More Soulish Food | Hungry Souls Home

Issue 13-7

The Glory That's Hidden Within


Dear Friends,

The young man who owns Tower Cleaners, the place just across highway Rt. 59 where we take our laundry, has become a good friend. Chin Park is Korean-American and is making an exciting journey into maturing faith. David and he meet every Sunday morning around 6:30 before church. Chin picks up clothes to be cleaned from his mother’s shop early that morning, then drops the load off in his own shop. Eager in attitude, Chin is a boost to us, particularly after this last long and arduous year (death of son, torn rotator cuff operation, therapy, thyroidectomy to remove cancer, and various crises in our extended family). We love his creative, compassionate and entrepreneurial spirit.

I’ve told David on too many occasions to count that he needs to lose weight; this is the classic wifely harangue. Nothing happens, but when Chin (who is a health-food freak) says the same thing, David begins to turn down homemade Christmas cookies! Unbelievable!

I have been trying to talk Chin into opening up a high-end resale garment section to his cleaning business, but he is a consummate business man and can’t find the profit in this. A cleaning enterprise that includes an upscale resale shop with an alteration unit is what I am lobbying for. My entrepreneurial spirit suspects this could be a going concern—but of course, I am not a businesswoman, and I can’t prove the profit of all this to Chin.

I do take the garments I pick up in resale shops for cleaning—the last a darling black three-quarter-length black coat with ruffles around the neck. “How did your black coat turn out?” Chin asked the last time I joined David and him for breakfast. Everything always turns out beautifully when I take it to Tower Cleaners. “Just great.” I replied. “It looked great.”

Chin’s next comment started a startling conversation: “The wool had balled up some. I had to work a little to get them off. Glad you felt good about it.”

OK. OK. I had never in my life thought about what local cleaners know about me when they work on my garments. “Oh, yes,” Chin went on. “I can tell a lot about someone by the stains on their clothes or the shape their shirt collars are in. For instance, I can tell how much sugar they use in their coffee when I remove stains.” Chin says that he has 20 hours to give per week to the work of the Kingdom. David and I suspect that he is not going to be satisfied with ushering in his local church.

My plans are to sit Chin down and interview him and get an article together that reveals more about the world of garment cleaning. This is extremely important to me because David and I believe that most people have so much more to give to the world—insights and gifts of all kinds—than they are ever called upon to offer. I also suspect that a man who reads his customers through the garments he cleans has special gifts that have not been called out.

My greatest gripe with the local church is that for the most part it fails (FAILS woefully) in uncovering, developing and empowering the gifts of the laity in their workaday lives. The greatest force for good in the world, the most remarkable energy to creatively show forth the beauty and truth and goodness of Christ is sitting in the pews (or folding chairs) of the local church. This holy energy, this passionate desire to live a significant Christianity, is mostly unharnessed, neglected, uncalled out, unrecognized. It is being limited to the confines of church assemblies and locations. Church staffs, all too frequently, think laypeople exist to help them do their jobs. If you could hear me right now, you’d hear that I am shouting. Church staffs exist to call out, help to identify, and free the latent abilities of the laypeople who attend our churches.

Pastors often complain that only 20% of the membership carries on the work of their churches. I suspect they just haven’t found the key to empowering the other 80%.

Let me repeat: Church staffs exist to call out, help to identify, and free the latent spiritual gifts and God-endowed human talents of laypeople who attend each local church.

Hungry Souls has existed over the 13 years I’ve been writing these Soulish Food e-newsletters to develop spiritual tools that bring about spiritual growth for contemporary Christ-followers. A team of us have worked with spiritual growth tools trialing and developing various growth approaches. Since Hungry Souls began 13 years back, the term “spiritual formation” has now become a buzzword. Listening Groups have been launched, and I’m preparing to write about them. An amazing number of trained spiritual directors have evolved out of the 1000-or-so people who have been in 250 listening groups over the last seven years. Templates for 24-hour retreats of silence and three-day retreats of silence have been formed and will be published over the Hungry Souls Web site.

I am now turning my attention to providing laboratories for people with special gifts or undeveloped interests so they can frame and form their ideas with positive feedback and participation with live bodies. I believe there is a glory hidden within each human that needs to be freed by God. This is assisted by the Body of Christ who love and affirm and encourage that glory into a shining existence. “Then God said, ‘Let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves. … So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself. Male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26–27, NLT.

Dr. Sheri Abel, for instance (a French professor at Wheaton College and head of the foreign-language department) has been intrigued by classes she’s taken in using a freeform mode of painting as a meditation tool. For those of you who have not been exposed to the way God has created our brains, this approach releases the right side of the brain (the creative intuitive part) from the editorial, analytical left side of the brain (the part that often dominates our playful capacities). Sheri is developing a studio approach, using the heated garage of a friend in Winfield, Illinois to use this freeform painting as a method that enhances the kind of self-reflection that reveals who we are before the God, our creator. (Details are included in the NOTICES section of this Soulish Food.)

If there is some teaching effort you would like to develop, please contact us. If there is a great idea that keeps bumping around in your brain but no one else seems interested, please contact us. If your church won’t give you the time of day unless you jump through a variety of hoops, we’re here eager to explore that possibility with you.

Over 2015, Hungry Souls will be rolling out a variety of efforts that develop the neglected capacities and passions of various folk; we’re happy to encourage all who need encouragement and to invite all who believe in human growth and development.

One of the Mainses’ pet peeves is ministries (or pastors) who believe the center of the Kingdom of God runs through their Christian outreaches. In five decades of ministry, we have seen plenty of this. These folk mistakenly think the advancement of the message of the Gospel would not be possible without their efforts. WRONG. We are a people of God. All of our gifts and abilities are needed to withstand the onslaughts of the Enemy, to defy the injustice that inhabits the earth, to work by example to rectify the awful reputation created in the secular press that certain ultra-conservative Christian fundamentalists have earned for us all, to proclaim the day of the Lord.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.” Isaiah 61:1–3, NLT.

This work of Christ is the work of the people of God, of the corporate community of faith worldwide. Do you want to be a part of this Kingdom dream? We would love to walk beside you to help you launch your God-given passions.

Karen Mains

NOTICES

Experimenting With the Creative Process on the Spiritual Journey – led by Shari Abel

What is being offered?

This laboratory experience incorporates art-making, writing and listening as a pathway to deeper self-and God-awareness in the supportive presence of others. Participants learn to trust the creative process as they experiment with various mediums in a focused way.

The process begins with journaling and setting a personal intention for the sessions. Participants then freely immerse themselves in art making which is followed by engaging with their work through journaling, listening to what their art might be revealing, and connecting with the still, small voice within. The last stage in the process involves each participant sharing, if they so choose, their work and what they have written, while the others offer them the gift of listening without commenting.

Immersing oneself in the creative process has proven to be a way of going deeper with God who continues to speak and heal even after the art-making and listening practice ends.
• The group will meet once a month for two hours over a period of six months.
• We will be starting in January 2015
• There is room for six participants. Sign up right away.
• For additional information contact Sheri Abel at sheri.l.abel@gmail.com or 630-234-3938.

Writer's Memoir-Writing Course – led by Karen Mains

Karen rolled out this course two years ago as a test and was amazed with the community that developed through conference-call work. Some eight writers from all over the country joined in the journey, and because we were sharing memoir work with one another, we became close and supportive with many fruitful results.

Simply put, memoirs are personal essays that may or may not become book length. You must have a sample memoir piece written for purposes of submission when you register. We will have TWO conference calls a month, and an editorial team, headed by Karen Mains, will evaluate your submissions. Unlike past years, this memoir-writing course will include a section on digital publishing, blog-writing, self-publishing, etc. Karen will give personal evaluation sessions to each member, and the group will act as an evaluation team. Depending upon how many sign up and from what parts of the country, we will try to hold an evening conference call and a daytime conference call.

Sign up by January 25, 2015. We will begin in February. My former literary agent said I should be charging $600–$800 for this. I will settle for a $150 registration fee. If you then want to make a further donation to Hungry Souls according to your own lights, monies are needed.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: We MUST have your written memoir piece by our February start-up date. Final registration deadline is January 23, 2015.

Contact Karen Mains at karen@hungrysouls.org.

Blogs

Karen is blogging three times a week in the new year and also posting regularly on her Facebook page. Blog address is http://blog.karenmains.com. Next week’s blogs for January 5–9 are: “Velour Sheets on the Guest-Room Bed,” “Angel’s Wings Are Perilous Things” and “A Mind Too Busy Is No Mind At All.”



Reminder!

The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the biweekly newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to www.HungrySouls.org.


Karen Mains

Karen Mains

“Church staffs exist to call out, help to identify, and free the latent spiritual gifts and God-endowed human talents of laypeople who attend each local church.”
BOOK CORNER
Splendor in Worship
Splendor in Worship
by Natalie Lombard


Natalie Lombard is a great friend. We’ve known each other more than 20 years, and some of you on the Soulish Food list met Natalie at an Advent Retreat when we taught through a creative demonstration titled “Painting With Brooms”—which we did!

For many years, Natalie has been a fabric artist, creating stunning banners and fabric panels for worship events and spaces. She has recently released her book Splendor in Worship, which I feel should be in every pastor’s library, on every worship leader’s bookshelf, and in the hands of anyone who sits down at a sewing machine wanting to render in material expression some inner burning vision.

Perhaps this quote from a review in Amazon.com will give you a more comprehensive idea of what Natalie has done in this printed work…

Natalie Lombard is a Christian banner artist who shares both theoretical and practical insights about art in the church. Beginning with “God Is Far from Bland!” she gives compelling answers to both “Why was art removed?” and “Why does art need to be there?” Next Lombard tackles “How can you know if you are meant to make it?” In both these chapters, her life experiences kept me reading and thinking.

Lombard’s aim is to inspire, encourage, and mentor artists. She walks her readers through both the process of envisioning and making a banner, as well as launching a church banner ministry. I think Lombard is a natural teacher. She seems to know just the right details to share. The chapter “Art Commission” would help anyone working in a team. My favorite section describes one church art commission to show “how ideas evolve, how temperaments can conflict and can work together, the importance of prayer throughout the process, and how God took everyone to a much higher place than any of us had been previously.” In short, she models how to be God’s ready servant, which speaks to me, even if I never sew a stitch.

From there, Lombard details the how-to of banner making with the same thoughtful care. Lombard uses the word “comprehensive” to describe her book. It truly is comprehensive.

She devotes eleven pages to the task of planning a ministry, facing resistance, and building a team. Then she explains how to gather ideas. But that’s just the beginning of the planning she suggests. The methodical way she maps out a sanctuary was an eye opener; it’s details like this, how to know your banner-hanging space, that make Lombard’s book one-of-a-kind. After reading this, I knew I’d find every practicality explored in choosing a sewing machine (her ergonomic suggestions are worth the price of the book); designing a useful workspace; thinking through complex copyright issues; anticipating installation issues; designing the banner, and, of course, choosing, draping, and sewing the fabrics into glimpses of God’s splendor.

Through it all, Lombard shows by her life the “Christian” in “Christian artist.” Here’s just one example, from her chapter on how to design a banner:

“Remember to pray. Prayer will feed you. Prayer will feed everything you do. We think we hydrate by drinking a glass of water and hurrying into our day. Time spent with our Creator satisfies our thirst. . . . A moment with God is not some glimpse of the eternal we beg to see and then return to blandness. A God-moment is a vista, vibrantly—although silently—inviting you to ‘come see!’”

It’s obvious that Natalie Lombard followed Christ both in her career and in preparing this book for the next generation of Christian artists. “Splendor in Worship” is splendid indeed.
 
Splendor in Worship can be ordered through Amazon.com and costs $34.95.



Copyright 2006-2014 Mainstay Ministries. All rights reserved.

More Soulish Food | Hungry Souls Home