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Tim Challies

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February 2006

February 28, 2006

0977396800I do believe that this will be the last book I read, at least for the next little while, on the subject of Bible translations. This is not to say that it is a bad book, nor is it to say that it is the final word on the subject. Rather, I have read several books about translating Scripture in the past weeks and am tiring of the topic.

February 28, 2006

I have been given the great privilege of liveblogging this year’s Shepherd’s Conference. The conference, which is geared primarily towards pastors and is sponsored by Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, is composed of both General Sessions and Conference Seminars.

The General Sessions “are times when we gather as one great congregation to worship the Lord in music and sit under the teaching of godly men—men who have proven themselves to be passionate teachers of God’s Word and faithful shepherds of God’s people.” The keynote speakers at these General Sessions are: John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, and Steve Lawson.

The Conference Seminars allow “access to a variety of teaching from pastors and elders of Grace Community Church and professors from The Master’s College and Seminary. Seminar topics range from expository preaching and shepherdology to key theological issues vital for shepherds today.” Among the seminar leaders are Phil Johnson, Irv Busenitz, Nathan Busenitz, Rick Holland, Steve Lawson and Richard Mayhue.

There will be eleven General Seminars and each person will attend five of the more than forty Conference Seminars. While there are different “tracks” available, I am attending seminars on a variety of topics.

I have been given free rein as to how I blog the conference. My intent is to allow those who are not able to attend the conference to be able to understand what is happening and perhaps to gain some idea of the atmosphere at such a gathering. I will provide commentary on each of the General Sessions as they unfold and will also comment on the Seminars I choose to attend. I am hoping to have opportunity to speak with some attendees and ask how they are enjoying their time. I hope that my endeavors will prove valuable to those who choose to read the updates.

I am on my way to Los Angeles today (with a three-hour stop in Atlanta) and will begin blogging in earnest when the conference begins at 10 AM (Pacific Standard Time) on Wednesday March 5. I’d appreciate your prayers for my travelling safety and for the healty and safety of my family while I am away. There will be people staying with my family, so I do not really fear for their safety, but I do tend to miss them when I am away!

If you have any input as to how I can make the liveblogging of this conference more valuable for you, the reader, please do not hesitate to let me know, either by sending an email or by posting a comment.

February 27, 2006

King for a Week is an honor I bestow on blogs that I feel are making a valuable contribution to my faith and the faith of other believers. Every week I select a blog, link to it from my site, and add that site’s most recent headlines to my left sidebar. While this is really not much, I do feel that it allows me to encourage and support other bloggers while making my readers aware of other good sites.

This week’s honoree is Coffeeswirls, the online home of Doug McHone. Doug was one of the first bloggers with whom I made a genuine personal connection. He has become a good friend, first via email and then in “real life.” We spent a weekend together at last year’s Desiring God Conference and will be spending the week together this coming week at The Shepherd’s Conference. As I am liveblogging the event, Doug will also be posting reflections on the week in L.A. So be sure to stop by his site this week for further information about what is happening at the conference.

For the next few days you will be able to see the most recent headlines from Coffeeswirls in the sidebar of my site. I hope you will make your way over to the site and look around.

I continue to accept nominations for King of the Week. If you have a site you would like to nominate, feel free to do so by clicking on the “suggest” button below the King of the Week box. Thanks to those of you who nominated this week’s honoree.

February 27, 2006

fcp.gifAriel Levy and I could probably not be more different. She is a liberal, feminist, democratic, New Yorker. I am a conservative, biblical, Canadian Christian. Yet Levy and I share a common concern when we look at women in our culture. Not too long ago, Levy began to notice a change in women. “I’d walk down the street and see teens and young women - and the occasional wild fifty-year old - wearing jeans cut so low they exposed what came to be known as butt cleavage paired with miniature tops that showed off breast implants and pierced navels alike. Sometimes…the shirts would be emblazoned with the Playboy bunny or say PORN STAR across the chest… People I knew (female people) liked going to strip clubs (female strippers). It was sexy and fun, they explained; it was liberating and rebellious. My best friend from college, who used to go to Take Back the Night marches on campus, had become captivated by porn stars.” She discovered a raunch culture that had begun to interest women.

February 27, 2006

Monday February 27, 2006

Theology: The theology wiki Theopedia is continuing to grow and mature. It is a good, though not infallible, resource for questions of church history, Bible study and theology.

Video: National Geographic posts their top ten videos of 2005. While I did not watch them all, those I saw were simply amazing. It’s too bad that National Geographic can’t see God in nature!

Olympics They are over, thankfully. But before they wrapped up, Cindy Klassen, whom I wrote about late last week, won a fifth medal, a bronze in the 5000 meters long track speed skating. She now becomes the most-decorated Canadian athlete in Olympic history.

Theology Bonus: There is some interesting discussion happening at the Together for the Gospel blog. Mark Dever is asked Ligon Duncan about Presbyterian church membership and they are questioning whether Calvinists are better evangelists than Arminians.

February 26, 2006

0801065909I have long admired those who seem to find sharing their faith to be a simple, shameless task. I am ashamed to admit that I sometimes, and perhaps even most of the time, find it difficult and would even rather do anything but. I am not alone. Like many others, I have been taught different methods of evangelism and have found that they do little to make me more confident in sharing my faith. But Mike Bechtle has written a book that will make it easier for me. Evangelism for the Rest of Us seeks to show the reader how he can overcome the fear of evangelizing and to provide wisdom on how he can share his faith in a way that is consistent with his strengths and his personality. “The purpose [of this book] is to provide a new way of thinking that could put people who don’t witness back on the front lines. They’ll be using methods that are uniquely suited to their personality style as they encounter the people God brings into their path.”

February 25, 2006

Putting Amazing Back Into GracePutting Amazing Back Into Grace was the first book I have read by Michael Horton. It will certainly not be my last. On the cover of the book J.I. Packer declares the book “a breaktaking workout” and his praise is justified. This book points us back to the Reformation and ultimately to the Bible itself as the source of an amazing grace that much of modern Christianity seems to have lost. He presents timeless truths as being as relevant to us today as they were when they were first discovered.

February 24, 2006

Making ChoicesThough I have no Dutch heritage, I grew up among the Dutch. During my childhood, the vast majority of my friends were the children of Dutch immigrants who made the journey to Canada in the years following the Second World War. I went to Dutch churches and Dutch schools. I even learned to like Dutch food (Dutch soup, chocolate or brown sugar sandwiches, olibolen, and of course, dropjes). The Dutch, like many immigrant populations, have a deep cultural heritage and one they cling to even in this new land.

Deeply ingrained in the Dutch heritage is the lingering memory of World War 2. All of my Dutch friends had parents or grandparents who had been living in Holland in 1940, when the German army invaded and quickly destroyed all opposition in a war that lasted less than a week. The Dutch people were subjected to years of oppression. The Jewish population, many of whom had lived in Holland for generations, were rounded up and transported to Germany and Poland, never to be seen again. The Dutch, a proud and fiesty people, organized themselves into various Resistance groups and did what they could to torment the Germans, to prepare for the coming invasion, and to protect the Jews and other fugitives.

Making Choices: The Dutch Resistance During World War II tells the stories of four members of the Resistance all of whom have since moved to the United States: Diet Eman, John Witte, John Muller and John Timmer. Diet’s story is particularly compelling and moving. The viewer cannot help but be stirred as he hears of her courage, of her brushes with death, and of the loss of some of those she loved. This film helps the viewer understand what motivated these people to risk their lives for others and to face the heavy toll exacted on those who aided the Jews, for those who helped the Jews were to be treated as Jews. Many brave Dutch men and women, having been caught in acts of rebellion against the Germans, were sent to concentration camps.

Each of these former members of the Resistance provides his or her motivation for helping the Jewish people. Each of them affirms that it was their faith that drove them to protect the Jews. They could not stand silently by and watch as the Jewish people were herded like cattle and driven to their deaths. In a moving scene near the end, John Witte reveals that despite all that was done by himself and the other Dutch citizens, he still feels guilt that they could not do more.

There is one thing that has always struck me as strange and it was affirmed in this video. In all the times I have read about the work of the Dutch Resistance and have heard Dutch people speak about aiding the Jews, there has not been a single time that I heard of them sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Jewish fugitives. While they were faithful in protecting human life and in sheltering those in need, I never heard of a Jewish person who was converted during this time. I never heard of a person who made it his mission to ensure that the Jewish people were introduced to Jesus Christ. And indeed, in this video, there is no mention of the Jewish need for Christ. It is very odd.

Making Choices is one of many presentations I have seen in the past few years that recounts the first-hand stories of ordinary people who were driven to extraordinary measures during the Second World War. As that generation grows older and their numbers diminish, historians are racing to record and preserve their stories. The stories of those who served the war effort in Holland are worth preserving. These stories are moving; inspiring. I was glad to be able to hear them.

Making Choices is available from Vision Video or from Amazon: