I dream of disaster

I was asked the other day to tell of the one dream I have had that I felt was God given, so here goes...

(Sorry this is long!)

This happened years ago (6 years?), so some of the details are a little fuzzy, but I certainly remember the main details of it. Tamy and I had only recently moved back to my hometown in California. We were planning on settling there permanently. We had saved a significant chunk of money to use as a down payment on a house, I was going to school to teach and coach, Tamy had begun her career as an RN. In short, we had begun the life we had always planned for ourselves; we were building our own little kingdom, carving out our space and making preparations for our future.

We were planning on purchasing property, designing, and building our dream home. My head was full of visions of a nationally successful High School wrestling program, Tamy's was full of plans for building a family.

At the same time, however, we had begun in earnest to learn to live a life of intimacy with Jesus. We were involved, more and more, with the community of believers, and we wanted, more and more, to live our lives with Jesus and for Jesus.


Not only did the dream carry a very real "message," and a very significant emotional gravity, but the message ended up bearing very specifically to situations soon to arise in my life. What I do remember is that I never have dreams that I remember, nor have I ever had a dream that I felt was in any sense imbued with spiritual significance. This one, however, was different...


Everything was very dark ...it was dark visually but also emotionally; I was walking forward.

Throughout the entire dream I never really saw any of my companions, but they were there, we were in a group walking together. Each of my companions had a piece of armor or a weapon; this one wore a helmet, that one carried a sword, and another a breastplate.

On my arm I held a shield.

Throughout the entire dream I heard a voice, speaking to me from just behind me.

I never saw the angel, but it spoke to me constantly, telling me what was going on, encouraging me, giving me advice, information, and filling my heart with courage. In my right ear was the voice of wisdom and strength.

"You must work together," the voice said.

"When you come to the enemy, you must use your shield to protect your companions from danger. Your job is to cover them, and keep them from the weapons of your enemies. Your companions, each of them using his or her own item, will work along with you to fight and defeat the enemies you will meet."

We continued to walk forward.

A large figure loomed out of the dark. It was much larger than a human, clad in dark armor.

"...you must use your shield, keep walking forward, if you will do your part, you will be victorious over this creature."

The angel continued to speak to my heart, "do not be afraid, be strong and courageous."

My companions and I moved forward, toward the dark creature, I don't really remember a 'battle.' I remember that we stood our ground, together, and emerged unscathed and victorious. The voice in my ear continued to encourage me...

We continued to walk forward, and again were confronted by a large humanoid creature, clad in black, wearing armor, and wielding medieval weapons. Again we heeded the angel and won the battle.


As we continued to progress on our journey, a large black shape loomed up out of the shadows in front of us, it appeared to be a hill. I could see the silhouette.

...and then the hill began to move.

I can still recall being terrified at what was in front of me. It was like watching my destruction unfold before me, and having no course of action available to stop it. Like watching a character in a cinema thriller making the stupid decision that will get him killed, and you know because you are outside the plot. Only this was happening to me.

It was a huge dragon-like beast. It was enormous, at least the size of a 3 or 4 story building. It raised up and began to come toward us.

"Be strong and courageous! Do not doubt! You can defeat this dragon!" the voice in my ear whispered encouragement. I steadied myself for a blast of fire-breath as the beast reared back and inhaled deeply.

The blast of fire came...

...and I fled.

I ran as fast as I could away from the dragon and away from my death and destruction...

...away from my friends.


The voice began again, not condemning, not excusing, but simply telling me, "if you would have stood your ground, you would have survived, not only survived, but overcome the beast. You were the key to victory, and you ran."

The angel did not explain the fate of my companions.

I began to sob, realizing that I had lost us the battle, and perhaps taken the lives of my friends as well. My cowardice, and selfishness had brought all of us low.

I remember the deep conviction that arose inside of me, that I could not ever allow this to happen again.


This dream stayed with me when I awoke.

It stayed with me for a long time, even to this day.


About the same time I had this dream Tamy and I were faced with a decision. We had a large sum of money saved up for our home, but there was something that we felt God was asking us to do with it. He was asking us to give this money to something other than our house. This may seem like a small decision, but to us is was about more than simply money; God was asking us to choose: His plans and dreams, or ours.

Would we give up the very thing we had scraped and saved, and went to school, and gotten into debt, to accomplish?

This was one of the moments of decision for us. Would we live for ourselves and wear Jesus like a campaign button? ...or would we orient our cares around His cares?


The meaning of the dream was clear, as was the fact that it was more than just a dream. We simply couldn't act as though our money was 'ours.' It was His and we had to use it to 'protect our companions.'

I had said I could not ever allow this to happen again.

When Tamy and I actually gave away that money I could feel it in my stomach.

I physically felt it.

Somebody could have punched me in the gut to the same effect.

But, with 20-20 hindsight, I would not go back and change my decision even if it were for $100,000 (and it wasn't anything close!)



Well, we got some snow...

We finally got dumped on this winter. This was our first real snow of the winter, just one week before the official beginning of Spring...

We got about 20 inches in 2 days.

It has been quite some time since I have written an update for all of you who might potentially be reading this from parts elsewhere...

Winters in Buffalo are like summers in Redding; you don't go outside if you don't have to...

...but God has still been at work in our community of saints. We have continued to connect, slowly but none-the-less, with new people. About two months ago we celebrated a large milestone in the health of our Church. We officially released a second home group under Mary's leadership. (I know this goes without saying for all of you back home who know her, but, "Mary rocks!" she has been such a blessing here! It is wonderful to watch her step out into the places God is beckoning her!)

This has made room for new people and for new leaders.

...we have an upcoming leadership teaching that our church will be involved in. Myself and the Pastor of the Niagara Falls Vineyard will be teaching an evening on the subject of leadership. I see this as a very timely thing. There are several people in our church who are people of influence and may very well be the future leaders of the Buffalo Vineyard. (Although they might not know it yet!)

God has been stirring our hearts (particularly my wife) in the area of prayer and intercession. God has continued to raise her awareness on the issue of human slavery that still goes on in America and other parts of the world. We don't know what role we might play in these great global issues, but God is certainly asking us to pray!

I have personally been meeting with a small group of pastors in the city (two others from Buffalo, and then Pastor Jim from the NF Vineyard) to fellowship and pray together. This has been a great encouragement to me, and I see it as a potential source of something truly special as we continue to grow together.

We are looking forward to the warming weather and the opportunities for being out among the people of Buffalo that it will bring.

Please pray specifically for two things:

That God would open doors into new relationships in the city and new neighborhoods in the city.

That God would spark fire in the hearts of the people of our church, and raise up women and men who would take responsibility for the community of God and the mission of God here in Buffalo.

Here is Adrianna, her son Judah (in utero) and her husband Joe, (she cooks a mean stew!) and their friend Cabe; they are sitting in our living room during our Wednesday small group meeting.

Here is the Cafe that we have our Sunday night gathering at. Mary and I were warming up for worship, Alan is singing along.

This is a picture of some of our friends enjoying a meal at our old house.

Lilly and I playing guitar. Lilly is currently studying Art History for a semester in Italy!



commodity |kəˈmäditē| noun ( pl. -ties) a raw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought and sold, such as copper or coffee. • a useful or valuable thing, such as water or time.

Sex is a commodity. While the rise and fall of oil and gas continues sex is rapidly becoming cheaper and cheaper everyday. Sarcasm is really the only way I know how to handle the topic of sex and the same within the context to which I would like to talk about it. I will try to refrain from using all the sarcastic things I have stored up in my brain. Sex is no longer about love and commitment; it's about having it your way, wherever and whenever you want it. You can confuse sex and Burger King. They basically have the same slogan: "Have it your way." People even talk about it as if it were a hamburger or going out to grab a bite to eat. " I think I am going to get laid tonight." " I think I am going out to get a hamburger tonight." It's sick and I am not referring to just men. Women are just as capable in the area of cheapening sex as men are. It sucks and it's not fair that this is how it has become. A consumer product. We even have names for our genitals. Nicknames that dehumanize our human and God-created body parts. As weird as it is to say it our beautiful parts. They are ugly and vulgar names, that to me are upsetting and I hate to think of them. I will spare the names because even the sexually healthiest and purest people know all of the derogatory names. It disgusts me. I have come away from a few movies that have left me wanting to spend the rest of my life celibate than to ever experience the brainless, loveless sex that billions of people experience everyday.

I am sure that everyone that reads this blog has heard this by now but I will reiterate it anyway.

In certain countries you can purchase a 5 year old little girl for 5$. That is the going rate. There are women and children, right at this very minute, that are being smuggled into our "Christian Nation" only to be bought at a cheap price. Right now someone is being forced to do sexual acts against their will. Someone at this moment is being forced to give up their virginity to a person that will never ever be capable of loving them. By the way this is probably happening in the city you live it.

Sex has become so accessible you can find it ANYWHERE you like. We have become so demanding of "our needs" our wants. Sex isn't even between one man and one woman anymore. It can be anyway you want it. Have it your way. In fact why not just buy somebody that you can just have sex with whenever you want and it doesn't really matter how you treat them because they are from a foreign country. They don't really speak our language and don't really understand what is going on.

Rape speaks all languages. Suffering. Pain. Humiliation. They are all universal languages.

The thing is that everyone has a name. Everyone has a personality. People with names and unique, God-given personalities are being destroyed.

I am just so angry and so disgusted by all of this. My brain has been rolling around sarcastic things about sex for the last two days. That won't help anything. This world needs Jesus. This world needs healing. Sexual healing. I need sexual healing and the thing is I have never had sex! I guess that most people really haven't ever experienced sex either. Even the word "sex" it seems so cheap. Tons of people who have had sex have really experienced selfishness, and short lived pleasure, they have really experienced lust and pride, shame and domination. They have never really experienced what sex was intended to be. I can't take much more exploitation of one of God's beautiful gifts. I can't take much more of the stories I hear on a weekly basis from girls in my life saying that they weren't loved by some man.

Basically this whole sex thing all boils down to a few different things:

1. Sin

Oh wait that is pretty much it. I guess then there is a few different solutions:

1. Jesus

Oh wait He is the only solution. God please heal us. Please move in this country. Move in all of the nations of the world. Please God end human trafficking. Restore to this world the gift of sexuality in it's purest most beautiful form and show us, your church, Lord what we can do to partner with you in this.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going go buy 50 shares in the sex industry, it's such a hot commodity and at such a cheap price it would be a shame not to.


From Sunday...



“Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

C. S. Lewis – The Weight of Glory

Sin is fun, just like the mud pies, but we are missing out! I know people think they are really enjoying themselves when they sin, but they are like Esau, who traded away the blessings of his father (and ultimately the blessing of God) for a bowl of soup...

...it is not that soup is bad, I am sure Esau left full and satisfied from the meal; later, however, he must have hated that soup!

...so it is with sin.

It is like honey on the tongue and bitter in your stomach!


1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
2The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
4"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5"For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
10He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
Genesis 3:1-10

Why did Adam and Eve hide? What happened inside of them?

We are still hiding from God!

...and for the same reasons!


GOD HATES SIN! The question is why?

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinners--no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

C. S. Lewis – The Weight of Glory

God hates sin because it destroys the very things that He cherishes!

For many of us, when we hear the words, "God hates sin," we translate that into, "God hates me!" That is the furthest thing from the truth! God hates sin so much because He loves us so much that He can't stand seeing our lives distorted and cramped by sin!



"The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name."
Zechariah 14:9

"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."
Habakkuk 2:14

If the hope described in passages such as these are truly what God intends, then there are some common misunderstandings that run rampant throughout the spiritual understanding of women and men, both inside and outside of the church...


The Nature of Salvation

Misconception #1 - Salvation is about leaving earth and going to heaven; God is primarily concerned with what happens to individuals after they die.

If these verses are true, then salvation is actually about God putting all things right; it is about heaven coming to earth. Salvation is about all of creation sharing in the Life that is found in God.

The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.
Zechariah 14:9

The Nature of the Church

Misconception #2 - The church is an institution

The common misconception is that church is an institution or a building, with leaders whose primary function is to minister to us Christian members of the Church. Their work consists of providing programs for our care and preservation until we die and go to heaven; the leaders minister to Christians.

The reality of the Church is that is is God's means by which He is becoming king over the whole earth! The leaders primary function is to equip Christians to minister to the world. The primary function of the average Christian is to bring God's kingdom of blessing, peace, joy, freedom, hope, and restoration to the places we work, live, play, eat, shop, and pay our bills.

The Church is not a "place where" but rather a "people who..." ...the Church is the people of God committed to the purposes of God. (With these verses being a great encapsulation of those purposes!)

The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.
Zechariah 14:9

The Sacred/Secular Distinction

Misconception #3 - There are certain activities, things, people, and places that are ‘good’ and ‘spiritual’ and others that are not.

God is primarily concerned that we involve ourselves in sacred activities; sitting in Churches, praying, creating or consuming Christian art.

The reality is that God wants the whole earth to be put right, not just church buildings! God wants to be a part of every aspect of society and ecology.

We are NOT talking about putting a fish on your business card, or even becoming a ‘christian’ interior decorator. But rather doing a job with the purposes of God in mind; engineers who design new ways of water filtration to address the needs for drinking water around the world. William Wilberforce going into politics in order to honor God's call on his life to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire.

The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.
Zechariah 14:9

The Clergy/Laity Distinction

Misconception #4 - Pastors are really Holy and really devoted; they speak for God!

The reality is that a certain level of maturity is required of leaders, but they need not be the most mature; leaders are equippers! Clergy are not speaking to people on God's behalf, but helping people to come to God on their own.

We so often received the Kingdom from ‘professional Christians’ and so have been told (explicitly or implicitly) "If you love Jesus - Hurry up and quit your job to do real ministry!"

Paul was a tentmaker, Jesus was a carpenter!

The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.
Zechariah 14:9

Knowledge versus Obedience

Misconception #5 - God is primarily concerned that we agree with certain statements.

Hear the word, believe in God, just have faith!

The reality is that God wants us to participate, not observe...
...share in, not hear about, the Kingdom of redemption!

The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.
Zechariah 14:9



I just watched the movie Trade, it is about the human trafficing business around the world and even in america. I have to say I am so disturbed about this movie. I am not an uninformed person relating to this I have done some reading and am aware of the fact that it happens, I have been for upset about this topic for awhile which is why I wanted to see the movie in the first place.

However seeing the movie has now marked my heart in a new way, it has left a print on my heart of the reality of it. I can not imagine the depths of evil and despair that exist in this world and now I find that this movie has brought the reality home to me in a way that I can not forget because I have seen it with my own eyes. This movie is not based on a true story but rather hollywoods take on the subject. Even though this movie is not a true story I do not doubt that things far worse than the movies portrayl are really happening.

So here I am marked and overwhelmed by this whole thing and I feel like I can surely make people more aware of the fact that this is happening, and it may not be to our daughters here in america but these women and children that are being stolen are someones daughters and they matter. I know that I would go to the ends of the earth for my own daughter and search high and low and never give up.....so I have been pondering would I do that for someone elses daughter, does she matter just as much as my daughter isn't she just as valuable but maybe she doesn't have someone to search for her, maybe her family actually sold her into it.

That shouldn't matter she is just as cherished by God as my daughter and she is His daughter first as we are all his and so I know that I must care just as much about these women and children as I would my own family and fight just as hard to bring and end to this form of slavery and oppression.

We in america love to stand up for things and fight for things but do we really fight the fights that matter, are we fighting to bring justice to the oppressed or do we fight the fights that benefit us and our pocketbooks...Speaking of money how much is a little girl or women worth anyhow???? How much cash is a human being worth??? In this movie for 25-30 thousand dollars you can purchase your own human being to treat anyway you wish and do whatever you want with.....WOW!!! What kind of world do we life in?? My heart is turned towards Jesus to hear an answer to how to fight this fight, anyone who would like to join me in this or has something else to offer.....

I reccommend watching this movie to everyone and then trying to go about your normal day, as you think and ponder through the fact that this is really happening, IT is a reality for many women and children.. If this doesn't call us to the feet of the Father in petition for His justice to come, then what are we going to the Father for????? Are we there for ourselves and our comfort, are we really praying for more money, a better job, a better church to belong to???? WHAT ARE WE SEEKING THE FATHER FOR??????

I feel like God has spoken to me to raise awareness about things that are happening in our world today that many of us are ignorant to, partly I feel like if people could just be aware then surely the spirit of God in us would bring us to our knees for the things that are really grieving God's heart. Also I am praying for these things and would like people to join me in asking God for his hand to move and bring justice to our world, bring mercy and compassion to those hurting and broken. So if you would like to receive this email that I send out then please email me at schenk.tamy@gmail.com.

Today we are more aware, will we forget by tomorrow???

Here are links to more information about human trafficking:

Archdiocese of San Francisco
Human Trafficking.org



The Good Book Part II

Collections of interactions with another individual online:

Laura: the fact that so much literature is devoted to the need to 'reconcile' difficult things in the Bible is an implicit admission that there are contradictions in the Bible, otherwise there'd be nothing to reconcile.

Steve: Point well taken, yet, have you never had to 'reconcile' two statements you made that people misunderstood as contradictory? I think you reach too much when you make that point. I am perfectly okay with you saying "I choose to interpret these passages in ways that make them contradict each other." That is your perogative.

I think, however, it is only fair to give a little bit more than a cursory read to a document that is separated from us by 2,000 years of cultural change and several languages.

Laura: I'd call 17 years of Bible study more than a cursory read…anyway I would say it's also only fair to note that across the internet, arguments between Christians who are very familiar with the Bible, over what the Bible teaches, are alive and well. And once I realized I didn't have to believe the Bible couldn't contradict itself, it became very clear to me that the reason these debates go on and on unresolved is that each side uses different verses to support their case and the verses contradict each other. Ironically, since both sides firmly believe the Bible cannot contradict itself (even though their debate rather demonstrates that it does), their solution is to label their own verses as 'key' texts; then they write off the other side's verses as less key than theirs and/or able to be explained away by the context, or whatever.

I've watched this for years; it's real; it's happening and to me it is very strong evidence the Bible does in fact contradict itself.

Steve: …and shouldn't that be the goal? Trying to understand what the author was trying to say?

Laura: Steve, if you are convinced there is one author, who spoke through many others, somehow never contradicting himself, then you have forced your goal to be "explaining away contradictions" rather than taking each piece of writing at face value.

Yes, I think we should try to understand what the author wanted to say and if two authors disagree let's accept that they do.

Our positions are not equivalent; yours is a faith position, based on the belief that the Bible does not contradict itself. Like all people who believe this, you make every effort to resolve apparent 'contradictions' other people claim to have found.

My position is not based on faith. It's based on the observation that if the Bible was clear and non-contradictory, Christians who all say they believe it would not have unresolvable debates over what it says. If all the disagreeing Christians came to agreement today, I'd change my opinion.

Like David, I find that most lists of contradictions have some trivial ones on. I'm happy to set those aside as unimportant. The ones which concern me have to do with the core beliefs of Christians.

Oh, I just thought of another one: does the Bible teach that Jesus is God? That has never been resolved. Historical orthodox Christianity is based on the conviction that the Bible teaches he is God. However, considering how vital this belief is, the Bible is amazingly vague (imo) about it. The proofs are relatively indirect, given its centrality as a doctrine. The Jehovah's Witnesses strongly argue that Jesus is not God. They have their own translation but - in regard to anything related to this issue, the only difference is that they added the word 'a' to one verse! And besides, people who use the same Bible have argued throughout church history that it teaches Jesus is the Son of God, but not God.

Each of these arguments over fundamentals of the faith is easily explained if we are allowed to say the Bible is remarkably unclear about key doctrines of the faith and/or it contradicts itself.

All other explanations rely on one 'side' having superior insight to the other. I don't see any reason to think that's the case, since in my experience each side has smart honest people on it. It's not like you could do an IQ or holiness test and find all the high numbers on one side and all the low ones on the other.

That the Bible is written by different people, in different times and places, by people with different perspectives and different styles of communication explains why there are contradictions/discrepancies.

What I cannot 'reconcile' with a belief that the Bible is God's inspired word and that we are to receive direction from it, is why it would be so easily open to interpretation (let's leave out the word 'contradictions' here, since we do not agree on the meaning of that word)? Humans are fallible, but your Christian God is not. Why was he not more clear?