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.