The Glory That's Hidden Within
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.
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!
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Experimenting With the Creative Process on the Spiritual Journey – led by Shari Abel
What is being offered?
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.
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
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 email@example.com or 630-234-3938.
Writer's Memoir-Writing Course – led by Karen Mains
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.”
The Soulish Food e-mails are
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.
“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.”
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!
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
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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!’”
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.