, for it has become a very common thing to profess to be one. If I am right, it is going to become a much less common thing for a person to say “I am a Christian.” There will come times when sharp lines will be drawn. Some of us will help draw them if we can. The problem is that people bear the Christian name but act like worldlings and love the amusements and follies of the world. It is time for a division in the house of the Lord in which those for Christ go into one camp and those against Christ go into the other camp. We have been mixed together too long.

And I guess he was wrong, at least to some degree. Because today there are still so many—too many—who call themselves Christians even though they display so little evidence to back their profession. Those sharp lines remain to be drawn.

Posted 9/26/14 at 10:01 AM | Tim Challies

The Quantified Life and the Sanctified Christian

One of the fascinating abilities we have in this digital world is quantifying our lives in new ways. Today, more than ever, we can assemble an amazing amount of data about ourselves. I have a fascination with data and measurement, so often find myself turning to such tools to learn about my life in the hope that what I learn will allow me to live better.

I have had to put some thought into the consequences of a quantified life and whether it can help me be a sanctified Christian. I am convicted that if these tools are used well, they can be very helpful. Today I will give you a glimpse of some of these tools and how I use them. Before I do that, though, let me be clear: I do not use all these tools all the time. In most cases I find that committing to the tools for a defined period of time allows me to get valuable snapshots of my life. I will use some of these tools for a few weeks, and then put them aside for a couple of months. But just those brief snapshots give me data that helps me live a deliberate and self-controlled life. FULL POST

Posted 9/25/14 at 4:03 PM | Tim Challies

The Book of Books is a Knowable Word

book covre of Knowable Word

Maybe you have noticed it, too. In the sector of evangelicalism that I try to pay most attention to, there is evidence of a growing Bible-revival—a fresh surge of interest in personal Bible study and an increasing appreciation of the utterly unique place of Scripture in the Christian life. As evidence, I offer the recent publication (just a few days apart) of two books: from Crossway, Kevin DeYoung’s Taking God at his Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me; and from Cruciform Press, Peter Krol’s Knowable Word: Helping Ordinary People Learn to Study the Bible.

While I could cite other examples, perhaps the most unique will happen later this week when Desiring God will hold its final National Conference, titled Look at the Book: Reading the Bible for Yourself. Among other things, the conference will focus primarily on a new series of online videos by John Piper in which he will walk viewers step-by-step through a technique he has used for decades to interact directly with Scripture. (If you’re going to the conference, stop into the bookstore to get a look at Knowable Word.) FULL POST

Posted 9/25/14 at 9:28 AM | Tim Challies

6 Evil Effects of Sin

number 6
Photo: Steve Snodgrass - Creative Commons

We do not sin with impunity. We cannot sin without consequence. Once the Holy Spirit reveals sin within us, we cannot simply ignore that sin and expect that our spiritual lives will continue to grow and thrive. In his great work Overcoming Sin and Temptation, John Owen lists six evil effects of sin—sin that we identify but refuse to destroy.

In chapter four of his book, Owen wants the reader to think about this: A God-honoring life is one in which we constantly wage war against sin. He says it like this: “The life, vigor and comfort of our spiritual life depend much upon our mortification of sin.” I take life to be the existence of spiritual life, vigor to be the extent of it, and comfort to be the Holy Spirit’s assurance of its existence. All of these are imperiled by the existence of sin. He will give six consequences of sin in our lives, but first he has a couple of foundational points to make. FULL POST

Posted 9/24/14 at 9:34 AM | Tim Challies

Blogs Gone Cold

Last month I posted a list of recommended blogs by and for Christian women. At the end of the post I made a parenthetical remark that many of the blogs I follow had gone cold in recent months. A short time later I received an email from three women who blog: Hannah Anderson, Courtney Reissig, and Megan Hill. They asked if they could speak to the issue, and I was glad to have them do so. Here are their thoughts on blogs gone cold.

Conservative female bloggers tend to publish less consistently than their male counterparts. Three women writers explore the reasons why.

True Success (Hannah Anderson)

Back in August, Tim Challies posted a helpful list of theological blogs by and for women. At the end, he noted that several blogs had “gone cold,” questioning when and whether the writers would return. As a female theological blogger myself, I smiled and thought, “Of course, they have.” FULL POST

Posted 9/23/14 at 9:27 AM | Tim Challies

Hidden in the Gospel

Book cover of Hidden in the Gospel

I have a simple rule with books by William Farley: If he writes it, I read it. The common element in all of his books it easy to spot: the gospel. Outrageous Mercy is a long look at the cross, Gospel-Powered Parenting is a personal favorite that describes the centrality of the gospel in parenting; Gospel-Powered Humility looks at the cardinal virtue of the Christian life and how we can have it through the power of the gospel. And now, in Hidden in the Gospel he teaches why you ought to preach the gospel to yourself every day. Even better, he models how to do it.

Over the past few years we have been indundated with books about the gospel. Don’t think I am complaining about the trend, though. It would be difficult to find anything wrong with a corporate obsession with the good news of what Christ has done. I have read many of these books, and find myself especially drawn to those that advance the discussion a notch or two. Hidden in the Gospel is just such a book. FULL POST

Posted 9/22/14 at 9:36 AM | Tim Challies

Thank God for a Messy Church

It is God’s grace to you if your church is messy. I heard those words come out of my mouth yesterday as I was guest-preaching at a church close to home. I said them, and I believe them. At least, I believe them most of the time.

I love my church. I love the people I gather with week-by-week. They are fun and safe and easy to be with. But who said church should be safe and easy?

Yesterday, when I was at that church, I preached on the parable of The Lost Sheep, which is actually a parable about a kind and loving shepherd (see Luke 15). Like so many of Jesus’ parables, this one was told in the presence of two groups of people—people who were convinced of their own badness and people who were convinced of their own goodness. And in this case Jesus was speaking primarily to those good and religious people.

The parable is simple: A sheep has wandered off and the shepherd will not rest until he has found it and restored it to himself. And I thought about that sheep, wandering lost and alone in the wilderness, and that shepherd who went looking for it. There are so many different ways that shepherd could have reacted when he finally found it. FULL POST

Posted 9/21/14 at 8:31 AM | Tim Challies

7 Conditions for Confrontation

Photo: Flickr/walknboston - Creative Commons

I have found myself intrigued by a new book by Chris Bruno and Matt Dirks titled Churches Partnering Together. I guess the title says it all—it is about developing bonds between churches so different congregations, and their leaders, can be on mission together. In one chapter the authors discuss the inevitability of confrontation and I appreciate their counsel on positive confrontation. They begin with Galatians 6:1-2: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” And then they provide seven conditions for confrontation which apply not only to conflicts between church leaders, but between all Christians: FULL POST

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