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Tim Challies

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January 11, 2006

I woke up this morning to find my site replaced by a little message saying “Your account has been suspended. We have sent you an email explaining why. This email should also contain information on how you can unsuspend your account.” That was quite a rude awakening and managed to throw my entire day into a state of chaos. The message I received in my email said little more than “Hey, by the way, we shut your site down. You can email us to find out why if you want. Or not. It doesn’t really matter. Oh, and have yourself a great day! P.S. - the abuse department does not arrive for another four hours.” Needless to say, I was far from thrilled.

Several of you have remarked that over the past couple of days the site has experienced a fair amount of downtime. These have been short outages that last only a few minutes, but are nevertheless quite annoying. Despite those outages I was quite surprised to find my site suspended this morning. It turns out that sometime in the middle of the night it was determined that this site was causing the server undue stress which made everything run slowly. And so it got shut down until I could deal with the problems. Fair enough, I suppose. I’d expect the same if another site on the server was causing mine to run slowly.

I received some mixed messages about what was causing the trouble, but it seems that the forum software (phpbb) is the most likely candidate. I made a couple of changes and am hoping that those will keep the problem from happening again. However, we really won’t know until traffic increases throughout today or tomorrow. I have also disabled a couple of small features that I will re-enable slowly. If you happen to be an expert in all things MySQL and care to drop me a note, I’d be grateful if I could ask you a couple of questions.

Ultimately the problem with this site is you. Yeah, that’s right, you! If people didn’t keep visiting the site I wouldn’t be taxing the server in this way! And it was not lost on me that the last person to comment in the forum prior to the big crash was none other than Phil Johnson. Tsk tsk. (At the risk of stating the obvious, I am just kidding. Except about Phil Johnson. That guy is just bad news. I ought to revoke that King for a Week I gave him yesterday).

I was surprised and somewhat amused to see how much of my morning routine revolves around this site, and how incapable I was of doing anything until I got the problems worked out. I usually crawl out of bed at around 6 and head downstairs to post the A La Carte. Following that I have a time of reading the Bible, praying, reading a good book or writing. Sometimes they happen in a strict order and sometimes they all blend together. Either way, almost none of them happened this morning except a lot of praying. And then I spent an inordinate amount of time right through lunch troubleshooting the problem.

Anyways, I hope the problem is now resolved, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is still some work to do. So if you return later in the day and are greeted by ugly error messages, at least you’ll know what’s happening.

January 09, 2006

For all the discussion created by and about the Emerging Church there has been precious little formal debate about the important issues at stake. I know of pastors or theologians who have attempted to debate the issues only to have their requests refused. Finally, though, we are about to see a significant debate.

On January 20, 2006 Bob DeWaay and Doug Pagitt will debate “The Emergent Church and Postmodern Spirituality: Dangerous Trends or Necessary Changes for Evangelicalism?” DeWaay is pastor of Twin City Fellowship and has written articles critical of the Emerging Church. Pagitt is pastor of Solomon’s Porch and has authored several books including Church Re-Imagined and Reimagining Spiritual Formation.

The debate will take place at Twin City Fellowship in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There will be no admittance charge and there is no advance registration. They hope to have CD and DVD recordings of the debate available soon afterwards.

I am glad to learn of this debate and trust that it will prove beneficial. It is my prayer that both men accurately represent their views and that the Bible may be held as the ultimate authority. I wish I could be present to enjoy the debate!

For more information, consult this page.

January 08, 2006

I don’t have a whole lot to say about the film Brokeback Mountain beyond what I wrote last week in the article Rape of the Marlboro Man. The media, on the other hand, just can’t get enough. It has apparently been worthy of national media attention that one theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah, has decided not to show the film. “A movie theater owned by Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller abruptly changed its screening plans and decided not to show the film “Brokeback Mountain.” The film, an R-rated Western gay romance story, was supposed to open Friday at the Megaplex at Jordan Commons in Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City. Instead it was pulled from the schedule.” The theatre has not made a statement beyond a note posted in the box office window. “There has been a change in booking and we will not be showing ‘Brokeback Mountain.’ We apologize for any inconvenience.”

One small theatre electing now to show a film that would not appeal to the majority if people in the local area becomes a national news story because the film deals frankly and explicitly with homosexuality. This shows something of the state of our culture and its absolute obsession with political correctness, doesn’t it? It gets so tiresome to see the media attempting to create a mountain out of a molehill - to create a story where there is none. It never ceases to amaze how political correctness allows free expression only towards those who are deemed “oppressed.” A person has no right to object to homosexuality, but a homosexual has every right to object to that person’s objection. It makes no sense!

Anyways, I enjoyed a good sermon this morning and am hoping to spend most of the afternoon reading a biography of Oswald Chambers. May God bless you today as you enjoy His day.

January 02, 2006

At long last and after many promises I have finally changed the color of the site. The background is no longer the red that some people loved while other people despised, but is now a subtle grey pattern. It is not quite as interesting but should be at least somewhat more conducive to reading.

Those who have read the site for more than a few months will remember the former design which featured a banner displaying a photograph that I changed every couple of weeks. I have brought back the photograph, but this time I am using a rotating banner that uses Macromedia Flash. If you do not have Flash (version 7 or higher) the site should appear just fine, but without the banner. I have decided to add the banner only to the first page of the site (at least for the time being). In theory the banner should not cause too great a strain for those of you who use a dial-up connection as the photographs are downloaded one at a time as they are needed. It is not simply one large file that your browser will need to download.

The software I’ve used in the Flash header is quite powerful and I am hoping that I will eventually be able to provide links to art done by various artists (and Christian artists in particular) in that area.

January 01, 2006

And just like that 2006 is upon us. I rang in 2006 in the same way I’ve rung in most of the last few years: I watched television from 11:59 until 12:01 and turned it off before the “Happy New Year” banner had been removed from the screen. Then I went to bed, whispered “happy new year” to my sleeping wife and quickly drifted off to sleep! Thankfully the neighbours did not see fit to walk through the streets banging pots and pans as they did last year.

As I look forward for the next 365-day period of life I am hesitant to set too many goals or form too many resolutions, though I cannot help but wonder what 2006 will bring. I do intend to continue my daily blogging and hope to read and review at least 100 books this year. As with every year, I hope and pray that my character continues to be shaped and molded more and more into the image of the Savior. I am looking forward to meeting my third child, who will (Lord Willing) be arriving at some point in May. For some reason I feel that 2006 will be a pivotal year in my life.

This morning, having cancelled our church and family plans today due to my son coming down with a fever, I took a brief look back to some goals I set for this year. Two of them were related to this site. The first was to blog every day of 2005 and I accomplished that goal. The second was to read and review 52 books. I am not entirely sure how many books I read, but I believe I reviewed almost 120. There were several that I read and for various reasons chose not to review. Accomplishing those goals, while I am glad that I did so, gives me far less satisfaction than I might have thought!

As I look back to 2005 I can see God’s provision in my life and am deeply thankful for so many blessings. I pray that God will continue to bless myself and my family as we enter a new year. I also pray that God will bless you, the reader, as you seek to serve him in 2006. May He be gracious to us all. May He bless and protect His church this year and forever. May He return soon.

December 30, 2005

Since launching the new design of Challies Dot Com I have received lots of feedback. Some has been positive and some has been negative. The negative comments have mostly been concerned with two things: the color of the background and the loss of the photo that was in the banner of the old design.

I have finally found an alternative background that I think may work. I have also found a way of perhaps bringing back the photograph. I have created a couple of quick mockups. I am interested in knowing if those who feel the site is currently too red would find the new design easier to read. Take a look at the following (click on them for a larger view) and let me know what you think about one or both of them. It is a little difficult to see on the small photos, so consider clicking on the “different sizes” link and then select the “large” view.

Design 1  
Design 2

December 15, 2005

This came in to my inbox a little too late to make this morning’s A La Carte, but I thought that if I left it until tomorrow it would be too late. Bob Kauflin, of Sovereign Grace Ministries, is spearheading a “Blogs for Music” campaign which is similar to what Sovereign Grace did a few months ago with C.J. Mahaney’s book Humility. This time they are offering copies of Awesome God children’s CD. I have the CD and my children enjoy it a lot.

“I’d like to know what YOU think about Awesome God. I’m looking for 50 people who would be willing to receive a copy of the CD (completely free) and post a review of it on their Weblog. You can review it by yourself, or even better, invite family members or children from your church to listen to it and give you feedback. We plan to produce more theologically driven children’s CD’s in the future, and would welcome your feedback on this one.”

You can read more and find out how to get a CD here.

December 12, 2005

This morning Kurt Nordstrom, one of the fellows at Boar’s Head Tavern, wrote the following in an article entitled “The TRs watch ‘Narnia’:” [TR stands for “Truly Reformed” a term that is generally used in a pejorative sense]

Well, I’ve yet to see LW&W, and it’ll probably be a while, due to life (hopefully I can catch it over the holidays), but at least I don’t have to worry about basic storyline spoilers! Maybe I’ll re-read the book in the interim.

Meanwhile, Steve Camp pisses on the movie’s theology, and CS Lewis in general while he’s at it. Judging from that post, if Camp were a betting man, he’d say that Lewis was burning in hell about now. Tim Challies agrees.

This should be interesting. I think a telling sign of the the Twuly Weformed is the inability to appreciate folks like Lewis. There’s no room in that mindset to simply appreciate something that good without stopping to bitch about doctrine. I’ll be looking to see what the other BlogCops say.

Incredibly enough, Kurt cases this comment on two sentences I wrote in which I posted a link to Camp’s article in today’s A La Carte section. I wrote, “Steve Camp outlines some of C.S. Lewis’ troubling theology. He also writes an interesting review of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe where he points out some errant theology.”

Now I certainly did not state or even imply that I believe C.S. Lewis is burning in hell right now. As a TR I know that such things are for God to judge and I don’t feel the need to involve myself in a pointless, senseless argument that will allow no conclusions. Also, I think you would find that the Truly Reformed appreciate Lewis a great deal - far more than even I would expect. Try reading John Piper some time! C.S. Lewis made some great contributions to Christianity, not the least of which was this series of books. But I believe Steve Camp is right in pointing out at least one fundamental flaw in Lewis’ understanding of a pivotal issue (the atonement) and how that influenced The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Now I don’t want to get into some type of sniping with the folks over at BHT. I just find it telling that, in an effort to discredit the TRs of the blogosphere, Kurt blatantly ignored the glowing NotReview I posted and focused in on a link I posted to an outside article. I usually do not bring attention to such criticisms. However, lest I be considered ignorant and judgmental by some of the forty or fifty people who visit whenever someone links to this site from Boar’s Head Tavern, I did want to clarify that Nordstrom fabricated the claim that I believe Lewis was unregenerate.

*Update: Nordstrom edited the article with the following words: “[Edit: Challies has criticisms of Lewis’ theology but does not necessarily believe that the man is in hell. Apologies to Tim for the lack of clarity].”

December 04, 2005

The following is a prayer taken from The Valley of Vision edited by Arthur Bennett. I read this prayer yesterday and was gripped by the honesty and humility it displays. I was challenged to ask myself if I really believe all of this or if I feel I am something just a little bit better. By the end I realized that the author’s prayer had become my prayer. “Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace.”

O Changeless God,
Under the conviction of the Spirit I learn that
The more I do, the worse I am,
The more I know, the less I know,
The more holiness I have, the more sinful I am,
The more I love, the more there is to love.
O wretched man that I am!

O Lord,
I have a wild heart
And cannot stand before thee;
I am like a bird before a man.
How little I love thy truth and ways!
I neglect prayer,
By thinking I have prayed enough and earnestly,
By knowing thou hast saved my soul.
Of all hypocrites, grant that I may not be an evangelical hypocrite,
Who sins more safely because grace abounds,
Who tells his lusts that Christ’s blood cleanseth them,
Who reasons that God cannot cast him into hell, for his is saved,
Who loves evangelical preaching, churches, Christians, but lives
My mind is a bucket without a bottom,
With no spiritual understanding,
No desire for the Lord’s Day,
Ever learning but never reaching the truth,
Always at the gospel-well but never holding water.
My conscience is without conviction or contrition,
With nothing to repent of.
My will is without power of decision or resolution.
My heart is without affection, and full of leaks.
My memory has no retention,
So I forget so easily the lessons learned,
And thy truths seep away.
Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace.

December 01, 2005

Ian Clary, who blogs at Ruminations by the Lake, and who serves as Research and Administrative Assistant to the Principal of Toronto Baptist Seminary (the Principle being Michael Haykin), has begun to organize a Toronto-area Evangelical Bloggers Brunch. “This will hopefully provide an opportunity for a lot of us who only know each other through our respective blogs to meet. The invitation is open to anyone in the GTA who blogs and considers themselves conservative evangelicals.”

It will be held Saturday January 21st, 2006 at 10am at a location still to be determined, but probably somewhere on the Western side of the GTA. I’m lobbying for Oakville or Burlington. To provide some structure to the event, both Dr. Haykin and I will be delivering a short address on “the relationship between Christianity and the blogosphere.” Ian later uses the term “lecture” to describe this address, but I am not much of a lecturer. In fact, I am generally far more comfortable with the written word than the spoken word, so this event will see me stepping a little outside of my comfort zone. Of course it doesn’t help much that I am speaking after (or before) someone who speaks for a living. But I trust this will not be a competition!

If you live in the Toronto area, are a conservative evangelical, have a blog and are interested in more information, you can find it here.