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Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.
July 27, 2006
This is my 1000th consecutive day of blogging. This occasion has given me the opportunity to reflect on what blogging has meant to me over the past years and what I expect to see and do in the future. I hate writing about myself. It seems so prideful. So arrogant. So empty. I’ve long been inspired by the words of the great British preacher and philanthropist Andrew Reed who, when asked by his sons to help them prepare a memoir of his life replied, “I was born yesterday, I shall die tomorrow. I must not spend today in telling what I have done, but in doing what I can for Him who has done all for me.” But let me reflect briefly on what God has done for me in the past 1000 days.
On October 31, 2003 this site was languishing for lack of attention. I had begun the site almost a year before but had been sporadic at best in adding content. I often went weeks or even a month at a time without posting. In fact, the site resembled most other hobbies I had attempted to that point in my life—what I had begun with enthusiasm was soon mere annoyance. I was a pretty sorry excuse for a blogger and decided that I would either need to shape up and dedicate myself to blogging or give up and find something else to do with my time. And so, I decided that I would attempt to commit to blogging every day for an entire year. While I am an undisciplined person, I am also stubborn and, to my great surprise, I managed to make it through the year without missing a day. I recommitted and worked my way through a second year. And now the end of the third year is drawing near and I’m still at it. In the meantime, I’ve reached this silly little milestone.
Through the years I’ve often had to ask myself if blogging is a servant or a master. Am I so committed to blogging because it has a hold over me? Or does blogging serve a better, more noble end? There have been a few times that concerned believers have asked these questions of me, wondering if my commitment to blogging owes more to stubbornness or arrogance than true desire or spiritual benefit. My reply has always been, and as I foresee it, will continue to be, that blogging is so entwined with my spiritual disciplines that to cease would be a great loss to me. There are some who suggest that I should at least stop writing while I am on vacation. To these people I reply that, just as it would not be noble to cease times of private worship when on vacation, in the same way it would not be virtuous for me to cease writing, even while on holiday. Of course it was not always this way. When I began my one-year commitment, writing was often drudgery and I stuck with it more out of stubbornness than desire. But as time went on God, through His grace, allowed blogging to become a joy and a privilege. Just a few days ago, reflecting on Jerry Bridges’ book The Discipline of Grace I summarized one of his points in this way: “Discipline, commitment, conviction and Godly habits are closely related. It is important that we are disciplined, but only after we have been convicted and have set a direction towards godliness.” I have seen this proven true in my life, for God has been so gracious in granting me a measure of His grace so that my commitment and discipline, which followed conviction, have led me closer to Him.
The truth is that I am an undisciplined person and blogging provides the structure and accountability I need to continue to grow in godly habits. Lying behind the decision to keep blogging is the conviction that I need to grow in grace and that I need assistance in maintaining the commitment to do so. Blogging provides this accountability, for when I stop following hard after God, I soon have nothing to say; nothing to write. It is during the times of greatest spiritual growth that I find myself expressing my newfound joy and faith through my writing. In moments of great honesty I may even be willing to admit that I am almost scared to stop blogging, for I do not know how I would react to having this discipline disappear.
A couple of days ago Francisco, a reader of this site, posted a quote by Keith Green in the comments section of an article I wrote dealing with influence. The words, which I have often read before, hit me hard. “I repent of ever having recorded one single song, and ever having performed one concert, if my music, and more importantly, my life has not provoked you into godly jealousy or to sell out more completely to Jesus!” I hope I can say that I repent of ever having written a single word, of having posted an article, if my writing, and more importantly, my life has not provoked you into godly jealousy or to trust more completely in Jesus (I de-hippied the language a little bit). While it somehow strikes me as nearly impossible to do and almost breathtakingly arrogant to say, this is the kind of person I wish to be. I’m sure this is the kind of man God wants me to be. I believe it is His expectation for all of us.
When I look back at what I have written over the past couple of years, I am often ashamed by my lack of grace or my lack of godliness. There are many times where I know that what I have written could not possibly lead to godliness or to any type of godly jealousy. I hope and trust that I see less of this now than in the earlier days of this site. I believe that God has been teaching me grace and teaching me about the wideness of His love and mercy. I trust that He has been leading me to imitate Him in this area. And so I take this opportunity to repent of the times that I have written words which destroyed rather than edified, or which discouraged instead of encouraged. I repent of the times that I have allowed my sinful hates and fears to make their way onto this site and onto your computer screen. I ask your forgiveness.
At the same time I beg your continued patience and forgiveness, for I know that God still has much to teach me. And yet, I am excited to see what happens in the coming weeks, months or years. I have no idea how long this site will continue. I kind of hope it continues for many more thousands of days. But perhaps God has other plans. He has been good to me to this point and I’m sure He will continue to bless me in the future. I am but His servant.
Blogging has been an inestimable privilege. I have had the privilege of receiving, reading and reviewing so many books. I have been blessed by being invited to attend and liveblog several wonderful conferences and look forward to serving at many more. But perhaps the greatest benefit has been in the way God has used the site to allow me to meet so many godly men and women, followers of Christ whose words, lives and examples have provoked me to godly jealousy and have encouraged me to trust more completely in the Savior. I have been blessed by meeting you, perhaps face-to-face or perhaps only online, and receiving just a foretaste of the love and joy we will share together before the King.
Truly God has been good to me.
Incidentally, I noticed this today at the ESV Blog. Several months ago I sent through a button and suggested they provide it to bloggers who would like to maintain the ESV as their “default” translation, much as Christian books usually announce the default translation in the opening pages. I guess the ESV folks decided to use today as the occasion to make the button public.