Category Archives: Feature Story Extra

A Canadian author tackles the life of David in upcoming novel: A FT mini-interview with Mark Buchanan

Readers of the Jul/Aug Faith Today were treated to a take on King David that we might not have read before. “You anoint my head with oil: What a Bronze Age warrior-king can teach us about friends and enemies,” is an inspiring essay that looks at the friendships in David’s life, and how they might help us with our own.

But Mark Buchanan (MB) is working on more than that angle of David’s life. Deeply immersed in the writing process for his upcoming novel based on the life of the warrior-King from the Bible, one of our fave Faith Today (FT) writers took a few minutes out of his writing schedule to tell us more about the book, and his creative process.

Mark Buchanan’s essay in the Jul/Aug issue of Faith Today examines the role of friendship in David’s life. Buchanan is working on a novel about the warrior-king’s life.

FT: Mark, tell us about the novel you’re working on about David. What do readers need to know?

MB: I explore David’s story and character from multiple perspectives of those who know him well – his wife Michal, his nephew and general Joab, his priest Abiathar, and so on. I weave these multiple viewpoints into an overarching narrative that traces David’s life from birth to death. And, of course, I salt the whole thing with snippets of Davidic psalms. I am hoping that the overall effect captures both the sweep and grandeur of the story and the depth and complexity of the man.

David’s central and lifelong quest revolves around his longing for the father’s love. That explains nearly everything about him – from his astonishing intimacy with God to his failures as a husband, to his aloofness and yet indulgence toward his own children, especially his sons. It explains his military feats and his domestic fiascos. So I’ve made that quest – to find the father’s love – the deep story of the novel.

FT: What have you learned about David and his story that surprised or moved you particularly?

MB: That David is no hero. He’s a flawed and conflicted man who keeps throwing himself on God. He’s a king who needs a King, a father who needs a Father.

FT: We tend to think of you as a non-fiction writer. What has writing fiction been like for you?

MB: Wonderful. Terrifying. Deeply satisfying. Tormentingly hard. And it is borderline insanity to try to tackle a story so loved and revered – there are so many ways to mess this up. So we’ll see…

FT: What is your hope for the book?

MB: That it invites those who know the story well to reimagine it and reengage it, and invites those who don’t know it at all to explore the source material.

FT: What is next? Or are you thinking of that yet?

MB: Another novel – about a pastor who is a kind of modern day David.

FT: Thanks Mark!

MB: And you as well. Thanks for indulging my obsession.

Mark Buchanan is associate professor of pastoral theology at Ambrose University in Calgary. He is author of several books including Your Church Is Too Safe: Why Following Christ Turns the World Upside-Down(Zondervan, 2012). Spiritual Rhythm: Being With Jesus Every Season of Your Soul (Zondervan, 2010) and the forthcoming David: A Novel (Watch for news of its release this Winter).

Faith Today loves to tell stories of the creative Christian arts in Canada today.  Subscribe now for a regular dose of inspiration. 

Six Habits to Enrich your marriage this Summer and beyond

The Jul/Aug Faith Today featured a story about Heart to Heart Marriage and Family Ministries, the new initiative by Ron and Ann Mainse to help build strong marriages. We asked Ron and Ann to write a guest blog on how to enrich your marriage. Thanks Ron and Ann!

 By Ron & Ann Mainse

We all know that good habits can help us feel better and live better…and that’s especially true in marriage!  Doing loving things every day can be like a daily dose of vitamins for a marriage, just what the doctor ordered for a long and healthy relationship.

Ron and Ann Mainse are co-leaders of Heart to Heart Marriage & Family Ministries. We welcome them as guest bloggers to Faith Today!

If you really think about it, you can probably come up with dozens of little habits that can help to strengthen your marriage, habits like picking up your shoes or replacing the toilet paper roll, but let’s just focus on some of the biggies…

Show gratitude.
Saying “I love you” goes without saying (meaning, it’s a given that you should say it regularly).  But what about regularly saying “thank you” …and meaning it!  That may seem insignificant, but when your spouse feels valued and appreciated on a regular basis, the groundwork is laid for deeper intimacy. I know it means a lot to me (Ann) when Ron thanks me for even the little things like doing the laundry and putting it away.  It may not seem like much, but it makes a big difference to me that he noticed.   And when I (Ron) come in the house tired, hot and sweaty after mowing the lawn, and Ann smiles and gives me a genuine, “Thanks, Honey, for doing that,” those words are like a cold cup of ice water for my soul.

Continue reading Six Habits to Enrich your marriage this Summer and beyond

Don’t read your Bible the way you’ve been taught: Scripture Union offers guidance this summer

It is Scripture Union’s 150th birthday, a milestone we cover in the Jul/Aug issue of Faith Today. We thought it would be fun to ask them to do what they do best for blog readers, help us read the Bible this summer. We asked Lawson Murray, Scripture Union president, to give us a nudge in the right direction.

By Lawson Murray

The key to reading your Bible is not to read it … at least not to read it the way you’ve been taught to read.

To help mark its 150th birthday, Scripture Union has published this book, full of Bible reading tips.

The way we normally read is based on three ingrained assumptions:

  • We’re the masters of what we read
  • Texts/content are subordinate to our intellect
  • We have the right to choose what to do or not do with what we learn.

When it comes to Bible reading these assumptions create tremendous obstacles because they place us in control when God should be in control (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9).

God must direct our reading. This happens when we learn to read the Bible on its own terms. We cannot, and should not, be the masters of what we read. Nor can we stand to one side exercising our cognition and intellect to evaluate or control the text in the light of our own best interests. Rather, the Bible must read us!
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Theological education is especially important here: An interview with Glen Taylor in The Gambia

Jul/Aug Faith Today profiles the work of Wycliffe College professor Glen Taylor, and the four year degree in Christian Studies he helped create in The Gambia, West Africa. We interviewed Taylor (GT) via email, while he is in The Gambia this summer to find out more.

Professor Glen Taylor and his class this summer in The Gambia.

FT: Glen, what have you learned from the Church in The Gambia?

GT: Probably the biggest lesson concerns the depth and vitality of faith in Jesus. More church folk here seem unquestionably faith-full than at home. It is almost like they have extra powers of perception to see the living God in everyday life. One reason for this is that many Christians (and others) make so little money that making ends meet is often a miracle in itself.

FT: What is the greatest need of the Church there?

GT: Probably resources and a greater sense of cooperation across denominations. Regarding resources, the Anglican bishop lamented to me that if capital was available the diocese could, for example, construct an office building to house its diocesan office, rent out space to others and be able to generate revenue. In other words, it takes money to make money. The lack of the former is exasperating to those who can imagine a different economic scenario. As it stands, money is short and church buildings and such seem only to get more dilapidated.
Continue reading Theological education is especially important here: An interview with Glen Taylor in The Gambia

Confessions of a kid who didn’t rebel

An interview with Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach, author of Faith Today‘s May/Jun cover story, “Help your kids embrace the faith: trading in picture-perfect faith for authentic experience.”

FT: Rebecca, you have a book coming out in the fall with Thomas Nelson called “Why I didn’t rebel.” How did this all come about?

RL: I wrote a blog post for my mom [writer Sheila Wray Gregoire] on the same topic. We had about a quarter of a million people in the first three weeks read it, and we had over a million people see it on Facebook. It was shared on pinterest. I was getting people sending me screenshots asking it if was me. When it blew up, I did all my interviews and made it into a book.

Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach is the writer of “Help your kids embrace the faith,” Faith Today’s May/Jun cover story.

FT: Why do you think your blog and ideas touched such a nerve?

RL: It’s a topic that touches everyone, right. Everyone knows a teenager or has a kid or has a family member like a grandchild or niece, just that kid at church that you take under your wing.

We’re also just really curious, and we’re all busybodies, that’s how humans are. So, when you hear “why I didn’t rebel,” you want to know. I did think about how I could word it in a way that made people interested.
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Six things I wish I had learned in medical school

By Laura Lewis, MD

I wish I had learned…

That science can only describe the magnificence of life, not explain it. Despite learning about oocytes, spermatozoa, cell division and embryology, I failed to appreciate the complex blueprint of life, established in the early moments of conception.

During the course of her work as a frontline medical doctor, she saw the need for education, support and practical options for women and men facing unplanned pregnancies. In May of 2016, Dr. Lewis accepted the position of executive director of CAPSS.

That in the name of “choice” many women have no choice regarding their unplanned pregnancy.
I never appreciated that the scared, young woman sitting across from me in my doctor’s office also carried the fear and pressure of many others whose lives would be impacted by her decision. This fear is often laden with pressure, subtle and overt.

That many men and women live with great regret about their children lost to abortion.
As I began to work with our local pregnancy care centre, stories of deep and hidden sorrow began to emerge from post-abortive women and men. It made me question whether we have done an adequate job providing real choices. I know the answer without hesitation – we have not. True choice is when accurate information is provided on all options. True choice is made from a place of knowledge and confidence, not fear.

That despite our ability to treat a diseased heart, we have no cure for a broken one. 
We cannot fix a broken heart, but we should do all that we can to try and prevent it. I wish all women, men and families facing an unplanned pregnancy could hear the cries of regret from those who have walked before them. The physical, mental and emotional effects of abortion matter, whether it is 1% or 100% of patients affected.

That a microscope, while magnifying an image, can actually dull our focus.
A chromosome count cannot measure value. Prenatal testing cannot predict love or the impact and purpose of a life.

That when it comes to unplanned pregnancy, we often fail our patients. That is my word for it, failure. Our patients come to us for guidance, education and unbiased help during the chaos of an unplanned pregnancy. Yet, in our society and in medical circles, abortion provision, accessibility and availability are given a greater platform and emphasis than supportive alternatives such as adoption and pregnancy care support.

It is my hope there will be a change, in our society and in the medical profession. It is time for a new response to those facing an unplanned pregnancy, one where we look beyond the scientific process and we enter into a new conversation, one where all life is valued and protected.

Dr. Laura Lewis is a family physician and executive director of CAPSS (Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services). CAPSS is dedicated to establishing, equipping and encouraging local pregnancy care centres across Canada. Read Faith Today‘s recent Question & Answer interview with Dr. Lewis.

Gary Chapman on the history of The 5 Love Languages

By Gary Chapman

I have always liked wildflowers.  There is something exciting about scattering seed and waiting and watching to see what comes up.  However, through the years I have sometimes been disappointed when few seeds germinate.  My friend George, who has a “green thumb” told me, “It’s the soil.”  With a question mark in my eyes, I said, “I thought wildflowers grew every-where.”  “They do,” he replied, “but some flourish in one soil, but struggle in another.  It’s the soil,” he repeated.

As a marriage counselor, I discovered that the same principle is true in marriage.  Take love, for example.  I’ve seen husbands expend great energy and often lots of money to show their wives how much they love her.  Then, they step back to see their “love seeds” grow and produce a smile.  However, the wife doesn’t give any evidence that a seed has been planted.  The problem?  It’s the soil.

One wife considers flowers a huge expression of love, while another wife says, “Why did you spend money on flowers?  They will be dead in three days.”  Or, a wife may spend hours cleaning the house and is disappointed when her husband doesn’t even notice.  She was expecting accolades, but all she received was silence.

The reality is that what makes one person feel loved does not make another person feel loved.  We tend to think, “If I see it as an act of love, they will receive it as an act of love.”  That is a false assumption.  This explains why so many spouses are disappointed when they plant seeds of love that never germinate.
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Why the Parent Cafe works so well

Ask most parents what they most need within their busy schedules, and they might say an occasional safe place to talk and share and be supported in what is one of the most difficult jobs in the world: being a good parent.

Here is an early poster for the Parent Cafe, welcoming harried parents to a night of learning and mutual support.

The May/Jun Faith Today features a story about an innovative and effective ministry to meet this need created by New Song Church in Port Perry, Ont., a congregation of the Anglican Network in Canada. In the spirit of full disclosure, that was the church where my husband served for the last five years. I was involved in the Parent Cafe ministry from the beginning, and I’m convinced this elegant idea can easily be transplanted into other congregations, especially in areas where there might not be visible social problems to help solve, but more hidden needs, like support and community for busy parents and families stretched in 100 directions.

The idea is simple: When parents get better, the whole family gets better. Parenting is one of the most difficult (and most rewarding!) things in the world and it’s easier and better when parents support each other and freely share their knowledge and experience.
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Making peace with creation: the story behind the new film out of Regent College

In “Making Peace with Creation” poet and theologian Loren Wilkinson presents a compelling and compassionate vision for life in the 21st century.

by Iwan Russell-Jones

I knew that I had to make this film after my wife, Amanda, and I took part in the ‘Boat Course’, a remarkable educational experience that Loren and Mary Ruth Wilkinson devised and have been offering at Regent College for many years.

From the Wilkinson’s home on Galiano students and teachers set off together in two rowing boats on an 8-day voyage around the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, to think, study, discuss and meditate on the meaning of life on this our beautiful and fragile planet – to ponder Technology, Wilderness and Creation (to give the course its correct title).

It was an unforgettable trip – shipping our oars while a pod of Orcas crossed the channel just metres in front of us, standing in wonder on the beach in the dead of night as the sea was lit up by millions of plankton working their miracle of bioluminescence, reading the Scriptures and praying together using the rhythms of Celtic daily prayer in the stunning setting of the Pacific Northwest, contemplating the devastating long-term impact of the acidification of the oceans …  And weaving it all together with insight, poetry and passion was Loren himself, who has spent decades of his life thinking and teaching about the human experience and its relationship to a biblical understanding of creation.

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John Bowen goes very personal with his review of Andy Crouch book

By John P. Bowen

No book is read in a vacuum. You may kid yourself that you are “getting away from it all” to be quiet and simply read. But the “all” never retreats very far. And if the book is any good, it will follow you back into the “all” anyway. And there, the book and your life will find each and will tangle and fight and perhaps love, and nothing will ever be the same again.

This happened to me recently when I was part-way through reading Andy Crouch’s newest book, Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing (InterVarsity Press, 2016) for a group I belong to.

Author John Bowen’s recent health crisis brought a keen awareness of his weakness and God’s strength.

I had been diagnosed with stable angina, which degenerated a few weeks later into unstable angina. I was told to stay home for a week, until the cardiologist could arrange for an angiogram. The angiogram, on a Monday morning, revealed four major blood vessels in trouble, one of them 85% blocked, and an appointment was made for quadruple bypass surgery at 9 am two days later.

And then began the wrestling of Crouch’s words and my life. At the worst, it was as though his words began to curl off the page and meld into thin indestructible lines, tying down my life and making me horizontal for the better part of a week.

You know the kind of thing: an unbreakable plastic name band, tubes filling my body with various liquids, lines of nylon thread holding edges of flesh together, lines of metal staples like tiny telegraph poles bridging bloody gashes, oxygen tubes poking up my nose, a catheter to drain urine, a heart monitor with five coloured wires, and thin blue electrical wires poking out of my chest “just in case.” I knew how Gulliver must have felt when the Lilliputians tied him down with their silken cords.
Continue reading John Bowen goes very personal with his review of Andy Crouch book