Tim Challies

A Message for Young Men

Somewhere out there in the great, wide world, someone is praying for you. He probably doesn’t know you and you probably don’t know him. You may not meet one another for many more years. But he’s praying for you nonetheless and has been for a very long time.

He is the father of a daughter. He is the proud father of a daughter who is very precious to him—more precious than anything he owns, more precious than anything he has ever done, ever made, ever accomplished, more precious than his very life. She is so precious that if he gained all the riches of this world but lost her heart along the way, he’d consider himself an abject failure.
This father knows that a time is coming when a young man will approach him and ask for permission to marry his daughter. He knows that a time is coming when a young man will insist that it is in his daughter’s best interests if she leaves her father and mother—leaves behind the ones who brought her into this world and who gave her such privileges and who raised her so well—and is joined to him instead (for such is the endearing conceit of young men). And, though it may be hard for this father to admit, he knows that this young man may just be right—that his daughter’s best life will be outside of his care and in another man’s, outside of his home and in one this new couple will build together.
From the day he welcomed his precious little daughter into the world, he knew that he would at some point entrust her to another man. And so he began to pray. From the day he laid eyes on his beautiful little girl, he knew he would some day lead her down a church aisle to place her hand in another man’s. And so he began to pray for him. From the day his heart became so deeply bound to hers, he knew hers would someday become bound to someone else’s. And so he began to pray all the more earnestly.
He prayed that this young man would come to saving faith—that he would repent of his sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He prayed that this young man would grow in holiness—that he would conscientiously put sin to death and come alive to righteousness. He prayed that this young man would become a capable provider—that he would study hard and work diligently and make good on all the privileges afforded to him. He prayed that this young man would grow in godly character—becoming loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. Ultimately he prayed that this young man would prove worthy of his daughter—that he would know her to be as precious as she actually is and that he would treat her with all the love and dignity she deserves.
This is an interesting thought, isn’t it? It is an interesting thought, and an encouraging one, that since you were tiny, this man has been praying for you. He has been praying for you without knowing who you are, praying for you without knowing when you would meet, praying for you with longing that in the day that you emerged from the great crowd of humanity, he would see that God had heard his prayers and answered them.
This is an encouraging thought but also a challenging one, for it now falls to you, young man, to be worthy—as worthy as any man can be—to receive from his hand what he counts more precious than jewels, more valuable than his own heart, of greater worth than his own name and even his own life. It falls to you, young man, to honor his diligence in so faithfully interceding for his daughter. It falls to you, young man, to be God’s answer to a father’s prayers.

A La Carte (January 26)

May the Lord bless and keep you today.

My church is hosting a Weekender for pastors, elders, and church leaders from March 25-27. If that’s of interest to you, you can find information right here.
‘Gotcha’ Sermon Clips Are Bad for the Church
Trevin Wax considers “gotcha” sermon clips and says, “I don’t believe the widespread sharing of bad moments in preaching will make the pulpit stronger. The weaponization of preaching clips as ammunition in intramural warfare isn’t a healthy and life-giving development.”
Were the Gospel Writers’ Memories Accurate? (Video)
“There was a time gap of 25 years between the life of Jesus and when the first Gospel was written. When Mark was remembering the life and teachings of Jesus, can we trust his memory? If not, then the written Gospels are not trustworthy either.” Bill Mounce offers an answer in a brief video.
The Sweet Spot
Darryl Dash considers the benefits and drawbacks of aging.
Pastors, You Don’t Have to Be an Expert on Everything
Michael Kruger looks at a popular book and draws some lessons for pastors. “Pastors too need to realize they are not experts in everything. Yes, they have been trained in theology, bible, church history, etc. But that does not make a pastor an expert on immigration policy, epidemiology, or tax reform.”
Turning From Ancestor Worship Will Be Costly, Jesus Said So
Lucky Mogakane: “Ancestral worship remains a significant hindrance to the gospel in many African countries. Generally, Africans do not have a problem with the gospel message. But a massive question hangs over the decision to repent and believe, related to worship of the ancestors.”
God Is Not Going to Slap the Cookie From Your Hand
“I tend to be overly analytical. I’ve spent a great deal of thought on what’s God’s part and what’s our part in the Christian life. I can’t say I have it all figured out, even now. My tendency is to want to sort it out neatly in a series of points. God does this: 1, 2, and 3. And we do this: 1, 2, and 3. But I don’t think it works like that.”
Flashback: The App of God
As one medium gives way to another, we do well to remind ourselves of what the Bible really is. Not a book, but something far better, and far more transcendent. It is the enduring words of God himself.

To every believer, the debt–book is crossed; the black lines of sin are crossed out in the red lines of Christ’s blood. —Thomas Watson

A La Carte (January 25)

My gratitude goes to the kind soul who, in the middle of the night, braved the -22 weather to deliver a Voddie Baucham tract to our home and the others in the neighborhood! It’s genuinely much appreciated.

(Yesterday on the blog: When the Battlefield Goes Quiet)
Toward a Better Discussion about Abuse
I appreciate Kevin DeYoung’s attempt here to nudge Christians toward a better discussion about abuse. “Depending on a whole host of factors—one’s personality, position, experience, or context—we tend to see the present dangers leading in different directions. For some, the most pressing concern is obviously that abuse is perpetrated, minimized, and covered up in the church. For others, there is another concern, that abuse is becoming a totalizing category and that even the accusation of abuse takes down everyone and everything in its path.”
Did Bathsheba Sin with David?
John Piper answers an important question about David and Bathsheba. “I think there are pointers that David exerted a kind of pressure on her to warrant the accusation of rape … I see two indications that David threw his weight around — threw his power, his influence, his position — in such a way as to force her, apart from and against her commitment to her husband, to have sex with him.”
What Grace Does God Give the Humble?
“Someone told me recently that God has been humbling him through some circumstances of his life, and I told him that’s a good place to be because God gives grace to the humble. So he asked, ‘What does that mean? What does grace look like for the humble?’” That’s a valid question.
White Savior
I have been benefitting from this series by Dave and Stacey Hare on “why are the laborers few?” In this one they address the fear of being labeled a “white savior.”
Don’t Date That Guy
Melissa pleads with young women not to go down a dangerous road. “How does it happen that so many Christian women marry men who aren’t believers? In some cases, they were both lost at the time that they dated and married. But, so often it’s a different story…”
How big was the Tonga eruption?
This is a wonderful illustration of the sheer size of the recent volcanic eruption in Tonga.
Flashback: When the Mormons Come Calling
They offer salvation by works, but God offers salvation by grace. This is the difference between heaven and hell.

The greatest sorrow and burden you can lay on the Father, the greatest unkindness you can do to him, is not to believe that he loves you. —R.J.K. Law

I Just Don’t Believe the Bible

This week the blog is sponsored by Boyce College and this post is written by Timothy Paul Jones who is inviting you to attend the Renown Youth Conference 2022.

“I still want to believe in Jesus,” she said to me. “I just don’t believe the Bible.”
I was wrapping up a series that focused on how God’s Word should shape our sexuality with the students in our church. When I asked the group of students if they had any questions, one young woman asked if it was possible to pursue a bisexual lifestyle and still be a faithful Christian. In response, I walked gently through the points I had made about God’s beautiful design and showed how a bisexual self-conception contradicted God’s plan. I ended with Paul’s words in his letter to the 1 Thessalonians 4:8, when Paul made it clear that dismissing God’s design isn’t simply the rejection of a human custom; it’s a rejection of God.
After the gathering had ended, she approached me at the lectern and reiterated her commitment to the idea that someone could follow Jesus and still identify as bisexual.
And that’s when she finally blurted out, “I still want to believe in Jesus. I just don’t believe the Bible.”
“That’s interesting,” I replied. “What is it exactly that you believe about Jesus?”
Her answer was orthodox, as far as it went. She said she believed Jesus was the Son of God and that he died and was raised from the dead, then she mentioned how Jesus had taught people to love one another.
“That’s good,” I said. “And where do you find these facts you believe about Jesus?”
“Well, it’s in the Gospels and other places.”
“‘It’s in the Gospels.’ But the Gospels are in the Bible,” I smiled, “and I thought you said you don’t believe the Bible.”
“Okay, I believe some of the Bible,” she admitted with a touch of uncertainty. “I believe the parts about Jesus but not the parts about sex.”
I unpacked with her how Jesus had plenty to say about our sexuality (Matthew 19:1–12), how the same Spirit who empowered Jesus inspired the authors of Scripture, and how the writers of the New Testament were faithful to the teachings of their Savior. Our conversation was cordial and kind, but she left still trying to reconcile a bisexual self-conception with a commitment to Jesus.
What this young woman wanted was to embrace the gospel of Jesus but to ignore the authority of his Word. She could not envision how the gospel can possibly be good news if the gospel calls us to say “no” to our own sovereignty over our lives.
She’s not alone.
Her perspective is increasingly widespread, even among people who sit week by week in church services. That’s why all of us need constant reminders about the essence and the implications of the gospel. 
To embrace the gospel is to declare that Jesus is Lord and I am not (Romans 10:9), and the written Word of God is the means by which the living Word of God declares his will. The Jesus to whom we bow is Jesus as he is known to us through Holy Scripture. Declaring that Jesus is Lord while defying his Word reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the gospel. In the fourth century, Augustine of Hippo confronted a teacher who wanted to believe some parts of the Bible while rejecting others. “You ought to admit plainly that you don’t believe in the gospel of Christ,” Augustine said to him. “To believe and to disbelieve whatever you please is, after all, not to believe the gospel but to believe yourself” (Contra Faustum 17:3).
Those words still ring true today.
If we don’t consistently remind ourselves about the nature and implications of the gospel, any one of us can—whether in subtle ways or more obvious ways—fail to declare the gospel in all of its glorious fullness. And that’s why I’m inviting you to join me on March 11–12, 2022, on the campus of Boyce College as we explore the most pressing question of all: “What is the gospel?”
Click to learn more about attending Renown 2022.

When the Battlefield Goes Quiet

There are a number of childhood vacations that stand out in my mind, but none quite as clearly as our family trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I may have been 10 or 12 at the time and was a young enthusiast of all things military. I knew little of the Civil War, but did know that Gettysburg represented a turning point in the conflict, that the battle fought here had changed the course of the war and the course of American history. It fascinated me then and still does now.

I remember gazing at Seminary Ridge and picturing troops marching down over it. I remember ascending Little Round Top and imagining bayonets clicking into place and soldiers charging ahead. I remember walking through Devil’s Den and thinking what it must have been like to hear muskets firing and canons roaring, the blasts echoing through the rocks. My young imagination went into overdrive that day.
And, indeed, my imagination had to go into overdrive because on the day we visited, the battlefield was so very serene. It was nearly impossible to believe that it was the very same place where there had once been such brutality, such suffering, such bloodshed. The grass that day was green, well-tended, and undisturbed. Summer flowers grew up around the rocks and danced in the gentle breeze. Squirrels hopped and flitted about merrily. The few people around us walked calmly and talked gently as they poured over their maps and studied the host of monuments. There could hardly have been a greater contrast between the battlefield as it was that day and the battlefield as it had been a century prior.

The Bible tells us that the great battlefield of every Christian lies within—the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, the pride of life. We have been created to have desires, but have allowed them to become twisted and perverted, to draw us away from God instead of toward him. We have scorned what God loves and loved what God scorns. Yet in his mercy God has saved us and indwelled us by his Spirit and begun to give us new desires, new longings for holiness. Though we are not nearly as holy as we long to be, we are certainly far more holy than we once were, for God is at work in us and through us.
We tulipy Reformed folk tend to speak often about the indwelling sin that remains—the indisputable evidences that though we may be saints, we are also still sinners. Yet we do well to pause often and consider the sin that no longer remains—the indisputable evidences that though we may still be sinners, we are also saints. For as we consider the way we once were—the temptations that once dogged us, the sins that once owned us—we ought to see evidence of great change, great victory. We ought to see that many of these temptations have loosened their grip, that many of these sins have been put to death. We ought to see that battles have been fought and won, that many historic battlefields are now calm and quiet, places of serenity rather than warfare, places of peace rather than conflict.
There is always something strange, something jarring about touring an old battlefield, for there the present clashes with the past, what is with what once was. This is no less true of the battlefields within our hearts than the battlefields scattered across our nations. And just as we can rejoice that the quiet battlefield is evidence that the battle is over and the war won, we can rejoice that the growing quiet in our hearts is evidence that battles are ending and the war drawing to its close. For already the great General has won, the great enemy has been vanquished, and the great war is drawing swiftly to its close.

A La Carte (January 24)

Good morning. Grace and peace to you.

There’s a nice little list of Kindle deals for the collectors.
(Yesterday on the blog: The Best Friendship in the World)
The Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Be a Christian in 2022
Joe Carter looks at a recent report about the countries where it’s most dangerous to be a Christian.
Ten Words for a Broken Society (#9: No False Witness)
Bruce Ashford continues his interesting series on the Ten Commandments. “Whereas the third commandment forbids us from telling a lie about God or attacking his name, the ninth commandment prohibits us from bearing false witness against our neighbor, i.e., from attacking our neighbor’s name: ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor’ (Ex 20: 16). And while this speaks specifically to courtroom situations, its implications are much broader.”
3 Things God Will Never Do with Your Sin
“Consider for a moment how we ‘deal’ with others. We keep fresh in our minds their injustices toward us. We nurture the memory of their faults and failings. We never let them forget what they did and we often make sure others are mindful of it as well. We seek every opportunity, often secretly and surreptitiously, to make them pay for their transgressions. We hold it in our hearts and over their heads and persuade ourselves that it’s only fair that they be treated this way.”
Marks of Manhood
Nick Batzig: “At a time when there is more confusion in the culture about gender and role relations, it would help us to take a step back and consider what Scripture sets forth as the model of manhood, namely, the Lord Jesus.”
When the Nest May Never Be Empty
Parents typically look forward to the day the nest will be empty. But for some, that’s just not reality. “When independence is the end goal for following Jesus, or for parenting, our faith is, unrecognizable from what God himself describes.”
A Proverb on Having Your Cake
I find idioms fascinating, perhaps especially when they originate from a different culture.
Flashback: Aging Brings Life-Shaping Decisions
In every way, we must be disciplined in our pursuit of God, we must build habits of holiness. We must not succumb to the ease of complacency.

They are fools that fear to lose their wealth by giving, but fear not to lose themselves by keeping it. —John Trapp

A La Carte (January 24)

Today’s Kindle deals include a number of books for adults and one for kids. Of note, Basically the whole Word Biblical Commentary series is on sale today. According to my Best Commentaries collection, there are some especially good volumes in that series that would all rank top-5 for that book: Genesis volume 1 and volume 2, Leviticus, Ruth-Esther, Ezra-Nehemiah, Job volume 1 2 and 3, Psalms volume 1 2 and 3, Song of Songs & Lamentations, Ezekiel volume 1 and 2, Daniel, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1&2 Thessalonians, Pastoral Epistles, Hebrews volume 1 and 2, Jude-2 Peter, Revelation volume 1 2 and 3.

Dear Memaw: A Letter I Wish My Great-Grandmother Could Read 
“I wish I could tell you about your piano, Memaw. It is quite the story. But since I can’t tell you, I tell Him, each day, and thank Him for it. And now I’m letting the rest of the world hear it too.”
What Kind of Parent Are You?
“Helicopter parenting, lawnmower parenting, free-range parenting, tiger parenting, attachment parenting, baby-led, and serenity parenting—the list of descriptive parenting terms is endless. Or here is one of mine: janitorial parenting—letting your children do whatever they desire and you clean up after their mistakes, allowing them to avoid accountability.”
The Best and Worst U.S. Airlines of 2019
Here’s a short video that tells you which airlines you might want to prioritize.
An “I Love You” Family
“You can say it when you’re happy, sad, angry, or afraid. In both the family I grew up in and the one where I’m the parent, we’ve used ILY on cards for holidays or just because, on post-it notes with reminders to take out the trash, on napkins notes in lunch boxes, on foggy-mirror secret messages. I didn’t know that some people go their whole growing up years without hearing the phrase. But I think that what’s harder than saying it is believing it.”
The Enemies of Writing
You won’t agree with everything here, but I think you’ll find it thought-provoking. Consider: “If writers are afraid of the sound of their own voice, then honest, clear, original work is not going to flourish, and without it, the politicians and tech moguls and TV demagogues have less to worry about. It doesn’t matter if you hold impeccable views, or which side of the political divide you’re on: Fear breeds self-censorship, and self-censorship is more insidious than the state-imposed kind, because it’s a surer way of killing the impulse to think, which requires an unfettered mind.”
How the Sacraments Act as Contracts
Tim Chester explains how the sacraments act as contracts. This is a helpful explanation of Reformation theology. (For more, see his new book Truth We Can Touch.)
Responding to Trans Questions
Matthew Hosier responds to a few common questions related to transgenderism while pointing to helpful resources.
Flashback: A Protestant Look at Catholic Rome (Video)
Rome is the most Catholic city in the world. (It is, after all, Roman Catholicism.) But that doesn’t mean there isn’t lots of history here that’s of particular interest to Protestants. In this video I take a Protestant look at Catholic Rome.

When the reality of death is far from our minds, the promises of Jesus often seem detached from our lives. —Matthew McCullough

The Best Friendship in the World

This week I read Michael Haykin’s Iron Sharpens Iron, a short book about great friendships. I found a couple of quotes in the book that I thought would be worth sharing so you can reflect on them as I have.

The first is an excerpt from John Ryland’s sermon at the funeral of his friend Andrew Fuller. Their friendship, he said, had
never met with one minute’s interruption by any one unkind word or thought, of which I have any knowledge. I never had a friend who was so willing to stand by me, even in such services as most others would wish to decline; yet I never had a friend who would more faithfully, freely, and affectionately give me warning or reproof, if ever it appeared necessary; or whom I could more readily and freely, and without the least apprehension of giving offence, tell of any fault which I imagined I could see in him. And this I think is the best friendship in the world. For no man is faultless; and true friendship will not be blind to the failings of those we love best; but will rather show itself in an anxious concern to prevent the least appearance of evil in them, or whatever might occasion their good intentions to be misrepresented. After having lost long ago the venerable Newton and the first Robert Hall, who were the counsellors of my youth; after losing the affectionate Pearce, and the humble and prudent Sutcliff, two other founders of our Mission, this most faithful and judicious friend is also taken from me, and never will my loss be repaired upon earth!
And then, a bit later in the book, is another neat little quote, this one from Robert Hall Jr., who makes some interesting remarks on the nature and benefits of friendship.
He who has made the acquisition of a judicious and sympathizing friend, may be said to have doubled his mental resources: by associating an equal, perhaps a superior mind, with his own, he has provided the means of strengthening his reason, of perfecting his counsels, of discerning and correcting his errors. He can have recourse at all times to the judgement and assistance of one, who with the same power of discernment with himself, comes to the decision of a question with a mind neither harassed with the perplexities, nor heated with the passions, which so frequently obscure the perception of our true interests. Next to the immediate guidance of God by his Spirit, the counsel and encouragement of virtuous and enlightened friends afford the most powerful aid, in the encounter of temptation and in the career of duty.
Perhaps these quotes, or the whole book should you read it, will help you pursue Christian friendships and better appreciate the ones you already have…

Weekend A La Carte (January 22)

May God bless you as you serve and worship him this weekend.

My thanks goes to Ligonier Ministries for sponsoring the blog this week with news of The Reformation Study Bible, Student Edition.
Today’s Kindle deals include some classics (plus whatever I dig up in the morning).
(Yesterday on the blog: Friendship and the Grace of God)
A Kernel Of Wheat In The Ground
This is such a neat story. “Back in 1921, a missionary couple named David and Svea Flood went with their two-year-old son from Sweden to the heart of Africa, to what was then called the Belgian Congo. They met up with another young Scandinavian couple, the Ericksons, and the four of them sought God for direction. In those days of much tenderness, devotion and sacrifice, they felt led by the Lord to go out from the main mission station and take the gospel to a remote area.”
Faction Friendships
“We have Christians who will not speak to another Christian if he is wearing a facemask—or unless he is wearing a facemask. There are Christians who are suddenly hailing as heroes those with whom they have very little in common on any other issue, but because they are ‘sound’ on the covid question that’s all that matters.” This is a problem…
Self-Care is What We Do to Heal from the Internet
Samuel James looks at some self-care tips and asks, “How does a list of very ordinary human activities go from obvious and unspoken, to vital expressions of self-care? Here’s one hypothesis: Most self-care techniques are simply routine activities that most people did before they gave that time to being online.”
Bible Contradictions? A Response to Bart Ehrman
Bart Ehrman, in pointing out supposed Bible contradictions, says “just read the text.” “So, I did read the text. And, what I found is that Bart Ehrman puts forward some difficult passages for believers. But what I also found is that a moment or two of thinking erased many of the contradictions. Some of the contradictions were so fragile that it made me wonder if Bart Ehrman was being just a little bit disingenuous.”
Go to Sleep. Stay Awake.
“I face two battles every day of my life: the battle to sleep and the battle to stay awake.”
The danger is the good times
We may be on the lookout for spiritual danger in the bad times, but there is also danger in the good times.
Flashback: We Don’t Sing for Fun
…singing is not prescribed for Christian worship for the purpose of fun. It actually serves a far higher purpose as a means through which we bring mutual encouragement by recounting common truths together.

We were never meant to eat the toxic bread of anxious toil. So God invites us to rest, to trust him to provide for us, and to receive the delightful gift of sleep. —Geoff Robson

Free Stuff Fridays (Ligonier Ministries)

This week’s Free Stuff Friday is sponsored by Ligonier Ministries, who also sponsored the blog this week. They are giving away ten free copies of the new Student Edition of the Reformation Study Bible.

The most important relationship in life is your relationship with God. If you want to grow in your faith, you must turn to His Word. That’s where God has spoken. The Reformation Study Bible, Student Edition is built on the trusted teaching of Dr. R.C. Sproul to help you dig deeper into the Scriptures to find answers and direction for all of life. Grasp the Bible’s meaning with verse-by-verse notes from more than seventy-five pastors and Bible teachers, gain clarity with hundreds of questions and answers that address key subjects of the Christian faith, and apply the knowledge of God to daily living with many practical lessons from every book of the Bible.
With a wealth of specialized features, this resource makes an ideal Bible study companion to encourage teens and young adults to walk in the light of God’s truth and to serve Christ where they are. The Reformation Study Bible, Student Edition is available in a variety of colors and cover styles, including premium leather, leather-like, clothbound, and paperback. Ten Free Friday winners will receive a copy their choosing.
Enter Here
Again, there are ten packages to win. And all you need to do to enter the draw is to drop your name and email address in the form below.
Giveaway Rules: You may enter one time. As soon as the winners have been chosen, all names and addresses will be immediately and permanently erased. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes Saturday at noon. If you are viewing this through email, click to visit my site and enter there.

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