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

Tim Challies

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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.

November 01, 2005

Derek WebbI have been given the opportunity to interview Derek Webb, something I consider quite an honor. Derek is a singer and songwriter whom I much admire both for his talent and for his courage in taking on the difficult subjects. Never one to shy from a fight, he has written songs that have rattled many nerves and even caused his albums to be removed from certain Christian bookstores. His songs are always filled with meaningful content and constant references to Scripture.

I happen to know that many of my readers also appreciate Derek’s work. I thought it might be interesting if I ask the community of readers (that means you!) for suggestions as to what I might ask him in this interview. I would like to discuss his upcoming album (Mockingbird, set to release on December 26) and his past albums, but thought it would be fun to concentrate a little bit more on matters of theology and Christian current events. I have little doubt there will soon be many reviews and interviews focusing on the merits of his album but since I am no musician I’d just as soon focus on his beliefs. I am sure he will be able to give interesting, challenging, biblical answers.

So this is your chance to ask a question of Derek Webb. Feel free to submit questions in the comments for this post. I’ll select some of them for the interview.

October 31, 2005

Two years ago, on October 31, 2003, I sat myself down and had a good chat with me. Challies Dot Com was a poorly-designed, silly little site that primarily contained photographs of my family. I had recently added a blog to the site and was enjoying being a blogger but realized that I had become terribly lax. Like most bloggers I had begun with a flurry of posts but had soon tired of putting forth the effort and had posted less and less. I believe there were a couple of periods of weeks at a time where I did not post at all. I decided that I either had to do things right or give it up altogether. And so it was that I made a committment on October 31 that I would post every day for an entire year. Lo and behold, I did exactly that.

This time last year I wrote:

I do believe that is one of the very few goals I have ever attained - I tend to aim high and get bored easily. But writing has become a passion of mine and something I look forward to almost every day.

In the past year I have posted some 568 times. I would estimate the posts would comprise somewhere between 250,000 and 350,000 words. I could find out if I really cared to, but I guess it isn’t all that important. There have been several thousand comments made but at least 500 different people. I never would have guessed. The software running the site changed from Geeklog to Movabletype and in the summer I changed from Movabletype’s commenting system to a forum system to escape the spam bots.

The most memorable time of the past year was the release of The Passion of the Christ. I wrote some very early reviews of the film and for several weeks had a completely irrational amount of traffic through the site. I believe the most-read post of all, though, is my review of The Purpose Driven Life which continues to drive in quite a bit of traffic.

That was 2004. I renewed my committment and here we are exactly one year later. Once again I posted every day between November 1 and October 31. Today marks 730 days since I last decided not to post something. I must be obsessed.

2005 was an interesting year for this site. Some of more memorable moments to me are my newfound interest in the Emerging Church and the fallout from various articles and reviews written about that topic. There was the “Abanes-gate” series of interviews that caused quite a fuss. There was the Pyromarketing article that garnered a lot of interest. There were book reviews; lots of book reviews. And of course there was the live-blogging opportunity at the Desiring God Conference. All-in-all it was quite a year and I am humbled as I look back upon it.

In the past months a few people have taken the opportunity to lovingly chastise me for this apparent obsession with blogging. Some people seem to feel it is a type of arrogance that keeps me posting day-after-day. Others feel that I am enslaved to the site or to the people who read it. The truth is that neither of these is accurate. I continue to post every day because of my personality. I know that once I take a day off I will take another and another and soon I’ll be as big a slacker as guys like Jollyblogger, Adrian Warnock or Dan Edelen. And that would be tragic. I mock these bloggers in jest, of course, but the truth is that once I begin to let up I know that I will find it easier and easier to do so in the future. I could show you a long line of hobbies and collectibles that prove this little flaw in my personality to be true. Blogging is too important an aspect of my spiritual life for me to let it slide.

So I will press on. Blogging is one of the best things that has happened to my spiritual walk. Daily blogging has had an important impact in my life. It is a constant challenge to find something worth writing. Some days I surprise myself by writing something that is genuinely (in my biased opinion) good. Other days I fail miserably and produce something I immediately regret. But regardless of whether I love or hate it, daily blogging forces me to stay in the Word, to keep reading and to keep thinking. The times in the past year when I have gone through the valleys are the times I have had little to say. The times when I have experienced a time of blessing and growth is when I feel I have had the most to say. One could easily gauge my spiritual condition by the writing on my blog. It is challenging, then, to bare myself in this way. It is always interesting when I meet people who know so much about me when I know so little about them.

In case you are wondering, I am renewing my committment and intend to post (Lord willing) every day between now and October 31, 2006. So I thank you for continuing to drop by and for taking the time to encourage me when I’m down and calling me to account when I’m too high up. I look forward to seeing what the next year brings for this site!