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Tim Challies

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June 2004

June 30, 2004

Yesterday I woke up feeling rather depressed. The previous evening I had sat in front of the television and watched Canada elect their fourth consecutive Liberal government. Despite years of gross negligence, waste and scandal Canadians showed their complacency, deciding that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. The polls leading to the election had suggested a neck-in-neck race, but by the time all was said and done, the Liberals took 135 seats to the Conservatives’ 99.

Now I was under no illusion that the Conservatives were going to step in and suddenly transform this nation into a godly country. However, I saw them as the group that might just help us take a step back to more traditional values. Their interpretation of the word “family” was much more inline with Scripture as was their view on abortion. And beyond that, at least we would be punishing the Liberals for their endless lies and scandals. But it was not to be. Canadians rejected even a moderate return to Biblical values. It was proof that Canadian standards of morals are irreversibly corrupt.

As I considered my frustration with Canada I came to realize that my frustration was caused by me! I had somehow allowed my mind to believe that perhaps, just perhaps if the slightly-less-morally-bankrupt party was elected it would mean that Canada would become a more Christian nation. If only we could stop our slide into the moral morass, Canada could become the Christian country we all dream of.

But that isn’t how God works, is it? Some place their trust in horses, some in chariots and some in governments, I suppose, but God places His trust in His church. God has ordained that it is His church that will be the power of change in this evil world. As nations continue to slide into greater and greater evil, it is the church that needs to be the light in the world. So while the darkness around the church increases, the light flowing from the church needs to increase proportionately.

The Bible tells me to “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17) and I will do so, albeit with some reluctance. While I despise Emperor Martin’s stance on so many important issues, I will continue to honor him as one God has placed in authority over me. I know that God is in control of Canada and it fit into His plan for this nation to have this Liberal government elected. While I am free to dislike (or even hate) the policies of the government, I have no right to hate what a Sovereign God has decreed.

And through it all, I can remain hopeful that this government will not last long. The average minority government lasts less than a year and a half before it loses confidence and is forced to call a new election. Perhaps next time around Canadians will be willing to take a stand against further disintegration of Christian morals. And if not, I will not allow myself to get depressed over it. God is in control now and He will be then.

June 29, 2004

If you’ve been using the Internet for any length of time, you’ve probably seen some of the fake 404 error messages people love to post. (A 404 error message is the error you get when your browser tries to open a page that does not exist. Click here to see what I mean).

Since I really didn’t feel like working today I decided to make my own 404 error message. So give it a shot.

Click here to find your life’s purpose.

June 28, 2004

There is an incredible article on BBC News about a new kind of ultrasound that is revealing stunning new information about children in the womb. This new scanning method produces detailed, 3-dimensional pictures of fetuses.

Lo and behold, it seems that these fetuses display behavior that can only be described as human at much earlier ages than experts had previously thought. The man who developed this technology says “his work has been able to show for the first time that the unborn baby engages in complex behaviour from an early stage of its development. ” He has found that fetuses as young as 12 weeks old kick, stretch and move around in the womb. While previously experts believed that babies could not smile until several weeks after birth, we now know that they can smile as soon as the 26th week after conception.

Do yourself a favor and read the article. And even better, check out the Photo Gallery. Looking at those little babies I just marvel at the greatness of the God we serve.

June 28, 2004

I hate to use this site for a purpose like this, but in this case it’s necessary.

Nathan: I emailed you in regards to what we spoke about on Thursday. Unfortunately the email address you provided does not seem to work as the email immediately bounced back to me. I tried another similar address and it has not bounced back so perhaps that one got through. Could you drop me an email at tim @ challies dot com to let me know if you got the email?

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

June 28, 2004

Just a quick update on BlogSwap. If you indicated interest in participating in the first BlogSwap, you should have received an email from me. If you have not yet received it, please let me know and I’ll be sure you get it right away.

June 28, 2004

A few months ago I commented on the articles written about The Passion of the Christ by Brian McLaren and Rick Warren. McLaren took issue with Warren’s assertion that this movie represented the best opportunity for evangelism in the past 2000 years. Warren wrote a respose which boasted about commented about the enormous efforts his church made to ensure everybody and their brother got to see this movie and the amazing results they supposedly achieved.

Just this morning I came across a great article written by another blogger which comments on Warren’s article. This blogger shows that while Warren would have us believe that good leadership operates under this kind of formula:

[Discernment] X [Preparation] X [Cooperation] = [More People in Your Church]

in reality Warren uses this kind of formula:

[Opportunity] X [Obligation] X [Organization] = [More People in Your Church]

In other words, when a great opportunity is perceived by the contemporary Christian “giants” they make pastors of smaller churches feel an obligation to do what they are doing. If these churches just organize themselves accordingly, they will be able to cash in and grow their churches exponentially.

It is just a short little article but it is well worth reading.

And that’s it. It’s Monday and already I’ve burned up my allotment of the word “Warren” for this week!

June 27, 2004

Yesterday I had the privilege of helping out at our church’s contribution to the Oakville Waterfront Festival. For the past three years we have rented a climbing wall and allowed kids (and the occasional adult) to climb the wall. It is generally very popular since it is just about the only free thing at the festival. People are constantly asking how much it costs to climb and it’s fun to see their expressions change when you tell them it’s absolutely free. Some people ask if we take donations or if they can do something to pay for it and we always say “no.” In previous years we have not had a lot of success with drawing people from the Festival to church so this year we took a bit more time to try to connect with the parents of the kids who climbed the wall. I think it went very well and a lot of us had great conversations with unbelievers from our community.

I lied. There is another thing at the Festival that is free. There is a Healthy Oakville tent where those “health food” people showcase their latest tofu-based wonders and sing the praises of distilled water. Yesterday Some of the middle-aged women were showing off the latest and greatest trend in exercise. They put on their spandex outfits and danced around a field barefoot to the beating of a small drum. They waved their arms, shimmied and shook and danced as only someone who has recently irrigated her colon can dance. Perhaps they were trying to burn off the calories of the wheat-free, salt-free, fat-free, taste-free cookies they were selling.

Our church’s youth pastor preached today and he mentioned how proud practicing Jews are of their religious heritage. It made me think about how little most Christians know about their religious heritage. Does anybody care to learn about Christian history anymore? Does anyone know where we came from so we can learn from God’s blessings and human sin in times past? Maybe it’s no wonder that the church seems destined to repeat so many errors that we really should have learned from the first time.

Six days until the first BlogSwap. I am going to send out the information tomorrow. I am expecting about six or eight swaps this week and imagine it will grow as time goes on.

June 27, 2004

J.A. Wylie was a pastor and author who lived in the nineteenth century whose greatest work is the three volume masterpiece “The History of Protestantism.” The first book spends a small amount of time examining early Christian history and how the purity of the original church gave way to the corruption of the Catholic system. Wylie says “This change [making God less free in His gift of salvation] brought a multitude of others in its train. Worship being transformed into sacrifice – sacrifice in which was the element of expiation and purification – the “teaching ministry” was of course converted into a “sacrificing priesthood.” When this had been done, there was no retreating; a boundary had been reaching which could not be recrossed until centuries had rolled away, and transformations of a more portentous kind than any which had yet taken place had passed upon the Church.” (Volume 1, Chapter 2, page 8).

In short, Wylie believed that the downfall of the church began with assigning too much power to the clergy. When the office of pastor changed from a teaching office to a mystical, sacrificing priesthood, the clergy gained too much power and immediately passed the point of no return. It would take hundreds of years and a world-changing event for the Church to regain the original beauty of the office of pastor.

After the Protestant Reformation, the Protestant clergy no longer held the mystical power of converting a simple piece of bread to the body of Christ and they no longer had the power to forgive sins. The primary role of the minister of the Word was to exposit the Word of God to the people. It was an office of honor and respect. The title “reverend” was often used to convey respect to those men who had the awesome privilege and responsibility of preaching God’s Word.

As the Protestant church has changed and evolved since the time of the Reformation, so has the office of pastor. Where in times past the minister wore a robe, collar or both to differentiate himself from the laity, it seems that today the pastor is often the person wearing shorts and sandals. Where a pastor once wore clothing that conveyed dignity and displayed the uniqueness of the pastoral ministry, today the pastor often tries to be the most unnoticeable person in the church. Where the term “pastor” was once largely reserved for the minister who led his flock, today we have pastors of every type – music pastors, counseling pastors, administrative pastors, and even lay pastors (which seems to be a contradiction in terms). Where pastors and office-bearers once held the keys to the kingdom and had the privilege of administering the sacraments, today the laity is permitted and even encouraged to do this themselves.

I sometimes wonder if we have thrown out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak. I wonder if we’ve reduced the office of the minister of the Word to such an extent that it no longer carries with it the respect and uniqueness that God intended. Surely pastors are called to a high office and are blessed with unique privileges and responsibilities. When we take those privileges and dispense them liberally throughout the Church, I wonder if we are elevating the role of the laity or reducing the role of the clergy. Either way, I suspect we are not honoring God or the special role He created for the minister of His Word.