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Tim Challies

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June 2008

June 25, 2008
Wednesday June 25, 2008 12 Sins We Blame on Others
Here is sound wisdom from Ben Reaoch, pastor of Three Rivers Grace Church in downtown Pittsburgh, PA.
WORLD on The Shack
WORLD has an article about The Shack. An interesting quote: “Young is no longer a member of a church, nor are his publishing partners, both former pastors. They are a part of a movement that rejects the institutional church, but Young says he doesn’t feel any need to try to yank people out of systems or be negative about them. His hostility, though, shows up in The Shack…”
Why I Love the Church
And in a case of good timing, Pulpit Magazine is posting a series by John MacArthur on why he loves the church.
An Interesting Obit
Here’s an interesting obituary of a woman who refused to sell her house, even while the world around her was changing. “The Ballard woman who captured hearts and admirers around the world when she stubbornly turned down $1 million to sell her home to make way for a commercial development died Sunday of pancreatic cancer. She was 86.” (HT: Zach).
CT Interview with the Creator of WALL-E
CT interviews Andrew Stanton of Pixar about his Christian faith. They push and push, it seems to me, but don’t get a whole lot out of the guy!
Heinz Pushes Gay Marriage
Further proof that homosexual marriage is becoming ever-more mainstream. Here is an ad from Heinz (showing in the UK) that features a “homosexual family,” referring to one of the men as “Mom” (and showing “mom” and “dad” kissing). How long until ads like this are playing in North America?
June 24, 2008

Francis SchaefferI think it is safe to say that, of all theologians contemporary or ancient, few have had as profound an affect on my life as Francis Schaeffer. Though I’ve read little of what he wrote, though he died when I was only a young child, and though I have never heard even one of his sermons, I know that my faith has been shaped by him. He was, after all, a major influence on my parents and on so many of their friends. Shortly after their conversion, my parents went three times to various European L’Abri locations, spending upwards of a year at them. In so many ways Schaeffer shaped their fledgling faith just as they later shaped mine. I am indebted to him as I am to them. And in this I am hardly the only one. Though it has been almost twenty five years since his death, Schaeffer’s impact is still felt throughout the Christian church.

June 24, 2008
Tuesday June 24, 2008 Chapman Family Update
Steven Curtis Chapman’s manager posts an update on the family four weeks after the tragic death of Maria.
Jewellery Sale
My friend Becky, whose ad is on the site this week, is offering free shipping on her handmade jewellery today. Husbands, you know what to do…
Standing Firm
Here is the site for another faith-based movie coming our way later in the year.
The Shack in NY Times
NY Times recently interviewed me and others for an article on The Shack. The article was printed today. “Mr. Jacobsen [the publisher] read the novel and immediately thought it deserved a larger following. ‘It brought God alive in a way that I think few books in literature ever do,’ he said.” Does God need to be brought to life now?
Interview with Westboro Baptist
Josh Buice is posting an interview he conducted with a member of Westboro Baptist Church. A sampling: “Do you consider yourself to be a Christian? RESPONSE: What an impudent question from a clueless source. You brutes have given that concept a bad name.” I never lack for adjectives to describe these people…
How the Brain Works…
…or doesn’t. This short video shows how the brain compensates and interprets.
June 23, 2008

Only on rare occasions can I bring myself to buy greeting cards. When it is Aileen’s birthday or when it is our anniversary, I either tell her how I feel (not something I’m particularly good at most of the time) or I buy a blank card and fill it with my own words. Or occasionally, to my shame, I forgo to card altogether. For some reason it just seems fake, disingenuous, to give her a card with a little poetic inscription written by someone else—someone who has never met her and knows nothing about her. What do the words mean when they’ve come from someone else? It seems that a card like that really means nothing to me, and I would rather give her a card that has come from my heart rather than the mind of a stranger. I prefer to invest the time and affection in expressing myself for her benefit.

Have you ever stopped to consider what it must be like to work for Hallmark or another of the companies that create greeting cards? Imagine spending your whole day attempting to come up with wonderful statements of deep feeling—love, remorse, sympathy—yet without feeling any of the associated emotions. Imagine having to write words that express sympathy, yet not feeling any sympathy yourself. Or imagine having to write words that can express the deep, passionate love a man has for his wife as they celebrate fifty years of marriage, but without having ever experienced that sort of love yourself. It must be very odd to spend the whole day writing words of love and passion from a husband to a wife but then return alone to an empty home and a life lived alone.

I fear that all too often I, as a Christian, can worship God in just this way. So often I sing songs with the most wonderful lyrics, but in a way that betrays my true feelings. I sing “When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.” But when I sing those words, so often it is as if I am a single man writing a greeting card to celebrate a fiftieth wedding anniversary. Though the words may sound wonderful, they are devoid of any true understanding. When I sing “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me” do I even try to understand just how amazing God’s grace is? Have I experienced that grace and allowed it to transform my life? Do I know that the very grace I sing about is the only thing keeping me from an eternity of separation from God? Do I feel deep love and affection to the giver of grace? Or do I merely parrot back the words?

True worship relies on both feeling and understanding, or as Jesus said, on spirit and truth. Worship that is devoid of feeling and emotion will be dead worship, for the God we serve is worthy of feelings that express His worth. He evokes these feelings in those who love Him. It is the very height of hypocrisy to pay lip-service to God when I do not truly feel affection for Him. At the same time worship needs to be thoughtful. While it engages my feelings it must also engage my mind. My feelings must have their basis in what I know about God so that the more I know about Him the greater will be my feelings of affection for Him.

Before I married my wife I heard time and again from the wonderful older couples in our church that after forty, fifty or even sixty years of marriage, they continued to love each other more deeply and more intimately. I marveled that this could be true, yet through the first decade of my marriage I have already seen that it is not only possible but it is the way God intended marriage to be. I love my wife in a deeper way now than I did the day we exchanged vows. In the ensuing years we have faced trials together and have spent countless thousands of hours talking and laughing and worshiping together. The more I learn about Aileen and the more time I spend with her the greater my feelings of affection for her. To know her is to love her, and to know her more is to love her more.

Likewise, great knowledge of God must produce great feelings of affection for Him. These feelings of affection give me the burning desire to worship Him. I long to express my feelings, not as a means to some devious or selfish end, but simply as an expression of the affection I have for Him. As such, worship is not a means to an end, but it is an end in itself.

June 23, 2008
Monday June 23, 2008 Fireproof, the Movie
Here’s a forthcoming movie starring Kirk Cameron and created by the guys behind Facing the Giants.
No Greater Love
And speaking of movies, here’s another “faith-based” one that’s coming soon.
When to Leave Your Church
John MacArthur on a subject that is always difficult to address.
Inured
Ted Slater has a warning about becoming inured to the violence and other negative elements in movies. “Sometimes I have to say ‘no’ to my inclination to see a movie, despite its cultural significance. Yes, for the sake of spiritual sensitivity and at the expense of cultural relevance, sometimes I have to throw the baby out with the bath water.”
God and Sports
Trillia has an interview with Stephen Altrogge, author of the forthcoming Game Day for the Glory of God.
Darwinists for Jesus
The NY Times has an article about Michael Dowd and his recent book Thank God for Evolution.
June 22, 2008

The Snake CharmerThe Snake Charmer is one of two books I plucked from Dr. Al Mohler’s suggested reading list for dads. It is a book that is rather unlike any I’ve read before. It is a biographical account of the life of Joe Slowinski, one of the world’s great herpetologists. Slowinski dedicated his life to studying snakes and, in particular, poisonous snakes.

In 2001, Slowinski led an expedition of biologists and botanists as they traveled through the jungles of Burma. It was there that he was bitten by a many-banded krait, the most deadly snake in Asia and one of the most deadly snakes in the world. A world away from any kind of hospital or clinic, Slowinski knew that his chances of survival were slim. It was this quote, provided by Dr. Mohler, which gave me an interest in reading the book:

June 21, 2008

A short time ago I was trying to help a friend redesign the bulletin for our church. In need of inspiration, I took to the web and began looking for examples of bulletins. I was rather surprised to see that there was really not a whole lot available out there. The majority of sample bulletins I dug up were the Christian equivalent of Microsoft Word’s clip art collections—covered with awful art that someone thought would appeal to Christians. Most of them were unsightly. Few offered anything interesting in terms of the layout of the information within; it is the text layout that interests me more than the “bells and whistles.”

I thought it would be interesting and perhaps helpful to piece together a small collection of church bulletins. Perhaps this can help inspire others as they attempt to create the perfect bulletin for their church.

So I am asking if you will do me a favor. Will you keep the bulletin from your church this weekend and send it to me? You can scan it, photograph it (assuming it’s a photo of reasonable quality) or mail it to me. Once I build up a collection, I will post them for all of us to see.

Thanks in advance!

June 20, 2008

Earlier today Dennis Rainey sent the following email to some of his friends. I share this because it is just such a wonderful testament to God’s grace in the lives of these people. Only Christians can have such hope even in the face of devastating adversity.


On Thursday, Miss Molly made her way to her new home in heaven around 6:15 pm. Her last day with us began with a pretty average sunrise, but the sunset that closed out her Coronation Day was spectacular.

As we left the hospital, thunderstorms had blown up over the mountains resulting in a dazzling sunset splashing platinum gold shafts of light all over the Rockies. The light behind the clouds was brilliant. It was as though the sun was declaring, Magnificent Molly is home! What a homecoming it must have been…saying good bye and letting her leave this earthly home was one tough assignment for a young mother and father and a couple of families that had become hopelessly attached to this fragile little girl.

The Scriptures declare, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” That verse challenged our faith all day long, but it was nonetheless a day ordered by God’s sovereign hand of love and mercy.

Jake and Rebecca spent nearly all morning with Molly. As we arrived, Beth, Molly’s nurse and an angel herself, told us that Molly’s vital signs were slipping. Her little heart was racing at over 170 beats per minute and she was receiving 100 per cent pure oxygen, yet, her oxygen saturation level in her blood stream was down to 80. She was losing color. The nurse told us that it was Molly’s way of telling her parents, “it’s time for me to leave you and go home to heaven.” I am weeping as I write these words, none of us wanted Molly to leave.

Around noon, Rebecca and Jake honored all of us as grandparents by giving us the honor and privilege of holding Molly and gave us a moment to say good bye. None of us expected we’d get that treat. We didn’t want to rob them of one moment with their precious daughter.

Barbara got to be first. It was quite a maneuver to make sure all the wires and tubes that were supporting Molly’s life didn’t get tangled, but finally there she was in her arms, Mimi’s granddaughter. Barbara kept saying how much of an honor it was hold this little princess of the King. She held her close and cooed words of love and admiration over her beautiful face. Smiles and tears mingled.

Jake’s parents soaked all of her they could in and when it was Bill’s turn, he stroked her face, tenderly whispered his love for her and shared his favorite Scriptures with her. Pam beamed as she gently rocked Molly and sang “Jesus Loves Me” to her. Both Bill and Pam just held her, kissing her face, holding her little hands and weeping as they said good bye.

As Molly was placed in my arms she felt so warm, just like every other newborn. I tried to sing to her and I doubt that she recognized “Jesus Loves Me” as I choked out the words through tears.

Jake who was video-taping, asked me, “Papa, why don’t you tell Molly a story…one of your ‘Speck People’ stories?” I have to tell you that ‘speck stories’ are adventure stories of tiny little people and equally tiny little creatures who live in a make believe microscopic world, facing any number of challenges that demand courage and faith. Our kids were enthralled with these tiny people stories and now I am telling them to my grandkids. The stories always take the Speck People to the very edge of danger…and then I close, by saying, “And you’ll have to wait until tomorrow night to hear the rest of the story.” My grandkids love these ‘continue’ stories. (honestly, I’m not all that good at it…I just make it all up as I go.)

So here’s Jake asking me to tell a story…and I respond to Jake, “You aren’t going to ask me to do that, after I’ve just blubbered my way through a simple song like “Jesus Loves Me”, are you?” Jake was joined by Rebecca in saying a resounding yes—they wouldn’t let me off the hook.

So Rebecca and Barbara surround me as I held little Molly, looked into her face and began my story. A Speck grandfather and his Speck granddaughter went fishing for tiny speck fish. My story was less than 60 seconds long and I looked up into Rebecca’s face and she had the biggest grin, dimples and all. She was loving the moment. As I concluded my story, I told Molly, “the Speck grandfather and granddaughter took their fish and ate them, and then they encountered something that you would never expect or believe…and…you will have to wait until I get to heaven to hear the rest of the story!” At this point I was sobbing, but I got the words out…and Rebecca and Jake started laughing. I will never forget the look pure joy on this young mom’s face.

Rebecca’s laughter has always been contagious and I too began to really laugh. One other detail of importance is that all of us had been gingerly holding Molly, afraid that the stress of handling her might be more than her little body could handle. Jake and I looked at the heart and oxygen monitor to see if our hearty laughter had stressed her system, but the opposite was happening-they were going up! Her oxygen saturation which had been at 80 shot up to 92, then 94, 97, 98, 99…we just kept laughing and her oxygen level went to 100 per cent, which it hadn’t been in 24 hours. All four of us cheered with raised arms like at a football game. It was a moment of sheer delight and mystery. A small thing, perhaps? Yes, no doubt. But in the valley of the shadow of death, God gave us laughter.

Christians are the ONLY people who can laugh in the midst of such a crisis without despair-we KNOW where we are headed. Heaven is certain because of what Jesus Christ did for us through His death for our sins. Because He lives we who believe have the hope of life after death. If a person places faith in Christ for forgiveness of his sins, surrenders his life to Him, then he can be certain of heaven too. It’s the ultimate reason why death is different for a true follower of Christ. And it’s why we could laugh as our beloved Molly was about to leave us.

Laughter stopped and the tears flowed again as I was told it was time for me to say good bye. Rebecca was now holding Molly. Barbara and I knelt beside her as I read her my good bye letter:

Mighty Molly

I just met you-I feel cheated.
I don’t want to say good bye.

I know I’ll likely see you in a couple of decades or so-in light of eternity, it won’t be long, really.
Still I don’t want to say good bye.

You will always be My Molly, my granddaughter.
I’m really sad that I won’t be getting to spoil you
with a doll,
or go sneak chocolate,
or take you on ice cream dates,
and eat chocolate pie and pudding.
Laughing all the time at what your mommy and daddy would say if they knew what we were doing.
I don’t want to say good bye.

Your 7 days sure brought a lot of joy to your mom and dad’s face—
I’ve watched them drink you in with their eyes, kiss you from head to foot, stroke and caress you.
Your parents loved you well—God couldn’t have given you better parents. Courageous parents.
They have loved you with a sacrificial love that only a very few little girls like you ever get to experience.
Because it hurts their hearts so much,
Oh, how I really don’t want to say good bye.

And so, Sweet Molly until that day in heaven
When we will celebrate the Greatness of our God together,
(then we will go sneak chocolate and go on an ice cream date)
I MUST say good bye.

Good bye Molly Ann.

I love you,
 Papa

Molly Ann Mutz
June 13, 2008-June 19, 2008

We cannot Lord, Thy purpose see
But all is well that’s done by Thee.

Dennis
Psalm 112:1-2