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29 of 52  Trip Around The Sun - Hidden Valley Chapel


Sunday, November 17, 2002  (My Birthday – 62 of them)


Have traveled about 326,000,000 miles.


Thoughts during the week:


It was Palm Sunday and, because of a sore throat, five-year-old Johnny stayed home from church with a sitter.  When the family returned home, they were carrying several palm branches.  The boy asked what they were for.  "People held them over Jesus' head as he walked by," his older brother explained. 

"Wouldn't you know it," the boy fumed. "The one Sunday I don't go, Jesus showed up!" 


The Visit:


Hidden Valley Chapel  2541 E. Washington AvenueEscondido


Again, as is becoming usual, I was told this was not a “normal” meeting, as most of the men were gone to a men’s gathering in the mountains. The ladies took over the men’s jobs – and I was told to expect a very special and warm meeting.


I was a little late for the first meeting – so attended the second to catch what I had missed.


When I arrived, I was met by the greeter, who informed me that it was a good thing the chapel has no windows on this side. “Why?” Because the minister is a hotrod guy, and he probably would have stopped his sermon and brought everybody outside. He did do that between meetings. Very knowledgeable guy – has built several himself. Even his sermon had a hotrod analogy in it.


Since I got the first part of the program in the second meeting, I’ll go through it like it was all one meeting.


At the beginning, the piano starts – and it doesn’t ever stop through the entire meeting, except for the main part of the sermon. A beautiful young girl, the minister’s daughter, played the piano with simple, but comfortable talent.


It was announced that the Java and Jesus event would be this week at the new Starbucks. No men allowed.


During the opening prayer, the music continues, and it led directly into the opening song. As the prayer is ending, she plays louder – that begins the congregational singing.


“I Want to Know You.,” was a very nice song about coming to know the Savior.


The music continued with a message from scripture (I wasn’t sure what scripture.) It included the words, “There were ten thousand times ten thousand there.” I thought – “Oh – a math scripture – forcing the reader to multiply – I wonder why they didn’t just say one hundred million?” We, in today’s world, looking upon that little area where the New Testament was written, if we looked at the math, would be amazed. 100,000,000 people! That’s nearly half the population of the entire United States today. Pretty large group for such a small place, don’t you think? Everyone from all of San Diego County, and all of Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and a dozen other states would add up to about a fifth of them.


The piano never stopping – and the way it worked – reminded me of certain ethnic musicals – like Porgy and Bess. The music works into everything that’s going on. It was quite pleasant, and they seemed to do it all naturally, without much noticeable effort. The music was less formal than ours – but not really jazzy. (At the end of the meeting, I learned why – as the greeter again talked with me and informed me that next week the meeting would be different – “When we get the Drums back.”)


“And then there were more than any man could count –   As if 100,000,000 was only a good start!


Two ladies led the congregational singing – Just standing up front and singing – no directing any other way. They had both removed their shoes – one bare-footed – the other with hose. They appeared to enjoy doing the job – and it’s probable that there is a man at the gathering who normally does it. I may return to be with them in another meeting later.


Music still continues – “Children, you are dismissed – “ The children leave – and then the minister’s talk begins. This is about ½ hour into the meeting – and the message took up another ½ hour, then about a fifteen minutes singing and prayer time at the end.


Message: “Pentecost was the birthday of the Lord’s Church.” The minister was a soft-spoken obviously nice guy. He talked about teachability and leadability. He said that when we become teachable, we also become leadable. He said that Vietnam was a turning point – an era that brought resistance to leadership. In preparing for “The Great Day,” we need to become leadable.


 “Pentecost was the birth of the Church – when God’s spirit was poured out upon ordinary people, scared people, regular people.”


“You can’t do good and be transformed by it. You must be transformed, and then you will do good.”


Repentence is going away from (He stepped to the left) one place and to (He stepped to the right) another place.” “From the carnal – to the spiritual.”


I’ve seen this analogy a half dozen times during this one Trip Around The Sun – and every single time – it is always from the left – to the right. He also used the phrase “Went South,” when he was talking about someone going to Hell. We make our maps with North at the top – so we feel South to be Down. Going South is a bad thing – a failure. It’s more than just humorous – in almost every major city across this nation, real estate grows and appreciates North more and South less – because of this psychological bias. Escondido is an exception. It’s hard to find a large city that has not followed this “rule.”


Five tests of a Godly vision:


1.     It’s right for the times.

2.     Promotes faith rather than fear.

3.     Motivates people to action.

4.     Requires some risk-taking.

5.     Glorifies God, not people.



Now, to me, the most interesting part of his message.


He talked of a “bias” we have. We can be biased toward trust or biased toward distrust.

Hesitation – with a bias of trust – leads to clarity.


Hesitation – with a bias of distrust – leads to conflict.


“Sometimes, while people are busy “discussing” things, other people are dying and going to Hell” Is hesitation ok, absolutely - Is discussion ok? Absolutely – if we have a good bias.


“Some of the greatest power is in the hands of followers, not leaders.”


“Followers sometimes have all the power,” he said. They can force a leader to fail – or to do what they want.


Once, he had towed a hotrod behind his truck, using a towbar. Along the route, he heard some rattling noises back there – worried a little – but didn’t stop. Going along a 55 or so, one of the hotrod’s wheels came clear off, and the disc brake dug into the road. This caused his truck to turn sideways sliding against oncoming traffic. He was lucky not to have a collision – and said it would have been easy to die in this one.


He was saying that this was a failure of a follower – the hotrod. This is, of course, regarding the truck as the leader. Our language is riddled with metaphors, and it’s difficult to know sometimes what is really being said.


The truck was the vehicle in front, so we say “It leads.” But it’s not a leader. The driver was the leader, and it was the leader who erred. He was in charge of both vehicles. Even they were not followers, but absolute slaves. A follower makes decisions – while the vehicles had no control of anything.


Still, the analogy is an interesting one. “Followers sometimes have all the power.”


I felt certain that David O. McKay wanted to repair the doctrine about members of the great Negro race – and their being blocked from the priesthood. He couldn’t do it, because there was more readying needed among the followers. He was uncomfortable with the “doctrine.” That’s an example of the power of the followers, we, who will be responsible for our own choices individually. We never wait for God to get ready. He waits for us.


The minister said, “If you’re praying for the Church, you’re probably not playing church.” Have that bias.


Written on the program back:


“The leaders of Hidden Valley Chapel encourage you to worship God freely. It is appropriate, and biblical, to stand, kneel, lay prostrate, clap, raise your hands or even dance during worship. It is just as appropriate to do none of the above. How you engage the Lord remains your choice. We simply request that you remain sensitive to those around you.”


“We strive to engage in worship that includes what we call “planned spontaneity.” We expect the Lord to make His presence known. One way we sense His supernatural manifestation is through the use of what the Bible calls spiritual gifts. We appreciate and expect the proper use of God’s spiritual gifts in our worship gatherings.”



I’ve been to several “Pentecostal” meetings over the years, and I suspect that when there are visitors, they tend to hold back. This meeting included hand raising – but nothing more. The exception was in West Virginia – at the “Church of God of Prophesy,” where I saw more interesting activity – and with the “Snake Handlers,” where the activity was more in concert – the “Amen Brother”’s, and the “Praise the Lord”’s, and with enough volume that the message was impossible to hear at all.



Closing song – “You Have Given Life to Me.” Another very nice song. Words projected – no hymnal used.


Between the two meeting – while looking at the hotrod and being friends with everyone, a man drove up, parked beside us, opened his driver’s door – and asked the minister, ”Hey – is this the Mormon Church?” Everyone laughed. I’m not sure what the meaning was – but I have a good guess. Why do such nice people dislike Mormons? Is their fear justified? Would the Mormons try to convert their little children?



29 of 52  Trip Around The Sun - Hidden Valley Chapel


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