10 December 2009

An open letter regarding the changes at Calvin Crest...


My dear friend, Thanks for the post and the concerns. I know you care about Calvin Crest and all the changes that are taking place. The craft/first aider position is only a craft position who will help out the nurses on Sundays and Saturdays with check-in and check-out. They will not be taking people down the hill during the daytime but may, just like the program assistants or dishwashers, be taking people down when they are not "on duty."

The goal for crafts and everything is minimize spending, maximize learning and knowing. Throw-away crafts are gone. I would rather put money into something that will outlast their faith impact (mid-November).

I appreciate your asking but this is still thinking IN THE PAST. Quit trying to save what we have done with less people and start thinking what needs to happen and we will hire the resources to make it happen (some resources being people).

I want to think about and react to what are the things that need to happen on that blessed property, that can't happen in their homes, churches, malls, iPods, X-boxes, HD TVs, cinemas, bedrooms,...

In your subject line, you called it "Redesigning Camp" but it should be reImagining Camp. Take the pencil out of your hand for a while and just listen. Keep asking your very appreciated questions, but dream/pray more. Open your eyes to what is going on around you. Get out and meet people. Not just their names but their souls and hidden places where fear, pain, hope, and joy dwells. We cannot design if we do not know what is happening or what can happen. What needs do we have that are in this area, where we are planted (Central California), where we can transform lives through the power, wisdom, magic, and love of the Spirit of God.

So you see it is more than just what the craft person will be doing. The question comes down to what do we see people need to know and be able to do, so they can navigate well in the Kingdom of God and I am not talking about when they die.

This is more than just Bible Study (however The Story must be taught well), it may be learning how to tie a knot, solve a puzzle, make bread, visit the sick, raise the dead, question the information coming to them, fall in love with the Savior and their neighbor again,...

I know there are a lot of concerns and even more opinions, but this is not the time to resist change but to listen to The Voice as we are led, I believe, through this desert time to a place of promise. This will take hard work and commitment and the uninvested will not be a part of the conversation. We will need people who will lay down their opinions and pick up their cross.

Sorry, I started to preach...

24 October 2009

"No problem."

Alright I know that I haven't written much lately but I gotta say that I am very concerned about the state of youth today. Drugs, promiscuity, AIDs, low educational test scores, economic impact, demonic possession, alcoholism, sagging trousers, texting while driving, or even adolescent obesity... are all things I could write about but I don't think matter as much as what happened to me yesterday.

I was getting coffee at the local espressarero and paid for my doppio con panna. "Thank you." I said to the nose ring'd, eyebrow ring'd, lip ring'd, eyelid ring'd young woman. Without looking up, she said, "No problem."

No problem? Really, that is the only reply you can come up with for someone who is keeping you employed by stopping, getting out of my car, walking up, ordering, waiting 5 minutes and said, "Thank you" to you?

Aren't you really saying "If it was a problem I wouldn't have helped you."

I am not asking you to say "It was my pleasure." or "Gee, I was honored to serve someone as incredible looking as you."

No problem. No connection, lack luster, ho hummed, lack of expression, the warmth of a cadaver. Nothing.

There is something about problem. It is alright to go out of your way for someone. It creates a bit of sweat, which evaporates, and becomes part of the environment, which we breathe in and out and contribute with the moisture of our breathe which adds to the water content in the atmosphere, creating clouds, developing rain, saturating the ground, causing plants to grow, flowers to bloom, coffee beans to ripen, people to harvest them, bringing economic stability to third-world countries, eliminating dictators who oppress the poor and develop nuclear weapons, reducing fear and ultimately bringing peace to all.

And she didn't count out my change either...

30 September 2009

My dear friend...


I wanted to blog the response to your email, not to expose you but to answer a question I get asked quite often.

I don't think that it is your faith that is falling apart but that it is not made of the kind of substance that can hold much weight. Let me explain...

In sunday school, the institution gave very easy answers to very complex issues. It is easier to teach that "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so..." with a simple to tune, than to debate the kind of semantic arguments that you present today.

Your mind is not satisfied with Jesus loves you because the story tells you that he does. You are trying to figure out all of the other stuff that, are trivial compared to his love. You test this love, just like you did with your parents. Did you ask your mom why she loved you in her imperfection? Did you ever see her or your father's wrath. Did the love dissolve because you were being punished for your stubbornness. Love wants more than mediocrity.

The questions you are asking are not the ones you should be asking. Those are puny questions and have been asked around college dorms and pubs for centuries.

Go big. Ask:
why do men keep women subjective?
why do men believe it is alright to own another human being?
why do we continually slaughter those who are weaker than they are?
why do we pollute the very air and water that we need to keep us alive?
why do we not care if people are dying to get to this country to earn a minimum wage so that their family can live a little bit better?
why do we allow such hatred against a group of people because of their skin color or country of origin?

why do those who confess to believe in God not care about those whom God loves?

What difference does it make if it is allegory or history, we don't want to believe it to be true or that the reality of love can make a difference in this world of pain and suffering. We want to be the controllers, the conquerors, the predator, the one in power. We find humility an act of weakness. We set our eyes on useless people and give them honor, emulation, and envy because their bone structure is pleasing to the eye or arouses our lusts. Why do I even know Paris Hilton's name?

Is the devil real or does it have influence over us? That is not the question. The question is do I want to be more than just reacting to my hormones, sugar levels, lusts, thought impulses, etc.? Do I want to develop the spiritual life that transform the mechanics of my self. Or do I want to put the blame on someone or something else. I believe evil is real, but I don't want to give it any part of my life or thoughts.

The question is: Do I take communion and believe it to be a symbol of a symbol of a symbol of being the body, mind and heart of Christ or am I consuming, participating in, digesting, and then behaving in the same way that we know Jesus to be acting in this world of suffering and deep pain?

Your questions can not be answered in you mind, it has to be answered by the way you live.


06 September 2009

Labor Day...

I know I have said this before but I don't take Labor Day to be a day to rest but to remember (isn't that suppose to be done on Memorial Day...) those who labor so I can live. I am thankful for those who plant, harvest, ship, and market all that I eat and drink as well as wear, buy, etc.

I work at 5000 ft. elevation, in the most beautiful site on earth where people are willing to come and reflect on the life and love, death and resurrection of Jesus. But there is a whisper beginning to be audible, can't make out the words but the heart is towards those who labor. No plans, no call, just a change of heart.

It is not a passion, it is more of a turning of the head to notice, to begin to understand, to... I don't know what. But my head has turned.

My father was a businessman. Bought an ailing printing business and turned it into a financially stable concern. He treated the people who labored for him with dignity and respect. When times got hard, he paid them before himself and we would eat rice and beans and a little hamburger during that time. My mom made it into a feast. He would tell my mom what was going on in these people's lives over dinner. Births, sickness, immigration, new homes, educational achievements, etc. I would hear more about their lives than I would about my cousins, aunts and uncles. It was never gossip, complaints, or bitterness.

He didn't have much turnover while he owned it. Most who left started their own business, a few became his competition, but most became his subcontractors. Instead of hiring people to replace them, he would job out that particular printing process to them. Never an enemy, always a partner. Respect. Integrity.

My dad was an artist, he painted on Sundays. While we were at church, he was in his studio painting. He worked Monday through Friday, and on Saturday mornings. It was his passion. Business was what he did so that we could live and he could paint, sculpture, make cut glass windows, etc. He never despised his work, he understood work, he also understood art. His life was a ballet of sorts. The libretto, music, and choreography working together to produce an event, a family, a life.

We lived near vineyards, orchards, packing houses, and subdivisions. I went to school with farmer's kids, migrant worker's kids, line worker's kid, airline pilot's kids, and business owner's kids. All with ballets going on in their own homes. It was a good place to be raised.

As the scripture tell us, "Train up a child, in the way they should go and when they are old they won't depart from it." Maybe the whisper that I am hearing is a return to the way that I was trained up...

21 February 2009

How am I doing?

I am usually pretty tired this part of the year. I have been interviewing many people. I really have enjoyed many of the people I talked to, as is the usual, which is why I love my job so much.

I met one woman, who has been a christian for five years and in that time has been to communist Asia for an extended time to help equip the believers, share the truth of Jesus with her family and now they are followers of the Truth, is a Bible study small group leader at the university, is highly respected by her peers, is about to graduate and is asking if she can work at the camp. I am asking her not to come work for me but to continue her ministry at the place where I do mine. Partners in ministry. Isn't that what it is about? Sitting with her outside a Starbucks, on a beautiful winter day after an intense storm, was the most refreshing spirit filled time of conversation in a long time.

I am having another conversation with a youth pastor who is asking how Calvin Crest can put our staff in the boys and girls areas during free time so that his youth group will not do any more pranks and are safe. They are the ones doing the pranks.

I got a call from a young woman who is looking for an opportunity to teach at CC this summer so that her resume will look good when she begins her search for being a teacher..

I am having conversations with people who have served on staff about their public foul language and excessive drinking as they inquire if they can be in leadership next summer.

A biweekly Bible Study that I lead where 2 out of 22 adults bring a Bible.

I just heard that a man that has been on my case for many years because I challenge the church, is a part of a group who is leading his church to leave the PCUSA.

I wonder about all the conversations, conferences, meetings, and other times together where we have talked about christian behavior but never bore fruit of the Spirit. We are very excited about attending meetings where we know some well known people of Christiandom will be the keynote. The ones who just put out the book on what is the latest movement in the church. It is sad if we think that the latest movement is happening and no one is seeing the fruit of the Spirit somewhere in the first few weeks of it.

If the fruit isn't there, I ain't following. If it involves looking into Ikea catalogs and not more into Scriptures, I can't do it again. The more that it is about technology and less about relationship and hope, it is through.

"Test everything, hold on to that which is good." How do you know if it is good, check for fruit. Not signs and wonders. Fruit.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control...

I have to ask myself, am I more concern about shopping or being?

08 January 2009

Don't read this if words offend you...

I was raised hearing that if I did that I would: 1. become blind; 2. grow hair on my palms; 3. go insane. No one ever talked about the truth.

It separates and isolate. It causes the focus to be drawn on to an image instead of to another. It reduces people to things that are there to satisfy the flesh and cause momentary pleasure instead of relationship that can create a lifetime of love, caring, sacrifice, intimacy, encouragement, value, hope, wisdom, understanding, risk, pain, peace, character, etc.

It is more than just rubbing of genitalia but of turning to yourself to find something that should involve someone else and pleases someone else. The idea of mutual pleasure versus self pleasure is huge. Mutual pleasure does not rob or reduce the identity of another to a single act or role. It is not self focused for results but it finds that result while provide results for others. The most important thing in mutual pleasure is not on the measuring of results but on the time and relationships involved in the process of getting to results. The result is not a finality but a celebration of intimacy. There are no celebrations in self gratification and it never is satisfactory.

When we are focused on self to bring pleasure or gratification, we lose our focus on what is possible and settle for that which is only attainable. It is very short sighted. What is possible is a journey into uncharted territory. Failure is possible. It raises heartbeats and deepens breath. It brings life to the surface instead of being locked in a room with a single light on. It opens the eyes and there is no looking away in shame.

Intimacy is a gift to others that grows the soul. Why settle on only momentary biological pleasure when you can change the world? It adds value to others to see their worth and part in the ballet of community.

This is a gift from God that can be consumed by the self or invested in another.