Category Archives: Guest Blogger

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. 

The passing of a great one: Haddon Robinson influenced many Canadian preachers

Years ago, I sat in a small room at the old campus of Tyndale University College & Seminary in Toronto and interviewed Haddon Robinson, who died last week. The scholar most recently from Gordon Conwell Seminary, known far and wide as one of the greatest living preachers, was in Toronto to speak at Tyndale’s President’s Dinner. I had already met Haddon because my husband was enrolled in a DMin program, with  Haddon as his supervisor. The one moment I remember clearly from the interview was Haddon growling, in his distinctive New York accent, that when he reads theology that is dense and incomprehensible, he just wants to “throw it against the wall.” That’s because he was a master of communication, and that’s what he expected from his students.

Like many, many Canadian preachers and church leaders over the years, Brent made a yearly trek to Boston to study under one of the greats. I would hazard to guess that this unassuming American preacher from a hardscrabble childhood influenced more Canadian preachers over the years than one could easily count. The Canadians in the program tended to drift toward each other, and that was no different in my husband’s group. Toronto church planter and writer Darryl Dash became a friend. I asked him, on behalf of the Canadian preachers who studied under Haddon, to share some thoughts.

Here’s Darryl:

I first met Haddon when I was assigned the task of driving him back to the airport in Toronto. His full name: Haddon Robinson, author of Biblical Preaching, renowned professor of preaching, named one of “The 12 Most Effective Preachers in the English-Speaking World” by Baylor University.
Continue reading The passing of a great one: Haddon Robinson influenced many Canadian preachers

Resident theologian will pop up in Faith Today

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Faith Today‘s publisher, has just welcomed a new vice-president and  resident theologian to the leadership team.

David Guretzki will be deepening and extending the biblical and theological reflection the EFC already undertakes. Some of that reflection will show up in the pages of upcoming issues of Faith Today.

In fact, David will be reflecting on modern-day implications of the Reformation in the Sep/Oct issue. We thought you might enjoy hearing directly from him about what the role of resident theologian will entail. Here’s David:

Dr. David Guretzki is the new vice president and resident theologian of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

I’ve always been impressed by the way The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) has been able to bring biblical and theological perspectives to issues at hand.

Whether the EFC is intervening in a court case, facilitating a conversation on a ministry issue, doing research on the Canadian evangelical context, or developing a resource for leaders, Bruce Clemenger and his presidential predecessors have always sought to pay close attention to what the Bible says, to what our affiliate denominations and organizations are saying, and to what a range of evangelical (and other) biblical scholars, theologians, and other experts might be saying.

This attention has allowed the EFC to speak in such a way that it both represents, and at times, leads evangelicals on the issues facing us today.
Continue reading Resident theologian will pop up in Faith Today

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

What happens when you ask youth at a Manitoba Bible college some pointed questions about the future of the Church?

By Terry G. Hiebert

An EFC panel on the future of the Church in Canada recently provided an opportunity for Evangelicals in various spots across the country to reflect on the Church today. The EFC asked questions like ‘what in our experience gives us the most cause for concern and the greatest sense of hopefulness related to the future of the Church in Canada?’

Our history of evangelicalism in Canada includes a youth perspective. Subscribe today to Canada’s Christian magazine.

I took the opportunity to ask these questions of students at my college, Steinbach Bible College in Manitoba, and discovered their passion for the Church as they expressed concerns and hopes for the future. While students identified concerns about Biblical authority, evangelism, holiness, divisions, and individualism in today’s church, they expressed hope for the future Church as well. Students identified mentoring relationships as one of the hopeful practices in Church of the future.

Their response should not surprise us. Thom Rainer’s research in The Millennials (2010) stated that 60 per cent of millennials welcomed parental involvement and advice. This Father’s Day, one of our students preached in his church on the value of parental advice. His father had passed away just before he entered college two years ago. Now missing his father’s involvement and advice was one of his greatest regrets. I read the sermon and wondered how many aspiring preachers in my generation would have given this much respect to the advice of our parents.
Continue reading What happens when you ask youth at a Manitoba Bible college some pointed questions about the future of the Church?

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

An EFC Intern Heads to a Christian Women’s conference. And this is what she saw

By Lorianne Dueck

As an enthusiastic, confident, and ambitious young woman, finding my place in Kingdom work can be exciting, but also complicated. Messages in culture clash with those in scripture and sometimes even the Biblical truths get blurred behind tradition and gender stereotypes.

“And when they said future, what they really meant was the next generation. Which includes me. A young woman who loves the Lord, an aspiring leader, a Canadian. “

Consequently, when presented with the opportunity to go to Gather’s Women of Faith: The Canadian Context conference, I was intrigued and slightly apprehensive.  I imagined that the conference could go one of two ways:

    • It could take the passive/defensive approach. Nostalgic and traditional, yet another plodding discussion on how to preserve evangelical womanhood in the midst of this radically liberal culture.
    • Or it could be an urban, fiery Christian feminist conference. The afternoon would be spent talking about how men have limited the power of women in the Church for much too long. The time to take charge is now – and we must look super chic in the process.

Continue reading An EFC Intern Heads to a Christian Women’s conference. And this is what she saw

Are pregnancy care centres anti-woman?

By Rebecca Peters

Pregnancy care centres have been accused of being anti-choice with hidden, secret agendas. Let’s take a look at the situation.

Most local pregnancy care centres are faith-based. But what does that mean? Quite simply, it means that everything they do is based on their love for God and the truth of the Bible – that all life has value. That’s it. Everyone that works at a centre, whether staff or volunteer, shares these beliefs. They don’t preach them. They simply live them, by loving and honouring all life and every person that walks through the door, regardless of that person’s age, race, gender, or religion.

Subscribe to Faith Today, Canada’s Christian magazine, for stories you will not read anywhere else.

Pregnancy care centres offer medically accurate information on all three options available to a woman when she is pregnant – abortion, adoption, and parenting. The information is presented in a straightforward and unbiased way, because centres believe that when given accurate information, women are smart enough and fully capable of making the best decision for themselves. The only suggestion made to a woman facing a pregnancy decision is – take the time needed to make this important life decision.
Continue reading Are pregnancy care centres anti-woman?

One Sermon in 150+ Vancouver Churches on June 11

Mark Glanville is one of the organizers of the June 11 preaching event in Vancouver

by Mark Glanville

The same sermon theme will be preached in over 150 Vancouver churches on Sunday June 11.

Our theme: welcoming the stranger. I feel giddy with anticipation as I type! This is a response to what can sometimes be a fear-based political climate,  that breeds suspicion of outsiders. It is also a response to the isolation that many Vancouverites feel, daily. Together, we are sending a unified message to the city, a vision of the kingdom: the radical welcome of God, in Christ.

The idea for One City, One Message came initially from City Councillor Andrea Reimer at the Vancouver City Summit, a city-wide consultation of pastors interested in pursuing together the wellbeing of their neighbourhoods and the city.

The theme of welcoming the stranger is timely: survey-based research by the Vancouver Foundation shows that Vancouverites are experiencing a crisis of social isolation, a corrosion of care that results in a silo mentality. Our lives are bounded by ethnicity, culture, language, income, age, and geography. Isolation is experienced across Canada, not only in Vancouver. Maclean’s magazine reflected that a ‘good’ neighbor is experienced as someone who doesn’t bother you, either by disrupting your enjoyment of your home or by threatening your property value (August 2014).
Continue reading One Sermon in 150+ Vancouver Churches on June 11

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.