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General News

May 25, 2004

There is a great story in the news today about the Duggar family of Fayetteville, Arkansas. They are celebrating the birth of their 15th child. Amazing. Now when you hear there are 15 kids you know they are religious, so you start to ask are they Catholic? Christian? Mormon? I did a bit of research (which involved typing their name into Google) and pulled up a great little article about the family at QuiverFull.com.

The article portrays them as a godly (and extremely busy), Southern Baptist family that is completely committed to raising children to glorify God. They sound extremely conservative (ie the girls all wear dresses exclusively and they wear wetsuits at the beach) but one that is not completely “out there.” For example, the father does not take the opportunity to rail against modern swimwear - he just says that it is a decision each of the children will have to make when they get older. It’s quite refreshing to see someone who seems to find the spirit of the law while avoiding legalism.

You can read the article here. Do note that the article was written back when they had only 13 children so it is a couple of years old.

May 25, 2004

There is some fascinating discussion going on in various places around this site at the moment. I am WAY behind in answering comments/questions/emails so am dedicating time to that today. In the meantime, here is where you can find some good discussion.

  1. ScottMac (scroll WAY down) posted a critique of the Purpose Driven movement here. What caught my eye was his asseration that the PD movement fails to do the one thing it claims to do best, which is fulfill the Great Commission. If you have read The Purpose Driven Church (or The Purpose Driven Life) you’ll know that Warren’s whole philosophy of ministry is based around the Great Commission. Scotty says that rather than going out into the world, the PD church reverses things by seeking to draw the world into itself. He also says that the system “assumes the burden of being under law, that if ‘such and such’ is done, then ‘such and such’ will happen.” Fascinating!
  2. In regards to my music collection, Steve has typed out a well-thought-out challenge that perhaps collecting things such as music is not Biblical. He insists that he is not being judgmental and I certainly do not think he is - he is just questioning whether collecting such things is a valid use of the resources God gives us. He questions whether such collections prove that one has not totally surrendered everything to Christ. And that is a great question. I have not had opportunity to reply but will do so shortly.
  3. Pam writes about the great apostacy in regards to this post. She tries not to sound like a fanatic, but when one connects the Catholic Church to the antichrist (something a whole Cloud of Witnesses have done in the past), one always seems fanatical in our watered-down age.
  4. Finally, Anthony wrote a great response to this article about smoking. He concludes that though smoking may be stupid, it is not sinful.
May 24, 2004

Today Canadians celebrate Victoria Day which commemorates Queen Victoria’s birthday. I suspect most Canadians do not know or care what the day commemorates. The traditional way to celebrate the day (or more often the whole weekend) is to head to a cottage or campground and drink oneself into oblivion. For this reason the holiday has become known as “May two four” for most people (since the day of the Queen’s birthday is May 24). The long weekend concludes with fireworks displays sometime after dark. As teenagers we used to drive around shooting roman candles out the windows of our cars.

I know almost nothing about Queen Victoria other than the fact that it seems she wore black all her life and I have no interest in getting drunk today. What I do know is that Victoria has provided Canadians with a great excuse to take a day off. I am spending the day assembling bunk beds, going to a potluck/picnic and just generally not working. I laugh at all the Americans who have to work today, realizing that you will be laughing at me next Monday when you have your day off.

May 23, 2004

A short while after our church first began, back when there were only 100 of us or so, a young guy walked up to me after church and asked me, almost in a whisper, “what do you guys believe about smoking? Is it okay to smoke in this church?” I laughed a little, not because it was a stupid question but because the church had people from such a great diversity of backgrounds. We had heaps of ex-Catholics, a core of ex-Charismatics, a few long-time Southern Baptists and so on. I told him I had no idea what the general consensus was but that I’m sure as long as he smoked outside no one would care.

I know lots of Christians who smoke and it has never really caused me to examine the idea of a conflict between that action (or addiction) and their faith. I guess for some people this is a real stumbling block. Some people seem to think that those who smoke reveal something about their faith.

Christianity Today has a small article that provides the usual arguments.

  • Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, so be careful what we put in our bodies.
  • Smoking is an addiction and Christians are to guard against addictions.
  • Smoking has many harmful effects and can often lead to other addictions.

These are all rational arguments. Another common argument to add to that list is that God provides our finances and we are told to use them carefully.

All of these arguments are well and good, but they all have other sides to them. Yes, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, but how much worse is it to put smoke (and all it carries with it) into our bodies than it is to gorge ourselves on junk food? Judging by the lineup at the coffee table on Sunday mornings I would say that there are far more Christians addicted to caffeine than there are to nicotine. Sure smoking has lots of harmful effects, but so does overeating or eating the wrong things. God provides us money, but how often do we use it to buy things we don’t really need?

I guess it seems to me that the arguments used against smoking are usually quite inconsistent. I see the logic behind them, but those same principles seem to fail when they are extended to the rest of the Christian life.

I hate smoking. I hate the smell of it and I especially hate seeing cigarette butts lying on the ground outside buildings. But I don’t presume to think that I can tell the first thing about a person’s spiritual condition by the fact that they smoke.

May 22, 2004

Several people asked yesterday for buttons for my new site BlogBasics. I made up a couple of buttons which you can get here.

Thanks to all of you who have linked my site on yours. I appreciate it.

May 22, 2004

Until today I had no idea that Francis Schaeffer had a son named Frank. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. What is surprising is that he has forsaken his parents’ faith and has converted to Greek Orthodoxy. He has also directed several films, three of which were were rated “R” for their violent content.

I guess it shows that even the most Biblically-sound parents can still “lose” their children.

On the bright side, he made some interesting comments about The Passion of the Christ in Christianity Today. You can read the article here.

May 21, 2004

About a week ago I mentioned on this site that I was working on a second site that was going to be about the basics of blogging. Since that time I have received HEAPS of emails begging me for more details. Actually, I’m making that up. I haven’t received any emails about it, but I am sure that you are all as excited about it as I am.

Though the site is not quite ready at this point, Google has decided to index it so I figured I may as well post about it here. I am trying to add one major article per day, so within a week or so the bulk of the content should be filled in. My hope is that the site will lead to some more people, especially Christians (and even more especially some of the readers of this site that have been pondering starting their own blogs…and that means you, Jeri!) to begin their own blogs. Blogging has revolutionized the way I view the Web and I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to learn from people like Rebecca, Doug, David, Matt, Tim (the other Tim)…and so on and so on. I would much rather here from your “ordinary, every day” Christians than your “professional Christians” and blogging affords us all the opportunity to do that.

So go ahead - take a look at the site and let me know what you think. And be gentle since I am making it public before it is really ready!

The address is, of course, Blogbasics.com.

If you have a site of your own and would be kind enough to link to that site, I would very much appreciate it. It will allow Google to assign it more importance and hopefully drive a bit more traffic there.

May 20, 2004

I love blogging. It really has changed my life. I have hesitated to say so before now, but believe I have been blogging long enough now to say so with some degree of certainty. It was November 1, 2003 that I decided I would commit to blogging on a daily basis. Since then I have written at least something on this site every day and have often written more than one thing. On occassion I have even written something good! This is the 202nd day since then and I haven’t missed a day yet. I’m kind of proud of that. I’m the type of person who picks things up for a week or two and then puts them down for months. I haven’t put down blogging yet and have not even been tempted. It is still a joy to write something every day.

It is interesting to browse through the archives and see how I seem to blog in a cyclical manner. For a few days or weeks I will post theological dissertations and then for the next few weeks focus on Bible studies. Then I may turn to writing about music before turning to reflections on life. Lately it seems I have been reflecting on life quite a bit and writing some thoughts about that. I suppose I will probably return to writing about theology again before long. The nice thing about having a blog is that I am free to write whatever I want, whenever I want. There is no need to follow a theme or cover a certain topic.

Interestingly, I find that I get more visitors to this site when I say things that are controversial. My articles about The Passion of the Christ drew tens of thousands of people to the site. Recently the numbers reading my reflections on life have dwindled to mere hundreds. Funny how that works, isn’t it? I’m sure there is a lesson about human nature in there somewhere! I think I prefer writing what I want to write and not succumbing to the temptation to post things that are controversial just to draw people here. That would be rather self-serving, wouldn’t it?

Author and pastor Ian Brown was kind enough to offer to send me a copy of his newest book which has just been published. Naturally I took him up on his offer as I make it a point never to refuse things that are free! It is entitled What You Need To Know About The Passion of the Christ. I will be reading and reviewing that in the next couple of days. Maybe that will stir up the pot a little bit and bring people running to this site ready for a fight! Just kidding, of course…