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Tim Challies

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May 2004

May 26, 2004

There is so much discussion happening in various parts of this site now that I keep thinking it might be a good idea to put some forums in place.

I know there is a long and arduous way of changing the commenting system so that the forum takes over that role, and think that might be the way to go. So at the end of each post it would say Comments as it does now, but when you clicked that it would take you into a forum rather than the loooong list of comments as it does now. This would arrange the comments more logically and more neatly than are under the current system and would keep the pages from getting so incredibly long like they are now (see the Purpose Driven Life page for an example)! It certainly would facilitate easier conversation. It would also let other people start discussion topics, which might be interesting.

So what do you think? Good idea or bad?

May 26, 2004

In our home church (ie. Bible study) we have been studying evangelism over the past four weeks. One thing we seem to keep coming back to is the difference between what our work is and what God’s work is. I guess we often get confused between the parts of the process that God holds us responsible for and the parts that we have to just leave in His hands.

My son provided me a great metaphor for this on the weekend. We got some new bunk beds (new to us, anyways – they were actually hand-me-downs from some friends) and they came to us in many pieces. I got tasked with putting them together. My son, of course, wanted to help out as any four-year old boy who wears Bob the Builder underpants would want to. After I had lugged the frames, the supports and the mattresses upstairs, I gathered a selection of tools from my rather paltry selection and headed to the kid’s bedroom. My son, following behind me, went to his toy shelf and selected his own little tool case. When we got upstairs we both cracked open our tool chests. I selected a screwdriver and a wrench and got to work bolting the frames to the supports. My son pulled out an oversize plastic screwdriver and a plastic wrench. The tip on his screwdriver must have been a quarter of an inch wide and certainly could not be of any use. The wrench obviously could not turn a metal bolt. Yet he did not seem to care at all. As I worked away with my real tools, he worked beside me, somehow expecting in his little-boy mind that his toy tools were doing just as much work as mine.

I chuckled as I saw him trying to screw in a bolt with his enormous plastic wrench. He just didn’t realize that his tools were completely inappropriate for the task at hand. He did not have what he needed to do the job. Eventually he realized the futility of his tools. He looked at me, looked at my toolbox and selected a real screwdriver. Taking that to the screw he immediately began to make a little bit of progress, one tiny twist at a time.

Right away I realized there was a metaphor there that applied to me! I thought of how often I find myself trying to do jobs that only God can do. How often do I try to do the job of the Holy Spirit and convict other people of their sinfulness? Do I have the ability to change lives and regenerate hearts? Absolutely not! So why is it that I approach people with the goal of making them see their own depravity? Why do I want to convict them of sin? No wonder I often feel discouraged when my own efforts fall flat. So often I try to do things my way, using my own “plastic tools.”

May 25, 2004

There is a great story in the news today about the Duggar family of Fayetteville, Arkansas. They are celebrating the birth of their 15th child. Amazing. Now when you hear there are 15 kids you know they are religious, so you start to ask are they Catholic? Christian? Mormon? I did a bit of research (which involved typing their name into Google) and pulled up a great little article about the family at QuiverFull.com.

The article portrays them as a godly (and extremely busy), Southern Baptist family that is completely committed to raising children to glorify God. They sound extremely conservative (ie the girls all wear dresses exclusively and they wear wetsuits at the beach) but one that is not completely “out there.” For example, the father does not take the opportunity to rail against modern swimwear - he just says that it is a decision each of the children will have to make when they get older. It’s quite refreshing to see someone who seems to find the spirit of the law while avoiding legalism.

You can read the article here. Do note that the article was written back when they had only 13 children so it is a couple of years old.

May 25, 2004

There is some fascinating discussion going on in various places around this site at the moment. I am WAY behind in answering comments/questions/emails so am dedicating time to that today. In the meantime, here is where you can find some good discussion.

  1. ScottMac (scroll WAY down) posted a critique of the Purpose Driven movement here. What caught my eye was his asseration that the PD movement fails to do the one thing it claims to do best, which is fulfill the Great Commission. If you have read The Purpose Driven Church (or The Purpose Driven Life) you’ll know that Warren’s whole philosophy of ministry is based around the Great Commission. Scotty says that rather than going out into the world, the PD church reverses things by seeking to draw the world into itself. He also says that the system “assumes the burden of being under law, that if ‘such and such’ is done, then ‘such and such’ will happen.” Fascinating!
  2. In regards to my music collection, Steve has typed out a well-thought-out challenge that perhaps collecting things such as music is not Biblical. He insists that he is not being judgmental and I certainly do not think he is - he is just questioning whether collecting such things is a valid use of the resources God gives us. He questions whether such collections prove that one has not totally surrendered everything to Christ. And that is a great question. I have not had opportunity to reply but will do so shortly.
  3. Pam writes about the great apostacy in regards to this post. She tries not to sound like a fanatic, but when one connects the Catholic Church to the antichrist (something a whole Cloud of Witnesses have done in the past), one always seems fanatical in our watered-down age.
  4. Finally, Anthony wrote a great response to this article about smoking. He concludes that though smoking may be stupid, it is not sinful.
May 24, 2004

Today Canadians celebrate Victoria Day which commemorates Queen Victoria’s birthday. I suspect most Canadians do not know or care what the day commemorates. The traditional way to celebrate the day (or more often the whole weekend) is to head to a cottage or campground and drink oneself into oblivion. For this reason the holiday has become known as “May two four” for most people (since the day of the Queen’s birthday is May 24). The long weekend concludes with fireworks displays sometime after dark. As teenagers we used to drive around shooting roman candles out the windows of our cars.

I know almost nothing about Queen Victoria other than the fact that it seems she wore black all her life and I have no interest in getting drunk today. What I do know is that Victoria has provided Canadians with a great excuse to take a day off. I am spending the day assembling bunk beds, going to a potluck/picnic and just generally not working. I laugh at all the Americans who have to work today, realizing that you will be laughing at me next Monday when you have your day off.

May 23, 2004

A short while after our church first began, back when there were only 100 of us or so, a young guy walked up to me after church and asked me, almost in a whisper, “what do you guys believe about smoking? Is it okay to smoke in this church?” I laughed a little, not because it was a stupid question but because the church had people from such a great diversity of backgrounds. We had heaps of ex-Catholics, a core of ex-Charismatics, a few long-time Southern Baptists and so on. I told him I had no idea what the general consensus was but that I’m sure as long as he smoked outside no one would care.

I know lots of Christians who smoke and it has never really caused me to examine the idea of a conflict between that action (or addiction) and their faith. I guess for some people this is a real stumbling block. Some people seem to think that those who smoke reveal something about their faith.

Christianity Today has a small article that provides the usual arguments.

  • Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, so be careful what we put in our bodies.
  • Smoking is an addiction and Christians are to guard against addictions.
  • Smoking has many harmful effects and can often lead to other addictions.

These are all rational arguments. Another common argument to add to that list is that God provides our finances and we are told to use them carefully.

All of these arguments are well and good, but they all have other sides to them. Yes, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, but how much worse is it to put smoke (and all it carries with it) into our bodies than it is to gorge ourselves on junk food? Judging by the lineup at the coffee table on Sunday mornings I would say that there are far more Christians addicted to caffeine than there are to nicotine. Sure smoking has lots of harmful effects, but so does overeating or eating the wrong things. God provides us money, but how often do we use it to buy things we don’t really need?

I guess it seems to me that the arguments used against smoking are usually quite inconsistent. I see the logic behind them, but those same principles seem to fail when they are extended to the rest of the Christian life.

I hate smoking. I hate the smell of it and I especially hate seeing cigarette butts lying on the ground outside buildings. But I don’t presume to think that I can tell the first thing about a person’s spiritual condition by the fact that they smoke.

May 22, 2004

Several people asked yesterday for buttons for my new site BlogBasics. I made up a couple of buttons which you can get here.

Thanks to all of you who have linked my site on yours. I appreciate it.

May 22, 2004

While I read hundreds of articles about The Passion of the Christ before and after it was released, What You Need To Know About The Passion of the Christ is the first full-length book I have read on the topic. Ian Brown, author and pastor of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster (Ireland) has written this book to address three serious issues he has with the movie – its making, message and meaning. Drawing from numerous sources, he weaves together a fair and logical rebuttal against the film.