31 January 2004

30 January 2004

at home for a few days...

Reflecting back on this past week of interviews and Camp Fairs, one thing was very obvious. We are a white organization and experience.

I met a young man that I thouroughly enjoyed from St. Louis. His name was Jay. He was an intern with The Oaks in Lake Huges, California. As Jay told me, he is from the city, innercity. This was a new experience for him. It took him a few weeks just to be able to sleep with all the lack of sounds going on outside. He knew this was going to be a hard change for him but a good one. I liked him. I like the Oaks. I pray that God would continue to bless them with wisdom and they would hear His voice clearly in the days ahead... Good fortunes to you Jay.

29 January 2004

Well, I am at the end of the SoCal recruiting trip. I am in a Starbucks in San Luis Obispo, where I interviewed a couple of alumni.

I got a call from my friend Scott Falk today while driving down here. A lot of who I am was carved out in conversations with him. Iron sharpens iron, Scott sharpens Tony. I wish everyone had a Scott in their lives. His life is ironic. It is like he is more of a pastor being a Bible teacher at a Christian High School in Fresno than others in a church. I think God is doing something new in his life. I have been amazed at the work in the past ten years, he doesn't see it, I do. Sometimes the other iron sees it best, which causes the sharpening process to be reciprocated.

I pulled over at Pismo Beach to read a paper that Christiane did on CommonFire. It was hard to read it. It was very critical in a good sense. It made me question how I do things, my insecurities kick up again. I sat on this bench looking out at the waves and talking to God about who He created when He was putting me together. Then these three people came by and one of them asked if they could ask me some questions for a survey. They asked if I believed in a god. I said yes. He asked if I thought the god was good. I asked him to define "good", he looked perplex. I told him that did he mean that God doesn't allow bad things to happen or that according to Jesus, "only God is good." I try to understand the latter. Again he had a complexion of perplexion. He then asked me how did I know that God was good. I told him that I had witnessed it first hand for thirty years. Gave him a few of my own gospel stories and came up with a "therefor" to the story. "You think a lot!" he said. I then told him I was a believer. The other two, who were trying to just hang out and look uninterested but I knew they were listening, came closer. I asked where they were from and they said a new YWAM house in SLO. We talked about the new concept of single house, small group, DTSs throughout the Central Coast. It sounded a lot like what we are doing at CommonFire. It was what I needed. God spoke through Val, the female leader of the group. God has a wicked sense of timing. I love Him.

He moved in Scott to call before I read this paper, then after I read it He brought the surveyors over. Then Cosby called. God was speaking to him as well. It is good to travel and see signs along desolate patches of highway. God is good.

28 January 2004

Camp Fairs...

I am in a very bazaar business... camping. I was in two camp fairs in the past two days and am tired. I am not good at this camp stuff. I don't bring candy bars, donuts, give aways, lots of people wearing matching shirts, a big presentation, etc. Just me, my sign (which is pretty cool) and my sunny disposition.

These other guys come in mass and recruit like big dogs. I get very insecure in situations like this. I know it is not my style, I am comfortable with that, but it is another thing in which I am outside. I am not sure I want to interview someone who will sit and listen and talk because I gave them a donut or a candy bar. What happens when I ask them to give there heart when the sugar high has worn off? Do we really need to reward them or entice them with sugar products? What kind of disciple making is that? Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him. He would have been more "successful" if he had some Crispy Cremes to offer.

I do offer a Rib dinner midway through the summer as a thank you, or maybe it is because I want a Rib dinner about then and can finance it through the camp (Honesty). Anyway what are we doing when we go to Christian Colleges and recruit with donuts and enticements to interview. I think it will be hard for these people to take us seriously when the time comes. If it ever does come.

That was a rant.

It was good being with Cory all day.

26 January 2004

In SoCal...

It is good to be in Southern California. I am trying to establish relationships with people so in the future we may get more interest in working with us.

I will try to write later. I am pooped and need to travel another hour before I sleep. Keep me in your prayers.

It is very difficult...

I preached 3 times this month. To have people looking up at you from their perch grading, judging, hoping you'll say something life changeing or at least entertaining is a lot of pressure. I listened for what I would hear God to say and not rely on my entertaining wit or critical spirit. I delivered the message and hoped it was right. I wanted to be accepted by these people, yet I wanted to speak His words.

The ec needs to be listening for a while, get clear instructions, understand the call, then speak. If we run off half baked we will not have anyone interested nor will we be the mouthpiece for God. We will only equip for the season and not the entire race.

I agree with the conversations from our brothers and sisters of color that this is looking awefully white and male. We need to listen to them, we need to listen to the older generation and not condemn them, we need to listen to God. His plan, His heart, His people.

23 January 2004

The gig...

As I said the other day, I visited my old friend Levi "LT" Huffman last night in Lodi. It was great to catch up on each other's live for the past 20 years. Hearing the stories that shaped, grinded away, added pounds, lost hair, diminished eyesight, and gave a sparkle to our smile and made us who we are today. It was a redemptive story. Then I went with him as he performed, at his usual spot, for about an hour.

When we walked in I could tell he was loved here. Like "Cheers" everyone knew his name. He introduced me as his friend from college. I was immediately accepted into the fold. People wanted me to sit with them and share my life with them. The bartender asked, with a smile, what I would I like to drink tonight as if I was a usual. "Anyfriend of Levi's is a friend of mine." Then I listened to him play. His own songs were incredible. His cover songs of James Taylor were also wonderfully done.

I wanted everyone to shut up and just listen but I found their talking added to the music of the night. His girlfriend and her mom and dad came in to meet me and listen. Everyone knew them as well. I like it.

I felt like I was at a small church. Everyone knew each other and their stories. Levi, the pastor, knew their rhythm and they liked his. He was called to this place and these people. Others he knew were playing the big gigs with a lot more people in attendance. His picture was not up on many people's walls or t-shirts. Levi was in their hearts.

I am proud of him. He is playing his music where he has the gig. He is not waiting for "The Garden" to phone, he plays where he is called. And for this time and place is Lodi on Thursdays. It was good music and wonderful fellowship.

I wish some of my pastor friends would quit waiting for the mega-Church to call them and be faithful to where they have been called. People need to be led - 10 or 10,000 - they still need to be led by someone wanting to love them. Them.

It is good to have my brother back.

21 January 2004

The philosophy change...

Today I was asked to explain my philosophy of camping to an applicant for summer staff.

It is basically this. I focus on the staff as a community of faith not as a camp staff. We are gathered to glorify God and edify the body. Discipling and being discipled is the key. Sharing stories to see the various views of Jesus Christ. The more that we share our stories, the bigger Christ becomes. He is multi-faceted, each story reveals a different facet of God Christ. Just as there are many members of the body, there are many facets. It takes diversity to see the whole. The gestalt if you will.

Then ministry spills out of the community and onto the camper. When we aren't intentional about the community and believe that community happens by default, make a mistake.

From the road... Good night

On the road... Modesto

In Pacific Grove yesterday. I met with Diane McKneely and the Lord confirmed what He was telling me almost with identical words through her.

If you read this please pray that I would not be distracted, would crave His will and words for my life, as well as strength, wisdom, love, and patience.

I sense that something is lining up that I truthfully have no idea what it is. Is this time over, is it metamorphing to something completely different or is it programmatic and needs to be adjusted.

I am reminded of the people here with me. That is encouraging. I am not alone even though it feels solitary.

Once I was in my favorite place in Fresno, the Holy Child Bookstore, and Carolyn told me there are three stages of faith. Worship, dark night, I forget the third... I just knew I was in the dark night place. I look forward to the next when it is time to transition. This is a hard time but it is, for the first time, real. My eyes are opening to new things, hard things. Instead of the culture, it is the soul. Instead of the congregation, it is the "least of these..." I realize I position myself in places, I want to be considered. I am a selfish man. It is definately about me.

Time to run to the next interview.
Blogging on the run with my HP iPAQ and Starbucks T-Mobile.

19 January 2004

A big week ahead...

Tomorrow I leave for interviews in Pacific Grove, Modesto, Sacramento, and Stockton. Be gone Tuesday through Thursday.

I may stay over in Stockton on Thursday and watch an old friend play his music at the local pub. LT and I use to play music together when we were in our young 20's throughout California and Nevada. He was very talented and I had the VW bus. He was my best friend (more like a brother) for many years. Some misunderstandings, pain in his life, changes in mine, caused us to go separate ways.

That was a sad time. A death. I quit playing my guitar and took up piano. Instead of playing in pubs I started leading worship.

It started something new in me, for that I am thankful, but I sure miss him.

What a week...

This was one of those weeks. Joys and blessings, heartbreaks and sadness, clarity and confusion... What a week.

I turned 50 on the 12th. We invited some friends from church, camp, and life to celebrate it with us at the local Schzewan restaurant. It was very much a blessing to be with these wonderful people. I am blessed.

Two letters telling me I have let them down caused me to want to drink again. But I didn't, I spent a lot of time talking with Christel, who always seem to put it in its proper perspective. I am blessed.

A short conversation with my friend Scott Falk and a long conversation with Cosby about the kingdom and being friends made me feel good about who is around me. Plus good fish tacos... It's a wonderful life. I am blessed.

Then last night I attended a wedding of two of the people I wish I knew better - Jackie and Christian. My friend George Freeman is officiating. I started to think how did he get to do that? How did he have a part of these two when they are at Summit Adventure in Bass Lake and He lives in Fresno.

He has influence in many people's lives. He has accomplished it without power, position, or wealth. He is a vice principal at a christian K-8 school in Fresno. How did he do it?

With love. He truly pastored. He made himself available to people that God brought to him. He listened and prayed with people. His prayers equipped them, released them, and always revealed Jesus' heart for them.

He is a pastor. He is not certified by institution but he is one. His influence doesn't come from a business card or a sign out front of a building, but by word of mouth. He is rarely publicly acknowledged but through the conversations of concern for a loved one, his name is mentioned. A phone call is made and George comes over. Sometimes with his wife Cindy, sometimes alone - but he is faithful to come.

That is what a pastor does. I wish I knew more.

11 January 2004

Preaching tonight at Sierra Vista Presbyterian, Oakhurst

I was asked to preach for 2 Sunday nights at our church, Sierra Vista Presbyterian. Last week I let it fly, no F words, but my heart. Good responses from people. I was very surprised. Tonight, I speak on Being children of Creation, the follow up to last week's Genesis 1, My Father, the Artist.

Etch A Sketch on line... wow

You gotta check this out. Etch A Sketch

07 January 2004

On the road again...

I began interviews for Summer Staff positions yesterday and will be gone a lot this and next months I pray for His faithfulness and rest, strength and love as I talk to wonderful people throughout California, Colorado, and Washington. I will try to keep you up to date. Thanks for your prayers during this time.