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The Overwhelming Weight of Sin

The Overwhelming Weight of Sin
When I read the news I am sometimes overwhelmed at the sin described there.
The Sandusky trial and the conviction of a 38 year-old man who raped an 11 year old in Shoreline are two stories I read today that reminded me how the fall of humans rolls on and even gains momentum in history.
As a pastor, privy to stories about the unraveling of folks lives in our little community, I feel weighed down by sin and its powerful effects on our daily lives.
I wear a Greek Orthodox prayer bracelet to remind me to pray the Jesus prayer for my own sin and sinfulness: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
I just noticed the little wooden cross hanging from a lamp in my office. It was hand carved by an 80+ year old woman in Kunming, China, who gave it to me as a gift after telling me about the brutal beatings she suffered for refusing to deny Jesus Christ.
Neither this little stick of wood, nor the first-century rough-hewn Roman cross on which Jesus was crucified, can bear the weight of human sin past and future, but Jesus Christ who was nailed to that cross could and did bear the weight.
Sometimes I awaken to the fact that the only reason I can maintain sanity and hope, in light of my sin, the sin I know about in my friend’s lives, and the sin I read about in the newspapers and history books, is Jesus, the crucified, buried and resurrected Jesus, who lives and is the way to God the Father.

Posted in Staublog in June 23, 2012 by | 1 Comment »

Rest for Your Weary Anxious Soul

Rest for Your Weary Anxious Soul
So I awoke in the middle of the night again, anxious.  With KindlingsFest 2012 coming in July, too much to do, a lot of spinning plates, many falling to the ground, and a recently mailed donor request yielding less than needed results so far, I held onto my worries tightly, refusing to loosen the grip.
This angst is ironic since Sunday I bore witness to the truth of the wisdom literature. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And lean not on your own understanding; Delight yourself in the LORD & he will give you the desires of your heart.
My anxiety is almost always related to a need for me to return to my grounding in the ground of all being (AKA the transcendent God).
So I turned on my Kindle, careful to not awake sleeping beauty (aka Kathy my wife) and found a yet unread book Lyle Dorsett recommended at WinterFest, “The Complete Christian Mystic: A Practical, Step-By-Step Guide for Awakening to the Presence of God” by Evelyn Underhill.
It was a tonic to my soul. Here are few highlights for those needing rest for your weary anxious soul.
1) Mysticism defined: “Mysticism is the art of union with Reality. The mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or less degree, or who aims at and believes in such attainment.”
2) Union with God requires a conscious uniting with, surrendering to, God. “Because he has surrendered himself to it, ‘united’ with it, the patriot knows his country, the artist knows the subject of his art, the lover his beloved, the saint his God, in a manner which is inconceivable as well as unattainable by the looker-on.”
3) Mystical union with God is essential and possible for all humans. “This amount of mystical perception—this ‘ordinary contemplation,’ as the specialists call it—is possible to all men, without it, they are not wholly conscious, nor wholly alive. It is a natural human activity, no more involving the great powers and sublime experiences of the mystical saints and philosophers than the ordinary enjoyment of music involves the special creative powers of the great musician… As the beautiful does not exist for the artist and poet alone—though these can find in it more poignant depths of meaning than other men—so the world of Reality exists for all, and all may participate in it, unite with it, according to their measure and to the strength and purity of their desire.”
I surrendered to communion with God. I yielded all to God. I unclasped my fists from the anxieties I had held so tenaciously. I floated into God’s presence, literally smiling, verging on giggling. I felt weight lifted and an easy yoke slipped onto my shoulders, replacing the yoke of my own making that had weighed me down).
So at ease with God and the world, so aware of the greater underlying reality, trust high, confidence properly located in God, I drifted into deep slumber and awoke this morning rested with a smile in my face and joy in my heart…

Posted in Staublog in June 6, 2012 by | 2 Comments »

The planet’s best gathering of thoughtful creatives for whom God is of central importance

The planet’s best gathering of thoughtful creatives for whom God is of central importance

This comment from a singer/songwriter captures what so many have said about K-Fest. And it is all just eight weeks away.

KindlingsFest is the planet’s best gathering of thoughtful creatives for whom God is of central importance…” 

Hope you can join us! Click Here For Information and Registration

 

 

 

Posted in Staublog in May 30, 2012 by | 1 Comment »

Young and Old, We Need Each Other.

Young and Old, We Need Each Other.
In the late 90’s I spoke at Bethany Beach in Michigan. I titled my evening talk “A Joshua and Caleb Report,” because like the OT characters who spied it the land and came back and reported what they saw, I wanted to report to parents and grandparents what I saw in youth culture. I clipped a bunch of articles from Rolling Stone Magazine, People Magazine, web articles, read excerpts and commented.
I was told the next day they had the highest number of requests ever for that talk (they mentioned not even Colson or Phillip Yancey had as many requests!) When I asked why that was so, the answer was simple. These parents and grandparents love their kids, but feel very disconnected from their world.
Today marketers segment us into age groups, culture reinforces these divisions, and sadly, churches are very demographically divided as well.
For centuries the synergy of young and old fueled creativity, intellectual development and spiritual vitality and today more than ever we all, young and old, need each other.  If you share that vision please join us for KindlingsFest 2012. 
This summer’s KindlingsFest takes on this timely and critically importance subject. We are gathering young and old for a rigorous exploration of how to build an intergenerational future. We’ll do this through lectures, the arts and conversations. We’d love to see 20 year-olds with their parents and/or grandparents gathered together for an intergenerational festival.
Only 9 weeks until Kindlings Fest 2012. For more information or to register to join us please click on this ink 

Posted in Staublog in May 21, 2012 by | 2 Comments »

Whose idea was this anyway? (My fingerprints on another catastrophic day)

Whose idea was this anyway? (My fingerprints on another catastrophic day)
Chances are I awakened this morning prepared to not do God’s will. After all even Jesus didn’t always want to do God’s will.
 
We’re told Jesus rose up a great while before day to pray to seek God’s will. Then late one night while praying he struggled against doing what God wanted praying, “if it is possible please let this cup pass from me.” He finally yielded saying,  “nevertheless your will not mine be done.”
 
Jesus knew that, just like at creation, the only day that could end with the words “it is good,” is the day that flowed from God’s creative, all-knowing hand.
 
If Jesus, so in tune with God, could desire things not in God’s will, how much more am I likely to be willfully wrong, headed in the wrong direction, wandering off the path? How many days have I not even sought God’s will for my day?
 
Each day is a story and each day’s story will be written by me, or written by God. My life will be the compilation of these daily stories and the overall story will be richer and better if God’s handiwork is seen each day.
 
Jesus taught the disciples to pray each day, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Whoa…how often do I pray “thy will be done,” but then spend exactly zero time contemplating what God’s will might be this very day in this so-called life of mine?
 
 “Look for God. Look for God like a man with his head on fire looks for water,” so said Elizabeth Gilbert.
 
Great advise, but do I even know my head is on fire?
 
George MacDonald knew what it meant for his will to be at odds with God’s. “Afresh I seek thee. Lead me–once more I pray – even should it be against my will, thy way. Let me not feel thee foreign any hour, or shrink from thee as an estranged power. Through doubt, through faith, through bliss, through stark dismay, through sunshine, wind, or snow, or fog, or shower, Draw me to thee who art my only day.”
 
Feels a bit overwhelming actually, to think that my will could derail this day from God’s best for it, but then my head is on fire so I guess I have an excuse?
 
What good is it to pray “your will be done” if I do not seek God’s will and do it each moment of each day, drawing nearer to God who IS my only best day?
 

Posted in Staublog in May 15, 2012 by | No Comments »

Crabbed Age and Youth ~ Russian Girl

Crabbed Age and Youth ~ Russian Girl

This summer’s KindlingsFest will take on the issue of creating an intergenerational future. with amazing speakers artists all set on beautiful Orcas Island. The Theme “Crabbed Age and Youth” was inspired by a Shakespeare sonnet by that title. Here is a a you tube of russian girl reciting the poem~ Warning she starts in russian but then recites the poem in english: YouTube Link crabbed age and youth~russia. Join us this summer for a rocking good time!

Posted in Staublog in May 11, 2012 by | No Comments »

Helping children of all ages find the path to eternal gladness

Helping children of all ages find the path to eternal gladness
This week I got to do one of favorite things. I talked to small group of kids at our church’s AWANA program. 
 
I asked them a trick question. What do you want to be when you grow up? 
 
They responded quickly: Veterinarian. Soldier. Pilot. Destiny said she wants to be a missionary (because she wants to travel). One ambitious sweetie Sabrina said, “I want to be the founder of a highly successful bakery with multiple locations nationwide.” HHHHMMMM.
 
I pointed out that God created each of them and that with each of my kids I felt my job as a father was to help them discover what they do well and enjoy doing as a pointer to the kind of work they should do in life.
 
I thought of this today when I read C.S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory. “True personality lies ahead—how far ahead, for most of us, I dare not say. And the key to it does not lie in ourselves. It will not be attained by development from within outwards. It will come to us when we occupy those places in the structure of the eternal cosmos for which we were designed or invented. As a color first reveals its true quality when placed by an excellent artist in its pre-elected spot between certain others, as a spice reveals its true flavor when inserted just where and when a good cook wishes among the other ingredients, as the dog becomes really doggy only when he has taken his place in the household of man, so we shall then first be true persons when we have suffered ourselves to be fitted into our places.”
 
Finding your place in the expression of your unique God given talents is a key element in becoming fully human, authentic, what Lewis calls “true personality.” Frederick Buechner said your place of service is where your “deep gladness and the worlds deep hunger meets.”
 
I said I asked the kids a trick question. I asked what do you want to “BE” when you grow up and they all, like most of us would, answered with what they want to “DO” when they grow up.
 
My friend Nigel is fond of saying we are not human doings we are human beings. (Lately his fertile mind has added we are “human becomings.”)
 
I pointed out to the children, what I need to be reminded of myself. God is as interested, perhaps more interested, in the kind of person we ARE than in what we do. What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be a good, honest and true person, kind compassionate, caring person, one who seeks to obey God’s commandments, loving God and neighbor as myself?
 
George MacDonald’s writings had a huge influence on C.S. Lewis and he said this about becoming the person he wanted to BE.
 
“I take comfort in my very badness. It is for lack of thee that I am bad. How close, how infinitely closer yet must I come to thee, ere I can pay one debt which mere humanity has on me set! “How close to thee!”–no wonder, soul, thou art glad! Oneness with him is the eternal gladness.”
 
I want to be good, and goodness comes from God and to become one with God, beginning now, is the path to eternal gladness.
 
What do you want to be when you grow up?
 

Posted in Staublog in April 27, 2012 by | 1 Comment »

About our KindlingsFest 2012 Theme: Crabbed Age and Youth Cannot Live Together

About our KindlingsFest 2012 Theme: Crabbed Age and Youth Cannot Live Together
People are asking me about the theme for KindlingsFest 2012: CRABBED Age and Youth Cannot Live Together: Towards Creating An Intergenerational Future In A Fragmented Age (Artist: Aleksandr Kharon. Title: Old Man and Boy)
 
It is one near and dear to my heart. I was once young, and my life was estimably enriched by a few I admired, trusted and who went before me. Now I’m an older man who sees great promise in the future generation thoughtful, creatives for whom God is of central importance. 
 
Since the beginning of time older and younger generations have asked if they can live together.  (Shakespeare coined the phrase, “Crabbed age and Youth” in a poem by that title.) Today we live in a fragmented age that separates us into demographic groups by our age. We see this in culture and in faith communities.
 
At The Kindlings we know it was not always so, nor do we believe it should it be. From ancient times the aged and youth have been encouraged to know one another, learn from one another, create with and love one another.
 
The Kindlings is devoted to rekindling the spiritual, intellectual, creative legacy of Christian in culture intergenerationally so it stands to reason this theme is close to our hearts. At K-Fest 2011 some 20 ands 30 year-old’s felt their voices weren’t represented adequately and we knew they were right!
 
SO 2012 KindlingsFest is aimed at exploring the challenges and benefits of creating a richer intergenerational future. As always KindlingsFest 2012 will offer a synergistic mix of spiritual, intellectual and creative approaches to this theme with younger and older artists, speakers and panelists.
 
Few subjects are more timely and important~so join us as we make merriment, art and memories while advancing this discussion:
 

Click Here to Register

 

Posted in Staublog in April 25, 2012 by | No Comments »

Hans Rookmaaker: A reminder of our calling from Art Needs No Justification,

Hans Rookmaaker: A reminder of our calling from Art Needs No Justification,

“Handel with his Messiah, Bach with his Matthew Passion, Rembrandt with his Denial of St. Peter, and the architects of those Cistercian churches were not evangelizing, nor making tools for evangelism; they worked to the glory of God. They did not compromise their art. They were not devising tools for religious propaganda or holy advertisement. And precisely because of that they were deep and important. Their works were not the means to an end, the winning of souls, but they were meaningful and an end in themselves, to God’s glory, and showing forth something of the love that makes things warm and real. Art has too often become insincere and second-rate in its very effort to speak to all people, and to communicate a message that art was not meant to communicate. In short, art has its own validity and meaning, certainly in the Christian framework.”

 

Posted in Staublog in April 18, 2012 by | No Comments »

A Good Friday Poem (Habel)

A Good Friday Poem (Habel)

So if you’re not too proud,

Too busy,

Or too old,

I will throw you My forgiveness

As I did when men like you

Were coldly nailing Me

To the splintered stake of death.

My forgiveness reaches out

As you hear Me cry, “You’re in,”

As you see Me sweat and die

For all the broken ties

Between mankind and God.”

Norman C. Habel,

Posted in Staublog in April 6, 2012 by | 1 Comment »