29 February 2004

UPC worship tonight...

I am looking forward to heading back to Fresno tonight to worship with the sisters and brothers at University Presbyterian Church and to hear a representative from International Justice Mission. He is speaking on the responsibility of Power (or something similar). I pray for them as they prepare and I pray that people would be drawn there tonight to have the Spirit do something new in their lives as He is also drawing me. Do a deep work of compassion in our hearts, O Lord.

Now what...

Now that President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti has left we pray for someone of character, integrity, and the heart and mind of God to put forth a new work that will bring healing and life to this tiny nation. Who can do such a thing?

27 February 2004


Haitian refugees

I don't want to come off as a global thinker or even aware of the whole political arena. I rely on Rudy and Hugo to teach and direct my heart and conscience in that. But I am extremely concern over the potential and the actual of major loss of life in Haiti.

Lord Jesus move in the minds and heart of all the players that are at work in Haiti. I pray for action of Your love to affect them in the ways of peace and love. Give President Bush wisdom and courage to do Your will and have Your heart in conversations and decision that are to be made with regards to this forgotten country. We bind the spirit that has held this country in repeated oppression and poverty. Bring your power, Lord Jesus, through the Holy Spirit to the believers and let them rise up in peace and wisdom. And move in the heart and mind of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to do Your will and to know Your plan. I pray that he would love his country and Your children to treat them with compassion and mercy. Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray that Your spirit would bind and cancel the plans of the enemy and bring this country to unity in knowing You. Let justice and mercy, peace and love be in the hearts of all, from the president to the rebel. In Jesus' name. Amen

26 February 2004

When the rain came...

It is absolutely pouring outside. I LOVE IT. Time to read, drink soup, light candles, make a fire, eat buffalo wings.

I love buffalo wings. I am working on my own recipe. I know all it takes to make it is to add butter to Franks Hot Sauce and stir it in the fried wings. But I want more. I make my sauce my way. I add garlic. I add a little worcestershire sauce, and a little more cayanne pepper. I am not usually a buffalo wing kind of guy. It isn't the guy part of it that I like. But I like the sauce.

Sauces are the difference between fast food and gourmet. Between 1st class and coach. Box seats and grandstands... It is the blending and fusion of different ideas and purposes into a cohesive unit. To me, the meat, whether chicken, steak, pork, or spam, is only the vehicle with holds the sauce. It is important that it is a good cut of meat, but the sauce is the embellishment of the event. The deal maker.

I like to lavish sauce on. It needs to get into every thing. Fudge on a sundae, marmalade on an English muffin, hollandaise on a Benedict, it doesn't matter. Lavish it. Lose touch with the main food group be in touch with the sauce. It needs to get on your shirt or blouse (if you are a woman and you know who you are). Lavishing does that. It is messy, not refine. It is grand not controled. Laddled not spooned. Passion at it full understanding with a hint of abandonment. Kramer. Giddy up.

Sauces need to talk to your tongue. It should be in constant communication with the various taste sensor located through the organ, which is often overlooked. Julie made a buffalo sauce today that was marching like solders going to war. It had purpose, it was intentional. I like it. It brought wonder back in my life. Sauces should do that. It should make you stop to taste it and listen to your soul. "What is it" should be echoing thoughout your mind. It should be liturical of sorts. Moving from one experience to another.

A good sauce is more precious than box seats at a David Bowie film festival. I had a good week.

25 February 2004

The emergent food show...

I went to a food show yesterday with Sean Oldroyd and his wife-to-be, Julie McCraw hosted by Sysco Foods. I was fairly excited about the event as I was driving to Fresno for a breakfast with my pal, Scott Falk, which was wonderful as always. New things to come!

Anyway after breakfast, I am driving, parking and heading over to the Fresno Exhibit Hall *2 and I am watching everyone getting out of their cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, motorcycles, and one guy on a reclining bike with a tall post with a flag on it, and all walking towards the hall. The same gate to their walk... they were going somewhere... in a hurry... lots of expectations. Inside the hall we all were greeted as we got our name badges and were given the agenda for the day and a bag for what we were going to be given. People with shopping carts knew what was in store. They had been there before and knew that no stinking bag was going to contain all they were going to get. There were professionals in uniform, novices with them in their novice uniforms, administrators, and the rest of us food people. We all came to know more about food and how to use it in our lives.

Walking into the hall was incredible... lots of action like in a red ant's nest. Each booth with a presentation... its own environment, different than the guy next to them. Some incorporated other like minded companies into their both. The SM, the sales(wo)man, was engaged in conversations with the public talking about their product, how to use it, answering hard questions, problem solving, looking in the catalog, asking how do they use it and are their any uses they company doesn't know about - new recipes and such. Lots of stories, smiles, training, tasting, people earning their wages on both sides of the carpet.

They greet you by name, like they have known you for years, but then I remember the name badge clipped to my fleece. It didn't matter, I liked having my name said by these people. It is like being called on by the teacher. I like hearing, "how are you doing today, TONY?" I particularly enjoyed meeting Sandi Bland, the Western Regional Distributor, Sales Manager for The Cheesecake Factory. Nice woman in her forties. She asked which one I would like to taste. I pointed to the plain cheesecake and said, "I would like to begin with the basic one." She smiled and cut a small piece, placed it in a mini cup, (like the kind with all the pleats that we use to have in the boys bathroom at Easterby Knox) and handed it to me. "Good" was all I could say. "what's next?" she asks. "The Supreme Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake." She had me. I wanted more. "Supreme Belgian Chocolate Cheesecake", please!" and finally "Supreme Lemon Drop Cheesecake, please." I was taught to say please by my mom, I could tell this impressed Sandi. I wasn't trying to flirt but she had the Supreme Cheesecake. After each time she gave me a sample she watched me ate and would say, "It is very good, isn't it!?" She enjoyed giving me a taste of that which she already had tasted. She knew the joy that she was bringing to me. There was a connection. She asked if there was questions? I asked a few while wiping my mouth, she gave me her card and told me to... "enjoy the rest of the show."

I watched a demonstration by a chef on different ways to prepare salmon. He talked from experience, he prepared a dish, let us try it... "Good." He told us what to be careful of when thawing it, preparing it, cooking it. Gave some great new ideas from an old favorite. I was ready to leave and begin trying what he said. I wanted to tell Christel, no, I wanted to show Christel this new way of Salmon. She would want to know.

The next guy had some taco seasonings, the next some flavoring you add to a Coke. They all let you try a sample. "Taste and see..." They want you to experience that which is offered. They instruct you in the way of the product. Hope you will come back and buy.

I love the food show. Each show I look to try something new. This time it was cheesecake, last time it was sausage, the time before that it was sauces, and the next time I don't know what it will be but I am already looking forward to it.

Might be a great way to meet as believers.

21 February 2004

The process...

This was an incredible process. We hired about 80 people. We have two openings still. A men's lead counselor for the Junior High/High School team and a first aider for our 4-6 grade camp. I go back on the road in a week. Call me if you know the right person. 559 683-4450.

I am going to take a short time off and rest, find my heart, tend to my soul and see you soon.

There has to be a starting point...

18 February 2004

Here we are again...

Tomorrow we begin the staff selection process. A lot of women, few men. We need to be creative.

16 February 2004

The Passion...

I have a little fear. Nothing big just a thought.

Here it goes...

Will the movie, The Passion, cause people to fall in love with Jesus or will it only make them fall in love with a movie version of Jesus. Does the movie or the Holy Spirit inspire love for our beloved savior and which will last. I have been a christian for the past thirty-one years and have seen different movies, recording artists, presidents, actors, and other events all bring Jesus to a favorable light and people thought it was cool to like Jesus, but in the long run they didn't follow Him. I remember thinking it was great that Bob Dylan became a believer. That lasted 6 months. When President Jimmy Carter was elected and told people he was born again, being born again was cool. Different movies did the same thing. Chariots of Fire and others lasted a half a year, but it always ended up that I had to follow Jesus in season and out (high ratings or none).

I am not trying to play the devil's advocate here, I hate that term and am uncomfortable with people when they say that, but I think it doesn't help our faith when we get excited by external acceptance. The gospel comes from the revelation by the Spirit, not from a presentation. God can use this movie and I am sure he will, but will they find the same passion in the church. Do we seek to have the passion by asking Him for it when we don't have it, do we remember his love and sacrifice and bend a knee out of sheer thankfulness or do we rely on movies, tapes, songs, blogs, and other external tools?

I am impressed with the interviews with Mel Gibson, his faith is real, not polished, and he risks being labeled a baffoon by his answers of faith. I am excited that this movie will come out soon and that many will hear the story for the first time in its non-Christmas pageant format. I pray that God would be glorified and Mel will be blessed for his obedience to produce it at the price he paid.

I hope this makes sense.

14 February 2004

A great meal and wonderful friends...

Tonight Christel and I met Scott and Carol Falk for dinner in Fresno. Easy conversations, great food (provincial Italian), and wonderful coffee afterwards. Friendship at its best.

12 February 2004

What is the end of what we are trying to do?

In my conversations this past few weeks, and there have been many with pastors, professors, religious, secular, academics, rabble-rousers, Catholics, Baptists, men, women, young, mature, pagans, self, there seems to be the uncertainty of purpose for the church. What is our outcome, how do we know if we are successful? We do an awful lot without ever measuring the fruit. Are we doing what we are called or are we calling what we are doing? There is a difference.

We begin to label that we are doing as the purpose rather than seeking Him and being faithful and obedient to do that, and only that, to which we are called. We institutionalize our process and leave out and marginalize the mysterious and the mystics. “God bless us as we…” is our mantra as we religiously do what we have been doing through the ages with great success. But what happens when we see less fruit, shriveling on vine, or it becomes mundane and no longer fun? What is our reaction to this? Instead of going back to the drawing board we need to go back to the Drawer. Is He leading in a new direction or is He keeping the course? If He is, we is.

I say all of this because this past season of recruitment did not yield that to which I have had in the past. It was harder, I wasn’t heartily endorsed by faculty, and some places that produce great results didn’t yield as much, if any. Is my time at an end, is my way of operating to change, is there to be new places to plant and harvest? These are my questions.

To continue without seeking Him would be ludicrous. Did I end up here because I got too confident in My way rather than waking each morning to seek His? Without taking a step, did I seek His direction? No, I did it my way. It use to be His way, but when it became mine I took my eyes off of Him and plotted my own path. The journey of mistakes begins with the first step off the way.

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God… I am and I will.

Good to be Home...

Well the plane flights were without incident. No delays, some good conversations, wonderful service, good landings, mint cookies. Except for the person who flatulated somewhere over the Nevada/California line, it went well. There is nothing like getting off a plane, walking down the corridor to the carousel and seeing your luggage on a parade before you. Picking them up as you walk by and heading towards your car without incident. That happened last night. I am heading for the car and realize I left my wallet and book on the plane, in the pocket where they conveniently store the barf bag and Sky Mall Magazine. (which by the way is a great invention - I am talking about the pocket, and yes the barf bag.) So feeling like an idiot I wait in line to talk to the lost luggage woman. The woman in front of me is chewing her out for the company's lack of professionalism to miss place her luggage. She is getting louder about how the president of Delta airlines is going to hear about this!!! (I am sure there is a hired person to only deal with the issue of lost luggage.) I am not sure what to say when it is my turn to walk up - except, "I am sorry you have to listen to this." I then explain my stupidity to her and tell her that I made the mistake, the airline was great and if it would make her feel better I would write a letter to the president telling him or her that this is my mistake and I am definitely not professional in the getting my act together department when deplaneing. This poor woman was so used to being yelled out she couldn't comprehend that I wasn't yelling at her. Why do we yell out people who had no responsibility in the mistake?

When a mistake is made a new economy begins. A new order happens. It is like the game chutes and ladders, you have to get off the route you want to go on and slide down some new chute to rectify the mistake. People are deployed (I like using that word, I try to use it once a day), paperwork filled out, systems activated. Crucifixion is imminent. Someone pays...

She called plane people and they told her it was already being taxied to the hanger for cleaning. She said it may take some time. It did, about a hour. But the nice airplane guy came walking up with my wallet and my book, Big Fish (which is a great movie and an even better book). I hear Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah playing as I gather my stuff and begin to head out. I walk by the lost luggage woman, who is now getting yelled at by another irate customer. I interrupt the customer in mid rant and thanked the lost luggage woman for her diligence and care for me during the last hour. No expression. Lord Jesus, change us, forgive us for treating our brothers and sisters like this.

I am thankful for my job where I don't have to have people yelling at me for the lost of baggage.

10 February 2004

One more day in Spokane...

Today met with Randy Brothers again and talked about program. When I talk about the improper focus on program rather than people I never think about what Randy is doing. Quite the opposite. He uses program to move people in discipleship. I am amazed at his ability to articulate the structure that brings people towards health rather than limiting people. He understands the program as a vehicle to move towards the destination rather than it is about the vehicle.

I wish I had his ability to think systematically. However, our conversations bless me. It never makes me feel inadequate but completed. I continue to marvel at his complete understanding of structures that don't end up institutions in themselves. I learn each time I am with him. Thanks Randy.

I am a blessed man to have so many incredible friends. I am now off to hear a speaker at Whitworth and to hang with Terry McGonigal and the assistant chaplain Andrea S... Blessings

09 February 2004

Still in Spokane...

This has been an interesting part of the journey. I met with Randy Brothers, a youth pastor at First Pres, Spokane, Rob Fairbanks, pastor of New Community, and then my old friend Keith Beebe, a former pastor of a Presbyterian church here in Spokane now a full professor at Whitworth. These guys are near my age. Last night I saw Steve and Jamie Hart, these are youngins, a pastor to the youth of New Community. Great people.

I really enjoyed the fellowship of believers with these guys. I was encouraged, embraced, and corrected. A real fellowship. With my conversation with these people and, in Denver, with Mike Sayers of Scum I am being more convinced the church is moving towards the intimacy of small groups. My wife, Christel, and I both have a sense of God calling us to move in this direction. There is concern that we need to be involved with a larger body but our life will grow from a smaller group. I have been around too many people who are talking in the same direction to dismiss thisas just a fad. More importantly, in my quiet time, I am hearing God speak the same words as these guys. I am also hearing it from Laura Cosby and her husband Cosby Cosby. I watch George Freeman, who is 50 today, and his group of people praying together every Tuesday night experience this thing that many are just talking about.

The difficulty is what do we do? We are so accustomed to programmed time in churches that to meet with a small handful and be vulnerable to the Spirit in front of each other there is a high possibility of failure. The funny thing, er, sad thing is that I am not sure I could identify success. Success is not feelings, numerical growth, marked progress through the scriptures, leaders developed, cookies served, or coffee consumed.

I was in a hotel yesterday and there was a small body meeting there. I am sitting in the Starbucks down the street from Whitworth and there are four women meeting together and are now praying over their caramel macchiato, ice water, freshly brewed coffee (Sumatra if I'm not mistaken) and Tazo tea. They have been laughing, whispering, and sharing intimately the entire time I have been blogging and drinking my decaff-venti-sugarfree vanilla-breve-latte. I envy their time. They share and pray, share and pray. Scriptures read, more prayer. Wow. There is an empty seat next to them, I am sure Jesus is sitting with them. He promised.

Isn't it interesting that Jesus said whereever two or more are gathered and agree on anything, He is there. Small groups! Intimate gatherings. Love between friends and bringing our cares and joys to the Father, through one another and through Jesus Christ our mediator. I like the idea of talking to a saint to pray for us to the Father. I am thankful for the saints around me that I see on a regular basis, some daily, some weekly, some annually, but all eternally.

Please pray that I get some sleep tonight, I have been getting about 3 hours each night on this trip.


07 February 2004

In Spokane

Well, in my journey I have landed in Spokane, WA and am feeling like I am turning the corner for the last lap before staff selections. I am having difficulties finding good men. (Don't go there!) In many of my conversations with pastors and camp leaders, I am not alone in this situation. Why is that? Men, where are you? What are we doing that keeps men from being involved in ministries and leadership in the church? I have talked to many single women who complain of having a hard time finding men of strong character. S'up?

This is ironic. In Christiandom we find many do not believe that women should be in leadership yet we continue to not raise up good men. Just for the record I don't think leadership is a plumbing issue but a heart issue.

One more thing, just because I started ranting a little and we all know that ranting begets ranting... I want to go back to Macintosh.

05 February 2004

In Boulder...

I made it. Sat by a woman who snored on the flight to Denver. They did not have a copy of Sky Mall, no movie, but they did have a stale cookie.

I met with the pastor of Scum of the Earth Church. I fit in there! Enough said.

It is snowing here, I am freaking out whenever I drive with anyone because I might slide off the road or something. I even freak when I am walking.

03 February 2004

Tomorrow, another interview trip begins...

I am taking off tomorrow, 4 February, to Boulder, Colorado, then Friday to Seattle, Saturday to Spokane, Washington until Wednesday 11 February. First time to Boulder, hopefully develop new friendships with pastors and baristar of the bean.

I don't like to fly, not because of terrorist but airline attendants. I have a fear of anyone who has to walk down narrow aisles and has to deal with everyone. I try to strike up a conversation but I fumble, fear. I am not my usual self. I am not trying to flirt, not at all, but I am trying to have a friend established in case we go down on a deserted island. Now I know there are no deserted islands between Fresno, California and Denver but a strong wind could knock us off course. Anyway I think I freak is because they HAVE to be nice to me. I am just like everyone else to them. I resent that!!! I have a hard time fitting in and anyone who has to treat everyone the same doesn't get to know the real me. To them I am the same as the rude guy in front of me that puts his seat back and I have to see the top of his head for the whole trip. Or the rude woman who is on Atkins and ask if there is jerky available. I am not demanding, I am a nice guy.

I never know what to wear... should I be casual, formal (I know that Chuck Colson was ranting once in his CT column that no one gets dressed up on airplanes anymore and for that very reason I go casual). I think maybe dress with survival in mind, I don't know. In case something happens I want to look prepared. But I don't want to stand out as a nerd. Lot of pressure. I was asked to take off the inflatible vest once because it was scaring the other passengers.

I don't know what to read... a novel, a magazine, my Bible, a Chuck Colson book? I like music... but do I listen to soothing and relaxing environmental sounds or good ole rock n roll, classical or country, comedy or audio books? If I put on headphones I don't want the flight attendant to think that I am not interested in conversations. Plus it will give me headphone hair.

Aisle seat or window? I cannot do the middle seat. I once was stuck between two 300+ pounders on a trip to Oklahoma and the plane got stuck on the runway for over an hour. I practiced laMaze breathing the entire time I was wedged in there. I felt like a cheap pair of underwear.

Should I carry on my luggage or check it in? I don't trust them. They might steal my dandruff shampoo or lose one of my socks. I don't want to wait in the airport any longer than I have to. But which is best. I try to carry on but when I stow it (that is a nautical term) above I always hit the woman in the head as I am in the process of stowation. She gets extra nuts and I get scorned by all the passengers. When it comes time to deplaning no one lets me in. I have my signal on but no one will yield to the man who knocked out the maternal passenger.

When you think about that you are seatbelted in a chair, bolted to the floor with nothing but 35,000 feet of air and pigeons below you, it can really mess with your mind. Everyone else is calm, why can't I be. I am afraid to use the lavatory because with my luck we are going down while my pants are down around my ankles.

Well, pray for me... or maybe the others in the plane.

It is snowing again...

Well, yesterday driving home from camp, it started to snow, which was beautiful. It started with rain, then corn, then flakes. My tires aren't the best, I have more tread on my bald head! I had it in 4 wheel drive, first gear, headlights on, hands at ten and two, 15 mph max. Then I started to slide. I saw the drop-off coming, closer, closer and then hello, I am twenty feet down the bank. Pretty steep and butted up against a tree, Cedar, with manzanita all around. Engine still running, music playing, heater heating, I said the obligatory words of lack of faith and got out. Was the car alright? I assumed so, no radiator smell, no air bag deployment, headlights still on. Could it be that I didn't total this one like I did with the other 2 cars I had?

I call Calvin Crest, talk to Deb Roope (whenever there is an emergency, I like having Deb there. Cool, calm, in control. She was a firefighter in her twenties. I trust her judgment and she is ready to laugh if needed.) she tells me Jonathan Capp will be deployed (she didn't say deployed I just like using the word) and should be there shortly. When I called back, Dave Davis said he had better come with the road grader and pull me out with that. I have a Montero SUV, kind of big (and destroys the environment) and he didn't feel like Capp's forerunner would be able to pull me out. He was right but I sat in Capp's car for a half an hour talking and waiting in the warmth of his car and charm. Dave shows up in the road grader looking like Madd Max, pulls out his chain, and with Capp's help, attaches it to my car and slowly pulls me out. Not a dent on my car, no broken lens (which cost more than the car to replace), nothing. I drive towards home but have to wait another 3 hours until the CHP opened up Deadwood (the pass on highway 41).

I left Calvin Crest at about 3:00p and made it home at 8:00p, where we watched the video of Groundhog Day, one of our traditions of the new reformation.

It is good to still be with you.

02 February 2004

a "wardrobe malfunction"?????

I am amazed at the use of words and the lack of responsibility people take for their actions. In the midst of one of the crudest and may I also say most boring Superbowl halftimes, JT pulls off the top of JJ and reveals her breast and he calls it a wardrobe malfunction. Come on!!!!! But I also wonder what are the sponsers of the SB thinking when they have MTV produce the show. What did they think they were going to get, The Bradys? The responsibilities lies with the SB people, MTV, and mostly JT. But I take responsibility for watching. I don't think I will do that again.

01 February 2004

I don't know if you noticed...

I got pictures. Next thing is to put my pictures up. I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.