Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

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January 31, 2004

I recently stumbled across Ochuk’s Blog and have added it to my daily list of stops. Adam Omelianchuk writes “reflections on theology and faith mixed with a touch of politics and a dash of humor.” He writes honest, inquiring interesting articles that make me think…and I like that.

January 29, 2004

Last night I found myself flipping through channels and happened across a show entitled “The Fabulous Lifestyle of…” Each episode showcases the life of a different celebrity or celebrity couple. The episode I saw featured what they called Hollywood’s most popular couple, Brad and Jen (which refers, of course, to Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston). Their marriage several years ago was likened to the merger or two major corporations as the hottest movie star married the biggest star on TV.

The show documented the lifestyle of this couple, beginning with their houses, then moving on to their clothes, their cars and even their hair. The narrator told us about their $14 million house, which is gaining in value as they continue to add to it. They showed them driving their matching Range Rovers, each worth $70,000. They showed paparazzi photos of the two of them shopping at some of the swankiest stores on Rodeo Drive. They even interviewed the owner of America’s most posh steak house where the couple is known to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a meal.

When it comes to their looks, this couple holds nothing back. Aniston goes to only the best, most expensive hair dressers. At any given moment she is wearing thousands of dollars worth of clothes and jewelry (not to mention her engagement ring which is said to be worth almost a million dollars). If Jen and Brad look like slobs it’s because they have spend thousands of dollars to look that way. They showed her wearing a $900 pair of khakis with sandals worth over $200. Brad has an obsession with sunglasses and thinks nothing of spending several hundred dollars on a new pair.

The combined wealth of this couple is staggering. Aniston is paid over $1 million per episode of Friends and finds time to do a couple of movies every year as well. Her income is at least $30 million per year. Brad is one of the highest paid movie stars in the world, commanding in excess of $20 million per film. It is estimated that Pitt has earned over $100 million in the past 4 years and Jennifer cannot be far behind.

“So what?” you say. Well, that’s what I said. But I began to think about this couple’s “fabulous” lifestyle. That such a lifestyle is considered fabulous is indicative of the state of our society. Here is a couple who earns money hand-over-fist and seems to squander it nearly as quickly. It is a couple that is consumed with consumerism and obsessed with materialism. I can’t imagine a lifestyle being fabulous where every aspect of my look is so important that I would spend $900 on a pair of shabby-looking pants.

The couple was lauded for being generous. Apparently they often splurge on their friends, paying for expensive meals and even buying gifts worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. They often invite their friends to spend the weekend at their Santa Barbara beach home. Brad even gave a $100,000 gift to a charity last year. Of course that $100,000 works out to only a tiny fraction of his earnings, but that did not seem to matter to the narrator.

I presume the purpose of this show is to stir jealousy in me as I see how these people live. I can honestly say I felt no jealousy whatsoever. While they spend their lives hoarding their treasures here on earth, frantically fighting to stay popular, I would rather live like a pauper and be storing up treasures where it really matters. I depend on faith which tells me that hoarding wealth will never provide true happiness, either on earth or beyond. Brad and Jen, you can have your fabulous lifestyle! I prefer to stick with my fabulous faith.

January 24, 2004

This week’s Blog of the Week is CoffeeSwirls owned and operated by Doug McHone. The site’s biggest feature is a daily devotional as Doug writes each day about his one-year journey through the Bible. He allows you to sign up for a newsletter to receive his Weekly Bible Readings via email. He also dedicates some time to writing about family and football.

Theology, the Bible and football. What more could a guy want?

January 24, 2004

I am changing the look of the site tonight, so please bear with me if things look a bit off for the next couple of hours.

Update. Well that didn’t take as long as I thought it might. Looks like just about everything is moved over - or at least as much as I care to do tonight. I still have to update the photos section, but that shouldn’t take long. Let me know what you think of the new look.

January 24, 2004
  1. What Do You Believe? What’s Your Theology? Etc…

    I am…

    • Christian - I affirm that Jesus is my Lord and Saviour.
    • Protestant - I affirm the five “solas” of the Reformation.
    • Reformed - I affirm the principles known as Calvinism.
    • Evangelical - I believe the gospel (which is the original and truest meaning of “evangelical”).
    • Fundamentalist - I believe in “a return to fundamental principles and a strong or rigid adherence to these principles.”
    • Conservative - I am generally traditional and restrained in my beliefs and cautious towards change, especially when it seems to be change just for the sake of change.
    • Liberal - I am not limited to traditional views. I find much beauty in traditional Protestantism, but realize that in some areas traditions are not Scriptural. Where that is the case I am open to change and improvement.
  2. How Is “Challies” pronounced?

    It’s quite simple, I assure you. CHALL-eez. Just like that. There is no trick to it. It’s not CHALL-is, it’s not Charles and it sure isn’t Chall-EES. Just pronounce it the way it looks like it should be pronounced and don’t overthink it.

  3. How Do I Get In Touch With You?

    My email address is tim at challies dot com. Of course you really have to use the @ sign, etc, but if I put the address out here I’d get even more spam than I already get.

  4. Why Challies.com?

    This started as a site where I posted pictures of my children for the benefit of my family. Eventually I began to write and post articles here. That evolved into the site as you see it today. I have not gotten around to changing to a new domain name, though there is one I have my eye on and may change to in the near future.

  5. What Is a Challies?

    Challies is a surname with a long and mysterious past. It seems that no one is really sure of the name’s history. What we do know is that it is French in origin and at some point some Challies’ left France for Scotland, presumably as Huguenots. They then, trying to blend in with the local population, changed the name to Mac A’ Challies and became part of the MacDonald clan. I only wish I were making that up. There are now very few Challies left in the world. It seems the remaining concentrations are in Canada, New Zealand and the United States. The ones I am related to live almost entirely in Canada or in Georgia. My uncle also reports meeting an elderly Challies gentleman in a small town in France, though I do not believe he is a direct relation.

  6. How Often Do You Update The Site

    I try to update every day. I generally post around noon EST. Once or twice a week I have a “lazy” day where I post nothing more than an interesting link or a “blog of the week.” Most days, though, I try to write something at least moderately interesting.

  7. What Do You Do?

    I am a Web designer by trade. Though I graduated from McMaster University with a degree in history I quickly found that there was not much work for an aspiring but not-very-motivated historian. I worked my way into the computer world and after being laid off one time too many I started Websonix. So now I spend my days sitting in my basement creating Web pages.

January 21, 2004

Theology has become a bad word in Christian circles. It seems that theology is linked in people’s minds with cold, dead religion that cares more about principles and matters of the head than deeds and matters of the heart. It is associated with fundamentalism and with cold conservatism. Yet if we look at the meaning and etymology of the word we cannot help but conclude that God requires all Christians to be theologians.

The word theology is derived from two Greek words. The root “theos” means God and the suffix “-ology” comes from the Greek word for speak. So what theology really means is “speaking of God” or as has become the more accurate definition, “the study of God.” That doesn’t sound so bad does it? I don’t think any Christian can deny that we are called by God to learn more about Him and to study His ways. The process of sanctification is just that – learning more and more about God and His requirements for our lives. We must then mold our lives to fit into that image.

So what is it, then, that people are rebelling against when they disassociate themselves from theology? I believe that what they are running from is really a type of “theology-ology.” It is a study of the study of God. If a Christian is diligent in studying God through the right motives and methods and for the right reasons, there will necessarily be change in His life. He cannot help but be changed by the living Word of God. However, if someone studies God only to acquire knowledge about Him without applying any of that knowledge to His life, he is not so much studying God as He is studying the study of God. I say again, the study of God when done as He has commands must always lead to application and change. Conversely, studying God through improper motives and methods with no view to application cannot change anyone.

There seems to be a fine line between theology and theology-ology. The line is not what is studied as much as it is the motives behind the study and the result we expect to achieve. Allow me to use an example. 1 Corinthians 11 speaks about the necessity of women to wear head coverings while in church. I can look at that section of the Bible in two different ways. I can go in with a motive of wanting to show that women are subservient to men and sin if they do not wear head coverings in church. I can begin this study with the intent to prove to my wife that she needs to wear a head covering next Sunday. On the other hand, I can turn to this section with a motive of wanting to understand what principles the Bible is teaching and how those relate to people today. I can begin my study with the intent to learn something that I can humbly and prayerfully apply to my life. Those are extreme examples, but it shows the difference between wanting to acquire knowledge of God through proper or improper methods and for right or wrong intentions.

I love theology. I love studying God and continually learning about Him and about what He has done. I must confess that there is a part of me that also loves to study the study of God. There are many times in my life where I have learned about God simply so I could have more knowledge about Him, never intending to change myself in response to what I have learned about God. There have been times where I have studied God just so I could convince others of their need to change. It is my prayer that whenever I study God I do so with proper motives and with a humble attitude, preparing myself to be changed by what I learn about Him.

January 18, 2004

Today is the last Sunday Reflection for a while that will contain a hymn. I promise! This is a hymn written by Christopher Words­worth that celebrates the Lord’s Day, looks back at the first Sabbath as celebrated by God at the close of Creation, and looks forward to each upcoming Sunday, as “Each Sunday finds us gladder, nearer to heaven, our home.”

O day of rest and gladness, of day of joy and light,
O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright:
On Thee, the high and lowly, through ages joined in tune,
Sing holy, holy, holy, to the great God Triune.

On Thee, at the creation, the light first had its birth;
On Thee, for our salvation, Christ rose from depths of earth;
On Thee, our Lord, victorious, the Spirit sent from heaven,
And thus on Thee, most glorious, a triple light was given.

Thou art a cooling fountain in life’s dry, dreary sand;
From thee, like Pisgah’s mountain, we view our promised land.
A day of sweeet perfection, a day of holy love,
A dy of resurrection, from earth to things above.

Thou art a holy ladder, where angels go and come;
Each Sunday finds us gladder, nearer to heaven, our home;
A day of sweet refection, thou art a day of love,
A day of resurrection from earth to things above.

Today on weary nations the heavenly manna falls;
To holy convocations the silver trumpet calls,
Where Gospel light is glowing with pure and radiant beams,
And living water flowing, with soul refreshing streams.

New graces ever gaining from this our day of rest,
We reach the rest remaining to spirits of the blessed.
To Holy Ghost be praises, to Father, and to Son;
The church her voice upraises to Thee, blessed Three in One.

January 17, 2004

Two days ago I wrote about Mel Gibson�s upcoming movie The Passion of the Christ. I asked the questions �If my wife was brutally murdered, would I want to see a movie about it? If I love Jesus more than my wife, why would I want to see a graphic, brutal portrayal of His death?� At that time I was looking at Jesus� death as the most wicked, terrible crime ever committed. And it was.

But there was more to Jesus� death than a hateful, brutal murder. Though it came at the darkest time in history and the time when men�s sinful natures showed more cleary than ever before or after, it was also a time of unsurpassed beauty. It truly was the most beautiful, wonderful, significant event in the course of human history. For through that heart-rending, tragic time, Christ won the victory that has set us free. Just when Evil thought it had won the battle, Christ turned victory into defeat. Through His victory we were atoned and forever washed white.

I was reminded of the words to a song originally performed by The Choir (and covered several times by bands such as Smalltown Poets). The song is called �Beautiful Scandalous Night� and it speaks of the horror and beauty of the night Jesus was killed.

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

Follow Christ to the holy mountain
Sinner, sorry and wrecked by the fall
Cleanse your heart and your soul
In the fountain that flows
For you and for me and for all

At the wonderful tragic mysterious tree
On that beautiful scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful scandalous night

On the hillside you will be delivered
At the foot of the cross justified
And your spirit restored
By the river that pours
From our blessed Savior�s side

At the wonderful tragic mysterious tree�

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

At the wonderful tragic mysterious tree
On that beautiful scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by his blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful scandalous night�

Miraculous night

January 16, 2004

Yesterday I posted a Review of Biblical Hermeneutics. In reading and researching the topic of hermeneutics (Biblical interpretation) I ran across a few interesting quotes.

I hold that the words of Scripture were intended to have one definite sense, and adhere rigidly to it…To say the words do mean a thing merely because they can be tortured into meaning it is a most dishonorable and dangerous way of handling Scripture.

J.C. Ryle

God sometimes blesses a poor exegesis of a bad translation of a doubtful reading of an obscure verse of a minor prophet.

Alan Cole

Inasmuch as all Scripture is the product of a single divine mind, interpretation must stay within the bounds of the analogy of Scripture and eschew hypotheses that would correct one Biblical passage by another, whether in the name of progressive revelation or of the imperfect enlightenment of the inspired writer’s mind.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

I especially enjoyed Cole’s quote as I think all of us can think of times we have unintentionally misinterpreted something in the Bible, yet God has been good to us to bless us despite ourselves. J.C. Ryle’s quote stands as a warning that to use the Bible flippantly and outside of proper methods is both dishonoring and dangerous. The Chicago Statement reminds me that Scripture must (and will) interpret Scripture, not correct it.

The Bible is an awesome revelation and it behooves us to treat it with the utmost care and respect.

January 13, 2004

I have managed to acquire a good bit of Web space and for just a few dollars can get setup with a new Web site. I am undecided if at this time I want to do that, but do have a couple of ideas for a second site.

My first idea was based around Web design. I thought about creating a site that would be to effectiveness in design what Cool Home Pages is to coolness. They list some really great-looking sites, but many of them are far from functional. It seems that in many people’s view a site’s effectiveness is less important than appearance, but I disagree. So that is the first idea. Being a Web designer it appeals to me, but I’m just not sure I have enough passion for the idea to actually dedicate the time to it.

A second idea is to create a sort of “Who’s Who” of the Christian world. It would be a site that would list Christian authors, speakers, etc and give links to their ministries, the books they have written, information about their ministries’ financial integrity, etc. I would categorize them by various means, such as occupation (pastor, author, speaker, etc) as well as possibly by theology, though it is more difficult to assign categories to theology. I have not found that sort of site on the Net and judging by the searches that lead to my site I suspect it is a site people would use.

Any input on this? Any other ideas you can think of for a site?