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Tim Challies

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January 24, 2006

Stephen HarperWe have a new Prime Minister here in the Great White North. After thirteen years of the Liberal Party reigning in Canada, the Conservatives have fought back. Thirteen years of corruption and mismanagement left Canadians angry and disillusioned with a party that seemed as intent on destroying Canada as they did on protecting it. Now it is the Conservative’s turn to prove that they can do better.

There is much reason for hope. For the first time in far too long a Prime Minister has been elected who hails from the Western part of Canada - the area of Canada that is much more conservative socially and spiritually - the part of Canada that so rarely has a voice in our nation. For the first time in far too long the Prime Minister will not be from Quebec. And that is a good thing. And, in fact, for the first time in a long while the Prime Minster will not be Roman Catholic. And that is also a good thing. I don’t know if Stephen Harper is a Christian. He was raised Presbyterian, I believe, and attends Christian and Missionary Alliance congregations in Calgary and Ottawa. I hope and trust that he is a believer. But even if he is not, he represents a conservative perspective that is far different from what has driven Canada for the past decade.

Yet he will have to tread carefully. Those hoping that he will make radical changes to abortion policy or policies regarding homosexual marriage probably hope in vain. He holds only a minority government and it is rare that a minority government last out its mandate in our system of government before it is toppled in a vote of non-confidence. He has promised free votes in parliament on a variety of important issues and these will go a long way to showing what Canadians really want. The Conservative government will have to prove itself to skeptical and disillusioned Canadians and will have to exercise great judgment and discernment in doing so.

Today is a big day for Canadians. It is a big day for Canadian Christians who have, for the first time in quite a while, been given just a glimmer of hope that perhaps the moral decay that has pervaded our country and that has been encouraged by the Liberal government, will be tempered, at least for a little while. And so please join with me today in praying for this country. I love Canada. I truly do. I want the best for Canada and plead with God that He will take what is largely a pagan nation - a nation that has been declared a mission field by the Southern Baptists and other denominations - and begin a fresh work here by and through His people.

January 23, 2006

Veteran film producer Robert Halmi is remaking The Ten Commandments for ABC Television. The two-part film will be broadcast over the upcoming Easter weekend. ABC will not break with tradition by cancelling its traditional broadcast of the original version of the film (produced in 1956) which starred, of course, Charlton Heston.

ABC President Stephen McPherson said, “Do viewers come in to watch the old one and then get enticed to watch a new one?” he said. “Or is that too much of one thing and viewers say, ‘Eh, why do I want to watch a new one?’ We’ll see … what works in better with our schedule.”

The film will star Dougray Scott as Moses, Omar Sharif will take on the role of Jethro and the Rameses role made famous by Yul Brynner will be played by Paul Rhys. In case you are wondering, Dougray Scott is heterosexual (see! He’s got two kids a wife).

IMDB has more details of the casting and the few other details available at this time.

January 17, 2006

First off, I’d like to take an opportunity to clarify something about the article I posted this morning. My friend Paul Martin posted a comment here and at his blog (and at Justin Taylor’s blog, for that) where he warned against making the issue of watching the film The End of the Spear an issue of clear, biblical right or wrong.

“In issues like this one, it our duty to think in the realm of revealed truth (“true Truth”) and ask of the Biblical text which Scriptures inform our decision as to whether or not to watch the film. Reading through the comments, some Scriptures are mentioned, but there is very little in the way of direct application…”

Paul is right. None of the Apostles took the time to tell us whether or not to watch movies led by homosexual actors. This, as with many areas, requires thought and falls into an issue of conscience.

I sometimes take for granted that people understand this web site to be my reflections on life and the results of what happens when I wrestle with an issue. I did not mean for my article to say, “You are evil if you watch The End of the Spear” or “A good Christian wouldn’t see it.” I merely meant to reflect on some of the deeper issues beyond simply whether or not the movie does a good job of portraying some Christian heroes. If people understand the deeper issues behind the film and pause to reflect on them, I think we’ll all be better for it. I agree with Paul when he says “It seems to me that the worst thing that could happen is that our endorsement or rejection would harm the unity we share in Christ.” We musn’t let peripheral issues like this divide us. At the same time, it does benefit us to consider and wrestle with them.

And now the real reason I posted this afternoon:

Albert Mohler is scheduled to be a guest tonight on Larry King Live (on CNN, of course). He will be discussing the film Brokeback Mountain. According to the show’s description, “The debate over gay love and marriage heats up with “Brokeback Mountain’s” big night. Gays face off with religious conservatives. Tune in at 9 p.m. ET.” Thanks to Justin Taylor for the tip. Let’s pray that the Spirit empowers Dr. Mohler to share the truth and to present the gospel to those who tune in this evening.

January 11, 2006

After posting a hopeful note earlier in which I hoped (against hope, really) that everything on the site had been worked out, I ran into more trouble. I’ve now blown an entire day on this problem and have had little choice but to revert to the older Movabletype-based commenting system. You know, the same one every other blog has. So much for originality. Anyways, you should now be able to post comments and you’ll no longer have to register in the forums as you once did. I suppose this means you’ll even be able to post anonymously. What this will do for discussion around here is going to be interesting. I hope that it will prove less intimidating and that more people will comment.

So thank you for your patience and please continue to bear with me as I try to resurrect this beast of a site!

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.