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SEVEN PROMISE KEEPERS CANADA

MEN / GOD / LIFE

CHOOSING FAITH OVER FEAR A MISSIONAL RESPONSE TO NEW NEIGHBOURS

DEEPER CALLING

P EE K D O G LAND R U O

SEEKING SUBSTANCE IN A "SPIRITUAL, NOT RELIGIOUS" WORLD

A PL A

NOV / DEC 2016 ISSUE 51 NEWSSTAND PRICE CDN $4.95

A D A N A C N I T S I R H C R O F E C


2 SEVEN NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016


CONTENTS

16

COLUMNS 6 // PK Podium The Jesus Issue 8  //  Lives Worth Leading Why I Am Excited About the Future of the Canadian Church

FEATURES 16 THE FAITH NEXT DOOR In an increasingly divided and ever-tumultuous political landscape, knowing how to respond to changing religious demographics can be complicated. But as Muslim-turned-Christian apologist Abdu Murray points out, perhaps there’s a more missional approach we can take with new neighbours of differencing faiths.

30 // Sports Scene Finding Authenticity in Faith, Family, and Football 32  //  The Single Life Your Attention Please 33  //  Out of My Depth The Floccinaucinihilipilification of Faith?

DEPARTMENTS 20 SPIRITUAL BUT NOT RELIGIOUS

20

It’s a phrase that has grown in popularity in recent years, but what does it mean exactly? Should we accept it? Is it even tenable? But more to the point— are we living any better? Perhaps our religious convictions could stand to be a little more spiritual at the same time.

10 // The Pulse Bits. Blips. Beats. Blurbs. 14 // Music Reviews Hits, Folk, Electronica 34 // Power Play Toys. Tools. Technology.

26 A FREE AND JUST SOCIETY…

26

Trinity Western University remains under fire in an ongoing legal battle over its proposed Christian law school. Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, explains why the debate over the school may set a dangerous precedent for Christian faith in Canada.

NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016  SEVEN  3


ON THE COVER

SEVEN is a Christian magazine for Canadian men that exists to help men lead more fulfilling lives and leave enduring legacies.

GOD KEEP OUR LAND

Canada is changing. With growing diversity comes an inevitable shift in the religious makeup of our nation, but perhaps this needn’t be something we dread. Maybe, just maybe…it’s an opportunity to show others what life in Christ looks like. Whether it’s neighbours from different faith backgrounds, friends who profess spirituality but not religiosity, or even those vehemently opposed to Christian values, we’re convinced that Jesus still has a place at the table—and that’s something worth sharing.

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. 1 //  A promise keeper is committed to honouring Jesus Christ through worship, prayer, and obedience to God’s Word in the power of the Spirit. 2 //  A promise keeper is committed to pursuing Christ-centred friendships with a few other men, connecting regularly, understanding that he needs brothers to help him keep his promises. 3 //  A promise keeper is committed to practicing biblical integrity: spiritually, morally, ethically and sexually. 4 //  A promise keeper is committed to strengthening families and marriages through love, honour, protection, and biblical values. 5 //  A promise keeper is committed to supporting the mission of his church by honouring and praying for his pastor, and by actively giving his time and resources. 6 //  A promise keeper is committed to reaching beyond racial, social, economic, generational, and denominational barriers to demonstrate that power of biblical unity. 7 //  A promise keeper is committed to influencing the world by his fervent love for God while loving his neighbour, seeking justice for the poor and oppressed, and making disciples of Jesus Christ.

Publisher PROMISE KEEPERS CANADA

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD

EDITORIAL

PROMISE KEEPERS CANADA

Editorial Director JEFF STEARNS

KIRK GILES

Questions and comments

Box 20099 RPO Brant Hills

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Promise Keepers Canada

regarding editorial can be sent

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to rhorsley@promisekeepers.ca,

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Promise Keepers Canada

The PK Canada logo features a maple leaf, indicating our dedication to serve the men of Canada. An arrow breaks into the maple leaf symbolizing the impact we believe God wants to see Promise Keepers and men making in our nation. A special thank-you to all the pastors who continually encourage us to communicate God’s truth with grace and love.

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PK PODIUM

THE JESUS ISSUE IT’S NOT ABOUT CONVERSION—IT’S ABOUT CONNECTION BY KIRK GILES

S

tudies will tell you that the majority of Canadians believe in God. The problem is that too many people believe that all religions serve the same god. You can talk to people about God, but mention Jesus and you will likely have a very different response. This is not new. Jesus has always been a problem for people. After all, if you claimed to be God and declared exclusivity as the only way to God, you would likely upset a few people too. So why does it matter if men believe in Jesus? Why can’t men be good men without having to deal with the Jesus question? To answer this question, we must go back to the beginning of the story. God created us, male and female, in His own image. However, we sinned, and who we were supposed to be was no longer possible. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, came to earth. The Bible teaches us that He was the perfect image of God, and that when we are in Christ, we are going to be conformed to the image of Jesus. (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15) This is not possible through any religion. Why does the Jesus issue matter? Because it is only through Jesus that men can fully become what they were designed to be in the first place. Everything else we do in life is ultimately futile; there is no person and no activity that can lead us back to the fullness of the image of God other than Jesus. According to Jesus, there is no activity or person who can lead us back into the relationship with God that we were designed to have—but He can. (John 14:6) The most important question a human being will have to answer is this: “Who do you say that Jesus is?” Jesus is either a liar, or He is God—He cannot be just a good, moral teacher. In this edition of SEVEN, we are focusing on helping you understand how a follower of Jesus can interact and communicate with people who do not share the same faith in Jesus. There are too many Christian men who are threatened, angry, afraid, or apathetic towards people who have a different faith than we do. We have to remember that Jesus reached out to us while we were also dead in our sins. He was not threatened by you, angry at you, afraid of how you would respond, nor did He just shrug His shoulders and pretend you did not exist. He sacrificially pursued you. There are only two types of people in the world—those who know Jesus and those who do not. As followers of Jesus, it is our responsibility and opportunity to reflect the image of the Son of God to others. We are not in the business of converting people to a religion, we are in the mission of connecting people to a Saviour who can restore us to who we were supposed to be as people. As we approach the Christmas season, how will you help people who have a different faith experience the life of the One who came to bring us eternal life?

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KIRK GILES is the president of Promise Keepers Canada. However, his most important roles as a man are husband to Shannon and father to Carter, Joshua, Sydney and Samuel.


GOD HAS A PLAN GOD HAS A PLAN GOD GOD HAS HAS A A PLAN PLAN FOR YOU! FOR YOU! What will be your legacy? FOR FOR YOU! YOU! What will be your legacy? What Whatwill willbe beyour yourlegacy? legacy?

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NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016  SEVEN  7


LIVES WORTH LEADING

WHY I AM EXCITED ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE CANADIAN CHURCH

GOOD THINGS ARE COMING…  BY COLIN MCCARTNEY

A

s we examine the state of our Christian faith in Canada, the outlook might appear bleak. In a study of 2,049 young adults aged 18 to 34 who were raised in church, only one in three still attend. It is easy from looking at this statistic alone, to feel despair for the future of the Church and Christianity in our great nation. However, I tend to see things differently. In my ministry I have the opportunity to speak across Canada and meet many young Christian adults from coast to coast. The ministry I am involved in also specializes in developing young Christian adult leaders to be church planters or church revitalizers. From my experience I am very encouraged about our future as a nation for the following three reasons:

MANY YOUNG CHRISTIAN ADULTS UNDERSTAND AND DESIRE TO LIVE OUT THE “WHOLE” GOSPEL From talking to young Christians I am seeing a generation that has no interest in a comfortable Christianity. They rightfully understand the gospel doesn’t stop at personal salvation, but that it also has social ramifications. We, from an older generation of Christians, may have been asked if we would like Jesus to be our “personal” Lord and Saviour. Young Christian adults understand the Lordship of Christ as encompassing everything. They see themselves saved for a bigger purpose than simply going to heaven after they die. They see salvation as a starting point to bring about the Kingdom of

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God on earth as it is in heaven. Young adults see the gospel being bigger then attending church and staying away from sinful behaviours. For them it also involves being active in combatting and serving those who are poor and oppressed. Theirs is an active, radical faith.

SOME YOUNG ADULTS HAVE LEFT “A” CHURCH ONLY TO DO CHURCH DIFFERENTLY Many young adults have been and continue to leave the Church in large numbers. However, this doesn’t mean they are leaving Jesus! Many young adult believers I know have left their churches to start new ones in low income neighbourhoods. Others are involved in house churches or even churches that meet in bars or community centres. The common thread of these new forms of church is mission. Many young adults choose to leave churches that are not involved in practical forms of service. They want to be in churches that are actively serving those outside the church. I am often asked to consult struggling churches that lack young adults and I always tell them that if they are not involved in social justice forms of mission they will be seen, as irrelevant by young adults. In this way, some young adults are not leaving churches but swapping them for churches that function differently.

YOUNG ADULTS UNDERSTAND THE CHURCH IS A FAMILY—NOT AN INSTITUTION Finally, young adults are seeking a safe community of love, acceptance

and purpose. They long for church to be their family in which God is their loving heavenly Father. This is seen in the contemporary worship music so popular in younger churches. Hands are raised, tears are shed and praise is given. Young adults want freedom to not only worship this God but to also experience Him in their midst. To them their faith is not something to be hidden under a lamp but to be expressed freely and even emotionally in their own unique way as young adults. All of the above characteristics of faith in our young adults are very, very good. The question is this: will we who come alongside our young adult brothers and sisters and use our resources and positions of privilege to bless and encourage our young people to continue to serve and worship their way? Or, will we get in their way and dismiss their expression of faith as being immature or even irreverent? Let us learn and journey with our young adult Christians, empowering and freeing them to be God’s missional movement in Canada to start a revival in our nation. That’s something that excites me about the future of our faith in our great nation.

/  COLIN MCCARTNEY is an ordained minister, speaker, and a bestselling author. He is also the founder of UrbanPromise Toronto and now leads Connect Ministries in Toronto where he, his wife Judith, and their two children reside. You can reach him at cmmccartney@mcec.ca.


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THE PULSE

BITS / BLIPS / BEATS / BLURBS THE LATEST NEWS FROM PROMISE KEEPERS CANADA

BITS / BLIPS / BEATS / BLURBS

CONFERENCES JOIN THE QUEST /  THE WORDS of the great philosopher, Homer Simpson, “It’s funny because it’s not me” often ring true. The problem is when it is you. When writing the script for one of the Quest conference videos, SEVEN editorial director Jeff Stearns pictured each scene portrayed with stock video. A guy living out an identity crisis by quitting

CONFERENCES FOR MEN

his job, running around in a superhero costume, getting pulverized by MMA fighters and eating protein powder from the container all seemed funnier when someone else was doing it. It wasn’t until meeting with the video team and working through logistics that the realization hit; someone was going to have to act it out. “Everyone agreed the script was hilarious. The problem was it was too specific for stock footage and hiring an actor was just too expensive.” says Jeff. “Either I was going to have to agree to do all the crazy things I wrote about or give up on the idea.” “Running around a playground, during a heat wave, wearing a sweat suit was probably the worst part,” he says. “…Until I ate the protein powder. No one had water and it stuck like cement.” After days of filming and editing, the Quest video was posted online. The response has been very positive with thousands of views and shares on social media. “I know the difference attending a conference can make in a man’s life; I’ve heard story after story from guys. So doing this, to let more men know about it, was worth it.” >>  You can see the “Join The Quest” video at www.PromiseKeepers.ca

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PODCASTS “DADS AND DAUGHTERS” WITH DR. MICHELLE WATSON /  FOR YEARS, Dr. Michelle Watson had been ministering to teenage and twenty-something women. Then one day God told her she should minister to men. In 2010 she launched The Abba Project—a group of dads who have committed to “kicking it up a notch” with their teenage and/or 20-something daughters over the course of a year in her life. Michelle shares her experiences about the men and young women she’s worked with and the impact The Abba Project has had on their relationships.

“HOW TO STAND FIRM WHEN FAITH AND CULTURE COLLIDE” WITH CARSON PUE /  ALTHOUGH IT’S no surprise that our Christian principles often stand in opposition to culture’s shifting values, sometimes this dichotomy can catch us off guard. Our culture continually exhorts people to have the freedom to be who they are—and believe what they believe. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to apply to Christians who hold to certain moral and ethical principles. In this interview, Kirk talks with Carson Pue, special assistant to the president at Trinity Western University. They discuss the struggles they’ve been facing, how they’ve been handling the pressure, and the effect it has had on his own walk with God.

“HOW SEXUAL ADDICTION IS DESTROYING WOMEN” WITH GLENDYNE GERRARD Sexual purity is a huge struggle for many men. What we don’t often think of, however, is the real struggle that’s happening in the life of the person being objectified. /  SEXUAL PURITY is a huge struggle for many men. What we don’t often think of, however, is the real struggle that’s happening in the life of the person being objectified. Glendyne Gerrard is the director of Defend Dignity, an organization that helps women in the sex industry, and educates men on the impact that they have in the lives of these women. Kirk and Glendyne discuss these consequences, and how Christian men can have a positive impact in the lives of women as they seek to bring an end to sexual exploitation. >>  Find these and other podcasts at: www.promisekeepers.ca/podcast

NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016  SEVEN  11


THIS IS ME TV

PROPAGANDA DOCUMENTARY /  AS WE grow up and try to find out who were are, life can become complicated—especially when we feel we don’t fit in. On top of that, we can often think that we’re the only one that feels this confusion. In true west coast lyric-slinging fashion, Jason Petty, AKA Propaganda, takes us through his journey and breaks down complexity. Prop takes it a step further and shares the difference of “creating from an identity” vs. “for an identity.” >>  For more, visit www.ThisIsMeTV.com

WORKSHOPS Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES /  WE LIVE in a culture obsessed with physical fitness, working out and eating right. Everyone wishes they were in better shape, but what about our spiritual health? The Apostle Paul writing to Timothy said, “Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8). In this workshop we will explore practical, spiritual disciplines you can use every day, as you train for godliness. >>  Find a workshop in your area or bring this workshop to your church.   Visit www.promisekeepers.ca/events for more information.

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All of life is ministry “I think every believer is called to be in fulltime ministry whatever their life situation.” Caleb Courtney [MTS] is a husband, father of four, high school teacher, worship leader and just completed the Master of Theological Studies program. He knew he could only afford a one-year leave to complete his masters, so he began planning a few years ago. Caleb has seen God open every door along the way. A percentage of Caleb’s salary was saved to fund a leave from his teaching job, and he received scholarships and awards. He also took advantage of flexible course modes such as online, evening and one-week intensives. This made it possible for him to still put his family time first. Caleb is now returning to work and plans to take on more of a teaching role at his church. “People have this idea of full-time ministry as being full-time in a church,” he says. “I think every believer is called to be in fulltime ministry whatever their life situation.”

Tyndale offers flexible full-time and part-time study options to meet your needs. Learn more. Visit Tyndale.ca or call 1.877.TYNDALE. NOVEMBER   MARCH / APRIL / DECEMBER 2015  2016  SEVEN  13


MUSIC REVIEWS

BY STEVEN SUKKAU

LIVE ON FOREVER

THE VERY NEXT THING

AMERICAN PRODIGAL

THE AFTERS (Fair Trade Services)

CASTING CROWNS (Provident Label Group)

CROWDER (sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records)

SINCE THE early 2000s The Afters have made names for themselves with upbeat rock hits that stick in your brain, and many that have seen mainstream success as theme songs for TV and film soundtracks. However, while not a groundbreaking leap in the band’s journey, their sound continues to be honed, as seen in the recently released Live on Forever. In the process, The Afters trade their raw rock sound for a more polished pop/ electronic sheen. Long time fans may pine for the earlier sounds, but lead singer Joshua Haven’s soaring vocals are still here, matched with driving electronica in place of alt-rock guitar riffs. And despite the mainstream exposure, the band continues to build on a message of faith. As Haven’s sings, imagining eternity, on the title track, “we’ll see colours we’ve never seen, every sound a symphony, rising up as the angels sing, the arms of grace are open wide, the face of love before our eyes… heaven is real… we are not where we belong.” There’s a lot on The Afters third outing that will satisfy fans, but some may still hope their sound circles back to the spark they started out with.

CASTING CROWNS has been no stranger to the airwaves since their self-titled 2003 debut, with pop/rock worship classics like “Who Am I” and “Praise You In This Storm” or Sunday morning staples like “Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)”. They return here in fine form for The Very Next Thing. Their eleventh studio album carries the same weight their pedigree suggests, moving from uplifting platinum-certifying hits like “One Step Away” to intimate ballad “Oh My Soul” and worship anthem “God of All My Days”. Thematically, The Very Next Thing speaks of being present to the Holy Spirit’s work, right now. On the title track Mark Halls warns against dreaming of the future, “When all of this time there’s a world passing by right in front of me,” and instead look to the need in front of our faces. “To the very next way you’re gonna use me,” Hall sings. “Show me the next thing, I’ll do the next thing.” Throughout the album, that grace of looking for ward to the next act of love rather than past mistakes is underlined. We can feel a million miles off the path, lost in an ocean of shame, but Hall reminds us, “you can turn around, you’ve never been more than one step away… from arms wide open.”

WHILE SOME in Christian rock continue to gravitate towards a safer pop sound, David Crowder returns after game-changing album Neon Steeple with another raw, breath of fresh air. American Prodigal holds the same exhilarating experience as Neon Steeple with a range of styles and genre fusions. This time Crowder leaves behind the electronic fever and pushes further in the direction of rootsrock, employing everything from banjos, vibrating hip-hop beats, heavy guitar riffs and delicate piano. Few acts can shift from a stomping banjoladen hoedown, to soul soaring worship anthems like Crowder, and he does it here with ease. From stand-out fight song “Run Devil Run” and its distorted guitars and harmonica, “I got something make the devil gonna run,” to the heartbreakingly beautiful acoustic guitar and keys of “My Victory”: “Oh your love, bled for me, oh your blood in crimson streams…. your death is hell’s defeat.” Thematically, like the album’s title, American Prodigal embodies a stripped down Gospel message that cuts to the deep tenets of human nature; sin and forgiveness. It’s a message you can imagine hearing in a tent revival 100 years ago, but at the same time, intimately modern. As Crowder sings on “Back To the Garden,” “I was formed from the soil, I got dirt inside of me but, I was born to be royal, I was made for glory.”

/  STEVEN SUKKAU  works for Golden West Radio and resides in Winkler, Manitoba.

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FEATURE

THE FAITH NEXT DOOR

SHARING THE GOSPEL WITH OUR MUSLIM FRIENDS BY ABDU MURRAY

16 SEVEN SEPTEMBER  / OCTOBER 2016


W

e were one of the few Muslim families in the suburban Detroit community I grew up in, a community that has since diversified with thriving populations of Arabs, Chaldeans, and Asians. But in my childhood, before the diversity bloomed, our Muslim family was a bit ‘exotic.’ Those were pre-9/11 days, so our exoticness was mysterious and alluring. But since 9/11, perceptions about Muslims have changed. Some now see Muslims as potentially dangerous people with dangerous beliefs. Others think Muslims are constantly victimized by prejudice. The reality, of course, is that Muslims are people, people are imperfect, and our imperfections complicate matters quite a bit. Middle East strife and the Syrian refugee crisis complicate matters further. North America grew by welcoming immigrants to her shores. And while we still want to embrace that welcoming spirit, we must also seriously consider whether that invites would-be oppressors to hide amongst the masses fleeing oppression. Some of us stand at the shore with arms wide. Others stand with arms crossed. As Christians, we feel the tension—we recognize the need for safety, but we long to open our hearts to those who are hurting. As a matter of policy, Canada has favoured the welcoming side of the tension. Yet, to truly understand

the depth and the opportunity we’ve embraced, we need to understand the Muslim next door. A year before 9/11, my worldview underwent a revolution. At the age of 27, after a nine-year search, I left Islam and gave my life to Christ. I now enjoy the blessing of knowing what it’s like to be a Muslim in North America and what it’s like to be a Christian who deeply loves Muslims coming to our shores. Allow me to share some insights on how to offer the gospel to Muslims—dear people Jesus gave his life to save.

THE DIGNITY OF DIFFERENCE Today it’s fashionable to focus on our similarities. The desire to focus on similarities comes from a wellmeaning effort to embrace diversity, yet minimize strife between people. But that can swallow cultures whole, without sampling the diversity that make the “other” savoury and spicy. By taking our differences seriously, we recognize that each religion has a (sometimes checkered) history and that each culture has wisdom to contribute. Though we may disagree with each other’s ideas—sometimes rightfully so—we extend to others (in this case Muslims) the dignity of recognizing that their religion and cultures have their own ideas and history. When it comes to culture, a striking difference with the West is

the Muslims’ strong sense of extended community. Muslims tend to come from cultures that value deep and wide communities. Language tends to reflect a culture’s passions. Arabic, for example, has four words for cousin, at least two words each for grandmother and grandfather, and two words each for uncle and aunt. Muslims blur the lines between friends and family, calling unrelated elders “uncle” or “auntie”, cousins “brother” or “sister”, and friends “cousin.” While many Muslim immigrants love the West, they lament the West’s lonely individualism. Muslims love lively and prolonged interaction and getting to know people. Indeed, hospitality was a primary virtue instilled in me. We never had a guest over for dinner. We had them over for a feast. If we hired someone to fix the furnace, they not only left with payment for their services, but a sack full of Middle Eastern goodies. We loved to share our culture with others. A friend asked me how he could make a connection with the men who ran a Lebanese restaurant he went to every week. I said, “That’s easy. Just one word you need to know: marhaba. Hello in Arabic.” He walked into that restaurant with a gleeful “Marhaba!” and became instant friends with the owners (and got free baklava, too). If you join Muslims for dinner, the aroma of delicious goodies and the vibrant sounds will remind

NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016  SEVEN  17


you that Christianity sprouted from roots sunk deep in the Middle Eastern soil of community. This provides us with powerful opportunities. When a mosque opens near our neighbourhoods or churches, we may be tempted to withdraw and be suspicious. But that’s precisely the opposite of what we should do. Why not, instead, make a tray of sweets, made specially without any animal shortening, and take it to the doors of that mosque and invite them to visit our churches? It was this kind of hospitality that led a friend of mine, just one Christian man following Jesus’ example, to befriend a Muslim at a large local mosque. That friendship birthed opportunities the church and the mosque to hold formal dialogues on the nature of God, the authority of Scripture, and the like. I was blessed to participate in two of those dialogues in which hundreds of Muslims heard the gospel in clear and challenging ways. But with the smiles and smells comes the “shame and honour” dynamic that is often strange to Westerners. For Muslims, the search for truth can give way to the fear of shame and the pursuit of honour. To even consider a different worldview— like Christianity—is to flirt with a shameful betrayal that affects the community as a whole, the family in particular, and the individual Muslim most devastatingly. That means that family honour must be upheld even at the expense of truth. Sam Solomon, himself a former Muslim, asks us to picture a circle with a dot in the middle. In the West, the circle is life and the dot is religion. In Muslim cultures, the dot is life and the circle is religious expression. Religious identity permeates and saturates everything. That’s why nominal Muslims who don’t regularly practice Islamic rituals will still enthusiastically defend

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Islam in debates. In essence, they are defending their very existence. And so the objections to Christianity and the defenses of Islam will come fast and, sometimes, furious.

ANSWER THE PERSON, NOT THE QUESTION In light of this obstacle, how can we offer the credibility to our Muslim friends? The Apostle Paul gives us some insight: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:5-6) Notice that Paul doesn’t say that we ought to know how to answer each question. He specifically teaches us to answer each person. Questions don’t need answers; people need answers. And offering answers in a way that touches people can get us past the seemingly immovable obstacles. Allow me to give you two short examples of how we can offer the gospel in a way that appeals to Muslims. You may notice that effectively sharing the gospel with Muslims requires us to address our deep differences, but also draw from an important commonality. “Allahu Akbar!” we hear Muslims all over the world say with religious fervor. It literally means “God is Greater.” In the West, we associate this phrase with terrorism because radicals shout it when committing their atrocities. But peace-loving Muslims (the vast majority) also use this phrase routinely in formal prayer and daily living. For Muslims, God’s greatness is the cornerstone of belief. That’s something common to Christianity as well (Ps. 145:3). From this commonality we

can address some of the deepest differences between Islam and Christianity. For example, Muslims believe that parts of the Christian Scriptures were once revealed by God, but became corrupted over time, necessitating the final revelation of the Qur’an. Muslims also reject the idea that God would take on human nature, live among us, and die on a cross. Let’s consider the validity of the Scriptures through the shared lens of God’s greatness. Two divine attributes flow from God’s greatness: omnipotence and trustworthiness. If God lacked either quality, He’d no longer be great. But this presents a profound dilemma. If the Bible was once God’s revealed word, but became corrupted, only two possibilities emerge: either God couldn’t protect the Bible or He wouldn’t protect it. If God couldn’t preserve the Bible, then he’s not all-powerful. But, no Muslim would entertain such a blasphemy. But the second option isn’t any better. If God were just unwilling to prevent the Bible’s corruption, He’d be untrustworthy. He would have allowed horrible blasphemies to lead millions to hell. And if He were willing to allow the Bible’s corruption, what gives a Muslim any confidence that God wouldn’t allow the Qur’an to become corrupted as well? No Muslim can believe that God was too impotent to preserve the Bible nor that was He so callous and untrustworthy that He chose not to. And so only one option remains for a Muslim who wants to worship a God who is truly great: the Bible could not have been corrupted. If God is great—and both the Muslim and the Christian believe He is—then He can protect the Bible, He would protect the Bible, and history tells us that He did protect the Bible. This brings us to addressing the cross of Christ. The God who is great


GOD IN HIS SOVEREIGNTY HAS BROUGHT MUSLIMS TO OUR VERY DOORSTEPS. HOW WE TREAT THEM WILL BE TESTIMONY ABOUT HOW WE ACCEPT THAT GOD-GIVEN OPPORTUNITY. enough to preserve His word is also a God who expresses the greatest attributes we all aspire to, but in the greatest possible ways. The greatest attribute is love, isn’t it? Doesn’t every other great attribute flow from love? Wouldn’t God Himself—who is infinitely greater than us—express love far better than we ever could? If God is truly great, then He must express the greatest possible ethic in the greatest possible way. And there is no greater expression of love than self-sacrifice. We mere humans do it all the time. It’s how we know our spouses, our brothers, our sisters, or our parents truly love us. But when we express love through sacrifice for others, our natural inclination is to do it only for those who love us or

for strangers at best. It goes against everything within us to sacrifice ourselves for those who hate us. But in the Christian faith, God exceeds our limited love. “God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Those words tell us that the truly great God expressed the greatest possible ethic—love—in the greatest possible way—self-sacrifice. The great God we are looking for is found nowhere other than the cross of Christ.

MISSIONARIES WITHOUT PASSPORTS God in His sovereignty has brought Muslims to our very doorsteps. How we treat them will be testimony

about how we accept that God-given opportunity. We no longer need passports to spread the gospel to the world. The world is coming to us. Most Muslims aren’t smoldering militants twisting their mustaches as they scheme your destruction. Nor are they merely foreign curiosities. They are different and yet the same. In the most important way, Muslims are just like all of us. They are sinners in need of the Saviour. And the Saviour loves them just as much as you. I thank God that Christians came into my life who saw me that way and offered me the gospel, which tells of a God who is truly great. I pray that you’ll see Muslims as God sees them and offer them that gospel.

/  ABDU MURRAY is the North American Director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and is the author of two books, including his latest, Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews. Abdu lives in the Detroit, Michigan area with his wife and their three children.

NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016  SEVEN  19


FEAT

Spiri Relig BUT

THE CHURCH IS CALLED TO

/  BY TIM K

20 SEVEN NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016


TURE

i tual gious NOT

O EMBODY A BETTER FAITH

KEENER  /

NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016  SEVEN  21


Y

ou’re really a pastor?” he asked, as I tried to place his British accent. “I’m a pastor… really,” I warmly replied. It was another chance encounter in Montreal, an opportunity to learn someone’s story, and to share my own story as well. A mutual friend had invited us both to a rugby picnic and family day. He was an English professor, moved to Canada many moons ago. His wife was from Alberta and showed equal surprise, but respect, at my vocation. She was into theatre and I told her she should visit our church some Sunday. I explained that our worship was very artistic, and narrative. “I think you would really enjoy it,” I posited. She was equally open about her beliefs, explaining that she was “spiritual, but not religious.” She suggested a great TED talk by Alain de Botton on the subject. “It’s really amazing; you need to check it out,” she assured me. We exchanged emails and all the customary courtesies. “They seemed nice,” I thought, and I wondered if they would really like our worship, or would it be too religious for their spiritual tastes? It was not the first conversation I’ve had in Montreal with a person who is “spiritual, but not religious.” Anecdotally, it’s the most common confession I come across, and that’s no surprise according to the research. A 2012 Forum Research poll indicated

22 SEVEN NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016

INTEREST IN SPIRITUALITY HAS NOT WANED, BUT STRENGTHENED, LIKE A PLANT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE DECLINE OF ITS SURROUNDING COMPETITORS. that two-thirds of Canadians considered themselves ‘spiritual,’ and yet just half considered themselves ‘religious.’ The ‘religiously unaffiliated’ category, or the ‘nones,” as they are often called, has been a consistently growing category in

North America, particularly among millennials. A 2011 Pew Research survey indicated 20 per cent growth among the “religiously-unaffiliated” between 1971 to 2011, with nearly 30 per cent of millennials claiming the designation.


advantage of the decline of its surrounding competitors. It’s hard to imagine anyone 75, or even 50 years ago, claiming to be spiritual and not that the same time religious. How did we get to this paradox of the spiritual but not religious? And, is the Church’s shipwreck making way for an overdue reflection on our own religious spirituality?

THE ACCIDENTAL SPIRITUAL TOURIST

FORTUNATE SHIPWRECK None of this is a surprise here in Montreal where neighbourhoods are littered with empty and aging church buildings. It’s a perennial reminder that the era of the church as institution is now gone (be it Catholic or Protestant). To be certain, Quebec is unique. Its ‘sinking ship’ was vividly documented in the 2014, Heureux Naufrage (Fortunate Shipwreck). But the whole of Canada has felt a largescale shift in the social, intellectual, and moral believability of organized religion. At the same time, interest in spirituality has not waned, but strengthened, like a plant taking

My gut says that the majority of folks who identify as spiritual but not religious have arrived there by happy accident. Dr. Linda Mercadante, author of Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious explains that the group is not necessarily the result of those who have been hurt in the Church, nor are they against belief or not open to theological reflection. On the contrary, her research uncovered a group who share many values with the religious, especially ethical values and a desire for authentic, meaningful relationships. In fact, the SBNR value sacredness—and they are not spellbound by old school naturalistic atheism. The spiritual but not religious are easier to identify by what they are not rather than what they are. Generally, the SBNR are suspicious of organized religions and institutions, as well a singular or personal God. They are likely not fans of religious

exclusivism, absolute truths or doctrines. They might cringe at a conversation about sin (including the idea of a sinful nature) or heaven and hell (especially hell). There is common ground however. Expect lots of agreement if you want to talk about brokenness and human suffering, virtues like gratitude and generosity, or the practice of simplicity and solitude. Mercadante attributes the SBNR trend primarily to a modern cultural shift toward self-fulfillment. The quest for meaning is alive and well among the SBNR, but it allows the “self” to become the center of authority, rather than an outside source. And this is truly worth keeping in mind. As much as there is common ground (especially that we are all seeking, and thinking about these things), mutual appreciation breaks down when it comes to our primary differences, notably at the point of theism, revelation, and where ultimate hope lies.

HOW TO GET BACK A STOLEN JOKE It is said that there is really only one rule when it comes to stand-up comedy—don’t steal another person’s material. Interestingly, not all of the SBNR are accidental and some are rather candid about borrowing spirituality from religion. In fact, in the TED Talk that my new acquaintance suggested, writer and speaker Alain de Botton suggests a new version of

NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016  SEVEN  23


RIGHT RELIGIOUS BELIEF WITHOUT SPIRITUAL PRACTICE IS SIMPLY EMPTY ORTHODOXY—AND NON-BELIEVERS HAVE A RIGHT TO CRITICIZE OUR HYPOCRISY. atheism that unapologetically steals aspects of religion in order to succeed where secularism has failed. De Botton suggests that even if you don’t agree with religion, you have something to learn from it, namely because religions are so successful at making sense out of life. Secularism has not proven to be particulary effective at offering morality, guidance, and consolation, he explains. And this is where secularists can steal a play out of the ‘old time religion’ book. People are indisputably in need of urgent help, says de Botton. But rather than get that help from Scripture, it can found in culture. He even suggests that atheists become better sermonizers (telling people how to live) rather than just secular lecturers (simply giving information).

as it does from a dissatisfaction of religion. But can those searching for meaningfulness really find what they are looking for in a faux spirituality, lite-spirituality… you know, the one without all those religious calories? Christian author and philosopher James K.A. Smith describes their thirst: “Even the secularist is pressed by a sense of something more—some ‘fullness’ that wells up within (or presses down upon) the managed immanent frame we’ve constructed in modernity.” I think this is what the spiritual but not religious are feeling—eternity in their hearts. The writer of Ecclesiastes says that not only has God placed eternity in our hearts, but that none of us can fathom all that God has done (or is doing). We are good at knowing our spiritual need, but help comes from beyond our immanent resources.

TASTES GREAT, LESS FULFILLING?

THE RBNS: RELIGIOUS BUT NOT SPIRITUAL

Perhaps an organized effort of atheists sermonizing humanist ideals in the cloak of spirituality should frighten us. What if spirituality without religion works after all? We should be awakened, but it is telling that the trend of SBNR comes as much from a dissatisfaction of secular humanism

24 SEVEN NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016

My greater concern though, is the Church’s witness. I’m concerned about followers of Jesus being religious but not so spiritual. And I think the Church’s weakness in connecting belief with genuine practice has been exposed. Correct doctrine has long been a

priority of the Evangelical church in North America (a legacy of Protestant Scholasticism). But now more than ever our aim must especially be conversion or spiritual transformation (our Puritan-Pietist legacy). It’s funny how this spirituality used to simply be called piety. Right religious belief without spiritual practice (piety) is simply empty orthodoxy—and non-believers have a right to criticize our hypocrisy. The legitimacy of our beliefs is utterly tied to the authenticity of our practice, not only as individuals, but also as a corporate People of God. This might be a hard pill to swallow for the church today, but for the SBNR, authority is not found in the text itself (the Bible), but rather authority is found when it is seen in the transformation of those reading Scriptures.

/  TIM KEENER is a pastor with the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada. He lives with his wife and four children in Montreal, Quebec, and has also lived and worked in the United States and France. Tim and his wife love to cook together and host others around their table.


NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016  SEVEN  25


FEATURE

E E R F A D JUST ANCIET Y… SO 26 SEVEN NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016

B Y BRU C

E CL EME

NGER


TRINITY WESTERN CONTINUES TO BATTLE PROPOSED LAW SCHOOL CRITICISM BY BRUCE CLEMENGER

A

court case that could impact religious freedom across Canada is headed towards the Supreme Court. A Christian law school is being opposed by law societies in three provinces because of the Christian university’s religious views on marriage and sexuality. More broadly, this case raises the question about whether a public benefit can be withheld from a faith-based institution because of admissions policies that are directly related to its religious character. The decision in this case could impact the many religious organizations, including churches, that restrict membership on the basis of faith and lifestyle. Trinity Western University, a private Christian University in British Columbia, applied to establish a law school and was approved by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada in 2013. Six provinces accepted TWU’s proposed law school and granted accreditation. Law societies in British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, however, voted to create obstacles to graduates from TWU’s law school, either by refusing to admit its law school graduates or by not considering it an accredited law school. The decision to exclude TWU’s law school and graduates wasn’t based on concerns about the academic merit of the school. TWU’s ability to provide an excellent law school education and produce graduates who will serve Canadians well is not being disputed. The law societies refuse to accredit TWU’s proposed law school

because they object to its Community Covenant. This is an agreement students make to follow a code of conduct that is based on the school’s religious beliefs. As TWU states it, the covenant is “part of TWU’s Christian philosophy of education, which integrates academic learning, spiritual formation and moral character development in a manner consistent with TWU’s view of biblical truth.” The Community Covenant does not require students to affirm the Christian faith. It does, however, require students to agree to adhere to a code of behaviour in keeping with the religious vision of life that animates the university. Harassment, bullying, disrespectful comments or behaviour for any reason, including one’s sexual orientation, violate the covenant. At the heart of this debate, however, is the requirement that students agree to reserve sexual intimacy for heterosexual marriage. This is grounded in TWU’s affirmation of biblical teaching, that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This case is about whether the Christian university’s program should be recognized when the law societies disagree with its religious views on marriage and sexuality. TWU challenged the law societies’ decisions in all three provinces. Almost a dozen Christian groups, recognizing the significance of this case, have intervened to argue for the protection of religious freedom. The EFC has joined with Christian Higher Education Canada, an association of evangelical colleges and universities,

NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016  SEVEN  27


to make legal arguments in support of TWU in all three provinces. Each intervening group is able to provide legal arguments on a different aspect of the case. We are arguing for religious freedom and principled pluralism— that TWU should not be refused accreditation on the basis of its religious views. As our factum to the Ontario court states, “TWU and its

The implications of this case are far-reaching. Many Christian schools and organizations have codes of conduct based on their religious vision of life and the teaching of Scripture. This case will impact how Christian schools, churches and ministries across Canada are treated. In Ontario, the Court of Appeal agreed that refusing to accredit the law school violates the religious

TWU SHOULD NOT BE REFUSED ACCREDITATION ON THE BASIS OF ITS RELIGIOUS VIEWS. graduates ought not to be excluded from the public sphere because of their religious beliefs and practices. The State (or in this case the Law Society of Upper Canada), in a secular society, has the obligation to welcome and accept religious individuals in the public sphere.” In the first round of hearings, in the lower courts, the courts in Nova Scotia and BC ruled for TWU and the one in Ontario against. Nova Scotia’s lower court decision was strongly favourable to TWU and agreed with several arguments from the EFC’s legal factum. All of the lower court decisions were appealed. The Nova Scotia appeal court ruled in TWU’s favour, and the Ontario appeal court ruled against TWU. (The BC Court of Appeal ruling had not been released at press time). TWU has announced it plans to appeal the Ontario decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Ontario and Nova Scotia law societies’ refusals to accredit would not bar TWU from establishing a law school, but the stakes for the proposed law school are higher in BC. There, the provincial government has made approval of the law school conditional on the provincial law society’s approval.

28 SEVEN NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016

freedom of TWU and its students in a significant way. In fact, the decision specifically notes the forceful and eloquent arguments by the EFC’s legal counsel that the decision to attend TWU is fundamentally a religious decision that manifests the evangelical beliefs of the student. The appeal court went on to conclude that the law society was justified in overriding these freedoms and the appeal court ruled that it was reasonable for the law society to withhold a public benefit (accreditation of the law school) from the Christian university because its admissions policies require adherence to the covenant. Not all will agree with TWU’s biblical understanding of marriage, but that is the essence of a free society. To deny a person or community a benefit of law, or to impose an obligation or sanction, strictly because of their religious beliefs is discriminatory and regressive. Of all people, the members of the law society should understand this. In these court cases, it is the faith orientation of the proposed law school that is being challenged, not the academic qualifications. It is the Christian community’s ability to define its standards and to practise

its faith that is being undermined. The law societies would accredit TWU if it changed its beliefs. As we wrote in our legal arguments in the BC lower court: “However well-intentioned, government actions that have the effect of repressing or stigmatising the exercise of an evangelical community’s right to associate on the basis of faith-based rules of conduct represent a direct interference with freedom of religion.” Evangelicals are significant contributors to the public good. In a truly pluralist society there will be disagreement about many matters, including matters of sexual ethics. But in a free and democratic society these differences make up the mosaic of Canada. It is no accident that religious freedom is the first fundamental freedom identified in the Charter. It is the bellwether for all other freedoms. It’s important to be in the courts and we’ve seen our arguments have some influence in the final decisions. The justices may not wholly endorse our position in each case, but our contribution shapes the outcome. Please join with me in praying for our nation. Pray for the courts to hear our arguments for the fundamental freedom of religion and to rule wisely. Pray that our country will continue to make room for us to live out our beliefs faithfully. We know that our lives and our country are ultimately in God’s hands.

/  BRUCE CLEMENGER has been president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada since 2003. He, his wife Tracy, and their two daughters live in Ottawa. For more on his work, as well as the latest updates on the Trinity Western proceedings, visit www.evangelicalfellowship.ca.


Impact lives with the gospel Join the movement!

gideons.ca/join NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016  SEVEN  29


SPORTS SCENE

FINDING AUTHENTICITY IN FAITH, FAMILY, AND FOOTBALL

RAIDERS' QB CARR REFLECTS CHRIST—ON AND OFF THE GRIDIRON BY CARTER BROOKS

T

he ‘F-word’ is what gets Derek Carr up in the morning. It is what keeps his mind and body active, and what provides the motivation behind the lifestyle of a starting quarterback in the National Football League. No, not that F-word. In this case, the ‘F-word’ refers to ‘faith’, ‘family’ and ‘football’. It is the combination of those three meaningful words—in that order—that keep the 6-foot-3, 220

30 SEVEN NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016

pound quarterback afloat amongst the many trials of life. But for the award-wining quarterback, it hasn’t always been that way. “My grandfather was a preacher, so Christ has always been a part of my journey,” he says. “My parents were very consistent with the way they raised their three boys, and every Sunday we were expected to worship, even if there was a sporting event. But during my last years in high school and my first year in college I started to find myself straying from Christ.” Derek was known throughout his time in school as a Christian, but also an even bigger partier and womanizer. Although living in a rambunctious way that he thought may have seemed ‘normal’ for a highly acclaimed athlete, he can remember the exact moment when that all changed. “Christ became real to me when my wife—who was just a friend at

the time—wrote me a letter that said, ‘You’re not the person I thought you were,’” he says. In a mini-documentary by TheIncrease.com on Derek Carr’s life, his now-wife, Heather, goes on to say how Derek would say one thing, but act and behave in such a different manner just five minutes later. “I thought he was so in love and on fire for God,” Heather says. “But then I saw what he was doing, it just wasn’t adding up. He would talk about God, and how much he loved God, but then I would see him going out to all of the parties and hanging out with all of the girls.” When reading that hand-written letter, Derek reflected that he realized how selfish and arrogant of a life he had been living. He knew that he had to start making some major lifestyle changes in order to be the person that his God wanted him to be. “That next week we had a game at Ole Miss,” he recalled. “So I got up in


Photos courtesy of the Oakland Raiders

front of my whole team and said to them, ‘Guys, I’ve been calling myself a Christian, but I haven’t been living it. You guys know what I’ve been doing. I’m a Christian now and I’ve asked God for His forgiveness; now watch how I’ll live my life.’ To me, that’s really what being a Christian is about.” Through the earlier childhood teachings from his grandfather, and the time spent in the pews on Sundays, paired with the more recent wake up call he was handed by a young and concerned future wife, Derek has steadily received Christian guidance that he now is able to use and share with all of those around him. “I believe that if you truly believe in Jesus Christ, and you are a true follower of Him, every part of your life should be a reflection of how Christ lived His life, and the enormous sacrifices He made for us,” Derek says. “My faith is my life, so it does affect

every aspect of how I go about my day. From prayer, to worship, to how I interact with teammates, coaches, my wife and family; everything is affected by my faith.” Now as a father, husband, and third-year starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, Derek has been given as good of an opportunity as ever to showcase his belief in Christ, and the great works that come from the Lord. Entering week four of the 2016 NFL season, Derek Carr has thrown for more than 8,000 yards and 58 touchdowns in just 35 career games. He beat out Matt Schaub for the starting quarterback gig as a Raiders rookie in 2014—something that has never been done before—and has yet to falter, starting every single game since. In Derek Carr, the Raider Nation now knows that they have found their dynasty quarterback. And although his accomplishments on the field are

tremendous, it is the simpler things in life that bring Derek the most joy. Things such as spending time in prayer with teammates, teaching the fundamentals of throwing a football to his three-year-old son, Dallas, taking his newborn son, Deker, out for a family walk, or making a guest preaching appearance at a local church are the other areas of Derek’s life that sometimes go unnoticed. But for the NFL Pro-Bowler, he maintains that the attention should not be on himself, but on a higher power. Very much like he stated in his animated tweet after Oakland’s come-from-behind week one victory, “God is good!”

/  CARTER BROOKS is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, Manitoba. On top of reading and writing, coaching hockey is his favourite pastime. Carter can be reached at carterbrooks1994@gmail.com.

NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016  SEVEN  31


THE SINGLE LIFE

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE . . .

FERVENT FAITH IN A DISTRACTED AGE BY PAUL BOGE

F

aith in Jesus is our most precious gift. 1 John 5:4b says “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” So how do we as singles protect and grow in our faith? The Bible says “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) We need to ask ourselves: What are we paying attention to? Are we spending time with God by reading His Word? What

and minds are cluttered with other attractions. We can also grow in our faith by knowing that our faith is under continual attack. This way, we won’t be surprised when it happens. Our faith comes under attack most often not by a sudden obvious assault, but rather by way of a slow and continuous grinding away of Truth. And because deception comes gradually, like the slow dimming

We need to challenge ourselves to ask if the deepest desire of our heart to spend time with our Lord through prayer and Bible reading, or if our faith is slowly dimming because our hearts and minds are cluttered with other attractions. are we allowing ourselves to be influenced by? Are they trustworthy sources? Where are we getting our convictions from? Does what we think, do and say line up with Scripture or have we fallen prey to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life? We need to challenge ourselves to ask if the deepest desire of our heart is to spend time with our Lord through prayer and Bible reading, or if our faith is slowly dimming because our hearts

32 SEVEN NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016

of a light, we are in danger of not recognizing attacks for what they are. We need to be aware of how Satan strategizes against us. (2 Cor. 2:11). Various truths that have been held dear by followers of Christ for centuries, have since become ignored or rephrased to suit our personal or present circumstances. Not only do we not defend against the attack, but sometimes we don’t even know that it is happening. The antidote for this, as always, is a

fervent faith in Christ. Our faith needs time and dedication to grow. Do we treat Christ like the treasure He is, or is our heart someplace else? Are we allowing Christ to rule in our hearts through faith (Eph. 3:17) or are we wrapping the form of Christianity around an already full schedule? As singles, we are likely able to have an easier time clearing our schedules and focusing our priorities so that we can dedicate time for Christ. Not out of legalistic sense of duty, but out of a response to Christ’s call to spend time with him. Jesus says: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14) Our faith grows by admitting our sin, repenting, and putting our trust in Christ. Living in this constant awareness of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and being willing at all times to live according to Scripture will develop our love for and faith in Jesus. And as we pursue this, our lives of faith will begin to mirror that of Christians in the New Testament.

/  PAUL BOGE is the author of Father to the Fatherless: The Charles Mulli Story and five other books. He is single and works as an engineer in Winnipeg.


OUT OF MY DEPTH

THE FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION OF FAITH?

SCREAMING AT YOUR TV WILL NOT HELP BY PHIL WAGLER

A

while ago I chatted with a dad whose pre-teen son had made the decision to follow Jesus. The youngster was very eager to share the news. This was surprising because the dad is not a believer at all. He wasn’t opposed to this step of faith by his son—it’s just not something he’s into and concluded his boy was simply “wired” more that way. As he processed this new spiritual invasion of his territory he recognized that something was going to have to change. “We’re going to have to up our game,” he lamented. “That would be helpful,” I said, “but, there are things you could do to help your son grow in his faith and you might discover it to be really meaningful yourself.” He was like a deer in the headlights. Like a Maple Leafs’ goalie staring down another defensive breakdown. I may as well have asked him to spell floccinaucinihilipilification— which is a real word meaning “the act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant, of having no value or being worthless.” Which, if you consider, is highly ironic because f loccinaucinihilipilification is precisely what many have done with faith these days. This floccinaucinihilipilification of faith is both real and blind. Charles Taylor has pointed out that we live in the first wave of human history where it is completely plausible to live entirely without faith. These days you are deemed either dangerous or marginally cute and to be patronized if you embrace faith. This unabashed Secular Age—as Taylor calls it—is

propped up by a trinity of government, education, and consumerism. Government legislates secular values, education indoctrinates secular values religiously, and consumerism values the next purchase as that which will satisfy our deepest longing. As a result, faith—at least as is traditionally understood—has been decreed valueless and worthless. There is a blindness in all this, however. While the culture assumes the f loccinaucinihilipilification of faith, it’s actually not reality. Daily headlines describe very real acts of faith and a new wave of human migration is depositing people of various faiths on the supposedly faithless shores of secular lands. You can marginalize faith all you want, but water-cooler or coffee shop conversation will eventually end up there. We’re flabbergasted that the floccinaucinihilipilification of faith we’ve assumed is not recognized by new friends who assume we’re a “Christian” nation. The faithless are left unsure of how to fully engage those whose entire self-identity is completely faith-shaped. Which brings something helpful into the light: it’s actually not that we live without faith, it’s that we’ve replaced the Judeo-Christian worldview as our cultural interpretive lens for an alternative one we have come to trust in entirely. The late journalist George Jonas insightfully saw this: “…50 years ago it was obligatory to prohibit what is now obligatory to permit or even promote… We’re no more tolerant than we were 50 years ago; we’ve just reversed what

we’re intolerant about.” So, like it or not, if you live in a western culture this is where you now live. You can be shocked by it, but it is what it is. Screaming at your TV will not help. On the other hand, we are not called to throw up our hands and allow the floccinaucinihilipilification of faith to overtake those who know the Kingdom of God story. Instead, the way forward is the demonstration of a living faith that is more beautiful than the alternatives can ever hope to produce. When Jesus invites you to trust and follow him he doesn’t ask you to nod at a few doctrinal statements. He bids you, as martyred German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “to come and die.” Die to all other ways of living; die to yourself; put to death the wisdom of the age that you know is futile and failing, and don’t just have faith, but live by faith. I believe we will see a new generation—like my friend’s son— begin to hunger for faith while their fathers sit bewildered at what to do. Having become so accustomed to the sidelining of faith they will have no answers and will need the compassionate, patient, modeling presence of men who are not just men of faith, but men of God; whose daily living paints a picture and plants seeds of another world. Will you be that man?

/  PHIL WAGLER lives in wonderfully diverse Surrey, BC and serves the area of training on the lead team of MB Mission.

NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016  SEVEN  33


POWER PLAY

TOYS / TOOLS / TECHNOLOGY CHRISTMAS IS COMING . . . BY SANDY MCMURRAY

GOOGLE EVERYWHERE 

// madeby.google.com

Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University. They incorporated Google as a privately held company in September of 1998 and we’ve been using the word Google as a verb ever since. I know this because I Googled it, not because I’m smart. There used to be things I did not know. Now my ignorance only lasts until I can pick up a laptop or smart phone and ask Google. On October 4, Google introduced Google Assistant as a feature in its new Pixel smart phone. This powerful tool is like Apple’s Siri, but with better insight and access to everything Google knows. It recognizes voice commands and learns as you use it. And it’s always listening. The same technology is built into Google Home, a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your own personal Google, always listening, always ready to help. Just start with, “Ok Google” and it responds. The next generation of Google is here. And this time, it’s personal.

34 SEVEN NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016


SIGNATURE SERIES WALKMAN 

// sony.com

Before the iPod, before the CD, there was just one word in personal audio: Walkman. You might have seen the iconic cassette version of the Walkman in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy. In the 1980s, those bright orange headphones were as common as Apple’s white earbuds are today. Sony is still rocking the Walkman name, but now it belongs to a line of high-end audio products. The Walkman Signature Series NW-WM1Z promises to deliver every note as the artist intended, using High-Resolution Audio that’s better than CD quality. Encased in a high-grade gold-plated oxygen-free copper chassis, the Walkman Signature Series is designed for audiophiles who will settle for nothing less than immersive excellence, and are willing to pay a premium price. The 21st century Walkman sells for about $3,200. Headphones sold separately.

Sony is still rocking the Walkman name

MOTO MODS 

// motorola.ca

Moto Mods are smart phone accessories that snap on and off using powerful magnets. Motorola designed this system to give their customers choice and flexibility when choosing their smart phone’s features. Start with a slim and light Moto Z phone. Do you want a bigger battery? Snap! A zoom lens for the camera? Snap! Better speakers? Portable projector? Snap! Moto Z smart phones have a panel on the back that connects quickly and easily with any Moto Mod. The accessory becomes active as soon as it clicks into place, with no configuration or setup. You just snap on the Mod and start using it right away. The Moto Mods family includes the JBL SoundBoost speaker, the InstaShare Projector, and power packs from Incipio so you always have enough power. The Hasselblad True Zoom Mod makes it possible to have 10x optical zoom and RAW image capture with just a snap. You can learn more about Moto Mods at motorola.ca


SELF-DRIVING TRACTOR 

// cnhindustrial.com

The era of self-driving cars and trucks is almost here. Tesla sports cars have autopilot features, Uber is working on self-driving taxis, and a company called Otto is working on auto-pilot for transport trucks. Will farmers be left behind? Not a chance. CNH Industrial introduced its autonomous tractor technology at the 2016 Farm Progress Show. Auto-steering and telematics are already available on today’s tractors, but this technology goes further, adding GPS and satellite correction technology. Manned or cab-less self-driving tractors from Case and New Holland will be equipped for remote deployment and monitoring. Get back to me when the tractors pay for themselves.

IMPOSSIBLE BURGER 

// impossiblefoods.com

Look at that burger. Would you believe that there’s no meat in there at all? It sure looks good. Go ahead, taste it. (Hmmm. That tastes a lot like a magazine. Or, if you’re reading this online, it tastes like a dirty computer screen. Ew.) The world’s most famous meatless cheeseburger went on sale this summer in New York to rave reviews. The Impossible Burger is not just a veggie burger. Reviewers say this is a meatless revolution: a meatless patty that sizzles, sears, and smells like real beef. The secret ingredient is something called “heme,” a molecule extracted from fermented yeast that mimics a similar molecule in animal blood. That’s what makes the Impossible patty cook and “bleed” on the grill like real meat. It took five years of research and $180 million in funding but now you can buy an Impossible Burger for just $12 plus the cost of a ticket to New York.

TRIPLE DRAFT LATTE 

// lacolombe.com

The Draft Latte is a creamy concoction that adds a frothy layer of silky foam to the taste and texture of a true cold latte. La Colombe’s Triple Draft Latte is for passionate coffee lovers who want more coffee flavour in their draft lattes. Triple Draft Latte is made with three shots of cold-pressed espresso plus whole milk. Lactose-free and minimally sweetened with cane sugar, for a healthier, stronger jolt. Enjoy it cold. You can get four cans for about $15.

36 SEVEN NOVEMBER  / DECEMBER 2016


KINDLING CRACKER 

// northerntool.com

Big fires start out as small flames licking at little pieces of wood. You can’t just strike a match and hold it up to a log. You need kindling. Kindling Cracker is a safe and easy way to make your own kindling without an axe or hatchet. Set a big piece of wood in the top, then smack it with another piece of wood to split into smaller pieces. You can use a hammer or any blunt instrument. No axe required. Kindling Cracker is available at Northern Tool stores and amazon. com for about $100.

TAPE TAMER 

// zyp-zyp.de

Are you tired of searching for the end of the tape? Try ZYP-ZYP - a clip on tool that turns a roll of tape into a tape dispenser. To use it, just push down on the cutting end and turn the roll. You can then grab the tape and cut off as much as you need. Cast from an alloy of copper, nickel, and tin, ZYP-ZYP weighs just 5 grams and fits any 12mm wide roll of tape. Priced at $35, this tool is perfect gift for the man who has everything except an expensive, hand-crafted, German-engineered tape dispenser.

/  SANDY MCMURRAY writes about games, toys, and gadgets at funspot.ca.


NEXT ISSUE

For All Ages

If you’ve ever talked to someone a little older than you, or a little younger than you—and chances are you have—you’ll know that people of different generations don’t always see eye to eye. Our life experiences and the cultures we grow up in have a way of shaping our viewpoints, sometimes leaving us with radically different ways of seeing the world. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Next issue, we take a multi-generational approach, and explore issues of starting right, finishing well, and how a breadth of perspective makes for a better Kingdom of God.


EMPOWERING THE ONLINE GENERATION WITH STORIES

THAT MATTER

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