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!