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January 2007

January 26, 2007

Sovereign Grace Music is offering a free song written by Steve and Vikki Cook and sung by Vikki. It is from the Everlasting recording that was released in 1999. “I Bow Down” is a slow, meditative song that reflects on the holiness of God. Here is a sample of the lyrics:

You saved me the sinner
With crimson red You washed me
White as snow
How I love You Lord
You loved me the mocker
With kindness You won my
Heart forever
How I love You Lord
And as I behold this mercy
I’m undone

To download “I Bow Down,” click here and add the song to your shopping cart. During the checkout procedure, simply enter the promotional code FREEDOWNLOAD to bypass the credit card payment. Make sure that the total is now $0.00. Simply finalize the sale and you will be presented with a download link. This offer is only good until February 9.

There is also a new single available and another song written by the Cooks. “Beautiful Grace” moves at a slightly higher tempo and speaks of God’s grace.

Who could imagine
The life-giving beauty
That shines from Calvary
My eyes were opened
And my heart was won
When Your mercy conquered me
Lord, how could I flee from this love
Lord, why would I flee from this love

What beautiful grace, incredible hope
Lord, thank you for saving me
This beautiful grace will carry me home
Lord, thank you for saving me
For saving me

It is available here for 99 cents. Several other Sovereign Grace products have seen price reductions and are now priced at $10 per album.

If you enjoy the Sovereign Grace music, you may want to Sovereign Grace e-News. Almost every newsletter comes with news of a free song.

Overheard

Overheard this morning in the Challies household:

Son, age 6 - “Ah, it’s good to have a breakfast that sticks to your lungs.”

Dad - “I think you mean ‘stick to your ribs.’”

Son - “Oh, right, ribs.”

Dedication:

I spend my days sitting in a small office on the second floor of our home. I have a view across a park area to a row of townhouses facing ours. Every two weeks or so a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses visits a neighbor who is never home. They show up like clockwork but never catch her in. A new family has moved in next to this family and they have begun to knock on that door as well. No one ever answers. It is somewhere around 25 degrees below zero today (with the wind chill) and they are out there knocking on doors. No one is answering. I admire their dedication. For some reason they never knock on my door anymore. Until today. I actually got to talk to a couple of them today. They wanted to talk about the importance of telling the truth. I guess politicians and children lie and they think it’s better for society if we all tell the truth. They wouldn’t admit to lying and couldn’t answer any of my questions about the eternal consequences of lying. But they really did want me to read their magazines. So I took them and will read about truth. They’ll come back, I suppose. Talking to these people is about as much fun as beating your head against the wall, but if I can get the gospel to them just once I’ll be pleased!

Book

I spent yesterday working on my book and intend to do the same today. It’s now at 110 pages and around 40,000 words (which doesn’t seem like a very good word/page ratio. I don’t think 40,000 words would likely translate to a book with more pages). I am enjoying writing more each time I do it and each time I write my confidence increases that this may actually be a book worth reading. As always, I would really appreciate your prayers today as I attempt to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and press towards the finish line.

January 26, 2007

Friday January 26, 2007

Sermons: Josh Harris has preached a three-part series on the topic of purity.

Travel: Passengers who were stranded in a plane on a tarmac for ten hours are attempting to create a passenger’s bill of rights.

Creation: Here are ten amazing things you may not know about animals (feel free to ignore the ever-present evolutionary mumbo jumbo).

Du Jour: Michael Haykin gives advice on mortifying facial hair.

January 25, 2007

This article continues the discussion I began yesterday on the topic of self-centered sex. Because sex is created by God and to be used for His glory, it is not purely a physical or sexual or emotional issue, a theological issue. Thus in yesterday’s article we built a brief framework in which to understand sex from a biblical perspective. We saw that sex is: a Gift From God; intended only for marriage; for giving and receiving pleasure; a means of building intimacy; intended for procreation. Today we will continue this discussion to encompass autoeroticism, the act of providing sexual pleasure to oneself.

Before I continue, I would like to address one concern that was raised in the comment section yesterday. One commenter wrote “A happily married man’s advice to lonely, sex-starved, Christian singles may be theologically right on the money but nevertheless leaves the reader cold, unmoved, even resentful. It’s easy to dispense advice on how to diet while stuffing your face at the buffet table, after all.” I would suggest, though, and despite what this commenter says, that this is an issue that applies to married men as well as single. Men or women who masturbate when they are unmarried may not find that having regular sex with a marriage relationship will necessarily or immediately remove the desire to masturbate. Sex and masturbation, while similar in some ways, are also dissimilar. One is pure, the other is sinful. One is selfless, the other is selfish. One requires effort, the other is quick and easy. When a person has many years of selfish sex in his background, he may not find the transition away from that to be simple. Sin cannot always be removed as easily as simply replacing it with something else. More often it requires dedicated effort and many pleas for the aid of the Holy Spirit for sin to be eradicated.

Blindness, Baldness and Hairy Palms

I suspect my childhood is typical in that I heard many rumors about the physical effects of autoeroticism. I was told that people who did it went blind, lost their hair, grew hair on their palms or went crazy. But as James Dobson says, “If it did [cause such afflictions], the entire male population and about half of females would be blind, weak, simpleminded and sick. Between 95 and 98 percent of all boys engage in this practice — and the rest have been known to lie.” My parents certainly never told me such lies and neither did any of my teachers or youth leaders. Yet these rumors were passed from boy-to-boy on the playground, usually long before any of us had ever given serious consideration to sexuality. We did not know what the act was, but we did know the supposed repercussions.

While these rumors are clearly unfounded, they continue to be told simply because autoeroticism is a topic that breeds guilt and shame. It encourages worry that a person will be found out. Yet there is no physical reason to deny oneself this sexual pleasure. As Josh Harris writes in Sex Is Not The Problem (Lust Is) (the book from whence I stole the title for this series of articles) “masturbation isn’t a filthy habit that makes people dirty. It only reveals the dirt that’s already in our hearts.” The physical act of masturbation simply points to a deeper problem within. So while autoeroticism is not filthy and does not make a person filthy, there can, however, still be a mental and spiritual toll as many people struggle with feelings of guilt, remorse and shame because of their habits. This may be a convincing reason for some people to avoid participating, but for many it is not. Sadly, guilt is not enough of a motive for many of us to curb our sinful behavior.

Purity of Mind

The most common reason given why people should not engage in autoeroticism is that it pollutes the mind. Sexual gratification is not merely a physical act, but one that engages the mind. In speaking with men who struggle with this sin, one will find that the act brings far less guilt than the accompanying fantasies. These fantasies run rampant during acts of autoeroticism. This type of fantasy can be dangerous in at least two ways.

First, as most adults have learned the hard way, reality is rarely as wonderful as fantasy. Many people create expectations for sex in their minds that the reality cannot meet. I dare say that rarely has a teenage boy created a fantasy in which his partner gently and lovingly rebuffs his advances because she is too tired. Neither has he concocted a fantasy in which she declines participation in a particular act because she finds it uncomfortable or distasteful. The fact is that fantasy can create unhealthy and unrealistic expectations of sex.

Second, fantasy will rarely involve legitimate sexual partners. A teenage girl has no legitimate reason to pursue sexual fantasy, for she has no God-given partner with whom she can consummate such desire. While it is perfectly legitimate for a husband to dream of a sexual encounter with his wife, autoeroticism may encourage him to fill his mind with thoughts of other women, or even to gaze at pornographic material to fuel his mind.

Fantasy is dangerous when left unchecked. Autoeroticism is wrong when it violates the Lord’s teaching about moral purity. “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Fantasy can also be dangerous when it creates unrealistic expectation.

Some will protest that when they engage in autoeroticism it is merely a physical act and one they do to relieve stress or boredom. They will insist that they do not succumb to thinking inappropriate thoughts. In his book When Good Men Are Tempted, Bill Perkins writes, “It appears to me that masturbation is amoral. Under some circumstances it’s acceptable behavior. On other occasions it’s clearly wrong” (page 122). He goes on to provide three tests which will gauge whether a particular instance is right or wrong: the thought test (whether the act is accompanied by inappropriate fantasies), the self-control test (whether the act becomes obsessive) and the love test (whether autoeroticism leads to a person failing to fulfill the needs of his or her spouse). I found it interesting that in a book about sexual purity this topic was covered in only two pages and that the pages were at the very end of the book, almost as if this topic was an afterthought. Millions of men and women will tell you that it is far more than an afterthought.

James Dobson teaches a similar view of autoeroticism being amoral. When I was young my parents gave me his book Preparing for Adolescence and I remember this teaching well. He believes that every boy (and most girls) try it and that the guilt brought about by the act destroys many children. Thus he believes parents should rarely speak to their children about it, and if they do, to reassure their children that such practices are normal. Here is what he says on his web site (and thanks to a commenter for digging this up):

It is my opinion that masturbation is not much of an issue with God. It is a normal part of adolescence that involves no one else. It does not cause disease. It does not produce babies, and Jesus did not mention it in the Bible. I’m not telling you to masturbate, and I hope you won’t feel the need for it. But if you do, it is my opinion that you should not struggle with guilt over it. Why do I tell you this? Because I deal with so many Christian young people who are torn apart with guilt over masturbation; they want to stop and just can’t. I would like to help you avoid that agony.

This response is shockingly humanistic. The way to avoid the agony of guilt is not to ignore sin, but to focus on the gospel. Dobson feels that this is an issue young people should not be expected to agonize over. Speak honestly and open to young people, though, and they will tell you that they do want to talk about it and that they do want to be reassured that it is wrong and that they can and should overcome it. The guilt they feel is not irrational but is good guilt, guilt brought about by sin and intended to help correct it.

Like Perkins, Dobson does not engage in a biblical examination of this particular topic. Like Perkins he concludes that autoeroticism is amoral because there is no specific bible passage that allows or condemns the practice. Steve Hays, who writes at Triablogue also wrote recently about the potential amorality of masturbation. “If masturbation is a sin, then it’s a little odd that Scripture would leave the believer guessing about its moral status.”

Yet, as we will see, the Bible is not silent and does not leave us guessing. While Scripture may not mention masturbation explicitly, I would suggest that this simply points to the fact that it speaks so much and so thoroughly about sexuality that there is no need to speak about masturbation (just as Scripture speaks so thoroughly about murder and the value of human life that there is no need to speak explicitly about abortion). I believe the Bible’s teaching on sexuality proves that masturbation is sinful whether it is an act accompanied by sinful fantasy or an act that is purely physical.

God’s Purpose in Sexuality

Yesterday we learned that the purpose of sex is to provide ultimate intimacy between a husband and wife. There is no greater expression of vulnerable intimacy between human beings. A close examination of the Scripture’s teaching on sexuality will uncover no reason to believe that God ever intended sex to be a private pursuit. The heart and soul of sexuality is the giving and receiving of sexual pleasure. Sex is intended to be a means of mutual fulfillment where a husband thinks foremost of his wife, and the wife things foremost of her husband. As they fulfill each other’s needs, they have their own fulfilled. It is a beautiful picture of intimacy! As any married couple can testify, the more selfless the sex, the better sex becomes. The more each spouse seeks to please the other, the more fulfilling and gratifying the act becomes. It is beautiful in that regard. As we might expect the opposite is also true. Sex that is completely selfish is sex that is demeaning and unfulfilling (rape, an act of utter selfishness, may be the ultimate expression of selfish sex).

Sex is so important to a marriage that the Bible forbids us from neglecting it. “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5). This deprivation can refer not only to time but to activity. A man should no more deprive his wife over a period of time than he should deprive her by private sexual activity. As married couples can attest to the importance of sex, I’m sure most can also look to times when they neglected this activity and can testify to the difficulties in caused in their marriage. God intends for husbands and wives to have sex with each other and to do so regularly.

And this, the mutual giving and receiving which lies at the heart of God’s purpose for sexuality, is exactly what autoeroticism cannot provide. It strips sexuality of its divine purpose of mutual fulfillment. It takes an act God intends to build relationship and makes it an act of selfish isolation. Masturbation and fantasy attempt to create a false intimacy rather than the true intimacy between a husband and wife that God has built into the marriage relationship.

I remind you again of the passage we looked at yesterday. “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:3-4). A man’s body does not belong to himself, but to his present or future wife, and ultimately to God. A wife’s body belongs to her husband (and to God). Likewise, a single woman’s body belongs to her future spouse and is to be kept pure for him. Neither spouse has the right to express sexuality apart from the other. When the Bible tells a man that he is to express his sexuality exclusively with his wife, why do so many interpret this to mean that he can express his sexuality with his wife or by himself?

How Bad?

By now I think it should be clear that masturbation is a sin—one that ought to be repented of and one that Christians need to fight against. Sadly, though, for many young Christians, it becomes an issue that begins to define their spiritual state. Some people feel such guilt for this act that they begin to question their salvation and begin to see themselves only through the lens of this sin. There is no doubt that this is a serious sin, but it should not be given so much prominence that people can see nothing past it. Josh Harris writes wisely, “When we inflate the importance of this act, we’ll either overlook the many evidences of God’s work in us or we’ll ignore other more serious expressions of lust that God wants us to address.”

Pornography

I want to add a brief word here about pornography. I feel this is relevant to the discussion simply because pornography and masturbation are so closely allied. Despite this connection many discussions of pornography shy away from also discussing masturbation. Yet the whole point of looking at pornography is to fuel sexual fantasy and to culminate in masturbation or another selfish form of sexual expression. Few Christians would argue that pornography is acceptable and yet countless numbers are attracted to it or ensnared by it. Like masturbation, pornography is inherently self-centered. It creates a false intimacy between an anonymous person in a magazine or on a screen and the viewer. It provides escapism and release, but requires no effort and no self-denial. It creates a selfish, self-centered, self-focused perversion of the true, sacred act.

Not A Selfish Pursuit

Do you see, then, how autoeroticism denies the very purpose for which God created sex? Sex was not meant to be a selfish pursuit. It was not intended to focus a person’s thoughts on himself and his own needs. Rather, sex was designed as a means of fulfilling the Lord’s command to esteem another higher than oneself. The pleasure of sex is not meant to be enjoyed in isolation, but to be enjoyed while providing that same pleasure to another. Autoeroticism cannot fulfill God’s design for sexuality, and thus has no place in the life of one who calls himself a Christian.

Gospel

For those who struggle with this sin, take heart, for there is hope. The blood of Jesus was shed for sins like this one and the power of the Holy Spirit has been given to us so that we can overcome sins like this one. This is not a sin that is beyond the power of God to overcome. You can be set free from it.

January 25, 2007

Thursday January 25, 2007

Theology: Darrin has collected The Complete Life and Works of Horatius Bonar on a CD. Now he needs you to buy it.

Sports: This Superbowl represents a meeting between two black, Christian coaches.

Art: Amazing hand art.

Weird: This is the internet at its best and its most bizarre.

January 24, 2007

Twelve or eighteen months ago I wrote a couple of articles about the always difficult subject of autoeroticism (i.e. masturbation). This is a subject I hesitate to write about and yet one that I feel is both important and relevant. It is a subject that takes us outside of our comfort zones but hiding our heads in the sand and pretending it is not a real problem is almost unfair. I have had opportunity in recent days to speak to young men and to hear about the struggles they face. And I know that this is a near-universal struggle. I was recently convicted that if the church won’t speak out about this issue, no one will.

This is the type of issue that I suspect only Christians really wrestle with. It is an issue that our culture regards as irrelevant. To question the morality of masturbation is folly to those who accept and seek to honor no higher authority. “If it feels good, do it!” is the wisdom of our age. But this is no wisdom at all. I know that many Christians have questions about this issue and are troubled by it. And hence I will write about it again in the hope that it can help Christians understand God’s design for sexuality.

In what I anticipate will be a two-part article I would like to bring a biblical perspective to autoeroticism, or the act of providing sexual pleasure to oneself. The Bible is silent on explicit discussion of the subject of autoeroticism. There is no place in Scripture where we will find a clear statement allowing or condemning the practice. Thus we have to begin our study by attempting to come to a biblical understanding of sexuality - God’s purpose and design in human sexuality. Once we understand this we will have a foundation upon which we can build an understanding of autoeroticism.

God’s Design for Sex

We will begin by providing the groundwork for a theology of sex. This is a topic that could consume as much time and space as we chose to give it, so we will discuss it only briefly. Consider this nothing more than a framework. Much of the following was drawn from Sex, Romance and the Glory of God by C.J. and Carolyn Mahaney. Much of that book is available as a chapter in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. Both books are well worth reading.

A Gift From God

Andy Warhol said, “Sex is the biggest nothing of all time.” Andy Warhol was dead wrong. Sex is a gift of God and it is inherently good because the God who gave us sex is good. God created us in such a way that sex is a natural part of what it means to be human. We glorify God when we use this gift in the way God intends and when we use it to His glory. In Genesis 2 we read about the creation of a woman. After God gave Eve to Adam the Bible tells us, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). It is God who designed sex and who gave it to us. It is a good gift and one that must be used as the Creator intends.

For Marriage

When God gave sex to humans, He provided a restriction. He decreed that sex is to be enjoyed only within marriage. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4). God gave us this restriction not to be burdensome, but to increase the pleasure and intimacy found in God-glorifying sex. As the creator of sexuality, He was free to place any restrictions He felt necessary. And thus, so that we could benefit from sexuality in the way He intended, He placed this simple restriction on it.

For Our Pleasure

God created sex to be pleasurable. What more evidence do we need than the clitoris, a part of the body that has only one function - to receive and transmit sexual pleasure. And not only is sex pleasurable, but it is mutually pleasurable, allowing the husband and wife to give and receive pleasure at the same time. This leads to mutual sexual fulfillment. A servant’s mindset is crucial in the marriage bed so each partner primarily seeks after the interests of the other. “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:3-4). Sex is pleasurable because God made it to be pleasurable. We are not to feel guilty or burdened by sexual desire or by sexual pleasure.

For Intimacy

Humans are not entirely capable of comprehending the depth of intimacy brought about by sexual union. The word “know” is often used in Scripture to speak of the deep, intimate knowledge brought about by sex. God also speaks of the husband and wife being of “one flesh” through this act. Carolyn Mahaney writes, “Marital sex is the pinnacle of human bonding. It is the highest form of the communication of love - a language that expresses love without words. It calls forth the deepest, most powerful emotions. It creates intimacy within marriage like nothing else. In fact, as we give and receive the gift of lovemaking, this intimacy will grow stronger and more precious as the years go by. Each encounter will lead us to a deeper ‘knowing’ of the one we love” (Sex, Romance and the Glory of God, page 107). One of God’s deepest purposes in creating sex was to use it to bond husband to wife and wife to husband. It is something they are to share only with each other and something that will bring a deep and intimate knowledge reserved only for a spouse.

For Procreation

Sex is a means of pleasure and intimacy, but also has the purpose of procreation. Through the joyful act of sex God works through us to create new life.

These five points provide a framework for a biblical understanding of sex.

Culture and Sex

Our culture promotes a view of sex diametrically opposed to what Scripture teaches. This is a view that makes sex appear as little more than a biological function like breathing or urinating. In this view men have a sexual appetite they must fulfill and hence they hunt around much like a male dog seeks out a female who is in heat. Like a dog, a man can barely even help himself from fulfilling his craving. Television and movies now portray women in a similar light - as sexual creatures who are able to separate love and marriage from the act of sex. Yet biblical sexuality is far different.

Eugene Peterson, in his paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 6:16-18 brings wisdom that reads more like a commentary on this passage than a translation of it. “There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, ‘The two become one.’ Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never ‘become one.’ There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for ‘becoming one’ with another.” And not only do we violate our own bodies, but the bodies of those with whom we have sex. Sex outside of marriage is a perversion of God’s intent.

Perhaps the clearest biblical teaching on sexuality is found in the Song of Solomon. This book portrays a man and woman who are desperately in love with each other. “These two desperately desire to be together, but not simply so they can experience sexual gratification. They want to be together because they are in love, and the sex they enjoy with one another is an expression of that love. Their mutual attraction is not primarily hormonal. It is primarily relational” (Sex, Romance and the Glory of God, page 85). The sex that is so beautifully depicted in Song of Solomon, (the great sex!), is founded primarily on relationship, not technique or the mere fulfillment of animal urges. The consummation of the sexual act is only one place on a long continuum filled with relationship, loving words, expressions of desire and finally physical intimacy. If we were to read Song of Solomon as a textbook on how to have sex we would misread Solomon’s intent. The book is a guide on how to build a loving, intimate relationship. It shows a view of sexuality that is far different from what we see on television or the movies. It is love that leads to sex rather than sex that leads to love.

God’s purpose in sexuality, then, is to provide ultimate intimacy between a husband and wife. There is no greater expression of vulnerable intimacy between human beings, and this is a large part of what makes marriage so unique.

Consequences

God’s plan for sex is clear and so is God’s expectation for how we will use this gift. If we recklessly violate this gift we ought to expect to suffer consequences. The book of Proverbs makes this clear: “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished. People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry, but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house. He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself” (Proverbs 6:27-32). There are always consequences to sin. If we want to be people who honor God and if we want to avoid the consequences of sin by avoiding sin, we must be people who think deeply about issues, and even issues as difficult as this one.

In our next article we will build upon this theology of sex and discuss autoeroticism.

January 24, 2007

Wednesday January 24, 2007

Travel: New rules are finally in place and anyone traveling by air between the US and Canada must now have a passport. You have been warned!

Theology: Bob DeWaay writes about God’s revealed will.

Health: How do you feel about an STD vaccine that would be required for all girls?

Evolution: Christian Cable reflects on evolution.

Education: Al Mohler discusses the importance of reading books.

January 23, 2007

This thing called blogging is not nearly as easy as it looks, and this is especially true in a blog that receives a good deal of traffic. I suppose if you were to plot out the history of this blog in terms of its traffic, you would end up with a graph showing a slow but steady rise from the left of the graph (representing the time I began the site) to the right (representing today). I do not follow traffic all that closely and have never invested any time in streamlining this site for search engine optimization and the like. I just like to write and to attempt to encourage and interact with other believers. And yet a quick look at my site’s statistics shows that I should anticipate more than a million unique visits in 2007. Traffic continues to grow. And really I hate the word “traffic.” After all, each visit is made not only by a computer, but by a person. Traffic seems so dehumanizing. As the readership of this site has increased, so have the types of people who read it.

When a blog first starts out, there are typically only a few readers and the readers that do spend time at the site tend to agree with the author. When I first began writing at this site, it was only my family that read it. Eventually a few friends and friends of friends began to read it. But as it grew, people from further outside my circles began to show up. Soon it was being read by people I had never met and people whose theology was light years away from mine. As the readership grew, so did the number of theological perspectives. Needless to say, where there is a large number of perspectives, there will be a large number of disagreements.

So while today some people read the site because they tend to agree with my theological perspectives, others read it precisely because they do not. Some read it simply because they’ve heard about it and want to know what the fuss is about. Still others read it because they want to comment in the hope that people will follow a comment link back to their own blog. Some probably read it because Phil Johnson got it in his head to begin calling me “The World’s Most Famous Christian Blogger” and people who saw that title simply wanted to figure out who I am. Either way, where people used to read the site primarily because they felt some kind of affinity with me, people now read for any number of reasons.

This has introduced an interesting phenomenon and one I’ve only noticed recently. It seems that the site is now at the point that, no matter what I write, someone will disagree with me (and may just disagree vehemently). If I mention a contentious issue like the TNIV, I can be assured that someone will be bothered that I did not provide a blanket condemnation of the translation. But, of course, had I done so, others would have been bothered that I overstepped my bounds. This is inevitable, I realize. But it is requiring me to make adjustments to my mindset in regards to the blog. I am usually a person who shuns controversy and it is quite foreign to me to have to deal with people who strongly disagree with me.

I have also come to realize the importance of theological precision. I do not consider the vast majority of what I write to be systematic theology or even to be true teaching. Often I just reflect on what has been playing through my mind and make those reflections public. Yesterday, for example, I wrote about prayer and said that prayer is not something I do for me, but something I do for God. A few commenters noted this and disagreed with me, saying that there is nothing God needs from us. I do not wish to open this can of worms except to say that yesterday’s article was not meant to be a theology of prayer. Really it was more of a personal reflection upon the subject of prayer. The difference was clear in my mind and yet I suppose I failed to convey that. Either way, I’ve come to see that I need to attempt to ensure greater accuracy and precision. I may have to scale back a little bit on my personal reflections since, by definition, they do not always represent fully-formed theology. They are personal and perhaps are often better left that way.

There have been times in the past when this site has undergone something of a transition. What used to be a site that displayed photos of my family morphed into a site that was a little bit like a watchblog. And when I got tired of that game, it morphed into whatever it is now. I’ve got a feeling that another transition time is coming and that it is going to have to come if this site is to remain a useful resource. But to this point I am not sure what this transition involves. I probably won’t know until I can look back on it.

I do not say all of this to complain. It’s just that this is a new phenomenon to me and one that is going to take some adjustment. I suppose it comes with the territory and is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just something I have become aware of and something I need to ensure I am equipped to deal with. So please be patient because I’m still learning.

January 23, 2007

Tuesday January 23, 2007

Business: Forbes lists the 10 riskiest businesses to start. I’m guessing starting a church would prove more difficult than any of these!

Interview: Timmy Brister has begun posting a five part interview with David Dockery, President of Union University in Jackson, TN.

Blogspotting: Fill Up shares in movie format what he feels is one of Canada’s most glaring deficiencies.

Politics: A California lawmaker wants to outlaw spanking. The legislation would make the violation a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000.

Humor: Would you want to learn to fly at this place?