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Tim Challies

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General News

February 29, 2004

This has been a long and somewhat difficult week. I spent the first part of the week stressing about The Passion of the Christ, wondering what the movie was going to be like and wondering if I should even see it. Finally Wednesday rolled around and against my better judgment I went to see it. I chronicled my disappointment and concerns in four rather long articles. I was gratified to see that there are many people who share my concerns with this movie. Many of these people took the time to post their concerns or to email me with comments and suggestions. The overwhelmingly majority were positive but there were few that were very challenging and led me to ask myself some important questions. I appreciate these as much as the positive comments provided they are posed in a constructive manner.

This week I hope to begin a new series that I am very excited about. Many times lately my thoughts and prayers have turned to a desire for wisdom and discernment – discernment to see what is right and what is wrong and wisdom to know what to do about it. I considered going to the Christian bookstore to look for a book that would teach me about discernment, but soon realized that God has given me the ultimate book on just that topic. Read the words that begin the book of Proverbs:

1The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
2To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
3to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
5Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

So through the month of March I hope to do a 31-day study of the 31 chapters of Proverbs. Though I will continue to post about other topics, this study will be the major focus of my site for the month. I am excited to learn what God has to teach me about wisdom and discernment.

February 23, 2004

A few weeks ago I read and reviewed the book When Good Men Are Tempted. It is a book that deals with sexual purity, attempting to both explain the cause and the solution to the struggle every man faces. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and gave it a recommendation.

Yesterday the author, Bill Perkins, happened across this site and posted his thanks for the review as well as some information about his new project, Six Battles Every Man Must Win.

I just read your review of my book and thought you did a good job. I appreciated the balanced evaluation and understand your search for a magic wand that will cause the problem of lust to disappear—or something like that. Anyway, if you find that wand, please email me because I talk to a lot of guys who would love to use it. By the way, the strategies I suggest men use actually work when they’re implemented. Identifying rituals and getting rid of them, connecting with a few friends, and of course, tapping into God’s grace. The problem I’ve seen is once a ritual is removed, another one may grow in its place. It’s an ongoing battle in a changing world. When I was in seminary someone asked Dr. Pentecost (great name for a seminary professor) if men ever reach an age when they don’t’ struggle with sexual lust. He said, “I asked Dr. Lincoln that question last week. He’s 85 and said he didn’t know.” After the laughter died down, he then said, “I’m only 65 and don’t know yet either.” I’ve got a new book coming out that I think will help men: Six Battles Every Man Must Win.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read my book and provide your readers a summary.

The new book is based on the story of David’s mighty men.

I, of course, had to respond with “If I do find the magical key to removing lust you can rest assured that I will not simply let you know. I will first trademark it, have some pens, t-shirts and posters made up, turn it into a 40 day program and create a study guide for it.” After all, sooner or later I need to get the Christian marketing machine working for me!

February 22, 2004

Between the Cushions has an element of mystery to it. New to blogging, the author seems to prefer to remain pretty well anonymous, identifying himself only as “lj.” He has recently posted some interesting articles dealing with topics such as Devotions and Spiritual Success. He tends to update a few times a week and his site is a good one to add to your “rounds.”

February 20, 2004

The church bought up another 1000 tickets and I have spent the day editing the site to work them into the system. At 2 PM we got the system live and have again been overwhelmed with the response. The tickets are nearly gone.

All this ticket stuff has eaten severely into my blogging time so I apologize for the lack of meaningful content. I’ll find something interesting to write for tomorrow!

February 19, 2004

On Sunday my church began to give out tickets to The Passion of the Christ. We purchased several thousand tickets, buying out entire shows, which gives us the ability to speak with the crowd, give out literature and invite people to our church. On Sunday we had a few people come by the site and order tickets. It slowly increased during the week. Then yesterday evening the local paper, the Oakville Beaver, ran a full-page advertisement and an article about the church. BOOM! Within 18 hours we had distributed all of the tickets. I was receiving hundreds of emails an hour and the church phone lines were plugged. The people came in droves. As a matter of fact, we have decided to buy some more and already have a large list of people who want to be notified when they become available.

I’m not sure if people really want to see this movie or if people just can’t resist a deal. Either way, we are hoping we have lots of unsaved people go to the movie so we can meet with them afterwards and invite them to study groups and to church.

February 19, 2004

Thanks to Dave for sending along a link which ties in nicely to my post from last week entitled I Love What I Hate.

Weekly DV presents a short but hilarious mockumentary studying Americans and their gods.

February 18, 2004

My buddy Jason of Jason McGibbon Project fame just had me upload some MP3s to his Web site. There are three preview clips and one full song available for download. Why not head over there, click on the CD Info and Music Preview tab and take a listen? Make sure you listen to “Do I Know You” which happens to be my favorite track from the album.

I recently discovered the music of Dale Nikkel. He is a Canadian singer and songwriter who leans towards the folk genre. He has several MP3s available for download. “Postcards From Home” is especially good!

Someone also requested that I link to the band Gretchen. Gretchen is a female-fronted rock band with obviously Christian lyrics. I love good, straightfoward hard rock and definitely enjoyed their sound. Perhaps if I link to them they’ll send me their CD! (just kidding, of course)

February 18, 2004

I watched with great interest as the Christian world reacted yesterday to Gibson’s interview on Primetime. As I expected, he was the talk of the blogging world yesterday. Meandean over at Blogs4God compiled a partial list of bloggers who wrote about Gibson. (You will have to scroll down a little bit to find the article).

Based on what I read on those blogs and on various forums around the Internet there are three main views of the interview.

  1. Gibson did a great job defending his faith and defending the movie. His comments about salvation being open to all faiths were taken from a different interview and were used grossly out of context. He certainly believes no such thing.
  2. Gibson did a great job defending his faith and defending the movie. His comments about salvation being open to all faiths were unfortunate but do not reflect his true beliefs.
  3. Gibson did a poor job defending his faith and an adequate job defending this movie. His comments about salvation being open to all faiths show that he has little to no understanding of the gospel. He should not be held as an example of a Christian and the movie should be judged on its own merits rather than as a movie made by a Christian.

I received quite a few comments on the article I wrote here. I agree with many of them and especially with what Leslie posted. She said “Let us not hold Mel Gibson up as some beacon of Christianity or somehow tout this movie as worthy because Mel was allegedly inspired to make it.” She also said “Secondly and more importantly,the real take-away from this movie will come near its end when Jesus says on the cross “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. This is the starting point for helping a non-believer understand the redemptive nature of Jesus and His sacrifice. Instead of crying “Revenge”, Jesus cried “Forgive”. Therein lies the difference between Jesus and all of humanity, past, present and future. Focus the non-believer on that point and you are off to a good start.” I agree. Let’s get Mel out of the equation and take the movie on its own.

February 17, 2004

I watched Mel Gibson’s interview on ABC last night with great interest. I must say that generally I was impressed with the way he handled himself. Though at times I became half convinced that he had overdosed on caffeine before the interview, I thought he remained composed and fielded questions quite well.

However, he did stumble in one very important area.

Diane: When we talked with Gibson and his actors, we wondered, does his traditionalist view bar the door to heaven for Jews, Protestants, Muslims?

Mel: That’s not the case at all. Absolutely not. It is possible for people who are not even Christian to get into the kingdom of heaven. It’s just easier. I have to say that because that’s what I believe.

As a matter of fact, that is worse than stumbling. Gibson effectively proved that he has no real understanding of the Gospel message. To say that it is possible to non-Christians to get to heaven is in direct contradiction to what Jesus taught. It is in contradiction to what the epistles teach. It goes against the very basic tenets of Christianity.

Another concern that this interview reinforced is that the movie is being presented as an accurate representation of the gospel story. As Diane Sawyer mentioned, Gibson seems to believe that he had the guidance of the Holy Spirit in writing the movie. At the same time he says that many of the “details” of the movie were inspired by the writings and visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich, a 19th-century German stigmatist and mystic. So Gibson is presenting extra-Biblical revelation as being synoymous with Biblical revelation and is making no distinction between the two.

To echo what I have said before - it is not the movie I have problems with as much as the laud that Gibson is receiving where his faith is being held up by the Protestant world as an extraordinary example. The movie in and of itself may be a wonderful opportunity to reach unbelievers, but indicating that Gibson’s faith is no different from traditional Protestant faith is to make a mockery of Protestantism.

February 16, 2004

If I were to use the average church outreach program as a guide, I would have to assume that the average non-Christian is lazy, stupid, ignorant, unwilling to learn and suffering from attention deficit disorder. He has two kids that he loves but never spends any time with, leaving him racked with guilt. He is trying to hold a marriage together but his wife ranks a distant second to his career.

It really seems that this is the way many Christians regard unbelievers. Consider, for example, Bible translations. Though most Christians were brought to the Lord through an “old-fashioned version of the Bible,” those translations are apparently much too difficult for today’s unbelievers. After all, who could understand a difficult translation like “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” when we could use something so much easier like “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” Why would we want to give them God’s literal words and make them think when we could do the thinking for them? I recently heard a person in a Christian bookstore explaining to someone how difficult the New International Version is and convinced the patron to purchase The Message. If I was an unbeliever I would consider this insulting! The NIV is easily readable and understandable by anyone with even an elementary-level education.

Or what about preaching? We seem to believe that despite the fact that we all sit through two or three hour lectures all the way through post-secondary education, when it comes to preaching it had better be fifteen minutes or less or we will lose their attention. Having been raised in a television-saturated culture we assume they no longer possess the ability to sit still for more than 22 minutes. So we shorten the preaching and change it to feel more like a casual talk than expository preaching of the Word.

We no longer pray in church, believing that time dedicated to prayer will drive away “seekers.” Whatever happened to good old-fashioned congregational prayer? Our perception of the unbeliever’s attention deficit disorder has made us lose this practice.

Even our music shows the way we regard unbelievers. We somehow think that four verses of a hymn will bore them to tears, so we cut our music down to short choruses (which, ironically, we repeat ten or twelve times).

It is ironic that in an age where we so highly regard the New Testament church, we seem to lose sight of what made that church so great. Throughout Acts we read about the first Christians “praying continually,” “searching the Scriptures,” and studying doctrine. Yet in our churches we so often suppress the Scriptures, pray only before the offering and push doctrine away altogether. We do all of this to remain inoffensive to unbelievers.

I think unbelievers come to church looking for something different. If they wanted exactly what they experience in their daily lives, they would not need church. If a man sits in an office for eight hours a day why do we try to give him the exact same look and feel on his day off? Churches get noticed by being different, not by being the same. Let’s take pride in our differences and trust that God will use these to reach people for Him, just as he did with the earliest church.