31 December 2006

Now is the time...

It is time to get applications for summer staff in. I begin interviews January 3rd.

30 December 2006

B.B. King and Oakland...

As I said, Simon took me, December 28, to The Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California to see B.B. King. Seven rows from the stage, Simon and I got there a little early to get the rhythm of the place. Many were dressed to the nines with fedora hat and gloves, top coats, expensive shoes, not a lot of bling but there was a lot of class. This was not just a concert, this was B.B. King, who is 81 years old, coming by the house. These were his people who have been following him for many years.

Simon asked the woman sitting next to, wearing red - hat, gloves, shoes, and coat, if she had ever seen B.B. before. She quietly said, "Why yes, I saw him back forty years ago at the Oakland gymnasium and we were sitting on the floor." Then he asked her if she had seen many concerts, and she said quietly, "I saw Sammie (Davis, jr), Nat (King Cole)..." and then she got so quiet Simon could barely hear the rest. She then said, "I saw Rev. King when he was doing revivals in Oakland."

Mavis Staples, one of the Staple Singers, started off the concert. She did a bunch of the family songs as well as some songs of faith. She put on a great show. Wonderful sense of humor and a great stage presence. When she sang, The Weight, I'll Take You There, and Respect Yourself, then house was very thankful.

B.B. played some great songs, Don't Answer the Door, Blues Man, Ain't That Just Like a Woman, When Love Comes to Town and a bunch of others. He talked a lot which was alright with me. His band was phenomenal, great musician in their own rights, they played a couple of numbers without B.B. in the beginning. Great blues and jazz. He is still going strong even if he did sit the entire time. He ended the show with "The Thrill is Gone" and shook some hands and left the stage (10 minutes later). What a show.

It was a great day with Simon as we drove together to Emeryville, Berkeley, and Oakland. Then home to Napa. Great conversations, great food. In the morning he put me on the train in Martinez and I rode it to Fresno. He is a smart man.

I am blessed...

27 December 2006

Christmas with sleeping grandkids...

Ben and Jack on Christmas. I think I know who is who now. I am really enjoying having them around.

We had many days of Christmas this year. We celebrated it three times. December 17 with my parents and sisters, December 25 with Christel and Hillary, and then tonight, December 27 with Simon and Natasha, Taylor, David, Ben, and Jack, and Hillary. We have eaten a lot of great food. Christmas Eve we had a French Onion Soup that I made. And tonight, Christel made a London Broil with Cranberries and Port which was simply incredible. Simon brought a delightful Cabernet from Napa. Creme Brulee for dessert.

Simon and I are going to Oakland tomorrow to see B.B. King in concert at the Paramount. This was my Christmas gift from him.


25 December 2006

A disciple of Jesus...

I was at the Christmas Eve service last night at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church, which is the church where I belong. My membership is there, we tithe there, I am an elder there, my children went through youth group there, Christel and I led singing (worship?) for 8 years there, some of my best friendship were developed there. But that is not the reason I am a disciple of Jesus.

I sat last night and listened to The Story again. I love that story. I have been thinking about that story all of December. I spoke for Front Porch Ministries in San Luis Obispo the first week of December and began considering it on the first. The Story changed my life. It is simple. Not in Greek language but in a common language a shepherd could understand. Uneducateds can easily get the drift.

"Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people (including you shepherds); for today in the city of David there has been born for you (shepherds) a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

I am a shepherd. I have no business being where I am, except through The Revelation. I was a loser... uneducated, unmotivated, ADD, couldn't read or spell well, a love 'em and leave 'em kind of guy... a loser. A shepherd. (I am not casting any aspersions on my Basque friends!) This is more than grace, it is revolutionary. Ché Guevara type stuff (only non-violent). Ché wrote, "the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love..." It was an act of revolutionary love.

In the 70's I was thinking that the way to real change was through politics and getting involved in changing government. I worked for George McGovern and his campaign for president. I saw some things that disillusioned me with him and others in the organization.

The revolution cannot come from just changing players, it takes a different system, values, ways,... heart. Shortly after that I started asking questions to friends and "the air" and didn't get many answers. Until one day... I heard The Voice. It clear, "Do not be afraid, I bring you good news..." "What must I do?" I asked. "Follow me." Quiet, confident. No sales pitch, no convincing. Truth.

I started reading the scriptures. I was thirsty and it quenched the long road of questions and gave me new questions. Deeper question. He starting showing me His way, His truth, and His life for me. I was not alone, His spirit was my comforter and counselor. But His ways were not my ways. I had to change my way to His.

I traded in some of His ways when I became an elder to be accepted in the meetings. I think I traded in some more of His ways last couple of years because I was depressed and frustrated. Many of my conservative views I thought were His ways but were not as I relooked at scriptures and saw what He said about the poor and loving my enemy. My ways were not lining up with His. It was more than being against a war but am I behaving like Christ behaved. Disciples should put away swords, pick up the cross, go the extra mile, give the coat as well as the shirt, turn the other cheek...

If I am going to be His disciple, I have better start following Him again...

24 December 2006

Christmas time is here again...

This morning I spent the time going through iTunes and listening to Christmas music by people other than the usual guys that sing the usual songs, i.e. Bing Crosby and White Christmas, Johnny Mathis and I'll Be Home for Christmas.

I liked some of the following:
Otis Redding and White Christmas
B.B. King and I'll Be Home for Christmas
José Feliciano and The First Noel
Tracy Chapman and O Holy Night
tobyMac and O Come All Ye Faithful
Ray Charles With the Voices of Jubilation Choir and Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Joan Osborne and Angels We Have Heard on High

Do you have any to add?

18 December 2006

Thanks Bill...

In one of my earlier post, I had a dream... Bill commented, "Steven's confidence appears to be in that Church invisible, whereas Tony's skepticism appears to be of the visible one. " I thought he articulated this wonderfully.

I spend more time watching the food channel than any other network on TV. I love it. I have my favorites, just as everyone else does. I like the Iron Chef America, Everyday Italian, Nigella Bites, Good Eats, UnWrapped, and a new guy Michael Chiarello. I use to not like Bobby Flay, but I am starting to appreciate his cockiness. Christel and I sit and watch these guys cooking with some incredible ingredients. Basic cooking with some panache is my favorite.

Anyway, you are probably asking if I quit taking my ADD medicine. There is a point to tying the two thoughts together. Watching the show but never cooking the meal is for self entertainment value only and doesn't do anything to fill the belly of others.

The church visible (CV) tends to get an education on how to keep the church visible in control and not allow the church invisible (CI) much place. Authority is rarely transfered from the learned to the fishermen much these days. Apologetics has replaced humility and discernment. Church structures are built for impressing man instead of honoring God. The pastor seeking committee in searching for the best pastor usually listens for the work on his sermons and rarely looks for the work in her parish. Preaching the Word is important but does it drive the listener to do the heart of Christ or to sit entertained on the butt of man. We want cantatas not soup kitchens.

Clichés that sound nice but don't speak the truth of the situation only puts us in make believe that the CV is the CI. There are wonderful churches who struggle with listening for the Truth to lead them but there are far too many who filter out anything which will cause non-uniformity.

Pastor, what training did you get? Who did you read? What intention did you develop? Preaching or reaching? Are you ordained to serve or lead? What is the bottom line in which you measure your success? When you leave your position is it for something up the ladder? Has the neighborhood, not only the congregation, benefited from your servantship?

A couple of years ago, I was on a hike with a pastor friend of mine and we started talking about the emergent wave. He said, "what they want, I wasn't trained to accomplish. This is new territory." My concern is that are we training up people to move with the way of the Spirit or by the parameters of the education. And too often we are limited by the institutional limitations because we get those who know how to work within the institution and have been successful (good grades) in the confines of academia but cannot hear The Voice.

I am thankful for my friends who are pastors, my stones are not to knock you down but to prod you to listen. Now I am showing my arrogance...

What a week...

This last week was quite the week.
New life, passing of family, ceremonies, new food, seeing a friend from high school, small fire at our house, remembering, disappointment, hoping, planning for summer, watching my mother get old too fast, strain, reconciliation, shopping, roses, snow, fog, family...

17 December 2006

Latest Ben and Jack photo...

Ben and Jack after a couple of days.

Pay no attention to the man behind the children...

14 December 2006

A day with Simon...

Today was an incredible day. I will remember it for the rest of my life. At times I would stop and take a few steps back to try to etch in my mind the language, smells, faces, and events in which I was graced to participate. I spent the day with my son, Simon, as he fulfilled some incredible acts of love for his wife, Natasha, and her family.

As I wrote before, his father-in-law, Masoud, past away suddenly on Tuesday morning. He was Persian (Iranian), but was not too involved in the persian community in and around Fresno. Masoud's family, some in Iran and Fresno, asked that he be given a proper burial, according to Persian customs. This would be according to Islamic law and religious practice.

I met Simon at the Clovis Funeral Chapel, where Masoud would be ceremonially washed for burial. Simon participated with two Islamic men washing and anointing Masoud for burial. He was then wrapped in white linens laid in a coffin and transported to the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno for prayers before his burial at the Madera Islamic Cemetery.

Simon was invited to join them to pray by Kamal Abu-Shamsieh, the director of the center, at the noon prayers at the Center, I didn't know that I was also invited so I stayed back and watched from the hallway with the other Persian men. We then all traveled way out to the cemetery. Prayers were given and Masoud's body was then removed from the coffin and placed before us as his face was revealed and we could pray for him and find some closure. Then his face was again wrapped and his body lowered into the grave. We then were asked to shovel the dirt into the grave. Simon along with some of the other men, grabbed shovels and began covering the body and filling in the grave. Even after some of us older men quit, Simon continued to shovel and fill the hole with the same two men who prepared Masoud for burial. It seemed Simon became one of the men.

I watched as Simon shared a few stories of his last time with his father-in-law to the other men who gathered tightly around to listen. The elder and religious leader, Masour, listened with deep respect to Simon as he shared of Masoud's last meal. When we broke to leave, Masour, turned to me, grabbed my hand and told me how impressed he was with my son for the day that he gave his father-in-law the proper honor and respect. He looked me in the eyes and said to me in a very thick accent, "You must be a very proud papa." All I could do was nod.

Please excuse me if I misspelled any of these fine men's name.

Wreaths at the Arlington Cemetery

Each year for the past 15 years a group, Wreaths across America, has decorated each grave with a wreath. What a beautiful but sad picture...

12 December 2006

Masoud Moshrefi...

I am saddened to hear of the death of Masoud Moshrefi, my daughter-in-law, Natasha's, father.

The last time I was visiting him in the hospital we had a delightful conversation of Israel and Iran, the Psalms, his immigration, and his love for his daughter and my son.

He died of cancer.

The best memory is that which forgets nothing but injuries. Write kindness in marble and write injuries in the dust.

A Persian Saying

I had a dream...

Last night, I dreamt of babies, a son and daughters, people I know and love, and much concern for future. Babies remind us of the potential for new things to come. Ideas that will bring life to areas that were void. Who are these two new babies? Ben and Jack. Are these the ones who will discover that which was undetected before that will bring about a new world for others? Will these care for those who no one has cared for before because of their color, behavior, history, hair style? Will they do more than fill the shelves at Target with stuff that look like everything else? Will they be caught up in trivia that doesn't do anything for anyone? Will they be ones who criticize those trying to do good things or will they encourage and help fund innovation through their prayers, dollars, and words?

What will these babies do that will not just make a name for themselves for fifteen minutes but will give another day of life for someone who is dying. Will they know the Voice that will guide them or will they play their music so loud to drown it and the cries of the poor and oppressed out? Will they be bold to be who the Creator has created them to be and do the things planned out before there was the zygote expression of love or will they wear the gray of conformity and march lockstep into mediocrity? Which field will they plant their fruit of existence?

Will they become missionaries with the good news of the Kingdom or conquistadors for the Institution? Will they make sure the wineskins are supple for the new wine or keep the vinegar in stainless steel vats? Will they be the ones repainting lines in the parking lot or will they lead worship and celebration in the sanctuary?

In the words of Butch Cassidy, "Who are those guys?"

11 December 2006

Ben and Jack...

Benjamin Fey (7lb 1oz) and Jackson Anthony (5lb 12oz) were born this afternoon to Taylor and David. Taylor delivered the boys without need of a Caesarean section. Not that there is anything wrong with Caesarean, all of our kids were born Caesarean. I was born Italian.

More Pictures to come. (the one of the twins together didn't come out)

Did I tell you that I am a grandfather now? They call me Popi...

We got the call...

We are heading to the hospital to become grandparents...

06 December 2006

On the road...

Tonight, I am speaking at the Front Porch Ministry in San Luis Obispo. Looking forward to seeing some old friends and hopefully make some new ones as well.

05 December 2006

To the counter...

Update: I am not trying to provoke anyone. I am not trying to defend my actions. I am simply encouraging people to be in true conversation that edifies each other and the Body of Christ. It is in that spirit that this is written. I encourage you to email me if something I am saying causes you any hurt or if I am misunderstanding. To God be the glory (and I will take the blame.)

I was inform the other day of a blog site that was started after last summer by a small group of people who decided to put down what happens at Calvin Crest and the leadership. I know that anytime people who creates subgroups that tweak the nose of the establishment usually are those who really want to be a part of the establishment but do not think they are good enough or think they are view as lesser thans. To those who think that, I want to say that I am sorry if I gave the impression that I think you are lesser thans. I do not. You just didn't have my attention. I know to some, it doesn't mean much what I think, but if they are spending time thinking up clever things to say against us, I was just thinking this time could be spent thinking up meaningful things to change us.

Tweaking the nose, if you will, doesn't change things. It only reenforces your lack of influence over the system, and keeps you at a distance from the heart. Good dialogue, well thought out discussion on how we can serve people better and broaden the Kingdom's influence will get one deeply involved in making important changes that are needed.

I say these things because there are times I am a nose tweaker. I can easily make fun of people in power. But it never accomplishes what I think I really want. Influence. It keeps me out of the clubhouse and away from the people with whom I want relationship. I thought the radical thing was to be against the system and boycott it or laugh at it. Then I started realizing that I was spending a lot of time thinking and talking about it and not being a part of it to make the changes that were needed. No one knew I existed. I was just another one of those on the outside who had no influence or credibility to make system better.

I watched people who have valuable influence in the lives of people. They usually have done things that have bring deep sacrifice to their lives and the lives of their family. Not the fifteen minuters. Those people get their name recognized today but are forgotten in mere moments later. They are the "Pet Rocks" in society. If you don't know what Pet Rocks are that should tell you something. Notoriety and influence are two different things. Notoriety is like vapor, gone in moments. Influence stains and becomes part of the fabric. A few summers back, Michael had influence because we had conversations and he brought solutions to the problems he saw and convinced me these things needed to change.

I am looking forward to seeing the movie, "Bobby" (about Robert Kennedy). He was such a role model for me. The first presidential candidate that I got behind. I was in eighth grade and my history teacher, Mr. Stone, told us to research and support a candidate, so I did and RFK was my man. My father took me to the Fresno Airport to watch him land and give a speech, just days before his assassination. He was different. He was for the farm laborer, when no one else was except Caesar Chavez who was a farm worker. He was against the war that his brother John F. Kennedy started our involvement in and LBJ escalated. He went against the seated leader of his party by becoming deeply involved in the system to change it. This was after the system help assassinate his brother and deeply embroil the nation in war and strife. The country changed with the death of Bobby, I changed.

I am not trying to be anyone's mentor and I really could care less about a website that is mocking me or what we do at a small camp in the middle of a forest, but they are wasting their time which could be spent doing something to improve life for someone else who could use their creative thoughts, kind words, and precious companionship at this critical hour.

03 December 2006

A bending of the knee...

I have found my expectations for what my future should be is causing much grief. Because of what I have done and given, I think there should be something there for me from others. "I deserve..." is in between the lines of most of my thinking today. And I feel God is wanting me to grow up. I am watching the immaturity of some people and realizing that I am still immature in many of my thoughts. What I do deserve, is condemnation for thoughts, imaginations, words, and deeds. I don't have a place that I carved out that gives me rights, I have an opportunity given for a season to do that which God would speak, direct, and resource.

My fear of friends leaving in the future is overshadowing the joy of living for the moment and doing the things God is calling me to do NOW. To be mindful that a season begins and ends with a blowing of the wind instead of rights and demands caused by my actions. I am privileged to be here today doing what I get to do with the people that God has resourced. The rest will have to take care of itself. If people leave, I have seen great people take great people's place. I have more room for more friends who will never take the love I have for others but will enjoy the season that will open up because they are now influencing my life.

02 December 2006


I am sitting in a Best Western Motel in Turlock, California, reading emails from friends like Lara and Ginger and commenting on friend's blog, catching cat naps, and eating delivery pizza. Today I helped deliver my friends, Lyndsay and Cory Piña to their new home in Ripon, California just about 10 minutes north of Modesto. They left Calvin Crest for a new adventure, a great house, maybe some kids, a place for Kitty ∏, and more. I already miss them.

This has been an incredible couple of weeks and this week tied it all together. Calvin Crest is selecting a new executive director and we chose one. I won't tell you his name until he tells his company that he is no longer working for them. Maybe next week. What's in a name. We gotta a guy.

Wednesday night we had a dinner and interview for him with people from the Committee on Ministry (a committee of the San Joaquin Presbytery), the CC Board, and the supervisors of the camp. We sat around, ate some of Marc Neff's great braised short ribs, garlic mash potatoes, and other great stuff, and interview the man. We prayed and discussed the future of Calvin Crest for about an hour after the interview. It was great to be sitting with these three groups and pray for the ministry. First time in a long time.

Relationships are reforming. Some people cannot understand why we are trying to rebuild relationship. Which has been the problem in the past. I could feel a fresh breeze blowing in over the camp and heard The Voice tell me to first, "Loosen my grip." Then, "Let go. It is not your camp. It is Mine." Instead of bringing fear, I felt peace for the first time in many years. I don't know what tomorrow brings, except a Mission Faire at First Presbyterian Church of Turlock, but I am at peace...

Someone is yelling profanity in the parking lot outside my window...

01 December 2006

A gift...

Yesterday, I got a wonderful surprise in the mail. A bottle of Sicilian Wine from my friend Spinner, who is serving in the US Navy and stationed in Sicily, keeping us safe on many fronts. A delightful letter that took away a migraine and some major blues. Thank you, my friend, for the spirits and the kind words. We will drink your gift with some braciole and pasta soon.

I am humbled by the sacrifice of Spinner and Ginger, as well as the others who leave family, send husband, wife, father, mother, sister, son, brother, or friend off to serve the welfare and defend the security of this country with little pay and similar gratitude. We will drink this slow and remember the laughter and conversations in the past around your table, say a prayer, and read a book on marriage (with pictures) in your honor and feel the privilege of your friendship.

Thank you, Spinner, for the gift of your friendship.

Alla tua salute!

21 November 2006

Words to the heart...

I had a conversation yesterday that got me thinking, praying, and wondering.

The first was with a young friend who is doing some great questioning about her faith and life growing up in the church. I haven't had many of these since my youth. In fact, it reminded me of me in the 70's. She is looking at an eastern approach to her life of living in harmony and peace and there are real conflicts to a western approach that tends to deal with right and wrong. I loved the conversation and saw something in her eyes that I haven't seen in many nor in her in the past few years. She is peaceful, wrestling, but peaceful. Great questions of ethics and balance. I can imagine it is freaking out youth group friends and family but I think there is something wise about this path she is on. But it will be full of conflict and misunderstanding.

I think sometimes our Calvinism creates a thinking that overrides the heart of Christ, Beatitudes if you will, and puts it into an approach a Pharisee would love. Quantifiable righteousness. The church that seeks to build huge cathedrals or parking lots at the expense of the environment or slave labor is not in harmony with the "Way" of Jesus.

Sure a faith in Jesus' work on the cross is not in question. But do we mirror the Way of Jesus. Our treatment of children, born and unborn should be huge as well as reconciling the people of the diocese to one another. Churches are no longer in diocese accountability, responsible for the people of the area where it was planted. They have become like mini-marts on street corner of convenience and style. Going crosstown to a church because they are doing it right with music and child care takes the responsibility off of people to do the work in their neighborhood. Churches attract people who are easily attracted to stuff instead of people who love their neighbor, let alone people who know their neighbor.

Worship becomes about song selection and not about a deep adoration. We use terms like "community" when we do short time commitments to one another. The Word of God is displayed on a wall instead of in the lives of "believers." We spend more on improving parking lots than on youth director's salaries. Do our programs create programatic believers that reward participation instead of creating character of hope (Romans 5:3-5 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.)

19 November 2006

The Aston Martin...

Christel and I saw the new James Bond movie last night. We liked it. Best chase scene since Steve McQueen's Bullitt only this one is on foot. Not much skin. New title sequence, without skin. Great villain. Jeffrey Wright. Not much in the way of gadget except the Sony Ericsson K800i.

Still a bit violent but then again it is 007.

I do like the cars.

Deeds unknown...

Good conversations lately that bring light to dark areas.


16 November 2006

‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men do nothing’

Much has been on my mind these past few weeks. I haven't written much because it doesn't seem to come out right.

Some hard accusations have risen from the summer that I am trying to walk righteously through. Criticisms hopefully will turn to wisdom and maturity and not fear and bitterness.

Some good friends are leaving which bring deep sadness but a deeper joy for their relationship that is not over.

Lies of the enemy in my ear.

Weight gain. Hair loss. Eye twitches.

New seasons beginning with much uncertainty. Intermittent hope.

A late harvest Chardonnay.

12 November 2006

New addition: The Food Corner...

Christel and I went out to dinner last night with Dan and Suzanne Kimball at a great new Italian restaurant in Fresno, Casa Mariani 2. The Casa Mariani 1 is located in Bari, Italy. The chef, Tony Mariani and his wife, Marlena hosted an exquisite meal with wonderful antipasti (made especially for us), pastas, and desserts. Dan brought a great bottle of Syrah from Justin Vineyards (Paso Robles) which complimented the time together and the food. To end the dinner, Tony sat with us and we drank a little limoncello to cleanse the palate and a delightful digestive.

Good conversation, good food... that's what a weekend should be.

09 November 2006

You know me...

I was reading Psalm 139 and for some reason I skipped over the part where it says,
"O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me"

I then asked, why that is not a bigger deal to me? That should be huge...

07 November 2006


I was asked yesterday, and quite often these days, if this was my "non-busy season?"

I told her that we are ramping up and that I am very busy in my head. I have many meetings with people, ideas to present, conversations I need to have, new games developed, etc., but they are mostly in my head. I deal with the issues from last summer, problems that happened and why, what people said about me and how can I improve, start listening for a word or phrase that encapsulates the theme of the summer, etc. Now that Nellie is on board I can work with her in many areas but a lot of the action is still in my head.

This month begins design of programs and what we want to accomplish, and understanding what resources we need to accomplish it and then finding people, some money, information, etc., to make it happen.

I sit alone and think mostly, looking like I am not doing anything. I guess I could do what we did last year...


I am not sure where I would rather be.
Not famous, but there is always the potential to be.
Famous now, but knowing any day this could be over.
Once famous, and rarely remembered.

02 November 2006

Just to touch on politics for a second...

John Kerry's botch joke, Foley's botch text message, Florida state Rep. Ralph Arza's botched voice mail, etc. It reminds me of Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction... a boob is starting to show.

It is time politicians quit trying to be funny, relevant, hip, powerful and start being agents of change and responsibility. Go home John Kerry with the others, check into a rehab or whatever, but go home. Your 15 minutes are up...

01 November 2006

Diet Coke and Mentos...

Ordinations can be fun...

Presbyterians do not know how to party. Oh, we can throw a mean harvest festival but we really don't know how to party down and get funky when it comes to ordaining people. Somberilitation is the theme. No one shows their excitement for the young man or woman who just completed 3 or 4 years of seminary after 4 or 5 years of undergrad work and will be working for 25 to 30 years paying off the financial loans that they borrowed to accomplish The Call. I have been to many of them and they all seem the same. We have cake, punch, mixed nuts (I take most of the cashews), and some vegetables (which is a clear indicator of somberility). We sit at round tables and catch up on our children and their education or lack of. Small talk about the church where the newly ordained will be serving and the weather over there. And some prognosticators give a prediction when the new pastor will be a senior pastor.

Ordinations should be fun. There could be a theme where we come dressed as our favorite period of Christiandom (The Crusades or as the door in Whittenburg with a bunch of post-it notes all over you, a Billy Graham rally, or remember the Emergent Era?). Debates should be held in the Northex room. Someone should start the new traditional ordination meal of Shrimp Quesadillas and Guinness. Or a good Fondue could be the thing. A Princetonian could bring their hooka. There should be dancing... ballroom or salsa, the kind that takes up the whole room, not just a 15' by 15' parquet floor that you rent from TruValue. People would want to get in on the list if there was a real party going on.

Or go for the major pomp and pageantry route. Everyone comes in their robes. Women in big hats, oh what the heck, men could wear big hats as well. Everything buttoned up, no cleavage showing (except from the mother-in-law and the custodian). Trumpets played to announce the arrival of the ordainee or a good mariachi band in full regalia. Scriptures read in Latin with subtitles on the PowerPoint. Red carpet is brought out. And everyone gets a gift when they leave, like cufflinks or wallets.

I know this sounds expensive and I have probably lost the true meaning of ordination. If we get too creative there could be a reality show called Platinum Ordinations.

Sorry, I was just thinking...

31 October 2006

Trick or Treat...

Tonight was Taco Tuesday. Every week (at least that is the goal), Christel and I will meet up with Taylor, our daughter and her husband, David, and Hillary if she is available and we make tacos, or if time is pressing we eat out. We have been doing that since Taylor and David got married in December last year. Great way to keep in touch, especially during a pregnancy.

We met tonight at their new house and watched the Halloweeners trick or treat. First off, I am not a fan of Halloween. I have heard too many stories of the "dark side" of Halloween and what it does to a friend to sit back and enjoy it. I do eat the mini-Snicker and Baby Ruth bars.

Kids came up to the front door all dressed up in their ghoulish costumes except one kid who was dressed up in a carpenter's outfit. In fact he looked a lot like David, except he had a bag of candy. All the kids have been well trained to say "Trick or Treat," but very few of them said, "thank you." The little ones in the gorilla, Tinkerbell, butterfly, nurse, pirate, green hulk, hippie, costumes were very cute and one little cute-cute was adorable as King Kong, the dad had on a matching masks, but was wearing slippers. NO CANDY FOR HIM! Right after the little Kong came a group of high schoolers. TOO OLD. Come on! Get a job and buy the candy yourself. Grow up!

Churches crack me up because they think that they shouldn't celebrate Halloween but then they really do. I think that just because you are changing the name of Halloween to A Harvest Festival that it is still celebrating Halloween. There is candy, costumes, etc? Halloween. Doing something on October 31? Halloween. Reality Houses instead of a Haunted House, where they do tableaus of suicide, smoking pot, dirty dancing, abortions, traffic accidents, hell, etc... still Halloween and it freaks the kids out which makes it very Halloween maybe even more Halloween that Halloween. Next thing you know we will be doing something in the spring to celebrate the Spring Equinox fertility rites.

Ummm. Ignoring it is a good way of not celebrating it. Or what the heck celebrate it.

I live in a Reality House. It freaks me out. Come to my house and look in the bathroom and see where the hot water heater leaked and damaged the carpets and one wall. See where I have been waiting for plumbers and carpet people for the past few weeks trying to get them to come out when they said they would; then go into the garage and see my Montero, the SUV from hell with a blown engine; go out into the backyard and listen to our neighbors playing teenie-bopper music all day and night long (stop the madness!!); look in the living room and see Sierra the Golden Retriever, who we are going to have to put to sleep pretty soon because of bad kidneys and losing her hearing (or is that me?) and not to mention the cat that drools; Look on the desk and see the bills for the Montero, hell car, from two years ago and last summer. Then enter the twilight zone of light bulbs that burn out for no reason, milk cartons being put back in the refrigerator empty, toilet seats being left up, socks mysteriously missing from the dryer, and my wife coming into the living room and finding me fast asleep on my barkalounger with Die Hard 3 on the TV turned up at full volume. It gets curiouser and curiouser.

I really didn't have anything to say, just wanted to vent a little about Halloween and work off sugar high from the nine Snickers that I ate...

The Alternative...

28 October 2006


...to lose weight.

I would love to lose the weight again. I did it about five years ago. It took a lot of mind over pancake batter and other delicious treats. It was then that I hurt my back. And my stamina was greater and now it seems weak and discouraged. I eat as a way to enjoy life during stressful times. I like to cook and then eat that which I like to cook. It is great for conversations. But the short stick is that it is not good for my health and my mental health.

I would desire your prayers as I begin to ask the giver of Life to give me the mind and heart to tackle this feat.

I do love peanut M&Ms...

David and Taylor's new house...

This is the house that David built...

There is something about being at the right place, at the right time, with a camera...

Napa was good to us...

We had a great, quiet, few days in Napa. We were able to spend some time with Simon and Natasha, read some novels, be quiet, eat some great soups. No cars to worry about, issues that warranted our attention other than where do we want to eat. We ate at ZuZu's, a downtown tapas restaurant; La Taquiza, for some great fish tacos; Angèle and Napa General Store, two nice restaurants within the Napa River Inn, the hotel where we stayed. We had French Onion soup and a potatoe and turnip soup which were very good at Angèle and a vermicelli and meat salad at the Napa General Store.

A few days away can clean out many cobwebs, change some attitudes and decisions, and hopefully give us some perspective to that which lies ahead.

Mellow, very mellow...

25 October 2006

On a holiday...

Christel and I are taking a few days in Napa after a couple of ugly weeks...

22 October 2006

A Surprising...

I spoke at a men's conferences this weekend, for 1st Presbyterian Church, San Luis Obispo and Community Presbyterian Church, Cambria, at a conference center called Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria. Small intimate group of men, mostly engineers and other highly developed left side of the brain and what I also found was a highly developed heart.

I loved these guys and they loved me. Not sure they knew what to do with me at first but conversations around the dining table and to and from the meeting rooms were soul quenching. I am always anxious at men's conferences, might be because of some past issues and scars, but each time I gather and allow myself to be vulnerable I find them willing to open up and give me a place in their circle. I heard some of their wonderful stories during the small group times which followed my talks.

These were good men, many retired, ready to laugh, ready to hang out, and very open to the spirit.

I thought I would love to hang out in their churches, then realized that I am sure there are some excellent men at my church, if I would just give them a chance.

It was especially great to see Brian, Scott, and Josh from CalPoly, who I got to serve with this summer. They came to the conference as gave me a lot of encouragement. They are always a blessing to me in their encouragement, hard work, they're funny and extremely bright. Deep faith and love for the Savior and the church. Thanks for being there guys and for the photo...

20 October 2006

Just bought a pickup...

I had to buy a new car after my Montero Mitsubishi bit the dust. So I bought a pickup. 1996 Ford F150, no bells, no whistle, just AC, AM/FM. Very spartan...

19 October 2006

Update: Nellie...

Nellie got a good word from the lab stating that her numbers are back in a safe zone, regarding non-clotting. Her spirits seemed better today.

Thankful, very thankful.


I just got back from a Jonny Lang concert in Fresno. It was very good. Very good. I thought I would be the oldest guy there, but there were mostly people my age. Blues brings out the older ex-hippies. There were people that I use to see when i was going to BB King, Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and many other concerts during the 70's. Haven't been to too many since. Don't care too much for crowds. I should go more. I do go to operas and stage shows with Christel. But this was great blues.

Jonny Lang is about 25, been playing professionally since he was 14. He is very good. He is also living a life of faith and his new songs reflect this journey. A great article in Christianity Today here.

The ticket was a gift from my good friend, Dan Kimball. Thank you my friend for a night I will remember for a long time. Incredible...

17 October 2006

Still pray for Nellie...

Nellie's recovery from an out-patient surgery a few weeks back has not been as good as we had hoped. She hasn't been feeling well and they are still trying to get her blood levels right with Coumadin, an anticoagulant drug, to keep her from causing more blood clots.

For the inquiring mind, her physician is in contact with her, as is the Coumadin Clinic. They don't seem to be overly concerned but they are staying alerted.

Nellie is ready to get back to work and play and is a bit frustrated. We miss her around the watercooler...

16 October 2006

Good music...

Every once in a while someone comes out with an album that is very unique and impressive. Sting's new album, Songs from the Labyrinth, is one. I know it isn't Rod Stewart doing some of the oldies, well maybe it is because it is music from 16th century composer John Dowland, one of the first singer/songwriter. Sting, along with Edin Karamazov, play the lute and sings some incredible lute-song melodies. Check it out. Interestingly, it came out on the Deutsche Grammophon label.

It is soothing, I need soothing...

14 October 2006

Vicarious pride...

I am as stoked when someone leaves a season at Calvin Crest to become a chef as when they become a reverend. Josh Haas was part of the first generation CommonFIRE folk who was influenced by Sean Oldroyd to fine culinary arts. I remember my first staff interview with Haas and falling in love with him when I asked him what he wanted to be doing in five year and he said he wanted to open a bakery. Well, he did was written up in the The Fresno Bee as he has a number of times this past year or so. He is well thought of in the area and we are all very proud of him. Congrats Haas!

The article on Josh is no longer available from The Fresno Bee...

Hat tip to Jamie for the heads up on the article. Who, by-the-way, celebrated her proverbial 29th birthday yesterday up in our neck of the woods around the teppan yaki table at Oka's. I crashed the party and had a great time. Laughter I haven't had in quite a while. Thanks Brad for footing the bill. It was a healing and a filling.

13 October 2006

I hope this doesn't get lost in the male...

My wife, Christel, told me a while back that the blog is likened to the city gates of old. In old Hebrew days the men would stand around the gates of the city talking, bragging, making business deals, getting and giving advice, etc. while the women were probably home working and raising the kids. (Not a slam, just the facts) It was how business was conducted then. Thoughts developed and executed. Partnerships and friendship nurtured as well as arguments and disagreements. Things started there. Conversations continued on the walk home in quiet and in thought.

How do we begin something new? A quiet conversation which leads to contemplation, which leads to rumination, which hopefully leads to action. This past month of deep introspection and pain has led me to some thinking and conversations and I am hoping some actions. I have bitched a lot about the church being dead and hung up on consumerism but I really haven't done much to change anything around me. I run a christian program but do I do anything personally. I have a new fire in my belly. A calling or is it a conviction?

I am challenged to begin a practice of reaching out to the neighbors in need around us. I am thinking about including summer program as well as CommonFIRE. Nothing huge, just asking what do they need done. Give one hour to spell a single mom from her kids, tutor, give piano or art lessons, sweep, bake two loaves of bread and give them one or both, take out the garbage, go shopping for them, sit and listen to them, bring some tea or cold water, advocate for them with a landlord, etc.

Can I challenge you to do this with me? No Bible studies, no taking them to church, nothing like that unless they ask. Simply meet their needs. Bring salvation to them for an hour. Develop an hour towards eternity. Don't preach, love. Don't expect anything in return, freely give. Don't make this a church thing, make it a personal relationship with Jesus gone public. From the Spirit into the Flesh (yes, Bill, we call that incarnation ministry).

Time to move away from the gates boys and girls and into the neighborhood... or should I say into the Kingdom.

12 October 2006

Sign of the times...

I am working on my budget and it asks a lot from me.

I put a sign on the door that said,

I am using the left side of my brain...

11 October 2006

How then shall we live...

I will tell you I haven't been impressed with anyone as I have been last week with the Amish people of Lancaster, PA. A group of people who through major decisions to live a life that is following the teachings of Jesus.

An excerpt from a web page on the Amish beliefs...

"I understand your belief in nonresistance and pacifism. Does this principal extend to personal situations where you are confronted with imminent evil - say a known murderer confronting you and your family in your home? Can you use force to preserve your life in this situation? To what extent? What is the Biblical basis for your position?"

"Both Amish and Mennonites are committed to a lifestyle of peace and non-violence. Yes, this pervades every aspect of life. However, no one can predict with certainty how anyone would really react to an absolutely unprecedented crisis such as described above. Emotions as well as thoughts are involved and the situation is personalized. Having said this, we would hope that as people who have practiced a lifestyle of peace, we would not resort to force and violence in a crisis situation such as the one described.
We must briefly make several points:

There is no assurance that use of force would save my life or the life of my family if confronted by an attacker.
We could recall many accounts of unhoped for deliverances, whether by mediation, nature, or divine Providence, when Christians refused to use force when confronted by an attacker.
If the result is death at the hands of the attacker, so be it; death is not threatening to us as Christians. Hopefully the attacker will have at least had a glimpse of the love of Christ in our nonviolent response.
The Christian does not choose a nonviolent approach to conflict because of assurance it will always work; rather the Christian chooses this approach because of his/her commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord.
The analogy to war in the situation described above tends to break down when we think of the vast preparations for war -- accumulation of weapons, training of the military, etc. War is planned and seldom is aggression so clearly defined with the defense staying on its home turf.
Some of the Biblical references for peace and non-resistance are: Matthew 5:38-48; John 18:36; Romans 12:18-21; and I Corinthians 6:18."

The Christian does not choose a nonviolent approach to conflict because of assurance it will always work; rather the Christian chooses this approach because of his/her commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord. I don't hear this from anyone! Anyone!!

This is having deep stirrings in my soul.

07 October 2006

A driver's license...

This week my youngest daughter Hillary got her driver's license. She waited until she was eighteen and passed with flying colors. She has more confidence today than she did at 16 which, I think, was why she waited.

As a dad, I realize that I am finishing up a lot of duties with Hillary getting a driver's license. I took all the kids to the DMV to get them and sat in the waiting room while the DMV guy, who rarely smiled, got in our car and took them through the paces.The kids left a awkward smile, showing a mixture of fear, grief, confidence, and a certain look in their eyes like "this is the beginning of freedom! They would come back in with a muted smile and look at me and I would give them an inquiring glance and they would nod so as not to get too excited for such an austere place. But when we walked outside with the paper declaration of freedom we would hug and the smile would explode on their faces as sigh of relief came from their DNA, "they passed!!!" I would take them back to school and they would then want to borrow the car for whatever was happening that night.

She was the last one. Next time I am waiting like that at the DMV will probably to see if Christel or I pass the driver's test because we are too old and starting to get confused on the road and are seeing a lot of people giving us the finger.

06 October 2006

A Thursday with Nellie...

I called a little meeting yesterday with the Cosbies, Piñas, and McKenzies and was delighted to see Nellie for an hour. When she walked in she looked great but as the hour wore on the idea tired her out. It was great to see her out of the hospital and at 5000 feet. For the inquiring mind, she was well cared for and was laying down on the couch during most of the meeting...

04 October 2006

Let's take this to the next step...

If you are a Calvin Crest Alumni will you write me a quick email and tell me about the community of Calvin Crest from your perspective. Don't talk about the people as individuals but the community. I am not asking for an endorsement, because I know there are people out there who would never do that, I am only asking about the gestalt* of the community. Capiche?

IF you are not an alumni but have heard something about the community you can write too.

This is important to me RIGHT NOW and I will tell you about it soon. But RIGHT NOW it would be good for you to tell US.

My email is progdir@sti.net

* gestalt |gəˈ sh tält; -ˈ sh tôlt| (also Gestalt) noun ( pl. -stalten |-ˈ sh tältn; -ˈ sh tôltn|or -stalts) Psychology an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.

02 October 2006


October greets us
With a soft kiss and hug
Autumn colors begin

30 September 2006

Another Nellie Update..

I called the hospital this evening and the operator said that Nellie has been released from the hospital.

I need to say this...

I was watching the new show on NBC, Studio 60, and of course they started putting the christians in a wacko light. But then they didn't. They only put the wackos in a wacko light. Then, I started thinking about all the shows that I do watch and they are painting a correct picture of some christians, not all. And I do need to say it, they aren't that wrong. Behavior-centered christian are small and petty.

I know too many who are reactionaries and never proactionary. Instead of giving out a cup of water to those who are thirsty, and who isn't thirsty, they pass out tracts and judgement to those who already feel condemned. It becomes like the criminal who just when on a rampage and killed three people, robbed a bank, and jaywalked and now has a cop hostage and the cop says, "you need to let me go because this just became a federal offense." The bad guy says, "It doesn't matter, I am already condemned to die."

When I walked out after Little Miss Sunshine there was someone from church in the lobby and she asked me what movie we saw and I pointed to the theater and she said, "The 'R' rated one?!" I didn't even know it was R rated. But to define it as JUST the "R rated one" is very shallow.

I would ask that we don't judge until New Years and start handing out more cups of cold water and tell them of the Lover of their Soul and Flesh, the Creator of Cold Water, and spend time with them instead of straight arming them into the abyss of indifference.

Those who don't know Jesus will think it odd until they see the love of Jesus in us. But they will continue to think it odd when we are in their faces condemning them. They are not the enemy. They may vote against what we believe to be true and right until they see truth served up in love and in a cold cup.

There I said it...

Update: Nellie

Nellie is still in the hospital, as of 11:00am today, Saturday. She was given some blood thinning medicine to dissolve the clot in her lung and to prevent further random blood clots, which presents another little problem, she needs to clot after having surgery to remove a cyst. Yesterday, Friday, she looked better and was hoping to go home today. For the inquiring minds, I will do better in keeping you up to date.

29 September 2006


We are saddened by the news of the death of Susanne Scaringi, the wife of Tony Scaringi, who was on summer staff about 10 years ago. Susanne was beloved in many communities around the Seattle, Washington area. She was an avid bicyclist and athlete, worked with kids, and was very involved with Young Life and their camp program, Beyond Malibu.

She was killed in a bicycle accident. She was 27.

Our heart and prayer goes out to Tony and her family.

Great movie...

Last Saturday, Christel and I met up with Ryan and Nellie had some coffee then saw Little Miss Sunshine. Great movie. Still thinking about it and burst out laughing in the middle of nowhere...

Cory Piña loves this poster. So do I.

A sign for the times...

Bill Dodge has design and built a new sign for Sherwood Forest, Calvin Crest's facility for two programs, 4th - 6th grades and for "A Week in the Forest for People with Developmental Disabilities."

The back of the sign is as beautiful as the front. Craftsmanship!

Great job, Bill.

Good Quote...

True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant. It clothes the naked, it feeds the hungry, it comforts the sorrowful, it shelters the destitute, it serves those that harm it, it binds up that which is wounded, it has become all things to all people.
- Menno Simons

27 September 2006

Prayer needed...

My dear friend Nellie McKenzie is in the hospital and is bored.

She has a blood clot in her lung and is taking some meds that thin the blood and they are keeping her in a protective environment.

Please pray that she would dissolve the clot and not be bored...


25 September 2006

Jesus Camp...

Oh boy, Dan...

I watched some clips and the trailer from the documentary, "Jesus Camp." I really don't know what to say that I haven't already said.

But I have to address the line from the trailer, "This means war... this means war!" and then it says, "Are you a part of it or not?" I do believe there is a battle for the minds of children, but what this film is missing is the heart. Minds need to be renewed, hearts need to be won. And that battle is not mind altering propaganda, but truth spoken in love and grace.

I am not worried about what this will do to the ministry of CalvinCrest. I am more worried about the message this sends to the outcast, the marginalized, those who seek hope...

In an appropriate email I got today, it said... "Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one bungler destroys much good."

Oh boy...

I would hope that one wouldn't look at this as representative of a faith in Jesus, as one wouldn't look at the Democratic National Convention as a representation of democracy...

23 September 2006

Haiku for Chris Erdman...

Words of peace
drowned out by those
rattling their swords.


I have been doing some thinking lately about the Red-Letter Christian (RLC) movement and the comments I received lately from many of you either through this blog or conversations and emails.
I am not that interested in jumping out of a denomination or a political party into another one just because there is a new movement afoot. I think the interesting thing is that people are growing tired of the denomination and political parties of today and freewheeling it and that is becoming a collective.

It seems the foundation of denoms and pol-parties are maintaining the control but not necessarily the mission. I look around and see that many of us are not doing things much different. Instead of listening to The Quiet Voice for direction we associate ourselves with larger groups who dictate the direction. We should be Quiet Voice christians, ones who listen to the One who has the plan...

Jeremiah 29:
11'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

12'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.

13'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

14'I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'

The Voice is driving us to places... sometimes into exile and sometimes into prosperity, but always to a hope and a future.

I don't disagree with the premise of RLC that not all evangelicals are identifying with the narrow concerns of the Right, and there are many issues to be considered today. Abortion is a concern, I am proLife, but to be pro life is to be pro life with the poor, marginalized, exploited, orphaned, aged, etc. I do not believe in same-sex marriages for a number of reasons but I do believe that those who find an trusting relationship in someone of their own sex should be loved by those of us who are Loved by the Lover of our Souls. We are to be lights on a hill in the world of God's love not lasers burning out sin in culture.

Should we vote with values? Yes.

More importantly we should live with values. Red-Letter values. Quiet Voice values.

Voting does not replace our civic duties to love. I vote and am appalled by the low turn out of voter. But I am more appalled by the high turn out of indifference in our society today.

A well placed moral bumpersticker will drive people farther from the Voice who loves their soul than a simple act of kindness and listening to the pain of people which drives them to immoral behavior.

I am tired of the Republicans and the Democrats, but mostly I am not impressed with either's heart. I tend more towards Republican's approach to smaller government and allowing business owners greater latitude in running their businesses without as much interference. I cannot say much about the Dem's ability for civil rights, I was a Dem and lost faith because they speak the right words but trip over themselves in making something happen. (I really don't want to argue these points) Dr. Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi irritate me by their harsh words, the Republicans bore me with their harsh actions and in-actions.

I agree with Micah. I am also concerned that the RLC may be like the Dems of the 60s with McGovern with a lot of words, albeit Red, but not the action needed. It isn't just political action needed today but individual action that will reach out to those The Voice is calling us to love. Love is an action here not a passive whatever feels good. Allowing the Truth to bring healing and stability into their lives. Not harsh judgement.

I cannot get behind another organization or person until I am inline with The Voice...

22 September 2006

A great blog...

There are three guys biking from the northernmost part of Alaska down to ths southern most part of South America. I try to keep up with them on a weekly basis instead of watching television.

You can find their website here.


I stopped off at Judy's Donuts today and because I was on my motorcycle I had to drink my coffee and eat my chocolate french crueller in house instead of in the car.

Everyday (not that I go everyday) there is a group of men sitting in the pink plastic chairs, which are attached to the pink tables, and talk about their lives and mostly poke fun at each other. They are usually talking about the president, the war, the gas prices, the highway construction through town, and poking fun at each other.

Today, I sat in one of the pink chairs, eating my coffee and crueller, and got the distinct feeling that I was not a part of their community. When I just come in and buy my coffee and crueller and leave, I may get a nod from one of them, but to sit down and take up someone's place was an invasion. Today I kept getting looks from each of them at different times and the conversation got quiet as they looked over at me. I just kept drinking my coffee and slowly eating my crueller, looking straight ahead. I didn't want to intrude but dangit I have a right to sit in a public donut house's pink chair, which is attached to the pink table and drink my coffee and eat my crueller. No one was standing waiting for me it was more what will happen if Karl comes in and I'm in his chair?

Well, I finished drinking my coffee and eating my crueller, wiped the chocolate crumbs from my mouth and shirt, looked over at them, nodded, got up (which is difficult because the chairs are attached to the table and got on my motorcycle and drove off on Highway 41 to my next meeting at Starbucks, who did not show up, which gave me time to write this little post.

21 September 2006

Red-Letter Christian...

I am interested in this new movement of Wallis, Campolo, et al called "the Red-Letter Christian." Campolo wrote an article on it you can find here.

Check it out and let me know what you think...

18 September 2006

A joke and a statement...

There is an old joke that says,

What do you call a boomerang that doesn't work?

A stick.

15 September 2006

A Junior High marching band...

Christel, my wife, is a music teacher for two K-8 schools in the area. She has been doing this for 13 years since we have been up here. Before that she was a psycho-social developer for three special needs children. Ours. Their special needs were that they needed a mother. She is great at both callings.

Christel is an incredible teacher who doesn't think she is doing anything for the Kingdom. However, whenever we are shopping or at a football game at the high school all of these kids come running up to her and hoping that she recognizes them in this different surrounding. They squeal out, "Mrs. Biasell, Mrs. Biasell!" with such glee it is charming to hear. Then they talk to her about their lives, some about music and mostly about their families and personal lives. This is the Kingdom.

Well, tomorrow is the Oakhurst Mountain Heritage Day Parade. It has been going on for a long time. This year Rusty and his wife Sara, who own the Met Cinema (a five screen multiplex) in town, are the grand marshals. And Christel's combination of the two schools Junior High (grades 5-8) Marching Band will participate in it. I just got back from watching their practice at one of the schools. There are about 75 kids in the combined band. Each of them had an instrument of some kind. No uniforms. Most of these kids have never marched in a parade. Some are going to be riding in a flatbed truck and most will be marching.

But what I want to talk about is the noise they make between songs. Each are just blowing stuff, hitting drums, spraying spit out of their trombones on each other, etc. Then she blows the whistle and they stop (most stop) and she tweets off the beat and they start up playing music. They are playing a recognizable song. Albeit, it is "Let's go Band!"

But in between the songs it is chaos. Or is it? I watch her and she is talking, giving instructions and tips to some of the musicians, unfazed by it all but very aware of what is going on. When she finishes with the individuals then she puts the whistle in her mouth and blows out a single tweet, pauses, then four more, and it music.

This group of kids who are going to be marching tomorrow will remember this experience for the rest of their lives. Every time they see a parade, they will remember their days in school when they were with Mrs. Biasell's Marching Band instead of sitting home, watching cartoons on television.

14 September 2006

Taylor update...

Taylor went to the doctor today and he was happy with everything. Still guarded but the numbers looked good today.

13 September 2006

I am in a bad mood... UPDATED

Why do we feel that christian organizations must proclaim the gospel in order to be a christian organization. My dad was in St. Agnes Hospital and they gave him incredible care yet not one of the surgeons, anesthesiologist, nurses, orderlies, etc stopped during the procedure to wake him up and ask him if he died tonight would he know where he would spend eternity.

Why doesn't christian music talk about having sex with your wife or sitting at a dinner table with family? And how come Bible Study Fellowship never studied Songs of Solomon?

A christian dating service?

Shouldn't christian bookstores give away the Bible for free?

Where in the Bible does "christian" become an adjective instead of a noun?

How come christian statues are naked but not the organist?

Why is ordination an academic test and not a spiritual test? And if they flunk an ordination exam why can they take it again? Maybe it is a sign that they are a witch and they should be burned at the stake.


Why don't we celebrate the Lord's Supper by sitting down and eating supper together?

What is the next christian fad?

* What would Jesus do if He was on a committee

"...Worms, Roxanne!"

I just got out of a CommonFIRE meeting where we introduced those who are new to the community to the why we have the program and the Outdoor School. I was reflecting back over the past 4 years of people that have been going through it and some of the complaints and "failures" that were brought to my chair.

Many of complaints were the same. "Why should a christian program run a program where they cannot mention the name of Christ to public school kids?"

Very dear friends left because they were frustrated over this. What kind of ministry cannot preach? It seems that they think that making disciple is solely an oratorial action. It is more a kinesetic action. I think it was Francis who said, "Preach the gospel always and when necessary use words." Jesus said depart from me because I never knew you. Then he explains the visitations of the hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned... not NOT once did he say you didn't preach. I think it is important that people know that we are following the way of Jesus Christ, but it is huge that we are doing what He is doing.

People watch our actions to see if they reflect our words. We love to spout of the gospel, yet to live it out is difficult. We give honor to those who study words, yet seldom acknowledge those who live it out.

I think I am going to put my actions where my mouth is. I have an idea...

I just wrote it out but erased it because I would rather do it than tell you about it.

10 September 2006

..."Those who love sausage and obey the law should not watch either being made."

I think part of my problem, and I think it is my problem, that I have been a part of the planning and execution (maybe a poor choice of words) of worship services for the past 30 years and heard a lot of complaints and opinions from people who aren't involved in the planning less alone the execution. (Although they have killed more times of worship than I would care to remember.)

When I was in college I use to make doughnuts. I wouldn't call myself a baker, but more of a maker. There was this great machine that would punch out the dough into a ring onto a conveyor which would send it through a process of rising and frying and cooling before it was dipped into the chocolate or maple or sugar by Loretta my partner in late night doughnutry. I would make sure that the machine was kept stocked with dough for the right amount of doughnuts to be made for the general public and more importantly for the Fort Ord Military base on the Monterey Peninsula. I felt my job contributed to the protection of our great country and some other countries who really didn't want us there but loved the commerce the armed forces brought to the economy. (Kind of like the Yosemite tourons (tourists) in Oakhurst - we can't stand their driving but they keep my kids employed at the espresso drive-thru.)

Sometimes the doughnuts would fall off the conveyor and get trapped on the bottom where I would have to clean it out at the end of the shift. The amount of grease in a cold doughnut was sickening. I would squeeze a one periodically and be repulsed by the grease. I started questioning whether it was right to feed these to the public and definitely was it the best thing for our military? A moral dilemma. Was this the best nutritional meal for people? Was I somehow contributing to the heart disease of our people?

Well, don't worry about it, it is only a doughnut, for Christ's sake. It is only a good tasting quick snack. I wouldn't call it a meal. It does bring a good feeling when you eat it, especially with coffee. There are plenty of other problems that are causing worst karma, and people need to eat, don't they? Don't worry about it and add some coconut or sprinkles on it, its fun and the kids love it!!

I don't know why this made me think of worship...

07 September 2006


As I was preparing for this weekend's conversation at Open Door in Walnut Creek, it is causing me to think about some stuff of worship and ministry. I like gathering with people who are serving God by serving people. Our worship is different than gathering with people who haven't thought much about God since last time we gathered.

I am not judging these people (maybe I am), but I like hearing stories of faith rather than complaints about music or the sermon. A good sermon or a moving song are bonuses to worshipping The Quiet Voice...

04 September 2006

02 September 2006

Taylor Update...

I spent the day today with Taylor. Her spirit is amazingly mature. She sees the doctor weekly and needs to spend a lot of time resting. We wait and pray...

29 August 2006

I ask for your prayers...

Today, my daughter Taylor felt like she had the flu and called the doctor and was told to come to the hospital immediately because of the risk to the triplets. There they found one of the babies had died. There may be complications with the others.

We are very sad and pray for the health, both physically and emotionally, for Taylor and the babies as well as for her husband, David.

Thank you for your prayers and emails
Taylor goes back in on Friday for blood tests and ultrasound. Will keep you informed...

27 August 2006


I was in a board meeting the other night and we were talking about a visioning plan for the future of Calvin Crest. It was an introduction to the discussion that will take a lot longer in the near future but it was a good beginning. Looking at what immediate needs in the facilities, 5 years, 10 years, and then it jumped to 50 years.

Fifty years from now what will camping be like. I am sure it had many of us thinking. I was thinking at first, what will we need to be doing, then I thought what will the people of the valley and surrounding areas be doing that we will need to be reacting to?

What will the moral issues be? What will the communication devices, if any, be like? What struggles will people be facing. What will technology, economics, etc do to the family and what will that do to the thinking of children and then what will that cause culture to reflect.

Will we have individual rocket suits? Computers be faster than they are now? Will people be wearing a lot of aluminum foil? Will there be a George Z. Bush in the White House? Will people still blog? Will they show up for any church services?

Will the Emergensia be the traditional service and the college students will rebell?

Will anyone remember me?

26 August 2006

Grandfather cubed...

As many of you know, my daughter Taylor and her husband David are expecting their first child in late November - early December. They will also be expecting their second one in late November - early December. They will also be expecting their third child in late November - early December.

That is correct campers, triplets!

Mazel tov!

20 August 2006

Band of Brothers...

Christel and I are watching the HBO series, Band of Brothers, again. I am always impressed by these men who braved it for about two years... two years! Such leadership, bravery, intense loyalty, etc. I always weep in the eighth story when they discover the concentration camp. What a scene, what a time.

Thanks Ryan McKenzie for telling me about it, I always stay around to see your name on the credits...

19 August 2006


During this "down time" I try to debrief the summer, debrief my life, cook, clean up after I cook, draw a little, dream, stare a lot, drink a little wine, read detective novels, catch up with my family, eat hard cheeses, throw away some clothes, make coney island hot dogs, BBQ fish, and other things that I didn't get to do much during the summer.

Thursday, I spent a few hours with Nellie debriefing the summer, which was a great beginning. I haven't looked at the summer with anyone else before so it was good to speak out loud and listen to her perspective.

I have been spending some time debriefing myself and I am caught in a quandary. I think I have control issues. I lead 80+ people, responsible for about 2400 campers, get about 50 or more phone calls, letters, or emails from parents, pastors and others complaining or are concerned about something or other, I have to send campers and staff home, stop people who shouldn't be on campus, encourage, pray, counsel with the staff, etc. For ten weeks I am earlobe deep in decisions and putting out fires, that I had nothing or little to do with in the first place and then in a matter of hours I am home and don't have any of the issues that I just had. My poor wife, Christel, then becomes the "target" of my leadership. But then it is not considered leadership qualities but control issues.

She is very gracious as I plan, critique, and basically tell her my opinion on everything. Then she gives me The Smile. It is usually the first Tuesday when I get it. She is a music teacher, an opera singer, a mother of 3, soon to be a grandmother, an elder at the Local Corporation, graduated Cum Laude from CSU,Fresno, a beautiful woman, can cook the best lasagna in the world, even better than my mom's which is a huge accomplishment by the way, and my best friend. She knows her stuff. Why would I try to lead her? She is the one who has been faithful, compassionate, long suffering, bill paying, put up with this bozo for 30+ years, etc.

I don't know how to turn it off. I don't think I have to lead her just because of my plumbing - know what I mean? It comes down to control. I tend to control people I care about. These are good people, smart people, accomplished people. I go out on a boat with friends and I start controlling where we go, what we eat, what music comes out of my iPod, etc. Control.

It is easier when I have job title and people that gives me license to control but when I am a friend, a husband, a son, a dad, etc I need to mellow out. So a huge "I am truly sorry" to all of those that I tend to control and have been quietly patient with me. I will try to sit back more and let you drive the boat.

Something to work on...

13 August 2006

The end of a summer...

We finished our season of summer camp last night. This was a great summer with a great staff who did a great work. I feel like Santa Claus the day after Christmas...

10 August 2006

Another one joins the bloggetts...

My friend Leisel just started blogging. This is going to be good...

Finishing strong...

It is early.
Can't sleep.
Much on my mind.
Not anxious about tomorrow.
Perplexed about today and yesterday.
Too much wasted time inside my head.

It is an interesting place to be, trying to get people to finish strong but the desire for many is an early celebration. If I stop the celebration it will most certainly cause feelings of frustration and we end on a sour note.

I will continue to encourage good behavior, which there are still many doing the right thing, and correcting when people want to celebrate themselves instead of waiting for the party on Saturday.

09 August 2006


I don't think this is on the "What To Bring To Camp" list.

06 August 2006

A man, a crew cut, a djembe...

This is one of the main reason I am at Calvin Crest. I do feel called but it is great having a friend like Cosby listening to the Voice with me...

(This is Cosby playing at the 2006 Worship and Celebration yesterday.)


This picture to the left hangs in the doorway of my office. It is a reminder for me to bend over each time I go through my doorway. The doorway is 5'8" high and I am 6'0" high. I have not bent over enough so many time and smacked my head and some times I don't bend enough and shave off an 1/8 of an inch that I am probably more like 5'11" by now.

This also greets me each time I enter my office, I call it the Field Office, to remind me to bow in worship when I enter my job as well. It was a gift from the crafts woman from a few years back and I am much appreciative...

01 August 2006

Tuesdays with Tony...

I meet every Tuesday, for lunch, with the coordinators. We laugh, support, give counsel, complain, offer suggestions, laugh, and love. I will definitely miss these times in two weeks. These have become dear friends and I am honored to have served next to them this summer...

27 July 2006

Blogs and broomsticks...

I was talking to some people who thought it would be great if we could hire someone who could just sit and type what is going on at camp throughout the day, so that people would know what is going on up here.

I thought about it for a few days and at first I thought it was a good idea but I am sure that after the first few days of this she would begin putting in her own editorial comments and by week 6 she will be a bit sarcastic and cynical and people would start emailing and calling me and asking me what is going on with the blog girl and why is she saying those nasty things about the campers and people from Merced and the corndogs and fruit punch and then they would tell me it must be indicative of my leadership and theology and then they would call the presbytery and the board who will form a new committee, if they can find enough people who will show up for a quorum, to monitor the blog and come up periodically to do surveys and urine tests...

I think we will rely on the campers' postcards for now...

(clarificational statement: I hope that the people on presbytery or the board will not take that last line personally, for it does not reflect my love and admiration to people who volunteers their time and talents to this camp and staff! Much of what I say is to get people to laugh, think, cry, or purchase hair product...)

25 July 2006

A sea of worship...

Tonight at the staff worship and prayer, we didn't use any Powerpoint or amplified guitar or voices we worshipped in the raw. I wouldn't want you to think nude but very simple and it was great. We turned off the lights so there was no light coming from inside, no candles or votives, no mood setting anything, just song and prayer with the lights of the surrounding building adding just enough light.

We first prayed for God to reveal a place on campus to each of us and we would pray for that area or building or room or bunk or whatever that God would fully inhabit that place with His spirit and purpose and remove any thing or spirit with an alternative purpose.

Then Josh led us in song which was glorious and simple. Christina played her viola softly. Without the lights and the stuff, it felt like the ocean at night. Couldn't pick out points or faces but there was a sea of worship moving through us. It was very soothing and much needed.

I spoke on Mark 13:32-37 and Luke 9:1-2.

Sweet night. I love what I get to do...

23 July 2006

Remodeling faith...

I have been going through a 3 year period of remodeling my belief structure. I started seeing something in my heart and life that was too small for the life God wanted me to enter. The structure became too restrictive for what, I felt, God was calling me to do. I needed a spiritual make-over.

In the beginning I brought in some of the professionals, McLaren, Pagitt, A. Jones, and Sweet Remodeling Service to reconstructed the place. There was a lot of talk of deconstructing, tearing out some of the structures that were superfluous and no longer significant to the structure of the faith. Things I have been thinking about for a long time, so it wasn't a big deal to lose them. After a while, though, I became a little nervous about the size of the job and began to wonder if these guys were really the experts. (I am not questioning their heart, spirits, or minds) But it seemed they were specialist in deconstruction and I was wondering do they know anything of the construction phase. I let them do some of the deconstruction. And they were pretty good. It seemed like there was a fluidity in their movement. Things got torn out and put out on the front porch for evaluations and determination. I could hardly recognize the place after a few weeks and books. That which I thought were so important became objectively removed and stored or thrown away. We brought in a huge dumpster. Some things were brought out to the lawn and then we needed to put it back with a better and more accessible purpose. But other things tossed. Some things didn't matter if it needed to go or stay so we put it back in the study near the big couches for future conversations. But we were still in the deconstruction phase for a long time.

Now after three years there is a lot of sawdust on the floor, in the furniture, in books and movies, in my clothes, TV set and AV equipment, in the kitchen, in my friends, in the bathroom and even the toilet paper seemed to absorb the sawdust (more effective but a lot more painful), and in my eyes, ears, and mouth. It seems every holy meal I eat there is a bit of sawdust and debris from the remodel in every bite. Sure, I hung up plastic to keep all the rubble relegated to one part of the abode but it seems like it is spiritually everywhere. It affects everything.

It is funny. As I am remodeling MY faith abode, it is starting to tick off other people. It is like during the remodel they don't know where to sit or can they still go to the refrigerator and get some cool water. They want to know is the hot water knob on the faucet still on the left or does that get remodeled as well and we put it anywhere we want? Is there a building code in deconstruction where the criteria is properly set? One issue is we are deconstructing the criteria, the way we look at everything, along with the rest of the place. Is that bad?

Recently, I got rid of many of the experts and started going into a do-it-myself type remodel. I have many friends who are helping me with particular aspects of the job as they have been doing some remodeling as well. Deep conversations with some of those who are working faithfully in this project in their own life. There are a lot of people doing remodeling right now so many perspectives are given. Seems healthier than just following a few who get paid to write books on it. Nothing wrong with their books but sometimes when one gets paid to be an expert in deconstruction they will never get to the construction phase because they won't be able to sustain the niche they have carved out for themselves. We found ourselves asking God what it should look like for each of us and for us as a community instead of copying other’s places. There was a consistancy but it was definitely unique.

I needed to start the construction phase, it is not that the deconstruction phase is finished but for my psyche I needed to start something positive. The deconstruction phase started producing some weird side effects. I starting thinking I may need to move out and get another place to have faith. It seemed everything was broken. Cynicism crept in and became the windows of how I looked at stuff. Joy was gone. Hope was up on the shelf with my old trophies from the 70’s through the 90’s.

I started working on the windows first. How do I look out and how do I see? What kind of view am I looking out at? Do I only look at the manicured front yard, where the Company has provided the yard service so all the faith places would look identical, or do we open up the walls and put in windows to the driveway, alley, neighbors, sky, and subterranean vistas. What were we missing with the original windows and walls and were windows put in place so that the Company would only let us look at what they wanted us to see? I started seeing things in a new way. Light was streaming in and opening up my eyes to things unnoticed before. I became a little uncomfortable with the way I was before. Perspectives changed. Depth of field was greater.

I asked God about the walk up to my house. I thought the front walk would be straighten or widen but it was not. In fact, it seemed to get harder to walk on with turnouts and benches placed in more appropriate places. It took longer to get there than before but the walk was starting to get more interesting. The place of faith had to be traveled slowly instead of a quick walk up. I also had to get rid of the garage door opener so that I took more time to experience the neighborhood.

I need to go rest now, hopefully more later…

20 July 2006

A slice of 90 minutes...

Sorry I am late with this update...
but I was just dealing with trying to schedule next week’s high school camp which is full and spilling over to the Apple Orchard which puts the AIM team in Reddingham, but we are not sure if the bathrooms will be able to work because the plumbing and septic are causing troubles and the concerned about the other bathrooms in Sherwood if they will do alright for next week’s Week in the Forest for people with developmental disabilities, where our numbers are approaching 50 people. I then took a step towards my office when I got distracted by a few people praying for a young woman, who in January was set free from a terrible and abusive past 5 years. I sat and wept as I heard the story but then the afternoon thunderstorm hit us and I had to make sure that everyone in the Junior High and Sherwood camps were under shelter and no one was playing out in the open and making sure that the people on the ropes course were safely taken off the wires. Craig Shigyo was concerned about how the dinner down in Sherwood would go and we decided to eat in the huts, using one hut as the distribution hut. Then I was approached by someone coming from Eastview who was concerned about the bathrooms up there and could we do something about them. I told him they could take some boys in the morning to the bathrooms in the Apple Orchard for showers and potty. He thought that might work as long as the mountain lion that has been heard on the manzanita trail doesn’t come and eat them. I told them to walk in groups and don’t scare the kids with any stories about lions, tigers or bears, etc. He assured me he wouldn’t talk much because of the distance he has to walk to the bathroom.
Then the storm hit and the dinner bell rang and the tables on the dining pad were getting drenched by the downpour so we moved the 160 kids and counselors inside the Dining hall to eat on the floor in small circles… like a picnic only with out a blanket and on red concrete. I gathered all the counselors together to make sure that all of their campers from their cabins are present. A few minutes later a counselor came in and told me one of his boys were missing and a youth pastor came to tell me that one of his counselors was missing as well. We found the boy up in the Eastview bathroom and his cabin having to change because the shower drain backed up and soaked his clean clothes that he was just changing into. The woman counselor, who last week found out she was pregnant and is having major nausea, went to sleep in a friend’s room in Cedar Lodge. Near the end of the downpour we were deciding about camp pictures and how to do them when Dave Davis drove up with a message for me to give to one of our Junior High campers that she needed to call her dad so that he could tell her what the evening news is saying about her missing mother. At the end of the storm many staff people came out onto the deck and danced. Even our speaker, George Freeman, who came up with his wife and mother (who is in the middle stages of Alzheimer's) was dancing with his mom.

I will try harder next time…