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A Parable of the Rich Man and the Artist: A Fictional Story and Communion Meditation

A Parable of the Rich Man and the Artist: A Fictional Story and Communion Meditation

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A Parable of the Rich Man and the Artist: A Communion Meditation

A Parable of the Rich Man and the Artist: A Communion Meditation

There was a wealthy man who made his money in high tech industry using only his left-brain. He put his analytical and practical skills to good use and soon became head of all operational logistics for what became one of the largest companies in the world. He became wealthy almost by accident and had more money then he knew what to do with.

He built a magnificent home
and in order to expand his right brain and because he was told
it would be a good investment, he began to buy what seemed to him the most impractical commodity of all ~ he began to collect art.

As he opened his life more fully to both his right and left brain
He discovered a connection between truth and beauty,
And in so doing came to the realization
that the most powerful visual image of the intersection of truth and beauty was the cross on which Jesus died.

Here was the broken beauty of one who was the way the truth and the life.
and yet was willing to die because through his death God’s love could be released to all men and women,
Jesus had said, greater love has no one than to lay down their life for a friend.

The wealthy man began to search high and low for a piece of art about the cross that would become the centerpiece of his collection.
The finest galleries in the world offered him works by the great masters¢â‚¬¦
But something had changed in this man’s heart.
he was no longer interested in the fame of the artist;
he was seeking for work that resonated with his spirit and soul.
Newspapers across the nation told the story of his spiritual quest.

One day in a small out of the way town he discovered the painting he was searching for. It was titled:
The Brokenness of Beauty: The Truth About Love.
When he asked the artist the price, the artist said, “it is not for sale.”
Pulling out his checkbook he handed it to the artist
and said, “write a check for any amount up to one hundred million dollars.”

The artist, who was very poor, said, “Sir, this piece is not for sale.
Perhaps you would be interested in another piece of my work.
WHY must you have this one piece of art?”

The wealthy man, who at one time in his life
prided himself in having never shed a tear,
began to weep quietly.

“When I was young I was poor and then I became a wealthy man.”
One day I realized the thing I most needed I could not buy.
I realized the peace and joy I sought from God
was available to me only through Jesus and the cross.

The beauty of your painting
is that your eye has seen
and your hand has rendered,
what I have found in my life to be true
but cannot adequately put into words-

That I am a great sinner
& Christ is a great savior.

Now it was the Artists turn to weep.
She lifted the painting off the easel and turned it
so the wealthy man who could see the back.

There he saw His name printed in bold letters
next to which was taped an article
about a wealthy man who would give anything
to find a painting reflecting God’s truth and love
broken on the cross.

“I have been waiting to meet you,
so I could give you the gift
that has already been purchased for you
through the blood of your Savior and mine Jesus Christ.

The art today is from Kathy Hastings from her amazing series called crossings.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in November 4, 2009 by | No Comments »

    A Chance To Do My Very Best

    A Chance To Do My Very Best

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    A Chance To Do My Very Best

    I just hosted a podcast discussion at The Kindlings Muse with three film critics on the topic, “The best movies about God you’ve never seen.”

    For you film lovers out there I’ll disclose the top three in no particular order: Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire, Krysztof Kieslowski’s The Decalogue (described by Stanley Kubrick as the only masterpiece he could name in his lifetime) and finally Babette’s Feast written by Karen Blixen (novel) and Gabriel Axel (screenplay).

    Babette’s Feast is the story of a famous Parisian chef who flees the French civil war and lands incognito in a small seacoast village in Denmark. There she works for two spinsters, both devout daughters of a revered but joyless puritanical minister. After many years, Babette unexpectedly wins a lottery, and decides to create a masterful French dinner, which is so sumptuous it leaves all the legalistic guests fearing for their souls.

    Among many themes developed in the film, is the role of the arts in enriching human life by helping us become more fully alive. Near the end of the film the narrator observes, “Throughout the world sounds one long cry from the heart of the artist. Give me the chance to do my very best.”

    This phrase always catches me off guard because excellence is not really in vogue these days.

    Great art takes time. Babette spent days preparing the meal and her timing was precise and measured. There was no room for error and no faster way to achieve the end result. We on the other hand live in an instant, get it done quickly society.

    Ironically two of our four panelists on the show are on writing deadlines for books (true confession I am one of them). Deadlines are good and important, but when the work isn’t coming together the prudent path is to serve no book before it’s time; the most common approach however is to stop refining and improving the work so it can make the publishing cycle. My friend is in the final stages of editing and is allowed only to deal with punctuation and spelling. He is forbidden to rewrite any sections he finds sub par. Picture Michelangelo suspended upside down in the Sistine Chapel being told he needs to wrap it up and call it quits even though he isn’t satisfied with the angle of God’s finger reaching to touch man’s.

    Great art is seldom motivated by money alone. Babette invested everything she won in the lottery in buying the ingredients of one feast for which she charged the guest nothing. While it is true most of the great artists were scrambling to stay alive and usually living on the edge of financial ruin, the best of their work was generally done out of a passion for excellence than simply for a paycheck. Today issues of marketability and money drive today’s artist, particularly in popular culture. Most true artists in contemporary film and music are constantly at odds with the business instincts of advisors who push them to compromise the artistic vision for a better bottom line. One of my friends, an award-winning composer, has been assigned a project for which she lacks passion and has been told to do the bare minimum to fulfill the contractual obligation. Nothing kills an artist’s spirit more than being told to do inferior work and put their name on it.

    Great art usually makes demands on the audience. Babette brought out turtle soup to guests accustomed to bland potatoes and bread. Most didn’t want to try it. All the films our panelists chose are by foreign filmmakers and are subtitled. They are not “entertaining” in the normative use of the word in American culture. They are thoughtful, literate and at moments visually disturbing. Today’s typical audience simply isn’t up to it, accustomed as they are to fast-paced Hollywood blockbusters with minimal dialogue, maximum special effects and ease of access.

    British artist Richard Hamilton, credited with creating the first work of pop art, was also the first to define its ethic: “mass-produced, low-cost, young, sexy, witty, transient, glamorous, gimmicky, expendable and popular.” An audience fed junk food is not ready for a rich feast.

    The reason some of the best movies about God have never been seen is that we have lost our appetite for the sumptuous feast made possible by artists who are spiritually, intellectually and creatively precocious and who have been given a chance to do their very best.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    ‚©CRS Communications 2009

    Posted in Staublog in October 27, 2009 by | No Comments »

    Love On Vacation

    Love On Vacation

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    Love On Vacation

    “Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Jesus said if you can do this you’ve obeyed all the law.

    Jesus obviously never took a family vacation.

    Our second daughter is L.A. bound for a film studies program and my lovely wife thought a family road trip from the slow-paced, comfort and beauty of Orcas Island to LALA land would be the perfect way to cap off our busy summer.

    They say any good trip begins with a well-crafted plan and it has also been my observation that every marriage unites a detailed planner with a loosey goosey “let’s just get in the car and see where we end up” free spirit. Some years ago our son and I turned on the ignition in Seattle and drove to Chicago without a map and with no advanced reservations. Sheer bliss.

    Alas my wife takes after her dear mother, who within hours of learning of our wedding plans had prepared a five page singled spaced, legal pad of preliminary notes for our blessed event.

    And so our planning began one lazy afternoon with wifey and I at adjacent computers scouring dozens of travel sites, where we compared the best deals on hotels. Her desire to shave off five dollars a night added hours to the process. I was exhausted but did it for love. My wife thought this five-hours together booking four hotels was perhaps the most wonderful cooperative venture of our married life and is excited to do it again sometime soon.

    Animals complicate vacations. Two days before departure our horse broke through a fence and was found eating the tall grass next to the Shell station stopping traffic in both directions as tourists stopped to photograph this slice of island charm. The day before we left for LA my wife spilled a freshly broken egg on our West White Highland terrier, who happily strutted about with yellow spreckles dotting her pure white coat. I was informed that one must not take such a dog to the caregiver without a complete bath and shampoo. I did it for love.

    When my daughters pack for a road trip the living room looks like an explosion at a clothing factory. It becomes clear that our plan of one compact suitcase per person will not do. I learned long ago that for my daughters a decent packing job requires the use of multiple plastic bags (guaranteed to rip when packing) each of which must be carefully packed and unpacked at each and every stop. Love. Love. Love.

    Having by this point realized that our stuff was not going to fit in the trunk of a 90’s Honda Accord, my wife again went excitedly online and discovered roofbag.com. This ingenious and reasonably priced item allows a pack-rat hillbilly family to cram all unpacked items onto the top of the car.

    The daughters thought a lock was essential for the roof bag, so I made a trip to ACE where I bought a tiny lock a two year old could break open and snapped it in place. Upon arrival at our first hotel our oldest daughter realized that despite our top-level security system, we should not leave the bag on the car top, so we got a hotel cart and loaded the whole bag on, only to learn that the assemblage is too wide for the elevator. Love.

    Sharing a room with your wife and two daughters (22 and 17 years of age) is one of life’s truly great adventures, especially when it comes to bathroom time. Once in the room I heard the dreaded words, “l saw a Target¢â‚¬¦maybe they have that darling blouse we saw in Seattle.” Unbelievably we are going shopping, the logic being we still have space in the roof bag.

    En route Molly reveals the custom play list we will listen to for the entire trip. Music to my ears? Not. Love.

    We are only hours into the trip when I remember that Jesus actually did take a family vacation. The Holy Book tells us he went with the family to Jerusalem when he was twelve years of age. The family was three days into the return trip home before they discovered Jesus was not with them.

    The wisest man on earth had stayed behind.

    I shared this insight with the women. They did not laugh, but I love them anyway.

    (The photo of Dick Staub in a lobster bib is taken in SF on Fisherman’s Wharf on this wonderful family vacation by his wife, who felt it would make him look as goofy as he really is).

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

     

    ‚©CRS Communications 2009

    Posted in Staublog in August 28, 2009 by | No Comments »

    Seekers & Finders

    Seekers & Finders

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    Seekers & Finders
    Every day, millions of us use search engines to find what we’re looking for on the Internet. We try Google, or Yahoo, or other sites until we find what we need.

    If a search engine repeatedly yields unsatisfactory results, we try different key words or use a different search engine entirely. Search-engine companies are continuously introducing ways to generate more and better results. Motivated seekers are not satisfied with seeking and not finding.

    It’s not unlike America’s spiritual journey. National surveys repeatedly identify a large portion of Americans who describe themselves as spiritual seekers. In the decade I’ve been watching this phenomenon, the percentage has stayed firmly in the 82-percent range.

    Which leads to an obvious question. If everybody is searching, how come nobody is finding? Why would a culture accustomed to successful searches be satisfied with always turning up empty? (Click here to read the entire ARTICLE)

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    ‚©CRS Communications 2009

    Posted in Staublog in August 2, 2009 by | No Comments »

    Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

    Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    When it comes to patriotic celebrations and the role of religion in America’s founding, views typically range from a nostalgic exaggeration of our Christian roots to an outright (and equally misleading) denial of religion’s role.

    To find the truth, it might help if we could return to two original founding documents, both of which promise “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    Click Here to read more.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in July 2, 2009 by | No Comments »

    Our Perfect Storm

    Our Perfect Storm

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    Check out Dick Staub’s new book NOW IN PAPERBACK!The Culturally Savvy Christian.

    The Perfect Storm

    For more than a decade I hosted a nationally syndicated talk show. I read five newspapers a day, 30 journals a month and a few books a week. All of that helped me learn to spot certain trends, and all of them, I think, contribute to our nation’s current crisis. I’ll mention just three.
    ¢â‚¬¢ The rise of unbelief. The number of people who say they have no religious affiliation has doubled in the past 20 years.
    ¢â‚¬¢ The decline of Christianity. The percentage of American Christians has shrunk from 86 percent to 76 percent since 1990, according to a new survey, and the decline is not entirely undeserved.
    ¢â‚¬¢ Widespread dehumanization. In what management guru Charles Handy calls “The Age of the Hungry Soul,” there are signs of widespread spiritual, creative, intellectual, relational and moral impoverishment.

    Click Here to Read the complete article a

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    ‚©CRS Communications 2009

    Posted in Staublog in May 16, 2009 by | No Comments »

    Angels and Demons: You Are What You Read: Fiction, Fact, and Not Sure

    Angels and Demons: You Are What You Read: Fiction, Fact, and Not Sure

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Check out Dick Staub’s new book NOW IN PAPERBACK!The Culturally Savvy Christian.

    You Are What You Read: Fiction, Fact, and Not Sure

    Someday I’d like to be able to walk into a bookstore and have everything neatly laid out in three sections: “Fiction.” “Non-Fiction.” And “Not Sure.”

    James Frey’s notorious memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” was revealed to be partly a fictional fabrication and now is sometimes derisively called “A Million Little Lies.”

    Dan Brown went out of his way to reassure readers that “The DaVinci Code” is reliable by writing what is now referred to as the “fact page.”

    Because so much of the book is demonstrably not true, Brown eventually issued a statement on his Web site clarifying his “fact page”:

    “If you read the `FACT’ page, you will see it clearly states that the documents, rituals, organization, artwork, and architecture in the novel all exist. The `FACT’ page makes no statement whatsoever about any of the ancient theories discussed by fictional characters. Interpreting those ideas is left to the reader.”

    Remember simpler times, when facts were facts and fiction was fiction?

    Click Here to read more of Dicks Religion News Service article “You Are What You Read: Fiction, Fact, and Not Sure.”

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    ‚©CRS Communications 2009

    Posted in Staublog in April 20, 2009 by | No Comments »

    Good Friday: Ruin Is In Place Here

    Good Friday: Ruin Is In Place Here

    Ruin Is In Place Here

    It is Good Friday and I recall the line from Wendell Berry’s poem, “A Bell Calls in the Town:” Ruin is in Place Here.

    This is the message of Good Friday. Ruin is in Place Here.

    Human tragedy, which began in one garden will now end on a hill near another called Gethsemane.

    The events of the day recall the title of Robert Browning’s poem, “Love Among the Ruins.”

    For understanding love among the ruins the Apostle John cannot be improved upon, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”

    Tonight we will gather for a ¢â‚¬Ëœtenebrae’ service. Tenebrae is Latin for shadows and we will recreate an element of the passion story ~ the hammering of spikes into a cross ~ ending in darkness.

    James Segault made a cross this year. A big beamed-life sized cross. Barbed wire clings like vines to the beams. He painted two spikes red and drove them into the beams. The stark darkness of Good Friday is punctuated by the red stained spikes, reminding us that though ruin is in place here, there is love among the ruins and that for those who take up their cross and follow this Jesus, his love will soon turn their mourning into dancing.

    LOVE’S AS WARM AS TEARS
    C.S. Lewis

    Love’s as warm as tears,
    Love is tears:
    Pressure within the brain,
    Tension at the throat,
    Deluge, weeks of rain,
    Haystacks afloat,
    Featureless seas between
    Hedges, where once was green

    Love’s as fierce as fire, 

    Love is fire:
    
All sorts–Infernal heat
    
Clinkered with greed and pride, 

    Lyric desire, sharp-sweet,
    
Laughing, even when denied, 

    And that empyreal flame 

    Whence all loves came. 


    Love’s as fresh as spring,
    Love is spring:
    Bird-song in the air,
    Cool smells in a wood,
    Whispering “Dare! Dare!”
    To sap, to blood,
    Telling “Ease, safety, rest,
    Are good; not best.”

    Love’s as hard as nails,
    Love is nails: 

    Blunt, thick, hammered through 

    The medial nerves of One 

    Who, having made us, knew 

    The thing He had done,
    Seeing (what all that is)
    
Our cross, and His. 


    (Image is the Crucifixion #5 by Sebastian Horsely)

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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  • PS 3.

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    ‚©CRS Communications 2009

    Posted in Staublog in April 10, 2009 by | No Comments »

    Creativity & Goya¬â„s Hat

    Creativity & Goya¬â„s Hat

    Is it whimsy? Is it madness? Is it genius? Is it individuality? Is it all of these and more?

    In today’s sameness society in which young people want to be unique like everybody else, the artist Goya stands out inspirationally as a man who knew who he was, what he wanted and expressed it all in his work and in his hat.

    Likely you know Goya invented a hat with candles mounted on it so he could paint at night. (The photo is from the movie Goya’s Ghosts).

    Billy Collin’s brilliantly captures what fascinates me in a line from his poem, “once you see this hat there is no need to read any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.”

    Believing as I do that there is unique, rich genius locked in every human soul, transcending genome, defying comparison, Goya inspires. Think of the boldness of children and the outrageously, unself-conscious acts they perform before they learn of conformity and convention. The sparks that fly in childhood will either be fanned to flame, or they will be tamped out. Sparks need air and space to grow into fire. They burn from the inside, too much external tampering (like sitting them in front of a TV or having them play games targeted at kids but designed by adults) can put out that iridescent flame.

    Goya breathed deeply and created his candle hat and he wore it.

    My advice to you? Fill this day with what is in you and in so doing allow the imago dei to glow like you’re a firefly.. God made a magnificent, one of a kind sunrise thias morning ~ did you see it?

    Billy Collins, “Candle Hat.”

    In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates:
    Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes,
    Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,
    Rembrant looks relieved as if he were taking a breather
    from painting The Blinding of Sampson.

    But in this one Goya stands well back from the mirror
    and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio
    addressing a canvas tilted back on a tall easel.

    He appears to be smiling out at us as if he knew
    we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head
    which is fitted around the brim with candle holders,
    a device that allowed him to work into the night.

    You can only wonder what it would be like
    to be wearing such a chandelier on your head
    as if you were a walking dining room or concert hall.

    But once you see this hat there is no need to read
    any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.

    To understand Goya you only have to imagine him
    lighting the candles one by one, then placing
    the hat on his head, ready for a night of work.

    Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention,
    the laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow.

    Imagine him flickering through the rooms of his house
    with all the shadows flying across the walls.

    Imagine a lost traveler knocking on his door
    one dark night in the hill country of Spain.
    “Come in, ” he would say, “I was just painting myself,”
    as he stood in the doorway holding up the wand of a brush,
    illuminated in the blaze of his famous candle hat.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

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  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

     

    ‚©CRS Communications 2009

    Posted in Staublog in April 8, 2009 by | 1 Comment »

    Small Is Beautiful

    Small Is Beautiful

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    Check out Dick Staub’s new book NOW IN PAPERBACK!The Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Small Is Beautiful

    Yesterday I spoke at our little church on Orcas Island about Jesus comparison of the kingdom of God to a mustard seed and leaven. Small is beautiful, the power of one, growth despite obstacles, serving outsiders (birds in the tree) and transformative (leaven),

    On the small is beautiful point I mentioned E.F. Schumacher, the British economist who wrote, “Small is Beautiful” saying “man is small, so small is beautiful.” This sweet elevation of small’s value by virtue of association with man is anthropic as it should be. Created in God’s image humans are just a little lower than angels said the Psalmist.

    I mentioned that I learned small is beautiful to God when my pastor father moved us from Bly, a small logging town in Southern Oregon, to Fullerton in Southern California.

    The church there consisted of 13 people who were not the movers and shakers of the community. Because they were older I added, “they weren’t moving and they definitely weren’t shaking.”

    As a young kid even I could recognize this small start was beautiful to God because the church was a loving, joyful fellowship. As a result the little church grew bigger. At least four young men and women became missionaries or pastors as a result of their experience in that church. Each told me they never again experienced the warmth and goodness found there.

    Later that afternoon I called my dad to verify my story and to inquire about those 13 people.

    He corrected me on one point ~ “as older people, it is true,” he said, “they weren’t moving, but they certainly were shaking!”

    He also said when people asked him about the memorable success of that venture he said two things.

    1) “We didn’t know what we were doing and didn’t know we didn’t know what we were doing.”
    2) “That church had a lot of love and not a lot of ego.”

    That seems to me a pretty good prescription for a healthy happy community.

    Jesus told his followers to deny themselves (not a lot of ego) and issued a new commandment that they love one another; he was setting a tone and expectation for local beachheads of citizens in the kingdom of God.

    His call to humility and dependence on the Holy Spirit meant our reliance would be on God not on “knowing what we are doing.”

    I must confess I am disinterested in conferences where guru pastors explain how other churches can experience the “success” they are experiencing.

    First, we are badly confused if we assume because a church is large, it is healthy.

    Second, a local church should be an organic movement unique to its local context.

    Finally, when we think we know what we are doing, we might be tempted to displace our reliance on God with a reliance on imported techniques and tactics.

    Trust me, there is no substitute for God’s innovative, creative power released through people with a lot of love and not a lot of ego, who don’t know what they are doing and don’t know they don’t know what they are doing.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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    Posted in Staublog in April 6, 2009 by | No Comments »