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Tim Challies

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General News

June 01, 2005

Phil Johnson has gone on a rampage against Calvinists in the kick-off post for his new Pyrospectacular blog. Kind of. He suggests that since bashing Calvinism is the latest fad in the blogdom, he ought to have a chance at it. He believes there are problems inherent in Internet Calvinism. “In my judgment, the problem is a fairly recent down n’ dirty version of callow Calvinism that has flourished chiefly on the Internet and has been made possible only by the new media.”

You can (and probably should) read the article here.

May 28, 2005

And now for something completely different.

A couple of months ago I was approached by a potential client and asked if I could develop a site for him. This person leads a Sunday school class and wanted a site where he could post his daily reflections on the Scriptures. The catch? Well, it’s not really a catch, but what made this interesting is that his reflections are written in the form of limericks. And so I present to you, Bible Bus Limericks.

To give you an example of what he does, here is today’s limerick, entitled “HOSPITALITY SWEET.”

Wealthy lady, ‘bit long in the tooth,
Though hos-pit-able, had no male youth.
Gave E-li-sha a room.
Gained the fruit of the womb.
Had a son, as did Bo-az and Ruth.

Each limerick is accompanied by notations, Scripture verses (I ended up installing the entire KJV Bible at the site) and discussion. There is also a place to leave comments and people can subscribe to the regular updates, via email or RSS.

“Limericks are like verbal cartoons. People scan the headlines and then head for the cartoons. The ‘best read’ item on the editorial page is the cartoon. All cartoons have a funny twist. One can scan it in 10 seconds. It’s the ultimate ‘sound-bite’. These Limericks are Bible Bytes.”

The “Bus Driver,” the gentleman who writes these limericks, is 80 years old. “As the Bus Driver, aka The Bible Bard, is now 80 and has a little more time on his hands than when he and Mrs. B. were raising 9 kids, it should only take about 8 more years to complete the tour thru Revelation. Then, God willing, the Bard will start over and fill in any potholes he has missed.”

I can hardly think of a better way to spend retirement than to lead Bible studies and to give people a daily gift from the Word, even if it is in the form of a limerick! And if you think you can’t learn from a limerick, think again. In creating and designing this site, I learned quite a few little nuggets of truth from these poems (generally historical rather than theological, but important nonetheless).

There were a few struggles with the coding of the site, but on the whole I am well-pleased with the result. More importantly, the client loves it. My buddy Darren, who is an extraordinarily talented artist, designed that amazing banner for me.

This is why I enjoy web design. I never know what the next project is going to be…

Speaking of which, if you are in the market for a web site, drop me a line. I am, as usual, seeking new work at this time.

May 27, 2005

Last Friday I encouraged people to post a list of book that currently resided on their desks. Strangely enough, that request turned into something of a meme and ended up being posted on sites through out the blogosphere. It was very odd. I labored all week to write about about putting God in a box, and all people wanted to talk about was the books on their desks! I don’t understand you guys…

But I digress.

This week I thought it might be fun to list the one (or two or three) book on your shelf that is least-likely to ever be read. That’s right…what is the one book (or two, or three) on your shelf that you are never, EVER going to read? Of course it may also be interesting to know why that book is on your shelf in the first place.

And just to spice things up a little, if you have never visited McRorie’s site, you need to give this guy a listen. He’s a one-man band perpetually stuck in the 80’s (and a kilt) who has a particularly bad web site. But he can play! And in case you’re at work now, be warned that within a couple of seconds on clicking that link you’ll be listening to some really loud covers of some really loud songs. But if you’re at work you probably shouldn’t be wasting your time at my site anyways. Shame on you!

And by way of update, I still haven’t seen the new Star Wars. Nor do I feel any compulsion to see it. I am sure this makes me unique among bloggers.

May 24, 2005

I am trying to recover from a long weekend. While the weekend was relaxing, someone forgot to forward the memo about Victoria Day to all of my American friends and clients. Thus work piled up yesterday and I am at least a day behind. I was hoping to post the next installment of the “Boxing God” series today, but I think it will have to wait until tomorrow.

In the meantime, I wanted to draw your attention to some notable reads elsewhere on the World Wide Web.

Getting More By Giving More. Sally Gleason, wife of Ron, whose article I posted yesterday, is an excellent writer and has begun posting the occasional article at Ron’s site. One I enjoyed in particular is entitled “Spouse or Children—How do we choose between them?” It is a response to an article in the Orange County Register which was written by a woman who proudly admitted that after a decade of marriage, she and her husband “are a couple that deeply loves their children but actually still love one another more.” Sally wrote a letter to the editor (which was not printed) but which is well worth reading. And I should also note that today is Sally’s birthday!

Judging by the number of reviews out there, I do believe I am the only blogger who has not yet seen the new Star Wars. I can’t say it’s on my short-list of things to do, either. To tell you the truth, I can’t even remember the last movie I saw in the theatre. I suppose it was probably Luther.

Dan over at Some Latin-Named Blog gives out his second More Cowbell award. This time it is awarded to Children’s Choirs in Adult Contemporary Christian Music. I can think of many good songs that have been ruined by the addition of a children’s choir. Then again, a couple have been the better for it (Youth of the Nation by POD for example). But generally I like to avoid them. It’s too cliche.

Battle Lines has an interesting article about Mosaic Church (home of Erwin McManus) and some of the Eastern influences in that church. Here is quote from McManus’ book: “In this book we’ll use several different metaphors to describe pastoral leadership, the first of which a pastor as a spiritual environmentalist. He has the unique task of leading the people of God to become who they really are. For a species to survive and propagate in a given ecosystem, a least five basic characteristics need to be present. One, a balanced ecosystem; two environmental adaptation; three spontaneous reproduction; for the nurturing instinct; and five, life-cycle harmony.” I’m not a dumb guy, but I have absolutely no idea what he’s going on about.

I had an invite yesterday to be a guest on a radio program this evening. Fortunately Unfortunately I could not do it, as I will be leading a Bible study this evening while they record the show. And I’m terribly camera and microphone-shy. But I found the show’s hosts a replacement who is far more erudite and qualified than I am, so I think it will all work out for the best.

Diet of Bookworms has been updated with a bunch of new titles and reviews. I try to update it every Tuesday. You can always subscribe to the RSS feed if you’d like weekly updates.

That’s it for me today. I’ll take Amy’s advice and refuse to say that I’ll post later. Apparently that is “Blogging tip #54.”

May 23, 2005

Here’s something new.

How would you like to add a daily Question and Answer from the Westminster Shorter Catechism and Heidelberg Catechism to your site? Or how about having them sent to your RSS Reader? This feed will take you through both catechisms twice per year.


To add a daily catechism question and answer to your RSS reader, simply add the following RSS feed: /catechism.php. It is updated every night.

Add It To Your Site

To add the daily question and answer to your blog or web site (as I have done on the lower left of the main page of my site), you have two options:

  1. The PHP Option. To do this you will need to have the ability to run PHP files on your site AND the page you add it to will need to be PHP. Simply download these files (click) and upload them to your server. Then add a PHP include to your page where you would like the Q&A to appear (include ("catechisminclude.php");). That is all there is to it. A new question will appear each day.
  2. The Javascript Option. If you do not have PHP or can’t be bothered going that route, simply add the following code to your site where you’d like the Q&A to appear:

    cut and paste javascript:

Please let me know if you have any difficulties.

Many thanks to Robert Hamby for doing all the tough work for this!

May 20, 2005

A few weeks ago we had some Friday Frivolity and I asked people to grab the closest book, flip to a certain page and post a sentence from that page. It was moderately interesting (at best) to see what books people were reading.

Today I thought it would be moderately fun (at best) to ask people to list the books that are currently on their desk. Just a list of the titles and authors. If you have too many to list, just post a few of them.

On my desk you will currently find:

A Journey in Grace by Richard Belcher
Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse by Jason Boyett
Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem (servering as a bookend to hold up a stack of CDs)
A Journey in Purity by Richard Belcher
The Forgotten Trinity by James White
Five journals and/or notebooks (I misplace them a lot so have several on the go)

Beyond that are six as-yet unpublished books I am currently reading in manuscript form. I love manuscripts. I simply cannot bring myself to deface and defile a perfectly-good book by putting lead (graphite) or ink on it, but with manuscripts I can write whatever I want. But I digress.

And for those who will complain about this being cliche, here is a little chart which will probably appeal to you:

Have a good weekend!

May 16, 2005

Well look what the cat dragged into the blogosphere. Phil Johnson has a snazzy new blog all primed and ready to go. A quick prelaunch check shows that all the necessary elements are in place.

Obligatory blogroll? Check. Obligatory reader quote? Check. Photograph of the blogger? Check. Biography? Check.

Content? Well, not yet. But he says it is coming sometime around June 1. Anyone think we’ll see a marked decrease in the quality of programming at Grace to You once Phil gets blogging?

May 16, 2005

In your travels around the blogosphere today you may have noticed a few reviews of The Feminist Mistake by Mary Kassian. Chances are these books are part of a program I have put in place through the Diet of Bookworms. I have scoured the blogosphere to find blogs that meet two criteria: First, the blogger must be theologically-conservative and exhibit some discernment, and second, his or her blog must generate a fair amount of traffic. These two criteria have been surprisingly difficult to reconcile. I contacted several bloggers and asked if they would consider reading books and review them. These reviews will all be posted on The Diet of Bookworms.

The first book we have tackled through this program is The Feminist Mistake. We are currently reading several other books. We are reading these in manuscript form and will post reviews shortly after the book releases.

So far today reviews of The Feminist Mistake connected with this program have been published on the following site. I will update the list as others come through:

And of course I would encourage you to check out the newly-redesigned Diet of Bookworms where they are all nicely compiled.

I am looking for a snazzy name to refer to this program. I considered “bookswarming” but I don’t know that it really works. If you have any brilliant ideas, please let me know. And if you feel that you and your blog meet the criteria, or you know of another that does, feel free to contact me.

May 15, 2005

Every now and then a news story takes me by surprise. This morning the Telegraph has an interesting article about a French study which examined the link between abortions and subsequent premature births. The study found that a woman who has had at least one abortion is forty percent more likely to have an extremely premature baby in subsequent pregnancies than a woman who has never had an abortion. And of course a large percentage of extremely premature babies die in infancy or have serious health problems.

“The study of 2,837 births … found that mothers who had previously had an abortion were 1.7 times more likely to give birth to a baby at less than 28 weeks’ gestation. Many babies born this early die soon after birth, and a large number who survive suffer serious disability.” Obviously having an abortion can irreparably damage the cervix in a way that makes premature births more likely.

That does not suprise me. In fact, I have know that for years.

What did surprise me is that this study was “the first to investigate the link between terminations and extremely premature births.” After decades of widespread abortions, this is the first study to investigate this link! And it is something anti-abortion advocates have been saying for years!

A doctor with a really long title said, “the study revealed that abortion might not be as safe as previously supposed. “This study shows that surgical termination of pregnancies may have late complications and may not be without risk.” And again, those who are opposed to abortion say, “That’s what we’ve been saying for years!” Jack Scarisbrick, the chairman of the campaign group Life, said: “We have been saying for years that surgical abortion inevitably increases the risk of later problems. It seems that the abortion procedure carries with it risks that women will know nothing about until they become pregnant with a ‘wanted’ child later on.”

Precisely. And that is one of the dirty little secrets of abortionists isn’t it? The entire abortion industry is surrounded by a culture of death. Just recently I linked to a story about a woman who went for an abortion and gave birth to a live baby, only to have the people in the clinic ignore her cries for help to come and save her child. The abortion industry continually lowers the value of human life, so it is no great surprise that they would deliberately jeapordize the health of women and the lives of their subsequent children. Do just a little bit of research into abortion clinics and you will find thousands of shocking, awful stories about the lowered value of life.

It strikes me how we allow people to bury their heads in the sand. The doctors who claimed to be surprised by the results of this study already knew they were true. It has been common knowledge for years! Any woman who has been counselled at a right-to-life clinic has been told that. Yet they claim shock and surprise when presented with this scientific study. It is almost as if for a brief moment they were forced to pull their heads out of the sand and face reality. But of course the sad truth is that this study will make no real difference in the methods or quantities of abortions. The heads go back into the sand.

You can read the article here.

May 14, 2005

My wife and I just got home from running around doing our morning chores. As we pulled into the driveway I noticed a group of well-dressed gentlemen clutching Bibles and briefcases just a few doors down. I heard them say, “No one’s around. Let’s try again tomorrow.” So I guess I have a visit to look forward to from the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses (can’t say I know which group these guys represented). Those visits are always fun. My wife dreads them as she knows that I may end up talking to them for quite a while. Of course these chats are always a dead end, but they are also good fun.

Moving on, I wanted to direct you to some good articles I read this week. I spent an unusually large amount of time reading other blogs this week and present to you some of the best of what I read. I realize that I do not do this often enough (direct readers to other blogs). It seems to be an expectation of bloggers that x% of all posts will be primarily outbound links. I continually forsake this rule, though not through lack of interest in other blogs. Today I seek to remedy this.

Dan Edelen has done two great posts. This morning he wrote about Demons and the importance of Christians being aware of their existence. He says, “Evangelicals simply do not take the issue of demons seriously enough. In a time that can be categorized by its unrelenting dereliction of truth, sources of deception and darkness must be exposed for what they are. Failure to shine the light on this infernal darkness means that it will necessarily increase in boldness.”

A couple of days earlier Dan stimulated some good discussion with an article entitled Let’s Play “Spot The Heretic”. He wrote about his preference towards older books. “If it comes down to a case of discernment, perhaps the best discernment that a Christian in the 21st century can achieve is to always assume something’s wrong unless it’s been tested by time.”

On Friday, Aaron asked Can Non-Denominationalism Be Cultish? “The problem, as I see it, isn’t that these [nondenominational] churches don’t have theology, it’s that they have a theology but are unwilling to commend it to others in open statements of the truth (confessions, etc).” Food for thought. Of course on the flip-side, many churches have wonderful confessions and statements of the truth, but choose to ignore them or write them off as outdated.

Tim Irvin has a six-part series about Church Membership. Tim always has good things to say. Unless he is reviewing movies.

I assume most people who read this site also browse through Jollyblogger’s posts. But if not, you should check out Miscellaneous Thoughts on N. T. Wright and Theological Encyclopedia. Subsequent discussion has turned to the tendency of Christians to write-off an author or theologian based on his “worst” theology. So a man like Wright, who can write so many good things, is considered unreliable because of his understandings of the atonement or justification. Is this right or wrong? I tend to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” in such cases. But perhaps I should be more careful to see the good through the bad.

And those are just a few of the highlights in my journey through the blogosphere. Next week I am going to be launching a new article series and will also have at least two book reviews. Stay tuned!