Tim Challies

If We Could Both Go Together

I am slowly (but steadily!) making my way through the collected sermons of De Witt Talmage. Though he is little-known and little-remembered today, he was considered one of the great preachers of his time. In one of his sermons I found this sweet tribute to his parents and the joy of a long marriage.

My mind is full of the memory of a couple who were united in holy marriage December 19th, 1803. Their Christian names were old-fashioned like themselves: David the one, Catharine the other. They lived to see their crystal wedding, their silver wedding, their golden wedding, and nine years beside. They lived to weep over the graves of three of their children. They lived to pass through many hardships and trials, but they kept the Christian faith, they lived for God, for each other, for their children, and for everybody but themselves.
Their hair grew white with age, and their steps became shorter and shorter, and their voice tremulous in the church psalm, though once they had led in the village choir. The one leaned heavily on a staff which I have in my house today, but heavier on the arm of God, who had always helped them. They were well mated. What was the joy of the one was the joy of the other, what was the sorrow of the one was the sorrow of the other.
At last they parted. My father, though a very tender-hearted man, I never saw cry but once, and that at my mother’s burial. You see they had lived together fifty-nine years. My mother said in her dying moments to my father, “Father, wouldn’t it be pleasant if we could both go together?” But three years soon passed, and they were reunited. Their children are gradually joining them, and will soon all be there; but the vision of that married life will linger in my memory forever.
Together in the village church where they stood up to take the vows of the Christian just before their marriage day. Together through all the vicissitudes of a long life. Together this morning in the quiet of the Somerville graveyard. Together in heaven.
Oh! there are many in the house this morning who can say with William Cowper:

My boast is not that I deduce my birthFrom loins enthroned and rulers of the earth;But higher far my proud pretensions rise,The son of parents passed into the skies.

Weekend A La Carte (May 20)

I am sure you have heard by now that Tim Keller went to be with the Lord yesterday. The Keller family shared this on social media: “Timothy J. Keller, husband, father, grandfather, mentor, friend, pastor, and scholar died this morning at home. Dad waited until he was alone with Mom. She kissed him on the forehead and he breathed his last breath. We take comfort in some of his last words ‘There is no downside for me leaving, not in the slightest.’ See you soon Dad.”

There are, of course, many tributes in his honor. Christianity Today’s headline is Died: Tim Keller, New York City Pastor Who Modeled Winsome Witness. The Gospel Coalition has an official notice and obituary and also a number of tributes from friends and colleagues, including this lovely one from D.A. Carson and this video full of reflections. Michael Kruger’s was helpful in addressing Keller’s famous winsomeness. The New York Times also ran an obituary.
(Yesterday on the blog: Lessons for a Life of Joyful Eagerness)
Taken So Suddenly, Missed So Greatly, But Safe with Jesus
Harry Reeder passed away a couple of days ago and I was thankful to read Al Mohler’s tribute to the man.
Giving Thanks for Harry Reeder (1948–2023)
I was also thankful to read Kevin DeYoung’s expression of gratitude for Reeder’s life, influence, and friendship.
Jesus can’t wait to see you either, Tim
Though this was written before Keller’s death, I appreciate its affirmation of a wondrous truth: that Jesus is more eager to see us than we are to see him.
We Travel to a World Unseen
“’These all died in faith, not having received the things promised,’ the writer admits. But notice their vision: ‘Having seen them and greeted them from afar,’ they ‘acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth’ (Hebrews 11:13). Their hearts smiled as they bowed into the grave because they saw promises coming. Promises more powerful than death.”
Since Jesus defeated sin, death, and the devil, why are we still battling these enemies? (Video)
Sinclair Ferguson has a characteristically good answer to this question.
You Cannot Out-Sin the Cross
This is such a precious truth: you cannot out-sin the cross.
Flashback: You, Yes You, Are a Minister!
One of the great joys and responsibilities of the Christian life is to open your Bible with others and to show them what God says. There is way more ministering to be done in the church than can be done by paid pastors or even by elders

I believe that a woman who loses interest in her Bible has not been equipped to love it as she should. The God of the bible is too lovely to abandon for lesser pursuits. —Jen Wilkin

Lessons for a Life of Joyful Eagerness

I love a good biography. I love a good biography when it’s a “standard” or “pure” biography that simply describes a person’s life from beginning to end. But I also love a good biography when it is written purposefully or thematically—when instead of chronologically detailing all the events of a person’s life it provides selective details and draws lessons for its readers. This is exactly the kind of biography Mary Mohler has written about Susannah Spurgeon in Susannah Spurgeon: Lessons for a Life of Joyful Eagerness in Christ. And it’s a joy to read.

Susannah Spurgeon was, of course, the wife of the great preacher Charles Spurgeon, a man so uniquely gifted and whose influence was so vast, that everyone around him stood in his shadow. Yet while Susannah was in no way ashamed to be so closely identified with her husband that she is often only described in relation to him, she had a life, ministry, and impact that was all her own. Yes, she was Mrs. C.H. Spurgeon and plenty pleased with that fact. But she was also her own person with her own gifts, her own talents, her own means of serving others both alongside her husband and apart from him.
Mohler writes this book with the particular audience of Christian women in mind. There is a sense in which it flows out of her ministry at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in which she serves as Director of the Seminary Wives Institute. “My goal,” she says, “is to write about what we as women—primarily women married to men in ministry, but also to Christian women in general—can learn from the remarkable life of Susannah Thompson Spurgeon.” And while she is neither a historian nor a biographer, “I have been a ministry wife for forty years and counting, and have been training future ministry wives for twenty-five years, so I have some stories to tell.”
And that introduces one of the strengths of this book. Because this is not a formal biography, she is able to make it personal and to integrate some of her own experiences—a factor that adds both human interest and life application. In fact, each chapter ends with a number of questions meant for quiet reflection.
Along the way, she chooses to focus on six themes, each of which is applicable to Christian women in general and to ministry wives in particular. She looks at Susannah’s life prior to being married and to her conversion to Christianity; she looks at her marriage and her devotion to her husband; she looks at her commitment to her home, both as a mother and as someone who carried out a ministry from the home; she looks at the deep physical suffering that for many years left her housebound and often bedridden; she looks at her response to some of the controversy she and her husband endured and also to her years as a widow. The book concludes with a selection of Susannah’s own writings for she was a talented and widely-read author in her own regard. In each case, Mohler quotes both original writings by Susannah and Charles Spurgeon along with information gleaned from their many biographers. And in each case, she ensures that the events of Susannah’s life lead naturally to application that is relevant to today’s readers.
Susannah Spurgeon: Lessons for a Life of Joyful Eagerness in Christ is an easy-to-read little biography that is as interesting as it is beautifully written. Whether for a ministry wife, for a Christian woman, or for anyone else (including men), I give it my highest recommendation.
Buy from Amazon

A La Carte (May 19)

I was so sorry to hear of the sudden death of Rev. Harry Reeder on Thursday. (See also this news story) Also in the realm of sad news, Tim Keller’s family just shared the news that he has been discharged from the hospital to receive hospice care at home. I’m sure we will all be in prayer for both families and churches.

Today you’ll find a good discount at Westminster Books on a resource meant as a systematic theology for beginners.
I’m So Glad It’s You
This is such an encouraging article for those who are suffering.
Don’t Give Up Too Quickly
Erik Raymond reminds us that we cannot give up too quickly when we pray.
Get Acquainted with a Forgotten Treasure
Although William Burkitt is not well-known in our day, he was known and acclaimed in days past as an especially brilliant expositor and commentator. His Expository Notes, with Practical Observations, on the New Testament is being reprinted and Derek Thomas says, “Generations to come will now profit from his exceptionally good comments.” (Sponsored)
Did Hannah Manipulate God?
“‘God, if You get me out of this alive, I swear I’ll turn my life around. No more drinking. No more women. I’ll fly straight from now on, I promise.’ Meanwhile, bombs and grenades explode all around this terrified soldier, terrified for his life. You’re probably familiar with this movie trope in which the desperate protagonist tries to cut a deal with God in return for sparing his life. But it doesn’t happen just on the big screen…”
Is the NIV Missing Verses? (Video)
I enjoy Mark Ward’s growing collection of videos that take on common issues related to KJV-onlyism (which is not to be confused with a simple honor, respect, or preference for the KJV).
Abortion to Prevent Premature Death
Should it be morally permissible to abort your child if that child will die shortly after birth? That’s the question at the heart of this article.
Flashback: In the Name of Jesus
…when we obey him by uttering the precious phrase “In Jesus’ name,” far be it from us to do so lightly, to do so tritely, to do so without due honor, due worship, due reverence.

Often our friends…can sympathize with us when we are in trouble, but they have no power to deliver us from it. But Christ is almighty. He is never in the position of wishing He could help but not having the power to do so. —J.C. Ryle

A La Carte (May 18)

Good morning to you!

This has been a good week for Kindle deals—and there are more to be had today.
(Yesterday on the blog: The Worst Defeat in All of Human History)
The Case for Ditching Your Smartphone (from Someone Who Has Never Owned One)
I really enjoyed this article and was challenged by it (though I am very unlikely to do all it recommends)! “I turn 40 years old later this year and I’ve never owned a smartphone. I am a technological anachronism: a living, breathing social experiment in 2023 America.”
Attention, Affection, Authority
Bob and Julie Kauflin have some wisdom here for parents. “In these years far removed from the daily pressures of raising little ones, Julie and I have identified at least three ways God calls us to reflect his fatherly heart in the way we raise our children.”
Faithful Truth + Literary Grace
William Burkitt’s Expository Notes, with Practical Observations, on the New Testament is a forgotten classic, available soon in a beautiful reprint, that “is not only faithful to biblical truth; it expresses that truth with literary grace.” (Sponsored)
Believe it or Not: One Day Drag Queen Story Hour Will Be a Drag
This is true: that even for those who find Drag Queen Story Hour so thrilling right now, it will eventually prove to be a big letdown.
The Spider-Man Fallacy Fallacy
This article shows that the so-called Spider-Man fallacy is itself a kind of fallacy.
What Is Christian Science?
Ligonier has a nice little primer on Christian Science (which, of course, is neither Christian nor scientific).
Finding Rest on the Road
I appreciate Kody’s call here to make it your habit to find a local church on your vacations.
Flashback: The Dead Seriousness of Careless Words
Words can strengthen the weak or crush them, comfort the sorrowful or grieve them, relieve the burdened or weigh them down all the more. Words can be a taste of life or a savor of death, a scent of heaven or a whiff of hell. They can do the work of God or of the devil, serve the cause of Christ or of his enemies.

The more times we are in narrow straits, and we see God bring us through, the more peace and courage we will have as time goes on. —Tim Keller

The Worst Defeat in All of Human History

The history of warfare has provided some shocking defeats. There’s the infamous battle of Cannae, of course, in which Hannibal routed the Roman forces, despite being significantly outnumbered. There’s the battle of Agincourt in which the English had a force just one-third the size of the French, yet inflicted vastly more casualties. There’s the utter destruction of the Spanish Armada in which the English navy and the wind and waves conspired to crush the Spanish forces. For every great military victory, there is a shocking defeat.

But the greatest is still to come. The last enemy to fall will be the one who suffers the greatest defeat in all of history, a defeat so great it is beyond our ability to even imagine or enumerate it.
In his letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul describes this enemy and its downfall: “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” In this portion of his letter he is consoling Christians about the reality of their eventual demise and assuring them that the grave is not the end, for just as Jesus rose, so will all his people. In fact, so will all people, whether they belong to Jesus or have remained obstinately distant from him.
To this point in history, death has claimed 100% percent of humanity. Every single person who has ever been born has also died. Despite human progress, despite advances in science and medicine, despite groundbreaking new technologies, the morality rate continues at a tight 100%. We hear often of billionaires who are obsessed with extending their lifespans and of transhumanists who are attempting to upload consciousness to the cloud where a person could supposedly live on indefinitely. But we all know that it’s nothing but nonsense, nothing but a big distraction from the reality that death will claim us in the end. Even if we could double or triple the length of our days, death will eventually come calling and that will be that.
But there will be a time when death’s reign will come to a sure and sudden end. And in that day, all those who have died will be raised. Though we are accustomed to speaking about the resurrection of those who are in Christ, this resurrection will extend equally to those who are outside of Christ. Paul says, “there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15). Meanwhile, John says, “For an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.” Yet this resurrected population will be divided into two groups with two very different destinies: “those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28–29).
Death has claimed all of humanity but will be forced to release all of humanity. Death has reigned in total triumph but will experience total loss. Death has put us to death, but will itself will be put to death. And we know this because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a kind of proof and down payment to demonstrate that God has power and authority over death.
In even the greatest military victories there has still been loss. King Henry may have won the Battle of Agincourt, but he still lost several hundred soldiers. Though the English triumphed over the Spanish in the English Channel, they still suffered casualties. There are no perfectly clean victories. Except this one. For the grave will give up her dead. All of her dead. Though death has claimed 100% of humanity, it will retain 0% of humanity. There could be no more complete defeat, no more colossal calamity.
And so, though death intimidates us, we can approach it with confidence, knowing that its doom is sure. Though the grave yawns open to receive us, we can go that way certain that we will return. Though death will add us to its rolls, we know its victory will be short-lived, for, when God’s purposes are complete and the time is right, “the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52). We shall rise, we shall live, and to death we will say with triumph, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” And, if we love Christ, we shall go on to live with him and reign with him forever and ever.

A La Carte (May 17)

May the Lord be with you and bless you today.

Once again you’ll find a selection of new Kindle deals.
Ever Yours, Sin
Here’s a fresh take on sin and sanctification: A letter from sin to the redeemed soul.
The History Of Transformation Church And Mike Todd (Video)
This is a really interesting look at Mike Todd and Transformation Church. (Also, here’s Todd Friel on How Sitting Under Weak Preaching Actually Puts You In Danger)
Get Acquainted with a Forgotten Treasure
Although William Burkitt is not well-known in our day, he was known and acclaimed in days past as an especially brilliant expositor and commentator. His Expository Notes, with Practical Observations, on the New Testament is being reprinted and Derek Thomas says, “Generations to come will now profit from his exceptionally good comments.” (Sponsored)
Your Physical Health is a Spiritual Issue
“There are many things as a pastor that are difficult to speak about. Divorce is one of those, for instance, because so many people are impacted by divorce. Increasingly, all sexual ethics are challenging to speak about because there are often homosexual people in our audiences or people who are living with someone who isn’t their spouse.”
Serving God in Unglamorous Places
I appreciate Stephen Steele’s call for pastors to consider ministry in places less glamorous than big cities.
Secondary Enemy
Counselor Crystal Kershaw writes about a counselee who “fought a fierce battle to overcome a troublesome pattern of sin in her life. It was a significant struggle, but she fought hard with the weapons of truth, humility, and faith. Through Christ’s resurrection power, she gained victory. Yet now she finds herself attacked by a secondary enemy, an unexpected one.”
Treasures of Darkness
Donna writes about some of the treasures of the darkness she has experienced lately.
Flashback: How Many Loves Have You Experienced Today?
The God who loves created a world of love. What a pleasure it is to live in this world, his world, and to experience love as both a giver and a receiver of its infinite forms.

Affliction is a bitter root, but it bears sweet fruit. —Thomas Watson

A La Carte (May 16)

Blessings to you today, my friends.

Today’s Kindle deals include a couple of interesting titles.
(Yesterday on the blog: The God Who Knows)
Thoughts from an Are Not
“Really effective preaching takes place by a man who is part of the church in which he preaches, and he is preaching to people he knows. He is preaching to people he has visited, prayed with, prayed for. He knows that when he goes into the pulpit there are sitting in front of him people who are overcome with all kinds of problems.”
Why I Loved Caring for My Aging Parents
Deborah Smith explains why caring for her aging parents was a blessing.
The testimony we want our children to have
“It was the testimony of John the Baptist (Luke 1:41, 44). It was very likely the testimony of Timothy (2 Tim 1:5; 3:15). Of course, it was the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ par excellence (Luke 2:40, 52). What was it?” It’s a great one!
Pastor Rob Ventura Discusses William Burkeitt’s New Testament Commentary
Some years ago, I discovered Burkitt’s New Testament commentary online and have used it with much joy ever since. There are so many things I like about this work that I could not keep it to myself. To my great delight, Mike Gaydosh at Solid Ground Christian Books agreed to publish this valuable volume, having used it himself for many years with much profit. (Sponsored Link)
At what point is it appropriate to leave your church? (Video)
Here’s a pair of good answers to an oh-so-common question.
To Those Who Fear They Aren’t Radical Enough
“Growing up as a teenager in the church, there were a lot of calls to step up and do something radical. Don’t be content with being ordinary. Be bold and take risks for God. Do something extreme and revolutionary. That’s how you grow your faith and glorify God in the best way possible. That message hasn’t changed much as I’ve grown older.”
Fantasy Football and the Death of the Book
Joe has some counsel meant to help you become a more effective reader.
Flashback: Fathers (and Mothers), Do Not Provoke Your Children!
There may be times when your children’s anger toward you is more righteous than your actions or attitude toward them.

A mother’s relationship with her child is one that will encompass a lifetime. How blessed is a child who has that anchor of strength and support. —Sally Clarkson

The God Who Knows

We are weak creatures—little, frail, and lacking in wisdom and knowledge. But all is not lost because the Bible assures us that God is fully aware of our weaknesses and, even better, cares about them. As the author of Hebrews says, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.”

What does it mean that we have weaknesses? Certainly it means that we are morally weak, that we are prone to sin and that we face constant temptations to rebel against God. But it means more than that. It means that we are physically weak, embodied beings who get sick and get tired, who are prone to illness and who eventually die. It means that we are intellectually weak, limited in our understanding and, therefore, in our ability to make sense of circumstances and make good decisions. It means that we are emotionally weak, that our minds and hearts easily grow weary and downcast, and are sometimes even diseased and afflicted. All this and much more.
And then all of these weaknesses accompany us through the toughest of circumstances. We most certainly do experience many great joys in this life, but also many deep sorrows. We face bodily diseases and mental traumas, we face relational discord and friendships that are cut off by death. We have children who disobey and spouses who betray, we face the fires of persecution and the consequences of our own poor decisions.
And as if all this was not already hard enough, every sorrow, and every pain, and every trial brings with it the temptation to sin. It is so often when we are at our weakest that temptations are strongest, when we are most broken that sin promises to make us whole. It is right then that the world entices us, the flesh ensnares us, the devil incites us. Our enemies don’t fight fair. We can never for a moment let down our guard.
We are so weak. Life is so hard. Our enemies are so vicious. But God is so good. For it’s to weak people, not strong or self-sufficient people, that the Bible assures us that Jesus knows. He knows the facts of your weaknesses, and even better, he knows the experience of your weaknesses.
We can be certain that he knows the facts of them because, as it says in the verse before, Jesus has passed through the heavens, which means that he is reigning over this world, seeing and knowing and maintaining authority over all that happens within it. He sees your suffering and he knows all about it. He hasn’t missed it. He hasn’t failed to spot it. It is before his eyes and within his mind. And you can be certain he knows the experience of your weaknesses as well because Jesus, the eternal Son of God, the one who was present at the creation of the world, the one who with the word of his power upholds the world, took on flesh and entered into the world. He laid aside his glory and became weak. Without ceasing to be God, he became man. And as a man, he faced the sorrows and the temptations and the weaknesses that any human being endures. He was “tempted as we are.”
The text says he was tempted in every respect as we are. That doesn’t mean he faced every possible temptation a human being can face, but that he faced every kind or category. He was tempted to outright defy the revealed will of God; he was tempted to only partially obey the will of God; he was tempted to twist the Word of God. And then he was tempted by the circumstances of his life, for he existed within a finite, weak body like yours and mine. And in that weak body he endured sorrow and loss, he endured insults and betrayal, he endured physical pain and emotional agony. He was weak and in those weaknesses surely tempted to respond poorly, to add sin to sorrow, to add rebellion to pain. It was when he had been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights—when he was hungry and weary—that Satan launched his full-out assault. It was when he was already in physical and spiritual agony that people goaded him to forsake the cross and save himself.
Yet there is this great difference between Jesus and us: He passed through each and every test of character and through each and every temptation without sin. Never once did he mess up, never once did he fail to the love the Lord his God with his whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Never once did he fail to love his neighbor as himself.
The writer of Hebrews wants us to understand: because Jesus was weak and tempted, he knows—he knows what it is to be weak and tempted. He has experienced it himself. He has endured it himself.
There is such comfort to be had here. There is such comfort in understanding that Jesus knows what you are going through. He sees it all, so understands the facts of it. But he also knows what it is like to face the most grievous circumstances, to endure the greatest sorrows, to face the fiercest temptations. Which means that as you face the trials, difficulties, and even traumas of life, you can remember and you must believe—Jesus knows and Jesus cares. In your most difficult hour and your darkest valley, you have the sympathy of God himself.

A La Carte (May 15)

Good morning. Grace and peace to you.

Today’s Kindle deals include a nice selection, most of which are published by Crossway.
(Yesterday on the blog: Mothers Have Wondrous Healing Lips)
5 Misconceptions about Heaven and Hell (and 5 Truths)
There is so much misunderstanding about heaven and hell. This article offers some clarity by addressing a few common misunderstandings.
If There’s No Purgatory, Will We Be Pure Enough for Heaven?
And speaking of heaven and hell, how that purgatory? Without that place of purification, could we ever be pure enough to enter heaven?
How to Read the Prophets
“The Prophets are difficult to understand. In part, that is because God revealed Himself to them in dreams and visions. Only with Moses did God speak face to face (Num. 12:6–8). The Major Prophets include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. The Minor Prophets include Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Here are several tips that will help you read and understand the Prophetic Books.” They are helpful tips!
Why Is the SBC Membership Declining?
“The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) released its annual statistics about membership, attendance, baptism, and other matters this week. The data paints a portrait of the largest Protestant denomination in the United States undergoing a significant decline in a relatively short period of time.” Ryan Burge explains what’s going on.
To the Soon-To-Be Pastor
This article offers wisdom to those pastors who may just be graduating and heading into their first position. But, of course, the wisdom goes farther than that.
Wise Women Build Homes: Motherhood’s Lasting Influence
Here’s one for the moms.
Flashback: Two Lives Blending Into One Life
…their two lives should blend in one life with no thought, no desire, no feeling, no joy or sorrow, no pleasure or pain, unshared.

Our sins are many, but His mercies are more: our sins are great, but His righteousness is greater: we are weak, but He is power. —John Newton

Scroll to top