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march – april 2010


march – april, 2010

on the cover 14–23

Many faiths in my backyard Publisher: Brian Koldyk Managing Editor: Doug Koop Pulse Editor: Robert White

Coming to terms with religious diversity in Canada


advertising account executives:

14 Canada: A Christian religious nation Christianity used to be taken for granted in Canada. No longer. This is not bad news. Spiritual needs and opportunities for positive Christian engagement abound.

WILLIAM LEIGHTON: DARRELL FRIESEN: JIM HICKS: Unless otherwise indicated, neither ChristianWeek nor Promise Keepers Canada guarantee, warrant, or endorse any product, program, or service advertised.

18 Give evangelism a good name Canadian Christians find it hard to speak openly about their faith. Get over it. 20 Native religion Think hard about traditional spiritual practices.

editorial advisory board KIRK GILES: Promise Keepers Canada JEFF STEARNS: Promise Keepers Canada PHIL WAGLER: Kingsfield Zurich MC SANDRA REIMER: Reimer Reason Communications DOUG KOOP: ChristianWeek Distributed by

22 Many countries, one faith The flip side of the multi-faith reality is the presence of Christians from other countries and cultures active and effective in Canada. 24 Man Talk What is the soul of a man?

promise keepers canada 1295 North Service Road PO Box 40599 Burlington, ON L7P 4W1 (905) 331-1830 Postmaster: Please send address changes to PO Box 40599, Burlington, ON L7P 4W1 ISSN 1916-8403

columns 5 PK Podium Dare to love radically 6 Help Wanted No easy answers 26 Money Matters Tax tips 27 Out of My Depth Who is right?

Cover: iStockphoto (base image and icons)

departments 8-12 Pulse Curious events. Interesting people. Good ideas. 13 Reviews Invest your love in all the right places 28 Power Play Tools. Toys. Technology.

30 What Women Want Keep your eyes on the prize

Editorial and Advertising Office 204-424 Logan Avenue Winnipeg, MB R3A 0R4 Phone: (204) 982-2060 (800) 263-6695 Design: Indigo Ink Studios

SEVEN is a Christian magazine for Canadian men that exists to help men lead more fulfilling lives and leave enduring legacies. The name reflects the seven promises that form the basis of the Promise Keepers organization, which works with churches to minister to men across Canada. one – A Promise Keeper is committed to honouring Jesus Christ through worship, prayer, and

obedience to God's word in the power of the Holy Spirit. two – A Promise Keeper is committed to pursuing vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that he needs brothers to help him keep his promises. three – A Promise Keeper is committed to practising spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.

four – A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection, and biblical values.

six – A Promise Keeper is committed to reaching beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity.

five – A Promise Keeper is committed to supporting the mission of the church by honouring and praying for his pastor, and by actively giving his time and resources.

seven – A Promise Keeper is committed to influencing his world, being obedient to the Great Commandment (see Mark 12:30-31) and the Great Commission (see Matt 28:19-20).

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What is Discipleship Training

Unleashed Unleashed

A weekend retreat where you can experience in-depth training to discover how to become a better equipped Godly man. Four different weekend retreats:

1: Biblical Manhood 2: Sexual Purity 3: Better Husbands 4: Better Fathers One on One leadership coaching from experienced and wise men of God. Peer mentoring with other men on the same journey as you are. A smaller more focused event – limited to approximately 50 participants with small groups of up to only 8 – participants build meaningful relationships with each other and with the Promise Keepers Canada leaders.

Do you have a desire to grow deeper in your faith? Do you want to learn more about the key areas of a man’s life? Go to or phone toll-free 1-888-901-9700 for information on a weekend retreat taking place near you

PK Podium

Dare to love radically Don’t be afraid to proclaim the Good News

by Kirk Giles

Why would a couple with four children decide to become foster parents? That was the question posed to my wife and me by a Children’s Aid worker during a recent interview that is part of the qualifying process. I proceeded to share with her that we were doing this because we are followers of Jesus Christ, and children are important to Him, so they are important to us. Her mouth dropped as she tried to attach our “religion” to our decision. I told her we don’t have religion, but because of Jesus we get the privilege of actually knowing God. As you probably can imagine, the process of becoming foster parents has been interesting for us because we have come face to face with the line of tolerance in our culture and knowing the words of Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” There is no doubt that Canada is not a Christian nation. Our efforts to focus on tolerance have often confused the critical difference between truth and love. As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we must love everyone. Jesus did not distinguish between who we should love— the poor, oppressed, enemies, fellow Christians and neighbours are all mentioned by Jesus. I think He pretty much covered everyone. The bigger question is where the line of truth should

be factored into our decisions. Jesus is the truth; everything and everyone else falls short (including us). If our efforts to love require us to deny the truth then have we really loved at all? The growth of Islam and other religions in our multicultural nation generates a lot of emotion among many members of the Christian community. Some fear what will happen to us with other religions becoming more predominant in Canada. Many Christians remain silent because they feel faith should be a personal matter. Neither response reflects the heart of Jesus. We do not need to be afraid of other beliefs. We need to have confidence in Jesus and His message and believe He trumps anything anyone else has to offer. As Kingdom citizens, we should not respond in silence. Jesus told us to “preach” or proclaim the Good News— and live it as well. My prayer is that as Christians we would boldly proclaim and live the message of Jesus; not because we are afraid of losing our freedoms in Canada, but because we are Kingdom citizens who are focused on fully loving others as faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Living this way may indeed cost us our freedoms (just ask the New Testament Church), but we need to make our lives about Jesus and His glory—not about our safety or comfort. Radical love will always provide an opportunity to proclaim the message of Jesus. Will you be a man who takes up the call to do both?

Kirk Giles is president of Promise Keepers Canada. He and Shannon have been married for 15 years. They are the parents of four children, ages 6-13.

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help wanted

No easy answers When faith is called into question, how do we answer?

by Rod Wilson

My 18-year-old daughter has started dating a guy who is Hindu. She says he accepts her faith so why can’t I accept his? I don’t want them to date but I am not sure how to handle it. One of the most complex situations to deal with as parents is how to respond to the person our child wants to date. Do not be discouraged if you do not have easy answers to this particular challenge. The Bible makes it clear that God wants His people to live in a way that is distinct from His enemies. The apostle Paul reminds us to “not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Your vigilance about your daughter’s dating is in step with the heart of God. The biblical record also shows that God’s people did fraternize with His enemies to the point of inter-marrying with them. Even though God the Father wanted His children to respond in a particular way, they did not always do so. In other words the appropriate desire of the Father for His children does not always lead to their obedience. So when our children are developing intimate relationships outside the Christian faith, God the Father understands. Your daughter’s use of the word “accept” is significant. Many people in post-modern culture understand “accept” to mean understand completely, agree or affirm. I wonder if her Hindu boyfriend understands the Christian faith and agrees with it or if his acceptance is a superficial acknowledgement of your daughter’s beliefs? Maybe he can get more exposure to the gospel and the core differences between Hinduism and the Christian faith can be made clear. You may be able to play some role in this but more than likely maintaining your relationship with your daughter and her boyfriend and committing to pray may be the best you have to offer.

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My daughter’s husband has decided he is no longer a Christian. He says he will support her in her faith but he is tired of being a hypocrite. Is it her problem to deal with? How do I help? What about my grandkids? One of the biggest problems in extended families is determining how we should respond to the problems of other family members. I have found the best way to start is to ask the question—am I responsible for others or, under God, responsible to others? When you feel responsible for others you want to solve their problems. But when you feel—under God—responsible to others, you want to listen, empathize and confront while trusting God to do His work. The “for” strategy tends to make us anxious and overly responsible, while the “to” approach lets us be more free and relaxed. This is easy to summarize, but it is not easy for your daughter. It is not her responsibility to solve her husband’s problems with the Christian faith. It is her responsibility to commit him to the Lord and in the process try to understand him and confront him on various issues. Similarly it is not your responsibility to fix all the difficulties of your son-in-law, daughter or grandchildren. Ultimately this is God’s responsibility. He may use you to listen, to show understanding and to confront where appropriate. He may even use you to direct them to appropriate counsellors and helpers. But if you move into the role of rescuer you can be guaranteed that you will experience anxiety and tension and may inadvertently take over the genuine responsibilities of your daughter and her husband. And while caring for grandchildren is important, avoid the temptation of taking on a parental role when that is not your responsibility.

My son visited a friend from school. He noticed a Buddha statue on the mantel and asked about it. He then told his friend he shouldn’t have idols in his house. I agree with him but how do I explain respecting others to a five-year-old? Parents have three options when it comes to raising their children in a pluralistic culture where there is a diversity of religions. We can present our own religious convictions and not let our children know there are any other options. This approach is often reflective of cult-like viewpoints where only one perspective is emphasized and “denial of others” is crucial. Another alternative is to provide a pluralistic religious menu to our children, emphasizing that each perspective makes sense and that it is our child’s responsibility to accept all of them. This approach does not value one religion over another but sees them all as equally valid. “Tolerance of others” is crucial. The third alternative is to expose our children to the gospel of Jesus Christ as found in Scripture both in the way we live and in what we say. At the same time we want them to learn about the religions around them so they recognize their values need to be held with humility and with “respect of others.” Parents who are committed to this last alternative recognize that exposing children to the gospel, teaching about other religions and helping children learn humility and respect requires the work of the Holy Spirit along with ongoing courage and commitment. It would be nice if all it took was explaining respect. However, it takes a lot more.

Rod Wilson is president of Regent College in Vancouver, where he also serves as professor of Counselling and Psychology. He is the author of How Do I Help a Hurting Friend: Practical Help for Leaders and Laypeople (BakerBooks, 2006).

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Curiousities. Personalities. Ideas. Information. by Robert White PULSE Editor

ARMY CHAPLAIN EARNS JUMP WINGS Harold Ristau, a 37-year-old Lutheran Church-Canada army captain, qualified as a parachutist late last year, after completing one of the most gruelling courses the Canadian Forces offers. The feat also earned Ristau a rare honour: a set of jump wings and the chance to minister to Canada’s toughest soldiers: its paratroopers. “You’ve got to earn your right to be one of them before you can have the privilege to minister to them,” says Ristau. “Otherwise, they just see you as a parish priest or a social worker. “It gives me access to a group of tough guys I may not have [had] access to.” During the three-week course in Trenton, Ontario, Ristau trained with classmates, many of whom were at least a decade younger than him, for 12 hours a day. For the first two weeks, they learned drills on harnesses in a gymnasium. After passing a series of exams, the class boarded Hercules aircraft. Carrying about 45 kilograms of equipment—a rifle, rucksack, snow shoes, parachute and reserve parachute—the soldiers completed six jumps from an altitude of 375 metres. One took place at night in the pitch black. “It’s a big deal for a chaplain to complete it successfully because few have,” says friend and fellow chaplain Captain Jason Kouri. “Having your earned wings will gain you much respect from the troops as they see you as really part of the gang.” Before entering the Canadian Forces four years ago, Ristau served as a civilian pastor in Montreal. He’s now attached to 3rd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment and a tactical helicopter squadron, and is also in charge of the Protestant chapel at the Valcartier Garrison. Ristau returns to Afghanistan for his second rotation this year.

attended the Anne Tanenbaum Lecture Series, making it the largest, most successful lecture series in the ROM’s history. The lecture series featured an international slate of distinguished scholars. Most of the series’ 14 lectures are posted at

(Lutheran Church-Canada)

THOUSANDS VIEW DEAD SEA SCROLLS A recent Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit is the Royal Ontario Museum’s most successful in nine years. More than 331,500 visitors took their once-in-a-lifetime chance to see one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century. “Dead Sea Scrolls: Words that Changed the World” opened June 27, 2009 and closed January 3. A special exhibit, the Ten Commandments Scroll, was on display for just 80 hours in early October. About 12,000 students and adults visited the exhibits, as well as more than 790 organized groups. About 4,500 people

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“PORTABLE MISSIONARIES” GET GOD’S MESSAGE OUT HAMILTON, ON—Allan McGuirl’s portable missionaries, about the size of two decks of playing cards, will continue to air God’s message even though McGuirl no longer runs Galcom International’s day-to-day affairs. Years ago, when McGuirl served with Gospel Recording, missionaries would broadcast God’s message via wind-up record players. McGuirl noticed various radio ministries were also broadcast into the area, but locals didn’t have access to radios. He designed a small fixed-tune radio, complete with a solar power panel. But then the idea lay dormant until 1989 when,

Word of God out,” says McGuirl. He recalls how one quarter of an early shipment of 4,000 radios to the Philippines was stolen. Most of the radios were recovered and the person responsible was arrested and jailed. “He went to jail with a radio in his pocket,” recalls McGuirl. “While in jail, another prisoner stole it from him and listened to it. He thought he was going to listen to rock and roll and God touched his heart.” Now, 20 years later, with more than 750,000 radios in 126 countries, McGuirl has stepped away from Galcom’s day-to-day operations. Tim Whitehead, who served as associate director for a year, became executive director in November 2009.

LOOKING AT THE “REAL ME” The guys at the People of the Second Chance ( have issued an interesting challenge. Mike Foster, one of the website’s founders, posted a high school yearbook photo he hated and rarely showed to anyone. Noting that “every picture you see of me on Twitter, Facebook, blog, books, conference stuff, and anywhere else is taken by a professional”—Foster issued this challenge:

Photo courtesy of Galcom

according to McGuirl, “God stepped in.” That’s when he met Ken Crowell, who operated a cell phone antenna plant in Israel, and Harold Kent, an American philanthropist businessman. Prior to their meeting, “the Lord spoke to [Crowell] about making a fixed-tune radio,” recalls McGuirl. Crowell, an engineer, sketched out some circuitry and filed it away. A little while later, he went to a conference in the U.S. where he met Kent. “God told Harold ‘I want you to flood the world with radios,’” says McGuirl, noting that Kent didn’t know anything about radios. Crowell had a similar vision but wondered about getting a prototype. Then Kent remembered reading an article about McGuirl’s work in Canada, and gave him a call. “I said ‘Yes, I’ve got a prototype and I’d love to see it go into production,’” says McGuirl. With Crowell’s cell phone antenna plant and Kent’s money, Galcom International was born. The original Canadian office, responsible for distribution, opened in August 1989 in McGuirl’s house. Later it moved to a church where his wife, Florrie, provided secretarial work in exchange for spare office space. The ministry outgrew the office and about five years later signed a lease for a 4,000 square-foot office. A short time later, the whole production process moved to Hamilton. “Right from the beginning there was a real confirmation God was going to use these little portable missionaries to get the

Allan McGuirl (left) hands a "fixed-tune" radio to a soldier.

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“Let’s replace all our ‘nice-professional-Photoshop-hair-lookingfab-pics-we-really-like-of-ourselves’ with ‘REAL’ photos of us. Change your Twitter. Facebook. Blog. Remove the sexy and put the REAL ME up. “Low res camera pics. Christmas morning rat’s nest hair photos. Bad lighting and goofy looks. Close ups and flabby neck photos. No Photoshoppin’ here! No shame here! No image or brand management! Just a snapshot of reality,” writes Foster. The point of the experiment, he says, is to recognize “your value is in you.” Foster changed his Twitter, Facebook and blog pics, along with tweeting (#REALME) and posting a few others that were uncomfortable and “real.” Judging by the responses on the website, Foster’s experi— ment proved successful—both in terms of people posting “real” photos and re-examining society’s view on image. So, are you brave enough take on the challenge and post a photo of the “real you?”

Pulse editor Robert White bravely shows off his "real me" photo.

HELPING MEN BE “REAL DADS” For Brad Young, being a “real dad” is all about “being as much like our heavenly Father as we can be.” The end result of our efforts—which include spending as much time with our kids as we can—is to help our children eventually become men and women of God, says Young. To help men meet this goal, Young started Real Dads four years ago. By day he’s a high school counsellor who learned to ask students with social or emotional problems one question. “I ask them to tell me about their father,” says the Barrie, Ontario-area resident. “They either snicker and laugh or say ‘what father?’ Not one of these kids has a decent father at home. I started thinking ‘I should do something about this.’” Young says God “put it on [his] heart to make a website.” After months of resistance, and a lack of experience in website design, he was challenged by Bruce Wilkinson’s message at that year’s Promise Keepers conference. He “spoke about listening to God and following what He tells you,” recalls Young. “I sat down during March break that year, started clicking on the computer and spit out this website.” Real Dads started out as with a host of resources for fathers. But it’s grown to include more. After realizing, because of confidentiality issues, Young couldn’t help the fathers of his students, he took a different route and birthed a five-week seminar for new fathers. The “biggie” every year is the Real Dads’ Christian Fathers Conference. This year it takes place April 12 and features The Meeting House pastor Bruxy Cavey, Peter Kooger from Celebrate Recovery and Christian juggler Bob Cates. “It’s much like a Promise Keepers [conference] but on a much smaller scale and geared to fathers in particular,” says Young. “I’m doing anything to engage men with their families. I’ll come up with an idea and just run with it. Instead of running away from God, I’ll run towards Him and what He wants me to do.”

Brad Young started Real Dads.

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STRONG FAMILIES KEY POVERTY-FIGHTING STRATEGY Low-income Canadians stay trapped in poverty, even after decades of social and anti-poverty programs, says a recent Senate report. Although the report contains 74 recommendations covering a wide range of viewpoints and fixes, there is one glaring omission, says the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada. It ignores the family as one of the most important poverty-fighting institutions. “In From the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness” has two key findings. First, even when all available programs and benefits are used, many Canadians still find themselves in poverty. Second, many programs aimed at easing poverty actually trap people in poverty. Beyond saying single-parent families are the most likely to be poor, there’s no talk about the role of marriage and family in preventing poverty, says the IMFC. The report only treats families as people who get social benefits, instead of being a source for lowering poverty. Public dialogue on the role of marriage in society continues in the U.S. and U.K. but there’s little public discussion in Canada—even though family formation and breakdown greatly influence the health of society. “The most important and effective social institution at keeping its members from living on the street is the family,” says American sociologist Timothy Pippert in his study on family relationships among the homelessness. “Family safety nets of financial and emotional support are what keep the ranks of the homeless from exploding on a daily basis.” Canadians who want to prevent poverty need to begin using the important social institution of family. According to the IMFC, that includes: promoting family and marriage education; promoting a family model of taxation; tracking marriage and family-related statistics more carefully and helping those in foster care find stable homes. (Institute of Marriage and Family Canada)

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THE FOUR SKILLS OF AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER Men who are growing spiritually, emotionally and relationally know the importance of accountability partners. Accountability isn’t about asking a list of questions. An accountability partner has four key responsibilities: Cheer—The man who makes himself accountable needs to know he’s not alone. A cheerleader encourages and should always be genuine in his encouragement. The right type of cheering always says: “You can get there. Hang in there. With God’s help, you can do it!” Challenge—A man plateaus at times and settles into a comfortable level. This is when the accountability partner needs to challenge. He needs to help his friend stay focused on the big picture, the vision and the mission. An accountability partner should also challenge his friend when it’s time for the

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next step. Sometimes an accountability partner will help a man see beyond his present situation. Confront—No one likes to confront, but when a man is wilfully sinning, it’s important we step in and be “our brother’s keeper.” Confession and repentance are the right responses to confrontation. Comfort—Every man experiences hurts, wounds, disappointments and failures. But it takes a man a long time to start talking about them. A good accountability partner knows how to be a close friend when times are tough. He shows comfort by understanding his friend and being willing to pray for him, cry with him and show commitment to him. Each of the four roles has its time and place. The worst accountability relationships are ones in which the accountability partner doesn’t know what to do, or when to do it. Most of us are better at some of these roles than we are at others. That’s okay. Practice listening to the men you work with. When a man shares how his week is going, ask yourself, “Does this man need cheer, challenge, confrontation or comfort?”

Providing easy-to-read Bibles for this generation. Giving hope to the lost.

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Spread the Word, feed the soul, change a life. To make a donation or to receive your free copy of the New Testament, please contact:

(Jeff Fisher, or call 1-866-HIS-WORD (447-9673) Canadian LifeLight Ministries 330-1695 Henderson Highway Winnipeg, MB, R2G 1P1

PASTORS, CHURCH WORKERS INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) finds that pastors and church workers play a key role in inspiring future church careers. Ministry workers told the What a Way committee of the LCMS (the American counterpart to the Lutheran ChurchCanada) that church workers, when grouped together, were the main reason for their career choice (64 per cent). Pastors were the single most influential group to play a role in inspiring a future church leader (29 per cent) followed by family (28 per cent). Others were also inspirational, including: • christian teacher (22 per cent) • friends (eight per cent) • other church worker (six per cent) • youth leader (four per cent) • lay leader (three per cent “For the church to be relevant in 2010 it must find its identity in Jesus and become scripturally literate. As it returns to its original mission the focus won’t be on self but on others. Not on wealth but on worship and the worth of the soul. “The early church was known as being composed of those who turned the world upside down. In other words, they challenged the status quo. They effected change by focusing on the person of Jesus. Their goal wasn’t self advancement but the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”

Join Us In Ottawa The Nations Capital For The

May 12, 13, 14, 2010

Annual National March For Life

Abortion - a Crime Against Humanity Wednesday May 12 12:00 noon Pro-life Prayer Service 7:30 pm Pro-life Mass 9:00 pm Candlelight Vigil 10:00 10:00 10:00 1:30 2:45 4:00 6:00

Thursday May 13 Prayer Service am am Interdenominational Prayer Service am Pro-life Mass pm March through downtown Ottawa pm Silent No More Awareness Campaign pm Closing Prayer Service pm Rose Dinner and Youth Banquet

Friday May 14 9:00 am to 2:30 pm Youth Conference Bill Shuler, pastor of Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia, and contributor to the Fox Forum, commenting on the need for the church to take the focus off self and instead, reach out to others. (

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For information, to register for the youth conference or purchase banquet tickets

call 1-800-730-5358 Toronto 416-204-9749 Ottawa 613-729-0379

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Invest your love in all the right places ALMOST SEX: NINE SIGNS YOU ARE ABOUT TO GO TOO FAR (OR ALREADY HAVE) By Michael DiMarco with Hayley DiMarco This “for guys only” book wants Christian youth to deal honestly and openly about sex. It’s written “for any guy who craves female attention but doesn’t know where to draw the line,” by a man who didn’t do “everything right.” The author’s perspective is conservative (sex is reserved for a man and wife in marriage), but he understands the difficulties this entails and sets about the task of helping young men define acceptable limits and live within them. Porn is definitely off limits, as are FWB (friends with benefits) relationships and countless other “slippery slope” activities. He calls on young men to make a strong commitment to save their sex for marriage. “Good girls are looking for good guys. And there is a shortage. So be that guy.”

THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES: HOW TO EXPRESS HEARTFELT COMMITMENT TO YOUR MATE (MEN’S EDITION) By Gary Chapman Many marriages that started well drift into divorce and the bewildered couple is hard-pressed to understand why. They tried to please each other. But somehow their words and deeds got lost in translation. According to Gary Chapman, people speak different love languages. He’s identified five—quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Learning each other’s love language is the key to more effective

communication and a richer relationship with your spouse. He describes each of the languages and tells you how to discover yours. The “men’s edition” of the book lists pages of ideas of things a man can do to get through to his wife by speaking in her love language rather than his. It includes a chapter on love languages and children. Chapman wants husbands and wives to have “full emotional love tanks” and to “accomplish their potential as individuals and couples.”

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: REFRAMING MEN’S SPIRITUALITY By Gareth Brandt Gareth Brandt teaches practical theology at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C. and is very keen to help people discover and develop their personal spirituality. He is surprised to be focusing on male spirituality, partly because he is so aware that many men do not fit the traditional “assertive, head-ofthe-home, spiritual-leader type” model. Under Construction is his attempt to develop a more robust understanding of what it means to be a 21st century Christian man. Along the way he tells his own story and includes numerous examples from the lives of men he knows. But the heart of the book is an extended

character study of Joseph, the son of Jacob who survived slavery and imprisonment to become a ruler in ancient Egypt. He extracts 10 metaphors from Joseph’s life, exploring them as ways for men to understand how to act with masculine integrity in the midst of life’s perplexities. We don’t have to have all the answers. We are under construction all our lives.

THE BAKER POCKET GUIDE TO WORLD RELIGONS: WHAT EVERY CHRISTIAN NEEDS TO KNOW By Gerald R. McDermott Only the most insulated Canadian can fail to notice that more and more of the people in our country are devoutly religious but decidedly not Christian. If only because the religions of the world are at home among us, we better know more about them. But where’s a fellow supposed to start. Most of us have a hard enough time clinging to a few concepts of the faith of our fathers. Gerald McDermott understands the problem and has provided a concise “overview of the most important beliefs (and some practices) of those who belong to the six most important nonChristian religions in the world.” (Pick up the book to find out what they are.) It also has a chapter on Christianity. Handy as a reference or easy to read straight through, this pocket guide will help readers understand their world and their own faith better. It also encourages a cooperative spirit and argues for more effective Christian witness among people of other beliefs.

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NavigatiNg a ChristiaN Changing demographics present challenges, and opportunities to Canadian Christians by Jerrad Peters

Prime Minister Stephen Harper attends the National Diwali Celebration on Parliament Hill in October, 2009. Diwali is is a significant 5-day festival in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism.

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religious NatioN

Photo courtesy of Prime Minister's Office media gallery

This common Sikh greeting gained a new prominence in 2009. Shortly after delivering his televised Easter greeting to Canadian Christians, Stephen Harper addressed Canada’s 300,000 Sikhs and wished them a happy Baisakhi festival. For a prime minister so often associated with his evangelical Christian voting base, it was a monumental gesture. And it signaled a new, important relationship between the Conservative government and the country’s everchanging religious demographics. Still, Canadian evangelicals hail Stephen Harper as one of their own— and for good reason. The prime minister attends a Christian and Missionary Alliance congregation, and became a vocal advocate for many social conservative values while in opposition. After becoming prime minister, however, he didn’t deliver in quite the way those voters expected. Instead of reopening the same-sex marriage debate, he went around offering Sikh greetings and visiting mosques. On July 5, 2008, the prime minister participated in the grand opening of Calgary’s Baitan Nur mosque and remarked that the building was a symbol of Canada’s pluralistic society. “Ahmadis,” he said, referring to the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam, “are renowned for their devotion to peace, universal brotherhood and submission to the will of God—the core principles of true Islam.”

Ten Thousa nd

Buddhas World Peac e Sarira S tupa in Nia gara Falls , Ontario.

He continued: “They are also renowned for working together to serve the greater good through social, health and education initiatives, as well as mosque projects like this one. And wherever they live in the world,” said the prime minister, “Ahmadis are renowned for participating in the larger community and peacefully co-existing with people of all faiths, languages and cultures.” Harper’s speech might just as easily have been a statement of his own view of cultural and religious pluralism. He has come to grips with a new reality. He understands that the dominant, Euro-

Doug Koop photo

“Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa. Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.”

Christian demographic of previous generations in Canada is on the wane. It’s being out-populated by newcomers who are neither European nor Christian. And he has staked his political future on finding middle ground, on navigating the new cultural and religious realities with benevolence and understanding. Not a threat It’s not uncommon for Canadian Christians to be intimidated by the arrivals of non-Christian, religious immigrants in their neighbourhoods.

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repatriation of dead Canadian soldiers— most of them killed by Muslim fighters—only reinforces the fear that many Christians have of other religions, particularly Islam. And more and more, the burkas they see worn by women in the Middle East—and the minarets that characterize Muslim places of worship— are appearing next door or down the street. Between 2005 and 2007, more than 100,000 immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries arrived in Canada. And of the other 650,000 new arrivals over the same period, very few originated in Christian, European countries. In fact, Canada is currently accepting more immigrants from Iran than France and Germany combined. And most of them are attending regular worship services. In 2003, Statistics Canada released a study comparing worship service attendance between Canadian-born citizens and recent immigrants in Toronto. The results were staggering. Only 28 per cent of the Canadian-born respondents reported attending religious services at least once per month—a decrease of three per cent in 10 years. However, religious participation among immigrants increased six per cent over the same period, to a full 50 per cent of their populations. And given the origins of many of these newcomers, it’s safe to say a good number of them weren’t participating anad mwlc from Photo

As church attendance continues to plummet while mosques and temples change cityscapes across the country, it’s not hard to see why. But, says Rick Hiemstra, director of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s Centre for Research on Canadian Evangelicalism, they needn’t worry. The religiosity of non-Christian immigrants has too often been portrayed as a problem, he says, adding that Christians should do their best to avoid the perception that their religious, non-Christian neighbours pose some sort of threat. “Creating a climate of concern surrounding religion can only result in shrinking religious liberties for all Canadian faith groups and the closing off of the public square to religious discourse,” he says. “While occasionally people will do bad things in the name of religion, generally a high level of observance is good for society. Religious liberties are expanded or contracted on an equal basis for all faith communities.” True as that may be, footage of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the

ronto in To sque o m q aroo d al F Masji

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in Christian congregations. According to the 2001 census—the last year for which this data is available—the median age of a Presbyterian The Ahmad congregant is more than 46. iyya Mosq ue United, Anglican and Lutheran church members follow close behind, each with a median age of well over 40. Practicing Muslims, by comparison, have the youngest median age of any religion in Canada, at just over 28. The country’s Sikh population chimes in at 29.7, and Canada’s 297,000 practicing Hindus have a median age of about 32 years. “Immigrants are more likely to be regular weekly attendees at worship services than those who are born outside Canada,” says Hiemstra. But, he adds, “sociologists consistently find that regular attendance at religious services is positively correlated with a whole host of positive social behaviours. So we shouldn’t be concerned with a high level of attendance at worship services. This is good for Canada.” Judging by his recent enthusiasm for religious pluralism, Stephen Harper would seem to agree. But are Canadian Christians willing to adopt a similarly tolerant and pluralistic posture? Looking for something While in Red Deer, Alberta on a speaking tour, David Macfarlane stopped in at a local bookstore and browsed the religious section. What he saw impressed him. “Twenty years ago, there would have been four Bibles and two dead flies,” says the director of national initiatives for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada. “Today, there’s row upon row of everything you can think of, from astroprojection to tarot card reading to Hinduism to transcendental meditation. And you look at the faces of the people

of Robert Th ivierge/Wik ipedia Photo cour tesy

America's largest mos que.

who are lined up, and they’re young people as well as older people. They’re all looking for something—looking for a spiritual solution to their lives.” They have no shortage of choice. And that would seem to make Macfarlane’s job as an evangelist extremely difficult. But, he says, it’s really not that complicated. He says Christians have only to look out the windows of their churches to recognize the spiritual needs in their communities. “And what are we doing about them?” he asks. “Most of the time, nothing.” “Most churches don’t look outside the windows,” says Macfarlane. “Communities change, and they don’t even know it. Different ethnic groups come, different socioeconomic groups, different issues to what there were a few years ago, and they don’t care or don’t want to know.” This is relatively new territory for Canadian Christians. Until 100 years ago, Macfarlane points out, the church was at the forefront of social reformation— founding universities, starting unions, opening hospitals. Even by the middle of the 20th century, about 67 per cent of Canada’s adult population attended weekly religious services, usually in a Christian church. These days, says Macfarlane, less than four per cent of Canadians participate in an evangelical congregation. Evangelism has experienced a similar

The Good Samaritan “The Good Samaritan story is a significant story for our times,” says Macfarlane. “I’m of the opinion that the evangelism of the future is the story of the Good Samaritan. I believe it is a prophetic story for the Canadian context of today.” Can it really be that simple? Can a proper Christian posture in a pluralistic society be as basic as being nice to people? Macfarlane thinks so. “We need to be the loving, compassionate, caring, outwardfocused people we were always meant to be,” he says. “It’s about relationships. It’s about being out there.” Hiemstra agrees. People of other religions can hardly be blamed for asserting what they believe to be true, he says. Strengthening one’s own Christian faith is a far more productive posture than marginalizing or provoking a particular faith community. “If we, as Christians, were to participate in Eva

the restrictions of other faiths’ liberties, we would be declaring a lack of confidence in the gospel and an unwillingness to proclaim it,” he says. “The answer is engagement rather than containment.” “It’s very basic,” concludes Macfarlane. “The best apologetics for the Christian faith in the 21st century is one’s life. We’re famous for being hypocritical, judgmental and anti-gay. But when [non-Christians] meet Christians that love them and serve them, it really makes a difference. “It’s not that complicated.”

Jerrad Peters is the managing editor of ChristianWeek, a biweekly newspaper covering Christian faith and life in Canada.

ng for Ch elist David ristia n wit Macfarlan ness in the e sees wo n chan ging derful op portu Cana da. nities

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Photo cour tesy of Go rdon Gilbe y

e in Calgar y is North

nosedive. Where once it was the major thrust of the church, says Macfarlane, it is now an anathema. It’s not hard to see why. In a culture that emphasizes pluralism and acceptance, evangelism has been abandoned in the name of tolerance. It needn’t have been. In fact, Christian evangelism and pluralism can coexist quite comfortably.


Feel Free to share good News Pluralism allows you to share your convictions

by Doug Koop

Christianity is not the only game in town. Plenty of people believe in something else. That’s simply the way it is. We had all better get used to the fact that increasing numbers of people who claim different religious allegiances now call Canada home. Some Christian believers are deeply concerned that this hinders their ability to evangelize. Perhaps, but I don’t think so. The real problems lie elsewhere. Certainly there are plenty of things that do make it hard for people of faith to encourage others to accept their beliefs. But the existence of other religions more prominent among us is not really the trouble. Diversity itself is not the key issue. In fact, opposition to public religious conversation more often comes from people with no faith loyalties to assert. It’s the secular mindset that’s more apt to be offended by evidence of religious commitment. People who have a declared faith expect religious devotion to have a governing influence in their lives. They expect it to matter. These devotees of other religions expect your faith to matter to you as well, and won’t be the least bit surprised to hear you talk about it. Think about it: the Christian gospel is supposed to be good news, and good news simply begs to be told. Good news is like money in a young boy’s pocket. It wants to be spent. It has a mind of its own, a compulsive need to be put into circulation. This makes sense. Think of all the other good news stories we happily share. We cheer wildly for good plays at sporting events; we’ll eagerly watch the replays on television and happily recount highlights around the water cooler for days. We love to celebrate accomplishments of all sorts

with commendations, banquets, awards, speeches and parades. Think about fishermen: they are renowned for their ability to tell and retell stories about their good catch in excruciating detail. We like to tell good news stories. We’ll eagerly bend someone’s ear with news of the birth of a grandchild, or of the good sleep we enjoyed last night. Had a good meal at a restaurant? Chances are you will tell someone about it. Good news loves to be told. So why do Canadian Christians find it so difficult to talk naturally about the good news that God is for real—that He is good, loving and endlessly creative in devising ways to restore our spiritual fortunes? Why are we so timid about such an important matter? Let me suggest three reasons why we are disinclined to share good tidings of great joy. Because we don’t want to offend. We are polite people who would rather bury our own beliefs than risk a situation that could turn out to be embarrassing. Our Canadian and Christian desire to be understanding and non-coercive too frequently trumps our eagerness to speak openly about faith matters. We are loath to put people on the spot by challenging their views with our own. We cloak our risk-aversion in the language of tolerance, excusing ourselves from sharing our own convictions because, we say, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. Well, if everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs, then so are we. If we live in a country that protects free speech and freedom of religion, then let’s not use “tolerance” to justify timidity. This is not to say that we should be in-your-face proselytizers who

confuse loud proclamation with effective witness. Rather, it’s a call for discernment: speak up in ways that can be heard when opportunities arise. (And don’t be afraid to shut up when that would be more godly and helpful.) Because we don’t like the company. Christians can be embarrassing to be with, especially if you’re one of them. In fact, if you are one of them you’re well aware that there’s much to be embarrassed about. Welcome to the human condition. It’s true that words like “Christian” and “evangelical” carry a lot of baggage in contemporary Canada, much of which we’d rather not attach to ourselves. So, instead of challenging the stereotypes, we withdraw into silence. We defend our failure to be open about our faith by citing St. Francis of Assisi, who reportedly said: “Preach the gospel

It’s one thing to tick a box delineating religious heritage on a census poll. It’s quite another to get excited about the idea that an all-powerful God actually cares about human individuals. at all times. If necessary, use words.” That’s helpful as far as it goes. But it supposes at least two things: first, that your actions are indeed pointing to the Jesus of the gospels; and, second, that words are indeed sometimes necessary. Don’t fall into the trap of neglecting your calling because some of your companions are discomfiting.

Tell it like a man

Because we lack proper confidence. Here is the nub of the matter. Many people who affiliate with the Christian faith don’t really believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Saviour for all humanity. It’s one thing to tick a box delineating religious heritage on a census poll. It’s quite another to get excited about the idea that an all-powerful God actually cares about human individuals. Talking openly about religious beliefs and saving faith strikes many men—even churchgoers—as too far-fetched a notion to discuss in polite company. And so we keep good news to ourselves. We decline to speak clearly for many reasons. We know our words will challenge the beliefs of others and lead to uncomfortable discussions. We doubt our ability to carry our own end of the conversation. We are keenly aware of how little we understand and how often we stumble in our own faith journey. We know we won’t be able

to answer many objections. We fear our words will lead to arguments we cannot win and cause hurt feelings that we cannot mend. In short, we give our own weaknesses and inadequacies more weight than our Saviour’s ability and desire to cleanse us forever. In so doing we limit the ability of God’s Holy Spirit to demonstrate His power through us. We withhold good news by our failure to appreciate that every person in the world longs for spiritual wholeness, that everyone is deeply flawed—that we all need a Saviour. Don’t fall for excuses. Good news deserves telling. Find a good way to tell it.

Doug Koop is editorial director of Fellowship for Print Witness, publishers of ChristianWeek, and managing editor of SEVEN.

Know God’s story – Every person falls short of perfection and is separated from God. God’s holiness cannot co-exist in relationship with our sin. God sends His Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place and to not only save us from God’s judgment, but to also reconcile us to relationship with God. We can actually know God through Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 6:23; John 17:3). Know your story – Why does the life, death and resurrection of Jesus matter to you? This is the story of how God’s grace has impacted your life. No one can take that away. Starting points – Bring your spiritual life into everyday conversation. When talking about what you did last weekend, talk about going to church or attending your small group. If someone is going through a difficult time, tell them you will pray for them (and then do it!). Pick your spots –Wait to see if people want to pursue the spiritual conversation further, and then begin to either answer their questions or share your story. Keep it real – Talk like you normally would and just be a guy. Fancy words will not draw people to Jesus; the power of God does (1 Corinthians 2:1). If you don’t know the answer to a question, just say so. Then, go find out the answer and begin the discussion all over again. Don’t play God – It is not your job to make people become believers in Jesus—that’s God’s job. In Mark 16:15, Jesus said, “proclaim the gospel.” That’s it! Let God do the rest. Never give up – Because you do not know when God will work, never give up the role you play in seeing people come to know Jesus (even when it seems hopeless). — Kirk Giles

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Tallest teepee at dawn. Photo courtesy of Dave King.

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CheCk your biases at the door Respect is a two-way street when sharing Christ with Native Canadians by Dr. Larry Wilson

Native Canadians are deeply spiritual. Like all men and women, they are created to be in relationship with the Creator. The majority are nominal Christians; many are evangelical believers. Some still practice traditional Native spirituality. There are some positive elements to traditional spiritual practices. It preserves Native language, family values, community dynamic and identity. However, traditional Native spirituality falls short of the gospel. Those who practice traditional spirituality may enter the sweat lodge in search of power and wisdom. They may hang dead fish tails in their home to keep spirits away, or hunt and thank the spirit of the moose for providing food. They may hang medicine bags and sweet grass to appease spirits who have power over their lives; they might burn food for family members who have died. But they do not recognize Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. These kinds of rituals lack power because Christ is not central to Native spirituality’s belief system. For this very reason, Native spirituality is widely accepted in Canadian social and political circles. It poses very little or no threat to the world’s belief system. If Jesus Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and man’s need for forgiveness were Native spirituality’s main message, it would not be so readily accepted. Some Native Christians choose to retain positive elements of their culture,

such as learning through story, relating in community and honouring elders. However, other elements like dancing and singing with the drum and wearing Native regalia has little or no support from more conservative Christian believers— both Native and non-Native—who see mixing the gospel and culture as syncretism. Many also struggle to accept “contextualization” (considering practices from within the context of their relevant cultural setting). Some take it a step further and criticize legitimate Native beliefs, practices and values. This happens out of ignorance and a lack of understanding of the worldview that shapes Native thinking. Natives tend to view the spiritual and natural worlds as one. The dominant North American culture, by contrast, carves a sharp distinction between spiritual and natural. This makes it difficult for non-Natives to properly judge Native beliefs and practices. And it means that Native people are apt to be offended by negative judgments, seeing them as an assault on their very identity. Most Canadian men find it easy to compart– mentalize; it never occurs to most Natives to even try. It’s normal to be biased to one’s own cultural values and beliefs when relating to people of another culture. However, non-Native Christians need to intentionally give up their own biases and make every effort to understand Native beliefs, values and practices before

pronouncing judgment on their way of life. This does not mean participating in Native spirituality rituals. Most people who practice traditional Native spirituality do not embrace or practice the core values and beliefs of Christianity. But it does mean developing a deep level of sensitivity and respect for one another. Believers should not be afraid to engage Native people who practice traditional spirituality if mutual respect is practiced. Christians would be wise to keep primary things primary and secondary things secondary. The main goal is to share the gospel, pursue healthy relationships and resist all efforts to simply change Native culture. Authentic Christianity is designed to permeate culture so Christ is exalted. Present the gospel clearly, respect Native people fully and live authentic Christianity freely. “Much of today’s resurgence of Native identity and Native spirituality finds its root in a heart that longs to be connected to the Eternal,” says Elder Ed Wood. In fact, there has never been a more opportune time for Christians to get to know their Native neighbours and introduce them to the Creator God and His eternal son Jesus Christ.

Larry Wilson, director of First Nations Alliance Churches of Canada, served many years on the board of Promise Keepers Canada and continues to work closely with the national men's ministry.

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ethNiC leaders make the most oF religious Freedom iN CaNada It means a lot to be welcomed and embraced

by Sandra Reimer

Indiana Salai Cungcin prayed to God from the depths of his heart for the first time while driving to Thailand. Soldiers were firing a rocket launcher at the convoy of cars he was travelling with—two women had already been killed. After 15 or 20 minutes, the launcher inexplicably jammed. God spared Cungcin. In 1988, after further political unrest in his native Burma, Cungcin fled to Thailand as an illegal refugee. While there he was baptized and discipled. A Winnipeg church sponsored him to come to Canada in 1997. An estimated 260,000 immigrants arrive in Canada each year. A number come from countries where people are unfamiliar with Christianity or where Christians are oppressed. Some like Cungcin are making the most of the religious freedom they have in Canada. He is thankful that in this country, “We can be talking about faith in public without fearing.” In Burma, the Buddhist majority persecutes both Christians and Muslims. Gatherings are limited to just 10 people at a time. Currently Cungcin works part time as an associate pastor at City Community Church, a multi-ethnic congregation in Winnipeg. He provides practical support to newcomers, prays with them and helps them understand the Canadian mindset that can be so different from their own.

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Cungcin also works half time for Vision Ministries Canada (VMC), a leadership development and church planting organization affiliated with about 140 mostly Brethren churches. Through VMC, he leads the Chin Christian Fellowship of Canada—a network of congregations made up of Burmese believers from the Chin tribe. One day Cungcin hopes to develop the Burmese Christian Fellowship, an association of churches comprised of Christians from eight tribes that often fought back home in Burma. He has already begun building relationships with leaders from the other seven groups that are living in Canada. VMC executive director Gord Martin strongly believes in resourcing ethnic leaders. “We have people coming to Canada from other countries in large numbers—not to engage them seems almost criminal.” VMC financially and practically supports the work of several ethnic leaders in Canada, including those from Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iran and China. “When we brought our network of 26 church planters together, five of them had at one time lived in a refugee camp. They are now shepherding congregations in Canada,” says Martin. With the help of a North American mission agency, one of those leaders creates radio shows in his mother tongue.

Gord Martin

The shows are broadcast twice weekly in his nation and neighbouring countries. Though Protestant Christians are persecuted in his homeland, hundreds of listeners eagerly and discreetly learn about Christ through his broadcasts. Vishal Masih also appreciates his religious freedom. Born in the Punjab province of India, Masih came to Canada with his parents when he was 14. They were teachers in India and wanted a better life for their children. With a Hindu background and nominal Christian influence, the Masihs believed all paths led to God and that no religion was any better than another. But Vishal became a Christian as a teenager after

Photo courtesy Vision Ministries Canada.

Burmese Christian leader Indiana Salai Cungcin consults with T. Jay Gurnett of Vision Ministries Canada.

receiving prayer and being healed of severe migraines at a church service. He and his parents, two sisters and brother were all baptized in 1984. Masih says God told him, “I have given you the language, the race, the colour, the name for a reason.” When Masih asked God if he was to return to India as a missionary, he says the Lord told him, “No, I have brought the nations to Canada.” Masih was assured he would be working in the Greater Toronto Area. Today Masih is the pastor of Behta Darya Community Church, which serves South Asians from countries like India and Pakistan who are living in the GTA. Masih says Indians are more open to the gospel when they come to Canada because they are not as fearful about what their families will think. In India, if you live in a village and visit a church, everyone knows about it. Through interacting with Canadians at work and school, Indians are more open to looking into Christianity—though many of them still think Jesus is the white person’s God. That’s where Masih and his congregation make a difference. They speak the language (Masih speaks Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi), understand the culture and worship Jesus. The church-planting arm of the Ontario Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (OCMBC) supports Masih’s work. OCMBC’s financial support

made a big difference. “With a church full of immigrants we never would have been able to minister full time,” says Masih. He also appreciates the prayer and personal support. “Mennonites became our family. We felt like there was someone with us—we were not alone.” While ethnic leaders have cultural and language “keys” that allow them to more easily reach out to people from their countries, they often need resources. “Ethnic leaders desperately need connections,” says Martin. Among the most important things Canadian-born

Christians can offer newcomers are their formal and informal networks. Whether we like it or not, says Martin, “the whole world is coming to our country and our neighbourhoods.” He adds, “It means a lot to them to be welcomed and embraced by the citizens of this country.”

Sandra Reimer is a freelance writer and communication strategist. She runs Reimer Reason Communications and serves on the editorial advisory board for SEVEN.

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man talk

what is the soul of a man? It’s a journey of discovery

by Arthur Paul Boers

God, I want somebody to tell me, answer if you can! Won’t somebody tell me, just what is the soul of a man? – Blind Willie Johnson, 1897-1945

Examining the soul of a man or questing for male spirituality were not topics I heard broached as a child, teenager or even early on as a young adult. If someone spoke of the “soul of a man,” we assumed they meant the term generically. Back then it was common for people to speak of “man”—as in “manmade”—to include all humans, men or women. As feminism emerged, many men learned to exercise more caution with language. They also realized men had a lot to say for a long, long time and that we were entering an era where we should be more reticent. Others began to speak of a growing “men’s movement;” responses varied, including a best-selling book that insisted Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche. I am not the only one who experienced confusion and anxiety during such shifts and transitions. Growing up, none of the men whom I knew talked about what it meant to be a man. They were not especially introspective, and most of them struggled long and hard just to survive—through the Depression, the Nazi occupation, fighting in wars and dealing with the penury of immigration.

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Souls? They were happy to feed, house and clothe their own bodies and the bodies of those they loved. There were other challenges I pondered as I grew into a man. I was bookish and introverted, a reflective dreamer. And the hard-working entrepreneurial men I knew smoked, drank and cursed. They spoke passionately of cars, hockey, fishing and earning big bucks. I suspected I was not a real man long before I ever even heard of a food called quiche. Later, though, I kept bumping into “men’s issues.” An older man introduced me to Robert Bly’s Iron John, but that did not compute. I went to a therapist about an inexplicable depression, and he spent all our time—sessions for which I was paying plenty—trying to convince me to join him and a group of men in the woods, where we could beat drums and our chests, holler and do who knows what. I did not go with him to the woods, nor did I return for any more sessions. And I wondered whether we really needed a men’s movement. Hadn’t the Crusades been a men’s movement? And the Civil War and the Second World War and the Vietnam War? We men had our messy fingerprints in all kinds of unseemly places and circumstances. Did a men’s movement merely mean that the privilege of old boys’ networks of smoky back rooms had migrated to the woods?

Yet something kept niggling at me. As I grew more interested in the spiritual practices of the Christian faith, I wondered why women outnumbered men in churches I served, at retreats I attended or led, and in courses on prayer I taught. In the middle of all this, a favourite Canadian singer, Bruce Cockburn, released an album where he explored the “soul of a man.” For years I thought he had written the words quoted at the beginning of this article. While the haunting lyrics were often on my mind, and while Cockburn himself had long inspired and challenged me, I was not sure he could tell me how to be a man. Part preacher, part busker Only years later did I learn Reverend Blind Willie Johnson wrote, “What is the soul of a man?” Johnson blended blues and spirituals—two of my favourite musical genres—down in Texas during the first half of the 20th century. He was part street preacher and part busker. Johnson’s was a hard life. He was blinded as a child, possibly during a violent fight between his parents. When he was in his 40s, his house burned down. Homeless, he slept in the ashy remains until he caught pneumonia. He was denied hospital treatment—possibly because he was black, perhaps because he was blind— and so died at the age of 48.

The Soul of a Man Johnson’s “What is the soul of a man?” tells of a quest to answer this vital question. His singing voice is graveled and husky, and a woman, probably his wife, accompanies him. He asks various people for an answer. He reports visiting many countries to find out. He tells of speaking to doctors and lawyers but getting no satisfaction. Yet glimmers of light appear as he reads the Bible and ponders Jesus. I’m still not ready to give a definitive answer to Johnson’s vital question, but I am grateful for good company along the way—people like Gareth Brandt, author of the new book Under Construction: Reframing Men’s Spirituality. His reflections on the Old Testament patriarch Joseph, someone whose wanderings are amply explored in Genesis, shed light on what we need to know as well. It’s been a long, long while since Blind Willie Johnson sang about his questing question. All vital issues, of course, generally need time for emerging clarity and discernment. What is the soul of a man, Reverend Johnson? For me, it is a journey of discovery.

Adapted from the foreword to Under Construction: Reframing Men’s Spirituality. Arthur Paul Boers is associate professor of pastoral theology at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Ontario. He is also the author of The Way is Made by Walking.

I’m going to ask the question Please answer if you can Is there anybody’s children can tell me What is the soul of a man? Won’t somebody tell me Answer if you can Won’t somebody tell me Tell me what is the soul of a man?

I read the Bible often I try to read it right As far as I can understand It’s nothing but a burning light Won’t somebody tell me Answer if you can Won’t somebody tell me Tell me what is the soul of a man?

I’ve travelled different countries Travelled to the furthest lands Couldn’t find nobody could tell me What is the soul of a man

When Christ taught in the temple The people all stood amazed Was teaching the lawyers and the doctors How to raise a man from the grave

Won’t somebody tell me Answer if you can Won’t somebody tell me Tell me what is the soul of a man?

Won’t somebody tell me Answer if you can Won’t somebody tell me Tell me what is the soul of a man?

I saw a crowd stand talking I just came up in time Was teaching the lawyers and the doctors That a man ain’t nothing but his mind Won’t somebody tell me Answer if you can Won’t somebody tell me Tell me what is the soul of a man? — Blind Willie Johnson (1930)

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money matters

Tax time tips Seven great ways to use your refund

by Paul Emerton

At this time of year, many people have just finished scrambling to find that last receipt to file with their income taxes. Hopefully you met the deadline and (if you are one of the fortunate ones) now face the welcome decision about how to use your refund. It’s tempting to think of this lump sum as “found money” and dream of big ways to spend it – perhaps a shopping spree or a trip with the family. While these options can be appealing in the short term, it may be more beneficial to consider long-term benefits. Have you ever wondered how taxes might be an opportunity to give? Consider first fruits giving with your tax refund. Start by giving to your church or favourite charity and tithe with your refund as you would with your regular income. Not only do you give back—you get the added benefit of a Charitable Donation Receipt for this year’s taxes. “Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine,” (Proverbs 3:9-10). Pay down your non-deductible debt (credit cards, line of credit, family loans). For greatest benefit, pay the highest interest rate debt first.


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Credit cards paid off? Congratulations! You may want to consider making a lumpsum payment on your mortgage to directly reduce the principal. You’ve paid off your debt and have funds left over? Why not add to (or start) your emergency fund? It’s always a good idea to have enough savings to cover a few months’ expenses to be prepared for the unexpected. Starting now on your 2010 RRSP or TFSA contributions is another excellent idea. Why wait until the end of the year when you can start earning investment returns or interest on those funds now? If you have children or grandchildren, use your refund to make an RESP contribution, or to start an RESP plan if you don’t have one. Your refund will do double duty—you’ll start earning interest and you’ll receive a Canadian Education Savings Grant to help your RESP grow. Still having trouble deciding on the best option? Tempted by that trip or a project around the house but don’t have quite enough money to do it? Why not start a high interest savings account or TFSA and watch your refund grow? The options are endless. Depending on the size of your refund, you may want to treat yourself and then use a portion of the funds for one of the ideas above.

Paul Emerton is a Certified Financial Planner and Trainer at FaithLife Financial.

Out of my depth

Who is right? In the realm of worldview and religious truth we are out of our league.

by Phil Wagler

Who is right? Many battle royals have raged over that query. Such melees rarely settle anything, but they can reveal who is swiftest, strongest and the best shot. Truth is, so much of what happens in this world hinges on that question. From parliaments to courtrooms, from backyards to bedrooms, “Who is right?” is a truly human quandary with potentially beautiful or disastrous ramifications. I love being right. Don’t you? There’s something supremely satisfying about coming out on top and being lauded as brilliant in our own minds and legends in our own times. And yet, being right is sometimes a matter of fortune rather than brilliance. We can be seen as more right by fluke of birth. Perhaps that’s why some are drawn to gambling—the chance of being right, even if by luck, is so appealing and addicting. Still, being right is not necessarily all its cracked up to be. With rightness comes responsibility. So, who really wants to be right? Perhaps that’s why relativism is so seductive. If I’m right and you’re right and we’re all okay with no one being wrong then we can all happily dispatch of the heavy burden of truth. And then there is this unsettling reality: those convinced of their rightness can be obnoxious and irritating. I’ve known such people and I don’t really like them or care one iota what they think. I’d like to say I’ve never been one of “those,” but that wouldn’t be, well, right. I know I’ve too

often been a pompous donkey in a desperate attempt to prop up my particular view of things. We like being right, but we don’t really like those who think (or know) they are. Which is why the class clown is always a more privileged position than the straight-A nerd in grade school. It would be one thing if our sense of rightness only showed itself in Grade 6 geometry. But human beings present themselves as deadly accurate about mysterious matters as well. When rightness gets attached to worldview and religious conviction we become especially dangerous creatures. And this is because we are not honest about this: in the realm of worldview and religious truth we are out of our league. I can prove my rightness about sports stats with a little help from Google, and I can demonstrate my vocational or mathematical prowess through a little hard work and determination. But when it comes to issues of the soul, to questions of the heart, to the big mysterious questions of life, death, eternity and ultimate meaning, I find myself looking through those glass blocks they put in bathrooms to provide light, but which prevent you from seeing. So, who is right about matters of faith? I grew up convinced the world as I knew it was right and couldn’t possibly be wrong. I was right. Wasn’t I? I wanted to be right and I could muster all kinds of blustery and blistering arguments to

prove my brilliance even if they were just parroted. Boy, was I wrong! And that was the breakthrough moment. My transformation into a humble confessor of truth came when I finally admitted I was out of order myself. G.K. Chesterton once responded to an editorial asking, “What is wrong with the world?” with the simple, yet piercingly accurate reply: “I am.” Yes, I am wrong. In that admission I am now free to discover who is right; and it’s not me. In a world going starkraving mad to prove who is right or that no one can be, my confession of wrongness produced the freedom of knowing I didn’t have to be. I only need to know the One who is right. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He claims to be right and if He’s right, then the rest of us—no matter where we came from or what sense of entitled rightness we carry—are wrong. If He is right, then the rest of us need no longer be shackled by the sinful insanity of having to prove we are and can finally know truth that sets free. And that surprising, humble freedom is an all right place to be.

Phil Wagler is an only child, husband of one, father of five, and pastor of many in Huron County, Ontario and the author of Kingdom Culture.

seven – issue eleven march–april 2010 page 27

power play

Great games. Great toys. Great gadgets. Reviews by Sandy McMurray

YES, Wii EXERCISE I remember the first time I played Wii Sports on the Nintendo Wii. Specifically, I remember how sore my muscles were the day after I played Wii Boxing. Sure, I was out of shape, but it felt like a real workout. Nintendo has since capitalized on the idea of gamercize (“exer-gaming”?) with popular video games that use your entire body. Wii Sports Resort features sword fighting, wakeboarding, canoeing, cycling and Frisbee golf. Wii Fit is a fitness program (no pun intended) that uses aerobic and strength training exercises to test and improve your fitness. How can you take your cardio and strength training to the next level? You could hit the gym and really get fit... or you could pick up a pair of Wii dumbbells. The Everlast Dumbbells for Wii Fit are two-pound add-ons that transform each of your Wii controllers into a workout weight. The dumbbells are designed to securely hold the controllers, allowing full use of all buttons,

seven – issue eleven march–april 2010 page 28

straps and wireless functions, and they’re compatible with popular fitness games including Wii Fit, EA Sports Active and Golds Gym Cardio. Why stop there? This accessory adds a new challenge to any video game, not just fitness titles. The extra pounds make it slightly harder to turn the steering wheel in racing games, and slightly harder to pound the mushrooms in Super Mario Bros. Feel that burn? Congratulations! You’re getting a Wii bit of exercise.

COUNTDOWN TO RELAXATION If you enjoy buttery-soft leather upholstery and gentle G-forces, this luxurious chair is for you. The Astronaut Recliner takes its name from its special seating posture (“developed by NASA”) that elevates your feet above your heart to reduce stress and facilitate oxygen and blood flow. Sit back and relax while the seat slides gracefully from upright to its fully reclined position in less than 15 seconds (14…13…12…11…). The fully reclined position encourages proper spinal alignment; it also provides a clear view of any incoming asteroids. As you stare at the ceiling, close your eyes and imagine the rockets firing below. You’re about to blast off for adventure or drift off to sleep. Either way, you win.

WAKE UP OR ELSE Do you have trouble getting up in the morning? Do you push the snooze

button more than once? You need Clocky, the alarm clock that can’t be ignored. If you snooze, you lose; one minute after the alarm sounds, Clocky springs into action, rolling forward and beeping madly like an angry droid. Your alarm clock is now on the floor and on the move. You can pull the covers over your head and try to ignore the beeping and thumping or you can get up and chase it. Clocky is extremely durable. It’s engineered to jump from three feet and it can handle carpet and wood floors. It can’t do this forever, but it can probably outlast you. After a few weeks of chasing Clocky, you should learn to get up right away. Either that, or your neighbours will start calling.

FOOL BURGLARS WITH A FAKE TV Do you have a timer hooked up to a lamp at home? Many people use this trick to convince burglars that someone is at home when the house is actually empty. Here’s a new idea that tries a bit harder: FakeTV flashes patterns and pulses of LED light to simulate a TV signal. Viewed from outside, the flickering light in the room makes it look like someone is at home, watching TV. The creators of FakeTV say the device accurately simulates scene changes, fades, swells, and on-screen motion, but it uses much less power than a real TV. “When a prowler sees that flickering glow, he knows to move on to an easier target.”


FakeTV costs about $50. It can be used with a timer, or it can be set to come on at dusk and turn off after a preset amount of time.

SPEAKING OF FAKE... How much would you expect to pay for an iPhone? How about $19.95, with no monthly fees? Finally, an iPhone for the rest of us! Not so fast, gentle reader. This is not a real iPhone. In fact, it’s not even a phone. The touch screen is plastic, not glass, and it has no electronics inside. It’s just a non-working replica of Apple’s famous iPhone, produced in Hong Kong and shipped around the world. Real or not, people are buying it. In the world of props and pranks, the phoney iPhone is the nerd equivalent of a Prada knockoff. It seems that lots of people are willing to pay $20 for the opportunity to trick their friends and family with a prop that looks like the real thing. So…how many would you like?

ONION RING MINTS Are you tired of the boring, minty taste of breath mints and mouthwash? Try Onion Ring Mints instead. Conventional wisdom says you should eat a breath mint after consuming onion rings, but you’re not a conventional guy. Onion Ring Mints combine the great taste of onion rings with the idea of a breath mint to produce a unique breath freshener. Naturally, this product will make you popular with the ladies. After all, women love the smell of flowers. Onions are plants, just like flowers. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to freshen your breath with onions. Onion Ring Mints. Bet you can’t eat just one. Shaving can be a chore, especially for men whose five o’clock shadow arrives mid-morning. Some guys can get by with an electric razor that scratches the surface, but truly hirsute fellows need something more effective and comfortable. If you want to pamper your face, your best option is a skilled barber and a straight razor, but this is not practical for men who need to shave daily (or twice daily). So what’s the next best thing? Try a safety razor. The classic double-edge safety razor is making a comeback along with hot towels and scented shaving cream. So-called “wet shaving” turns a tedious chore into a relaxing experience that forces you to slow down and take care of your face. Where to begin? Try the Merkur Heavy Classic double-edged safety razor, or the wet shave starter kit from Baxtor of California. The starter kit includes a chrome-plated safety razor, starter blades, and wet shaving instruction card, all packed in a matte black gift box. Or you can stick with your beard, at least until hockey playoffs end.

seven – issue eleven march–april 2010 page 29

What women want

Keep your eyes on your prize Women blossom when cherished by Sheila Wray Gregoire

Have you ever noticed how good looking forensic scientists are? I was unaware of this remarkable fact until a recent stay in a hotel allowed me to catch a few episodes of “CSI” (we don’t have a television at home). And while my initial thought was, “boy, that’s graphic,” my take-away was, “Wow, they’re all gorgeous.” Were I at a murder scene, I doubt I’d be wearing heels and a designer suit, let alone look like I just left the hairdresser’s. Apparently, though, when examining a corpse for foreign substances, mascara is a must. I’m not sure if men truly appreciate how insecure women are about appearance. Sure, you’d like six-pack abs, and a full head of hair would be nice, but that’s nothing compared to all the hype women have to meet. It starts as little girls, when we’re presented with our first Barbie. For those of you who did not have the opportunity to become intimately acquainted with her, she’s a mutant. Were she life size, she would be 44-12-22, and certain anatomical features, prominent on the upper half of her body, would prevent her from standing upright. Yet as unrealistic as she is, many women berate themselves for not measuring up to something which is just about as unattainable: looking like TV forensic scientists, complete with perfect figures, flawless hair and poreless skin. My husband feels rather perturbed when he sidles up to me at night and starts smooching, hoping to get a response, and then I rebuff him with, “Honey, I just feel so FAT tonight.” Keith wants me, so he obviously thinks I’m attractive. But if I don’t feel attractive, I can’t get in the mood.

Women are born with a deep-seated need to feel beautiful. It’s why little girls play dress-up and focus on princess dresses and tiaras. Yet it doesn’t take too long before our increasing dress sizes make us wish paper sacks were in style. I know some of this is disappointing to you, because your wife may no longer be the bombshell you married. Gravity happens. But please know that she likely feels worse than you do about this. I believe one of a husband’s main roles, just as important as killing the bugs, is to make his wife feel beautiful. Johnny Lingo, a Pacific Islander, understood this. A visiting missionary shared the story of meeting this remarkable husband. Johnny loved and wanted to marry Sarita, a woman who was rather plain. Her father wasn’t asking for much of a dowry. But Johnny bestowed eight cows upon his father-inlaw anyway, paying a higher dowry for Sarita than any other woman on the island had earned. His fellow islanders scorned him. Over the next few months, though, Sarita blossomed into a confident, stunning woman who walked with her head held high and her eyes sparkling. Johnny explained to the missionary that when a woman receives a low dowry, she feels she isn’t worth anything. Johnny paid eight cows to show Sarita what she was worth to him. And she lived up to the billing. I’m not suggesting you mortgage your house for your father-in-law’s benefit, but I do think Johnny knows something about women. We blossom when we feel valued and cherished; we wither when we don’t. It’s your role to show your wife you cherish her, just as Christ cherishes

His bride. He doesn’t wait around to see if she is still beautiful; He makes her beautiful by how He treats her and cares for her. I have been out eating with friends only to hear a husband chastise his wife for eating too much, or question her choice of menu item. I can guarantee that at that moment she doesn’t feel cherished. What a contrast with other couples where the husband can’t keep his hands to himself, as he constantly drapes his arm over her shoulders or kisses her hand. It’s quite obvious to everyone how much she is desired. Look in her eyes, and you’ll know she feels it, too. One of my favourite passages in Proverbs that people mysteriously avoid reading at weddings is: “May her breasts satisfy you always; may you ever be captivated by her love” (5:19). God is saying to husbands: you’re to be captivated and satisfied…even if her breasts are hanging down to her navel. And you won’t be satisfied if you’re always checking out other women’s chests. Chuck the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Stop gazing at female passersby. Most of all, don’t even think about looking at porn. It will put a screeching halt to any desire you feel for your wife, and it will wreck her self-esteem, your spiritual life and your libido. Keep your eyes on your wife. Cherish her. Long for her. Let her know you are captivated by her. And quit looking at forensic scientists, unless you want to meet one in rather unfortunate circumstances.

Sheila is the author of several marriage books, including Honey, I Don’t Have a Headache Tonight: Help for women who want to feel more in the mood. You can find her speaking at marriage conferences around the country, or at

seven – issue eleven march–april 2010 page 30




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Many faiths in my backyard (March/April 2010)  

Coming to terms with religious diversity in Canada

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