Thinking Out Loud

November 6, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Link List - Out of Ur

I’ve checked this week and nobody in the Pentecostal community is organizing a Strange Ice Conference. So far.

The last link listed here this week is to an interview that Chrsitianity Today did with me about a month ago that I didn’t think would ever appear. Speaking of which, you can catch this week’s list at Out of Ur; the individual links will take you there now as well.

Wednesday Link List Sign
Yes, blogrolls are now uncool, but if you scroll down the right margin at Thinking Out Loud, for a limited time, there’s a list of a small selection of the places Paul Wilkinson hunts each week for buried treasure.

February 16, 2013

Group’s Future Relief and Development Funding Tied to Beliefs

crossroads-dot-ca-buildingA Canadian Press story published earlier this week by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) links the teachings of Crossroads Christian Communications on issues such as homosexuality, to a decision by the federal government to stop providing Crossroads with matching funding through its Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Crossroads, founded by Rev. David Mainse, produces Canada’s national daily Christian television program, 100 Huntley Street, as well as other Christian television shows for both domestic and foreign consumption. Its foreign missions division has projects running overseas, including the project in Uganda for which funding has been halted.

Typically, CIDA works alongside development organizations such as World Vision and matches the funds raised by the organizations within their own constituency. Past grants over the years to various groups have matched funding by as much as a 9:1 ratio.

“I have asked officials to review this organization before further payments are made,” tweeted Julian Fantino, International Cooperation Minister.

The group was receiving funding from the government of Canada for its work in Uganda, where gays and lesbians face severe threats.

The federal government has denounced virulent homophobia in that East African country and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has condemned plans for an anti-gay bill that could potentially include the death penalty for homosexuals.

Nevertheless, the federal government has been providing $544,813 in funding for Crossroads Christian Communications — an Ontario-based evangelical group that produces television programming — to help dig wells, build latrines and promote hygiene awareness in Uganda through 2014.

Until Tuesday, the organization’s website carried a list of “sexual sins” deemed to be “perversion”: “Turning from the true and/or proper purpose of sexual intercourse; misusing or abusing it, such as in pedophilia, homosexuality and lesbianism, sadism, masochism, transvestism, and bestiality.”

Lower down the page, the group asks sinners to “repent.”

continue reading here

In a later part of the article:

A study by the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid concluded that, between 2005 and 2010, the funding for religious non-government organizations increased 42 per cent. Secular groups saw an increase of five per cent.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been asked about that disparity.

“We consider the efficiency of projects,” Harper replied during a Montreal news conference last month. “(We) do not consider the religion of groups promoting these projects.”

A further update from CBC News is available here.

Because many relief agencies are evangelical and share Crossroads’ views on social issues, this could spell the end of matching government funding for groups not willing to tone down or renounce their positions on subjects where they feel the Bible’s teaching is non-negotiable.

UPDATE (10:00 AM) — Turns out I missed some good background on this story — Crossroads isn’t the first to see its CIDA funding cut — at this item at Bene D.

October 31, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Welcome to another Wednesday Link List. We have no plans to mention the October 31st thing here.

  • The blog Sue’s Considered Trifles is a fun place for people who love words and love language. Most posts contain related phrases and sayings, usually ending with a short scriptural or faith-based thought. You can refer friends to individual posts, or copy and paste and send as emails.
  • “Because it’s only once in awhile that we get to hear Jesus talk about brutal self-mutilation as a sign of discipleship.” So begins a sermon on Mark 9: 42-48 by Nadia Bolz-Weber you can listen to or read at her blog.
  • A consultant for the U.S. State Department brings a rather sobering article on the long term prospects for Christians in the middle east.
  • Our Creative Writing Award for October — if we had one — would surely go to Hannah Anderson, for this piece about being a mother of three at church offering time.
  • Does liturgy work with the poor and uneducated. Consider: “The liturgy has been, at least initially, a barrier to our illiterate population. After one or two months, however, they have it memorized.” Learn more at this interview.
  • Pete Wilson cites Adam Stadtmiller who suggests that our present model of what we call “singles ministry” is quite unsustainable.
  • We frequently hear stories of the desires of the people who hold the movie rights to the Left Behind books to re-make the existing films. This version gives the starring role to Nicholas Cage.
  • For my Canadian readers: If you remember the story from a few years back about the Ponzi scheme that impacted people at 100 Huntley Street and Crossroads Christian Communications, here is an update.
  • If you don’t feel there are enough Bible translations currently available, then you’ll be happy to know the International Standard Version is getting closer to being available in print.
  • And speaking of Bible versions, if your 66-book collection of choice is the King James, and the King James Bible only, then you probably want to date court someone who feels the same. For that you need to put your profile on King James Bible Singles. (You don’t need to join to read all the profiles — in great detail — already posted.)
  • Rachel Held Evans answers all your questions about the book that is causing so much controversy.
  • On a similar theme, Bruxy Cavey equates the Old Testament’s Levitical purity laws as akin to Spiritual Cooties. This 2-minute clip may not be safe for work, or any other environment.
  • Meanwhile, Kathy Keller, wife of author and pastor Timothy Keller offers some criticisms of Rachel’s book in the form of an open letter. If you click, don’t miss the comments.
  • But then you wouldn’t want to miss this review, which suggests there are Rachel Held Evanses in every church.
  • In other book news, Kyle Idleman, author of the chart-topping Not a Fan is releasing a new book, Gods at War in January.

July 27, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday List Lynx

And now here’s a Wednesday Link List that needs no introduction…

  • The other members of the band America (“A Horse With No Name”) pay tribute to Dan Peek who later had a career in Christian music, who passed away on the weekend.
  • Jay Grelen joins the cast at GetReligion.org, a blog that looks at how the media handles religious stories.  His own story was interesting.
  • Josh McDowell believes that the internet is the greatest threat to Christian belief: “The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have… whether you like it or not,” said McDowell.  Read more at Faith and The Law.
  • Pressured by his elders’ board to apologize, Mark Driscoll makes a half-hearted effort following his remarks on Facebook about “effeminate worship leaders.”  Rachel Held Evans calls him a bully.
  • Just in case you’re wondering, here’s the website for Hope Unlimited Church in Australia, the church Mark and Darlene Zschech call home since leaving the Hillsong mother-ship; though they’ll still be part of music events.
  • Tim Challies looks at the ‘Christian’ label being applied to the man who brought about the carnage in Oslo, Norway.
  • Paul Clark reads Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God and notes that the greatest books — starting with the Bible — have already been written.
  • Paul also has a great article on creating a “culture of generosity” within your church in this article about stewardship.
  • C. Michael Patton knows how to kick off a discussion and he’s got enough readers that he gets a response.  Be sure to read all the comments on this discussion about praying over and over and over and over again.
  • Michelle VanLoon at Her.meneutics tells about growing up in the 1960s and ’70s with her father’s porn magazines openly displayed on the coffee table and how it affected her.
  • While it wasn’t a Christian story per se, Eugune Cho posted this story about the latest “Susan Boyle” type of story on Korea’s Got Talent.   Read about Sung-Bong Choi.  (No relation to Song Sung Blue.)
  • While this one isn’t a link at all, I wanted to post something rather unique: My church is doing a VBS during the last week before school starts and they’re doing it as an evening program from 6:30 – 8:30 PM.  Different, huh?
  • For our Canadian readers: Yes, it’s true, McMaster Divinity School is giving Christian broadcaster David Mainse an honorary doctorate degree.  (My favorite Mainse quote: “My wife and I were virgins on our wedding night and we’ve been virgins ever since.”  …They have four children.)
  • Nick Costello’s book, Kiss What? is another book to examine the music scene and might be a resource for the teen in your home who is OD-ing on popular music culture.  Here’s a video preview.
  • Here’s a Vimeo vid on the release of the full (OT & NT) edition of the Common English Bible.  (Note: This HD clip takes awhile to load.)
  • New Blog of the Week: Housewife Theologian by Amiee Byrd — Articles of interest to women and a penchant for reviewing books in the Reformed tradition.
  • He calls his blog The Ugley Vicar and recently posted this hymn verse that was sung while attending a “Junior Clergy” conference; a verse that should be the prayer of all of us:

Facing a task unfinished,
That drives us to our knees,
A need that, undiminished,
Rebukes our slothful ease:
We, who rejoice to know Thee,
Renew before Thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe Thee
To go and make Thee known.

January 6, 2011

David Mainse Calls ALL Bloggers Liars

The following is a copy of a letter sent to Crossroads Christian Communications in reference to this interview David Mainse, founder of Crossroads Christian Communications (producers of Canada’s national daily Christian talk show, 100 Huntley Street) did with Jim Cantelon on January 3rd.

At the 10:48 mark (approx.) David refers to all blogs as “lies” and thereby calls me a liar in the process.

“You get on the blogs and the blogs are always lies.   Half truths are lies.    One of the reasons that gossip, backbiting, is in the same list in scripture as murder and adultery, of evils that have attached themselves to the human race, is because if you don’t have all the facts —  this is why you have editorial controls. [wanders off topic]  …But, there are checks and balances. That’s what an editorial board is in a newspaper.  Checks and balances. But on the blogs — I treat a blog just like I treat the rags that are on the check-out counter at the grocery store.  I don’t read them.  I refuse to read them. They are half truths. They have not been well researched. They have no editorial control. There’s no checks or balances on these so they are not reliable.   So I give the other side of the story. [returns to larger topic]”

We’re going to check with our lawyer on this one… There are some fine, upstanding people of integrity writing Christian blogs including MOST pastors.  Pastors who support Crossroads.  Pastors who are on the follow-up list for 100 Huntley Street.  Pastors David and Norma Jean have met with and dined with and interviewed as guests on 100 Huntley.  They have all been dismissed here without exception.  “The blogs are always lies.”  There is no way that anyone who has been on television as long as David Mainse would call someone a liar unless that was his full intention.  He did not leave room for any other possibilities.   It was a blanket statement, not a generalization.

I then provided a list of the posts I wrote about the relationship between David’s sons, and the man who conned them and others out of $14.1M last year and prior; and asked them to identify the “lies” contained therein.

A much longer piece about this, including a video embed of Mainse’s comments, and a fuller transcript of the interview, may be found at the blog to which we handed off this story, Bene Diction Blogs On. Bene, as he is known, stuck to the facts to such a degree that his articles were somewhat, if you don’t mind me saying so, boring. He was simply trying to assemble, as you lay out evidence on a very large table, a clear picture of what actually happened. We are very grateful for the efforts of Bene and affiliate writer Rick Hiebert for bringing the facts on breaking Christian news stories to the surface.

November 3, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Not enough links for you in yesterday’s NIV post?   Well then here are few extra…

  • First of all a quotation from Bishop Fulton Sheen we found at Big Blue Wave:  “So much of what people call atheism is not so much the negation of God as the deification of the ego.  All atheists believe in God, but the god is themselves.”  Ouch!   This is a website that deals with social issues from a Christian perspective.
  • A story in the Imperial Republican in Imperial Nebraska is one of the most amazing things I’ve read this week.   Little Colton Burpo had a near death experience that resulted in his dad, Todd Burpo publishing the story with Thomas Nelson in the just-released book, Heaven is for Real. Check this one out, and be sure to read the four reasons why his dad concluded that his son really did get a look at heaven.
  • It took Kelley Mooney two years, but she finally got the mechanical rights to use Leonard Cohen’s song Halleluljah with substituted lyrics which look at Jesus’ road to the cross.   Check out the video premiere in Nova Scotia, Canada with an awesome children’s choir.
  • Some great stuff at Christianity 201 recently including:  Michael Krahn’s look at the Wayward Son’s older brother;   Mark Batterson on the Jewish “3D” understanding of sin;   Bob Coy wonders aloud how long The Flood was effective in wiping sin off the face of the earth;  an anonymous e-mail forward takes a look at the 23rd Psalm;  Daniel Jepson cites Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ take on the subject of brokenness;  David Fisher finds a church in Belfast which, rather than a statement of faith has a statement of ethos.
  • Greg Koukl at Stand To Reason takes a cue from Jesus’ ministry and suggests that when someone is trying to trap you with a question about some controversial social issue; turn the table and answer the question with a question.
  • In Christian circles preoccupied with pastors who are major authors, or attendance figures at megachurches, Darryl Dash celebrates the beauty of average or ordinary churches including this quote from Derek Webb:  “I’ve found that often success looks more like failure, riches more like poverty, and real life often feels more like death.”
  • Regent College theology professor John Stackhouse flat out thinks that Mark Driscoll needs to take a study break to sharpen his exegetical skills.   C’mon, John; tell us what you really think.
  • Robert A. Schuller does an unscheduled 20-minute interview with Jim Cantelon at the daily Christian talk show in Canada, 100 Huntley Street; including a mention of how his son, Robert Vernon Schuller, aka Bobby, pastor of The Gathering, brokered a meeting between Robert A. and grandfather Robert H. Schuller.  This is a two part video; here and here.
  • And speaking of the Crystal Cathedral, Karen Spears Zacharias suggests that Joel Osteen should be taking notes on what is happening at the big glass church.
  • Joshua Harris looks at the big picture of how we approach Sunday morning worship, including a growing lack of punctuality, which we’ve also noticed recently in a few churches.   Does it say something about our increasing apathy in our hearts?  Do people in your church fill the front rows first?   Is the hunger there, or is there complacency?
  • Our picture below is from a general interest website, BoingBoing; which spells out the scripture mentioned in the sign:  “Mark 11:12-14 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it.”

May 28, 2010

Why Am I Still Here?

Though I had already been notified, a thought occured to me while I was reading yesterday about the death of Rhonda Glenn, who had worked in broadcasting previously as Rhonda London.

Rhonda enjoyed a successful broadcasting career in Ontario, Canada when she decided to join CTS, a family-friendly Christian television station affiliated with Crossroads, the organization that produces Canada’s daily Christian talk show, 100 Huntley Street. She was given her own afternoon talk show, but later decided to leave broadcasting altogether to persue a career in law.   She would have been called to the bar in just a few weeks.

She had married an Anglican minister and they had a son.   The next chapter of life was just beginning when she was diagnosed with brain cancer which ended her life just weeks after diagnosis.   Pray for her son and husband and family.

But I had this thought later on, that probably many of you have in times like this, “Why her and not me?”   Or, “Why am I still here?”

I think much of this has to do with the phrase often used in situations like this, “God took her.”   Years ago, my wife attended the funeral of a young girl who died several days after a brain seizure.    There was a poem read or sung that said something to the effect that ‘God must have needed another angel in heaven.’   It was perhaps comforting imagery, but not entirely sound theology.

I think the “Why am I still here?” question is directly related to the way in which we use words.

I took a course in university on the Philosophy of Language.   It was a seminar format, what I would call a 7-11 course (a minimum of seven people sitting around a table, eleven people if everyone showed up.)  The professor sat almost at a corner of the table and I sat in the corner at the opposite end.   There was something comfortable about that environment, and when people thought I was taking copious notes, I was actually writing songs.   But I enjoyed the readings, interjected ideas into the discussion, and somehow ended up with a B+.

Anyway, the point of the course was that our ideas and concepts are shaped by the way our given languages identify or reference those ideas and concepts.    So when we use a phrase like “God took her,” we’re loading the phrase with kinds of assumptions about the nature of God and His involvement in our day-to-day affairs.

Furthermore, since it often seems like some of the best and brightest die, as we might say, before their time, it then leaves us wondering why God would choose to take them.   This was the question someone asked me just hours after we heard the news of Keith Green‘s death:  Why him and not one of the lesser Christian musicians?   That question contains the twist of implying that somewhere that day a Christian singer or songwriter was destined to die, and it was just a coin toss as to which one.    (Fortunately, because people say things in moments like this that we shouldn’t judge, we have the liberty of excusing questions like this which are not more thoroughly considered.)

I don’t know what Rhonda might have accomplished in her family, church-life or new carreer.   My guess is: probably a lot.  I just know that I am still here, and while I think my life pales in comparison to all that she did accomplish, it’s up to me to try to make the most of the day for God’s glory.

You’re reading this, so you have been given another day, too; what are you going to do with it?

January 4, 2010

And Now You Know The Rest of the Story

Regular readers on this blog know you can count on me for the latest breaking Christian news.  If it happens, you’ll find it here — unless of course I’m doing something else at the time. But what happens after the story is already posted?

  • On New Year’s Eve, I mentioned that Rick Warren needed $900,000 to meet his church’s year end budget.   He got $2.4 million US (the green ones) dollars.  And still counting.  Original story here.    Follow up story at USAToday.
  • She jumped out of her seat and violently knocked the Pope to the ground at a Christmas Eve service.    Afterwards, she got a hospital (phychiatric ward) visit from one of the Pope’s aides.   Original story here.   Follow up at (again) USAToday.
  • Philip Wise

  • The Salvation Army officer in Little Rock, AK who was shot and killed on Christmas Eve in front of his young, recently-adopted children was laid to rest on Saturday.   The children had been with him and his wife just 18 months.    Original story here (same link as above item).    Funeral service details here.    So very sad.  Philip Wise was 40 years old.
  • The man whose Ponzi scheme defrauded investors out of $14.1 million and nearly brought down the whole Crossroads Christian Television (100 Huntley Street) empire in the process has agreed to “turn over his ‘ ill-gotten gains’ and pay a penalty” according to a December 14th story in the Hamilton Spectator.     But the deal with the Security Exchange Commision (SEC) in the U.S. does not grant immunity from criminal charges.   Original story here.
  • The report I hastily put up here before year-end about James Dobson getting back on radio again after leaving Focus on the Family wasn’t surprising, as Dobson has seemed to be distancing himself from Focus over a period of many months.   Steve Rabey at the blog Get Religion noticed this also and provides some background, noting the potential ‘competition’ that now exists between Focus and the new venture, called James Dobson On The Family.   Continue reading here.

Comments posted containing personal attacks on individuals, including Rick Warren or the Pope, will be quickly deleted.

September 16, 2009

What is a “Friend?” — Crossroads / 100 Huntley Street Saga Continues

Over ninety days since this blog decided to go public with information concerning the absence of the regular hosts from Canada’s daily Christian television program; 100 Huntley Street viewers were informed on Monday of the greater details regarding what has taken place.

I have abstained from following the story in greater detail — despite the blog traffic it brought — because I felt it was being better covered at the blog Bene Diction Blogs On.    Though it concerns me that despite direct correspondence off the blog, I still have no idea who Bene Diction is, I refer you to the latest updates on the story here and here or you can simply view for yourself (high speed internet needed) by going to the Crossroads site and watching Monday’s (September 14) program, advancing to the last seven or eight minutes of the program.  Be sure to select the Monday program.

driver2I think, at this point, the story is sufficiently ‘out there’ that there’s nothing left do at this point than wait for the outcome both involving Ronald and Reynold Mainse, and involving Gordon Driver.   However, I want to look a little closer at the statement made by Ron Mainse, “A couple of years ago, I was presented with an investment opportunity by someone I considered to be a close friend.”

An ‘acquaintance,’ obviously.  A ‘neighbor,’ to be sure.  A ‘recent friend,’ is allowable.  A ‘person we knew years ago who reappeared,’ definitely.   But ‘close friend,’ implies a long term connection which would, if entirely true, justify the deception.

ronald mainsePersonally, I doubt if Driver had any contact with the Mainse brothers during those thirty-plus years he was in California.   The original reports said they ‘discovered’ that each other was living in the same neighborhood, something a true friend would already know.

Of course, it simplifies the story, because the fact remains that Driver is “a charmer” who could talk anybody into just about anything.   So perhaps I should give Ron Mainse back some points for trying to put it more concisely.

But the fact remains that ‘close friend’ really puts some spin on this.   We tend to use this word too freely; talking about “our good friend” so-and-so, when in fact they are an online contact we’ve never met in person.

Facebook has confused the whole ‘friend’ issue, also; but in the interest of space I’ll let you consider that for yourself.

The point is that here we have a case of someone who wormed their way into the lives of some people who normally have some built in defenses against “the public,” and who no doubt did indeed reach their ‘inner sanctum.’    Think Bill Murray in the movie What About Bob. The Bob character is clearly just a patient of the psychologist in the story, but to his family, Bob has become family.

Many have the ability, after only a few minutes, to seem like someone you’ve known all your life; while other people you have known all your life can still remain distant.  Also, many people who are in the spotlight — possibly including your pastor — have so many defenses protecting their personal life from their parishioners that many are just dying for someone with whom they can share their lives more deeply.   Who better than a neighbor whose children attend the same schools as your own?

Still, I have people I consider friends, but that doesn’t mean I would trust them with financial matters, or even share personal financial information with them.

And finally of course, there is the obvious:  Friends don’t expose friends to extreme risk and vulnerability.

So Ron Mainse, why not just state it more simply, as in, “We got charmed and conned?”    Let’s not cheapen the word ‘friend’ in the process.

Photos – upper: Gordon Driver; lower: Ronald Mainse

July 2, 2009

Random Items

First of all, today is the day the story went national.   The CTV Television Network, The CBC TV and Radio Network and The Toronto Star finally picked up the story of the removal from television of Ronald and Reynold Mainse, formerly hosts of Canada’s national Christian television program, 100 Huntley Street. There’s also a report today from CanadianChristianity.com.  This is all a full month after you read it here and here (sort of) and everywhere here in the blogosphere.    Today’s publishing flurry seems to have been precipitated by a news release from Crossroads Christian Communications, Inc. itself.    Why bother now?

+++++++++++++++

Meanwhile, I was just wrapping up yesterday’s post when I decided to pose a small-print, trivia question concerning Jehovah’s Witnesses in the U.S.    Do they stand for the national anthem?   Some here in Canada don’t.   I couldn’t picture anyone getting away with that in the U.S.    A couple of people wrote in right away to explain the JW position.   This link takes you directly to the post with the comments, and you’re still free to jump in.    Should any Christian — in the broadest sense of the word — pledge allegiance to a political entity such as a state, republic, or any other kind of country?    Leave your comments on that post from yesterday (July 1).

+++++++++++++++

When I was baptized — along with 107 other people at The Peoples’ Church in Toronto, Canada’s one and only megachurch at the time — my ‘testimony verse’ was Proverbs 3: 5, 6.   Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding.   Acknowledge Him in all your ways and he will direct your paths.    At least that’s what it was then.   We’ve since learned that ‘he will make your paths straight’ might be a more accurate translation.   Some would interpret this as, ‘he will make your paths smooth.’    But ‘smooth’ is just not reality for some people.   The last few days for me have been anything but smooth.    I really think I need to quit my job.   I’ve typed my letter of resignation, but there’s nobody to give it to, since I own the company.

We all want to increase our blog readership, but please note that posting comments to a half-dozen items in one day won’t work here.    In most cases, the system will limit you to three comments per update period.    If the comments aren’t really productive to the discussion, it’s assumed your really only promoting your own blog.   For the rest of you regulars, it’s blog community as usual.

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