Tim Challies

A La Carte (March 24)

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you today.

Westminster Books has a deal on a neat new book for kids. And some other books for kids.
How to Detect Deception
Shane Rosenthal looks at the conclusions of a recent study and bridges from there to a defense of the historical accuracy of the gospels.
The Class of 2003: An Interview with Tim Challies, Justin Taylor, and Jared Wilson
Ten years ago Joe Carter interviewed Jared Wilson, Justin Taylor, and me about blogging. Now, ten years later, he has done so again. We consider blogs as they were then and are now. And I guess we will check in again in 2033!
Join Brooks Buser @ TRC23 Speaking on “Gospel Clarity For The Sake of The Nations”
Missionaries today not only need to know the gospel message, but also, just as importantly, how to communicate that message across language and culture to those still in darkness. This will be a session that will look at those two challenges and how churches can help prepare their sent ones for the task of missions among unreached language groups. (Sponsored Link)
Words from a Donkey
Are we really meant to believe that a donkey once spoke? That’s what Mitch Chase considers here.
I Just Need Something New!
“Your eyes pass back and forth over the clothes hanging in your closet. Nothing looks appealing. Nothing ‘sparks joy.’ I just need to throw it all out and start fresh. Maybe I should make one of those capsule wardrobes. After pulling an old sweatshirt over your head, you make your way to the kitchen. Rustling through the mismatched plates and chipped bowls, you pull out what you need for breakfast. We need some new dishes, no wonder I don’t invite people over to our house.” Etc…
Is It Wrong to Read Romance Novels?
This is something I was asked recently. I appreciate Barbara’s answer here.
If I Can Do It, Anyone Can
“I know I am small, ordinary, and emphatically average. Just one more face among billions. But this face is smiling. When I look around at my ordinary little life I see a wealth of blessings. I feel the richness of relationships and the love of my Creator, who designed me for a purpose in his kingdom that is more significant than any bank balance could ever be.”
Flashback: Why Do We Add To Our Trouble?
Our steps grow lighter when we repent of every sin, when we cast off every transgression, when we remove every hindrance. Holiness in our lives brings lightness to our steps.

God never calls you to a task without giving you what you need to do it. He never sends you without going with you. —Paul David Tripp

A La Carte (March 23)

Logos’ March Matchups is down to its final pairing, so you should go and vote one more time.

Yes, there are once again some new Kindle deals.
(Yesterday on the blog: On Being the Main Character in Your Own Sermon)
The Honorable, Shameful Service of True Leaders
This article offers some wisdom for leaders. “The balance that Jesus models so well for us is one in which leaders are honored, but they respond to this honoring by embracing sacrificial and costly service. This service in turn generates more respect, and that respect spurs on more lowly service, in a dance of sorts of mutual submission.”
Should Youth Groups Baptize or Celebrate the Lord’s Supper?
“Student ministries sometimes celebrate Baptism and the Lord’s Supper at camps, youth group, and small groups. This practice is seen as a meaningful way to follow God’s commands in an environment that is comfortable for students. While often well-intentioned, is this the most helpful way to think about the ordinances?” No! As Will Standridge explains.
What Matt Walsh Should Have Said to Joe Rogan (Video)
This is a helpful way to respond to a fairly common question.
Kevin DeYoung @RMC23 “What Isn’t The Misson of The Church?”
Looking through a Biblical framework at how we define “missions”. In an age where everything is missions, what isn’t missions and why are so many good things in that category? In this video from RMC22, Kevin DeYoung walks through why church planting should be the primary focus of missions. Join us in June for The Radius Conference 23 (Sponsored Link)
Marriage Isn’t Rehab for Sexual Sin
Rutledge Etheridge: “But doesn’t the apostle Paul tell Christians that if they can’t control their sexual desires, it’s ‘better to marry than to burn’ (1 Cor. 7:9)? Isn’t marriage, then, God’s prescription for dealing with sexual sin? Though this rehab view of marriage is pervasive, it distorts 1 Corinthians 7 and creates an unsafe situation for spouses.”
Struggling with the Struggle
Melissa considers how God works in our hard times. “Sanctification often hurts. We don’t have to hate ourselves for saying ouch. We do, after all, have a Savior who can identify with our weaknesses. He understands pain. He understands disappointment, heartache, and struggle. We can trust Him with this process, and we can trust Him with our feelings about this process.”
The World’s Most Popular Bible: A History of the New International Version (NIV)
You may enjoy reading this history of the NIV.
Flashback: 8 Ways God Works Suffering for Our Good
Suffering never comes our way apart from the purpose and providence of God and for that reason, suffering is always significant, never meaningless. Here are some ways that God brings good from our suffering.

If we do not believe in hell—if we think the only justice and retribution to be had is in this life—then we must take revenge into our own hands. Without hell, justice must be forcibly executed by us, or it will not be executed at all. —Dane Ortlund

On Being the Main Character in Your Own Sermon

If you’ve ever preached as much as a single sermon, if you’ve ever delivered as much as a single conference address, if you’ve ever led as much as a single Bible study, then I expect you know the temptation. I expect you have longed to make much of Jesus, but have also felt the desire to have people make much of you. I expect you have prayed that God would glorify himself through your words, but have also wished that those listening would glorify you, at least a little bit. This is a familiar, and I dare say universal, temptation for those who teach, lead, and minister.

This is a temptation I have to battle every time I stand before a group of people large or small, familiar or unfamiliar, far from home or in my local church. It is a temptation I battle as I study, as I prepare, as I preach, and as I engage with people after all has been said and done. It is a battle I’ve yet to win and, frankly, doubt I ever will completely.
Yet I have made some headway, I think.
I have made some headway by committing this to prayer, not just on a sermon-by-sermon basis, but in the big picture. I pray for the humility to go unseen, unacknowledged, and unremembered, so long as Christ is seen, acknowledged, and remembered. In fact, I pray that Christ would be so present and so visible that people would fail to think of me at all.
I have made some headway by reminding myself of the goodness and sufficiency of Scripture. If I had to stand before people and bring them some of my own wisdom I might well despair and boast—despair at the difficulty of the task and boast in any success I might have. But I really have nothing of value to bring, nothing that can bless, challenge, or strengthen people except for what God has already said.
I have made some headway by acknowledging the tension that exists—the tension that I may only know that God has used something I’ve said if people tell me. And the tension that such encouragement is a way in which others may wish to bless me.
And I have made some headway by pressing on, knowing that just as I will never preach a perfect sermon or deliver a perfect speech, neither will I ever be a perfect man preaching a sermon or a perfect man delivering a speech. I need to press on even if my heart is not fully pure and my desires fully blameless. Like Peter, I can sometimes only say, “Lord, you know! You know I love you. You know I want to honor you. You know I want you to be the hero.” And then I press on, doing my best, asking God to forgive any shortcomings in my words or my desires, asking him to grant what I desire at my best rather than at my worst.
And then I prepare to fight the same fight and plead the same grace the next time.

A La Carte (March 22)

May the Lord be with you and bless you today.

Westminster Books has a discount on a new book that looks excellent.
There are a few new Kindle deals today.
The World that Money Makes Go Round
“The economically inactive, we are told, are a hazard to the economy—although no one can quite bring themselves to say they’re doing anything wrong. They’re perhaps just a bit thoughtless as to how their leisure impacts others around them, like an old man in a speedo or an aloof housecat refusing to come inside when you want to lock up for the night.” Rhys Laverty considers the phrase “economically inactive.”
Fortnite Creative 2.0 Might Change Everything
“It is closest thing we’ve seen to a metaverse, and it arrives Wednesday.” Chris Martin explains why it’s such a big deal.
Do we have free will? (Video)
Do we have free will? Michael Reeves answers.
“March is that in-between month, when winter struggles to make space for spring. When too-early buds appear only to freeze. When snowstorms out of the north give way to thunderstorms rising from the south. Coats are exchanged for jackets and then sweaters, only to be replaced by coats again. And our spirits, still living in February’s Lent, lean forward to glimpse April’s Easter through the unremarkable month of March.”
The Gift of Friends Who Know Their Bible
I very much agree with this! “What a gift it is to have friends who know their Bible—friends who can gently correct us when we err, remind us of great truths when we live lies, encourage us to greater depths when we plateau, and model life under the authority of God’s word.”
I Always Feel the Worst Sunday Night, or How to Pray for Your Pastor
“I believe that preaching is more than just a man standing on a stage presenting truth. I have taught classes, done presentations in classes, even defended my master’s thesis and did not feel this exhausted and depressed. I believe that preaching is war. Preaching is exhausting on a spiritual level, not just physical and emotional.”
Flashback: 8 Ways God Turns Temptations to Blessings
Just as a tree which is blown by the wind is settled and rooted deeper into the ground, the coming of a temptation simply settles the Christian deeper into divine grace. Here are eight ways God brings good from temptation.

The universe is big. Why? To say something to us about the God who made it—He is bigger. —Steve DeWitt

A La Carte (March 21)

Logos has a sale on my recommended bundle of commentaries which will give your library a great boost. Also, be sure to keep voting in March Matchups.

Today’s Kindle deals include some more good books.
(Yesterday on the blog: If God Would Outsource His Sovereignty)
There is Something Better than Never Suffering
Jared Wilson: “It is the sustaining vision of eternal life in Christ that fixes even a lifetime of suffering to a fine point — a fine point that in the last day will be eclipsed by the glory of the radiant Christ, perhaps even distilled down to a jewel placed amidst your treasures, or placed in the crown of Christ himself as we offer our suffering up to him, finally in our fully sanctified state, truly not loving our own lives even unto death.”
What Is Anger?
That’s a question you may never have asked: What is anger anyway?
John MaCarthur on “A Faithful Gospel VS. A Quick Gospel” @ The Radius Conference
June 28-29, 2023 @ Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA.  John MacArthur will speak to the tried and true—the ordinary means of grace laid down in scripture versus the new and modern that is so popular in missions today. (Sponsored Link)
A Biblical Analysis of Critical Race Theory
SBTS has posted some interesting and in-depth articles about CRT and other important matters.
Ringing the Bell!
“Since MD Anderson established this small but significant gesture, the tradition of bell ringing for the end of cancer treatments has spread through the United States. When a brass bell rings through hospital halls, those listening to its chime understand that whoever is ringing the bell has struggled through the difficulty of cancer treatment, has endured, and is signifying their victory with pride and long-standing tradition.” Donna tells of how she was just able to ring the bell.
This seems like a useful and relevant term. “I coined a term which I love: Twitriol. Twitriol is that special invective reserved for the platform in which we scorn, abuse, gaslight, objectify, refuse to engage critically with, and give people as little leeway as possible. And all in the name of something, something like truth-telling or truth-seeking, or putting the story straight. Or whatever.”
It All Holds True
“What I’m saying is that I was surprised to see the Lord take years and years of unremarkable discipleship and teaching and church-going and praying—and He showed us that it all proves true. God really does sustain. Jesus really is with us. Faith really does grow with time. Scripture really is true. The Spirit really does sanctify. Your heart really is safe in the Father’s hand. His Word really doesn’t return void. Your kids really are listening when you’re sure they’re not. God really does answer prayers.”
Flashback: When “All Things” Don’t Feel So Good
We love God’s providence when it is perfectly aligned with our desires, but struggle with it when it opposes them. We find it easy to believe “all things work for good” when we experience times of joy and brightness, but difficult in times of trouble and confusion.

No friend I have like Thee to trust, for mortal helps are brittle dust. —Anne Bradstreet

If God Would Outsource His Sovereignty

I want you to imagine that, at least for a time, the Lord would see fit to involve us in selecting the providences we would receive from his hand. I want you to imagine that through one of his deputies—an angel perhaps—he would approach us to ask how we would prefer to serve him. In other words, I want you to imagine that for just a while he would choose to offshore his sovereignty and outsource it to us. I expect it might go something like this.

A day came when one of God’s angels appeared before a group of Christians who were worshipping together as a local church. He stood before them and said, “The Lord has asked me to distribute some of the gifts of his providence—gifts that will equip you to serve others on his behalf. I heard you singing ’Take My Life and Let It Be’ and thought this would be just the right time.”
“So first up I’ve got the gift of generosity. Is there someone here who would like to serve the Lord through the distribution of vast sums of money?” He glanced at a clipboard he held in his hands and added, “I should point out that this gift comes with a great deal of cash—it looks like 10 or 12 million dollars, and that’s just to start.”
Just about every hand shot up. The angel pointed at a couple of people who, with great smiles on their faces, came forward to collect their gift.
“And now I’ve got some rare talents to distribute.” Flipping quickly through the pages he said, “I’ve got a towering intellect, great athleticism, and prime leadership ability. Who would like those?”
Once more a great many hands went up and once more a group of people approached the front of the room to receive what they had chosen. To each the angel said, “Take this and commit it to the glory of God and the good of his people.” Each nodded solemnly as they took what was now theirs.
“Next I’ve got high position. It seems that someone here is destined for the corridors of power. Who would like to lead in this way?” There were perhaps fewer hands raised this time, but still a good many.
And so it went through magnetic personality and preaching ability and musical talent until there were just a few people who remained—a few people who, though they had raised their hands many times, had still not received their gift, their special calling from the Lord.
“Don’t worry. I’ve definitely got something for each of you. And it looks like the next item on my list is … quadriplegia. Who would like that?”
After an initial gasp of surprise, the people sat in silence, hands at their sides, eyes steadfastly fixed on the floor.
“No one wants this one? You all know of Joni Eareckson Tada, don’t you? Aren’t you thankful for her ministry? Haven’t you been blessed and inspired by her? Hasn’t her joy spurred on your own faith? Surely someone is willing to serve in the ways she has.”
Every hand remained down.
“I guess I’ll have to come back to that one. How about grievous loss? Who is willing to be bereaved so you can be a blessing to other Christians who will endure a loss of their own? You know, like Elisabeth Elliot—I know how much you love her story. Who is willing to lose a loved one and remain steadfast in your faith—to reassure others that you love God not just because of the good things he has given you, but because he is so worthy of your love?”
The room remained silent and still.
“Friends, listen, haven’t you ever been comforted in your sorrows by someone who had endured the same sorrow? Weren’t you thankful that God provided someone who truly understood your pain and who could comfort you with the comfort they had received from the Lord? Aren’t you willing or even eager to be that for someone else?”
Somewhere in the distance a lawnmower sputtered to life, but there was no other sound beyond the occasional nervous cough. The angel, perhaps a little sorrowful now, began to flip quickly through the sheets on his clipboard.
“Infertility? Widowhood? Persecution? Miscarriage? Won’t anyone take these? Won’t anyone accept them?”
From the back of the room a voice finally broke the awkward silence: “Do you have any more of those rare talents or high positions?”

 The reality, of course, is that God does not ask what gifts of his providence we would like to receive from his hand. But he does hear us when we sing “take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee.” He does take us at our word when we sing “All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give.” He does listen and respond when we echo Jesus to say, “Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” He distributes the gifts of his providence in ways that further his cause and bless his people.
And as we receive these from his hand we can rest assured that in the life of the Christian there are not two classes of providence, one good and one bad. No, though some may be easy and some hard, all are good because all in some way flow from his good, Fatherly hand and all in some way can be consecrated to his service. For we are not our own, but belong to him in body and in soul, in life and in death, in joy and in sorrow, in the circumstances we would have chosen anyway and the ones we would have avoided at all costs. It falls to us to receive what he assigns—to receive it with trust in his goodness and with confidence in his purposes, willing and eager to steward it all faithfully for the good of his beloved people and the glory of his great name.

A La Carte (March 20)

Good morning. Grace and peace to you.

Today’s Kindle deals include a great selection from Crossway.
I happened to notice that Amazon has a good number of games and activities on sale today.
(Yesterday on the blog: A Man Both Bruised and Broke)
My Father’s Death Brought Me Life
This is powerful in its own way. “I thought death meant being stuck in the dark, like being inside a vacuum. I wasn’t afraid of the cold but of being desperately alone. No one would hear me. No one would come to help me. And I’d be lying there forever. As I grew, this fear of death and loneliness was replaced by a general anxiety mixed with the knowledge that my deep fear of dying revealed a lack of faith and trust in God.”
The Platform Problem
Pierce has an interesting one that considers writers and their need for platform.
Hollywood, Netflix, & Co. Know Our Hearts
“This tragic moment in human history was when a new kingdom was born—the kingdom of ‘I’ and selfishness. Since the Fall of man described in Genesis 3, man does not want to fulfill his creation mandate—to live solely for the glorification of his Creator. Quite the opposite. He wants to make himself the center of his own kingdom, his own universe, and his own glorification.”
Say What, Paul? Six Things 1 Timothy 2:8–15 Does Not Mean
1 Timothy 2:8–15 is a tricky text—and as important as knowing what it says is knowing what it doesn’t say.
Does God have Emotions?
“Christians claim God is impassible—without passions. For example, the Westminster Confession of Faith affirms, God is ‘without body, parts, or passions’ (2.1). For most people, this seems to affirm God has no emotions under the reasonable assumption that passions are emotions. But such a teaching, although everywhere present in the history of Christianity, seems at variance with biblical teaching.” Wyatt tries to put together some of the pieces.
What Jesus Saw When He Looked at Peter after the Rooster Crowed
“How do you think Jesus looked at Peter? Was Jesus surprised? Frustrated? Ashamed? If you are a Christian, then your understanding of how Jesus looked at Peter is foundational to your perception of how he looks at you when you sin.”
Flashback: Are You Writing Headlines for You or Articles for Them?
It is no great feat to create the kind of headline that will get people to your site. What is much harder is to create content that will actually benefit them once they get there.

We would better be content to have our good deeds go unpraised, than that our own lips should speak the praise. —J.R. Miller

A Man Both Bruised and Broke

With the Easter season fast approaching,  I thought I would share a sweet poem by Robert Herrick that considers the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice along with the reality that we still suffer. Here is how he thought about these truths.

Have, have ye no regard, all yeWho pass this way, to pity me,Who am a man of misery!
A man both bruised, and broke, and oneWho suffers not here for mine own,But for my friends’ transgression!
Ah! Sions Daughters, do not fearThe cross, the cords, the nails, the spear,The myrrh, the gall, the vinegar:
For Christ, your loving Saviour, hathDrunk up the wine of God’s fierce wrath;Only, there’s left a little froth,
Less for to taste, than for to show,What bitter cups had been your due,Had He not drunk them up for you.

Weekend A La Carte (March 18)

My thanks goes to The Good Book Company for sponsoring the blog this week. I am so grateful for each and every one of the sponsors who help keep this site going.

Logos has a sale on my recommended bundle of commentaries. Also, be sure to keep voting in March Matchups.
Today’s Kindle deals include a good selection of titles.
(Yesterday on the blog: Now What?)
How the Side B Project Failed
Bethel McGrew writes about the Side B project. “The speed of this decline naturally prompts a question: Was there ever anything to salvage? In its current incarnation, are we witnessing a radical moral turn? Or are we witnessing the inevitable end of an inherently flawed project?”
Lessons in Waiting for Water
“It stands to reason that we who live with the comforts of a first-world society should be the spiritual giants of our time. Think of all of the ways God has blessed us with safety and freedom and opportunity. Imagine how much of our lives could be spent falling on our knees in gratefulness, devouring the Word with expectation for what He will do next. Consider how much time we have to study, to worship, to pray, to reflect on the goodness of God when we don’t have to struggle to survive.” But…
The Story Isn’t Finished
Sarah writes very openly here. “Most of my fifteen years of motherhood have been spent sitting outside or inside my precious child’s room, trying to protect him by keeping him (and I) safe as his illness turned him into someone he couldn’t control. Fifteen years of traumatic memories and experiences I must carry mostly alone due to its nature.”
What does it mean to rejoice always, even with all the evil in the world?
Sinclair Ferguson: “To rejoice always doesn’t mean that we rejoice in the evil. It doesn’t mean that we like suffering, although we rejoice even in suffering. The basic explanation is that we rejoice in all circumstances because we have a reason to rejoice—and that reason is our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Fears and Hopes We Sing in Lullabies
Nadya Williams writes about lullabies from her childhood. “So goes one of the melancholy lullabies I remember from my Russian childhood, and which I have been singing to my own children over the years out of habit, out of love, and out of the sense that at the end of the day, as they fall asleep, songs in a language they do not know still somehow speak more powerfully than spoken words in a language familiar to them.”
Love Letters of Scripture
This article considers the evident love in Scripture”s letters. “I want to have that kind of joy in my life. I want to rejoice in all that the Lord has given me with a humble spirit and a grateful heart. Paul’s letters are loving reminders of the gift of our salvation through belief in Jesus Christ.”
Flashback: It Takes a Church To Raise Your Child
The proverb demands more than allowing others to troubleshoot my children’s poor behaviour. It invites others to provide input into the development of their character.

Humility is the only soil in which true unity can grow. Only when Christ is more precious to us than our own reputations will we give up our petty rivalries and personal agendas. Only when his glory eclipses all else will we live for his cause and no other. —Michael Reeves

Free Stuff Fridays (The Good Book Company)

This week’s Free Stuff Friday is sponsored by The Good Book Company. They have five book bundles for giveaway, featuring titles to encourage you that the Gospel is Good News for everyone. The giveaway will close on March 24th at noon EST.

Is God Anti-Gay?(Expanded and Updated) by Sam Allberry
Author and speaker Sam Allberry has expanded and restructured his best-selling book, which draws on his own experience as a believer who experiences same-sex attraction. As well as exploring Bible passages that talk directly about homosexuality, this new edition frames the whole discussion with Jesus’ general teaching on sex and marriage, as well as what Jesus teaches about finding ultimate satisfaction and happiness. It also challenges the current culture narrative, which inextricably ties sexuality to personal identity, and he shows that the gospel is good news for everyone, whatever their sexual orientation.
This sensitive exploration of the Bible’s teaching on sexuality has been written to help both Christians and non-Christians struggling with the Bible’s teaching on this issue, whether they experience same-sex attraction themselves or not.
Essential Christianity by J.D. Greear
Drawing on passages from Romans 1 to 12, J.D. Greear unpacks the essential aspects of the Christian message, showing both secular and religious people what the gospel is and how it addresses our most pertinent questions. The gospel, as he explains, is not just about life after death; it’s about reclaiming the life we’ve always yearned to live.
Whether you are exploring the core concepts of Christianity or you are a weary Christian wanting to rediscover the excitement and joy of knowing God, this warm and compelling explanation of the goodness, truth, and power at the heart of the Christian faith is for you.
This resource can be used for outreach or discipleship and is great to read with other people. It can also be used alongside J.D.’s Romans video series on RightNow Media.
[embedded content]
Life with Jesus by Tim Chester
What does Christian discipleship look like in practice? This 12-session discipleship course, perfect for individuals or groups, looks at how the gospel and God’s grace can shape our attitude towards church, Bible reading, prayer, suffering, how to use our money and many other aspects of life.
Incorporating Bible study, clear explanations and thought-provoking discussion questions, these sessions can be completed in around an hour and are designed to be used flexibly in different contexts: individually, in small groups, or one-to-one. Includes plenty of material to engage mature Christians as well as new believers, and an emphasis on practical, real-life application to help people follow Jesus in every area of their lives.
Is Easter Unbelievable? by Rebecca McLaughlin
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is an extraordinary thing to believe. Such a supernatural event is the stuff of make-believe, many think. Yet millions of Christians around the world believe that Jesus’ resurrection was a real, historical event. Indeed, “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” and Christians are “of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15)
In this concise book, respected apologist Rebecca McLaughlin outlines the evidence that Jesus really did rise from the dead and why it’s the best news ever. Ideal to give away at Easter outreach services and events, as well as to give to new Christians wanting to remind themselves of the evidence for their faith.
God’s Very Good Idea Board Book
Using simple sentences and stunning illustrations, this board book shows toddlers that they are made by God to be the people they are. And it teaches them that God made everyone to be different (different sexes, skin colors, and interests), but he values all of us equally as people made in his image.
This foundational book on value and diversity makes a perfect gift for toddlers. (The corresponding storybook for 3-6-year-olds expand on these truths, adding more detail, explanation, and context.)
Again, there are five 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. When you enter, you permit The Good Book Company to send you marketing emails. The winners will be notified via email, and those who do not win will receive an email with the option to download a free e-copy of Is Easter Unbelievable?. The giveaway closes on Friday, March 24th at noon EST.

Scroll to top