Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

August 2004

August 26, 2004

X-ATI guy has written a hilarious satirical article about how to capture a woman’s heart. Using the Bible as his guide, he invites us to use the same techniques Absalom used.

1. Remove Blemishes that Distract from your Appearance

2 Sam 14:25 But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.

You may not be blessed with Absalom’s killer looks, but at least you can practice good hygiene and remove all blemishes that distract from your appearance.

2. Practice the Discipline of Rising Early

2 Samuel 15:2 And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate God reserves special blessings for those who rise early, and every potential suitor should learn this principle. This discipline releases creative energy that can be harnessed for wooing a young woman.

3. Ask Precise Personal Questions

2 Samuel 15:2b and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou?

Carefully-formed questions are the best way to get to know a young lady and these questions can be written and rehearsed as you rise early. Your questions reveal to a young lady that you are thinking carefully about the information you want from her. She will perceive your wisdom and her spirit will be blessed by your questions.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing here.

In my view good satire is difficult to tell from a real article. If you read something and think it could go either way, that is good satire. And that’s what this article is like. Though I’m sure he’s being satirical, this is hardly different from what you would hear in many churches today - principles drawn from the Bible that have absolutely nothing to do with the meaning of the passage.

Speaking of that, I thought I’d take this opportunity to take a dig at my good friend Chris who preached at our church on Sunday. He tells me he and Rod (the other pastor at his church) read my site on a consistent basis but just never stop in to comment. Anyways, before he went up to the front he was standing by the sound table and whispered to me “I hope I’m not going to read about how bad my sermon was on your site next week.” I promised him he would. But I’ll break that promise since his sermon was actually pretty good. He did a kind of “topical exposition” of the passage and gave people some good principles to apply to their lives. So Chris, you’re off the hook. For now. Of course I’m going to your church this Sunday so there’s still plenty of time to give me something to write about!

Now I only half believe that Chris actually reads this site, so I’m inviting him to post a comment to let me know he has read this…

August 26, 2004

I have another five GMail invites to give away, so if you are interested in having your very own account, email me or post a comment with your email address and I’ll send an invite your way. If you don’t know, GMail is Google’s new free email service that gives you a full gigabyte of mail storage (1000x more than Hotmail gives you). It seems like a pretty good system. Of course the only drawback is that it is ad-supported, but you can hardly avoid that with free services these days.

August 25, 2004

I’ve been a busy boy the past few days. I have been working with my clients who own CD & ,ultimedia storage e-commerce sites, entering all sorts of new products and getting them set for the Christmas season. And after that I have a new site to prepare for them that will feature all sorts of storage products beyond media storage. I also have a complete redesign to work on for my church’s site and various other projects.

I’ve also just about completed a new design for my buddy Jason McGibbon. Though it’s not at 100% I uploaded the new design since the old one was giving some errors. It’s a simple but kind of cool design in my somewhat-biased opinion. I still want to add some more pizazz to it, but I think it will do the trick for him.

Anyways, now you know why I haven’t been writing all that much over the past few days. I have some ideas for topics for the rest of the week, so I should do better!

August 25, 2004

Have you ever thought about what kind of things you take for granted? In most cases, when you come to a stop sign, you stop, then look both ways. If there is a stop sign to your right or left and a car is approaching, you go ahead and pull through the intersection. Right? You just assumed that the approaching car was going to stop at that stop sign. You are trading on the obedience of the other driver to stop. Or, when you sit down to watch TV, you click the button on the remote and expect the television to come on. In a sense you are trading on the technology of that TV and remote. “Trading on” can mean roughly the same as “take for granted”.

In the same manner, many Christians trade on mercy. We choose to sin without much thought of the repercussions. In ways that we cannot even know, God graciously extends His mercy to all people every moment of every day. For example, we all slept through the night without consciously remembering to breathe. We woke up, and most likely didn’t give a lot of thought to the miracle that we are awake. We walk throughout our homes, breathing, blinking our eyes, sometimes coughing or sneezing. We have coffee, eat breakfast, read the paper (or hopefully the Bible). That’s only the first few minutes of the day. During that time, how many sins have been committed? Thoughts, reactions, deeds not done in faith, etc…Yet, God has said that He would punish sin. The wages of sin is death… (Rom. 6:23). In those moments we are trading on mercy.

Well, how do we get to this point? It’s easy for us to get here: we relish in the promises of God, and choose to ignore the wrath of God. It’s not new. It was happening throughout the Old Testament as well. Consider God’s commands in the Garden of Eden: “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die (Gen. 2:17). One command, one result. What happened? Eve, then Adam ate from the tree. Then what happened? There are many different opinions about what actually happened, but for our argument, they didn’t die. In a very real way, God showed them mercy. He had every right to exterminate mankind from the face of the earth, but He didn’t. Or what about King David? He committed adultery and murdered, but God showed him mercy by allowing him to live. We could list many more examples of sinners who seemingly go unpunished in the Old Testament.

Now consider Uzzah, the Kohathite. God required that the Ark of the Covenant be carried a very specific way. It had rings on each side where poles were inserted and used to hoist the ark, and it could only be carried by the sons of Kohath (see Exodus 25 and Numbers 3 & 4). However, in II Samuel 6, we have the Ark being brought to Jerusalem on a cart! As they came to a particular location, Uzzah put out his hand to steady the Ark on the cart. The text says, that the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah for his error and God killed him. God had every right to exterminate Uzzah due to his disobedience in handling the Ark– and He exercised that right! Here again, we could list many examples of sinners who receive God’s immediate wrath (i.e. Lot’s wife, the prophets of Baal, the children who mocked Elisha, and so on).

What about the New Testament? Are there examples of God’s immediate retribution on sinners? Remember Annanias and Sapphira? They were struck down immediately for their deceit. Admittedly, there are fewer of these examples in the New Testament. In fact, there are countless examples of sinners receiving mercy. Herein lies the problem. We are used to receiving mercy. We read about the wretched apostles, the pathetic disciples, the pagan Herods and Pilates – all of whom received abundant mercy at the hands of God (at least in this life). We forget that God is perfectly justified to wipe out every person from the earth! No one has the right to question God about how He chooses to deal with His creation.

Yes, we trade on God’s mercy. We abuse His grace. We take them for granted when we sin because we are used to seeing God deal mercifully with sinners. However, neither mercy nor grace are licenses to do whatever we want. God’s mercy and grace are extended to all men everywhere so that they may repent and come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ! The tragedy is that we don’t take it seriously. We think of eternity as “down the road”, not imminent!

Non-believers trade on this mercy to a greater extent than believers. They are one breath away from eternal damnation. Yet, they continue in their rebellion without regard for Christ and the Cross. Believers trade on it as well. Our sins have been forgiven. We received mercy to a degree that’s incomprehensible. Yet, we go throughout our day without being thankful for another breath, another meal, another good night sleep, another cough or sneeze to protect our bodies, another ____________ (you fill in the blank). God’s mercy is not something to wink at or take for granted. It comes to us a great cost to Him. Let’s stop trading on the mercy of God. Let’s be about the business of guiding sinners to repentance and being thankful for what we have received. (1 Cor. 4:7b)

The preceding article was donated to the cause by Brad Wilson. Thanks to Brad for sharing some great thoughts about mercy and for allowing me to post it here.

August 24, 2004

In the past few years we have been treated to some of the worst Christian books to ever be published. As the Christian market expands and more and more publishers are bought by secular companies, I have little doubt that upcoming years we bring an even bigger crop of really bad books. Of course the news has not been all drab as we have also seen some wonderful books make it to the special order desks of local Christian bookstores.

Anyways, I would like to present to you my list of anticipated titles for 2005:

The Purpose Driven Presidential Campaign by George W. Bush.

After an overwhelming defeat of John Kerry, George Bush shares the groundbreaking secrets of his success by asking “How on earth do I become President?” He leads Presidential hopefuls on a 40 day journey as he shares five purposes he discovered in the U.S. Constitution that every candidate must know. This book is a blueprint for Presidential campaigning in the 21st century that is sure to set many people on the path to the White House.

I Kissed Celibacy Goodbye by Josh Harris

The long-awaited sequel to I Kissed Dating Goodbye, this book catches up with Harris now that he is a married father of two young children. Having dared Christians to forsake dating and opt instead for courtship, he now shares wisdom on marriage and family life. Take heart, for there is life after celibacy!

The Prayer of Saddam by Bruce Wilkinson

From the author who brought you the bestselling The Prayer of Jabez comes the new highly-anticipated Prayer of Saddam. Moving from one largely insignificant historical figure to another, Wilkinson shares the prayer of yet another selfish man who simply wanted more land. Learn how you too can embark on a quest to fulfill your selfish desires!

The Even Newer Dare To Discipline by James Dobson

Years ago James Dobson brought us Dare to Discipline where he prescribed spanking as an appropriate punishment for disobedient children. Then he brought us the New Dare to Discipline where he took it all back. Now, updated for a new generation of delinquents, Dobson brings his Even Newer Dare To Discipline: Son, Go Cut Daddy A Switch, a book to help parents face the unique disciplinary challenges in our Nintendo generation. The first 10,000 copies will include your choice of either a switch or a paddle autographed by Dobson himself.

Every Man’s Bottle by Stephen Arterburn

After accusing every man of the face of the earth of being an unrepentant, dirty pervert, incapable of purity and even incapable of desiring purity, Arterburn turns his attention to the other struggle men face and the battles they too often lose at the bottom of their empty bottles. He describes alcohol in lascivious detail, first arousing desire and then reprimanding for allowing desire to be aroused. A book that is sure to leave you thirsty for more, you don’t want to miss Every Man’s Bottle!

How To Alienate and Emotionally Starve Your Child God’s Way by Garry Ezzo

Without hundreds of thousands of emotionally distant and physically starved children to his credit, Garry Ezzo shares more tips on raising children that only a parent could love. His groundbreaking chapter on raising children encased in their very own plastic bubbles is sure to inspire a new generation of na�ve Christians.

Child At Heart by John Eldredge

Best known for his mega-sellers The Sacred Romance and Wild at Heart, Eldredge returns with Child at Heart to show how God is best honored in immaturity. The author challenges men to be immature, to return to the sandboxes of their youth, and to be a wild Child at Heart!

A Case of Christ by Lee Strobel

The companion to The Case for Christ, A Case of Christ makes a wonderful gift for that special friend. Each Case of Christ contains an assortment of likenesses of Jesus printed on collectible and tradable cards and packaged in an attractive wooden case. Bearing images ranging from early scratching on the walls of catacombs all the way to the most popular Jesus of all time (Jim Caviezel of The Passion of the Christ), these Jesus trading cards are sure to please. If you order before March you will receive a bonus card from the “pretty white guy” Caucasian Jesus series.

Thanks to Robert at Dead Man Blogging for the discovering the title of Ezzo’s new book.

August 23, 2004

How many times has someone told you that they “accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior?” Have you ever asked them what it means that Jesus is their Lord? Have you ever asked them how Jesus is their Savior? What makes Him their Savior? And what does it mean that He is their personal Lord and Savior?

How many times have you heard people open a prayer with the words “Dear God?” What do those words really mean? Are they addressing God or addressing a letter?

How many times have you heard people say that “where two are more are gathered together, Jesus is there?” Have you ever asked them why Jesus is only there where two or more are gathered? Have you ever asked if He is present in a more special way when people are gathered versus when they are alone?

There are so many times we flippantly speak of God and His attributes without even caring to understand what we are saying. So we really understand what it means to address God and to bring ourselves into His presence? Do we understand what it means that “Jesus is there?” Do we even care to know what it means that Jesus is my Lord and my Savior?

The awesome thing is that we don’t need to understand these things to be God’s children. We do not need to devote ourselves to endless studies in theology and doctrine in order to be saved.

But if we want to grow deeper in our love for God, we need to begin to understand these things. We need to grow deeper in our knowledge of Him.

When I got married I loved my wife deeply. On our wedding day, as I looked at her walking down the aisle towards me, I never would have believed that I could love her more than I did right then. I had known her for four years and had spent thousands of hours just being with her, listening to her talk and watching her interact with other people. And now she was walking towards me, looking absolutely beautiful, and intending to pledge her life to me. I began to sob like a child and felt my heart would nearly burst with the love I felt for her. But you know what? Six years into that marriage I can honestly say I love her more now than I did when we got married? Why is that? It is simply that I know her so much better now. The more I learn about her, the more I know her, the more I love her.

I use that illustration to show that you can really only love God inasmuch as you know Him. When you are an unbeliever and do not know God you cannot love Him at all. When some day you die and go to be with Him, you will know Him in a perfect way, and will accordingly love Him in a perfect way. The time between when you come to love Him and you are called to be with Him is your opportunity to experience that love and get just a foretaste of heaven here on earth.

I love God more now than I did when I first believed. As a child I loved God with a childlike love, but I barely knew Him. I can think back to distinct moments as I grew older when I learned something new and amazing about God. I can remember moments where something hit me like a lightning bolt and I was awakened to a new reality about God that I had not known before. There were times when my whole body broke into chills as I grew in my knowledge of God. There were other times when I broke into tears as I began to realize the necessity of Christ’s sacrifice for me or the vast depths of His love for me. As I learned about my God I learned to love Him more. As I learned about my God I had to love Him more!

You can be a believer and know almost nothing about God. The man who hung on the cross beside Christ new little more than that Christ had forgiven His sins. And that was enough. But if you want to love God more you need to know Him more. I know that I’m a mere preschooler when it comes to knowing God. I look at others and see some who are in primary school, some who are in high school and some who must be about ready to finish up their post-graduate studies. And how I yearn to know Him that much, knowing that the love I feel for Him now, as great as it may be, is nothing more than a child’s love! I long to love Him, and therefore long to know Him. And I look forward to the day when I will know Him even as I am known by Him, that I may love Him with the perfect love with which He loves me.

August 23, 2004

I’ve said this before and in all likelihood will say it again. It seems that the articles I take lots of time to think about and write garner far less attention than the ones I rip off in 15 minutes and post, almost without proofreading them. On Saturday I had a very limited window to write an article but managed to write out a longish piece about relevancy. Between me and you I barely even proofread it. I knew it was no masterpiece, but because the clock was ticking I did something I rarely do - I hit the Submit button anyways and just left it.

This morning that link has been published on a couple of sites that have fairly significant traffic and all sorts of people are linking in to read it. How embarrassing! Why can’t people do that to the stories I labor over and post only after making sure they really say what I want them to? I suppose this must be one of God’s ways of keeping me humble!

Now I don’t want to insinuate that I regret writing it or want to take back what I said - I just wish I had written it a little better.

August 22, 2004

Steve Camp has posted an interesting article at his ministry site entitled It’s The Church…Stupid!. He discusses the fact that in the New Testament times, pastoral training was handled not by seminaries but by the local church. He extends this to today to show that while seminaries may provide a wonderful education but do not produce good pastors. Going even further, he puts the blame for many of today’s most popular heresies on the Christian educational system.

Though his thesis is not particularly original, Camp raises some good points. He is quite right that the vast majority of dangerous heresies arise from seminaries and not from churches where a plurality of elders works closely with a pastor to ensure he is true to the Bible. He is also right that many seminaries produce pastors that are entirely unsuited to the role of pastor. And he is certainly right that seminaries did not exist while Jesus and His apostles “turned the world upside down.” Of course he does go a bit overboard, ignoring the fact that seminaries have produced thousands of very knowledgeable and capable pastors. While the system may not be ideal, and perhaps is not even Biblical, is is not as great a disaster as he might have us believe. And as an aside, I’m quite surprised at how many spelling mistakes and grammatical errors the article contains.

Here are a couple of quotes:

They have succumbed to the spirit of the post-modern age by embracing that which they would have condemned less than a generation ago. It should come as no surprise, that most of the latest overture concerning theological error comes from these ministerial mavericks who operate in the vacuum of their own perspicacity absent of the onion skin of proper local church eldership to examine what they pen before they publicly disseminate. Accountability and submission to the God-appointed biblical eldership of the local church guards one against error and promotes Christlikeness through sound doctrine. Those words of accountability and submission are anathema for these self-regulating, self-governing academics. I would rather go to battle for the gospel with five biblically trained elders through the local church then a hundred professionals that have come through the halls of seminarian scholasticism. It’s the professionals that have brought evangelicalism to the abyss of apostasy—not the faithful godly elders of local churches (Gal. 1:6-9). (As I write this article, I am more grateful than ever for the elders of my local church as they keep faithful watch over this ministry and my life.)

The sheer arrogance and intellectual naïveté of academia is beyond biblical rational. Here is the foolishness of the university model for ministry: You teach a group of men in a classroom for four years; give them training in the art of “informational regurgitation”; give them needed and valuable tools in the languages (Greek and Hebrew), systematic theology, church history, and general Bible knowledge; and somehow magically at the end of that four years of education, out pops a pastor… a shepherd of God’s people— This is asinine-and that’s the problem. A classroom a shepherd does not make. Is it any wonder that evangelicalism is in the inebriated state we find it today? The ministry, beloved, has been drugged, date-raped, and thrown back as no longer virgin in her beliefs by these would be scholastic theological predators. Again, genuine biblical ministry must be inextricably linked to and under the accountability of the local church—or its not biblical ministry.

It’s a bit of a long read, but like most of what Camp writes, it is well worth the effort.

While we’re on the subject of Steve Camp, here’s a hilarious top ten list he wrote: top ten signs you’re visiting a bad church:

10.) Crying room provided for your “inner child”
9.) Baptismal tank features a wave-machine
8.) Regular attendees earn frequent flyer miles
7.) Prayer meeting replaced by an extreme image make-over class with Dr. Phil
6.) People jumping up and down holding bidding signs thinking the pastor said, “you need to get an auction from heaven!”
5.) Bibles in pews have been replaced with “Revolve Magazines”
4.) Sign out front has latest pastors name written with dry erase marker
3.) Offering plates mounted with credit card swipers
2.) Praise band leads worship in song by performing a Beatles medley
1.) Banner across front of sanctuary reads, “Today’s worship service presented by Chevrolet”

That’s good stuff!