25 April 2004

Prayer and planning...

I am taking the week to again pray and plan. There are a couple of meetings that I need to have with some key pastors and friends and then it is run away and listen.

A while back I had an interesting discussion with our friend, Rudy Carrasco, regarding capitalism and the poor. It, like everything else with me, blazed some rabbit trails that I have been on since that conversation last August.

It was the idea of INVESTMENT. This is not just an economic concept but it is also very spiritual. We are not a community of investors any more. We want to cash in and get out quickly. But investment means doing something today that pays off in the distant future. This is the mind of Christ. How do we look at what we are needing in 50 years so that we can beginning training, learning, and discipling today. I want to create a community, but it only begins today, it doesn't function well today. It is the heart from which this comes, not the flesh. Investing in tomorrow is a different heart than get it now. Could you imagine giving your life away for something that COULD still be around in 2000 years or more. Like, uhm, eternity?

I have been saying this for years but what we do this week of camp cannot nor should not be measured just by the faces on Saturday or the proverbial pinecones tossed on Wednesday, but by what is taking place in their lives in November or next March.

Investments are hard to monitor. My dad invests in the stock market and when I was growing up he kept a chart on his bathroom door of each stock and how they did that day. Everyday when he would come home from work (and I am thankful he did each day) he would put a mark on the graph to signify the day's worth. It was interesting for me to see this and talk with him about it. He had stock with a company, Baxter Labs. It didn't do much but stayed steady. I asked him why he invested in them and he told me he is committed for a least two years to a company. It takes time, he would say.

The reason I bring this up is I have real concerns for the future of the church. Who is going to lead? Who is going to teach children? Who are the worship leaders? Who are the ones that are going to invest in tomorrow's way of following Christ? This cannot be done if we are going to cash out today but we have to be seeking the spirit of Christ to direct our resources (time, money, people, thoughts, energy, natural environment, etc.) to do that which He will be doing in 2054.

We must invest in an education, not just academic but "understanding tools" which will give us abilities for carrying out the Way. I had some jobs that sucked but I see God using those abilities today. Those jobs put me in new situations with people who I would have never hung around with that gave me love and profound respect for them that is of immense value today. I learned to play guitar and piano 30 years ago, which is a part of the Way of today. The Kingdom is made up of the tools crafted years ago and adapted for today.

The seed planted today for the fruit of tomorrow.

23 April 2004


When things don't go the way one is use to it is probably time for a change. I am looking at making some changes to a long way of doing things. People are going to be ticked.

20 April 2004

Eliacin's comment provoked me...

I would rather blog than comment to Eliacin's comment on the previous blog, "How do we know we are successful..."

I want to tell you why I like to do women's retreats. Everytime I tell someone what I did this weekend they get this look on their faces like, "What is wrong with you?" They get a smirk or something that just cannot relate to the whole thing.

First off, it is a time for the food service supervisor, Chef Bink, to go crazy and make incredible food. We want to pamper these women, like no one else does. We want them to feel loved and cared for. We want them to unwind enough so they will be able to experience Jesus' presence in their hearts and spirit. We want them to feel safe to share their hearts and open up enough to allow Jesus to forgive them of sin, release them from the chains of abuse and pain they have been holding on to their whole life. Many are ministering out and this is an opportunity to be ministered to. And Jesus shows up everytime.

We are manipulating them, not by trying to whip them up emotionally, but unwinding them spiritually to let go of themselves into His arms to be loved and set free. When weather permits we open up the giant swing and climbing wall for them to try new things and feel confidence where they lacked before. We have crafts for them to sit, talk, get ministered by Deb as she teaches and talks about this craft and their heart. Safe places to come and let go and let Him.

The speaker is a key. She has to be someone who can understand these women need Jesus, not Freud. They need to be set free, not given more to do. They must walk away release to do His work, not feel guilty for not doing her work.

I lead them in worship. I point out along the way things that Christ is doing and letting them experience Him. It is not about powerpoint or the latest songs, on Sunday we couldn't use the projector because the sun was too bright so we sang songs we knew, old ones, they chose them randomly, and I played them on the piano, and the Spirit ministered to them. I was panicing on no powerpoint but Jesus was moving inspite of our production.

Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added... is really the formula for good programming. Do we allow room for Jesus to do the things He wants to do or do we only do the latest things that we see others doing? Do women come because of the food? You bet! Do they come because of the crafts? Yep. They come because they will see Jesus. But on Sunday when they leave we want them to be 5 pounds heavier because the food was so good, but 50 pounds lighter because Jesus has set them free of the burdens of sin and pain they have been carrying around in their souls for a long time.

19 April 2004

I am blessed...

I just got back from a meeting with some of the CommonFire leadership (Anne & Jonathan Capps, Laura Cosby, and Christy & Bink Smith). The prayer time at the end was so good, felt His presence and peace.

It is well with my soul...

How do we know we are successful...

A number of years ago, when I was a program director, I went around to a number of youth pastors and directors and ask them what were their goals for the coming year. They listed off a number of events (Bible studies, a couple of lock-ins, pizza bash, bbq, camp, houseboat trip on Shasta, winter retreats, ski weekend, and the obligatory Youth Sunday). I told them they didn't give me goals but events. They said that they were the goals to accomplish this year. I asked them at the end of the year how would they know they were successful? They said if they grew in numbers. I asked them what is a successful amount of people? They said more than they have now. I asked them how does Calvin Crest, the camp where I work, fit into their goals? They told me that they would be coming to camp and they wanted a good program. I asked them how would I know I had a "good program?" And they said if the kids like it.

I asked Scott Vance what his goals were, and he pulls out his wallet and slides out a small, laminated, card that had his goals written out. I asked him does his staff know these goals and he said each one had a card. Not one bulleted item was an event but a goal. A measurable goal.

He referred back to the card through out our conversation. I was impressed. I asked him what he would use our camp for. He said, the strategy of camping for him was developing relationships with his students, time to be in the Word, listen and respond to speakers who would challenge their thinking and deepen their faith and understanding on being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and to have a fun time away from the distractions and issues at home.

I liked talking to him. I could go back to the drawing board and keep those things in my mind as I planned the upcoming summer. I could measure my success by Scott's goals for the week at Calvin Crest. Some years I measured up and some I failed. But I always appreciated Scott's evaluations because they came out of his goals which I agree with and not just a nebulous goal like "more kids are coming"...

17 April 2004

A women's conference...

I am leading worship for our women's conference as we speak. The speaker is Stephy Beans, or "Mama". Power is in the house! I love participating in these conferences! The women are open to the Spirit of Christ and to each other. And Bink is doing a great job w/ the food. I will regain the conversation on Monday.

16 April 2004


Rick and I were discussing yesterday that many camps were built after the Korean War or WW2, which means that their conditions are roughly in the same condition I am in... water problems, structural disintigration, electrical shortages, etc. (I'm a mess.)

Repairs are needed everywhere. Remodeling and new buildings are very expensive today versus back then. It will take a lot of money for this work.

Families don't camp as much as they did when I was a kid. They go to motels and stay on the concrete. Roughing it is staying at a Motel 6 instead of the Radisson. They don't want to stay in tents or cabins and walk to the bathroom. They want it like home. New

13 April 2004

Stay tuned...

You may not believe this but we are talking about camping. We will talk about the facilities tomorrow...

Moving on...

If this movement of the Savior was to last for more than a generation, what would be the M.O. (Modus operandi) of the leadership of the movement? What would you do as leaders to ensure that that which Jesus started would continue through the ages. What are we as church leaders doing today that will ensure that our children's great great grandchildren will follow Christ in the same manner as did the Apostles?

I hope I haven't made my ordained friends mad. Education is important. For it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that changes lives. Are we controled by the Spirit or tradition.

12 April 2004

I am asking myself, Again...

Again, we reduce the role of the pastor to someone who is learned. Whether it is Spanish, Greek, Hebrew, or even know who Anye Rand is, etc. We reduce the existence of the Christian life with the event on Sunday or Saturday, the true Sabbath ;).

The event is not the issue with which I am concerned. However we do need good speakers for that, male or female. They need to know the scriptures. The historical context, the culture in which they were written, able to correctly parse the text, correlation between scriptures, prophesy and fulfillment, how to spell correctly and pronounce the names of kings and cities...

They need to understand the event of the worship service, the liturgy. They need to be able to move seamlessly from each station to the next as a conductor moves between the movements of a concert. But we stop there and we don't need to.

What brings a community together? What is important enough for the community to stop what it is doing and gather? If it is the sermon, the speaker better be educated and gifted in the art of public speaking and time managment. The question is why do we gather? To hear a sermon? My catholic friends would say we gather to participate in the Eucharist. But we protestants think it is just symbols and not the very presence of Christ, so that can't be it? To minister to each other? No we arrive and leave 65 minutes later without getting share our lives with each other, maybe a little coffee but not our souls. To learn to be better Christians? I am not sure that is happening except we are able to live intentionally for 40 days at a time.

The position I was trying to get out is that our community is about community. The Christian community has to be more than a group of people who wear christian t-shirts and quoting scripture. It is about labouring together building houses, stores, farms, schools, services, family, etc. Investments made that payoff later, not just a consumeristic - get it now, pay off.

The pastor has to be the spiritual director for the community, just as the mayor is the political director, the teacher is the education director, the conductor the musical director, etc. But when the pastor becomes the politician, the entertainer, etc. instead of the spiritual director, we have people that are lacking spiritually and become consumers. So the important thing in a congregation's life and concerns are the prices at the Gap. This does not reflect poorly on the congregation but the pastor. He has concerned himself with everything but the spiritual life of the congregation and the arguement of educated in the scriptures is a spiritual endeavor is baloney. We misinterpret knowing things about God with knowing God. Having a Ph.d in baseball doesn't give you a .333 batting average. (Steroids do that!) If that was the case George Wills could take Barry Bonds anyday.

This week we are to discuss why do we have camps. But until we can decide what the church is about it will be interesting to see what camps are about. Eliacin said that the camps are doing the church's job. I don't disagree. But the question is, what is the church's job. Then we will know what the camp's job is.

10 April 2004

This coming week...

The week after Easter I would like to discuss, class, what the purpose of a camp was and is and is to come...

Today, as I have said, is my anniversary so I am going to spend that time with Christel and tomorrow is Easter. I am preaching at the 6:00p service as well as leading worship. So I am going to be preoccupied. But let's think about that. If you are in camping, why are does your camp exist and what trends do you see it should go? If you are not in camping but a pastor to a church or soon to be, how do you use the facilities of a camp and what would you like to see happen in that facility to better serve your ministry?

I will write my opinions first, because it is my blog and I spent that money on squawkbox and am not using it.

Should be fun. And... it is for the kids!

We celebrate His promise!

Christel + Tony

28 years ago, this evening, Christel and I got married in a little church, Northminster Presbyterian Church, in Bakersfield, California. I met her two years earlier at Calvin Crest when her brother Phillip introduced us.

It was love at first sight and sound (at least for me). I was a lifeguard at the pool when she first arrived, WOW!!!!!!!!!! Yellow bikini (that's what she was wearing, not me... ). I had been badly sunburned the previous day so I was wrapped head to toe in a blanket. I was ready to jump in at moments notice, if needed - always on the alert!! She caught my eye and my heart. She snubbed me because of the bad press other lifeguards created in being only concerned about their bodies and looks and not much spiritual integrity. (I bet that would make a great PBS television series...)

After freetime, I quickly showered and got dressed and just happened to hang around where I thought she might be. And there she was. We reintroduced ourselves. She didn't recognize me without my blanket so I was able to start fresh. Linda Ronstadt was playing on the record player in someone's tent. I told her I loved LR. She thought I was making that up... I wasn't!!!

We didn't start anything right then but I was interested.

Then I heard her sing... OH! MY! GOD! If it was possible to be more attracted to how she sang than how she looked in the yellow bikini, I was. I heard her sing "Amazing Grace" like I never heard it sung before. Move over Linda Ronstadt!

Nothing took place that summer in terms of dating or such. I was on a sabbatical of such. Only one night stands - no long term commitments (I was a jerk!) I saw her again in the fall at Calvin Crest and interest renewed. I asked her and her brother to sing at a crafts fair I was in charge of in Monterey in November. She came, sang, and that was it, I WAS IN LOVE. Pursuing her was my intent... hers too. By new years we were a couple, April engaged, following April married.

I am amazed at the love Christel has demonstrated over the years. I am a jerk and she still has been faithful and trusting. I am self indulgent, she is self sacrificing.

She is still as attractive today that she was then, and her voice still turns me on. But it is her heart and soul that out shines all talents and biological formations.

I am blessed...

(I am sorry this isn't about camping, but actually it is. If it wasn't for Christel's belief in me, I would not be here today!)

09 April 2004

I'm asking myself...

We have a community at camp. Year round staff who are making this their careers, people who are there for a 10 month season, some who joined in midway. All living on the same grounds, others come up each day. Many expectations come with them. "I want to be in community," is the slogan of the day. Why do we strive to be in community? What is the need for it? Is communty only for people of likeness - same color, same beliefs, same sames? What is the difference between living in Fresno or on 350 acres in the Sierra Nevadas.

What do we hold on to in community? What is our identity? How do we commune with each other when there is really such a difference of such issues that separate us, i.e. experiences, cultures, plumbing, color, work ethics, education, ability, interests, likes and dislikes, maturity levels, expectations...

How do we handle our differences. How do we handle it when we get tired and bored. Do we really want to live in community or away from the parents? Do we take responsibility for our lives and give it away to others or do we only seek those that will add to us or agree with us?

Thoreau's Walden was not community but an escape. I am thankful for his insights from his journey but I cannot model this life and still be a disciple of Christ. I love Thomas Merton, but my life cannot be about a hermitage and writing my thoughts although that is what I seem to be doing a lot lately... But that is called depression.

We must be about the marketplace, we must invest out lives in the culture and the people in the communty where we are. Brief stints in cloistered community are good but they must prepare us and create the focus towards the marketplace, the coffeeshop, the workroom, the familyroom.

Those who have been in the classroom most of their lives think in theories and formulas. Hardbound answers that worked in a given environment at a given time won't necessarily prepare us for dynamic answers from unpublished questions. Long term exposure to units of study causes quick answers and short relationships.

The ordination of leadership cannot come from the environment of study but it has to be lived out of love, wisdom, understanding, mercy, and peace. Not hoops. I have nothing against seminaries (well... I have a lot against seminary, but what I mean to say is that seminaries are not the issue at hand) but we are impressed when someone goes off to a religious institution thinking that they are CALLED but sometimes they are not but hiding in a community that is about perserving control and power.

"Only three years and you can influence people spiritually!" Should be the motto on the brochures for these places. "Come and control!" "Set the Rules!" "Be in charge of symbols and icons." Don't look behind the curtain.

Questions of leadership is on the reference instead of evidence of fruit. "What have they been doing in the Kingdom lately. No the main concern is will they sit quietly and take in all that we think is important to continuing a religion instead of listening for the word of God to take these people to Him.

Do our communities lead people to God or just to the community?

06 April 2004

Spring Cleaning...

Christel and I are cleaning out our garage this week. Actually she will probably do most of the work but I am helping.

Things that were once important now are in the way. Things stored to be used again are discarded because we never did. We look at this space as unusable except to store stuff. It trips us up every time we walk through it to take out the garbage or grab a tool.

"Throw it out!" is our cry.

Some will go to the Goodwill, some to the Used Book Store, some to the dumpster. As we open a box or a bag we stop to let the memories catch up before we let it go. Camping trips in the old tent and ripped back pack from the sixties and seventies. Trails hiked in old worn out boots. Choirs and friends with forgotten music. Old toys played with by our children and their long lost friends. Video games that are completely obsolete as were the victories that were forgotten when unplugged.


We are getting rid of some traditions as well. It is time. They don't hold any weight like they use to. It isn't who we are it is what we did. The Biasell culture is moving on. We do what we do because it is what needs to be done. We remember, but we need to keep events in our lives so we know. We are not dead, one day we will be, so there are new events and adventures to be had. Stuff will be accumulated and hopefully released quickly.

My friend, Sean, left the mountain yesterday. He and Julie are getting married in September and are doing some traveling to Thailand with his parents this summer. They are beginning a new life together. This season started at Calvin Crest has come to an end. I asked him how did he know it was time to leave and he said, "I didn't see myself at camp next year." That is when it is time to go. The season is over. A new season begins.

When he came to camp we dreamed together what can be done, now we remember what happened. We had a final lunch together at Pete's, we revisited some areas to clarify our feelings and intentions. New plans were briefly talked about but we didn't stay too long there because we knew we wouldn't be involved in them together. We did some good things together. Things that will be built on and improved by others. I am proud and honored by the time we spent together.

People cannot go into the garage and stored for later, they are dynamic and ever changing and need to be released. Expectations of what we will get from each other are transformed to accepting what will become of each other. Hope is not stored but lived out and used everyday. Relationships affect how we live now. We said we will see each other in September at the wedding, we will keep in touch... emails, cards, blogs, quick visits, ... weddings and funerals. Not a daily friendship, but a life long one... into eternity.

I have been a program director for going on 13 years and have had many relationships happen for brief times. At first it killed me, now each one brings me life for the season. We hire 80 people every summer (for ten weeks), some stay one summer other return for four, five, or more each time is important and many wonderful things experienced. I remember each one separately. One day they will all remember together.

Fare well, Sean.

I am blessed.

04 April 2004

Tonight's scripture came out of Mark where Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and then into the temple, where he took a whip and ran off the bad guys. Tonight he took a whip to my heart about what I bring into the temple.

Don't read this if there are small children in the room or any open wounds from a bad pair of shoes...

I was just watching a CBS Sunday Morning program on "crossover classical" music. Classical music with young good looking men and women with electronic beats and bare midriffs. This is causing a stir. "How can the music survive unless they spice it up a little and make it relevant to the culture of the youth," one producers was saying.

Isn't that what EC is saying of the church.

I'm tired of this...

I don't think the relevance of anything is style but truth. If style is the only thing that we concern ourselves with and continue to half heartedly participate faithfully to God then we are nothing more than producers with an investment instead of worshippers with gratitude. Did the Christ really go through that hideous death so we would argue about worship times and music, theatrics and mood? Do we hold fast on to the things of a culture than dig deep into a faith and power that sets people free from bondage. Have we equated bondage with culture. Are we more concern with our comfort than with the love of Christ. We have 40 days of spiritual adventures then we take the summer off because the choir is tired and needs a rest. We go to Mexico with the youth on mission trips but treat the older generation with contempt for worshiping they way they do. We have become very prejudice against people. People who worship Christ!!!!!

I am tired of the argument. I am tired of pompous asses on both sides of the argument who are mad because their way of "worshipping" is threatened. What if the government said no more church services and people had to meet in secrecy. What would we bring? What would we sing? What would we think was important that we would risk our lives for not just our comfort?

The church is not going to die because of the enemy keeping us from worship but from people getting tired of this conversation and staying home.

02 April 2004

It is that time of year again...

As plans for the summer come underway, it is time once again for Spring to arrive, clocks to be set forward, unexpected snow, all the youth in buses and vans heading to Mexico, people dropping out of summer commitments, Easter pageants, cleaning the garage, washing the windows, planting for the autumn, new batteries in the smoke detectors, worm medicine for the animals, anti-depressants for me, sitting in the sun, visits to the dermatologist, work parties, last minute changes, a 50th anniversary for the camp, a two-day overnight alone in the mountains, prayer, prayer, trust, panic, excitement to hear and see the Savior manifest His heart...

Bring it on.