28 May 2008

We are in fairly typical May weather as we are getting some rain and some beautiful clouds hovering in the area. It really brings out the peace and beauty of the trees.

16 May 2008


We are only here for a moment.
Times remembered, dreams hoped for.
Apples eaten, seeds planted for first fruit only the grandchildren to taste.
This is not the end, but we are a long way from the beginning.
All I have is today, so that tomorrow will be available for them.

New friends come, time enjoyed,
old friends leave, heart grown.
All we have is memories
for first fruits for the next.

Stained shirts last longer than the taste,
smells linger, when lights turned off.
Darkness brings a light that endures,
the flash of time, all that love secures.

The wave comes to the shore,
a new one forms farther out.
The ride diminishes,
the strength further pales.

You have filled my life,
it cannot be taken.
My memories stirred,
my love not shaken.

I miss you my friend,
I knew it would change.
My life you have influenced,
my heart rearranged.

The phone does not do it,
an email leaves only a trace.
I miss the coffee,
I miss the embrace.

Travel well,
You left it strong.
The distance is annual,
the next memory, prolonged.

14 May 2008

Ben and Jack

Ben and Jack
No Controversy, just pictures...

Since we're neighbors let's be friends...

It is clear that I am not communicating well. I am not against Denoms, I am calling for a deep, soulful, prayerful, look at what we are gathering together to do. What are the possibilities that can take place with a group of people who follow after Christ, believe in some of the same things, are in close proximity to each other, and have a building and means, to meet the needs of the people in the parishes around them? If we partnered with some other like-spirit groups, what could happen?

If you want to talk more about this, let's go out for a coffee and talk some more. I think I have typed enough...

13 May 2008

The Blue is up...

The glass being half full...

In the last series of posts and comments, I noticed something. There is a glass with only half the water in it. Several times I read, "That we live in a fallen world..." That is bad theology. And what is worse it is only half true. The keepers of the truth say we live in a fallen world are only giving half the message. It is the same message that when you die you will be saved and go to heaven. Period. It is not about now, but about later. The new earth and such. There is a lot shaped by that thinking. It is weak and very Dispensational. Do we think that Christ only died for the apostolic movement. The apostolic movement didn't stop in the first century AD, it continues today.

The disciples became the apostles when they were sent out, not when they were chosen. Hence the name, Apo stolons (which means sent on a mission) We who are sent and speaking of the good news that in spite of the fallen world, there is a redeemer who has overcome the world, we are the apostles. We hold the message of hope not "reality." It is not enough to say our institutions are fallen, it is that we are keepers and, hopefully, spreaders of hope. I am not down on institutions because they are fallen, I am trying to wake them up to the hope that they have. Yes, many do have and preach hope. Yes, many are, moving into areas of despair and bringing hope.

I have this vision of some presbyteries and churches: I am driving by a church with a marque out front and it says "vival tonight" on the sign and there are a few letters that have fallen and lay face down in the grass below. So I drive up and attend the Revival meeting but it isn't what I thought. I walk out to the marque and look down at the letters, pick them up and instead of seeing an 'R' and an 'E' I see an 'S', a 'U' and an...

11 May 2008

El nuevo emergente

This morning, Scott and Julie Henderson and I traveled to Corcoran a good hour and a half trip from home to attend a church (iglesia) with a group who will begin coming to camp this summer. The church's name was, Centro Cristiano Agua Viva.

I loved it!!! (¡¡Lo amé!!! )

Let me tell you why.

First, we were welcomed. Not just by the pastor but by everyone. First it was the pastor and the young woman who interpreted for us. I thought alright this is going to be great. Very kind and gracious people. We walked into the sanctuary (santuario) and then we met the congregation. People came up and greeted us with a handshake and a "God bless you."

Then, we began to worship (adoración) . Singing with such liveliness and loudly proclaiming his goodness, might, and love. "Glorias Dios" would be heard shouted out throughout the morning. We stood and sang for forty-five minutes. Clapping, singing, praying, and listening to the pastor direct our attention to the majesty. I don't need translation when someone is talking about God's majesty, it was on his face and in his heart.

Third, they translated the message for us. They could have spoken in their language but they included us in on the discussion. I heard their story, they shared it. It wasn't a closed group. Translating the story includes others.

I was reminded, by Pastor Ramon, what makes us unique is that we worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the redeemer, Jesus Christ. It is more than just being christian, but true worshipers of God, through our relationship with Jesus.

Amen (Amén)

10 May 2008

An alternative...

In two of the key songs of this past year in hit movies were very simple tunes. The movies were low budget and filmed quickly and without special effects or any enhancements. Juno and Once were about story. About things that happen in real life. Sure there have been other stories but these were different. Moral choices were prevalent in both films. "Anyone Else But You" and "Falling Slowly" are very simple songs, almost nursery rhyme simple. And people love them.

I think it says something about this time and generation. It needs to be about story, simple and not complex. I think it needs to not be about words only but assimilation. Get people to be a part of the story quickly. Help them identify themselves with The Story. Instead of talking about sin, we need to begin to talk about life. Abundant life. It cannot be academic (and please don't react to that) but it needs to be learn-able. It needs to be about good news, in terms of hope, but it also needs to be about truth. We need to go back to Genesis and see the story without all the preconceived notions. It isn't about the argument whether it was six 24 hour days or evolution or young earth vs old earth. Let the story be told. It is a story about God and us. We need to take time in it.

I think we need to also reteach how to think. Some times we try to cram our square peg theology into lemniscate curve. It is important to have good theology, but good theology is not closed and tidy. There needs to be mystery and journey in it. A humility of seeing dimly helps to keep proper perspective. We have a bright group of young women and men on the horizon, but they don't have the same story that I grew up with. They aren't surrounded by a safe place to mention Jesus. Families are busy and it is about activities as much as it is about stuff. Not a lot of time to tell or hear stories.

Where do this generation learn the mechanics of community? Dinner table conversation is minimal. Learning how to listen and wait, reflect and consider, hearing and thinking through possibilities are often what is at that table. Moms and dads are busy, teens and children are over committed to music, sports, and studies. I was talking to a mom who said she is on the run from 2 until 7 getting her kids to and from places. Then get the kids fed, studies done and put to bed to wake up and get them off to school, pick them up and again, get them to their activities. Weekends are about travel sports, Sunday school is a moral activity. Just as soccer is a physical activity, and now they are equal in importance.

So where do they hear the story? Where do they understand and wrestle with the logos, ethos, and pathos of the stories of Old and New Testament? Where do they hear their father's or mother's testimony (story)? Where do they ask questions? How do they even learn to question? It is easy to teach theology, it is hard to have a theology. That takes relationship with God, so we need to be telling our stories.

This summer I am trying something different. We are telling the story of creation and trying to create places for questions so that the answers may have a place to nestle. We have tended to give answers when there wasn't questions asked. It takes more intelligence to ask questions than to teach answers. This isn't about a test next week, it is about living according to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Not by rules. Pavlov's dog learned quickly how to react to stimuli and consequence, but did it know how to create.

When I was in elementary school I asked the teacher why did I have to learn this arithmetic? He told me, "Next year you will be learning harder math that requires you to know this." "Yeah, but when will I..." "Sit down and do your work!" I checked out at that point, I needed to know the context of the information, not just the information. It needs to have a place in order for me to understand and participate in it.

Speakers are not going to teach or just download information but set up the conversations that will take place in small groups or cabin/church talks. They will be rattling the cage a bit, provoking people to think about where they get their ideas. A bit of the Socratic method to get them to delve a bit deeper than just regurgitate that which was given to them at some point in their lives.

I don't think it is about faith when you just have knowledge. It has to be applied to one's life. It has to affect the way that we walk. Like Jacob after the wrestling match, he became Israel. Faith is a bit of a dislocation or the hip, if you will.

08 May 2008

The round table at the pub...

Timbo, Al, and Tyler, and others,

I really enjoyed this this time together.

When I was growing up, my father and I would talk about politics at the dinner table and get into some pretty wonderfully intense conversations. I was working for the McGovern campaign and he was a stanch supporter for Nixon. He would let me take his Toyota Land Cruiser to school and let me put a McGovern sticker on the left side of the car and he'd put a Nixon sticker on the right side of the car.

The conversation at that table would get to the point where my dad is sticking his fork out at me, with a piece of ravioli hanging on the end, and in a loud voice that if McGovern gets elected there will be chaos, anarchy. He would tell me that this was a great nation and that we need men like Nixon, not McGovern. I don't remember what I said but I am sure it was nonsense. But then when dinner was over we would sit on the couch together and watch the 6 o'clock news.

I know that I am not very articulate and a bit passionate. I wish I could explain myself like my brother in law, Will Eisenhower or my dear friend, Scott Falk. I also wish that I could just fit in, go along with the crowd and not see what I see. I make Christel nervous when I talk but she would have me no other way. I love her for that, I am a lucky guy. I am rock solid that Christ is the only way to God.

I have much respect for Al, Timbo, and Tyler as well as others who don't always agree with me. I appreciate the fact that they would take the time to talk. I wish we could meet in a pub and sit around and share, argue, point our forks at each other, etc. Debate is healthy, differences produce a bigger picture and greater success.

Timbo, I must have hurt you and others by some of the words that I have said, for which I am deeply sorry. There have been a lot of emotions in me over the years and many things that I am just starting to realize and having to deal with. A few years back, I was the one left who knew anything from before. I was scared and worried as well as tired and depressed. I really did not mean to say anything derogatory about the good people who worked very hard to save CC and create a professional food service as well as support the program. I won't say much more other than we went through a lot which caused frustration and feelings that were producing much love.

I was really proud of what was going on in the past few years with CommonFIRE and the people who made it possible, Sean, Julie, Cos, Laura, Karolina, Janice, and others. We did not know how to do this "program" but we did something that we were proud of. I didn't do a good job of saying something good without sounding like no one did anything good before that. Timbo, I am sorry. Hope you will forgive me.

Tyler, You have had a huge impact in my relationship with Christ. I don't know if you remember the time I met with you at Peet's in Davis and we talked IVCF and about racial reconciliation and how it was really changing your heart and mind. I haven't forgotten that conversation and that had caused me to challenge my view of God and the children of God. Many things have taken place since then but that was the seed that started germinating my current heart. I don't think I ever told you that.

Al, I have known you too long to not really know you. Thank you for responding to Lara with hope and invitation. It was what you said that I am identifying with here, People don't care about denoms anymore they come to meet Jesus. We need to show them Jesus. So they could know they are the beloved.

Thanks for the conversation

06 May 2008

Maybe you're right...

I was driving home from work, when my phone rings. It is from a friend whom I haven't heard from in a long time. He was asking me why I pick on the church so much. He wanted to know if I still believed in Jesus. He asked if I was hurt by the church or what was it that was making me so angry. What did the church do to me that was so bad?

So I thought for a while, hmmm maybe I was wrong. I mean after all there are good things going on in the church each Sunday. People getting together, singing, hearing messages, no drinking or cussing, rarely is there nudity, people dressed up and looking nice. Children walking up to the front to listen to a story just designed for them. Choirs singing, ushers ushering, preachers preaching. What am I so upset about? This is good stuff. Parking lots are clean, people parking their cars and walking into a beautiful building. Mellow out, Tony. What is the problem, dude?

I then started thinking why am I so upset with people who go to seminary? I mean after all they are high achievers and very successful in a very stressful arena. It isn't easy to leave the real world and be couped up studying for 3 to 4 years and get a Masters in Theology. Then to go on and get a Doctorate. I am not sure what a doctorate is but many are getting them. My brother in law and father in law both have Ph.Ds. I am not sure why they didn't get a doctorate.

The phone call really shook me up. A Shakabuku of sorts, a swift, spiritual kick to the head that altered my reality forever.

There is nothing dangerous here! Why don't I keep my mouth shut and just go along with the program. Someone once told me that I look at the glass as half empty and they prefer to see the glass as half full. I should begin to appreciate that the glass is not chipped or that the water is not polluted, or has teeth in it. Yeah, that is what I will do, go along...

Then I woke up.

05 May 2008

Denominations... (Sorry Cory, this may be a long one.)

Boy, did you miss the point.

You assume that I am against denominations, I am not. I am for people who are passionate about the living God who is at work today. Yes and many denominational churches are involved in wonderful, dynamic ministries to the poor, oppressed, outcast, disenfranchised, etc. Many have food pantries, clothe closets, soup kitchens, etc. for people in their parish. Many go to city hall and represent those who have no voice in their parish.

I am working with some presbyterian missions who support a cooperative who are making our t-shirts this year. Not American Apparel but the women's sewing cooperative in Nicaragua. I heard about them at a presbyterian conference of other camps throughout the country. They gave out free chocolates to tell us about free trade and entrepreneurial cooperatives in South America. The dark chocolates were my favorite.

Denominations have a shelf life, God does not. That is not a negative statement towards denominations it is just true. We are near the expiration date now. Not that it is time for them to go, they are diminishing quickly. We see a constant drop in the numbers in the PCUSA and I hear it is in many other denoms as well.

But I have a question. Can anyone tell me what the value of a denomination is today? Is it the meeting once a quarter of pastors and elders? (Then why do so many pastors miss them?) Is it a common set of beliefs held by brothers and sisters who support one another? (Which ones constitute forming a denom?) Is it a fund raising mechanism for missions? (Then why are they closing missions and camps?) Can it be replaced? What happens to the churches in the denomination if the denoms no longer has power and authority on decisions made at the local level? What holds them together?

How can a "church" leave the denomination and a lawsuit erupts as to who owns the building? Are we talking about people owning the building or an institution? If presbyterian people within a church, form an independant corporation and decides to buy the property next door and build a multipurpose building, does the denomination own that or do the people who go to church there own that? What is the difference? Is the denomination people or someone out of district who is hired to own buildings, property, and pensions, but they never step foot on the property, never seen the building, never knew the person who is investing a portion of their paychecks in their future. If a church leaves their other denom and brings the church to the PCUSA and after 30 years decide to leave the PCUSA, who owns the building? Is the building denomination or is the people who are still attending the church? If it is the people how can they leave themselves?

Regarding doctrine... Are you saying that the Ku Klux Klan do not have a doctrine that is central? Are you saying that those who have developed deep ways of thinking of seeing people as unhuman or are not children of God, do not have doctrine? Of course they do. These people have doctrines. The Crusades was started with doctrines. Those in the south who were against Martin Luther King, had doctrines. These were church folks, my friends. The liberals who marched with MLK also had doctrines. Today we don't think of those people as liberal, but they were shunned by most white churches. César Chávez caused a lot of issues in the white churches. When the Mennonites supported him and the union, many MB churches left the denomination. In the SJ valley, many presbyterian churches were against what he was trying to do. It is hard to have farmers in your congregations and support farm laborer becoming unionized. (I think I just made the farmers mad.)

I am saying that those who follow doctrines more than scriptures can be very dangerous indeed. It is not having doctrine that is the problem, it is holding tighter to those than on to a God who transforms the heart and mind. Are we open to have our doctrines change? I had a friend who was so TULIPized that when it came to a woman with demonic harassment he could care less, because she was not saved. She was not called. There is an arrogance in some who have their tidy doctrines. There are some who go to seminary, Bible college, christian liberal arts universities, etc. who feel that they have studied and have the right doctrine because they were taught it by professors, who were taught theirs by professors, who were taught theirs by professors, who were taught theirs by professors, whoo...

I am not talking about people who are continually looking into the Scriptures, listening to the Spirit of God, in fellowship with like-hearted and minded people, who are working out there salvation with humility and awe. We all have doctrines. I have a doctrine of what makes a great calzone, which route is the fastest to San Luis Obispo, where to sit in the sanctuary, etc. I have a set of doctrines on my brothers and sisters who work in fast food and how they should be treated, how the Jesus speaks to me and others, the work of the Holy Spirit, the work of the cross, and the creation of the heaven and earth. But I would not go to war with my brother and sister over them. (That is a doctrine, isn't it?)

Are you open to a lot bigger God who is unfathomable fully, (we see through a glass dimly, don't we.) Or do you stick with what you know and are content there?

Actually, what you said about Calvin Crest is totally wrong. People who had a dream started Calvin Crest. Good men and women who gave up much of their time, moneys and talents started Calvin Crest. The denomination gave up a couple of times, but not George Crichton, Luke Fritz, R. D. LyonWilliam Eisenhower, and others who searched for a place where they could get away and teach, worship, play, and have fun in creation. Sandy Brown can tell you the whole history but I would not say that the denomination started Calvin Crest, individual people did.

And actually, we get less than 6% of our budget from presbyteries and churches. Those who come to camp: students in schools, guests groups, businesses, people who go to church presbyterian and other denoms as well as non-denoms, make up a great percentage of our budget and pay my salary. Individuals who still believe in the ministry also contribute a major portion as well. If I started teaching some of the things that our denom has published in the past few years, I would be asked to leave and people would not be coming.

Does the denom pay your salary or do the people in the pews who decide each week to come back to church where you serve give you your salary each month? If the people left the church, would Louisville take over and start paying your salary? We forget that it is people who do things not institutions. Institutions maintain institutions.

Feel free to tell me what the denomination is about today. Sell it. Here is an open forum.

03 May 2008

A bit of an apology... kind of.

I am sorry that I do not write more. Some have told me they appreciate my writing, pictures of Ben and Jack, etc. I am in the midst of a lot of thinking about somethings that are better not published until thought through more. I don't want to be a heretic but I also don't want to continue on in the same old same old as before.

There is reformation in the air. Because the other reformation has become as corrupt and callous as the reason for it in the first place. It is not time to go back to the original reformation but to the Source of all that is good, pure, honorable, true, lovely, excellent, and praise worthy to see what it is the Creator is doing today than look backwards to the past other than to recognize the same Voice and Sacred Heart.

Denominations were started out of a group of people who huddled together in solidarity through persecution and exile as well as seeking what it was that God was doing in a time when others were not necessarily doing that. These sects were set apart for a purpose not an institution. The purpose has been lost because it had been accomplished. Scripture was central, today doctrine is. Doctrine and theology has become central or solé while Scripture and Spirit has become suspect. Those who's doctrine was central cause apartheid. Those who's doctrine was central fought to continue slavery. Those who's doctrine are central perpetuate hunger, segregation, racism, sexism, and war. We mold God into our doctrine instead of finding wonder and awe in a dynamic Creator. We drive past the poor to argue doctrine. We spend time studying that which will win an argument without spending time with those who are meek.

I am not sure that I have much to say right now...