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.)

24 May 2007


I am in Irvine tonight to meet with Eric the YP at the Presbyterian Church in the morning. Then I head to Santa Barbara to meet with the Crestview team.

21 May 2007

Concrete images...

There are a lot of trucks coming up here today.

PG&E is burrowing a conduit for the power in Sherwood.

There is some concrete work on the Eastview Cabin as we are remodeling them so that the showers are available from the outside with privacy, as well as the toilets are remodeled with fans and new floors and such. This should be a great improvement.

We are also remodeling Westview bathrooms with a similar footprint but all access is from the inside. It will also give more privacy to our guest with individual access.

We have a new bathroom that will be in the girls area in The Forest as well as other buildings taking place down there. We are going to remodel the prototype of a new hut for this summer and see if it works.

We are redesigning the Giant Swing and could be redoing some other elements in our ropes courses.

This is quite an exciting time.

17 May 2007

The love of a grandmother...

I went to my friend, Jamie, grandmother's funeral today. It brought to mind in me of a lot of things as I sat there in this beautiful Catholic church in Madera.

I didn't know my grandmother and she didn't know me. I had visited her a couple of times, the last when I was a senior in high school. She lived in South Philadelphia with her sons and daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren around her, I lived in Fresno without grandparents, aunts and uncles around me. I didn't learn my heritage from her or any relatives, we created our own.

I watched Jamie's grandfather sit and listen to his daughter and the priest talk of his wife, Hazel. He was surrounded by his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, neighbors, parishioners, and friends. Her life was written in each of them, stories past on, wisdom embedded, community created. She was there in our midst through this wonderful life given to each of us - either directly or indirectly (as was in my case). Her body lay in state, but her life was passed on to each of us as she lived each day. I only met her once, at Jamie's wedding, but I knew of her through the words and the heart of her granddaughter. She loved her Savior, husband, family, friends... and because of that, I felt her love today...

13 May 2007

Use caution: This may not be appropriate for you...

I have been thinking a lot about sex lately.

No, not a mid-life crisis.

Not an identity crisis.

More of a spirituality crisis.

Removing my self from the Body of Christ (I am not just interchanging words here with the institution) is similar to not being intimate with my wife, which is more than a physical intimacy. This intimacy must be open and deep. Not surfacy and cliched like a Barry White song. Nakedness and vulnerability go hand in hand (pun intended). Breathing in each other and "knowing" each other takes commitment and trust, more than program and showing up. We think this can be accomplish by coming to "worship" on a Sunday morning for an hour will be enough foreplay to bring us into a rhythm that brings our hearts together but it is too much of a cheap date that doesn't take much thought or understanding of the needs of the whole body. A sermon and hymns or praise songs are as intimate as a kiss and a grope. I leave feeling uninvested in and probably won't get a call in the morning. I am not putting out anymore for a one hour stand.

Deep conversations that come from deep inside that touches something deep inside of us is what is needed. Touch is important. We want to be moved by a passion that would stir our passion, not a academic powerpoint on the anatomy of The Body. No flannel. Flesh. Tears. The warm embrace of Truth that dispels fear but keeps us in contact with The One who drove out fear. Rationalizing away the fear doesn't do it, because the fear is within us as well as without. Being alone and told that I am alone doesn't take away loneliness. I need to smell the fragrance in the neck of the Redeemer.

It is good to understand how it works and what goes where but at some point we need to put down the pointer and overheads and get it on. It will be a bit messy and we may need to clean up some afterwards but isn't it better than a sterile environment which never lets you work up a sweat? We have been created to be vulnerable and in rhythm with The Lover of our Soul yet we don't allow anything that would keep the tempo. We have gotten too established to show any cleavage of our heart. We keep it very buttoned up and proper to allow anything that would attract us to The Lover. We make it too much about Romans and not enough about Songs of Solomon.

Marriage is to show the relationship between Jesus and his bride (us). I don't want a notice coming in the mail saying that our union is annulled because of sexual incompatibility...

Calvin Crest Golf Tournament...

That's right, Saturday Calvin Crest had a golf tournament and I had a blast. There were about ninety people that participated and over $10,000.00 raised for the Sherwood Forest renovation fund. That's right Sherwood is getting renovated. We are starting with running some power down there to certain spots this summer and will then run it throughout the hamlets and huts. It will still feel like Sherwood except that there will be appropriate lighting in the huts and bathrooms as well as along the trails.

I know, some of you feel like it won't be Sherwood any more and it might even become Hume Lake. Why is it whenever we talk about improving Calvin Crest someone always says, "...we don't want to become another Hume Lake?" Poppycock! I know that is harsh language and some will quit reading this blog because I am getting vulgar but Hume has done a great job in doing quality camping and having good accommodations. They put through their program in one week what we do in one summer. No, we will never become that, but if we don't repair and maintain a decent facility that is up to date, we will be more like the forest of decomposition and not have anyone attending. A little electricity here and there will give this facility the look and safety we want and have needed for long time.

Back to the golf tournament, hats off to Colin, Heather and her crew of volunteers, and Sandy for their incredible work to make this one of the best things to happen with Calvin Crest in a long time. There was a great vibe out there at the Sherwood Forest Golf Course, in my old stomping grounds of Sanger, just down the street from where Nellie grew up. Cosby hit some incredible drives, not bad for his first time out in a long time. I teamed up with Scott Henderson and Ruben Quintana and we included Sandra Gunter from Sierra Vista. We came in 4 under par in the Best Ball. Not good enough or worse enough for any trophy but I had a great time. It is fun again...

09 May 2007

A missional look at program...

I was thinking the other day on my flight back from Las Vegas about programs and missions. I was thinking about Jesus and the Old Testament (Have you seen the candy in the Bible Bookstores called New TestaMints?) and the difference between the prophets and The Sermon on the Mount. The reason I liked Jesus when I first truly read the Gospels was The Sermon. He painted a picture of the Kingdom instead just gave laws. I could imagine the Kingdom, it is hard to imagine me not breaking the law. Jesus empowered his disciples, the law seemed to restraint them. "Not that there's anything wrong with that..."

What are the things that we seem to talk about when we think of being a "good Christian?" Sinning, not power. We talk more about what we shouldn't do rather than what we are able to do. We deal more with the flesh than we move in the spirit. It is more academic that praxis. I think this focus causes a bizarre perversions. We look for the peripheral line rather than the turn around and see the entire area of the Kingdom. I watch more people with their feet on the line instead of their hands within the circle. This posture leads people to have a thinking that they can have oral copulation with a boyfriend or girlfriend but not have sex. They didn't step over the line, so to speak. When we put ourselves on the line instead of in the field we are not focused on the Kingdom but on the line. We need to turn around, Repent, and participate in the Kingdom in all of its power and authority.

Do we bring people into the mission or do we just do program? When we bring people to Christ and into the "fold," so to speak, we generally ask them to step over the line and stop there. Do we bring them into the Kingdom as participants. We teach them to stop sinning but do we teach them to start living. Bring our mind, heart, and strength into the Word, which is a lot more than just scripture. We need to be people of the Word, where we read and, more importantly, hear the Word. Moving and listening to the Still Small Voice and doing the Still Small Work of the Voice.

Discipling takes discipline. We cannot do it the way of The Way unless we are able to hear and know that He is God. "Be still and Know that I am God." We must not interpret that means to do nothing but rather to not be anxious or strive. We move as He moves, that needs to be taught in our discipling, or else we are teaching people to strive and that accomplishes nothing as well.

02 May 2007

Heading out...

I had to get up early and write an apology letter before I headed off to Las Vegas for a Counselor Training tonight. I have some dear friends there whom I am hoping to catch up with briefly before the training as well as after. I am not a casino kind of guy so I will not be hanging out much on the Strip. I am gambling enough just getting on an airplane...

VEGAS! (To be read with a bit of raspiness in the throat and whole lotta attitude.)

01 May 2007

I am not impressed...

Today is Tuesday, Taylor and her family usually comes over or we go over their house for dinner. We call it Taco Tuesdays. Today instead of going to either one's home we decided to eat at the Taqueria in town. Hillary and her friend, Taylor and the boys, Christel and I are standing in line and in comes a middle age couple and gets in line real close to us. Too close. I hate close line people. He had a bluetooth ear piece in his ear the entire time he was in the restaurant. I can't stand it.

First off it looks stupid, second, he is out with his wife, who, I would assume, would like his undivided attention during the meal. Third, he looks stupid, and lastly most people have one of the these things and they all look stupid. I can see having it on in the car while you are driving, which will probably become illegal because it makes people look stupid and we are trying to change the test scores of the youth.

Of course, I have had one for the past year or so. It is very convenient when it is not sucking dry the battery in the phone. I only use it when I am in the car. I am thinking of sporting the comb-over hairdo to hide it. This way I won't look stupid...