Thinking Out Loud

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.

March 9, 2011

Wednesday Link List

I think we’ll start with a shout out to all the people who gave up social networking and blogs for lent. In which case, why are you reading this?

  • We kick off with a few quotations from an interview U2’s Bono did with a Johannesburg radio station last month, along with a link to an audio file of the entire program.
  • The Rob Bell release date for Love Wins has been moved up by two weeks to March 15th, less than a week away!  Mars Hill Bible Church in Granville, Michigan has made no official comment, but on Sunday, parishioners were told that church staff are supportive and excited about the book’s release.
  • However, Jon Rising suggests that there’s a whole other controversial book releasing at HarperOne — the same day — and traces links to advance reviews of Miroslav Volf’s simply titled Allah: A Christian Response.   The publisher blurb helps define the book’s hot spots.
  • A young Christian woman tells her Christian father that she is gay. We’ve all heard stories like this, but what does that actually look like?  How does that play out exactly? John Shore takes what is, to many of us a very abstract concept, and spells out what that really looks like in many families in his fictional Smith Family Chronicles; episode one and episode two already complete with more to follow.
  • A couple of strong stories at Christian Week (three actually, and we’ll give each one its own bullet!). First a piece on how urban poverty is not a downtown thing anymore but is hitting the suburbs featuring the director of the Yonge Street Mission.  (In fact, urban downtown areas are reconsolidating into a very upscale vibe.)
  • Next, a piece about the relationship between the church and political debates sparked by Billy Graham’s statement that he regrets the times he waded in on political issues.
  • Last in our CW hat trick — and I don’t expect my U.S. readers to get the full impact of this, but here this is huge — Crossroads, Canada’s largest Christian television ministry gave InterVarsity Christian Fellowship five of its Circle Square Ranch summer camps.  No strings attached.  An outright gift from one ministry to another.  They become part of the ministry of IVCF as of the first of April.
  • I find it interesting that many of today’s younger preachers are the subject of condemnation by older ones because the younger ones don’t do expository (verse by verse) preaching.  But Andy Stanley really rose to the occasion in this series on Acts titled Big Church.
  • Okay, it’s not that Facebook is solely responsible for one in five divorces as originally reported in 2009; but it is definitely accelerating the process.
  • Spent about 40 minutes on Sunday night enjoying a mini-concert by an artist who is quite established here in Canada who needs to be shared with the rest of the world.  Check out Greg Sczebel’s website.
  • Got baggage?  Know someone who’s got baggage?  Check out this short video at GodTube.  Also at GodTube here’s a music clip from Christy Nockels from the new album Passion: Waiting Here For You.
  • Looking for some good news online?  Here’s a site with a difference: My Miracle invites readers to post stories of God’s intervention in their lives.  Maybe your story.
  • Got a question for The Pope?  He hits the Italian TV airwaves on Good Friday for a little bit of Q & A in a pre-recorded program.
  • Several months ago, this blog ran a piece on modesty for girls.  Now here’s a modesty test for your preteen or early teen daughter from Dannah Gresh’s Secret Keeper Girl website.
  • If you’re reading this Wednesday morning or afternoon you can still catch our contest from Monday to win a copy of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
  • Here’s another one from Darrell at Stuff Fundies Like featuring all your favorite types of church songleaders.
  • And speaking of same; here’s CT’s list of the Top 27 All Time Favorite… Hymns?  That’s right, all scientifically calculated using books which contain them that nobody actually uses anymore.  This could be the very last such list.  (Click the image to see the chart clearer as a .pdf)
  • Our cartoon this week recognizes that today is the first day of Lent, which every good Evangelical knows is the _____  ____s before ________.  (Betcha we caught a few off-guard.) Bad Sheep is the product of Jay Cookingham who blogs at Soulfari, You can also click the image below to check out Lambo and Chop’s merchandise.

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.

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?

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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.

June 16, 2009

100 Huntley Street Saga’s Strange Irony

He loved sound.   Mixing consoles.   Quality microphones.  Special effects.   Large reel-to-reel tape recorders.   First class speakers.  Working with both experienced and up-and-coming musicians.    In studio and on location recording.   Editing.   Post production.   Etc.

The love of audio became a business that quickly grew into the need to rent space, print letterhead and business cards, and try to develop a means to provide services to anyone needing them, but especially the Christian community based in Toronto, Ontario.

Nice story, eh?   I wrote that.   The irony is that although the scope of their respective businesses differed greatly, in the earliest stages, this story applies equally not only to Gord Driver, alleged perpetrator of the Ponzi scheme now clouding the ministry of Reynold Mainse, Ron Mainse, 100 Huntley Street, and Crossroads Christian Communications; but also applies to Doug McKenzie, current CEO of Crossroads Christian Communications.

Doug McKenzieThey were both audiophiles and sound engineers at heart.    Doug’s business, Master’s Workshop, eventually became Magnetic North, one of the top studios for film sound production in Toronto, a.k.a. “Hollywood North.”   Doug’s ministry in the early days was focused on a band called Simeon.  Gord’s love of sound took him into a variety of spinoffs, including radio and concert promotion, a California Christian record company, and later developing computer images for film studios in Hollywood South.   Gord’s ministry in the early days was a media organization known as Center Sound Productions, and later, Sounds of Triumph.

Driver1But there’s more.   Gord and Doug both knew each other — well — in those early days of ‘Jesus Music,’ circa 1976-79.   Their paths crossed on frequent occasions.    Did Gord look Doug up when he returned to Ontario?   Was Doug offered a chance to invest in Axcess Automation?     We don’t know.   Driver’s comment in the Hamilton Spectator about Crossroads founder David Mainse, “…he was like a father to me;” could well come out of his mouth in reference to McKenzie.  They knew each other well.

In any event, the story drags on, but the blogosphere is the place to be to follow all the action.    One blog, Bene Diction Blogs On, has been relentless in its coverage of this.   Once again, social media trumps conventional media.   Rather than list all the links, I’m suggesting that you bookmark the site and check back often.    As I type this, the blog is featuring a timeline of the entire story, complete with links to relevant documents.   Too bad bloggers don’t get paid to do all this.  (If you have kept up to speed, here’s a direct link to that one.)

That blog is the news source of record on this story right now.    We’ll crosspost things where they are deserving of greater attention.    And right now, with a total media void everywhere else, this story is deserving of much greater attention.

Upper Photo:  Doug McKenzie, CEO, Crossroads Christian Communications.  The picture is from the website for VisionLedd, an organization headed by Jim Cantelon, who is currently acting cohost of 100 Huntley Street.

Lower Photo:  Gordon Driver — photo submitted by reader

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