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.