More Sites

More Sites

Stephen Colbert, David Letterman and the Prophetic Voice of Comedy

With the news that Stephen Colbert will take over Late Show with David Letterman, I am torn between excitement and anxiousness. What an opportunity for an openly Christian host! In 2007, Parade Magazine ran an interview with Colbert in which he spoke about his conversion back to Christianity as a young adult. He was moved by Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 6: “Do not worry.” That passage is not only the touchstone...

Visit site to read this post...

Christian Philosophy in 2014

Thirty years ago, Plantinga stoked the imagination of Christian philosophers with “Advice to Christian Philosophers.” Plantinga was well respected both among the general Anglo-American philosophical community and among Christians within that community; he had already done significant work to help gain respect and a place at the philosophical table for Christians who did not want to hide their faith as they pursued their professional work.

Visit site to read this post...

Sharpened Iron or Foolish Quarrels: Confessions of a Constant Critic

There is a difference between constructive and destructive criticism. Constructive criticism is engaged in what the writer of proverbs calls the sharpening of each other. It is aimed at the collective good, the creation of godly disciples, and is reciprocal. Destructive criticism seeks to engage in foolish quarrels and always tears down. It is selfish and self-engaged. It usually starts with pride and ends with more pride in one’s own superior views and position...

Visit site to read this post...

The Beard-ification of America and What it Means for the CRC/RCA

I’ve always been fascinated by two things: sociology and the future. For years of my life, I lived in the kind of places people left – rural towns & Michigan. It’s a bizarre reality, really: generally, the brightest and the best move away to cities leaving small towns with three groups of people: the aged, people who like small town life (farmers, townies, country music fans, etc.) and those that couldn’t get out (for whatever reason). Then I moved to a city on the receiving end – the fastest-growing urban center in the United States.

Visit site to read this post...

World Vision, Mozilla and Reconsidering the Rules of Engagement

Recent weeks have been marked by separate but related cultural conflicts: one involving the Christian humanitarian organization World Vision, the other involving the Internet technology company Mozilla and both involving the highly explosive topic of same-sex marriage. First, in a public statement to Christianity Today, World Vision announced changes in their hiring policies that would no longer exclude gay couples in legal marriages from employment in their organization.

Visit site to read this post...

What My Family Gained When We Lost Our Christian School

I cried the day we realized we’d have to pull our kids from the Christian school they attended. I cried for my kids’ sense of loss, for their fears of being the “new kid.” I cried for my own failure. And I cried because God had failed. Us. After all, it seemed the people at church we talked to about the increasingly unaffordable school had encouraged us to “trust God,” to remember “God provides.” So many people had told us their dramatic stories of being unable to pay the tuition but then suddenly - miraculously! - God stepped in and voila!

Visit site to read this post...

Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia

Every day at five am in the small rural community of Basurú, on Colombia’s Pacific Coast, a group from the local Mennonite church gathers to broadcast the events of the day. Using a microphone connected to megaphones hoisted high above the community on bamboo poles, the technology may be archaic but the messages are not. Access to local news is a way to keep the community connected and informed of what is going on in the world...

Visit site to read this post...

Why 'Teaching Religion' Will Only Take Students So Far

A recent article in The Atlantic by Marshall Poe suggests that religion should be taught in secular universities. What makes this article fascinating is that Poe, a former history professor, is not religious but a “confirmed atheist.” Furthermore, he is advocating for religious leaders (priests, imams and rabbis) to teach their religions to undergraduates in the hope that this will give students, in his words, “a way of life.” Poe claims that the vast majority of undergraduates are suffering distresses caused by a lack of meaning or purpose in life.

Visit site to read this post...

When Video Games are Designed for Disempowerment

Research suggests that one of the primary reasons people play video games is because they make us feel powerful. This desire to feel powerful is also, perhaps, what makes people so suspicious about video games. But to assume that all video games are power fantasies would be to miss an important and substantive trend in game development - designing for disempowerment. The story of most video games is the opposite of the Gospel story...

Visit site to read this post...

The Town that Immigration Built

Chinatown in Washington DC. Settlements like these sprung up around the US in the late 1800’s. Pioneering men from China left everything behind for work in America. The idea was: get established, send for their families, and live the American dream. That plan didn't work out. In 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, which barred Chinese people from entering the country. Facing a difficult choice many Chinese stuck with their original plan and paid smugglers to bring their families into the US.

Visit site to read this post...

Does Church Math Add Up?

I happened upon the report compiled by Amy Schenkel over at the Church Multiplication Initiative that focused on the 42 CRC congregations with 20% growth between 2007 and 2012. It’s important to note off the start that this snapshot is not purely science, however it can shed some light when looked at from the correct lens. So what does this information exactly mean? Or what does it not mean? Here are three things which come to my mind, and perhaps it will get the cogs turning in your own mind...

Visit site to read this post...

Mudslides, Missing Airplanes and the Sustaining Power of Hope

G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all... As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.” At first glance, the statement appears to be a bit of paradoxical nonsense, another attempt for the brilliant English philosopher and writer to make us scratch our chins.

Visit site to read this post...

Loosening Our Grip

Pastors and parents are anxious, worried about the faith lives of young people and the future of the church as a whole. Either they circle the wagons and focus upon developing the right form of belief and practice, teetering on the edge of a sectarian separation from the world, or they go down the path of accommodation, trying to fit the gospel into the categories and questions of the broader culture.

Visit site to read this post...

Cohabitation, 'Conscious Uncoupling' and Christian Marriage

A recent study has shed new light on the issue of cohabitation, suggesting it’s no longer a predictor of divorce. Past research has shown that living together before marriage is correlated with a higher divorce rate. But researcher Arielle Kuperberg recently wondered what would happen once you looked at the age of the couple when they started living together. This research suggests that age and not a marriage license is the best indicator...

Visit site to read this post...

Waiting for the Drums

Growing up, I had very little contact with my Mohawk heritage. As a third-generation, church-going, Indigenous person who grew up off-reserve, I feel this scenario is reflective of the separation that has occurred between the Indigenous nations and the rest of Canada – and also of the rift that currently exists between the church and Indigenous peoples. I’ve been blessed by the opportunity to explore the Mohawk side of my heritage through...

Visit site to read this post...

A Noah Who Needs Jesus

Noah doesn’t quite work as a movie – it’s ungainly, unwieldy and unsure of whether it wants to be a fantasy epic or an intimate family drama – yet I was intrigued by how Old Testament it felt. If nothing else, Noah captures what it might have been like to live as a follower of God before the cosmos-altering arrival of Jesus. In this telling of the Bible story, Noah presents a desolate, apocalyptic landscape seemingly abandoned by God...

Visit site to read this post...

Are You a *New* Calvinist?

Increasingly, what’s known as “Calvinism” in the modern church world is defined by modern Reformed celebrities like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Tullian Tchividjian or Matt Chandler, rather than by the kind of folks we study in seminary – Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, etc. This is especially true amongst young Calvinists today.

Visit site to read this post...

God Never (?) Gives Us More Than We Can Handle

“How are you feeling?” “Oh good,” she replied. “I’m so thankful and I know that God will not give me more than I can handle.” When she said it, I stumbled a bit and I almost bit my tongue trying not to yell obscenities at this crazy idea. “God will not give you more than you can handle?” Where on earth did she hear that? Had she some how escaped ever feeling like life was more than she could handle?  She said it like it was a security blanket...

Visit site to read this post...

Christians Don't Own the Copyright on Noah

A few years ago, my daughter was in a church musical production of the Noah story. The thing is, the ark they had on stage wasn’t exactly 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. In fact, quite a few elements were downright unbiblical. So is the case with Noah, a big-budget Hollywood version from Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky - at least if you listen to the early naysayers.

Visit site to read this post...

10 Ways to Connect with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

If you won a court case for horrendous abuse, what would you demand? Money? Indigenous peoples in Canada asked for a chance to tell their stories of residential schools to the nation, to teach others about a part of our history that often doesn’t get much space in the history textbooks. (If you’re American, you’re not off the hook. Our countries share a very similar story about residential schools.)...

Visit site to read this post...

Becoming a Listener

My pursuit of justice for Native Americans began in depth around a year and a half ago. I choose to do an independent project for a class on Pebble Mine and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I choose this topic because I wanted to explore the term “environmental refugees” in more depth and this independent project gave me that opportunity. Through this project, I was exposed to some of the struggles that Native Americans are facing...

Visit site to read this post...

Women in Office: An Ongoing Process

I know the general thought among Christian Millenials is that homosexuality is the issue of our generation. And no doubt, it is a major one. But there’s another issue that many of our churches are still grappling with: women in office. The CRC first began dealing with this issue in 1970: 44 years ago. Churches in the CRC have made diverse decisions in this area; some churches allow women to serve in any and all leadership positions; others do not seat women at classis or synod meetings...

Visit site to read this post...

Hobby Lobby's High Horse

When the United States Supreme Court hears oral arguments on Tuesday concerning Hobby Lobby and the Affordable Care Act, it will be framed by many as a defining moment for religious freedom. But could this also be a case of Hobby Lobby getting on a high horse? As the Affordable Care Act stands, a for-profit business like Hobby Lobby is required to offer insurance benefits for birth control...

Visit site to read this post...

Easter Planning

You don’t need (or probably want) me to remind you that Easter is quickly approaching.  But it is.  As you’re fine-tuning your plans, I want to offer a few ideas for how you can make sure your work ends up benefiting the most people possible...

Visit site to read this post...

The Kingdom Enterprise Zone - NYC

Lately, whenever I pick up a church or denominational magazine, a common theme I see is “church-planting.” Church-planting seems to be the subject of many editorials not only in our country but also in the world. As a young pastor out here in the greater New York area, I’ve been able to witness some of the need to birth healthy churches to minister to the people. I’m excited to introduce to you: The Kingdom Enterprise Zone- NYC...

Visit site to read this post...

Lean In? Recline? How About 'Join the Body?'

A great thing about the Bible - and the church - is that it doesn’t ask us to do everything and be good at everything. Paul talks about the church as a body, and each member like a body part. This metaphor is a great way to think about how much we need each other in our differences, but it’s also a reminder that if you’re an ear, you don’t have to feel bad that you’re not an amazing smeller. Paul talks a lot about different spiritual gifts and roles, and we should see this as freeing - especially in an era that seems to emphasize an obligation to do anything and everything...

Visit site to read this post...

Social Media to Make a Difference

Social media: the ever-developing medium that we love and hate simultaneously. This medium has become an inherent part of our lives. For all its good, we know there are challenges in equal part. Two years ago, I only used Facebook. As a writer, I needed social media to build platform, but knew nothing about it. What ended up emerging from this reluctant dive into the world of social media undoubtedly changed the course of my life...

Visit site to read this post...

Norway's 'Memory Wound' and Our Calling to Remember

A dramatic memorial is planned to commemorate the massacre of 77 people at Utoya Island in Norway, the scene of Anders Breivik’s rampage in 2011. The memorial, being referred to as a “memory wound,” is to be a constructed gap that slices through the island. The design plans are jarring, to say the least. This project can trace its lineage directly back to Maya Lin’s stunning Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C...

Visit site to read this post...

Welcoming Visitors During A Church Service

I’ve always been terrified by the way my childhood church welcomed new people. Near the beginning of the service, the pastor asked guests to stand up so they could be recognized. That alone was awkward. Then an usher ran around and gave each visitor a bag of microwave popcorn with some church literature attached. You could see the embarrassment on the faces of the people standing up as they waited. It was where “awkward” met “get me out of here!” Finally, after all the popcorn was distributed, the pastor wrapped it all up by saying, “Thanks for popping in.”...

Visit site to read this post...

Stephen Colbert's Church Marketing Tips

Churches have tried Trunk or Treat events, Vacation Bible School programs and all other sorts of outreach efforts, only to see attendance at worship services dwindle. Last night on his satirical news show The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert covered another way to fill the pews: free steak and guns. A Kentucky Baptist group recently offered just that, with organizer Chuck McAlister giving this rationale: “Hunting is huge in Kentucky … 

Visit site to read this post...

40 Days of Lent

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?" (Isaiah 58:6) Instead of giving something up for Lent this year, try walking a new step on the justice road every day. We've put together some suggestions for you, one for each day of Lent...

Visit site to read this post...

Interpreting as a Restorative Act

It has been a bad few months for interpreters. First, there was the “fake interpreter” at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. More recently, at the murder trial of Olympic medalist Oscar Pistorius, one interpreter fled the courtroom when confronted by the media circus, while the replacement struggled to cope and was sidelined by a witness...

Visit site to read this post...

CRC, RCA, How Does Your Garden Grow?

A few months ago, the CRC & RCA released a research study done by the Church Multiplication Initiative, which is a combined effort of both denominations. The CRC report focused on churches that had grown by 20% or more in membership or attendance from 2007 to 2012. They were also churches that were 10+ years old and were English-speaking. Out of the 1,100+ churches in the CRC, how many do you think...

Visit site to read this post...

Reading the Bible Left-Handed

My daughter was seven-months-old when we realized she was left-handed. I was delighted, imagining this would mean she would have an extra dose of the fabled southpaw creative and problem-solving ability. What I soon realized, however, was that while she may or may not be particularly artistic, she most certainly was disadvantaged. Until I had a left-handed daughter, I had no idea how much the world was wired in favor of right-handed people... 

Visit site to read this post...

Better Story

I was surfing the web recently (do people still say that?) on a faith magazine site when I noticed an advertisement for a book titled Lost and Found, written by Ed Stetzer and a few of his friends. I was intrigued by the preview and decided to buy it. The book sheds light on how the Church can reach the unchurched (and de-churched) young adults in our culture. I had a tough time getting through the first section with its stats and polls, but there was a phrase in the midst of the data that caught my attention...

Visit site to read this post...

Quitting Consumerism

Every January for the past several years, my husband Rob and I have faced a classroom full of first-year college students and tried to convince them that pretty much everything they’ve come to think of as normal in the United States is strange: sprawl, processed food, screen obsession, advertising, sweat shops, the mall, car culture, disposable diapers, the Pledge of Allegiance, throwing things “away.” Yep, pretty much everything. And not “wrong,” entirely, but strange. And we strive mightily to present them with an attractive version of a new normal...

Visit site to read this post...

Caring for the Poor by Caring for Creation

One of the questions that plagues me as I care for creation is “When we are channeling money into climate change initiatives aren’t we taking money away from initiatives that help the poor?” I am deeply concerned about God’s creation and I am deeply concerned about care of the poor and most vulnerable in our world so this question is very important to me. After a week in Kenya, visiting project after project I can safely lay this worry to rest...

Visit site to read this post...

Empowering Brand Advocates

Recently, I shared some ideas on how to improve your church’s word of mouth marketing. Another way you could look at that is the idea of creating brand advocates. These are people who are so passionate about what you’re doing that they go out and promote your organization on their own. It’s a perfect fit for the church...

Visit site to read this post...

Snowplows, Politics and Christian Persistence

A few nights ago I was outside commiserating with my neighbors after the snowplow had gone by, displacing large chunks of snow and ice from the street to our driveways. We’ve had more than 100 inches of snow this year, and we’re tired. Tired of shoveling and snow blowing, and especially tired of seeing our clear driveways piled back up with snow by the plows. I took my grumbling to Facebook later that night. Some went along with my snark, while others offered pointed questions. Well, what would you suggest that we do? That’s a valid question.

Visit site to read this post...

That One Song - 02.14

That one song that made a mess of you on the way to work. That one song that always puts a smile on your face and hope in your heart. That one song that spoke God's peace into your life in a time of unrest.  For all these reasons, and countless others, certain songs leave an impression on us. Our crew at Under the Radar loves the power of music and story; so we've created this series "That One Song" to give our listeners a featured voice in our community. We hope you are blessed by this month's selections!...

Visit site to read this post...

The Coming Revolution in Missions

“Revolution” is a huge word. It sounds like painted faced warriors crying “freeeeedom.” That’s not what I mean. This is the “revolution” that a wheel takes. A moving forward. It could happen fast or slow but it is happening. If it doesn’t we’re stuck and everyone needs to get out and push. That’s messy but necessary sometimes...

Visit site to read this post...

The Fruit of the Spirit Found in Lilly Looking Through

If we were to ask most people what adjectives spring to mind when they hear the words "video game," we might get a lot of different answers. Frantic, yes. Fun, yes. Violent, to be sure. Strategic, maybe. But I highly doubt that "gentle" would be at the top of the list. We have culturally boxed in a new medium and certain parts of our God-given humanity don’t quite seem to fit inside. This is one of the key contributions of Lilly Looking Through, a new point-and-click adventure game. Lilly is a short game, with play patterned after early 1990s megahit Myst...

Visit site to read this post...

Bearing Testimony and Honoring Story

We have come to Kenya (on the We Have Faith Environmental Expedition) to hear our brothers and sisters bear witness to the ways environmental degradation and recent changes in the climate are harming them. Their testimony is disturbing and compelling. We are privileged to hear their stories, and honored by their trust in us as bearers of the message that they and their land, water, and air are suffering. Their words are a painful reminder of the brokenness of our world...

Visit site to read this post...

Why that Proposed Satan Statue Is as Ridiculous as It Sounds

A controversy erupted in Oklahoma recently when the Oklahoma legislature erected a privately commissioned stone memorial inscribed with the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Oklahoma state capitol. The Oklahoma ACLU and an organization called American Atheists filed lawsuits in federal court, claiming a violation of the First Amendment and the separation of church and state.

Visit site to read this post...

Renewal Through Refugees

One important way that refugees can resettle Canada is through private sponsorships. More than 80 groups have agreements with the government of Canada to help arrange these sponsorships. I work with a couple of them, including World Renew. Many sponsorship agreement holders (SAHs) are faith-based groups. Some are affiliated with churches or communities across Canada. Some are large or small local groups within a city or area. Some sponsor refugees from a particular nationality or ethnic group...

Visit site to read this post...

The Communal Lesson of The Lego Movie

How do you play with your Legos? Um, I mean, how did you play with your Legos? (Because surely adults no longer mess around with such things.) According to The Lego Movie - a fantastic family comedy that’s as much artistic expression as it is product placement - how a person goes about constructing toy blocks can reveal a lot about how they view the world. To be clear, The Lego Movie is a clever, computer-animated kids’ flick first and foremost, starting with its straightforward story...

Visit site to read this post...

Garrison Keillor and Our Hunger for Home

The conversation with a couple of colleagues turned to the topic of where we will live after retirement. That conversation happened on a February day when the temperature was about 12 degrees and another layer of snow was falling on top of the forehead-deep drifts already lining our streets. These guys could have dreamed of Maui or Fiji or Zanzibar, but they wanted to live out their days less than five miles from where they live now...

Visit site to read this post...

Hungry for Change: Fasting for Climate Justice

The “Fasting for the Climate” movement started at the November 2013 UN climate negotiations in Warsaw. Typhoon Haiyan had just devastated the Philippines. That country's climate commissioner said he would not eat until conference participants delivered actions to “stop the madness” of the climate crisis. His speech received a standing ovation which echoed around the world. Many of us joined his fast while...

Visit site to read this post...

Why My Church Gives Me Hope

I first visited New Hope CRC, a humble little gathering in the common room of the Perkins Centre in east Hamilton, Ontario, about 4 months ago. After just one service, I had joined a small group and been invited to a potluck and a barbeque. The music wasn’t perfect, the speaker wasn’t sensational, the room wasn’t packed, but kids danced during worship, there was a mix of ages (including other young adults!) and the welcome was warmer than any I’ve ever experienced. I was hooked.  Now four months later, I’ve only found more reasons to fall head-over-heels with New Hope...

Visit site to read this post...

First Comes Love, then Comes Marriage...

From my vast experience, of a little more than a month, married life is amazing. But, in many ways, not unlike single life. I still go to work, go to church, do my laundry, and drink more coffee than I probably should. I don’t know if I’m simply more attuned to them since I just got married, but I have been increasingly aware of the apparent feud online and offline over singleness versus marriage...

Visit site to read this post...

Pages