Category Archives: Guest Blogger

10 Ways to Get Your Kid Unhooked This Summer (From Technology of course)


Unhooking from tech is a bit of a theme this summer for Faith Today. Our July/Aug issue features a how-to article on just that topic. Now, our guest blogger offers 10 solid tips for loosening technology’s hold on your child during the warm, summer months.

By Gregory Jantz

The author with his the great outdoors.
The author with his family…in the great outdoors.

It is summer vacation and your kids have a lot of free time at home. Keeping them occupied can be a daunting task, but it is important to not throw them in front of a TV. The unhealthy relationship children can develop with technology is a mounting epidemic with uncharted consequences.

Here are 10 ways to balance your children’s technology use:

  1. Talk to your family about tech pros and cons

While your children will likely be resistant to a conversation that suggests limiting their tech usage, you are best served bringing it up within the context of your tech usage as a family.

Explain to them that as grateful as you are for all the ways technology helps improve your lives, you want to look closely at your tech usage to be sure there is a healthy balance of activities.

As a family, brainstorm a list of pros and cons. Discuss all the ways technology helps improve your lives—like providing information, connecting you with friends, and providing services of convenience. Also talk about all the ways it can threaten your quality of life—like distracting from homework, making you tired, taking time away from family and friends.

  1. Encourage and support hobbies/sports

The more you get your kids involved and active, the less time they have to be bored. The less time they have to be bored, the less time they have to spend on their cell phone or playing video games. Sports teams/clubs offer your children many benefits in all aspects of their lives. One of the most important benefits is providing them with an opportunity to create real relationships —in person, and not through their cell phone screens.

  1. Schedule weekly outdoor activities

It is important to schedule time for your kids to be outdoors, whether this be planting a garden, or going on a hike in the park. Playing outside is important for your child’s development, both physically and mentally. It also gives them an appreciation for nature and stimulates their curiosity.

  1. Make a point to have tech-free family meals

There are tremendous benefits of having family meals—especially the opportunity to communicate with one another. It is a time to engage, reflect, learn, and connect. But this type of meaningful communication cannot happen when everyone has their phones out texting. Make it a point to remove the phones from the dinner table—friends and work can wait.

  1. Keep tech out of the bedroom

If you haven’t already, prohibit the use of technology in your kids’ bedrooms. This means no TV, no computer, and no smartphone. They won’t be happy about this, but explain to them that this will give them an opportunity to use their bedroom as it’s intended—to rest and recharge.

  1. Say no to new tech toys

Parents inevitably feel the pressure to give their kids the latest and greatest of everything, particularly the newest tech devices. Resist at all cost! Your child does not need a new smartphone every time a new version comes out.
Continue reading 10 Ways to Get Your Kid Unhooked This Summer (From Technology of course)

A Good Day for Religious Freedom in Canada

EFC lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos and EFC President Bruce Clemenger.
EFC lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos and EFC President Bruce Clemenger.

As we prepare for the next EFC webinar on June 11 on religious freedom, we revisit some recent developments in Canada.

 by Albertos Polizogopoulos

January 28 was a great day for religious freedom and the freedom of religious individuals to associate together in community.

Justice Jamie Campbell of the Nova Scotia Superior Court issued his decision in Trinity Western University’s application to judicially review the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society’s decision not to admit Trinity Western University graduates to the practice of law in Nova Scotia.

In his 140 page decision, Justice Campbell set out the reasons for his decision, which concluded that the NSBS attempted to regulate Trinity Western University’s policies and practices, that the NSBS did not have the authority to do so and that even if it had had the authority to do so, it did not exercise that authority in a way that reasonably considered liberty, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

Throughout his decision, Justice Campbell demonstrated his appreciation of not only the relevant law, but the importance of the issues at play and how those issues affect evangelical Christians. He recognized that in this case, the NSBS is bound by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms while Trinity Western University is protected by it. He clearly concluded that although Trinity Western University’s Community Covenant may be offensive to some, that it was not unlawful, noting that Trinity Western University had never been found to be in violation of applicable human rights legislation. In discussing Evangelical Christians’ desire to study law at a faith-based law school Justice Campbell stated:

[Evangelical Christians’] religious faith governs every aspect of their lives. When they study law, whether at a Christian law school or elsewhere, they are studying law first as Christians. Part of their religious faith involves being in the company of other Christians, not only for the purpose of worship. They gain spiritual strength from communing in that way. They seek out opportunities to do that. Being part of institutions that are defined as Christian in character is not an insignificant part of who they are.
Continue reading A Good Day for Religious Freedom in Canada

The Shudder of the Miracle: Art as Conversion and Conversation

By Carolyn Weber

Author Carolyn Weber explores art as Christian expression.

I participated in the David Festival in Port Perry, Ontario this past weekend, teaching a workshop on one of my favourite genres, the spiritual memoir. The David Festival describes itself as “A Celebration of Christian Worship through the Arts.” It is named for David in reference to his aim to praise God through his talents as a regular man, flawed and faithful, who was both shepherd and king. Here is a link to the festival, with a description of its wonderful events.

What is art? Such an age-old question! I think one way of understanding the import and impact of art is as a way of seeing things anew so as to participate in God’s redemptive plan for a broken world. God’s very first act in terms of how we understand our beginnings is the act of creation. As mimetic beings, “mimesis” having its roots in the Greek “to imitate,” we, too, seek to create.

As creatures made in His image, we also seek to make in His image. It is part of our being, an imprint of the divine in us, and integral to our dignity. At any moment, we can choose to create or destroy. This is the devil’s self-imposed prison: that he can only destroy, not create. For even destruction can be redeemed when in God’s hands, and when, by extension, used in the creative imagination of the artist of good faith.

In his Biographia Literaria, the Romantic philosopher, critic and poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously identified two levels or faculties in the human imagination – the primary and the secondary – each as an echo of the divine and yet differing in degree:

The primary Imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. (Ch. XII)
Continue reading The Shudder of the Miracle: Art as Conversion and Conversation

A Call To Canadian Women: Time To Engage

By Margaret Gibb

I was back on Canadian soil after spending two weeks with World Vision in Uganda and Tanzania. What I learned about the HIV/AIDS pandemic and its life-altering affects on women and children forever altered my life.  How could I ever get back to normality after seeing a very different world – a world with almost insurmountable challenges? photo_gallery_header

Our meetings with community workers, single moms, grandmothers raising their grandchildren, and teenagers being Mom and Dad in child-headed households, gave me a clear picture of life in a developing country. Women were at the forefront of fighting to survive with their small gardens and meager ways to earn money.

Illiteracy and lack of education was a deep concern. Like all mothers, they wanted their children to have better lives. Education was the answer.   But how, when school fees were beyond their means?
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What is Lament? And why Does it Matter so Much?

By Renee James

Very few pastors in my denomination knew what I wanted when I Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 12.00.18 PMasked if I they’d allow me to interview them for a Faith Today feature on why churches needed to recover the lost art of lament. “Lament? Could you explain that? I haven’t come across that word before,” the more honest of them would admit. This went on for over a year.

I stemmed my low-grade panic (it had been over a year!) by writing a study on lament for Canadian Baptist Women of Ontario and Quebec’s 2015 resources package. I titled the program “Recovering Lament.”

Yes. The obligatory poetry, candlelight, darkness and quiet time for reflection made an appearance. But they wrapped a thesis I wanted our women to consider: lament as a prerequisite for authentic outreach. Here are some of the thoughts and questions I invited them to discuss and answer. I invite you to do the same.

Why is lament important?

Walter Brueggemann puts the question this way: What difference does it make to you and I to have faith that permits and requires lament – this particular form of prayer?

What happens when we lament?

When we lament:

Continue reading What is Lament? And why Does it Matter so Much?

Don’t Slam The Door: When Jehovah’s Witnesses Come Knocking

By James A. Beverley

When Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on your door, you should keep the names of two women and two men in mind. All are former Witnesses who have dissented against the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 6.56.36 AM

Barbara Anderson was a Witness from 1954–1997, including ten years as a researcher and writer at their headquarters in Brooklyn. She left largely because she thought the Society’s leaders were mishandling cases of child abuse in Witness congregations.

Candace Conti is one such case. Conti was molested by a man in her congregation in North Fremont, California, and won a multimillion-dollar settlement against him and the Witness organization in 2012.

Legalism and institutional blindness can affect any religious group, and Anderson and Conti give us the details particular among Witnesses.

Raymond Franz (1922–2010) and James Penton (b. 1932) highlight larger spiritual and intellectual failings. Both had given decades as faithful Witnesses, but slowly realized Society leaders cared more about image and loyalty than faithfulness to God.
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The Abyss of Forgetfulness: Learning From Alzheimer’s

By Ray Wiseman

I just can’t stop counting. Sixty-two days since we celebrated our fifty-ninth wedding anniversary. Four sons, one ‘adopted’ daughter, eight grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, thirteen local churches, and two intertwined career paths connecting with twenty-nine countries. 0028_qetcyp_fg

Ten years have passed since Anna’s memory loss became apparent. Seven years since receiving the diagnosis of probable Alzheimer’s, thirty-some days since Anna entered the long-term care facility.

Now the trail of numbers has broken like a strand of pearls and scattered into a black hole of faded memories. Not just for Anna.

Now I too must find ways to crawl out of the abyss of forgetfulness.
Continue reading The Abyss of Forgetfulness: Learning From Alzheimer’s

How to Read the Bible When You Don’t Know Where to Start

Faith Today‘s Sept/Oct feature “How to Read the Bible Well” touched a nerve with many readers, including Al Reimers, who shared his Bible reading plan with senior writer Patricia Paddey. She shared it with us. And now we’re sharing it with you.  And the rest is blog history! Or about to be. Straight from a Faith Today reader, comes an invitation to you for the New Year, to dip into Scripture anew, in perhaps a new way. 20140910-Feature5

By Al Reimers

So, here’s another Bible-reading plan.

Do we really need another one?

What makes this one worth recommending?

Well, I designed it for new Christians who don’t know where to start and who need to know why it makes sense to start in a Gospel rather than with Genesis.

It also works for those who are not ready for a “chapter a day” or other fixed-length assignments. Most of us like the freedom of deciding for ourselves how far we want to read at one sitting and how long we can spend reading.

The main feature that commends the plan is that there is a clear reason for each book’s place in the order of reading. A person who follows the plan will move gradually from the facts of Jesus’ earthly life to an appreciation of his claims to be the Son of God, and then on to understanding of what it means to be a Christian.
Continue reading How to Read the Bible When You Don’t Know Where to Start

The Beautiful Privilege: Standing With Persecuted Christians

by Floyd A. Brobbel

Persecution of Christians by the numbers, in the Nov/Dec Faith Today

It was a cold winter’s day when my wife and I stood in a cemetery, hand-in-hand with our dear friends, sharing in their grief. Underneath the frozen ground lay the body of a little one who never had the chance to take a breath, feel the warm sun on a bright summer’s day, or see the look of love on her parents’ smiling faces.

I stood transfixed as I witnessed a mother cry. I appreciated the beauty of this moment: shared sorrow combined with the hope that life in Jesus offers.

On another occasion, I sat with parents who years earlier had lost their daughter and her boyfriend in a horrific car accident. I was there when they buried their daughter, and I grieved with them as we went through that day. Now, years after the accident, they share the struggles and pain that remain even though life goes on. It’s amazing how easily the tears can flow long after the event has passed.

Continue reading The Beautiful Privilege: Standing With Persecuted Christians

Persecuted Christians Need Us To Be Aware

By Anita Levesque

This Sunday, Nov. 9 is International Day of image005Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). This global annual effort draws people together to remember and pray for people who are persecuted for their religious beliefs – those who live daily in torment, those who have lost their lives and the families left behind.

In a day and age where congregations nation-wide have many issues to address, I am grateful for the many churches across Canada that are taking time in an already full service schedule to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who aren’t sitting on comfortable padded pews.

They may well be worshipping on the cold stone floor of a damp, dark prison cell, or in a refugee tent in Syria or Northern Iraq. In too many nations, their choice to love and follow Jesus Christ – the Prince of Peace – is considered a threat to their government, their neighbours and even to their families.

Because of this, freedom has been taken from them; a freedom we may too often take for granted at home in Canada.
Continue reading Persecuted Christians Need Us To Be Aware