31 August 2005

Medical update...

Went to the doctor's office today for a follow-up. I am on the mend and now he has recommended that I see another specialist regarding my sleep behavior or lack there of. Been down that road before. It is time to lose the weight again. Not in the mood to start right now but will shortly when I get back into the swing of a consistent schedule.

I also spent some time with my friend Sherri Weidenhoefer. This is always a time of sharpening. I am profoundly grateful for our friendship.

Well time to go to bed. See you in a few hours...

27 August 2005

Every summer we choose an MVP...


This summer it is this guy!

Every Friday night we end the Junior High and High School camps with a dance. (Yes, Presbyterians believe you are not going to hell if you dance, only if you support Israel.) And we would start off the dance with a few songs to attract the campers, they would start milling around and a few would dance. But when we played The Numa Numa Song (Dragostea Din Tei) people would go crazy, everyone dancing! And every time someone would come up to me and tell me about some guy on the internet who danced to this song. So it took me a few months to find him and when I did I watched it over and over again.

Mai ya haha!!!

26 August 2005

Now that we have the waitresses loving us again...

I don't want us to get caught up in the issue of how we are at restaurants, that wasn't really the point. (Although it is a simple thing to change!) What the point was and hopefully is how do we live our lives. "By faith" is how. But what does that mean. What is the difference between living by faith and living by knowledge. Many of us spend a lot of time learning about being a christian. If we start doing what we have been reading about we should at this point in Christiandum we should be purpose-driven, wild at heart, romancing the heck out of the sacred and our spouses, keeping promises, asking what would Jesus do, emerging as a new kind of christian, not being left behind, knowing what orthodoxy is and being generous with it, listening to blue jazz, drinking pura vida coffee, telling our stories. But we aren't. We aren't. We read, we talk, but we don't do anything different after we have read a book. We are a culture based on what the culture tells us we are rather than doing what we know to be right. We do not live out that which we know to be true because I don't think we have faith in what is true anymore. Many know the vocabulary, but they don't know the heart or the voice.

If you are in some kind of leadership role where you have influence into someone else's life what would your goals be for this year? How did you arrive at that goal? Does it seem like the right thing to do or is it what you are hearing God telling you to do it? If we step out because we think we are hearing God's heart for us then we are walking in faith. Are we just going to continue doing the same old and know that it didn't work the past five books we read so we should read the next hottest thing that someone is getting paid a lot of money to come up with this one because his or her last two book people bought and people will usually buy the next two if the first one is any good but the next one is usually not as good as the first but we still buy it anyway because he is a nationally known writer and is very successful so he must be a tool of God or at least by Zondervan.

I am hearing God say, "come to Me like you did when you first fell in love with Me... Come with a broken and repentant heart and worship Me in spirit and truth." I am going to ask more questions, as I did in the beginning. I want to come with an expectancy of awe instead of a callous and jaundice agenda of out-do Yourself than what I have experienced in the past. I want to come humbly and worship with what I know to be true rather than what the latest praise song is telling me to say, I want to bow my head for a while and listen instead of having an opinion to give Him about the way things are going. I need to sit next to someone I don't know but don't like and listen to their story. I going to quit pretending...

25 August 2005

Faith is messy...

I know many do not like Annie Lamont because of her messy theology. She is out there. I agree with some of her thoughts and disagree with others, but I also do that with many others. I am thankful I can do that and not be fried a heretic, though I fear I am becoming one.

The Annie Lamont’s quote about faith in uncertainty reminds me that I use to think I had the answers and with pride could take people on in debates and conversations. I loved the debate. I studied the answers. I got into arguments in coffee shops and blogs, to get people to know Jesus. It was mostly so that they would know that I knew my stuff. Not Jesus. It seemed love lost to being right.

It is nice when all the answers fit neatly in the little box, it doesn’t take any faith to do that. The problem lies when we start having questions that don’t fit quietly into our box. I realize I didn’t have enough questions. That is when faith comes in. I have gotten pretty comfortable in my life until new things started to come into it and I didn’t have the answers to the new questions starting to arise. I didn’t start questioning the Bible I started questioning the teachers. I heard small minds with large vocabularies speak of the things that began to exclude people. People that because of circumstances and spiritual issues were deemed outside of the Kingdom. Easy answers such as, “if they are going through that they cannot be Christians.”

Being right isn’t necessarily being righteous. I remember once sitting in a coffeeshop having a “Bible study” with a group of men, talking about faith and works. One guy was saying that we are only saved by faith and another guy who was Catholic was talking about faith without works is dead, therefore it is works that brings faith to life. Scripture being thrown about like it was undercooked pasta. Emotions heated, voices raised, coffee cooled – a great evangelistic experience. At the end of it nothing was accomplished except we spent all the answers we had and no glory was manifested. We just argued. Lives were not changed, no one was edified, I don’t think love was ever given, just answers. Knowledge exchange. I thought we were doing something mighty until I talked to the waitress later who said she hates waiting on men having Bible studies because they demand more and leave less tips. She wasn’t impressed with the knowledge sitting at the table. That conversation did nothing to the waitress except tie up a table for an hour and a half. I know many of my friends love to “get into it” but I cannot do it anymore. When the conversation becomes about the conversation I don’t want to be a part of it.

Faith is messy. Its when we know with certainty it gets tidy. But trust, when it has been violated, leaves tattered edges. When bad things happen to good people, we have to walk in faith. Faith is walking with poop on the souls of your shoes and continuing to step boldly with Jesus. Faith is an old slave spiritual sung without any evidence of change in the landowner’s heart. We walk in faith that God so loved the world… even after we get ripped off from Christians again.

Faith, hope, and love have very little to do with knowledge, they requires commitment. Sticking it through to the end even when it is tough and you don’t like your boss.

23 August 2005

Sleepless in Coarsegold...

I am having a hard times staying asleep these days. The time-stamp indicates that.

I think I like the early morning over the late night. The early morning seems to be telling the truth, not as much humanity but more rocks and trees crying out to the glory of God. His creation speaks of the truth instead of the fickleness of humanity. The night time is filled with the activity of people looking for something to do, the morning is filled with truth about who we are. The morning brings potential, creativity, and mindfulness. Possibilities and planning, promise and devotion, "what ifs" and dreams dawns light on another day.

What wonder, relationship, terror, peace, healing, sickness, idea, death, creation, life... will begin today?

Two quotes stolen from Jamie...

"The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns." --Anne Lamott

"But you have to pray. You have to listen to the voice who calls you the beloved, because otherwise you will run around begging for affirmation, for praise, for success. And then you're not free."
--Henri Nouwen

Both are very relevant to me right now...

20 August 2005

Chest pains...

Well, the good news is that I didn't have a heart attack, the bad news is that I have pneumonia, which meant I couldn't go to Pepperdine this weekend. Bummer...

18 August 2005

Processing the summer…

I was asked how do I process the summer after camp. It is really quite simple, I don’t process the summer after the summer but during the summer. I am thinking about next year while the summer is going on. There are some things that I try to deal with after the summer, coordinators’ and speakers’ evaluation, some staff issues that need to stop or begin differently, facility needs and repairs, and some basic “wouldn’t it be great if…” type of stuff. I try to eat different food that I didn’t get this summer, see movies that have good messages or make me laugh, read spy mysteries or books that have nothing to do whatsoever with theology, church, camps, etc., and some doctor appointments that I need to have.

In fact, I am sitting right now in the doctor’s office waiting for him to look at my heart. I have had some pains in my chest the past few days. I think it is more about the firmness of my mattress at home vs. the camp’s soft ones, but my wife, Christel thinks it would be a good idea to check it out to be safe. I am reluctant about spending my time in a doctor’s office when I could be out having fun but it is worth it to keep Christel from worrying. It turns out I have a bit of pneumonia in my lungs.

I have concerns why many staff did not complete the summer. Why they would disregard an agreement between them and me to leave and go home. It was easy for many to just not work. Some felt “the Lord” was saying it was time to go home, and others said this is hard and they wanted to leave. One dear one was having some personal issues at home and needed to be there, I understand. But there was a reluctance to finish that which they started. One said he didn’t believe in the program, not enough Jesus, so he refused to work in the program another day. So I had to find another to take his place. "Not enough Jesus…"

I don’t think it is a wrong work ethic but a bad “Jesus” ethic. I have been watching the news and reading about the Israeli withdrawal from The Gaza and I think that is a hard situation these people are going through. What is the Jesus ethic of that? For a Israeli soldier to forcibly remove one of his or her own people, could be family, from their homes must be a tough, tough thing to do. Makes working at Calvin Crest like working at summer camp or something.

It was difficult for many, some experienced some real pain but their “Jesus ethic” brought them to Him for some transformation. I was able to pray with some wonderful people and saw Jesus transform them, heal them, forgive them, redeemed them… right before my eyes. They were broken but renewed. Softened but strengthened. A word that was spoken that seemed to speak to us was the word “RESOLVE.” I think there was a resolve by some to be used by Christ inspite of the situation. I watch my friend, Cosby, resolved to do what the Master is calling him to do as he continually cleans up after people. He serves, he doesn’t quit. I know a time is coming when that calling will be over, but he is faithful. He lives this life of faith. Bill Dodge is another one. Deb Roope, Dave Davis, Lily Nichols, Geoff White, Rachel Graff, Shannon Roark, Claire Thames, Craig Shigyo, Ben Fife, and many others (problem with a list is when you leave people out they can be hurt, I apologize to anyone who thought they hung in there and I forgot to mention…).

I watched many people get deep when it gets hard. They don’t stay near the surface, they go to the deep place of the Spirit. No clich├ęs just a deep sense of the Presence. Alone time in the light not the lime light. Let others minister to them, not much pity exchanged, just truth. Words spoken in silence to the Mediator Who Knows. Soulships between true friends. That was the reality that I saw that many did not. Something that took place because they stayed long enough to experience the truth. Like staying through a Pixar Movie and seeing the outtakes. You have to sit through to the end.

I am impressed with those who stayed. One young women wanted to leave throughout the summer. She talked to her teammates, her supervisor, then finally on the second to the last night she came to me and asked if she could leave. I told her no and laughed. She was not happy, but she stayed. The last day, she was there. The last goodbye, she was there. A small victory. She may not feel it, it would have been easier to leave, but better to stay.

Anyway just a little processing…

15 August 2005

Angels unaware...

This was started last week but I never got to finish...

Monday was a very hard day. For the past week or so the septic system had been removed from my house. So each morning at about 5:30am I wake up and look for the place that is available for me to "use the facility" if you know what I mean. This is a great feat of timing and focus. A clear mind is essential. I have to walk about until I find the facility that is open to a 51 year old so I don't freak out the campers or the staff and some of the wild life in the area.

Monday before I had a chance to coordinate the exchange, I was approached by Shannon to be filled in on what I missed the previous night because I was trying to talk to another staff member into staying instead of giving up and leaving. A plague of despair on the house of Calvin this summer with 5 staff leaving. Anyway, Shannon told me of a major problem that had staff very upset, individuals wanting blood. A very intense time in a very delicate bodily state of urgency (I am 51). I told Shannon I would take care of it and proceeded to change clothes while still in a major holding pattern. I listened to others, got a proper perspective, then went off to talk to the person at the center of the controversy. He was open and gracious, wanting to meet with the team, they met, hard conversations, accusations, maturity and immaturity danced. Me, I am still in need. I made some unpopular decisions but felt like Solomon in all of his glory and my impending condition. I am tired, disappointed, excited about the possibilities, heartbroken, yet hopeful.

Two hours after waking, I am able to fulfill the original plan. I am then summoned to another who is thinking of leaving. I ask him to stay, call in all my cards and ask again. Stoically he agrees to stay but I am now broken. I leave and walk for a while and breakdown asking the Lover of my soul to bring healing and joy. I hear a shout of, "hello there!" I look up to see a little kid, in an Ariel bathingsuit running to me. We had met an hour earlier but she was too shy to say anything to me. Now she comes running over to talk. I was not sure if this would be a good thing but spending a moment with her felt like water to a very dry area.

She asked why I was sad. I said that a few people wanted to quit and leave. She looked very puzzled. She looked around, as if taking inventory, and said, "Why would anyone want to leave this place. It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen." She came from Pasadena with my friend Leisel, who brought her because her mother was working and leaving her home alone for many hours in the day and night. Survival. This little girl watched her father get carved up and left for dead because of gang involvement. She has been homeless and lived on the street throughout her life. Many stories were not said. She was happy to be here.

She asked why people don't want to work here anymore? I could not answer her. I really didn't know. I thought for a while, some never worked so hard. Some didn't like the people they were working for. Some emotionally could not hold it anymore. Some wanted to be home. They were through.

I asked the program assistant, Amy, if she would find a staff shirt, the smallest we had, and bring it for our new friend Desiray. She came back at lunch with the shirt. And at that point, I hired Desiray, for room and board, to work for the rest of the summer at Calvin Crest. She asked what her job was? I told her it was to make people happy. She couldn't believe that she got a shirt and a purpose. She gave me a sweet hug and kissed my cheek and headed off to do her job.

At dinner she told me she had been busy looking for people to make happy. Saw one boy who was sitting by himself and invited him to go on the boats with her and Leisel. The boy went. She was in many conversations through out the week.

Since she came not one person wanted to go home. On Saturday she was checking out and came up to me to say thanks and gave me a hug. She said she didn't want to leave. I told her she could always come back and work some more next year. She said she would try. I told her to make her mom happy and to keep Leisel, her neighbor happy. She said she would.

I am thankful that God brought me this young lady at just the right time and place. I think I would have gone home early as well if she wasn't here.

14 August 2005

The end of a season...

Camp finished yesterday, we moved out of the Ranch House, and we will spend tonight at home. That was quick!

I am going to spend some time staring off in the distance and thinking about what happened this summer and try to listen to what He says rather than what my voices keep telling me...

10 August 2005

These old guys rock on...

Clapton

OldStones
Clapton and The Stones... These guys are starting to look old. But they can still rock hard.

09 August 2005

Finishing...

This is an interesting time. The last week. How does one finish strong. Tired. A bit burned out. Some of the magic gone. We have seen too much of the back rooms of Disneyland.

All that is left is faithfulness. The root is (wait for it...) faith. We must live a life of faith. Faith is living that which we believe to be true. I am amazed by the life of those who continue to see God at work in each life that comes up here. Each one brings the potential of a new word, a new direction, a new hope...

Yesterday we felt the pandemonium of the enemy. Today we heard the story of a night of faithfulness of a single woman who felt the presence of the enemy, the voice of the Spirit to gather and pray, and within hours felt the power and the presence of the enemy defeated.

Faithfulness...

Still some work to do, places to turn on lights, clean up the debris left, and establish the presence of the Kingdom.

07 August 2005

A worship by remembering...

Yesterday's service was very sweet. Many of us forgot the stories that took place because last few weeks have been difficult. A theme of brokeness threaded itself through the songs and stories. But the greater theme, Christ was there, who never leaves us nor forsakes us. His love and power in terrible times seemed to be the truth that sustains us in these hard places. Hard times come, He is there.

I loved hearing the singing, the stories, and a medley of hymns played on flute and viola. The dance was simple and full of joy. Hearing Christina's testimony of being a recipient of a campership put into perspective why we would give. Very moving and hopeful, and to think that the potential of a camper who come today, broken and acting out, can be transformed, as hers was, to be powerfully used in the Kingdom tomorrow.

I am honored to be a part of this staff...

06 August 2005

A great watercolor...

Ranch House by Deb Roope

This is a watercolor of the place where I am living this summer, by my friend Deb Roope. I live in the house on the right.
Great painting, great place to live. It is one of my favorites.

(And to those who don't like my art critic corner... you will only provoke me to display some Thomas Kinkade!)

05 August 2005

The concert vs. the remembering...

Tomorrow the staff has a worship service that we invite our friends and families to hear the stories of the summer. Tonight we walk through it. It is different than the concerts we use to do. No show, just remembering stories.

02 August 2005

Prayer needed...

I am speaking tonight to the staff about the place we hold others in our community. I think it is also time to speak about where we hold ourselves as well. My head is spinning. My heart is broken, My soul is tired. But I can sense the Spirit at work. It is interesting

Plus we have been watching the meteor showers beginning for their annual event. We have another fire close by. A week ago or so we had one about a mile from my home.

Who needs television...