Tim Challies

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.        Best Hike in Every State: Looks like my bucket list just grew. Tell me if you've gone on any of these hikes. They look great.

2.       When Grumbling Meets Gossip: Tim Challies helpfully clarifies the difference between grumbling, gossip, and disputing. He concludes, " There will be times when we disagree with others. There will be times when we need to confront other people for their sinful actions or attitudes or to dispute with others to contend for the truth and guard the gospel. But both must be handled with love and grace. Both must be seen as opportunities to further unity rather than further disrupt it. Both must be seen as threats to our calling to shine as lights in this dark and needy world."

3.       When Churches Can't Do Everything: I love when people enthusiastically bring their ideas and their willingness to serve to the church. But a church can't do everything. Kevin DeYoung gives excellent advice to congregants bringing their ideas to church leaders, explaining why they might receive a no, and how to receive that no.

4.       How Your Church Can Grow Young: Three of the foremost experts on Millennials and Gen Z in the church, Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin offer helpful advice, " What really stood out was the way the churches made young people feel like family. In fact, the phrase like family surfaced as the most common term young people used to describe their church in our interviews and field visits."

5.       The Most Populous Cities in the World From 1500-2018: You'll want to watch this through a couple of times to track some intriguing information. For instance, watch trends in Europe, Asia, and the Americas over the centuries.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       The Unattainable Perfectionism of Millennials: Gene Veith reflects on a new study, "The young adults of the Millennial generation are showing a higher rate of mental problems than previous generations.  A study says that the problem is perfectionism and their inability to attain it. As Rachel Genevieve Chia reports, 'A study on the topic shows this phenomenon is unique to millennials, who are under immense pressure from always being ‘sifted, sorted and ranked’– in exams, job performance assessments, or on social media, where they feel compelled to curate a perfect life.' As a result, they are subject to depression, anxiety, anorexia, and suicide."

2.       The Joys and Limitations of Male-Female FriendshipsTim Challies with a helpful reflection on the beauty of the brotherly and sisterly relationships we have in Christ and the limitation of that analogy.

3.       5 Ways to Be a Godly GrandparentNice little post by Avery Foley here. I especially like #3: "Tell stories. Many grandchildren, and even children, know surprisingly little about the lives their grandparents or parents lived. You may not want to talk about yourself, or you may be much more interested in what’s going on with the grand kids, but tell them stories. Share about the good times, the funny times, and the hard times. Tell how God’s mercy and grace got you through hardships. Be open about struggles you’ve had and how God’s Word gave you the wisdom and answers you needed. Your wisdom can help your grandchildren know what you did right so they can emulate it. And it can highlight what you did wrong so they know what not to do!"

4.       Should We Expect Miracles Today? Stephen Kneale with a helpful clarification regarding the question of the miraculous, "Now, I want to be clear that I do believe that the Lord may work miracles as he chooses today. But I do not believe that the Lord will work miracles throughany given individual today. That is, I don’t expect people to be able to wave their hand and the lame jump up and walk."

5.       Why Authenticity Matters: Eugene Cho with a brief, but thoughtful reflection. "You cannot be in relationship without authenticity."

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Which Generation is the Loneliest? Surprisingly, Gen Z wins this distinction, but not for the reasons we might assume: "The study found no correlation between social media use and feelings of loneliness. Very heavy users of social media scored about the same on the loneliness scale as those who never use it."

2.      What is a Woman? Sandra Glahn answers this question deftly, She concludes, "In a world in which #MeToo and #ChurchToo remind us that brokenness has infiltrated every part of society including the church, the Bible’s truths are absolutely relevant. When God brought ishah (woman) to ish (man), he called their partnership “very good.” Let us show by our words and actions that we believe his words to be true."

3.      It's No Tragedy to Miss the Model: Til Challies reminds us that if marriage is a model, missing the model and gaining the real thing is okay: "Marriage is the miniature or the model while Christ and his church are full-scale, the real thing. This leads to an important application that pertains especially to those who are not married. When we understand the meaning of marriage, we realize that even if you never marry or are no longer married, you are not missing out on something that is essential to the human experience. If marriage had no meaning beyond itself, perhaps you would be missing out on something essential. But because marriage points to something else, you simply are not."

4.      Violence Against Women Begins in the Womb: This chilling report by Elaine Storkey is a must-read: "For the last two decades, reports have consistently illustrated the extent of the problem. After investigators uncovered 400 pieces of bone believed to be of female fetuses, reporters gave graphic details: “Last September,” wrote Raekha Prasad and Randeep Ramesh in The Guardian, 'remains of dozens of babies were exhumed from a pit outside an abortion clinic in Punjab. To dispose of the evidence, acid was used to melt the flesh and then the bones were hammered to smithereens.'"

5.      Tour of the Moon in 4K: Thanks to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, I doubt you've ever seen the moon like this. Wow! 

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       Let's Ban Porn: Ross Douthat with a bold proposal, "[W]e are supposed to be in the midst of a great sexual reassessment, a clearing-out of assumptions that that impose misogyny and impose bad sex on semi-willing women. And such a reassessment will be incomplete if if it never reconsiders our surrender to the idea that many teenagers, mostly young men especially, will get their sex education from online smut."

2.       Ten Lessons on Parenting Big(ger) Kids: Great advice from Tim Challies. All ten are good, but I particularly like his final piece of advice, " Focus more on sharing experiences than exchanging stuff. The things you and your children remember and celebrate as the years go by are far more likely to be experiences you shared together than gifts you exchanged."

3.       Wishing He Were Your Husband: Sabrina Beasley McDonald on the dangers of emotional infidelity and what to do when that wishing begins: " If you're thinking of a man right now and you're wondering if you're in danger of an emotional affair with him, then you probably are."

4.       Vocation in Retirement: Gene Veith, one of the best authors on vocation, considers what vocation means in his retirement: " Retirement underscores two important facets of the doctrine of vocation: the purpose of every vocation is loving and serving our neighbors. And the way we make our living is only one of our vocations and not even the most important one."

5.       Does the Bible Endorse Slavery? This charge is often made against the Bible by atheists and agnostistics that the Bible supports slavery? Is that true? Dr. Matthew Hall responds.

6.       Can a Christian Be Demon Possessed? Dr. Stephen Wellum says no in this helpful video.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       Always Looking, Never Wanting to Find: Mark Loughridge considers a reality for us in our cultural moment, "It’s cool to search for God, but uncool to find him. People talk about wanting to find spiritual reality and deeper meaning, about wanting to get in touch with God. The idea of looking for him sounds good—the search, the journey—but the reality of actually finding him is too much."

2.       Ordinary Beauty: Melissa Edgington shares an ordinary story of God's grace, "At the cash register stood a young girl with a nose ring. Her hair was pulled back, but long blonde ringlets framed her face. There is no telling how many hours she had been on her feet in that store, but still she smiled and asked how my night was going. And then, while I fished in my gigantic black hole of a purse for my wallet, she told me that I look pretty tonight. Just like that. She handed me that grace. That generous gift to a tired mama who almost certainly doesn’t look pretty tonight. And I was surprised by how shocked I was."

3.       Accept Your Leadership: Tim Challies with a call to men, "Your family needs to be led. Your wife and children need you to be the leader God calls you to be. He calls you to lead in love, to study the life and character of Jesus Christ, and to imitate him. Do that and God will be pleased. Do that and your family will be blessed. Run to win by accepting and embracing your leadership."

4.    When Should a Church Address a Current Event: In light of the recent outbreak of racist events, Trevin Wax processes whether or not a church ought to publicly address a given issue. He begins by sharing the online response from a certain quarter regarding the Charlottesville protest, "On social media, multiple people counseled churches on how to respond the next morning. Some called for condemning white supremacy and Neo-Nazis by name. Others offered prayer for pastors who were revising their sermons or penning statements to read before the church. This sentiment popped up a few times: If your church doesn't address this tomorrow, find another congregation. The social media fever implied that failing to speak on the issue indicated you were taking the side of white supremacists."

5.       Is that Hate Speech? I encourage you to take this New York Times baffling quiz on what and what does not qualify as hate speech on Facebook.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       9 Questions to Ask Yourself to Prepare for 2018: Scott Slayton with a thoughtful list. I like especially his questions: “What are my roles?” What two changes will make the biggest difference,” and “What two things do I need to stop doing?”

2.       How Your Husband Defines Romance: Thoughtful advice from Dennis and Barbara Rainey, "When a man is rejected often enough, he typically internalizes his anger, his hurt, and his disappointment until such time when the rejection drives him to one of several reactions—none of them are good." This ought not to be taken as license from men who feel rejected, but as good advice for wives who want to love their husbands well.

3.       Why Being Tough as a Leader Fails: Kerry Patterson is excellent on leadership and conflict. He reflects, "“I yell at my employees because it’s the only thing that works,” say a surprising number of leaders I’ve consulted with over the years. Parents often take a similar path with their kids. “They only respond to threats. So, I mostly threaten them.” Of course, when you interview the employees or the kids, they don’t subscribe to Hunter Thompson’s theory of leadership. That is, they don’t believe that the newest and hottest motivational tools are fear and loathing. They prefer respectful reasoning."

4.       Six Times It's Time to Quit Your Job: Jeff Gilmer at Vanderbloemen asks, " How do you discern whether this is just a season, or if it’s a bigger sign that you should be looking for your next opportunity?"

5.       Protecting Children from Abuse: Tim Challies interviews  Boz Tchividjian about his important new book, The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide. He begins the interview sharing this heartbreaking statistic, " Research has consistently found that approximately 1 in 4 females and 1 in 6 males will be sexually victimized before their 18th birthday. With 75 million children in the United States, this translates to almost 15 million children who will be sexually victimized over the next 18 years!"

6.       The Spread of Christianity: A shocking visual representation of the spread of Christianity around the globe.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.     Males and Females in the Workplace: Interesting in-depth study on the shifting face of the workplace over the past 65 years. Really interesting and interactive infographics. 

2.    Why doesn't God Just Talk to Me? Dan Dewitt responds to this question, "So, here’s a few reasons why it’s better for you that God has chosen to speak to you through his Word rather than waking you up in the middle of the night with an audible, 'Hey you! Get out of bed and listen up!'"

3.    What's the Purpose of Children? Tim Challies's consideration of this simple question reveals how many significant cultural barriers there are, "The pursuit of dreams and the fulfillment of personal potential has become our highest priority. A recent Forbes article tells that in 2015, Millennials spent nearly twice as much on self-improvement than Boomers, even though their income is only half as much. This individualistic culture has a profound effect on our understanding of children. When self is at the center, children are regarded as yet another means of self-realization—one that can be pursued or rejected according to personal preference. Those who choose to have children do so only when it is convenient; when they are in a stable place in life, relationship, and career; and when the burden of having them will be as small as possible. Little wonder, then, that the percentage of women between 40 and 44 who have never had children doubled between 1976 and 2006. Children have become an optional accessory to a well-rounded, successful life. Many people essentially believe that the purpose of children is to add value to the lives of their parents."

4.    Why Even a Happy Marriage Won't Prevent An Affair: Russel Moore adeptly navigates the findings of a secular counselor and digs for a deeper Christian explanation, " In the October issue of The Atlantic, Esther Perel looks back on the scope of her counseling encounters with marriages in crisis over infidelity and notes how rarely she sees adulterous people who cheat out of a desire to flee a bad relationship. Often, she writes, it’s just the opposite. She encounters people who want to keep their marriage, the way that it is, and who don’t actually want to leave it for the other relationship."

5.      How Sharing the Gospel in the Secular Age is Different: Tim Keller and Russell Moore reflect on the unique challenges of our ages in this 8 minute video.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

Happy Thanksgiving friends! 

I am thankful for you. I echo Paul's prayer in Philippians 1:3-5, "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now."

It is a gift to walk with you as we grow in faith, in love, and in hope. 

With gratitude,

John

 

1.      Dads, We Have a Powerful Influence in the Lives of Our Daughters: Charlotte Andersen reports, "'I see too many men buy into the idea of 'that's a girl's issue' or 'only a woman can understand another woman' and avoid talking to their daughters about sex, dating, or other 'girly' topics. They may assume their daughters should automatically fit into preconceived gender roles,' Dr. Brown says. 'I also see men who are locked into their own narrow view of what it means to be a father to their daughter. They believe that their only role is as a provider and protector, and they end up working too much and missing out on those wonderful father-daughter bonding moments. It doesn't have to be that way at all.'"

2.     The Worst Consequence of Skipping Church: Tim Challies reminds us that "Gathering with God’s people is not first about being blessed but about being a blessing. It’s not first about getting but about giving."

3.     5 Truths About the Holy Spirit: Alastair Begg on five important truths about the Holy Spirit. 

4.      Do You Love Your Wife Out of Obligation? The close of Brian Goins article shifts how we so often think about marriage: "In Scripture, God’s bride blossoms after the wedding day and becomes more beautiful and splendid over time, not because she “worked out” or “aged gracefully,” but because God loved her into radiance. If a man views the wedding day as the height of his bride’s beauty, then he will never love like Jesus. He’ll constantly be comparing what was rather than anticipating his role in what it could be. For Jesus, the wedding day was simply the start of a lifelong extreme makeover designed to advance His bride to royalty.

5.      We Are Sinking! This Berlitz commercial still makes me laugh out loud.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.     How the World's Most Recognized Atheist Got Booted Out of the World's Most Liberal College: The reasons for Dawkins's "deplatforming" reveal cracks in secular liberalism: "Ultimately Dawkins was deluded about the fact that you cannot remove the framework of the Christian gospel from the culture without removing the freedoms it afforded him. And now all he can do is splutter ineffectually on the sidelines. And Berkeley?  Their need to protect Islam is merely the self-righteous self-preening of elite liberals who are confident they stand above all religions and therefore are the arbiters of which ones should be afforded their favour and protection at any one time."

2.     The Key Pursuit of a Young Life: Tim Challies on the importance of our early life and how differently God planned his Son's life than we would have: "But it fell to God—not you or me—to set the course for his life, and God planned it very differently. Jesus lived for around 33 years, but his entire public ministry fit into just the final three. He spent 90 percent of his life in obscurity and only 10 percent in the public eye. For every one year that was recorded, there were 10 that were not. God arranged the itinerary, and he chose to have Jesus spend 30 years in quiet preparation for his three years of public activity."

3.     US Not Increasing Refugee Resettlement In Step With Worldwide Demand: Sarah Eekhoff Lystra reports, " Since 1980, more than 3 million of the world’s refugees have settled in America, according to a new study released today by the Pew Research Center. That’s more than any other country in the world, in terms of resettlement....  President Donald Trump cut the 2017 intake from Obama’s planned 100,000 to 50,000...  The Trump administration has capped refugees for fiscal year 2018 at 45,000—the lowest since presidents were given the power to set limits back in 1980..."

4.      You Were Created for More Than Motherhood: Melissa Edgington is one of my favorite bloggers and this is my favorite post she's ever written. Fathers, you may think this one isn't for you, but grab a box of Kleenex, click, and read: " It doesn’t mean that our hearts won’t still creak and crack and melt just a little when we remember what we once had. It doesn’t mean that what we’re doing here, in the wilds of motherhood, doesn’t have eternal significance. But, God’s purposes are big. Much bigger than we can imagine. The purpose of our lives is to glorify Him in all that we do, whether we are mothers or not. Whether we are in the thick of chasing toddlers everywhere or simply remembering those days, a little misty-eyed. God’s purposes don’t have dates of expiration. They don’t apply to only one section of our lives. And they certainly aren’t wrapped up solely in the too-short phases of mothering children."

5.     George W. Bush’s Timely Speech: Our former President delivered a powerful speech recently. The entire speech is worth reading (or watching). Among its powerful moments was this: “We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions – forgetting the image of God we should see in each other. We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.”

6.     30 Days at Sea Timelapse Video: From New York to Hong Kong, with incredible views of thunderstorms and ports in between.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       The Stanford Medicine Report on How Men and Women's Brains Are Actually Different: After nearly 20 years of data, it is clear that there are biological differences between men and women,  "The two hemispheres of a woman’s brain talk to each other more than a man’s do. In a 2014 study, University of Pennsylvania researchers...found that the females’ brains consistently showed more strongly coordinated activity between hemispheres, while the males’ brain activity was more tightly coordinated within local brain regions."

2.       6 Character Traits to Look for in a Potential Spouse Really good lists here. Thoughtful inclusions that ring true to unseen obstacles many couples face. I particularly appreciate the inclusion of "controls his passions" and "is in the process of becoming a leader" for a potential husband and "Knows how to admit she's wrong, ask for forgiveness, grant forgiveness, and give grace when you fail her" for a potential wife.

3.       Just-Around-the-Corner-Spirituality: Mike Emlet reflects on the promises we tell ourselves about the next season of spiritual growth that will be just around the corner: "The blessed and contented life is not somewhere around the corner where we can imagine living in the perfect spiritual greenhouse to nurture growth. It’s right here, right now, as we learn to experience the sufficiency of Christ’s strength for us in the midst of the good, the bad, and the ugly."

4.       Your Sanctification is a Gift: I love this perspective that Tim Challies offers -- something I've never quite thought of this way before. "Your continual growth in holiness is not something you emphasize merely for your own benefit or your own assurance, but something you pursue for the benefit of others. This message cuts hard against the individualism of western society, so is one we need to hear again and again. A wife’s sanctification is a gift she gives her husband. A pastor’s sanctification is a gift he gives his congregation. A parent’s sanctification is a gift he gives his children." 

5.       Just How Big is the Universe? I love feeling my mind dwarfed by presentations like this.