"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Monday, December 22, 2008


Merry Christmas from the Stynsberg Fam!

Last night, our church had it's children's Christmas program once again. This is one of my highlights every year. The greatest message ever told placed in the hands of 3 and 4 year olds just seems so appropriate; not unlike those peculiar messengers who were first told by angels to go and proclaim the Messiah's birth, wandering out of breath, and with the smell of sheep on their clothes to the bed of a king wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.

After the program there were cookies and visiting, laughter and hugs, and Foosball (I had to school some little kids in some Foos). As we were playing, a little boy, probably five, ran to the table to address his friend,

"Owen, I have been looking all over for you! I want to play with you. We have a world to save! We must defeat evil!"
I bellowed,
" Yes! Go save the world! Defeat evil where ever it may lurk!"

They made me smile and laugh, and reminded me that Christmas is all about a little baby boy who came to earth to save the world, bring peace, and defeat evil.

Well done boys. Thats the Christmas Spirit.

Kids teach me a lot, but I learn from adults occasionally too. Pastor Pat talked about the significance of a single, simple word in the Christmas story: but.

"..and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."--Luke 2:18-19

You don't need to be a Greek scholar to catch the significance of this word. "But" always means there is an idea different then that which has already been presented. Notice that everyone who heard what the shepherds shared were amazed. It is easy to be amazed with such an amazing story! But it was Mary who held on to it all. When everyone else's amazement eventually faded in the distractions, and business of life; Mary pondered and continued to hold onto it all.

In the loudness of the Season, will the amazement of what Christ has done fade in presents, Christmas specials on TV, and to much egg nog, or will we continually ponder the Incarnate God in the body of a baby boy who came to save us?

God Bless, Friends! Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Getting to know my soul

I try to be careful how much of myself I reveal on my blog. The internet is a big frontier with many wandering and exploring eyes, and I don't know how I feel about letting my most personal bagage spill out for anyone to see. And yet, it is so easy to do; to make a blog a personal counselor. You can say whatever you want, be as open or closed as you want, and not have to worry about having to look into someone elses eyes in person-to-person vulnerability. And you still get to share yourself and have the satisfaction of imagining whomever you want reading your blog, and having sympathy for you.

At the same time, it is just as easy to only present your best face on your blog, only revealing the pieces you want others to see. Blogs are very strange things, and a fairly lousy way of really getting to know a person honestly.

I think a good question to ask while writing a blog is, "is this for my benefit only, or will someone else get something out of this." I confess, I was quite tempted to spill my guts on this blog, but gut stains are a horrible mess to clean up, and the only reason I would do it is to make myself feel good, and avoid the actual benefit of talking to real people about my real issues, and really sorting them out through real connections in real relationship. With real confrontation.

I picked up Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell Again, a book I started reading over a year ago, and never finished. I reread a chapter, and as a result, have been feeling pretty lousy the last couple days. If I can summarize it by memory, it basically deals with the masks we put on to hide all of the pain we live in; how salvation is a current state and not just a future state, but how so many people refuse to live in the redemption and salvation that Christ offers now, because we are afraid to connect with our souls. To connect with our souls would mean we would have to be honest with ourselves about the pain we carry, and to do that would mean we would have to be honest with others.

It is truly amazing how a guy who grew up in a Christian home with loving parents, good grades, good friends, and a good church could still have garbage in his past that stings in the present. I think we all have those things that hurt, those things that we don't want to admit to ourselves, things we pretend don't really matter that much. And so we disconnect ourselves from them, but the pain affects how we live our day to day lives, and we can't escape on our own.

We need to confess. It is easier to tell the whole world over the internet then it is to sit down with the one or two people who really need to hear our heart's pain, and who need to share with us as well. Brush your soul with someone else's, so that you can live freely, so that you can be healed and live in the redemption of Christ. Salvation is now.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I challenge anyone to watch an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and not cry. I suffice to say it is not humanly possible.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why I won't be getting that shirt for Christmas

I am a self proclaimed music junkie. Like many people with my condition, I own quite a few band tee shirts. back in the day, you could expect to find a "fruit of the loom" or "Hanes" tag on your shirt, but know when you check the collar, chances are you will find a narrow tag that reads "American Apparel". The loom is a thing of the past, and Michael Jordan won't be getting his Hanes on nobody anymore, because American Apparel seems to be the new tee to print on. And apparently, for good reason. First, lets face it...their clothes are dang comfy, and heck! They look good! Second, they are made in the U.S. No Sweatshops. To a generation that is perhaps more socially aware then ever before and eager to fight for social justice, this seems like a pretty good deal. Hip, cheap, clothes that look good, feel good and don't exploit the third world. Sweet.

...to bad they exploit women. I won't be buying any American Apparel clothing ever again.

If you have a Facebook or MySpace Account, chances are you have seen an American apparel ad. American Apparel has garnered a reputation for its sexualized advertisements, but now they have taken it a step further--American Apparel now advertises with nudity.

I am not a fan of blog rants, but for this case, I will break my own code, and let the steam fly. How any company can be irresponsible enough to have their web page laid out in such a way that any random person can stumble upon nudity without a single written warning is beyond my comprehension. How they can get away with it is even more boggling. But this is what really stokes my fire--why is it that so many Christian bands, causes, organizations, and schools are printing on these tees? Granted, American Apparel hasn't always used nudity, but they have always had sexualized advertising, and it only takes a quick Google search to see that American Apparel CEO Dov Charney is a bit of a shady character. In an effort to make this blog less uncomfortable then it already is, I'll give a couple links for those who would like to read up on this guy.

So, I end with this question; what kind of message are we sending as Christians when we buy clothes from a brand that identifies them self in such a way? What behavior are we condoning by buying a shirt with an American Apparel tag? No one may know its an American Apparel shirt, but they are still making money. Price, comfort and fashion...even "American-made" ethics cannot balance the scale when the exploitation of 50% of the human race sits on the other side. So, I encourage you to take off your American Apparel clothes....that's what their models are doing.