22 December 2007

21 December 2007

That was weird...

Ok, I love my Mac Powerbook, I love my iPod, I love my Newton. But dangit Apple, don't jack my blog!

16 December 2007

Popi Update...

There is nothing more adorable than little boys, tractors, and pajamas.

15 December 2007

What has shaped my theology...


These past few months I have been trying to examine what do I believe, why do I believe, and from where did I learn to believe it that way?! I do that periodically just like I clean out my garage in the spring.

I think many of what I believe came from strange places different places than scripture. Some were by omission and some commission. Some were from reactions to strange phenomena and some were intentionally misinformed because it would require too much faith and it couldn't be explained easily. Christmas pageants, bumperstinkers and clich├ęs developed some. Authors of mass produced books and christian celebriatti developed some.

I was in a conversation with a guy who was pretty adamant that it has to be Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) that guides our theology. I do think that the Scriptures must direct it and that they should not be watered down by culture but I am wondering about some of the things I believed that might be a reaction by the reformation with anti-Catholic sentiments, by the Azusa Street Revival (which may also have a bit racial prejudice attachments), by anti-jewish, white-male-western-institutional-dominated thoughts, that shaped how I looked at Scripture, from hence my theology came.

Please understand, I am not trying to be liberal or anti-Conservative or even cool, but I was humming "We Three Kings of Orient are..." and started asking, "who are those guys?" At first just dismissing them as couple of oriental guys on camelback come looking for the Messiah. I carefully reread the story in Matthew 2 and found myself completely baffled by what I believed. I have read through that story many times getting to the Jesus as a babe part but never stopped long enough to consider it much who these guys were. Star gazers, prophet readers, political strategist, and probably Persians (who were enemies of the Roman empire-not to mention our enemies today Iran and Afganistan)... These are messengers of faith? Star gazers used by God? And don't forget the shepherds? Shepherds were farm workers, and God used farm workers to announce the birth of the one who He sent to save us.

Stargazers and farm workers became the evangelist of the time! Today, those people are easily dismissed. Uneducated or miseducated. But these are people of faith, and it takes people used by God, not just people who check off "Christian" on the census questionnaire, to proclaim the truth of God. Is my theology open to stargazers and farm workers to tell me the truth of God?

Sola Scriptura is good as long as it is not tainted with neo-conservative philosophy or liberal disregardation. Seminaries teach the scriptures but they also teach "the correct way" to view scripture - their bent way. I am sure that my bent way of looking at the Scriptures have twisted my religion (the way I live out my faith), and must be open to The Voice to correct my course from time to time...

Sola Scriptura + Sola Spiritus = Soli Deo gloria (Glory to God alone)

07 December 2007

Waiting for the storm...

It started with speculations. No one really knew but they knew where to look to get some information.
The more others looked and spoke the truer it became.
There is going to be a storm. A big storm. Two feet in the higher elevations, maybe eight inches here within 24 hours or less.
We began to live as if there was a storm. Bryan and Jeremy prepared. The Plow was gassed up and so was the grader, pointed in the right direction. Dry run-throughs and routes decided.
For some this is the first time. How do I drive? What is better, chains or cables?
New clothes and boots purchased.
Plans were given options.
People became aware of the wind. Some looked up.
The first drops came...

06 December 2007

05 December 2007

03 December 2007

Getting old...

It isn't that I am getting old (ok, I am but not old old) but I am starting to do and buy things that old people do and buy. I am getting hair cuts that are easy to maintain. I drive an old truck because I feel more manly because my manly isn't as. I have routines so I remember where I parked my car in the parking lot at Von's. I bought these sunglasses that you see in the picture, not because they makes me cool looking but because they fit over my glasses because I need to drive and read the speedometer. I bought a pair of suspenders. I am starting to like cardigans. I bought a Bible with large type.I also mute the commercials.

But I refuse to buy prunes, hats, magnifying glasses, metamucal, Grecian Formula, polyester slacks with elastic waste and stain resistant material...

27 November 2007

Small things...

Mother Teresa said, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love."

I think about the heart to which Jesus gave Himself, and it was to the small things not the great things. He said "Consider the lilies..." "The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed..." "If you look upon another woman..." "blessed are the meek..." "Someone touched me..." etc. These are little things that make up the whole thing.

It is the little things that make a difference. A note saying thank you, not a banner; a single red rose is more romantic than a dozen roses; "I love you" is better said in intimacy than a diatribe on why I love you; remembering, not knowing; a smile and a kind word to the cinema ticket agent; a clean window; a cup of tea; a quiet walk; an oboe;...

It is a new litany that expresses the heart not repeating tradition for tradition's sake; speaking the quiet truth of God in worship, not using the Lord's name in vain; telling a story that will be passed on to the next generation, not another book on how to be a better man or woman of God; hearing a Word from The Voice, than all of the spam from christian booksellers, event organizers, TV evangelist, bumperstinkers, etc.

We are a vapor, here for a season, to connect the dots of believers who pass on the Truth of the Love of the Obedient One who came that we might have life, an abundant life of "small things with great love."

25 November 2007

This gives me a peaceful, easy feeling...

Not since 1979 has the Eagles come out with a new album with new materials. Yes, they wrote Hole in the World in 2003 but it was only a single release.

I think these guys have gotten better as they aged and quit doing drugs and alcohol. Now it seems the music is central.

Some of the greats are still great and still have a few years left in them. The number is dwindling...

Cos, I would see these guys in a large venue!

15 November 2007

The hills are alive...

The forest around Calvin Crest is getting logged and brushed out which will make it healthy again and not a timberbox. As the picture above shows the forest is overgrown and not very healthy. Some were saying that it won't look the same, but it will look healthy, which is better. We are seeing some change already in some of the areas where the responsible logging is taking place. It feels like there is more air in the forest which will bring more wildlife and less wildfires. I will do a compare photograph when they get to that area. It is a two year endeavor.

08 November 2007

Popi Update...

photo by Natasha Biaselli
“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offense, or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.” -Annie Dillard in Teaching a Stone to Talk

Gee...

I make a lot of assumptions out of hurt, fear, insecurity, and ignorance.

06 November 2007

I am near Atlanta...

...without a car. And I am getting email, comments, and other forms of communication telling me of some of the best places to go in Atlanta and I am just far enough out of town so that I cannot get into town and it is driving me nuts. I can smell the BBQ, the mint julep... Pray, please pray...

05 November 2007

Blogcasting from Atlanta...

I am at the Presbyterian Church Camps and Conferences (PCCCA) Gathering in Atlanta, GA.

There are some people, that I didn't know before this, who are asking the same questions that I have been. We connect quickly in the seminars that we attend. Some of us are on the same track and give opinions and ask questions that bring out a perspective that is more Kingdom oriented than denominational bound. However, there is a real push by the denom to be relevant to us. They are not asking as many questions as they should but at least they are showing up.

I am enjoying the time and temperature here in, what some people call, Hotlanta. People are friendly and hospitable and the sweet tea is destroying my diet...

01 November 2007

Popi Update...

I love living in this community where they have Tarantula Festivals, Chocolate Festivals, Chukchansi Pow wows, Peddlers Fair, School Carnivals, Mountaineer Days Parade, Honorary Mayor (who is elected by raising the most money for a local charity), Art Tours, Car Shows in the park, and many more.

Above is an article on the Tarantula Festival, which received front page, above the fold placement in the Sierra Star Newspaper. And then there is the newspaper, which I must tell you about soon.

Oh, gee, by the way, umm, did I forget to mention that that is Jack and Ben in the Dalmatian costumes.

30 October 2007

A Staff Alumni Family Camp...

Bill Ekhardt came up with a great idea to have the first week of family camp be an alumni family camp. You don't need to have a family to come, you just don't need to be in college anymore.

The week for the camp is June 15-21. Would you be interested in attending? Please comment and let me know.

Great idea, Bill.

23 October 2007

"Irritating the problem..."

I was invited by Dan Kimball to attend a luncheon put on by the Fresno Met in Fresno today with speaker, Scott McNealy, Chairman and Co-Founder of Sun Microsystems. Who's quote is in the title bar.

Wow. I am still processing many of the things he spoke about. It was a great gift from a great friend. Thanks, Dan. You continue to teach and nurture my thoughts in many ways.

19 October 2007

This isn't what I am talking about...

Painting by Benedictine Priest, John B Giuliani
This picture tells the story in the culture of the people. I don't think it is meant to be perverting anyone's view of Jesus' ethnicity. But rather to bring the story to the culture. Storytelling is one thing when it is in and of itself. To bring the story to a single people group using the same ethnicity is understandable but to continue to create the story in a diverse culture as is ours to continue to eliminate the middle eastern characteristic, to me, seems to have an agenda attached to it.

This can get a bit carried away. There is an historical element to the time and space when Jesus came. There is an ethnicity that God purposely chose to enter the world into. He didn't decide to come in 2000 as a CEO on Wall Street. But today Jesus is chinese, korean, hopi, italian, german, chilean, etc. because we are the Body of Christ.

I think my concern is that I would hate to think of a culture during the 80's depicting Jesus in polyester Angel Flights and permed hair...

09 October 2007

Just a reminder...

I am thankful for the discussions we have here. I wish it was in person over a cup of coffee, tea, shot of Jameson, whatever. I am an external processor and appreciate the feedback and understanding that this is not a cemented thought but fluid and eyes and ears open to hear and know the truth.

I do appreciate the contrarians who really do make me a better person by giving me an alternative perspective. Just wanted to stop and say I wish we would spend some face time together because I really do love you and am honored that you would read this and take the time to comment. I haven't shown it in the past but I am turning a new leaf. (Oh it is Leaf Ericksson day at Christel's school.)

Much love and respect...
Tony

07 October 2007

Is this a good thing?

In continuing the conversation started in, Jesus loves me this I know..., by showing the characters in the Bible as something other than real men and women that have predominate features that are characteristic of middle eastern men and women, are we creating an inadvertent form of racism that we are really not intentional about? (Or maybe we are intentional?)

I know there are a few out there that are saying, "Come on Tony, this is harmless stuff here, get off your high horse!" But in my hiring of 80 college age people, some who were raised on this stuff, I am finding that it is not developing disciples of Jesus like we were led to believe it would. It is almost deepening the myth instead of the truth.

I wonder if it is contributing to an intellect of short attention spans, "keep me entertained" sermons, vitamin deficiency (can you really eat a christian carrot?), make believe faith, but very clever marketing?

Storytelling is very important. The oral narrative is what evangelized the first century people before they could get down to the local Berean Scrollstore. But integrity was more important than entertainment and in a time of photoshop faith, I think it is important to tell the story in "living color" and context, so that when the way, the truth and the life is explained, people who are wanting authenticity and salvation will believe we are serious about this God who sent this man to save us and enjoy Him forever.

29 September 2007

Jesus loves me this I know...

When I was in fourth grade, once a week I would go to Carol Reimer's house after school for a flannel presentation of the stories of Jesus. Two missionaries would come and tell us about Jesus and at the end, before the graham crackers with chocolate icing and punch were served, they would ask, "Who would like to invite Jesus into their hearts and go to heaven after they die?" They would have this very picture of Jesus and the lamb on the flannel board. Who wouldn't want to spend their time with this guy after they die? Loving, caring, gentle, a firm understanding of animal husbandry. He looked like one of us.

His costume was different. When I was in sixth grade my costume was white t-shirt, Levi's button up fly, black Converse sneakers, surfer hair. He was more historical so his costume would be different. We didn't have much of a concept of a different time, a different culture, a different people group. I just thought he was like me only older. God sent his son, who was white and middle-class, to take care of my middle-class sin on the cross. The flannel presentation showed Jesus, with very pale skin, reddish brown hair and blue eyes, walking on the water, healing a blind man, talking to Zacheus (who was a wee little man...), asleep in the boat, feeding the five thousand with fish and bread, etc. It was like one of us doing these things. Local boy make good.

Then in 1967, there was the six day Israeli war, that Walter Cronkite was covering on the six o'clock news, that showed these young Israeli men that did not look like Jesus but looked more like Mexicans, farm workers, gardeners, etc. (And please understand I am writing this as the eighth grader of 1967, not the 53 year old) Jesus wasn't white, middle class, he was Israeli.I felt a bit lied to. That began me thinking a bit about who did I ask into my heart? A Palestinian or someone in the neighborhood I could trust. Did they use that picture because I would not have allowed a darker skinned person in my heart let alone into the Reimer's living room?

I realized I had accepted more than Jesus into my heart but a kind of racism and segregational attitude with this image. If we paint Jesus to be like us aren't we also saying he isn't like them. He is our savior not theirs. They need to accept the white Jesus, the american Jesus, not the darker skinned, darker eyed one. That is missing the point completely for the reason God sent His son to a small group of people who were oppressed and marginalized to set them free not set them apart.

I began to reject the entire package. I didn't loose faith, I lost trust. Who did I accept in my heart? What else did I accept that carried a subliminal message. An air-brushed image. A sanitized, odorless, fresh as a daisy smelling Jesus. Where is the reality in that. Can a savior from another time and culture be relevant to a white middle class kid raised in the San Joaquin Valley during the sixties? It wasn't until the mid-seventies that I began to understand who I invited in. He made my life a bit messy as He rearranged my heart, my thinking, my life. He still is. He began to turn over tables that I thought were a part of my sanctuary and began to define it as a life of prayer, conversation and response in faithfulness.

I see why God tells us not to make any graven images. We fashion them to look more like us instead of Him. That has a huge affect on our faith. Our stories need to come from our cultures but about a Savior who is not from our culture but understands our culture and time and delivers us to His. The Kingdom is not american, or even just white, it is "red, and yellow, black and white" (and may I include brown), "we are precious in His sight..."

27 September 2007

Just doing some thinking, for once...

After a while, it is time to reevaluate this road and check out a new path...

To some, "Sorry."

To others, "Thanks."

17 September 2007

Love God...

I think about loving God and I do love God. But I am not sure what that is suppose to look like.

I think about worshipping God and I don't know what that is suppose to look like either. Is it something that I am suppose to do with music and what kind of music is best? Should the worship music be the kind of music I like or what God likes? After all we are worshipping the Creator. So if we don't like the kind of music that is being played, do we quit worshipping God? And is it really worship if I seem to like the song better if it makes me feel good? Isn't worship suppose to make God feel good instead of me?

A lot of the songs we sing tend to be about how God makes me feel instead of what is true about God. In worship, I will ask people to pray out loud and speak of the goodness or what are the attributes of God. And most times people don't pray anything. If they do pray it becomes about thanking Him for what He gave them. The weather, the friends, etc.

I wonder what will worship be like in 2035? Will the songs we sing today be like Kumbaya and How Great Thou Art? Will Carmen still be singing? Will TBN have a cheesy show with Mac Powell of Third Day as host? Will his songs be boring to high schoolers? (It may already be.)

Is worship culturally influenced? Is the raising of one's hands a cultural thing or is it true worship? I think I am in a time of silent worship. I listen in worship now instead of sing. I agree with words of the songs instead of singing the words without thinking about them. I don't clap, it hurts my hands. Is that bad?

I started crossing myself as a sign of reverence and worship. I kneel in private prayers as a sign of respect and honor to God. I spend not enough time listening for The Voice to speak.

I am asking The Worshipped what and how is the best way for ME to worship Him. I don't think I want to be responsible for how we should worship. I did that for too long and heard too many people say hurtful things about how I led worship. Isn't that strange that people would say terrible things about a worship leader's way of leading people into worship. But then I also had some people who told me they liked it when I led worship. Then is that really worship? Is there a style to truth? Doesn't a worship leader just lead people in acknowledging the truth?

(Please excuse the masculine pronouns, but it makes it easier to write.)

16 September 2007

The struggle...

Lately, I find myself on the other side of myself.

I am reading scriptures, mainly Matthew's gospel, and it is quite disturbing my harmony with myself. First Jesus tells us to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Then he goes on and tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. He also tells us to love our enemy.

I am not doing well at this.

First off, I think I am barely loving God with my soul, I think about Him a bit and am in awe of Him, and my passion for Him is low. I do not really think that I am doing what my PR is telling everyone.

No, I have not fallen, back-sliden, been disappointed, matured, become cynical, etc. I just don't think I love Him fully, like He commands. I get wrapped up in the program of Him but not in the totality of Him.

I think part of it has to do with loving my neighbor. I don't know my neighbors. I don't like the neighbor to the east who calls me and complains if we temporarily park a car on to her property, which is a vacant field, during a party for my father or family gatherings. We are both on an acre, there is plenty of room for someone to park a foot or so onto her property. My other neighbor is probably getting another divorce. The one across the street doesn't return the wave when we cross paths. The rest are renters who come and go and sometimes in the middle of the night. It isn't that I don't love them, I don't know them. Neighbors don't sit on front porches anymore so it is rare that we even see each other.

I am not loving my enemies very well either. I really enjoyed seeing the bombs drop on Baghdad that first night. The revenge for 9/11 seemed to fill my heart and found some fascination in that action. Retribution seems strong at first but leaves a bitter after taste. Once I start to learn about the people who have a heart, soul, and mind it is hard to want revenge. I have been reading a lot more on who the "enemy" is. I think it may be us.

I want to love God, my neighbor, my enemies. I really do. But when I start to, I feel the current against me more and more. To love God goes against the world culture, to love my neighbor goes against my heart culture, and loving my enemy seems to go against my church culture.

If I say I follow Jesus, then I need to begin to follow Him upstream, against the tide...

13 September 2007

Time & Space begins...

We will begin again for Time & Space (a worship service), this Sunday, September 16, 2007 at 6:00pm at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church, in Oakhurst, CA.

06 September 2007

Walnut Creek...

I have been asked again to speak at the Open Door at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church. I look forward to hanging out with Jer Swigart and these annual friends this Sunday.

Looking up...

Lately I have found when I walk I look at the ground. I am usually thinking and not paying too much attention to what is going on around me. I pass by people and beauty without thinking too much about it.

Today I resolved to start looking around more in all directions and let the most beautiful scenery influence my day and thoughts...

30 August 2007

Outside my window...

It is starting to rain.

The trees are in chorus with the wind to bring a conversation of hope to a dry and wanting earth and soul.
It brings an alertness to my skin as the shirtsleeves are inadequate to keep out the chill, but it is a welcomed message.

The dance begins as the manzanita moves with the oak and cedars in a rhythm that hasn't been heard in too long.
Leaves cling tightly until their release to give back to the soil from which they were nourished. They lived lives of collection of rays I took for granted.

Tiny droplets bring their song in harmony with the voice of the wind on my corrugated roof.
The earth releases its fragrance as the rain lies down to soothe the dusty path. Dry beds awake with a trickle as we anticipate the roar to come.

Hope arrived, dreams unpack, anticipation of the bow of many colors...

19 August 2007

Last times...

What do we do with the breath God gives us? Was the last 10 weeks a good use of it? What about the next 42? Those are the ones that scare me. I don't do a good job breathing during the "off season." I want to be creative and design new programs for Calvin Crest with Nellie and Scott and the rest of the team, but I don't get as stimulated without the staff that is here during the summer.

I loved thinking this summer and asking, "what if we...?" and new ideas would come out which worked, by the way. Sitting with coordinators and Nellie under the "blue" and having light arguments which, I think, brought out the best of us. Arguments are good if they are directed at an outcome and not just masturbating our minds.

Being able to move people in new directions to solve the needs that weren't there a few years ago is a bit scary but at the same time a lot of fun. Scott Henderson, the new Executive Director, stretches me and questions me so that I want to come up with significant changes at CC for the program but more for the mission in which we endeavor.

"Who are we reaching and how are we doing that?" is causing us to make some significant changes. What if we did day camps in parks around the Valley so that people who cannot afford to go to camp could have the relative same experience as on the mountain. We could invite churches and be a mission for them to reach out to the parish around them so that they could become involved in the children's life after the day camp is over.

What if we are thinking the use of our property for things and programs that are more than camp? Educating those who are going off into missions, whether proclamational or social or health? What if the hotel was used for significant summit meetings between people in conflict and were able to resolve these differences in a Christ-like way?

What if we did internships for people who need to learn a skill, like cooking, and get them off governmental assistance.

What if part of the property became a solar field that started putting electricity back into the grid instead of just taking it and we became self-sustaining as well as help missionaries bring this training and supplies with them? We could partner with LifeWaters or Living Waters for the World as well.

What if people came to be quiet for a week, instead of more things to entertain them?

What if young couples came to spend time with a marriage counselor somewhere in the first year of marriage and shared issues that are not unique to their marriage but they were so convince they were and have been feeling like they are a failure and the marriage is doomed?

What if we had a staff that was trained and only worked with at-risk students and we ran camps that dealt with those ministries and organizations?

What if our AIM developed leaders but also gave the AIMer the opportunity to work on a Water Safety certificate so they could be the lifeguards the following summer?

What if...?

17 August 2007

This last week...

Last weeks are always interesting at camp.
Some check out and quit working or begin an attitude (what are you going to do, fire me with only a few days left? Yep!).
Some put in a lot of extra time with each others to make sure they can make it through the Autumn without each other's company.
Some begin to try different things to make the program more interesting for them and the campers.
Some get that look in their eyes to what is going to happen next in their life.
A few want to talk about next year and tell me of their interest in a particular position.
A few others come to tell me they were mad at me for something I said, or they heard I said.
Many come up to me and ask how I am doing? "Are you looking forward to next week?"

No, I am not. I find I am at my best for these 10 weeks and like who I am. I am around some delightful people who are going to make a mark in the world as they have this past summer. We laugh a lot during these 10 weeks. We have deep discussions that influence each other. The worship is wonderful and the stories of the Kingdom are redemptive. Change happens in the lives of people who just graduated from high school, just 10 weeks ago, as they worked hard and accomplished much. They served food, cleaned up after, built and rebuilt facilities, registered, prayed for, medically cared for, and listened to a couple thousand young people these past 10 weeks.

I watched the Spirit create clean hearts, eager hands, inquiring minds, opened eyes, healed hearts. Souls that were lost became found because someone took the time to listen and lay on their hands in love, instead of running off to the movie theatre. Fears were stared in the face as these people climbed a tree for the first time or asked for forgiveness after making a terrible mistake.

I watched leaders being formed and people truly begin to follow Christ on their own. Some were uncertain about what they believed because they have been following what was handed to them and they did not want to pass on anything that was not true.

I know this may be the last time I see some of these staff people and next year there will be some new ones I have yet to love (or piss off). Working relationships developed over the past few years suddenly change to friendships that will last for the next 20 years, I hope.

I really like this staff.

13 August 2007

From the mouths of babes...

On Saturday night, a friend's daughter looked down at my feet and started mocking me because I wear socks with my Keens. I tried to tell her that my feet crack terribly when I don't wear socks but she just kept it up. She finally said that I looked like a german tourist at Bass Lake.

Sometimes Culture has nothing to do with health but it is only concerned with style.

12 August 2007

When love comes to town...

Yesterday was the Summer Reunion (formerly the Staff Concert). Good turnout, great food, music and testamonies were fun and meaningful.

I have been working on a Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce for the past three years, in case something happens here I am planning on opening up a hot dog stand at Avila Beach. Well I think I got it perfected and we served it up last night. Tony's Coneys was started.

We also had carnitas and chicken tacos, pizza, tri-tip sandwiches, peach cobbler and icecream. Josh Haas did a great job with the food service, which ran without incident and very efficient. Volunteers came to set up and clean up, which freed up the staff to visit with parents who came to visit and enjoy the beauty.

We raised some good money at the auction, which will go for camperships this and next year (we give a lot to families and missions who cannot afford to send their children to camp). Josh's three pies raised $250.00!

We sang a song by Bono, which he wrote for B.B. King, called When Love Comes to Town. What a great message it has. One woman came up to me and said "...there was only one problem with the song, we couldn't get up there and sing it with you."

I am thankful to this staff that they trust me and are willing to try something and change at the last minute. I am also very thankful that they let me sing along with them...

10 August 2007

An "A Hole"

One of the AIMers (AIM is a two week discipleship program for high schoolers who also help out with some of the work at CC) was talking about "the bald, fat, guy who is a real A Hole..." I then heard about it through the grapevine and was not surprised by it all.

I am an A Hole. I have to make decisions that tend to give people that impression. I had to make a decision whether this young man should come to AIM at the last minute and could we scholarship the whole thing. I had to make another decision whether or not to send home one of the other AIMers who wasn't showing up for work and when he did he sat around wasn't much help.

I tend to light in relationships and move on to the next issue or problem. I don't have much time to hang with too many people. I am not complaining, at all. It was interesting to hear someone who after one small encounter summed up what many have thought with a lot more time invested.

I choose coordinators with as little as 4 hours of conversations and intimacy. I watch and listen to people and also to what others trust that person with. What decisions have they made and what was the outcome. Who do they trust. I have to trust many people. I have to trust my instincts. And most important, I have to trust that I am hearing the Small Voice. Sometimes I am wrong, which heighten the potential of being the A Hole.

I introduced myself to him this morning at his evaluation so next year during his interview for staff, we won't have to bring that up and his potential can be seen unhindered...

08 August 2007

Today...

I watched a young girl today on the ropes course get up enough courage to go forward. I was so impressed with Jenna's, the Events staff person, patience and encouragement. And I found great joy in Allie, the camper, who really had to trust Jenna and herself to move past the great fear...

05 August 2007

Popi Update...

My mom...

I took this picture of my mom yesterday when we were talking about some of my thoughts about the culture of christianity. She asked me if I am going to work at CC much longer and get a job in the real world. She wanted to know if I was a part of the more light presbyterian conference. She said that I haven't come by much these past 3 or so years and it has caused a lot of problems for her swimming pool. I use to clean it regularly and since I haven't been there it caused a lot of trouble for the pool.

Maybe she was the anonymous commenter. She seemed like she knew a lot about my opinions and I saw a new MacPro 8-core box in the back of the miniCooper, I think she has been putting me on. I googled her name and found out that she is an alum of Stanford and got her Ph.D at Cal Berkeley. Also I found a copy of a letter from Ted Kaczynski folded in her Ruth Graham book.

I thought all of these years that she was a stay home mom who was one of the first female elders at the church and helped me with my paper route...

03 August 2007

Friday, Week 7...

I am amazed at the rapid rate of chronological passing this summer.

I love this staff and the creativity and hard work that they have displayed. Their love and care for the guest has been evident throughout the summer.

I had to run to Fresno today for a doctor's appointment and a coffee break with my friend Sheri. I am always a bit sharper after these quick conversations with her. I am amazed at her perspective and how central Christ is in her work. When I grow up I want to be like her.

Scott Falk has been our speaker this week for Junior High and he has done a great job. We have been able to grab a breakfast here and there and those always draws me closer to the word of God and his friendship. It is great having him as a friend and a brother.

30 July 2007

A night out...

Christel and I spent a few hours off the hill tonight together. This is the first time we have been able to spend some time alone since a few weeks before summer. We drove into Midpines, near Yosemite, and ate at the Yosemite Bug Hostel. It was very reasonable and we were able to send the rest of the money that we did not spend to World Vision...

Ok, ok...

I have to tell you something and I hope I don't lose a lot of credibility but I was joking about it being my mom. My mom is in the midst of dementia and wouldn't know what end of the mouse is what. I thought the issue was silly. I agree it is important to sign your name on the document, but it doesn't negate the question.

The issue, for many of you, was the anonymity of the commenter and not what was asked. I came back with my thoughts and few if any commented on what I said, but the concern stayed with what was the name of the commenter. I said I didn't care and you pressed about the name. And then when I threw my mom into the mix the dialogue broke down.

Those were real questions and no one cared about the answers or the questions. There is something about that. I wasn't offended. I appreciated James' kind words, and other's defense but many people have accused me of the questions raised and no one asked me if it was true. Or how I felt during this time.

Some don't what me to ask questions of the institution because they think I am attacking it, some feel like the place I have is to bring feelings of camp to them, some what to just see things that make them feel good.

I don't feel good, I am not a big fan of camps that just entertain and never bring up questions of what is happening in the world and what is the Christ-response. I am writing this blog to ask real questions, bring out real issues, try to get people who I love and have a relationship to follow the will of Christ to allow the Kingdom to come on earth as it is already in heaven. I am concerned about the hell that people live in now that the institution never deals with except to make sure they don't become ordained. I see young men and women, who come to this camp, share their life stories and when I ask have they ever shared any of this with the youth group they look at me like I am asking them to have a reporter put it on the front page of the local news paper. They tell me the last place they are safe is in the church. Huh?

We tend to be about being clever and not significant.

Timbo, you asked where can you send the six dollars that you didn't spend on nachos:
World Vision
P.O. Box 9716, Dept. W
Federal Way, WA 98063-9716

Dakota House
203 W Dakota Ave
Fresno, CA 93705

Invisible Children
2705 Via Orange Way, Suite B
Spring Valley, CA 91978

Save Darfur Coalition
Suite 600
2120 L Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20037

Just to name a few...

29 July 2007

The Anonymous writer is...

...my mom.

The culture vs. the institution...

The difference, in my mind, of the institution and the culture of the institution is that which is superfluous to the institution is culture. That which is negotiable, trendy, reaction to an event, political, academic, etc. is more about the culture than the work of the institution. The work of the institution, the people of the institution, the clearly stated goals and mission of the institution are not the issue right now for me. It is the culture.

The issue I have right now is that many are holding fast and defending the culture, while the mission is suffering and not operating at a level of much success. The mission is not to bring people to the mission, it is to bring the mission to the people which in turns brings people to be a part of the mission. The Ten Commandments on the courthouse steps are culture. Music, books, christian paraphernalia, concerts, worship services, etc. are more about the culture than the mission.

We tend to talk a lot about injustice yet do we bring justice to those being unjustly treated? What are we teaching the next generation but culture? Do we equip or entertain? Do we broaden their understanding or do we create petri dishes of prejudice and narrow mindedness in the name of preserving the gospel. Last time I looked the gate of hell will not prevail. Are we so afraid of that that we continue to cast out any sin in order to save the institution. We don't discuss that which if not addressed in the youth will bring about devastation to the adult.

Has the institution forgot the mission in order to survive in the culture? Do we really think a t-shirt a, a tattoo, or an earring will send a kid to hell or will we begin to see that the kid is beginning to ask is heaven relevant to a culture which sublets rooms to hell. Do we wait for the next Stott, McLaren, Maxell, or Peterson book to define our institution or do we rely on the Holy Spirit to move and define in each one of us what the Kingdom has come to do? When we pray, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done..." are asking it to be done to us or through us? When do we realize that the bread and wine in the communion is really the flesh and blood of Christ which we participate in that it becomes our flesh and blood. The argument isn't does it become the flesh and blood in our stomachs but does it become the flesh and blood of Christ on our hands, words, wallets, feet, etc..

The institution doesn't need to be relevant to the culture, it needs to be relevant to the Kingdom...

27 July 2007

The Anonymous issue...

This guy or woman did not bother me and let me tell you why.

I have been asking myself those same questions as well as a few other people. I was not trying to be gracious I was trying to articulate my heart and thinking.

My reputation is now in the hands and heart of God, instead over the past few years it has been in the mouth of fools and it has caused me much pain. People who worked with me but never clearly asked if these things were true but continued the spewage really have hurt the worse.

I don't really care if they don't leave their name. I am glad they are asking the question. I would rather have the conversation with a non de plume and deal with their insecurities than with someone I trusted to never talk to me at all. I got rid of the security code on the comments because I really want the conversation.

I have appreciated the friendship with you all and the honesty with which you speak to me regarding the things I am thinking (writing) about. I love the conversation. I hope I provoke some thoughts and some new ideas to which the Kingdom of God would greatly be served. I am not about mental masturbation, I hope what would come out of these conversations would be more love, more power, and more of us in the life of Jesus.

There are many dying each day because of something that can be bought, thought, or created. We can do some amazing things for people who do not have the opportunity because of governmental and institutional corruption and oppression. I want to continue to think out loud with you and hope that you would think outside the box and out loud with me and then one day soon we will do something together again to make a difference in the lives of people who would love to meet you and me because we have come to set them free.

I hope that I am thought of more than just a camp guy who is giving the news of Calvin Crest. I cherish my place here and am thankful for the many people I know because of this place, but there is more to do than just remember what we once did here. Hopefully what we learned and did here will make a difference out there or it would have been for our own gluttony that we were privileged to be called for a season to be together and that would break my heart worse than these fools over the past few years...

24 July 2007

The return of the bbqer...

My dear friend, Todd, came back for a week in the forest with us. Upon arrival he shouts out my name and we embrace for a long time. We sat and talked about the past year and the changes and consistencies of our lives.
That time made all the difference in the world to me.

To my anonymous friend...

...from the previous post's comment.

I think it is my position that gives me the freedom to express my opinion. It is more than a position it is that which puts me in this position that, I pray, has given me the opinion. It is working with college students for 15 summers, many church leaders and committees, left wing mennonite relief organizations that change my paradigm because they use both sides of their hearts and minds as well as both hands to make a better world, right wing hispanic leaders who create conversations which provoke conservatives and liberals to reach into the neighborhood to show the love of Jesus and do the work of the Kingdom. It is conversations with rural and downtown pastors, farmers, saleswomen, clerks, unemployed, single moms, and many others over my 53 years of life and some 40 years of christian cognitive development. I have had to have my own opinion in some development of program, which a lot of people have told me they appreciate and a few disagree but tell me why and I have tried to include their perspective into the conversation. I value opinions and I value yours. Your criticism and harsh questions make me think and improve. I have asked myself those same questions a few times in the past few years and some others who hold me accountable have as well. Hopefully this is the answer to those questions.

I keep asking myself, "What can I do here for ten weeks with families, elementary school, junior high, high school age students who pay money to come up to Calvin Crest in the beautiful Sierras to spend a week trusting me and the staff I pick through great college students for their spiritual and recreational time. I don't take that lightly and neither do the people I get to work with. It is the conversations that we have up here which will hopefully cause an effect down there. Are we having meaningful conversations? I think so. We are not curing cancer but we are loving and praying for those who's hope needs to be in a Savior who may heal them through the laying on of obedient hands or through the skilled hands of a surgeon. Our position is still the same. We pray and love. And it is not a question of camp versus the "real world," the question is are we obedient in the place that God has planted us to speak the words, to till the soil, to paint the house, etc. that He is telling us to. And yes, I think I am being faithful.

I don't think I have caused enough trouble. If you are who I think you are, I hope to continue conversation with these fine folks. But I do want to say to you, I did not cause people to get fired, moved, get a hair cut, or change their socks, I do not have that kind of power or authority. I have said things that I have had to apologize for - and I did, take some medicine for some thoughts that I have thought - and I do, walk off some pounds because I ate too much of too good food - which I should, and other things, but to the objective view they would say that these people needed to move on. I quit taking credit for the good things people have done and I no longer accept responsibilities for the things that others do wrong. Maybe my hair will start growing back.

One last thing: I am no longer attacking the institution, but the culture of the institution...

20 July 2007

The culture vs. the story...

I read the scriptures and find myself falling in love with Jesus. The gospels bring out an incredible love that I am struck by my lovelessness. His compassion for those who are on the fringe is compelling me to look at the fringe. Poor in Spirit people have a place. The meek have a place. Those who are oppressed have a place.

But not in the culture. The culture is about getting it right. Having our plastic ducks lined up. Being naked and ashamed but condemning those who's clothes are tattered. Tearing apart words and ideas that are unfamiliar because those gospel words have been removed or rationalized away and never taught. Sitting in school and defining but never doing anything with the information that could set people free. Getting so puffed up by our education or business cards so that our eyes swell shut in seeing just how bad many people in the world have it.

The culture is making a dollar off of scripture just because it has a catchy tune associated with it or it appeals to a daughter on Fathers Day to give it to her dad.(I saw a bible entitled "The Encouragement Bible.") T-shirts and bumperstinkers that use these same words of love to express condemnation to those who haven't heard the whole story yet but are getting sick of t-shirts and bumperstinkers that misrepresent the love of Jesus and don't stick around for the ending.

Institutional budget that are set so that it is attractive for people to come to give money to a budget that is set so that it is attractive for people to come to give money to a budget that is set so that it is attractive for people to come to give money to a budget that is set so that it is attractive for people to come to give money to a budget that is set so that it is attractive for people to come to give money to a budget that is set...

"The culture has no clothes!" a child yells out as the culture goes by in a parade to honor the culture. Everyone in the culture is shocked that it would be said even though they all knew it a long time ago...

18 July 2007

Story...

"Ivan Illich was once asked what is the most revolutionary way to change society.
Is it violent revolution or is it gradual reform?
He gave a careful answer.
Neither.
If you want to change society,
then you must tell an alternative story."
Tim Costello

15 July 2007

Third World Communities...

Lately I have been thinking about ministry and a new way of getting people into full time ministry. Full time ministry use to be going to seminary and getting a Masters of Divinity degree and then finding a church to preach, baptize, bury, and marry. Now people who aren't professionally trained in anything but in compassion begin missions that bring focus to needs in some of the third world countries. Invisible Children, Village Schools, LifeWaters, and others that are clear examples of people with a heart and understanding of needs doing Kingdom Work without a denomination backing. Yes there are many in denoms who set up mission agencies throughout the world, but I see a group of people who are not waiting for the Institution to begin something they just do it. And the backing comes with the rock band entrepreneurial understanding of what will attract the attention and hearts of this generation.

I have been encouraging college students to reinvent some of the mission thinking that goes to third world countries and set up missions of aide and gospel. Can we start developing and ordaining people to begin doing that in the USofA in third world communities? I use this term not as a pejorative term but more as a description of need and possibilities. I think about some of the communities just in the San Joaquin Valley where the poverty level, single mothers rate, drug and alcohol problems are staggering. Communities that get hit hard when the weather causes devastation and it takes acts of Congress to relieve the problem but never affect change in the hearts and lives of those who's lives are precariously teetering on the kindness of others. Once the devastation is no longer titillating enough for media consumption the film and talking head crews pack up along with the hearts, pocketbooks, and attention of the viewing public. Leaving behind a worse poverty than before the devastation.

My son, Simon tells me of his trip to the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans and how still many homes and businesses are without any greatly needed repairs and the deepening of despair is taking the place of help that isn't coming as much when it was the thing to do with a youth group. Those who come down to spend a week or so are greeted with a heartfelt thanks and love for remembering them.

What if we start ordaining community organizers, social workers, water engineers, solar engineers, nurses, school teachers, and other disciples who are professionals that are needed to change the course of a community to accept their Call into third world communities as well as third world countries. What if the Church and not the government started programs to turn around hearts, souls and minds to health and contribution to the community. We need to begin to look at the church budget of finances and time to see what we value and most of it is oiling a system instead of creating opportunities of releasing people to mission.

12 July 2007

Well, well, well... done.

My friend, Michelle Sanders, a month ago got her journals into the Anthropologie's stores throughout the US and now she is getting them placed in England.

Congrats, my dear friend. The worm turned in a favorable direction.

I knew her when...

Full days...

Today was a long day. A great time with my men's small group, a tasty bearclaw pastry, couple of accidents, a basketball sprain, a girl fight, a water pipe break-o-rama which resulted in a rather large hole (6'x6'x6') in front of the office, a gas pipe leak, a wonderful line dance, hayride and petting zoo for the Week in the Forest campers, and a few other things that I cannot talk or type about.

But the worse thing was saying goodbye to my friend, Jenn McCarty. She was the Accommodations coordinator, but more important, she is a woman of God. I trust her. I am proud of her. She is wise, caring, Christ-centered, beautiful, and hard-working. A Proverbs 31 woman. I say that with all due respect. She is off to be a Residence Director for a christian college near Sacramento.

Well done, my friend. It was an honor to serve next to you...

11 July 2007

This week...

We are in week 4. High School, Outpost, AIM, and A Week in the Forest for people with Developmental Disabilities are the programs going on.

Keith Beebe, a professor at Whitworth University and a friend, is the speaker for this and the next HS camp. He is talking about the Kingdom and has entitled his talks, "The Revolution Jesus Started."

Beth and Michelle are the nurses which make the week fun and secure. These are very caring women who take their profession and confession seriously and they are always ready to laugh or make me laugh.

This week also is pretty stressful because Outpost is going off grounds, High School brings people who are dealing with so much, a lot of medications and needs in the Forest, and AIM is at the end of its second of a two week program. The leadership in all of these programs are incredible. New ideas that are built on the past bring a lively consistency to the programs.

We are very concerned about the water situation as this was a very dry winter. Streams are still running but very slowly. We are implementing Navy Showers and minimized the watering of lawns. High concerns about what the autumn will be like. We are having some thundershowers predicted for today, which will hopefully bring some showers and bring some relief to the lawns and dusty roads...

09 July 2007

Conversations from under the blue...

I know I have said it many times but I love what I get to do. I get to sit and shepherd college age people. (I hate putting them with an adjective that they have to be college age, but when they are older they don't think much of me.) I get to have conversations with the future. I meet with them now outside at my office.

I use to meet with people off campus, we would hop in their car with an ice chest and beverages and sit in the middle of a forest, by a stream, or just down the road away from distractions and interruptions. Sometimes we talk of their futures, sometimes about their pasts, pray for their pain or confusion, sometimes we sit and talk about Jesus from their experiences and questions.

I met with our Activities Director, Jonathan, today and talked about his philosophy of programming, the church, music, and many other great things. I am really enjoying being with him this year. I have know him since he was a freshman at our high school camp many years ago. He just graduated from Gordan.

One of the activities that he did last night was a labyrinth and hand-washing. I drove up at around 10:00pm and saw on the "green" a wonderful sight of christmas lights in a formation and high schoolers walking meditatively through the maze. It was a delight to see and watch them experience it. When the students came up from the vespers to the green they were instantly quiet and in awe. It was great to see something that grabbed their attention.

I ask Jonathan what was he thinking when he designed it and he said, "Things need to have a bit of magic in it to make it meaningful..."

I like that.

07 July 2007

One of my favorite days...

The Saturday after the Fourth of July, I treat the staff and friends to a BBQ. I am the Chief Barbequer. This year Dan and Suzanne Kimball and Steve Juarena came and started up the BBQ at 8:30am to cook Pork Butt and Beef Ribs slowly until 6:00pm. The Pulled Pork was incredible. Fell apart and was so flavorful. These friends know how to BBQ and love us. We are very blessed to have them work so hard for this dinner. It blesses the staff and me very much.

I made a Cactus Mango Sauce which turned out very good, and Josh Krane and Katelyn Anderson made a great sauce using Root Beer as its base. Josh Haas made a great potatoe salad, bread, and a wonderful vegetarian meal for 15 or 20 veggies that we have on staff. He also made a great cobbler with a bit of chili and a couple of other spices. Very good with a slight kick.

It is a lot of preparing for 45 minutes of consumption. But the smiles (with sauce on it) is worth the time.

I was missing a few messy faces from previous summers...

01 July 2007

Beginning week three...

Many who have been here know that two things begin to happen during this week. The staff shirt is stained with the sweat of the first two weeks and it is becoming a part of the fabric. This either creates a rhythm or it creates a spiritual dementia.

Some find their calling's heart and begin to move with its beat and to the people whom they are being called while others begin to think about things off the hill and wondering what is going on.

To many a conversation with someone about their heart and head is more important than a concert or a party.

Some spend off time going up the mountain to stretch their experiences that add to their lives and faith while others go down the hill to see a movie which is forgotten by breakfast the next morning.

Questions are asked to find out more about something said or done by those who are following but accusations and gossip are central to those who have mentally and spiritual departed.

I am amazed by those who start developing lifelong spiritual friends who will support and encourage them from now on versus those who go down and get a tattoo that stays on the surface but never reaches the heart or soul.

This is the week that decides for many what tomorrow will bring. I am always impressed with those who have to work through feelings of "been there, done that..."

27 June 2007

We rejoice...


We rejoice with Bryan and Laura Cosby at the birth of their son, Ryland Walker Cosby.
Poundage: 6lbs, 13oz.
Measured: 20 inches
(I think this is the right data, but I am a guy and I don't pay attention to too much other than the type of plumbing...)

UPDATE:

Christel and I got to hang out with the Crosbys today and we were both so impressed with Bryan and Laura. Laura is going to be a great mom and I am impressed with Cos' love and devotion for Laura and now for Ryland. We are so thankful to have them as friends.

We are blessed by the community we are in.

21 June 2007

In response...

In the previous post there was a question and some discussion as to why that kind of thing takes place here...? There were a couple of responses to it. I respond with...

Well said, Micah. I do believe it happens here because we trust it will happen here. But I also see it happening at a home on Huntington Blvd. in Fresno, a beach in SoCal, and a coffee shop in Spokane.

I didn't do it, I just listened and did and said what I was suppose to act upon. I trust that Jesus will speak to the person, if the person will take the time to listen and believe. I trust that the Savior is here to save not compound the problem. In all the years of praying, I am always touched in my heart and strengthened in my faith when I see the face of the person change when they are hearing the sweet, encouraging, understanding words of Jesus.

19 June 2007

Praying in the Revolution

I have been praying for people for a long time. I am not saying that to brag but to witness the power of redemption that revolutionarily changes people's lives. Lies that people believed and lived accordingly when brought into the light of truth by the Wind of the Spirit begins a dismantling of behaviors and systems. I love to ask Jesus what is the root of a behavior or a belief, and then He actually shows us. No fear.

Today I prayed with a friend who was having some issues in a relationship with a guy. Whenever the guy was around she would close down and be very silent. This is not like her. She is very kind and engaging. We asked the Savior to show her the root of this behavior and He did. We asked what should she do and Jesus told her. Very clear and loving. She said she was unable and Jesus said she had the authority and power to do what needed to be done. She renounced the power and authority she has been giving this lie and I saw her face strengthen and peace began to rise in her face and eyes.

He spoke to her about other things that needed to be dealt with and with peace and assurance, much more than just confidence, she let her Savior do what needed to be done and said. She left differently than when she sat down and asked if we could talk.

I watched a Revolution take place in the systems that controlled her heart and mind. We thank Jesus...

17 June 2007

We begin...

Today is the first day with guests. We have a small family camp and a wonderful group coming from The Dakota House in Fresno. Jamie is bringing up about 10 girls from "Girls Only" club to spend a week up at Outpost.

It is at this point that I wonder if anything I said last week during Orientation in teaching and training will have any impact on what and how we do our jobs this summer. I really like this staff so I don't say that against them, but did I make sense.

Yesterday, some did the annual trek up Half Dome, some stayed back to work on the bathrooms, others stayed back and slept, and some went back to school to walk in a graduation ceremony. Me, I sat home with a fever and slept on and off throughout most of the day.

Today will be the first day that the entire staff will be here. I love my job...

15 June 2007

Birding...

I know that summer camp is starting when I see a Western Tanager. Today I saw 2.

14 June 2007

Microcredit...

I have been reading and thinking a lot about the concept of microfinancing and microcredit. Dr. Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights." According to The Norwegian Nobel Committee.

I am probably very late to the party on this and most of you have been reading and hearing about this since 13 October 2006 when the committee declared their recipient of the prize. But I am new to economics and am pretty slow at understanding these things. But I am intrigued by Dr. Yunus and making it happen on a larger scale than just a village.

This concept started me thinking about investment and what we invest in. In talking to the summer staff a couple of nights ago I asked them what they were doing with the education that has been invested by someone for them? When is the "note due?" I want to challenge them to begin the process of paying off the investment by making microinvestments in others so that others may have an opportunity to later invest in others who may ha...

Who has invested in us? (Of course, Jesus, but lets move out of Sunday School for a second and think) What was laid down so that we could rise up? We who have been invested with breath, what are we doing with it? We who have been invested with the words that are true and faithful, according to Revelation 22, what are we doing with it? Arguing about insignificance or are we setting people free to deeply breathe? I look at the world and notice that we have much in comparison to the rest of the world, and what are we doing with it?

My life is changing...

What I like about what I get to do...

Last night during worship and singing with the staff, I felt a tap on my shoulder and when I opened my eyes there was Kirsten, the coordinator of our Out Post program, standing in front of me asking if I could step outside. I was going to be speaking to the staff after a song or two so I thought, "oh, oh, something has happened."

So I walked behind the coordinator, who is usually pretty reserved, very organized, and not given to affectionate banter with me. When I got outside she turned around and gave me a great hug and said, "Thank you, I love my job."

She had just got off the phone with Jamie, who is bringing up her "For Girls Only" club from The Dakota House in Fresno next week, so the coord was just doing some last minute logistics to make it a great week for them. She had never met Jamie so instead of going through my relationship with her I asked her to call her and get the info direct. I knew what was going to happen. She would fall in love with Jamie just as I have. She would get excited about what could happen next week when the girls, some who have never left the neighborhood, come up and start climbing Fresno Dome, sleep outside, see the stars, find men and women who will love them without expecting anything in return, and some great food.

And then I saw it. I saw in her eyes the eyes of Jesus. Excited about caring for the girls coming up. Excited about knowing what she and her team had to offer them. Excited about seeing the WONDER they will get when they walk among the Giants in the redwood grove. Ready to love...

11 June 2007

Immigration reform needs to begin with heart reform...

Followers of Jesus need to start taking Leviticus 19: 33-34 seriously:
When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

10 June 2007

Method to my madness...

Now that staff has arrived and got their shirts and pondered the theme as well as the design, I wanted to let you know more of why I went with the design. (If you could care less then go HERE)

The fist, for those of us in the sixties and seventies know, is a symbol for power. The Black Panthers used it in black, the Solidarity Movement of Poland used it in red, my mom left it on my bottom as I was growing up and misbehaving in flesh and red, very red... Power. The symbol I have talks of power but the power isn't in the fist it is in the crucified hole. A bit of irony to say that our power comes, not in an overthrow, but a dying to our selves and becoming submitted to and serving the King, Jesus the Christ, the Crucified One, the Resurrected One.

Thought I would now let you know so no one is thinking that I am talking about overthrowing the church (institution) or anything like that... ; )

09 June 2007

Favorites...

I am missing some people who have been up here for the past four or five summers who are not here today. Some friends who were here last year but needed to get on with their educations and couldn't come back to coordinate again this year. Some needed to get married, get on with their careers, etc. You are missed. Those who served in the beginning with me I think about you and wish you were here this year as well. The faces and names or people who coordinated the past 15 years that I have known, and served on staff, or were campers over the years are deeply etched into my heart and mind today. People who were influential in my life with conversations under the trees or late night under the stars have influenced the stone soup of what the direction of Calvin Crest is today. Thank you. Don't forget me and the ministry that helped shaped your life as well.

If you will just sent in $10.00 a month...

Staff Arrives...

I am sitting in my office, pictured above, and listening to the coordinators on the radio as well as live over the meadows, welcoming the new staff. Some are driving up, some are flying in, some took the train or bus, as they arrive with expectation and a bit of fear of what this summer will hold for them. Will they have friends, will they be used by God, will they meet their future spouse or life long friends? What is in store for them?

Someone came up to me and asked me if I am excited for the new staff. I get asked this each year by many, many people. I had to think about that for a few minutes. I hate to say it but I haven't been thinking about the new staff. Which is odd for me. I am usually praying for them and checking to make sure they got in their forms and agreements. It concerned me but then I was able to identify my feelings.

This was a very hard year. (My fiscal year runs from the beginning of camp to the next beginning of camp.) The worse. This past year kicked my emotional, spiritual, mental hinnie and caused some new thinking and behaviors that I have yet come to grips with. I had and have many people mad at me. Some approached me and a few are still sitting in it. (At this point I don't care anymore about people who are not talking to me. I would rather be with those who are in my face.) I think it affected my vulnerability a lot more than I realized. I am guarded a little more than I have been. I have withdrawn from relationships. I noticed my eyes are looking down and not directly into other's eyes. Protection. Safety.

That is different from the "job" guy who I also am. I am dreaming, plotting, designing, listening, instructing, correcting, and disciplining more than I ever have. I am enjoying the design of camp, I am not as involved in the relationships as much this year. I hope that doesn't last too long. I miss that part of me.

That wasn't meant to be a "poor me" statement, more just kind of an aha moment that I wanted to record...

08 June 2007

A milestone...

Yesterday, Christel and I became "empty-nesters." Hillary moved to Fresno into an apartment. Taylor and David are in North Fork. Simon and Natasha are in Napa.

Being a grandparent, empty-nesters, wearing trifocals, bald and fat, back problems, low functioning thyroid, driving a pickup... why do I still feel like I am 25?

06 June 2007

Here it is...


I have been praying a lot, thinking a lot, listening to people a lot, and I decided to go for it anyway. It is not that I don't care what some of you think, but I have to be faithful to what I think God is thinking. I felt like the design and theme was important to the message and I think this is the design that God gave me for this summer. Therefore I stayed with it.

I think that we are in a time of revolution against a culture that has turned being a disciple into a commodity. We have made it into a political force. We have turned it into culture that studies the truth instead of living by the truth. This culture is generated by my self. My self is fearful, so it tries to be comfortable, controlling, and cool. Instead of being submitted, faithful, righteous, and intimate. In trying to be unique, I have sold out to conformity to those who are seeking their own identity instead of Christ's. I want what I am passionate about instead of for what He is passionate enough to die. It is more than just a social gospel, it is a life truth.

This is more than sinning with alcohol, drugs, porn, lust, etc. This is sinning by conforming to this world. Conforming to my fears. Conforming to someone's ideals, not Jesus' way.

I know BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH... you run a camp, a christian camp, and this is just a well intentioned adjustment. A very cliched word right now. Revolution is used in books by some good authors and you are just jumping on the band wagon. What difference do you think you can make with a theme and a shirt.

Ummm. Gee. I hope to speak the truth. I am going to ask people to renounce their preconceive notions of religion and begin to look at scripture, starting with the sermon on the mount and ask ourselves will I follow this teaching? Not add my rationalizations, just follow it. Will it change, fundamentally change, the way I think? Will it change, fundamentally change, the way I look at people and myself? Will it open my eyes, ears, heart, mind, and strength to live a human life responsive to the love of Jesus or will I continue to fit in to a culture that doesn't really trust in the WAY of Jesus?

Today it begins...

05 June 2007

Meaningfully funny...

I have been doing what I do for the past 15 years. I love it. And the reason why I love it is because of the people that I get to be around and learn from. The hard part is they leave but the good part is they keep in touch. Many have gone on to become pastors, doctors, mothers, fathers, attorneys, salespeople, shopowners, policemen and policewomen, a producer of movies, camp people, CIA agents, engineers, students (some of you need to graduate and move on), but the one lately who continually makes me laugh and think is Leisel B. I cannot tell you what she does, but she writes about it all the time. She is a writer. You can see her soul in her work.

If you haven't read her blog, you need to give up a half hour of television and read her posts daily. She is very prolific and one of my most favorite people I have ever known. I do have favorites....

Start with this ONE and then click on the blog name to read the rest. You won't be sorry.

(Sorry Leisel for the attention.)

03 June 2007

A question...

I really like Rob Bell, the pastor of Mars Hill Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

He asked a question, "if our ministry closed up today, who would miss us?" Would the neighbors, the community, the poor, the homeless... ?

I have been thinking about that a lot...

01 June 2007

The gospel from hell...

In response to a couple of comments from the previous post.

I do believe people are going to hell because they have never known or trusted Jesus Christ as their savior and lord.

I do believe that many people are living in a hell right now who could be evangelized in the name of Jesus by His Body of believers who take a swig of wine and a bite of bread each month to be in communion with Him in saving the world with:

A cup of cold water taken from a new water system that is providing clean water for the village and the crops.

A coat, a legal system and micro-financing that covers their nakedness and oppression from prostitution because the parents took a loan from a loan shark at an interest rate that is unrepayable because that was the only possible solution because those with God's money and forgiveness aren't doing anything to provide an alternative.

A bowl of nourishing food that was grown and raised on a little plot of land that was developed through co-ops, incentives, and investment with the goal of selling it to a farmer over time at an affordable price that they earned from their sweat equity and profits.

A visit from lovers of souls and not lovers of revenge and justice to those incarcerated with a message of hope, forgiveness, and love of the Lord Jesus so they can be redeemed to live a life of worth and faith.

An opportunity to make something of themselves by an education that delivers understanding and information of value with simple supplies of pencils and pencil sharpeners, paper, rulers, erasers, etc which cost less that $15 per child per year.

A plan and action that stops the genocide of millions.

The care and compassion for millions who are dying of HIV/AIDS with medicines that are readily available at lower costs than ever before.

And I think I can go on and on and so could you. There is plenty to do today for us to evangelize in Word and DEED. Read the epistle (letter) of James in the Holy Scriptures and it gives a plain picture of pure religion...

30 May 2007

Some conversations...

I was in a conversation today with a young man who ask why I wasn't a fan of the church. I asked him why he thought that and he said that is what he heard. It made me think. Do I not like the church? Am I not a fan? Maybe I don't talk much about what really turns me on that some churches are doing.

I do love the Body of Christ. I see it in some people and not necessarily the entire system of Christianity. I think somewhere along the line we forgot the checking in part of doing what Jesus is doing rather we just kind of go running off and doing what we do so well. We are really good at doing church but are we good at doing the will of God? We teach the Way of Jesus, but do we follow the Way of Jesus?

I am impressed with some megachurches that reach out to the community with a lot of programs to reach a variety of groups of need. I am not too impressed with smaller churches who go to seminars put on by megachurches to become the megachurch of tomorrow. I think we need to go to the head of the body and ask what are we suppose to be doing?

There is this little church in Bakersfield that is growing old and getting smaller but reaches out to the neighborhood kids after school. They reach out to those who have no money, no influence, they just like being a part of the community within this little building. Faithful. I am impressed with a young woman, Sam, who was the youth leader for a while with those kids before she went off to college. Nothing dynamic just true to the word of Jesus. Cup of cold water type stuff. I am a big fan of hers.

I am impressed with a couple of pastors down in the OC who are ministering to very wealthy kids. It is hard to minister to wealthy kids, as it is hard for them to enter into the Kingdom, they are so busy with what is possible to do, that the Kingdom can't compete. Yet, these guys love these students and spend a lot of time in relationship. It is not an easy job. Don't be fooled by the trappings of wealth, they work hard bringing life to these kids who study a lot to prepare for their future. These two guys are also preparing for their future.

I admire my friend in the Great Northwest who is getting older and still stays in youth ministry despite pastors and elders who continually hassle him. His youth group is as large as the church and continues to grow. But he is continually hassled and suspect of dubious intentions.

I was envious of a friend who use to go to a small church where it was in a racially mixed neighborhood. Old and young, black, white, and brown, middle class and poor all gathering to worship and support the neighbors who need the love of Jesus.

I am impressed with a church in the South, who buys up homes, fix them up and them sells them cheaply to those who need them. This is a church that has about a hundred (100) people in attendance. And they are not wealthy.

There is a church in Visalia who is remodeling a building to put in a coffee shop and concert and discussion venue that will be open to business and other churches for Alpha Program and other ecumenical ministries. It is more than a cool place to grab a cup of Joe, it is a place that will bring people together, faith-based or need-based. I was so amazed at the creativity of this downtown church to stay downtown and minister to those who work and live downtown. They also partner with other churches to reach a certain neighborhood with deep poverty and crime.

There is a church that partnered with the southeast Asian community around its property and ordained a lay pastor couple and have people who are a part of this community to be a part of the session and committees of the church. It is one thing to let them use the building, but to include them in on decisions that affect the whole body. Voice.

I am not a big fan of churches that spend more time planning to leave the presbytery than they do planning on eradicating poverty in the parish around the sanctuary...

UPDATE: Why would I say such a thing? I am not saying that some churches shouldn't leave the PCUSA. But there are some churches who after two years all that I have heard from them is they are against the PCUSA. They are in low income neighborhoods which use to be middle class, so they planted a church there, to reach out the neighborhood. Now that demographics have changed and people don't want to drive into the neighborhood, and those who are extreme traditionalist come because, dammit, this is their church won't reach out to the parish where they are planted. Some spend more money on painting the lines in the parking lot than they send to end world hunger.

My friend wrote concerned about the paragraph before the UPDATE. My reply is: I don't think when I enter the throne room that we will be asked what we did with those who had different doctrine than we did. We will be told, what is written in Matthew 25:35 - 40

"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'
"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

It seems that we who have gotten our doctrine "right" should also be very concerned AND DOING SOMETHING to eradicating poverty, homelessness, and the correlating mortality that accompanies. I am not a liberal, but I cannot continue supporting a doctrine and practice that is more concerned with an institution than a life. If the institution doesn't correlate with your faith and practice, LEAVE. Quit talking and start dealing with the real issues.

Matthew 25 is a strong chapter with some strong warnings. I would hate to hear, "Depart from me...'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' "These will go away into eternal punishment..." But on the way out I wonder if He will say, "Good job on being "right" while a child died every few seconds because of poverty. But you did stand up for ordination vows." (These last were my words and not scripture.)