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


"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.
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..."