29 December 2003

To the new year...

I am off to the College Conference at Calvin Crest. December 29 - January 1. Jordan Gravette is running the whole enchilada, I am stepping back.

This year may usher in a host of changes in our lives. More than technology, I pray for faith, passion, love. I pray we don't just fall in love with the church and the new way it can operate, but fall in love with Jesus fully and boldly. I pray as we fall in love with Him we will be annointed in authority and power to do the work to which God would call us. He would call us to new tasks, with love and discernment, setting captives free and equipping them with strength, hope, and love.

Our conversations should bring passion to our hearts, encouragement to our souls, and fodder to our minds. New stories from new friends and loved ones should attract our attention not cynicism. I want to be encouraged not depressed.

24 December 2003

One more thing...

I get nice emails and comments from wonderful people. You are a part of the healing taking place in my life.

Blessed, blessed, blessed. Thank you.

Merry Christmas

We had some of the tamales which were very tasty.

Off to Christmas eve services at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church. For ten years we use to be very involved. Leading worship in three services, now bubkis. Tony who? That is alright with me. I like being with my family in the shadows. Things change.

23 December 2003

The Falks...

Too much chinese food helps the soul but involves much gas.

Scott and Carol Falk invited my family over tonight and we had so much food I couldn't believe it. Then some great chocolate cake.

We laughed a lot. Beth and Luke were there.

Nothing profound, just a marvelous time of the year.

The gift of family and tamales...

I love this time of year. My son, Simon, comes home for the holidays and we are together again for a short time. We travel to my parents and have a wonderful meal full of laughter and calories.

Tonight my son came home from Pasadena with a bag full of tamales from Mama's Tamales. They are incredible. Tamales from different cultures - Mexico, Central and South America.

What a gift.

My children are growing up so fast. Hillary is 15, Taylor is 20 and Simon is 22. It was just yesterday that I was up all night before Christmas putting together bicycles and other toys. They are spending time at their girlfriend's and boyfriend's home during the holidays. We share them now. Life goes on further away from home than before. Other influences and opinions than mine. I am starting to be influenced by them now. They are shaping my imagination and outlook. I cannot hold on to my role as the "papa" (to be sung as if you were in the first five minutes of "Fiddler on the roof"). I still have responsibilities but there is something else going on that is equally important - respect. I was responsible for training them up in the way THEY should go and now it is up to them to walk in it. Not my ways but THEIRS. They are unique. God calls them by name, not through me any more. It is up to them - one on one with God. This is when it gets fun folks.


22 December 2003

Wireless blogging...

I got a new PDA w/ WiFi. I lost my other one. Huge dread. This will help when I'm out recruiting staff next month. .

20 December 2003

Finding a place at the inn…

This time of year always makes me think of Jesus being born in a stable. The children’s Christmas pageant always seems to bring it up, Advent brings it to prayer, and crèches abound on street corners in front of churches and in living rooms of friends. The wise men, shepherds, angels, the animals well represented – ox and ass, sheep and goats, doves, Joseph and Mary all standing over the manger with baby Jesus asleep on the hay. Lots of money being spent on representations of the simplistic way the Word became flesh.

I always wanted to have a Chia crèche. You know those ceramic figurines with grass growing all over them. I figure it is as orthodox as the plywood ones. Someday…

New Friends...

There is a new director at Summit Adventures, Tom Smith. We are going to become friends. We met, had coffee, and decided to be open and honest with each other. A person we could go to and bounce off ideas and frustrations and spend time laughing.

A new friend...

I am turning 50, when my father was this age he seemed to lose his friends. There were his business associates, artist friends, customers who greatly respected him. But I never heard him talk of confidants. I surround myself with good people, better than me. I am blessed by the friends I have. I could have coffee everyday for a month with someone different. It gives me different perspectives.

Each one is different. Some are in their 20's and some in their 70's and in-between. Some ordained and not, senior pastors and youth pastors, some are plumbers, carpenters, dentists, teachers, executives, sales, students, and camp people. They all love Jesus, and are committed to the faith.

I find it interesting that they want to be with me. I am not trying to defecate on myself (or is it deprecate?) but I get calls.

I enjoy people, their stories and food. Maybe because I have these academic disabilities that I enjoy listening to stories instead of just reading about them. Sharing our time, ideas, dreams, and fears are very much needed today in the church and in business. Listening as well as being intimate brings life to others. It is essential. We desire to be heard, considered as valuable, know that there is a place in someone's life for us, someone will know when we are gone... you know, a friend. (a loved one)

I am hoping to diversify in ethnicity and cultures in this new year to come. I would love to hear new stories, strange and foreign to me and my thinking. I don't know how to do this but I will start by lingering and listening. There is the market in town owned by a family from the middle east. I am not sure where they are from but I would like to get to know them better. See if I can ask them some questions and listen.

I hope God will give me new friends this coming year that will make my heart bigger and soul more like Him. I am thankful for the ones I have now and attribute my love and faith to many of them (you). Peace.

15 December 2003

Cory's got a blog

My friend Cory has a new blog and is listed on the right, Crestview Apts

What's up Chuck?

I read an editorial of Chuck Colson saying that the emergent church is dying. I couldn't figure out what that meant. Does he think that all of these people are just going to wake up one day and decide that the mainline denoms (if you change the n and m it spells demons) were right and we need to go back, sit down and shut up and except that they know better. I don't think so. I am with more people who are fed up with "church" and are looking for another place to go. They are not finding it in the souped up models with lights and glitz, the top-down models of leadership, the bland large Costco models of warehouse ministries, etc. The conversation comes down to house church fellowships: intimate times of vulnerability and prayer, family interactions, age and gender mixing, conversations leading to action instead of getting bogged down in committee, diversity of thought and culture instead of homogeneous cookie cutter veneer.

The main thing I am looking for is the presence of the Spirit in power and deed, equipping the saints to do His work with love and authority. I don't want entertainment. I don't want a different style. I want to focus on Him.

14 December 2003

A time with friends...

On a wonderful raining Sunday morning Ginger and Spinner Allen invited Jim and Amy Smith, Mel, Kelli, Bill and Chris Welch, and us (Christel, Hillary and I) for brunch. I was introduced to Sausage and Cheese balls (wow), and there was quiche, cinnamon rolls, fruit salad, and muffins. I was stuffed with wonderful food and friendship. Lot of laughter. I haven't laughed nor joked around like that for a long time.

It provided a nightlight during the dark night of the soul.

12 December 2003

In the middle of the night...

This morning Hillary, our youngest, had to get up early (4:00a) to perform, with her chamber singers, on TV. I, being the good dad, got up with her. It reminded me of the mornings my brother and I would deliver The Fresno Bee. My mother got up with us, helped us fold and pack the papers.

She would get up in the middle of the night if we were sick and throwing up. She would pick us up from football games and concerts. When I was 18, I had to wake up early for a trip to Mexico. Because I was driving by myself, she woke up to send me off with coffee and a prayer. I will never forget that prayer. The words are gone but the assurance of love and connectedness are still here 31 years later.

I owe her a phone call and a word of thanks and love. She is 79.

10 December 2003

I don't feel well...

I got hit with a bug so I am going to take some time under the covers.

09 December 2003

I've got a great day ahead of me...

I am eating brunch with Clark Cowden, the executive of the San Joaquin Presbytery, time with George Freeman to discuss our joint 50th birthday party, Lunch with Jordan Gravette to discuss the College Conference at Calvin Crest, Coffee with Dan Kimball (the chair of the CC program committee), then go to a Christmas Party and prayer at Jaime's.

I've got blessings galore.

I love reading blogs...

I don't get a newspaper anymore. I will pick up the Sierra Star, the local newspaper, to see if I made the headlines or at least the citizen of the week or maybe on the police blotter.

I read my friends blogs: Rudy at Urban Onramp and Cleave's over at PoMoMusings. There is Juana's and Margaret Cho's, Youth Specialties', and billions of others. I read them when I wake up and before going to bed. New friends meeting, like they do at The Daily Grind Coffee Shop in town, around a virtual table and discussing the daily stuff of life and faith. Discussion begin, differing ideas, bantered around - I can add my two cents without being interrupted.

They post great pictures from their trips and families. I see pictures of worship services and artwork. Cleverness is abounding on blogs. I read this from the TallSkinnyKiwi blog and thought I would post it on mine (because I can).

by andrew jones

the kingdom of God
an entrance
without applause
in genres unused
in fonts never bold
in places hidden

eluding those
who scramble for the prized
who lust after the spectacluar
who never find themselves

the presence of God appears
among poor people
who are learning where to look

Thanks Rudy for introducing me to some great people.

07 December 2003

There is a sense of Christmas or should I say Xmas in the air...

I was sitting in my local coffee shop and I heard something irritating waffing through the air. I stopped the conversation to listen to what it was and found out it was cats singing Christmas Carols.

What must God think? Should we extend advent to counterpoint the gross commercialism of the season?

04 December 2003

a response to Andrew...

My friend,

To be invested means that my work into Calvin Crest, a camp owned by the Presbytery of the San Joaquin, will yield the fruit of the Spirit as I am obedient to Him. I am not ordained, which has put me in the cheap seats in many meetings, but I am a pastor to those God has given me. Which means I feel the weight of responsibility for each one that is called to Calvin Crest during my watch. I am going to be asked at the time of Judgement, "Tony, what did you do with Billy Ray Bob, who I gave you for 10 weeks in 1997?" My investment is in the time and love that I gave to Billy Ray Bob and hundreds of others that today are producing the fruit in the areas they are called. Some are ordains, some are leaders, some are just plain good neighbors, brothers, sisters, moms, and dads.

The PCUSA is only the landowner, but Christ is the Lord of the manor. I am obedient to Him. The PCUSA can screw a lot up by not making Him Lord, I have no voice into the institution, only the ears of those He has given me for the time allocated.

I hope that makes sense.

The reason for the blog is to try to speak to others in camping, who are willing to discuss the place we have been called, to whom comes to that place, with the message we are to give. You are the second one to join in on the conversation.

I love this conversation, it keeps my soul fresh. However, my body is getting tired. I hope others will direct my attention to their conversations as well.


I can't believe it...

Not only did Rudy show me how to fix this thing and I partially understood it, I added Adam Cleaveland's blog to my site. Not bad for an old dog.

An open letter to a young seminarian...

My dear friend,
I am delighted to know that you found a good class and prof. The next church leaders will not come from seminary but from the school of world missions. It is that understanding that we must have. Not the perpetuation of old models but an understanding of the culture and the gospel in the midst of it. We are old, white, male, upperclass, control... driven instead of "least of these" driven. To not dominate but to serve (not just provide) but to be people of humility. Thomas Merton says that is the beginning of faith. Being unimportant must be our vision. "I must decrease..."

The PCUSA does not "get it" and probably never will, but are you relying on them to get it so you can have a job or is God sending you to a people group, who may belong to a Presbyterian church, to disciple them. The problem is that we have distain for our culture. Christ tells the disciples to begin ministering with Israel. If they reject it, shake the dust loose from your feet (get unplanted) and move to the next place that He is calling you. The calling gets further from center each time. Understand, these people in the center have a comfort that they have been working for all their lives. They now have education, property, power, control, influence, etc. because they followed the rules. They invested, did without, raise kids, paid taxes, financed camps and colleges, etc. Now some new group (mostly white, raised in influence, educated in expensive colleges, worked in churches, drink $3.00 cups of coffee, etc) wants to change all of that in the name of authenticity. I am not saying that the emerging church should not be discussed but there has to be proper perspective and love.

Authenticity in America is silicone enhanced, like Pam Anderson, with all due respect to her. Some are saying it must LOOK like this, not BE like this. (Or is it .bE) Authenticity should be that we bring Christ to the lives of all people. All people. Jesus said it was impossible for the rich, then He adds, but all things are possible with God. We don't include that line much when we discuss the rich. I believe the rich, young ruler did follow Christ, not because he changed but God moved in the spirit to change his heart. How will they know unless they are told and how will they be told unless someone is sent. It is possible for the PCUSA because with God all things are.

The question is, my friend, are you being equipped and to whom are you sent? I can't tell you that, that is between you and God. If you are being equipped, what kind of equipping do you have? Like the adventurer, are you equipped for cold or hot weather climates, jungle or urban, desert or mountain? Are you being equipped for Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Eygpt, or the ends of the world? To the PCUSA or to a people that aren't churched?

In between Chapters 12 and 14 of 1 Corinthians is chapter 13. How will you use your equipment? It must be with love and respect for the people to whom you were sent.

Go to mass, sit and listen...

01 December 2003

Monday Morning...

Cold morning, outlook for light rain. I love the blue of the morning.

I am off today to discuss the summer with two coordinators, Kerri and Cory (sounds like a lounge act). I am very excited about this summer. New things.

Tomorrow I meet with Rudy Carrasco from the Harambee Center to discuss a third week lab, if you will, for our high school discipleship program, AIM. I am concern about the logistics of bringing 25 high school kids to Pasadena, but I am very excited about the idea of partnering with them.

Coffee ready, thermos filled... to SoCal!

29 November 2003

Screwing around with my blog...

I was a graphic designer before I was a program director.

I taught graphic arts at a high school, I represented an artist, I operated printing presses, I had one of the first computer labs using macintoshes as well as PCs. But I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to designing this @#%$&^* blog page. I tried to use a different template and I lost the use of the comments. I lost the ability to have a list of other blogsites. I don't know jack.

I'm off to see the wizard (Rudy) on Tuesday, maybe he will give me a brain...

27 November 2003

Seminary and the church

I got an email from Cleave asking me to be a reference for him as he applies to Princeton Sedentary. This concerned me for a couple of reason...

1. Will this truly equip him to be a pastor in the future? Will the experience be one that helps shape, not only him but me, if he is my pastor? I am excited for him to influence Princet0n and help shape it's future. But is that the season he should be in. Can a student shape a professor with tenure let alone an institution with tendonitis.

2. I don't think Princetoon likes me.

Good luck Cleave.
Happy Thanksgiving

24 November 2003

My friend Christiane

I was just interviewed by my dear friend from Princeton doing a paper on Community. When she first asked if I would talk to her about CommonFire, our community, I wasn't sure I would have anything to say. An hour and forty-five minutes later we hung up. Many things have been shaped by conversations with friends over the past few years. These conversations of "what ifs..." have caused a lot wonderful formation in my life. Thanks to Rudy, Randy, Sean, Cosbies, Sco, Cleave, Jordo, Christiane, Steven, and many, many others. You have been the voice of God in my life. Thank you.

22 November 2003

what are we about?

Ten years ago a YP came to me and was interested in bringing his youth group to our camp. He asked me one question: "Will you allow my students to smoke?" He told me he runs an outreach to the unchurched students and many of them smoke. Many camps turned him down because, "Smoking is bad for you." I told him Yes, we have a defined area and that would be the only place to smoke. Anywhere else is a fire hazard.

He was at that church for the next two years. We both took a lot of trash from pastors and people about smoking at a "Christian camp", "what's next allowing kids to have sex..." One pastor threatened to discontinue the church's giving to us if we continue this practice. He threatened to take us to presbytery! Which means COMMITTEES. I took it to the board and they agreed with the pastor that we should not allow smoking, especially if it is now illegal for a minor to even possess it. This was not a health issue, but a cosmetic one. Christians don't smoke.

I had to ban smoking and inadvertently smokers from the camp.

That was a sad day and it broke my spirit. Eric left the church and became a missionary in Albania.

What's going to happen. Will the emerging church ban organ players?

19 November 2003

Opened eyes...

In the past few days I have attended a "town hall meeting" with our church to discuss the direction it should take and I dropped in a few times at the pastor's conference held at the camp.

After experiencing and talking with these people I think the emerging church cannot be based on the support and finances of the establish church. It must be established through the people whose hearts are being led in that direction. We must sit down in conversation and stories with the olders but not expect them to change. We must use grace and love in our sharing with them this vision that God seems to be giving us about our worship and meeting. I don't think it is possible to expect them to change, nor should they. But our heart must be of love. If we approach them as Moses approached pharaoh to let his people go (whoa baby...) they with the power and the dollar, we will never go anywhere. I was listening and talking to these two groups and there is such a cloud of fear that we don't need to add this weight on to these fragile people. We can criticize or we can organize. They are not holding us back. We are. They don't get it because there experience is different therefore their culture is different. We should honor their culture as we would any other instead of rebel against them. Also, if we leave and start something new and they have lost us, there is a good chance they will open the dialogue and welcome the input.

08 November 2003

Off to Bakersfield...

I leave shortly for a promo in Bakersfield, CA. Mission dinner tonight, Mission Faire in the quad tomorrow. There are good people in Bakersfield. Must be the oil and the music.

We have some great people at Calvin Crest. I am excited about turning responsibility and authority over to these people because they have this feeling that God is calling them to this place for His work. CommonFire people, Bryan and Laura Cosby and now Jon and Anne Capp. I want to help make them successful in their call, that means they need the proper training, equipment, budget, authority to make decisions, covering, sense of ownership (responsibility), and enough time. My fear and therefore prayer is that I will fill and release these couples to do the work of the Father and not just work at a christian camp. Peace

06 November 2003

Another response...

(again read Mark's response before reading this blog)
I agree, we squabble over doctrines, but that is what we spend most of our time talking about at camps. We call it the basics. Would we talk that way when it comes to dating. Do we have doctrines of romance? Maybe we do and that is why the Divorce rate is so high. We should approach God the same as we would approach that cute little brown haired girl we had our eye on in high school. It is alright to be a little goofy in our pursuit of God. We haven't been, we have been incredibly stiff and intellectual. We lead with our minds and deny our spirits. Unless that girl is a geek (and I have all due respects for geeks, we are using the vehicle design, created and maintain by my geek friends) she will run. There has to be passion, there has to be abandonment in love. Picnics on a rainy afternoon - that is the kind of love God wants from us. Like a child. Like a lover.

Why not speak in tongues? Doctrine. Why not let the junior highers meet in the sanctuary? Doctrine. We have created a monument that doesn't allow us to have fun in let alone worship in. First teach love then become practical. Do that for a week at Camp. I am NOT saying don't take God seriously, I think we don't take Him serious enough. Which is why we would want to have our eyes on Him totally not only on our doctrines.

We forget that the best part of camp is the ride up to camp. Anticipation, what is going to happen, who will we meet, will I change, is she going to be there... But the sweetest is the ride home. We have stories to tell. The worst part of camp is not fitting in. Not aligning with others. What if for a week we didn't worry about doctrine but gave in to experiencing. Just a week. Allow the camper to experience God in the Spirit and each other and their stories. Give room for questions and really struggle with answers.

When we easily come up with the "right" answers I am wondering if we ourselves really believe it if it has only been taught to us or better if we have truely (I use that word purposefully) experience the answer. I don't want to debate issues with a camper anymore, but let them talk to Jesus and ask Him what He thinks. And then give them some room to hear the answer from Him. Experience it with them.

My wife and kids love to be surprised with me showing up when they didn't expect me to be there. They do keep an eye out in case I do. I want to live my life the same way with God and keep an eye out for His arrival and not feel like I got it all wrapped up, I want to be expectantly surprised each time He shows or speaks.

The question isn't about relevancy but truth. God's love is true. Jesus' death on the cross is true as is His resurrection. Can't we sit more, appreciate the stories, appreciate the insights of our brothers and sisters which may be a different facet of the same stone. Others may view a movie or a piece of art differently than we do, experiences cause us to react differently, but it is the same piece of art.

What separates us from other beliefs is Jesus. What should bring us together is Jesus. I am not talking about all roads lead to God and it doesn't matter what you believe. But what I am saying is we are passing on a belief without the Spirit who originated the experience. Maybe go back to rediscovering this man who says He's the messiah. Let Jesus reveal Himself to us and the camper. When He does show Himself, it is powerful. Amen.

05 November 2003

Oh yeah...

I think we confuse doctrine with truth. We should teach truth. The truth of Jesus, the truth of the Holy Spirit, the truth of God. If it is true it would be true for all not just the Presbyterians versus the Baptist, or Assemblies of God, etc. (sounds naïve!)
Or else it seems like we hold to a form of godliness but deny it's power. 2Tim 3:5

In response to yesterday's response...

(Please see yesterday's comment before reading this blog - Thank you.)
I don't disagree with you what I do have an issue with today is that the expectations of a camper is equally matched with the emptiness of doctrine. I agree knowing the wisdom and understand of the will of God is tied up in doctrine. The only problem I have with that is that we then separate the WILL from the SPIRIT of God. We try to get these kids (old and young) to have good doctrine but do we/they realize and understand that good doctrine is not only in our thoughts and understanding but in the active, dynamic (dunamis) power of the Holy Spirit. I am not talking about a pentecostal experience (although that always opens up cards and letters after camp is over), but a listening to the small voice that we walk with daily.

We talk about having Bible studies, prayer, and fellowship but never about allowing God to speak to you through His words, sitting and listening speaking in a two way conversaation with the Creator and Father, and sharing prophetic words into the life of a sister or brother believer. No, we separate our doctrine from the aliveness of the Spirit of God. The doctrines can be taught but the Spirit of God has to be experienced. I hope you know that I am not against good doctrine, my friend, I am against empty and dead, lifeless doctrine that doesn't redeem, heal, forgive, empower, or renew the mind of a believer. In fact, they aren't believers but they are only doctrinaires. ;) (I don't usually use email icons).

I have spoken at our high school camps about letting God speak to them and I get many of an enraged pastors, counselors, and campers telling me that God doesn't speak them, therefore, He doesn't speak. Now good doctrine, if you are a calvinist, is that God only speaks to His sheep, therefore, I should tell them, it is because you are not one of His sheep and therefore are not saved. That is the kind of doctrines that concern me.

Doctrines have taken the place of discipling. Downloading a doctrine without the experience of the Holy Spirit is easy but dead. We should be walking, not downloading, along side the camper or youth and helping them to understand that which the Spirit is doing in their lives. We need to be listening to their stories and what they are experiencing at homes or what is going on in their minds as they lay their heads on the pillow at night in the dark.

We can tell the stories of old and apply them to the experiences the kid is having today, but we can't exchange the stories of past experiences with the vivbrant life with the Spirit. And we have done that in the name of doctrine. Good doctrine should not be bound only in leather covers but in the breath of the story. Paul's words to Timothy were stories before they became doctrine or scripture. We have lost experiencing the spiritual relationship of Paul and Timothy to textbooks and commentaries. Only the ordained seminarian can understand doctrine. But Jesus wants us to experience like a child, fresh and easily awestruck, the ways, warmth, and wisdom of God (notice the W's - very Princeton).

It is easier to teach the facts of history and never experience a war. But those who experienced the war come back with embedded stories that have changed them forever.

I know it is easier to teach history than art. Art is subjective. Can doctrines be subjective? I am sounding like a liberal. Many churches have baptismals, why don't they have a fixture that have dirt in it and when it is time for the healing services the Ordained spits in it and rubs into the wound of the seeker? Why didn't we make spitting in dirt and applying it a doctrine? Do we think the ways of God are easily packaged and downloaded. John wrote in his book, chapter 21, verse 25 "Jesus did many other things as well. If everyone of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." That is why we should be story tellers not just doctrinairs.

We have only given facts, lots of facts, to our campers. It is time to let them have some stories. And we will find many of their stories do not fit neatly into our well defined doctrines. Stories are messy, doctrines are systematic. I fear many doctrines have caused more death than life. Jesus was killed because of good doctrine. (yikes did I say that?) I hope you know what I mean by that.

Off to one of the most beautiful places to work... camp.

03 November 2003


We have gone from Summer to Winter in less than a week. Last Monday it was in the high 80s and today we are having our second snow storm of the season. As in the words of Dylan, "the times they are a changin'..."

I am convinced more and more that our camps should focus on equipping the saints to do the will of God instead of just being christian. Our time with kids need to bring the whole message of God to their understanding, as best we can. Preparing them to do, without fear, God's call and will than just debate the issues that are in controversy today. We need to do this without always talking about being a non-believer. We spend so much effort on convincing them they are going to hell if they don't throw a pine cone in the fire that once they have done that we back off. We have their hearts and souls, now we need to be "renewing their minds." Not with doctrine but with His wisdom and understanding. We should be teaching to listen to the still small voice and be obedient to His directions. We should give them understanding to the conversation rather than just "pray often". We give them old words that have no meanings to a new creation. I think we do this because it was done to us.

Many young people are looking into old liturgy. High masses are becoming popular because it causes us to look to and participate in something higher and greater than ourselves. So prayer labyriths and other fads will come and go but people are looking for the reality of God. This isn't a fad it is a relationship. It happened in the flesh of Jesus, it takes place in the conversation through the Spirit.

This cannot only be taught, it must be modeled or discipled. They must see it in our lives and experience it themselves. It must not be pious but genuine, worts and all. Good days and bad.

Well, it is time to play in the snow...

01 November 2003

In the past three months, I have been doing a lot of traveling, planning, budgeting, meeting, thinking and praying. I haven't been blogging. I will begin anew.

I have been dealing with a bit of depression which seemed to hold me down. I am agressively dealing with that with my doctor's help, much prayer, and conversations with good friends.

I felt the Lord calling me a few weeks ago to start studying the book of Haggai - short and sweet but full of instructions. It is about rebuilding the church. "Give careful thought to your ways..." "Go to the mountains for wood..." The instructions for us today is very relevant. We are too busy building our homes and lives that we have let the home of the Lord (and I am not talking about a church building!) decay. No life, spiritless, ichabod.

Then on CBS Sunday Morning, I saw a brief segment on a man named Samuel "Sambo" Mockbee, an archetect and professor at Auburn University. He took his students to the Rural areas of Alabama, Hale County, where they design and build homes for the poor using available materials. Tires, carpet squares, windshields, traffic signs, etc.

The web site for Rural Studio is http://www.ruralstudio.com/ Check it out.

The tie here is that I rely on Home Depot and Lowes for my supplies and God is calling us to look around and He will supply. We need to be creative and entrepreneurial.

I have been charged up by this.

13 September 2003

Back from vacation...

It is good to be back from vacation. Wyoming was beautiful and the people were extremely kind and loving. We were blessed beyond understanding.

This year I am looking at camping as a tool for equipping and recharging. I feel like I need to evaluate what I am doing with the program for campers, the community of seasonal staffers, and relationships with year round personnel. In the next few months I am praying about what is it that God wants to do in a person life in the 6 or so days they are with us. If you have any ideas, that is if anyone is reading this, let me know. What is it that we do in the short time we have campers with us. How do we know we are successful? Is it really all about throwing in a pine cone for commitment? Is that all we measure our success upon, words of commitment and if so, is our responsibility over with on Saturday?

This is going to be an interesting year, I can tell already...

02 September 2003

Guitars and God

Click here and see who Rolling Stones think are the top 100 Guitarist...

Gone until Sept 8...

Christel and I are off to Jackson Hole, Wy to lead worship and prayer for a women's conference at the Presbyterian Church.

I love leading people into worship and prayer regardless of plumbing.


CT's article...

I don't want to be a small camp guy picking on the megacamps, but in Christianity Today's last month cover story, "God and the Water Slide" (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/009/3.54.html) it talks mainly of the "stuff" that camp does instead of the opportunity and responsibility of camps. I don't expect CT to look at that, especially if they don't think about it for themselves. It will only be thought of if it affects the bottom line... market shares, etc.

I talked to a sales rep from NavPress about the emerging church and if they are making changes in what they are publishing. He said they began to go after some books but it didn't match up with their (Navigator's) agenda. Too liberal. The book that they were thinking of was Campolo and McLaren's Adventures in Missing the Point. Zondervan picked it up without hesitation.

Do we only concern ourselves with the bottom line but miss the calling to reach out to people asking new questions. Is the truth only limited to Conservation Christianity, or does God speak out into all humanity. Is the gospel only relevant in a culture that is set up to accept it? One that builds monuments in it's lobby, or can it work in a culture that demands the 10Coms being removed. It may be that we have reduced the Gospel to stone and bumperstickers and deny it's power and authority to change lives and to align to His Kingdom not our domain. We sell the same old, same old with new looking covers but the text is still weak and old. Is our programs at our camps the same old stuff that lack His power, authority, life, and Spirit?

We have been given a week of influence in a kid's life, what do we do with it? I know that NBC would love the opportunity we have to manipulate this generation. What are we doing with it?

There are some ideas I am thinking of, later.

01 September 2003

Just a thought

Labor Day that is celebrated in the middle of harvest does not include farm workers.

30 August 2003

"I don't think that means what you think it means..."

That line from the Princess Bride keeps coming to mind as I live life in the 2000s. I am either having a midlife crisis or a paradigm shift of unbelievable proportions. It isn't that I changed my mind or my faith isn't good, I am just not as quick to follow the old thinking anymore. I want to listen more and consider what others would say, especially those I tend to disagree with. I am not drawn to the political left, it is the silent ones I am interested in now. The overlooked. The stories of my mom instead of the pastor. Blogs instead of commentaries. Especially the ones who are listening to Jesus and not the mainstream Christian published magazines. New conversations with tourist, instead of the regulars at the cafe. The food at a family owned taqueria, instead of Taco Bell.

Camps need to bring out the stories of campers, not download the Roman road. Get them thinking instead of just responding with a pinecone. Stop the your going to hell if you reject Him and begin the He wants to know you and the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Listening to stories instead of just giving seminars.

My wife is up and busy, I need to help her with the dishes. See ya

29 August 2003

ReImagining Camp

I use to view camping as an end unto itself. Our program, our staff, our goals, etc. Today I don't think the same. (I don't think the same as I did two years ago in anything!)

I am thinking about this property as a facility to facilitate that which is going on in the body of Christ. Not just organized religious groups, denominational or non-denoms, but parachurch, neighborhood ministries, Christian sport teams, environmentally aware and concerned groups, etc. What do they need that we can facilitate their ministries. More than a hotel/motel, but a place of spiritual sensitivity, gastronomical excellence, astronomical visibility (there is healing in seeing the stars), and places to walk and talk, just to name a few. What do we do with our land? How do we use it to add to the lives of ministry taking place in the urban and rural areas that surround us.

My friend Shari Wiedenhoeffer and I are talking about secondary virginity camps, leadership camp for Hispanic rural youth groups, teen mom camps, etc. Not Calvin Crest's program but using who we are, who I am, to be a resource to the lives of those others are called to.

I don't just want to be a guest group camp (come and use our facilities) but how can we partner with our guest to provide a place and an environment (spiritual, culturally, mountainly, etc) where God can speak and touch them in real time. Our resources - people, finances, facilities, etc all need to be geared to this.

I am beginning to think about this and hopefully will use this blog as a place of discussion for people in camping or other ministries that are open to the conversation...

Or we can talk about the monument of the Ten Commandments in Alabama. No, I rather talk about what is in our hearts, rather than what is in our lobbies. Peace

21 August 2003

I think I'm jaded...

I have been a reference for many getting into ministry, either ordained or not. I get the reference forms from the student hoping this will be their call. They want to make sure I get it in on time and it is properly filled out. I use eloquent language and say the right things. The church's committee calls and asks me the same old questions.

I don't let them run the meeting anymore. I ask the questions!!!! What is the real job description? Who is going to mentor and nurture? Is this full time? Why not? How many hours are really expected? What is the community of faith's expectations? How will you know if she is successful? What happened to the last person that had this "call"? Is this community open to reaching the kids in the neighborhood or just the kids of the church? What mission trips do you take and how often? All of these tell something of their mission statement and what they believe in calling someone to serve Christ.

Most of the conversations bog down at this point, they want to get back to their questions to see if this is the right guy or woman for them. I press on and begin to relate their answers to the ability of the applicant.

The ones who really are thinking about the call are the ones I love to recommend the students who are able. The ones who want to control the conversation are only interested in getting someone in here so that their children will not have sex or smoke dope. It is not about the Kingdom but about babysitting. These are the churches that after a few months they are on the back of the youth guy because they didn't turn in their receipts properly. There is a new mark on the wall that they painted 4500 years ago and there are foot prints on the couches. "We can't have that?" They get mad because the youth group meetings are filling up with neighborhood kids and they are terrifying the parents as they drop the kids off. I have had too many friends lose their jobs because they reach out to the neighborhood.

Enough. I think I'm jaded!

19 August 2003


As summer ends, I am asking God to confirm in my spirit if it is time to leave Calvin Crest or commit to another 4 years. I believe He is doing something new here and it is different than before. I know whenever one starts a new endeavor there has to be the right and enough resources. Am I equipped to do that which God is building. "Count the cost before the building," God tells us.

Relationship building is high on the priority of this new work. Building new relationships with the staff, building new relationships with ministries to bring their kids to the mountains, and building new relationships with men and women who can support the ministry. That is what I feel like I am being drawn into.

The program must change from entertaining to equipping. Not just pinecone fires of commitment but talks of equipment by the Spirit. If 1 out of 2 families are splitting up, who is equipping the youth to make proper decisions with skill and understanding to lead the Kingdom. We are no longer teaching Kingdom ways but selling a product and going on to the next unsaved person. Jesus calls us to make disciples not just converts. Our camps must be places of instruction of Kingdom principles. Principles of power and authority, humility and care, love and grace, endurance and hope.

We keep telling kids to do more and try harder, but never to listen to God's instructions and be obedient to what He is telling us to do. When I ask people to listen for God's voice, they look at me with a blank expression and ask, "God speaks?" The youth pastors get mad because I am telling the kids stuff that they haven't. And they haven't because they don't believe He does either. What is it we are teaching? Why would we leave out the power of the Gospel. God's kingdom is here and it does have a communication system.

We need to equip people to hear God's voice. We are God's prophets and must know and respond to His voice. I run into too many who would say they don't know God's voice and do not believe He speak to us. The Good Shepherd cannot lead if His sheep do not hear His voice. The sheep will turn to their own understanding. Vision statements are written without the eyes on God. Sermons given without hearing what God wants to say. How can our work and words be His if we don't hear Him? We hope that we are doing it right and will find out at the Throne, will we get "well done" or "I guess you did your best"? Obedience comes from hearing, therefore we must hear from Him.

I cannot do another summer unless He tells me what to do. What is the theme, not just for the t-shirt but for the word and work He is going to do in the lives of these 80+ people. For me to just do what I think is right may end up good but not God. At this time I am supposed to spend more time with Calvin Crest and its ministry and not be involved in any other ministry. I am finding my value is from others telling me they need me and not from being obedient to where God has put me. My family got the worst part of my life, the left over. For that I am deeply regretful. I am definitely crispy on the edges from doing too much and accomplishing too little. I want to be focused on what God wants me to look at and turn away from all else.

Well enough for now, vacation is over...

18 August 2003

just a tag...

As we become more relational, our camps should follow suit. We create relationships with those who are in need of what we have. We spend a little more time developing relationships with those who can send children who normally wouldn't be able to afford the cost of the experience. I am trying now to open up camps that aren't being attended by the upper middle class kid, and giving the experience to those of the inner-cities. It has been a long conversation, but with building relationships it will open up to new friends.

Moving from denominations...

I spent last week with Rudy Carrasco, as he spoke at my camp to high school students. He started introducing me, via email, to his friends. Different ones wrote and told me, "Rudy wanted me to write to introduce myself to you." If you are reading this it is probably because of Rudy.

It was eventful.

This camp is owned by the presbytery of the San Joaquin Valley, which some on the churches within it are experience a major decline in numbers (except for the "First" churches). The denomination is rapidly shrinking. The church or body of Christ is not.

In the past week, in my experience it has gotten bigger. I believe a part of the new wave of the Spirit is to break down denoms and open up relationships.

Either that or we will all be Rudyians.

14 August 2003

I am a program director of a camp near the southern gate of Yosemite, called Calvin Crest.

I am not a big camp guy, but I love calling 80 college students together each summer to be a community of faith. The camp part of the ministry comes out of the community, not the other way around. It doesn't just happen, it is allowed, encouraged, somewhat planned, and always reacted to. My calling is to this staff. The staff's calling is to the camper. It is out of this that we see God moving by His spirit.

Last year we started a program called CommonFire, a planned discipleship community. People just out of high school and college came to work on the staff and create a community. Expectations were to program the learning and activities so that community would happen. We made it mandatory to show up to Bible studies, book readings, prayer times, and just community informational meeting. The proverbial "fan" turned brown around December and fecal matter being greatly contributed and distributed by March. People started to not show up or sleep at "meetings" people not liking the room assignments or the roommate, etc. I tried to have conversations regarding "higher ground" and large picture thinking, but mostly felt like a failure. If I was going to design a shirt for the program it would say... "CommonFire, This is community, damn it!"

The last few weeks of May we went camping at Lime Kiln near Big Sur and shared frustrations and watching God work and change our hearts towards Him, each other, and ourselves. Program didn't do this, they stuck around and allowed God to work through these ticked off people for His glory and our edification.

This fall we are starting up again, Sept. 2, only this time no mandatory meetings, but giving the authority and responsibility to the staff to allow community to come to the surface. We will pray, eat, ski, and other things together... if they want. Love will be the rule, chores are not optional though.