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Tim Challies

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January 02, 2004

Being a parent is such a profound experience. My children make me want to laugh and cry. They will fill me with love at times and with frustration at other times. I have learned so much about myself and about human nature through being a parent. But that is not all. Parenthood has also taught me so much about God.

God is patient. Parenthood is a constant battle of my patience. My children love to test me – pushing to see just how far they can go. They want to know exactly what obedience means and where the line is that distinguishes obedience from disobedience. If I need patience with my children, imagine the patience God requires to put up with me. I also like to push against the line or cross it altogether. Yet God patiently stays with me, never leaving me alone.

God loves. I love my children more than I can express. The Bible says that the measure of the deepest kind of love is that a man would lay down his life for one he loves. I would without hesitation trade my life for my children’s lives. Occasionally I will read of a parent who lost his life trying to save his child from a burning building, and I marvel at his courage, yet understand how it would be easier to die trying than to regret never attempting to save that child. God loves with a perfect love. God loved me even while I hated Him and while I did all I could to show Him how much I hated Him. But God did more than love me when I hated Him. He also suffered and died for me. What awesome love!

God loves equally. I love my children equally. I could never choose one over the other. They are both equally the apple of my eye. God also believes in equality. There is not another of His children in the world that God loves more than me and there is not another one He loves less than me.

God teaches. Children are ridiculous. Only in a household containing children would you expect to hear commands like “don’t eat food that’s been in the toilet!” and “take that straw out of your sister’s nose!” Children have no common sense and have to learn so many lessons either by being told by their parents or by experiencing pain. And isn’t that the way I am? I can learn God’s ways from the Bible or from others who have already walked life’s pathway before me, but more often I prefer to learn by trying things out. I am then left to deal with the often-painful consequences of my actions.

God laughs. Children are hilarious. The things my kids say and the things they do keep me laughing. How can you help but laugh when your two-year old son imitate the pastor’s prayer by saying, “Dear God. Blah blah blah blah blah. Amen.” When my children laugh and play together, I laugh with them. Similarly God must laugh when He sees me blunder through life and must laugh with me when I am simply laughing out of the enjoyment life.

God cares. There are few things I care about more than my children and their well-being. I cry with my children – I feel what my children feel. When my daughter hurts herself, I feel her pain. When my son gets bullied, it makes me angry. God feels my pain and He burns with anger against those who come against me. He wants nothing but the best for me.

God provides. My children trust me to provide. When my son is hungry he asks for a snack. He never considers that perhaps it is actually my will to keep him hungry. He trusts that I can afford to buy him snacks. He has blind faith in my ability to provide. And so I can trust that not only can God provide, but also that it is His will and his desire to provide for me.

When we look at such a list, is it any wonder that God calls Himself my Father? Is it any wonder that He chooses to reveal Himself to us in such an intimate, familiar way?

January 01, 2004

Since my parents moved to Atlanta somewhere around five years ago, I have had ample opportunity to travel in the United States and examine bits of American culture. On my recent week-long trip south of the border I began to realize that there are some things about America that I strongly dislike (and a few that I really like). So here I present to you a tongue-in-cheek look at Sixteen Things I Hate About America (And A Few Things I Love). It all starts at the border with the…

Border Guards. It seems that the American border guards just assume that once you are in their country you will never want to leave. They seem to feel the need to wear guns just to keep people out! And I don’t suppose it ever occurs to them that perhaps, just perhaps, I really do want to leave their country someday. Other gun-toting grumps in the US include the

Police. Canadian police exist to keep the peace. This means that they rarely make an appearance unless they are absolutely needed or if you are seriously breaking the law. In America the police are out to get you.

December 31, 2003

2003 was a banner year for Christian music. I had a difficult time sorting through the many excellent albums to choose my favorites. After a lot of consideration, four rose to the top. Why only four? Because everyone else is doing top-five lists and I choose to be different!

A quick note about qualifications. It is difficult to determine what constitutes Christian music, so for my purposes the only qualifications for this list are albums that were released in 2003 and were purchased at a Christian bookstore.

  1. Derek Webb - She Must And Shall Go Free. Derek Webb broke from Caedmon’s Call in 2003 and released an incredible debut album. Many albums seem to be written, recorded and thrown together. Webb’s album is crafted. Each song builds on the last and blends seamlessly into the next. He builds around the theme of the church and God’s love for and relationship with His people. Brutally honest, wonderfully crafted, Christian music has rarely sounded this good. I wrote an in-depth album review of this one.
  2. Switchfoot - The Beautiful Letdown. Switchfoot managed to create an album that is powerful, fun and very well-written. Musically the band takes a step forward, further creating their very own niche in a genre full of imitators. There are some good, loud rock songs for the rock crowd and some piano-driven ballads for those looking for pop.
  3. Dakona - Perfect Change. Outstanding song-writing, great choruses and lots of guitar make this album special. Most of all, this album is just plain fun! Though it contains only very subtle Christian content, this album qualifies for my “best of” because it was purchased at a Christian bookstore.
  4. Ten Shekel Shirt - Risk. Ten Shekel Shirt’s sophomore album finds the band maturing in their songwriting and musical ability. Though there are not any songs on this album that will find their way into the regular rotation in worship services (like “Ocean” and “Meet With Me” from their first album) the songs maintain a strong Christian theme.

Honorable Mentions

  • Petra - Jekyll & Hyde. This album almost made my top 5 list, but realized that if it were not a Petra album it likely would not make that list. It is a great album that welcomes back Bob Hartman, the founder of the band.
  • David Crowder Band - Illuminate. A solid album, but it uses far too many computerized sounds. It is also over-produced compared to the raw, live sounds of Crowder we are used to accustomed on the Passion CDs.

Disappointments

  • Tait - Lose This Life. After a strong debut Tait takes a step back with this album. The edginess of the first album has been replaced by a more produced, commercial feel.
  • Skillet - Collide. I was promised an album that harkened back to their debut album. Instead we got really loud guitars, really loud vocals, really loud synthesizer combining to make a really average album.
  • Stuart Townend - Lord of Every Heart. I have several versions of the excellent song In Christ Alone. The one Townend chose to release on this album is atrocious. I simply do not understand how he could release such a poor version of such a powerful song.

Looking Forward

2004 looks to be another strong year for Christian music. We can look forward to the long-awaited and oft-rumored Smalltown Poets album, as well as new albums by Pillar, Third Day and Delerious.

December 31, 2003

After spending a wonderful week in Atlanta with with my family, we have returned to the much colder North. I elected not to announce that we would be travelling and would be away from the house for a week. For some reason it just seemed like a bad idea!

We spent the week relaxing, reading, spending time with my family and meeting two new boyfriends (one for each of my unattached sisters). I’m proud to say that one of them is going to be a Web designer - what a great way to warm up to a girlfriend’s brother!

We will be spending the evening with our Home Church friends tonight. By tomorrow I hope to return to regular updates of this site (rather than just clearing out my backlog of book reviews!) with a review of the best albums of 2003 as well as a list I compiled of “Things I Hate About America (And A Few Things I Love).”

On a completely unrelated note, Google has decided I merit a Page Rank of 5 this month, moving me up from the 4 I had before. I am targetting a 7 which will be a real challenge. Part of the problem in the Blog world is that so many people use Blogrolling for outgoing links and Google does not appear to be able to read the links from Blogrolls, so many of the people who link to me are useless as far as Google’s Page Rank system is concerned.

And on a further unrelated note, yesterday was the busiest day in the history of Challies Dot Com, with more visitors coming through than on any other day in the past two years.

December 30, 2003

This is a series examining the differences between Calvinist and Arminian theology. Though I completed it several weeks ago, I did not provide a “table of contents” for the five articles.

December 29, 2003

I am travelling today and do not have time to make a “proper” post, so instead I will post this news article I received from Middle East Reformed Fellowship. I have no verification if this is true, but don’t see any reason to doubt it at this point.

The latest update we have from Iran indicates that 28 brethren were gathered for an underground Christmas service in house near the center of the earthquake devastated town. Sadly, all houses in the area totally collapsed. All 28 believers, who were Muslim converts died under the rubble of the house. Nineteen of them have been identified. Muslim family member arranged for Islamic burial services for them. The rest have not been identified and have apparently been included in a mass burial service (also according to Islamic rituals).

One of the elders of that church (and his wife) was holding another underground meeting in a village about 60 miles away. Their lives have been preserved but they extremely shaken by the atmosphere of death which surrounds them.

The earthquake area has in recent years seen growing numbers of conversions. There has not been a recognized church of any kind in the area for more than 600 years. It is now estimated that more than 31,000 people were killed as a result of the earthquake. It is not yet clear whether any other believers were among them. The public communication network as well as electrical and water systems in the area have been destroyed. The government, however, has restored some of the mobile/cellular phone towers. We hope that this will speed up the updates we receive. (Iranian believers avoid making contact with each other over land-based phone lines which are normally monitored by the religious police. They use temporary, unidentifiable mobile/cellular phone cards.)

As we await further details about other brethren in the area, please join in praying for them, for the loved ones of those who died and for testimony of the proclamation of the Gospel and building of the church in the area.

December 26, 2003
I am going to try to introduce another Christian Weblog once a week. This week’s featured blog is He Lives. This site describes itself as the “Reformed viewpoint of a nuclear physicist.” The author, David Heddle, has nearly completed a vast and thorough look at the various Christian viewpoints on the end times. He appears to be heading towards a belief in “partial preterism.” I highly recommend this series, though you will have to go searching through his archives to find where it really begins. He updates the site on a near-daily basis, so this is a great site to add to your daily list of places to visit.
December 25, 2003
Merry Christmas! I don’t suppose you expected me to say anything else on Christmas Day.

I have been up for the last hour, waiting for the kiddies to get up. I’ve taken the time to do checks of all my regular Web sites (news, blogs, etc) and now am just waiting…

And so I wish you a Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour.

December 24, 2003

Since it is the Christmas season, I will be easing off on writing for the next few days. I intend to spend my vacation primarily engaged in reading, writing, talking and eating. I will also be drinking copious amounts of Coke.

Here are some of the things I am working on for 2004:

  • Continuing my Basic Christianity series. I am receiving some nice feedback about it and am enjoying researching and writing it. That will be an ongoing project.
  • I hope to write a very detailed, in-depth study of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church. My site receives the bulk of its traffic via Google searches for Warren and The Purpose Driven Life so I may as well continue writing about him! He is, after all, one of the most influential people in the Christian world.
  • Weekly look at other blogs. I want to post about some of the other blogs that can be found on the Net. I want to feature a few of them and then provide updates about what the authors are writing about.
  • Lots of book reviews. I have plenty of books in my “to read” pile and there are several book-shaped gifts with my name on them under the tree. I will be reading and reviewing those as well as some others I have borrowed from the bookshelves of various friends and relatives.

Other than that, I am not sure what the future of this site holds. I am hoping to continue to update the site on a daily basis.

December 23, 2003

This is a song I found while digging around the Internet and is a pretty funny parody of Arminian theology. Unfortunately I did not record where I found it so can not cite it.

To the tune of Amazing Grace.

Arminian “grace!” How strange the sound,
Salvation hinged on me.
I once was lost then turned around,
Was blind then chose to see.

What “grace” is it that calls for choice,
Made from some good within?
That part that wills to heed God’s voice,
Proved stronger than my sin.

Thru many ardent gospel pleas,
I sat with heart of stone.
But then some hidden good in me,
Propelled me toward my home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Because of what we’ve done,
We’ve no less days to sing our praise,
Than when we first begun.

(With apologies to John Newton)

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