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Posts Tagged ‘tim challies’

This week: some powerful words on criticism and lust, an (un) review of Tree of Life, and the enemy next door.

Sometimes Criticism is Love in Disguise (by David Dorr, The Resurgence)

In C.S. Lewis’s, The Horse and His Boy, two horses and their riders are racing back to Archenland to warn the king of their enemies, who are arriving unaware. Although they are going fast, the horses are not quite running as fast as they could. Suddenly, a lion jumps out of the thicket and begins to pursue the horses, who find that they could actually run faster. Later, we learn the lion was Aslan himself, scaring the horses to run at their true speed as they needed to go faster because of the pursuing army.

Mammon, Lust, and Hell (by Toby Sumpter, Credenda/Agenda)

In other words, the sin of lust is the sin of an evil eye. It is the sin of greed, of Mammon, of idolatry. It is the sin of hatred and oppression and injustice in seed form in the heart. And this sin necessarily grows up into tyranny and oppression and manipulation in actions, in words, in thoughts, and it fills homes with curses.

The Tree of Life: An (un) Review (by Gregory Alan Thornbury, TGC)

Today, there can be no doubt that the high priests, priests, and acolytes of our culture are the producers, directors, writers, and actors. As film increasingly presents people with opportunities to replicate certain aspects of religious experience, we must pause to reflect upon the growing reality of “theater as temple.”

The Enemy Next Door (by Tim Challies)

I truly believe, after many years of reflection, that the heart of the problem in these churches was in their attitude towards the unbeliever. The person next door was the enemy; he was a person to be feared for what he might do to the family, and the children in particular; he was someone to be regarded with distrust and suspicion rather than with love and sympathy.

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This week: Jonathan Edwards’ first resolution, the grace-loving antinomian, redemptive embarrassment, and some thoughts on family worship.

Jonathan Edwards’ First Resolution (by Matt Perman/What’s Best Next)

First, he sees no ultimate conflict between his good and God’s glory. God’s glory is most important, but his good is found in pursuing God’s glory. There is no ultimate conflict between his joy and the magnification of God’s excellence.

An Open Letter To Mr. Grace-Loving Antinomian (by Tullian Tchividjian)

There seems to be a fear out there that the preaching of radical grace produces serial killers. Or, to put it in more theological terms, too much emphasis on the indicatives of the gospel leads to antinomianism (a lawless version of Christianity that believes the directives and commands of God don’t matter). My problem with this fear is that I’ve never actually met anyone who has been truly gripped by God’s amazing grace in the gospel who then doesn’t care about obeying him

Redemptive/Historical Embarrassment (by Doug Wilson/Blog & Mablog)

They know further that the only reason they are keeping quiet is that they would be ashamed to be identified with a position that has had so much opprobrium heaped on it. And believe me, the lordship of Jesus over everything will always have opprobrium heaped on it. Who wants to be a nutter? Keep it respectable, champ. Keep your head down. Read those books, certainly. Enjoy them in your study, friend. No harm in that,  but don’t go to extremes. Keep your head down.

How I Lead My Children in Personal Devotions (by Tim Challies)

I find that the kids are quite eager to do devotions, but also very quick to lose the habit if I do not help them maintain it. It was not until I stepped up my leadership that they began to do it with regularity.

Second Thoughts on Family Worship (by Jerry Owen/Credenda Agenda)

We simply are not required to have a set, formal, liturgical time of worship as families. I’m glad some people do this and benefit from it, and as far as they do, I’m for it, but no one should feel it is something they ought to do. This is not the same thing as saying parents shouldn’t read the Bible, pray and talk about God with their children. Of course they should. And it’s helpful if this is regular, methodical, and often. But some of the healthiest Christian families I know never had “family worship” formally conducted.

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This week: good thoughts on Dowd’s crushing of Weiner, fruitfulness without purity, and 3 interesting reads on female beauty and clothing.

“Men are dogs”: Maureen Dowd Scorches Weiner (by Owen Strachan)

It’s a brave new world out there, one forged by a diverse combination of factors–feminism, WW2, the sixties, the rise of boy culture in the early twentieth century, a corresponding condemnation of men.  In some ways, it offers modern women most everything they could want–money, success, status, stuff.  But it takes off the table the one thing that many women want more than anything else: a good man.

The Danger of “Fruitfulness” Without Purity (by Michael Oh)

But giftedness must not be mistaken for maturity. And giftedness alone without spiritual maturity can oftentimes do more long-term damage to a ministry after short-terms “gains” fade away.

Beauty?

Letting Herself Go (by Tim Challies)

In all of these things, a woman ought to understand (and believe) that what a man finds (or ought to find) beautiful in his wife is more about care and respect and effort and availability than it is about figure and proportion. In too many cases a woman who lets herself go is simply symbolizing that she has let her marriage go. Conversely, care for herself shows her care for her husband, respect for him, love for him.

What Not to Wear (by Mary Kassian)

Becoming indicates that running around in baggy jeans and T-shirts all the time is just as inappropriate as being obsessed with stylish clothing. It means that a woman’s appearance ought to be put together nicely. It ought to be pleasant and attractive—on the inside and the outside.

Female Beauty Matter (by Mary Kassian)

So girls, let’s give the guys a break. Let’s stop condemning them for feeling attracted to beauty and wanting us to make a reasonable and sustained effort in that department. And guys… give us a break. Please understand how very personal and painful this issue can be for women. It’s very difficult to stay engaged in fighting a battle we know we are destined to lose. The beauty of our youth will inevitably fade. And most of us don’t have a hope of even remotely resembling the airbrushed model on the cover of the magazine.

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Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their authority, maturity, and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. – Neil Postman

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I want to commend two books to you: Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman and The Next Story by Tim Challies. Both are tremendous in helping understand where we have come from in terms of media and communication and the transition to our digital world of information overload, endless entertainment, and constantly mediated communication.

Amusing Ourselves to Death

For no medium is excessively dangerous if its users understand what its dangers are.

Written in 1985, Postman is primarily concerned with the effect of television and the transition from an oral to a written to an image based culture. The first half of the book is about the concept of a medium and the written and literate culture of early America while the second half delves into his concerns with the medium of television. Postman reintroduces a concept from Marshall McLuhan that the medium is the message or metaphor. What is meant is that the medium (book, television, cell phone, blog) has a built in message itself. A book exudes a permanence and inherent form of logical discourage. The cell phone was made so that businessmen could be accessed at all time while travelling – something that should tell you what is inherent to its message.

When Charles Dickens visited America in 1842, his reception equaled the adulation we offer today to television stars, quarterbacks, and Michael Jackson

Postman’s discussion of the literacy and level of discourse of early America is fascinating, including his description of 8 hour debates between Lincoln and Douglas, and the popularity of certain books reaching the pervasiveness as the Super Bowl.

In the second half of the book, Postman digs into how television has impacted the areas of news, religion, politics, and education. Each of these chapters is incredibly prophetic. It’s amazing that this book was written over 25 years ago before the age of the internet.

The Next Story

While mediation is a necessity in this sinful world, it is a concession. We are grateful that God gives us the Son and the Holy Spirit as mediators so we can pray to him, worship him, and receive his blessings. But we still long for that broken fellowship to be fully restored. In this life, while mediation is good, we know that the spiritual intimacy we long for—the direct presence of God—will be so much better.

Challies’ book builds on Postman’s work and others and then brings in a solid Biblical worldview to attempt to sort through the insanity of life in this digital age. He is very comprehensive discussing everything from cell phones to Wikipedia to social media and email and does a remarkable job of bringing God’s Word to bear on it all while discussing the real temptations and struggles we face.

Avatar tells us that the soul is superior to the body, that while the body is necessarily corrupt, polluted by its dependence on matter, the soul is pure. And in this way it calls us back to Gnosticism, a controversial religion that triggered the warning lights of the very earliest Christians.

Chapter 5 was the most revolutionary and helpful chapter for me.  He discusses the “mediators” we use in communication and how we can start to diminish the importance of face to face time and use more mediation (such as email instead of a phone call) the more uncomfortable the conversation looks to be. However, it’s his connection between Gnosticism and avatars that blew me away. I think it’s dead on – as we live more of our life through social media and avatars, we diminish the physical as less and less meaningful.

We complicate rather than simplify. As you consider reducing your sources of information, consider nontechnical solutions. Consider moving backward instead of forward.

I could go on about both of these books. Both are well worth your time. Think about all your devices, the amount of information you take in daily, the amount of communication you engage in now, and the imagery you are pounded with. Postman and Challies have given us some help in all of the deluge.

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 ESV)

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This week: a piercing story about the loss of a son, bad manners with media, giving your ideas momentum, making all things new, and some arguments against owning a home.

It Was Not Wicked for the Lord to Take Our Son (by Lisa Blanco)

As our plans as parents have been thrown into confusion and sadness, we are faced with the question of what happens next. I long each morning to wake up to a crying baby to console in my arms. Ernie longs to come home from a long day of work to play with his son, and each time we walk to the garage we have to pass an empty nursery painted in blue. Through each seemingly impossible fear that rushes to our minds, the Lord has calmed us with several great truths about himself and our circumstance.

Bad Manners Masquerading as Media (by Tim Challies)

We find ourselves in that tricky space where many of us are applying old rules to new media. But we may also be excusing sinful or rude habits by our thoughtless dedication to these new media. In some cases we will look back in a few years and marvel that we could ever have been so rude. By that time society will have caught up and negotiated new etiquette. But for the time being many of us behave like barbarians (albeit barbarians with high-tech devices and Internet connections).

The Art of Momentum: Why Your Ideas Need Speed (by Jocelyn K. Glei)

When it comes to momentum, frequency of execution is perhaps more important than the duration of execution. Even if you’re working on your project for just an hour a day that’s enough to keep your objectives and recent activities top of mind. Then, when you sit down to work on it again, you can slip quickly back into the flow.

Making All Things New (Not All New Things) (by Tullian Tchividjian)

God doesn’t plan to utterly destroy this present world and build a brand-new world from scratch. Instead he plans a radical renovation project for the world we live in today. The Bible never says that everything will be burned up and replaced. Rather, it says that everything will be purged with fire and restored. God won’t destroy everything that now exists, but he will destroy all the corruption, brokenness, and chaos we see in our world, purging from it everything that is impure and sinful.

Why I’d Rather Shoot Myself in the Head than Ever Own a Home Again
(by James Altucher)

The serf is flushing money with his rent payment. But he has more cash in the bank, a more diversified portfolio, and is generating liquid cash (hopefully) from other investments. He also has the cash to be an entrepreneur, move around to take advantage of other opportunities, etc. This (in my experience) more than makes up for the rent down the drain.

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This week: date nights and devotions, mission to the suburbs, more on female identity from Wendy Alsup, and a postscript on the resurrection from Kevin DeYoung.

Open Bible

Date Nights & Devotions (by Tim Challies)

What if the point of devotions is less about learning about God and more about spending time with God? What if it’s less about Bible study and more about building relational intimacy? What would change about our devotions if instead of trying to learn about God, we focused instead on spending time with God, time spent hearing from him through his Word and speaking to him through prayer? If this is the case it doesn’t much matter what we remember at the end of it because the joy has been in the moment, the value has been in the time spent together.

Mission: Suburbs (by Casey Cease)

The question is whether you will make disciples as you go, or will you wait for other, more professional people, to do it for you?  Let’s not fall into the suburban stereotype of outsourcing local missions, rather, let us invest into our communities, connect with our neighbors, and continually strive to be intentional about seeing lives transformed by Jesus.

The Gospel and the Bikini Barista (by Wendy Alsup)

We have adopted many Christ-less coping mechanisms for dealing with these desires the curse predicts. Instead of finding in God love and affirmation that satisfies, we have in our craving apart from Christ repeatedly carved out cisterns for ourselves, “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). For some it’s control and manipulation. I’ve been there, especially in my marriage. I thought if I manipulated things, I could get my husband to better meet my needs. But manipulation and attempts at control are as ineffective for meeting the needs in my heart as the bikini barista’s are for hers.

A Resurrection Postscript: Saved by Justice (by Kevin DeYoung)

The resurrection is not a sentimental story about never giving up, or the possibility of good coming from evil. It is not first of all a story about how suffering can be sanctified, or a story of how Jesus suffered for all of humanity so we can suffer with the rest of humanity. The resurrection is the loud declaration that Jesus is enough–enough to atone for your sins, enough to reconcile you to God, enough to present you holy in God’s presence, enough to free you from the curse of the law, enough to promise you there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

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This week: God using Survivor? Some solid personal notes to bookend the current discussion of hell by Tim Challies, Wilson blows up some conventional wisdom, and how not to just drift away from Kevin DeYoung.

‘Survivor’ Update: Hat Tip to the Almighty (by Mark Morning, CT): My wife and I are fans of this show and after we watched the episode that aired this past Wednesday, I was intrigued by what Julie shared and wondered if she meant it. From this article, it looks like she did!

I Hate Hell (by Tim Challies)

I hate hell. I hate that it exists and hate that it needs to exist. I’m amazed to realize that, when we are heaven, we will praise God for it and that we will glorify him for creating such a place and for condemning the unsaved to it. But for now I am too filled with pride, too filled with sin to even begin to justly and rightly rejoice in the existence of such a place of torment. I cannot rejoice in such a place; not yet. It is just too awful, too weighty. And I know that I deserve to be there.

Seven Memes for Keeping Christians in their Place (by Douglas Wilson)

Darwinian evolution is actually the funniest thing I ever heard of. It is so dumb that the average Christian needs at least three years of graduate study from white-haired profs to get adjusted to it.

Lest We Drift Away: A Sermon for Good Friday (by Kevin DeYoung)

Most church people drift away from God not because they meant to, but because they got busy, they got lazy, they got distracted, they had kids, they got a mortgage, a few illnesses came, then some bills, then the in-laws visited for a week, then the mini-van broke down, and before you knew what was happening the seed of the word of God had been choked out by the worries of life.

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