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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 1/7/15 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

Posted 1/6/15 at 12:41 PM | Tim Challies

The Best Test of Growth

It is almost cliché to praise Charles Spurgeon for his ability to say in a few words when takes others so many. Yet he was a remarkably gifted man and one who used his gifts to serve the Lord. I loved reading these words which call on each of us to grow, and to grow all the more, in the knowledge of Christ.

May God the Holy Spirit enable you to “grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour.” He who grows not in the knowledge of Jesus, refuses to be blessed. To know him is “life eternal,” and to advance in the knowledge of him is to increase in happiness. He who does not long to know more of Christ, knows nothing of him yet. Whoever hath sipped this wine will thirst for more, for although Christ doth satisfy, yet it is such a satisfaction, that the appetite is not cloyed, but whetted. If you know the love of Jesus—as the hart panteth for the water-brooks, so will you pant after deeper draughts of his love. If you do not desire to know him better, then you love him not, for love always cries, “Nearer, nearer.” Absence from Christ is hell; but the presence of Jesus is heaven. FULL POST

Posted 12/31/14 at 10:14 AM | Tim Challies

A Prayer For a New Year

We have come to the final day of 2014 and are at the cusp of a new year. I find it only appropriate to close the year with prayer—prayer that thanks God for the year that was, and prayer that looks with joy and expectation to the year that will be. Here is my prayer:

My Good and Gracious Father,

You have brought me safely through another year. This was a year in which I saw and experienced so much of your goodness. You were good when you gave, and you were good when you took away; you were good when the sun shined upon me and you were good when the night fell around me. You were only, ever good.

In your Word you give the sure promise that you have loved me since before the foundation of the world. That love was always with me and held me fast through another year. You led me in each step I took. You led me around the wilderness to the places of cool rest and quiet. You led me through dark valleys to the joy beyond. You were there even in times when I wandered and went astray. There was nowhere I could go that was beyond your love, beyond your reach, beyond your care and compassion. You are so good and I am so grateful. FULL POST

Posted 12/30/14 at 1:43 PM | Tim Challies

How To Make A New Year's Resolution That Sticks

We have all heard the statistics: 50% of people make some kind of new year’s resolution, but 88% of those resolutions ultimately fail. That is more than a little discouraging. But I still believe in new year’s resolutions. I believe in them as a convenient opportunity to evaluate life and to make choices about living life better. I have done a fair bit of reading on how to make resolutions work, and it turns out that though there are many reasons your resolutions may not work, the most common ones are easy enough to avoid. Here are some tips on making wise resolutions and on making them stick.

MAKE RESOLUTIONS, NOT WISHES

The most likely reason your new year’s resolution will fail is that you haven’t actually made a resolution—you have made a wish. On December 31 you may decide that in the year ahead you will lose weight, or read your Bible more often, or finally stop smoking. Those are all good desires. But this is not the time to wish upon a star and hope that you will magically change; it is the time to firmly resolve to change your life. Make sure that you are resolving, not wishing. FULL POST

Posted 12/23/14 at 9:43 AM | Tim Challies

No Low Too Low

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

No one expected that the Messiah would come how he came. Yes, the people knew that at some point God would send a Savior, but they could hardly have expected that he would be born to unknown parents and that he would enter this world in a barn. They would hardly have expected that their Messiah would be born in the lowest possible circumstances.

Why was it important to God’s purpose that Jesus be born so low? There are many things that God meant to teach us through the life of Jesus, and one of them is that exaltation comes through humiliation. The way to be great in God’s eyes is to be nothing in the eyes of others.

The greatest people are those who stoop the lowest—and no one could possibly stoop lower than Jesus. And that is why Jesus was willing to be born in the way he was born. He came to serve, and there is no service that was too low for him to do. His birth would provide a glimpse of his entire life, and a fitting introduction to the kind of life he would lead. Consider these words from just a little later in the Bible: FULL POST

Posted 12/22/14 at 9:28 AM | Tim Challies

A Christmas Prayer

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

I am looking forward to Christmas this year. Though I have no great affection for the Christmas season and all its commercialization, I do love the day, and I love to celebrate it with my family. I have also been able to preach for the past couple of Sundays which has helped me focus on the unfathomable wonder of God made man. Yet of all I read and all I pondered, the sweetest might be this simple prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson. In light of all the ugliness in the world today, it seems especially timely in its call to peace, love, and deliverance from evil.

Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. FULL POST

Posted 12/19/14 at 10:07 AM | Tim Challies

Please Don't Give Them Porn for Christmas

This Christmas a lot of children will receive porn from under the tree. It not what they wanted, and not what their parents intended for them to have. But they will get it anyway.

The first iPod, the first tablet, the first laptop—these are today’s coming of age rituals. We give our daughter her first iPod and she responds with joy. While we know there is lots of bad stuff out there on the Internet, we never imagine that she—our little girl—would ever want to see it or ever go anywhere she is likely to find it. We give our teen his first laptop, warn him about the responsibility that is now his, and send him on his way. We make a mental note to follow up in a couple of weeks, but are sure that he will do just fine. “He will talk to me if he has any questions or temptations, right?”

The statistics don’t lie. According to recent research, 52% of pornography is now viewed through mobile devices, and 1 in 5 searches from a mobile device is for porn. The average age of first exposure to pornography is 12. Nine out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls will be exposed to pornography before the age of 18. 71% of teens hide online behavior from their parents. 28% of 16-17 year olds have been unintentionally exposed to online pornography. (source) FULL POST

Posted 12/17/14 at 10:09 AM | Tim Challies

George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, You, and Me

Photo: Flickr/Courtney - Creative Commons

George Clooney loses sleep over bad reviews of his movies. Angelina Jolie is a “minimally talented spoiled brat.” Tom Hanks checks into hotels as Johnny Madrid. You know by now, I’m sure, that a group calling themselves Guardians of Peace hacked Sony’s computers, obtained a massive amount of private and internal data, and released it to the public. The media has had a field day sorting through it, digging up the dirt, and sending it out to an eager public.

The majority of this information is mundane, of course. But then there are the few pieces that are downright incendiary. I guess it is somehow entertaining to read about the foibles of the big stars and satisfying to see a massive corporation take a hit. But this hack should cause us all to pause and consider.

Sony’s nightmare proves one thing beyond any doubt: There is an imbalance between our ability to create digital information and our ability to protect it. We create digital data all day and every day. Every email, every Facebook update, every Tweet, every photo, every Google doc—it’s all out there, and it all remains out there. But there’s far more than that. Every Google search, every phone call, every Facebook profile search, every place you take your mobile phone, every purchase you make, every scan of your loyalty card—every bit of it is collected and stored somewhere. We trust that it is all stored safely. But what happens when it’s not? FULL POST

Posted 12/16/14 at 11:26 AM | Tim Challies

Moroni From the Realms of Glory

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

You’ve got to be careful what you share online. Over the weekend Facebook and Twitter were suddenly inundated with links to a new recording of the Christmas hymn “Angels From the Realms of Glory” mashed up with “Angels We Have Heard on High.” It was recorded by The Piano Guys and features David Archuleta, a one-time runner up on American Idol. It is a creative recording that intersperses shots of the musicians with video taken to record the world’s largest nativity scene. The song is beautifully sung and the music is rich; it is no surprise that it quickly gained over one million views. Well and good, right? Well, except for one thing: Its purpose is to separate you from Jesus Christ. FULL POST

Posted 12/15/14 at 8:52 AM | Tim Challies

If You Will Not Eat the Apples that Grow on Trees ...

Photo: Flickr/Darius Saulenas - Creative Commons

Whatever else we know about Charles Spurgeon, and whatever else we honor and respect in him, what always stands out to me is his unshakable confidence in the Bible. I recently came across two short quotes, both of which stand as eloquent proof of his love of God’s Word, and both of which stand as a challenge to me to imitate him in this regard.

There are some people who seem as if they would not be converted unless they can see some eminent minister. Even that will not suit some of them—they need a special revelation from Heaven. They will not take a text from the Bible—though I cannot conceive of anything better than that—but they think that if they could dream something, or if they could hear words spoken in the cool of the evening by some strange voice in the sky, then they might be converted. Well, Brothers and Sisters, if you will not eat the apples that grow on trees, you must not expect angels to come and bring them to you! FULL POST

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