Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Open that mouth of yours...

You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
-Matt. 23:24

There are so many things that seem to fit in this category in the church today. Sometimes I just hang my head in frustration and shame as I listen to and watch the nuckleheaded things we christians get all stirred up about.

We really are goofy at times. In light of all the real problems in this world and community, i shudder to think what the Lord feels about our preoccupation with swallowing camels.

I read a story recently about an inner city young mother who super glued her young child's eyes and mouth shut to keep him from crying at night because her mother was going to kick them out because of the noise.

Swallow that.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Do you want to stand out? Then step down.

Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. "The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God's Law. You won't go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don't live it. They don't take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior.

It's all spit-and-polish veneer. Instead of giving you God's Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn't think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next.

They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called 'Doctor' and 'Reverend.' "Don't let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don't set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of 'Father'; you have only one Father, and he's in heaven. And don't let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them - Christ.

"Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant.

If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you.
But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.
-Jesus (Matt. 23:1-12 The Message)

This is the message of Jesus and the heartbeat of what I long to see lived out in word, behavior and action in our lives as individuals and a church community. It is an upside down kingdom that we are building. A place where in order to get to the head of the sit at the end of the table.

Jesus flat out said: Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. (Matt. 23:12). Exaltation is not the problem. Sitting at the head of the table isn’t the problem. The problem is the WAY that you get there. The means in which you ascend. The way up in God’s kingdom is by going down. When will we understand that simple but profound reality of the Jesus life?

When will we understand that “the place of honor” is achieved by completely different routes in the kingdom of God?
We have a different WAY!
And that way is clearly laid out in the the 8 woes of Jesus in Matt. 23:13-29. Anything else is not the way of Christ, it is a different way that should not be followed.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Death by ministry...

Some Statistics
The following statistics were presented by Pastor Darrin Patrick from research he has gathered from such organizations as Barna and Focus on the Family.


Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.

Pastors' Wives

Eighty percent of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
The majority of pastor's wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.

Lifted from:

A star in my hand...

Last year at our BLAZE youth conference, I had a prophetic word about 7 churches being born out of that conference. There were seven crystals on the art piece that was near the stage. I challenged people to come and take one of the crystals as a symbol of the church to be born. I did not take one, though I knew that some day we would pastor a church or plant a church.

We have planted a church this year even though at that time we didn't know we would be a part of the fulfillment of that word. As we approached BLAZE I thought about that word. I even thought about trying to find another crystal in my left over BLAZE stuff from last year. In fact I did think that thought the very morning of the last day of BLAZE on Sat, but I ended up not looking for it...just thinking about it.

I wore the same jacket all weekend at BLAZE and during the conference, I must of put my hands in my pockets numerous times, they were empty until the very end of the conference when I put on my jacket to leave.

I reached in my pocket and there inside was this crystal.
It was not there before.

I was stunned.

So much has been said and done in this last season of transition. So many "words" that have been said to me, around me and behind me. Many times I have had to wrestle through the thoughts, the feelings and the discouragement in the midst of the excitement and faith of following the dream.

I have poured my life, energy, dreams, passions, reputation, gifts and money into this youth conference over the last 6 conferences. I was dead tired at the end of the meeting Saturday night and though very satisfied and thankful, there was a bitter sweet emotion at the end of it all. Would there be another BLAZE? What did God think about all this drama? Was all the labor worth it? Was God pleased?

So many lives were obviously powerfully touched at the conference this year. Salvation's, healing, restoration, empowerment, deliverance and many more testimonies. But what about my life God?

I needed to hear from Him and He knew that. Whoever put that crystal in my pocket had no idea the confirmation and encouragement that would come from that action. Thank you for being obedient to the prompting of the Lord and if it wasn't a human...thank you Jesus for putting that symbol in my pocket. Your word to me was heard. I know that our church is in your hand and that I didn't need to reach out and take a crystal for would place it in my hand.

You are my Father, God of my heart, the lifter of my head.
Thank you Lord, I give you praise for Your tender love, care and encouragement. You give me wind to move forward in faith and courage.

Now I dare to dream for 6 more stars in my hand...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

our new home

Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
Here is the next step in the unfolding journey that is the Blauer's life...a new home in East Central. I have been challenged to keep striking the ground in this season and this is the result of another strike. What a ride this has been. Who would of thought all the change that has happened in our life since last BLAZE? When I jumped off the stage and crowd surfed, I didn't know the full picture of that prophetic act. Our feet have literally not touched the ground lately, we have been swept up in a whirlwind of change, but determined change, the result of choices, faith and vision.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Let the music play....

Blaze band
Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
Here is a shot of the Blaze worship band for this year's BLAZE Youth Conference on May 26-27 at the Service Station. Four different congregations represented here. They are a reflection of the one church that is coming together at BLAZE.

It is amazing to see what great music comes out when we come together and let go of our agendas, our distinctives and our need to be recognized and just let the music play.

It has been such a struggle in this town for the last 8 years to gather different congregations together for such an event. So many leaders are so empire-minded instead of kingdom-minided, as my English friend Gaz puts it.

The prophet John put it this way:
And they came to John and said "Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to him." John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven." -John 3:26-27

Why can't we accept this truth? We simply serve the church of this city and those whom the Lord allows us to care for, teach and love are not ours but His. We simply serve His purpose and kingdom not our own. They are His children not ours. We are a family made up of many different homes but one Father ruling and reigning over all.

One conductor but many musicians, playing life giving music for a city desperately in need of hearing a new song.

Monday, May 22, 2006

X-men 3

xmen 3
Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
I can't wait to see this movie!

Not since Kramer...

Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
Dwight from the show The Office makes me laugh out loud. Not since Kramer have I loved a show like this one.

What a season...

Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
If you watch 24, then you know this pic says it all.
Wow, what a ride this season has been!

Get out from under your mama's skirt...

Life comes down to the reality that no man is leading me...I have to
make my own way.

If I look for affirmation, permission and pats on the back to go
forward or dream, it wont happen. People want you to bow to their
dreams. They look for others to fulfill their wants more than serve
others. Rarely do you find someone committed to becoming a launching
pad for other peoples destines unless it profits them somehow.

Christians have often been raised to be slaves instead of sons and
the result is people that can't make choices without being afraid.
They really don't believe they have freedom, they think and act like
they are still slaves. But Christ set us free and made us
go and live like a son and not a slave. Act like you have freedom, a
mind, a will and the resources to do what God has freed you to do.
Stop living like you are needing permission to live. Live God's dream
for you or you will end up living someone else's dream and know when
the season is to do just that.

Many people want to take dominion over this and that but they still
can't keep their house clean or balance their check books or know
when to say no after three pieces of pie.

Please...get a clue.

Son's should know their Father's ways, will and wants and have
internalized those values, so that their own hearts have become one
with His. Then decisions are not so complicated and full of mind
bending, heart analyzing confusion. Stop being so constipated and move!

Mama's boys always need a hug.
Real men live in such away that those needing a hug are forced to
find one because the actions of the free men are sending the guys
with skirts into their mama's arms.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Why you feel dead inside...

St Augustine says that hope has two beautiful daughters: anger at the way things are and courage to see to it they do not remain the way they are.

It amazes me how little anger there really is in the church these days. I have gotten hammered so many times for being to harsh, caustic, angry etc...but I have to ask, why aren't more people angry? Oh I hear a lot of complaining and frustration but how much of that translates to action? It is easy to deconstruct something but to construct something is completely different!

Are we willing to give our lives in courage to a seemingly impossible task? But what is worth giving your life for if it doesn't have such a ring of impossibility to it. Do you really only want to be engaged in the possible? How will you ever come to experience the true nature and character of your God if you never step out of the understandable, the predictable and the achievable?

As Reinhold Niebuhr said, ?Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime.

Are you angry about anything? Is courage whispering in your ears anymore? Are you involved in anything that requires courage? Maybe that is why you feel so dead inside...

Poor of spirit?

St. Basil the Great has a famous quote for this foolish rich man and for us, "The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry, the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked, the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot, the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor, the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.

I often think along these lines after my kids end some long list of requests. Do they really need more? Is it healthy to bless all the time? Isn't deprivation or at least lack or delay, a good thing to experience? Doesn't it usher in a holy appreciation for what we have?

Do we really need all we have? Should we have all we have?

We put the video games on the shelf for a while and low and behold Christian picks up destiny's guitar and starts learning to play stryper songs in his room. Now that wouldn't of happened if we wouldn't of added a little deprivation to our homelife. It birthed creativity. How much of our lives are poor because we are too rich? I am not speaking money really but simply in terms of opportunity. The more we can do often leads to less that we do. Could less really produce more, at least in terms of things that are of value?

Maybe this is more at the root of the blessing spoken of by Jesus for those who are poor of spirit.

Am I a fool, yet?

From the fool's gold mouthpiece
The hollow horn plays wasted words
Proves to warn
That he not busy being born
Is busy dying.
-Bob Dylan (from the song, It's alright ma, I'm only bleeding)

I am finding an intriguing reality protruding like a persistent flower emerging from the cracks of conventional wisdom.
The wisdom of divine foolishness. There is a way of living in the kingdom of God that runs contrary at times to 1+1=2 type of wisdom. There is a level of living that to the natural mind can seem quite foolish. According to scripture there is a path we must travel that requires us to become foolish for Christ in order to become wise. But who wants to appear the fool on any level? Doesn't that run completely across the grain of our rabid drive to please men or portray ourselves as more than we know we really are?

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in the this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, ?He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness, and again, The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless. -1 Corinthians 3:18

This is a hard line to define: God wisdom vs. man wisdom, divine foolishness and human foolishness.
It seems sometimes that wisdom is only truly understood in the end of a matter.

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say,'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is justified by her children. -Matt. 11:19

There have been so many times when the leading of the Spirit runs contrary to the direction my mind or circumstances seem to allow. It's like the vs I read today in Isaiah 55:1 Come buy and eat, you who have no there is a twist for the noggin. How can one buy with no money? In God's economy it happens all the time. One must be schooled in the way of Christ to truly understand and operate effectively in this wisdom.

He who wishes to philosophize by using Aristotle without danger to his soul,
must first become thoroughly foolish in Christ.
-Martin Luther, Heidelberg Disputation, Thesis 29

Becoming thoroughly foolish in Christ is a mystery to me and yet at times I seem to apprehend though not comprehend it.
I know this sounds like mumbo jumbo but these are thoughts that are swirrling around in my mind of late as we take steps that in the natural seem foolish at times. As we seek to build a church on principles and people that are considered foolish things. And yet I know that God has chosen the foolsih things and base things of this world to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). Often what we see on the outside is not what lies on the inside of a matter and if we don't spiritually judge the situation or person we will miss something of God's purposes in that moment to our own hurt.

It is argued that the inner essence of any matter is often the opposite of its outer
appearance, to explain that the apparently foolish may actually be wise, the apparently wise, foolish.
This is, to be sure, the basis of her irony; but it is also the burden of her message.
-Erasmus, The Praise of Folly

Friday, May 19, 2006

Artistically inferior crap...

It's an outrage to me that so much "Christian" art is in fact artistically inferior crap. Why? First and foremost, I don't think my Savior, the love of my life, would want His holy name spackled onto something so ham-fisted as most "Christian" music. Talk about violating the commandment of taking the Lord's name in vain! Jesus as the marketing equivalent of Adidas. A brand name.     UNTIL CHRISTIAN MUSIC STRESSES ART OVER AGENDA, IT CAN NEVER BE ANYTHING BUT SECOND RATE. As a music editor at the Chicago Tribune, I have a responsibility to turn my readers on to the best art out there. And as a Christian, I have an obligation to tell the truth at all costs, as I see it. If it's bad, awkward, mawkish art that Nashville keeps shipping to me like so many day-glo W.W.J.D. bracelets, what choice do I have? I would rather be the voice of one crying out in the wilderness than win the approval of any cabal that is convinced--for all the wrong reasons--that the majority of "Christian" music serves a noble purpose. 

-LOU CARLOZO, Music Editor for the Chicago Tribune

Ouch, what a scathing analysis. I must confess though, I agree. The whole area of arts in the church needs a new renaissance. The heavy handed amway-like sell, sell, sell is nauseating to me. But cursing the darkness is not the only response we should make. How about really engaging the arts from the stand point of artistic beauty and meaning. Can we embody truth in such a way that people are moved by the mere value of what it is vs. what it tries to say? Can we shout the gospel with our lives and with our art without words? Can people know us by anything other than our words?

Strike the ground again...

Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
Pray for us as we continue to push forward in this dream world. This house is next to our church and I have gone by it many times and thought to myself that it would be a great place to live. It is a really great house and it is right across the street from the basketball courts by our building. Yesterday as I was driving by I saw a forsale sign up. I jumped on it and we meet with a realtor today to start yet another push forward.

Confessions of a Rev...

Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
I am sooooooo looking forward to reading this book and it should arrive today from Amazon! If you have not read Radical Reformission, his other book, go out and buy it and read it, you won't regret it.

Blaze May 26-27th

Blaze 06 final poster
Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
BLAZE Youth Conference is next week at the Service Station. We are anticipating a very awesome conference this year and hope you can make it.

7PM Eric Blauer
Deep Impact Drama Team

10AM Jackie Harris & Jasen Hatten
2PM Scott Gurule
7PM Scott Gurule
Deep Impact Drama Team

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Imagined rebellion...

A revolutionary age is an age of action; ours is the age of advertisement and publicity. Nothing ever happens but there is immediate publicity everywhere. In the present age a rebellion is, of all things, the most unthinkable. Such an expression of strength would seem ridiculous to the calculating intelligence of our times. 

On the other hand a political virtuoso might bring off a feat almost as remarkable. he might write a manifesto suggesting a general assembly at which people should decide upon a rebellion, and it would be so carefully worded that even the censor would let it pass. At the meeting itself he would be able to create the impression that his audience had rebelled, after which they would all go quietly home---having spent a very pleasant evening. 
-Soren Kierkegaard, The Present Age (Pg. 35)

I think there is much "imagined rebellion" going on in the church today, especially among the emerging church crowd and conversation. Granted, it is good to start somewhere but so often conversation simply becomes the end of the means...not the other way around.

Christians should be troublemakers, creators of uncertainty, agents of a dimension incompatible with society. -French Theologian Jacques Ellul

“The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about.” 
-Oscar Wilde 

Admire instead of follow...

Jesus weeping
Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
We are homeless.
-Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 4:11)

To want to admire, instead of follow Christ, is not an invention of bad people; no it is more an invention of those who spinelessly want to keep themselves detached at a safe distance from Jesus.
-Soren Kierkegaard

Growing a spine. That's what I feel deep in my soul, the desire to embody practically the gospel as lived out by Jesus. The life of Jesus is starting to put it's holy hands around the neck of pursuits that I previously thought were legitimate but now I see were causing a petrification in my heart.

I am being confronted by the way of Christ and as always, this blog merely becomes the anvil where I slam out the thoughts and struggles of the internal hammer of God. Sparks are flying and the anvil is hot right now, that means this is a perfect time to reform the blade of my life. Strike now...has been the motto for this season and the reverberation of the blows is being felt in many different areas of my life.

It is challenging and liberating all at the same time. But these are not new thoughts, they are simply movements back to the core of my soul again. A reunion of sorts with the pulse of my call. It is the same call that has taken me on many trips into the seedy life of Amsterdam and compelled me to serve in the jails and take the broken into my home on countless occasions. But now there is freedom to fully explore and engage this heartbeat. I am free to follow and I hear the call.

I don't want to simply clean up the mess caused by clogged toilets in our society, I want to be involved in going to the source and helping remove the clogs themselves.

To much of ministry is mopping up the mess but not addressing the real root of the problem. To do this means to strip away the mirages that often hide the truth and face the issues face to face. To truly touch the lepers so that they may be healed is completely different than praying for them from my warm and clean study.

It was the way of Christ and I think He weeps at how far His people often live from that pattern. What does it truly mean to be "LIKE" Christ?

The simplicity of it is also the cross of it:
"Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none." (Lk 3:11).

There is the way, the truth and the life that is Christ and I want to follow it as a community of believers. I don't want to simply teach people what to believe as a Christian; but how to live as a Christian too.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Homeless Jesus

Homeless Jesus
Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what He did.
We can applaud what He preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore His cross without taking up ours. -Shane Claiborne from his book that I am reading called The Irresistible Revolution.

I had a insightful talk with a friend of mine involved in hands on ministry with he poor and homeless in urban Spokane the other day. he said he was angry because of all the urban redevelopment that is pushing the poor out of the areas where they are able to afford housing.

It has become vogue to reclaim old buildings and homes that are low cost and turn them into middle to high end condos or hip living areas for hipster urbanites or rich people.

From one perspective that seems great for the economy, the look and feel of the city and it feeds our desires to have more entertainment available. Because where there is money there will be those businesses that will establish themselves there to feed off the abundance.

But what do the poor do, when the property they rent has gone up in value by $20,000 in a year because of the redevelopment and potential of the property to become a money making venture. Well the property taxes go up and the landlords pass that along to the renters and boom...relocation takes place. The poor can't afford the rent raise, so they move again to another area that is economically realistic. And so the story goes...the poor get the shaft as the rich take more and more.

Jesus said that he didn't even have a place to rest His head but we have many rooms and beds and choices to cuddle up in. Can we really rest so soundly when countless others are being pushed out of their poor communities because we want a cool loft overlooking the river?

Monday, May 15, 2006

The family...

the family
Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
Strange family indeed...

The fighter...

Micah, Spencer & Logan
Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
And here is the FIGHTER...the dark side of the moon. If you have met Micah, you know he is also a superhero waiting to take over the world with his fists. Somehow we have raised a barbarian in suburbia.

The lover...

Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
The two sides of the moon...this is the Micah that everyone knows if they hang around him long enough. Though it might not be the first phase of the moon you meet it is there. He loves His friends and family and is a tender heart wrapped in a tough shell. Last night we watched the movie "March of the penguins" and during the part of the movie where the little penguins were left by thier parents, he asked me if he could cry. He thought it was sad that they wouldn't see them again. His little heart is a big heart for sure.

frantic leadership

But while once the essence of leadership may have been activity, our times require a different kind of leader, one who leads from both head and heart and one whose very essence can be described as spiritual. Too much activity, particularly that on the part of leaders, has been shaped because there was a drive to succeed a need to be successful a hunger to be seen as effective, to feed the ego. But the biggest egos are usually fed at the expense of others. In the new world that kind of oppression is seen for what it is.. self-serving, manipulative, oppressive. As we clearly see that kind of activity as the antithesis of Christ's kingdom, we are waiting for a new kind of leadership one that is essentially spiritual.

Tonight I watched as my usually busy wife sat down on the couch. Within minutes of her resting her body there, one of our cats came and curled up on her lap. There is something irresistibly hospitable about a warm and restful person.

When I intentionally seek quiet and restful space, I encounter the Spirit of God. When we separate ourselves from busyness and distraction, He comes to brood over us. In that place of shared rest we have nothing to prove, no one to influence, no way to "succeed" except to be loved. Restful people become a welcoming place for the Spirit of God, and in turn can offer peace and rest to others.

The only way forward to a new kind of church is to become people of restfulness and contemplation. So long as we are driven to bring change, driven to be effective, we will only recreate the driven, oppressive, addictive and compulsive systems we have always known.

The greatest hope of influencing change is not our compulsive activity to shape a world different than the one we know, but to become the change we seek. I am gradually learning that this is a completely impossible task. But for God..

by Leonard Hjalmarson

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A homeless man named Jesus...

Sometimes we speak out to try to change the world, and other times we
speak to try to keep the world from changing us. -Elie Weisel, author
and holocaust survivor.

Lately I have really been wrestling with the gospel as a "way" VS the
gospel as "belief". I am finding that to believe something requires
little of me but to follow a "way of living" can really begin to
expose my life. I am discovering that when one starts to look at
Jesus as someone to follow instead of someone to simply believe in,
the cost of the gospel starts to be felt. Changing ideas and beliefs
to enhance my life is one thing but leaving something to follow the
master is another thing altogether.

It is one thing to understand the forgiveness of God and having to
ask for forgiveness from someone I hurt.

It's one thing to give some money in an offering plate and another
thing to sell my house.

Learning to get along with people that I already know and care about
and might experience friction with or annoyance, is one thing, but
learning to love people that hurt me or use me or are my enemies is
quite another.

I am seeing a pattern in my suburbanized's called upward
The idea that one must always progress towards economic increase. The
goal being the acquisition and continual pursuit of wealth, position
and security. The underlining premise being that more is always
better or bigger is somehow more preferred.

I am finding that such values seem to stumble over the LIFE of Jesus.
I am wrestling with His priorities, values and His WAY, compared to
the modern churches way. I know that is a broad generalization but at
this moment I can't articulate it all perfectly. I am seeing the
light being cast from the life of Jesus and it is making some shadows
stand out in my own life.

I realize that much of my writing has stemmed from trying to avoid
being changed or conformed instead of changing others. I feel a
pressure from without and an uneasy voice from within that is calling
me to embody THE WAY more fully and more radically than I have.

I hear the call of the gospel reverberating through footsteps of a
homeless man named Jesus...and He is saying "come follow me".

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

How many can you see?

Count the "F's" in the following text:



Monday, May 08, 2006

Slayer memories...

I was reading a post over at Spencer's blog and had an answer for one
of the comments, I've been to one of their concerts, here is what it
is like:

Just turn the light off, and flash a strobe light in your face
repeatedly from different angles.
Raise both arms and do the devil horns metal fist with both hands and
pump it mercilessly. Turn the music up beyond listening level, grow a
massive mullet or scraggly hair style, bang your head like you want
it to fall off or split open.

Add chanting, upside down crosses and cuss, scream and shout like a
maniac possessed by a wolverine with ADD. Add bong hits, lighters and
a lot of anger people and mix it altogether and you get one
gargantuan goulash of devilish goop. I was so tweaked by the decent
into a little hell on earth that I walked out just to breathe some
undammned air.

I felt like I was in the exorcist musical.

Relief Worker Killed by a Land Mine Placed by the Burma Army

Here is a recent report out of Burma from the Free Burma Rangers. Obviously this is why we are praying for my brother Matt and the team there. Unfortunately this is the reality they are facing daily. He will be there four more weeks. -Eric

Yesterday we lost one of our best men due to a landmine placed by the Burma Army landmine. His name was Saw Mu (Mr. Happy), but we called him Mr.Afraid because he was not. He was the Muthraw District Free Burma Ranger team video camera man. He was the team counselor and an additional duty for which he volunteered, was children programs with the Good Life Club. He was a bright, humble and brave young man.We are saddened by his death but believe he did not die in vain and was the finest example of Karen manhood. His was a full life of giving to many and he set an example of servant leadership. He died putting a light on the current Burma Army attacks on the civilians of this area and that light is shining.

Personal note: Saw Mu was single, a Christian and his hope was in God. He was always smiling and laughing and was a friend to me and my family. He took time, even when he was under the pressure of training, to play with our children. He was always joking and it is hard to think that on earth we will not see him again. It is tragic to lose him. I thought afterwards that for me, even though his life has made a great difference for good, only God's promise of a new life gives me any hope in the situation of his death. We will do our best to honor Saw Mu, help his family and are blessed to have walked in this land with him.

God bless you all,
A relief team leader

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The hidden blessing...

I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the orphan who had no
helper. The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me, and I
made the widow's heart sing for joy. -Job 29:12-13

I awoke this morning with a burmese pastor on my heart; his lot in
life, his trials, his suffering, his burnt church. His make shift
home in the jungle that was destroyed in the rain by a tree, right
after he had finished it for his drenched family.

As I stand on the verge of a new church community forming, new
ministry opportunities emerging and holding a worship gathering in
our new facility...I couldn't help but be broken by the abundance of
my moment in light of the lack of his. I wept tears of longing to
some how be a church that identifies, joins, carries and learns from
and is blessed enough to receive the blessing of the one ready to

There is a hidden blessing waiting to be bestowed on those who will
go to the places where it is hidden. Sometimes is comes to us but
most often you have to search for it because God loves to disguise it
in unlikely places.

Those who are given much are required much...I feel that I have been
given much and the weight of that blessing is tangibly present this
quiet morning.

I long to hear the words of Jesus in the voices of my humble yet
great brothers and sisters:
Well done, my good and faithful servant.

I pray for you my Burmese boot shall break the jaws of
the wicked. (Job 29:17)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Art phobia...

Life is pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us.
- Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682)

To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. -Titus 1:15

When I read these quotes, I think about some conversations I have had about "art" and it's inclusion as a major element of our new church. Some people are skittish about the use of the arts in the church. I am not sure where such phobias are bred but I have never had such fears. I think art helps expand our interaction with truth and life. 

I have always wondered why art isn't more a part of the general atheistic of our buildings and gathering places. We don't seem to be phobic of art in our homes, instead we surround ourselves with visual representations of who we are and what we love. Shouldn't the same tangible realities be experienced when one comes in-contact with the gathered house of the Lord? Does not creation itself express something glorious and yet infinitely complex about the God we serve? 

As we explore this within our own congregation, I find great excitement as we dream about all the possibilities that are before us. As we make room for creativity and shared creation, it's great to discover the artistic light that is beginning to dawn or has been shinning in all kinds of hearts and lives.

I think artists have a keen ability to find purity in all things, much like our God. 

Thursday, May 04, 2006

salt is good...

...everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if the salt
becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? have salt in
yourselves, and be at peace with one another. -Jesus (Matt. 9:49-50

It amazes me how much flack I get from readers of this blog about how
troublesome it is among certain people, and yet they keep reading it.
I have often been told that this blog should be shut down, tamed or
castrated to make it more soft and amiable. And to be honest at times
when the pressure to conform has been at it's highest...I have almost
given in to the pressure. I have wrestled with the level of honesty
and "rawness" that I have felt compelled to write at.

I know that I resonate with gut level, brutal honesty...the good and
the bad. I cheer when someone says it boldly and sometimes even when
it isn't politically correct, at least, as it relates to the church
culture. I am not saying that I like division, or stirring up trouble
for the sake of being titillating, I don't...well...maybe sometimes,
but that is on my bad days. I simply love truth, especially when
shred from the the bowels of someone's soul. I am not afraid of the
truth, i long for it to once again stand up and stop cowering in the
shadows. I feel truth has been browbeat and demeaned, bullied even
into submission to fear. I hate censorship...spoken or unspoken.

This morning I was deeply ministered too by the above verse. I love
that Jesus just says it flat out: SALT IS GOOD. He likes it "salty".
In fact, he dislikes when people become "unsalty", when they lose
their flavor, their kick! He says in another gospel that unsalty salt
is good for nothing but being "thrown out" and "trampled underfoot".
I think many people have lost their "salt" and the church is to
blame. We don't want salty people, we want manageable, tame people
that are mellow and bland and safe.

The way to be at peace with one another is to allow each of us to
have "salt in ourselves". Stop trying to make everyone like you. Let
god be God in each vessel. The potency is important. Some people in
this world need a strong flavor to awaken their hunger or get their
spiritual taste buds to begin to come alive again. There is way to
much out there that is being served up in christian circles that is
flat out...flavorless, it has lost it's punch.

I agree with Jesus...salt is good!

Stop apologizing for your saltiness and start sprinkling it out, you
might find that there are many people that love the taste of His salt
in you.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Tears of the oppressed

Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun; I saw the tears of the oppressed and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors and they have no comforter. -Ecclesiastes 4:1

Please pray for my brother Matt, his wife Thanita, Nisha and Nic. Matt is filming in the jungles of Burma right now. It is a dangerous project but one that God is going to use to bring comfort and help to those weeping under the hands of injustice.

One of the awesome things that I look forward to being able to do now, is connecting with people that want relationship and join them in supporting mission work that we can link up with. I look forward to having Matt join us at Jacob's Well and him knowing he is loved, supported and covered in prayer by our church and blog community.

I truly believe film, internet and digital information is a tool in the hands of God right now to bring light into dark places and I long to be a part of that cutting edge advance against the gates of the enemy.

Jacob's Well will be involved in relieving the tears of the oppressed by engaging in the evolving media revolution that is empowering works of justice to become flash points of practical ministry in little parts of the world like ours. It is exciting to be able to join them!

So please pray for Matt and his family too, as he faces danger for love, love of God and love of people. It is what we are called to do, isn't it?