Wednesday, October 31, 2007
LeeElla and I have been waiting to watch this film for awhile and finally found a quiet, kid-less night to enjoy it. It was a deep look at love, life, death and immortality told within 3 stories and 3 time periods and revolving around a book and cancer. It really is one of the most thought provoking films I have seen. I have pondered it a lot since seeing it. I will use the movie as a tool in teaching on sickness and disease at some point...probably within a recovery, inner healing, burying the dead context. It wonderfully highlights the struggles of facing death, embracing death and seeing death through the eyes of resurrection. It teaches some powerful truths about what to focus on when going through the valley of the shadow of death. It's an emotional film, especially if you have gone through something similar. The part where she is in the tub and cant feel her feet and the horror, the anguish, the look in her husbands face and then the beauty of the embrace and suspending the march towards death in a passionate kiss in the moment...was deeply moving. Oh that we could all suspend time and hold those we love in spite of deaths creeping long shadow...love truly triumphs...oh, death where is you sting? Only one who will rise again can truly say that with hope and surrender.
Here is another great article that deals with, what will your spouse be like when you die?
Have I nurtured my spouse's personality, or buried it?
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
"The problem with evangelical Christianity in America today, a large majority of you have sacrificed the essential for the sake of the trivial. You concentrate on the trivialities—not smoking, not drinking, not using bad language, not dressing inappropriately in church, and so on. Jesus doesn't give two hoots for that sort of bulls---. If you go out and DO Christianity, you can smoke if you want, you can drink if you want—though not to excess, in either case."
As a pastor I have been wrestling with such scriptures as:
The base things of the world and the despised...God has chosen. -1 Cor 1:28
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. -1 Timothy 1:15
In the church...we tend to choose the people who look good, promising, respectable and have potential. Judging is a major part of gathering leaders. I find myself struggling with this way of thinking, especially when God messes it all up.
I was at our church prayer meeting at lunch time...alone, since hardly anyone attends that hour. That can be disappointing as a pastor...its like a window banker not having anyone drive up to his window. Whats the point? But anyway...I was sitting there and in came a man I know from some activities in the neighborhood. He sat down and said he felt the Lord sent him to encourage me. He then preceded to tell me his life story.
He was a recovering sex offender; who molested his daughter.
He shared, we prayed together...he left.
I sat bewildered yet again by Jesus and who he chooses to use. Of all the people we would think to send to encourage the "pastor". Of all the people who God could use...good ole, respectable, church born, together people...He sent our society's most despised to shed his love on this at times...generally prayer times...discouraged pastors heart.
I think Jesus went to a different leadership seminar than I did...
Monday, October 29, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I am sorry for not giving you the gospel, in the way and in the clarity that you deserved. The gospel is about Jesus...so much of what I gave you was about you. The true gospel focuses on what He has done, who He is and sets people free from themselves...both their sins and their "righteousness". It is liberating. The other gospel...has man and what he does or doesn't do at it's center. It creates bondage and encourages sin...both the good kind and the bad kind. Looking back, I know I sincerely wanted the best for you. To see you grow in Christ, change the world, reach the lost, draw close to God, become more prayerful, remain pure, lead others, find God in worship, know your bibles, reach your campuses, love the lost, be good kids, obey your parents, sacrifice for God's kingdom, touch the nations and a host of other "good" things.
But in the end...I encouraged you to work hard...but I didn't teach you to rest in the work of God.
The simple gospel is: "...knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 2:16)
I am not sure if you would have come to that knowledge under my ministry. For that I ask your forgiveness. Looking back, I see more and more that "ministry" was more about me...than you. It was more about the growing drive to reach more, grow bigger, impress people, make a name, go farther than others in the spirit, have a more "spiritual" youth group...in fact, drop the "group" and put the word "church" in there, because we were going to be better than other "groups" we were going to be a youth church. So much of that, though sincere...was sincerely wrong. It divided. It put some in and others out. It put undue strain on teens who should of been enjoying just being teens instead of gathering the world onto their shoulders.
You were good enough for God but not good enough for me...and that was wrong. I see now that so much of youth work is really in vain. It's like trying to wash out the stripes of the zebra. The gospel accepts our sinfulness, our humanness, our immaturity...in fact to truly understand the gospel, you have to start with: the truth that...you are not able to save yourself.
So much of church ends up teaching you that you can save yourself, improve yourself, control yourself, restrain yourself, beat yourself, trust yourself, harness yourself...and when life teaches you that you are not able...a deep disillusionment can settle in. I have seen this happen in many of you. Some of that is simply believing a false gospel that is centered on human work instead of the work of Christ.
For some of you...it was too much. I was too much...to intense, to raw, to strict. I was to legalistic in my drive to help you "give it all to God". I was hyped up on too much world changing charismatic shit. I was to young to see the difference between growing something and producing something.
A large anything is usually unhealthy...but the pressure to perform is innate in the systems of church, the world, academics and relationships. We are plagued with a cancer of human potential thinking that sounds so good to hear but when you come to the end of it...you realize that Christ and you are two very different realities. One opens up life like a flower and the other portrays life like a dark chore to endure and change.
I hope and pray that in your struggle to grow up that you are finding Christ. My hearts desire is that you would be consumed with the rest of enjoying Him, walking with Him and serving Him in a humble and sincere way. That you would see your life as a gift to live gratefully and in doing so, you would see that your life glorifies the One who gave it to you.
I wish you would of encountered more of Jesus and less of me...but, in the end, that is the trouble of this world...seeing Jesus in the midst of so much other crap. I hope you do better than I have done.
I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Everyone there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes."
- C.S. Lewis
You are loved...in all your youthiness, in all your imperfections, in all your teenish ways...in all your failures and accomplishments. I think of you with love and grace. I pray for you and dream of the day when all of us can walk gently and humbly in love and in grace for the glory of God.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
Jesus replied, "The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. -Jesus (John 3:5-6)
Getting pregnant messes up all your plans...especially when you are not planning it. But life doesn't always fit our plans does it. What kind of emotion would you have right now...if you found out your honey was pregnant or that your "one night stand" left you with more than a good feeling? We have been conditioned more and more to think less and less about giving birth and more about how to earn more, do more and enjoy life. Family looks like a ending of real life for to many folks. Motherhood sounds like a life sentence for many young women. And I think the church is showing the same kind of self-focused attitudes too.
We don't want to endure the pains and challenges of giving birth as the local body of Christ. It cost too much. If God told us, that our body was pregnant...how would we respond?
When the water breaks...everything stops and all attention is focused on giving birth. We pray for God to pour out the rain, the water, of His Spirit but are we truly willing to allow God to mess up all our plan, if He wants to bring a child into our congregational lives? Or will we opt for some religious form of abortion to kill the idea...the dream. Will we make sure everything we do has got a "religious condom or spiritual birth-control pill" covering the event...so nobody gets impregnated with the life altering works of God?
I fear we want intimacy with God as churches..but not the commitment of getting pregnant. We want the pleasure of getting close to Jesus but dont want to raise his children. We say we love Him but dont want to change shape to bear His life. It feels great being the bride of Christ...as long as we don't have to become the womb of Christ.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
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It amazes me in the land of opportunity, that Christians wrestle with living with no purpose. This video exemplifies what I desire to work towards in our challenged neighborhoods in Spokane...connecting people and their gifts, talents and passions with work that has a purpose beyond just paying the bills. Redeeming work and inspiring people to take their dreams and turn them into reality. It can happen for those who are willing to do whatever it takes to see it emerge. I pray that God would awaken a vision in His people to work for Justice in our city. Imagine what could unfold...
"So the churches throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions...Peter went up on a housetop to pray...and fell into a trance...while peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him: "Behold three men are looking for you...-Acts 9:31-32 & 10:9,10 & 19
It is often when we have just grown comfortable, begun to enjoy the blessings of prosperity, peace and comfort that are the very results of our faithful service and God's gracious blessings and work among us that we run into the call of the Spirit.
Peter was confronted by a disturbing dream on a rooftop overlooking the area. In this dream he was commanded to eat a host of unclean animals. Something that was unthinkable to a good Jew. Something that was outside "his comfort zone". A call to do something that others would abhor, that others would questions, that others would resist. It was against all they had grown up knowing. It was not religiously appropriate. It was wrong. Peter could lose all the wonderful perks that a traveling apostle might get if he engaged in such barbarian like behavior. What would the good leaders think, if they saw Peter feasting on forbidden food?
What a quandary he was in...of course he resisted, refused and repelled.
Don't we all...when God's call comes to us and disturbs our religious nests of comfort and goodness. We are quick to proclaim how mysterious God's ways are until He speaks in such raw and unconventional ways.
In order for Peter to move to the next level of outreach and ministry...God called him to kill something.
Something always has to die in order to move. Something has to be killed in order to see the next field of harvest. Someone has to rise up and take the knife to their traditions, their thinking, their plans, their own way of thinking and kill it.
Mission almost always requires an altar stained with blood.
The only person that should or can go...should be the one who will obey the call to die.
To let go of the past, no matter how wonderful it has been. let go of the known in order to embrace those who are unknown.
God had three men arriving to meet Peter but God had to meet him first in the butcher block called the prayer closet. Where God slays our limitations that keep the gospel from continually moving forward, out and beyond. Too many prayer closets become locked and the people in them end up suffocating on the fumes of their own words. God wants to unleash a missionary force of men and women who have rose up and killed whatever God says to slay and emerge ready to go...ready to embrace the unclean animals that the Lord has destined to fill with His life transforming Spirit. The church will be born in the stables of our filthy streets again and again...if Peter will come to the rooftop and pray. If Peter will dare to pick up the knife again...and if Peter will choose to eat what before...he would have rejected.
Daring days indeed...
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Simply a great short presentation of why being on mission day to day with purpose versus aiming at attracting occasionally is more biblical in my opinion. I dont think this means there is never anything that is "attractional" in the ministry of the church body but it has to do with an underlying value and way of thinking outreach.
When people come to our church and ask us if we do evangelism or have an evangelism program...I point to the people first and say..."we are purposing to raise up evangelists not an evangelistic program...missionaries not a missions program" It really isn't just semantics. Of course there are challenging points to this way of thinking.
-You end up having to trust the people not the program. Programs are far more containable, controllable and consistent. We can micromanage programs but people are in constant flux.
-Trusting God to be God in His church, means you are not God anymore. That really strikes at the root of our desire to look good, together or like we have everything figured out. People want charts, maps, travel books about everything...if you give them a compass and say we are simply heading East...they scratch their head. They are not used to being told "any-road is good, just go in that direction". They want to be told what road, where to turn, what city, when do I turn left, etc. The church has created dependent believers that are always waiting for fear of doing something "out of God's will"...its religious bondage.
-It means having faith in God's word in a way that runs counter to the way the world or business runs. We are taught by world and by deed and example that the great, the best, the good looking, the talented, the strong, the smart and the rich make things of value happen. This is a dis-empowering model that basically cuts out most of us. So we end up with a lot of programs run by a few people that end up getting puffed up and then burned out. God's way is more about what do you have in your house vs. wait until the qualified or the abundance or the gifted come to your house.
-Then of course...people are always more sinful, slower, hardhearted and hardheaded, more picky, fussy, lazy, undisciplined, prayerless, quirky, bitchy, anal and tight fisted than a program. It's tough work walking with people, discipling people, watching them rise and fall, love and betray you. Running church life from behind a desk and a pulpit vs from behind people is a big differance. One says "come and see" and another says...."go and meet".
One is about me and the other is about them.
Monday, October 22, 2007
"When you see the naked...cover him." -Isaiah 58:7
Here is a link: Coat Drive to a set of photos LeeElla took from Sunday night's East Central Community Center's coat drive. We were allowed to come before the general public to make sure the refugees from Burma that we are assisting resettle in our neighborhood get some good, warm coats for the winter. A huge thank you to Dawn and the others at ECCC for being so gracious and generous with our friends. All the families were able to leave with what they will need for winter. You can see the joy and gratefulness in their faces.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." -Jesus (Luke 19:37-40)
This last Friday night we attended an event called "Women Rising" in part because our daughter was singing in it and my sister-in-law was helping put it together. It was a number of churches coming together in song, dance, human video and poetry. You can get a small taste in the video we took, excuse my daughters head...what can I say, we are amateurs.
In a part of the country where the Aryan Nation still holds white supremacy parades...this event is an example of the church waging war against principalities and powers that still seek a place in this region.
There is something about being in a crowd that begins to, as Luke put it, "Praise God in loud voices" that challenges the suffocating lethargy that freezes people up in their bodies. God is the Lord of the body, not just the mouth. I love that my black sisters can sing in a freedom of expression that awakens the soul in such a way that the body obeys. Is it necessary...no, well...maybe...but it's far more enjoyable! No rocks crying out here...
Short video here:
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
This is for You
My 13 year old daughter Destiny, performed her song "This is for You" at a multi-church music night at a local event venue. Her older brother Christian kept her grounded on the drum.
Friday, October 19, 2007
So what do you think of this? For the record...I think it is whacked.
Send me $200,000 instead...we need to house some refugees, rehabilitate some drug users, help some single moms find affordable housing and train some urban missionaries. $200,000 would go a long way...as for a prayer retreat...I'll pray on the street.
Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
Finding a way home
This video captures the story of rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina better than any I have seen. I watched a show the other night on the crime that has arose in the wake of the storm. It was so sad, brutal and confusing to watch. I was really moved and troubled by it. This video does the same. I find myself asking what we should do now, as brothers and sisters of our fellow Americans. I know I have not done anything yet...I regret saying that. I will change that.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
One of the biblical images that the Lord used in my life to launch out in church planting was the woman at the well in John 4.
A woman who had 5 husbands and the man she was currently with was not her husband. A single mom...a symbol for me of this generation's search for love, for acceptance. A symbol of the futility of truly filling that internal hunger that only the love of Jesus can truly fill. A thirst that can drive the Father's sons and daughters to unimaginable ways of quenching that thirst. Our streets are filled with the sins of this hunger. Our homes are growing more and more empty...thirsty. Our children are growing up without the support and protection God had designed and they are suffering because of it. What does our culture say in response to such things? The above picture is it's response...their poverty of heart and pocket become our opportunity to exploit. Our chance to build yet another altar to our all consuming lust...we've erected yet another asherah pole to pour out our seedy sinful actions upon.
Then there is this young girl or one like her... that I saw as I was prayer driving through the next poverty challenged part of town I feel the Lord is calling us to plant another church. She was standing on the street corner, holding a huge toddler in her little arms. She looked beautiful...a young girl trying to be a bigger girl. My window was opened at the stoplight, I smiled and said "Looks like you got your hands full". She smiled and said "yep, and I got another one just like him in daycare"...my light turned green and I tried to encourager her to keep being a good mom...and I drove off. But the Lord slammed my heart with the picture of her holding that child. It was a symbol of a battle raging in our neighborhoods...young women trying to raise families without dads.
In the 1960s, when black Americans were in the height of civil rights strife, 23 percent of black babies were born out of wedlock, a modest figure compared with 70 percent today. Children raised in fatherless homes are more likely to be delinquent, do poorly in school, have lower self-esteem, become chemical abusers, and reproduce the same family pattern in their own lives. In most cases, no matter how strong or diligent a mother may be, children have a subconscious knowledge of what is right and wrong in a family set up. Boys turn to their fathers for their sense of masculinity and manhood. If their dad isn't around, the streets and group aggression are the next best thing for most. (recent article)
I've been weeping for the Lord to raise up believers who will enter the towns of "samaria" and build relationships with the women at the wells. Bold christians that will brush aside the cultural barriers that separate us. Missional people who will cross the racial, generational, religious and cultural lines that keep us inside the safe little coffin churches we have created for our demise. That such a thirst will arise in us that we will be vomited out onto the highways and byways again...searching for our own drink. A drink that can only be really quenched in the self sacrificing mission of Jesus.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I've heard all the baby bitch'n that goes on among purposeless young people that want God to mommy them into the kingdom but dont want to go where He said to go and do what He said to do. I have followed that call into the red lights of Amsterdam, under the bridges of our cities, into the prison cells of child molesters. I've loved the elderly, held their hands and shared the love of God with the dying. I've seen the addicts arms, the puke and urine of the lost. I've wretched by being too close. I've taken the abused and broken and fatherless into my home at great cost. I've wept with the girl whose arms are testimony to the hell she has experienced at the hands of men, drugs and life. I've sold what I love to gain what I can not lose. I've hammered out my call in the present, not waiting for permission for mission. I've led while others waited. I've fallen, forsaken and repented. All of this ranting feels vain but it's only to throw some reality water in the face of a generation that has used its divorced, drugged out, abused, broken, sinful past as an excuse for living in neutral. I don't buy it...God has used me, He will use you...if you are available. And who doesn't have more spare time than this generation?
We could evangelize our cities just on the tv time we consume.
"I dont know what to do with my life" is the big american excuse.
It's a phrase that is an affront to the poor and suffering of the world.
It's a statement born of prosperity and privilege from the mouths of a spoiled generation.
Most of the worlds young people if given the chances we have had or do have, would ascend in purpose.
I truly believe our generation will stand and condemn us in the judgment.
They will ask us what we did with our lives, our wealth, our time, our gifts, our opportunity.
What did we do with all that the Lord blessed us with in this prosperous church of America?
We are more concerned about getting laid than getting saved.
More passionate about Victoria's Secret than Christ's commission.
We will sell off half we own to purchase the latest game system but can't scrape together much of an offering for the nations of this world that dont know Christ. We got to have a sweet ride but care not for our neighbor whose been raped by her bastard father for the last 5 years. It's a sin to see how much waste we expend on a generation that should be selling everything and being spent on the cause of Christ.
Why have we sacrificed our generation and ourselves on the altar of Mammon?
Why do you, young minds and hearts, lay down your lives for the upward call of the American dream but won't move into the ghetto?
When did we exchange the cross for comfort and security?
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
With governments that Kill...we will not comply.
With the theology of Empire...we will not comply.
With the business of Militarism...we will not comply.
With the hoarding of Riches...we will not comply.
With the dissemination of Fear...we will not comply.
But today, we pledge our ultimate allegiance to the Kingdom of God...we pledge allegiance.
To the peace that is not like Rome's...we pledge allegiance.
To the gospel of enemy love...we pledge allegiance.
To the kingdom of the poor and the broken...we pledge allegiance.
To the king who loved his enemies so much He died for them...we pledge allegiance.
To the least of these, with whom Christ dwells...we pledge allegiance.
To the transnational Church that transcends that artificial borders of nations...we pledge allegiance.
To the Refugee of Nazareth...we pledge allegiance.
To the homeless Rabbi who had no place to lay His head...we pledge allegiance.
To the Cross rather than the Sword...we pledge allegiance.
To the Banner of Love above any flag...we pledge allegiance.
To the One who rules with a towel rather than an iron fist...we pledge allegiance.
To the One who rides a donkey rather than a war horse...we pledge allegiance.
To the Revolution that sets both oppressed and oppressors free...we pledge allegiance.
To the Way that leads to Life...we pledge allegiance.
To the Slaughtered Lamb...we pledge allegiance.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit...Amen.
I got more thought provoking stuff out of this guys 10 minute talk than a lot of the other speakers at the conference. I have read his book but in person...wow, radical to say the least.
Some homogenous units that are meeting behind closed doors in suburban or ex-urban megachurches act out the concept of Sartre’s play “No Exit”, which depicts hell as three self-consumed individuals who are locked up in a room with no escape and whose eyelids cannot close. These christians gather there, with eyes wide open, some of them hanging around the coffee bar to check out the possibilities for future dates, perhaps in hopes of building cozy christian homes. Some others plan evangelistic ski trips to Vail, with the only aim of showing their non-christian homogenous friends that Christians can have fun, too. -Paul Metzger in the book “Consuming Jesus”
Can I say something to you 20 somethings?
Church is more than how many people of the opposite sex are gathered together.
If you are choosing to worship somewhere that takes a half tank of gas to get there, just so you can increase your chances to land a mate or sip a latte with hipster Jesus...you are building a christian life that is dangerously self centered.
I know, I know that is harsh but...when are we going to stop looking to the church as the grand love boat and return to the church as a place of mission and worship? If I hear another college aged person tell me they are choosing their place of worship based on how many “peeps” attend there, I am going to puke. Friends are grand but what if Christ is telling you to plant your butt someplace that isn’t going to add a whole lot of pics of hot chicks or swell fellas to your myspace page? I fear we are attending churches to dance around the social phallic symbol or modern asherah poles. It’s egocentric christian hedonism turned into snazzy latte worship...it’s all about our own needs being met. It’s really just spiritual narscissim. I am praying for some young Josiah’s who will cut down the asherah poles and usher in a season of dedicated zeal to serve God with purity of heart and willing hands to serve.
"Compassion is your pain in my heart"
As the dust settles in Burma as far as the recent protests are concerned...we must not forget that the suffering still continues among the ethnic people of Burma. These little guys above are refugees from Burma. We have to keep present in our minds that they are a link to the tragedy back in their home land. They are part of our eucharist when we gather...a reminder of death and life. Pray for them, for Burma and for us as we continually figure out how to love the nations right in front of us and far away. Pray that we would be able to rejoice with those who are joyful and suffer with those who are suffering in a way that is redemptive and meaningful.
When we eat of the bread and drink of the cup of Christ...it is His body we share in.
The sharedness of the eucharist is a mystery...that many become one.
Together we are united in a way that is holy and deeply spiritual.
That bloody altar is a prophetic picture of not only the past death of Christ but also of His brokeness that is here.
We forget that we drink blood...we gather around a symbol of oppression, injustice, brutality and suffering.
Our communion is with more than the past...it's also about the suffering of Jesus in the present.
Church is not an event. It is people--people whom God calls us to love. What is more, it is in a very important sense an involuntary community of people: we don't choose our brothers and sisters--God does. And sometimes (oftentimes) those people are not terribly compatible with us--not the people we would choose to hang out with. But it is this very incompatibility that is so important, for at least two reasons. First, learning to love the people I don't like is by far the best way to learn how to love (it's easy to love people I happen to like). Second, the church is supposed to be a sociological miracle--a demonstration that Jesus has died and risen to create a new humanity composed of all sorts of people. -Charles Drew
I am blessed to be pastoring a growing church community that is becoming more and more a reflection of the area it works within. So far we are kind of carmel. Our neighborhood is about 30% black, 15-20% asian/hispanic/cuban and 50% caucasian. You can see from this picture (thanks Darin!) of our Kid's Church that diversity is becoming a way of life at Jacob's Well. I am learning that the "emerging church" is really a multi-ethnic community of faith. Figuring out how to pastor in the center instead of out on the white bread edge of our communities is a new challenge.
God is giving me fresh eyes to see people I never saw before. He is awakening in me a love for the cultural "samaritans" that I have been missing or passing by or crossing the street to avoid. I am realizing that my middle class economic place in my community has privileged me to choose who I associate with and who I don't. In the end my homogenous church experience was more about economics than faith. I could drive to a "good" church. One of the beautiful things about cultivating a neighborhood church in a lower income area is you find a diversity of ethnicity of people that become part of your church family. If you intentionally reach out and then embrace those you come into relationship with...you can see the Kingdom in all its colorful glory begin to emerge.
I came to East Central Spokane with the desire to give living water to those who were spiritually thirsty...I am realizing now, I was culturally thirsty.
Monday, October 15, 2007
"We are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside... but one day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that a system that produces beggars needs to be repaved. We are called to be the Good Samaritan, but after you lift so many people out of the ditch you start to ask, maybe the whole road to Jericho needs to be repaved."- Dr. Martin Luther King
I had the honor of sitting under the teaching of John Perkin this week at the Christian Community Development Association's Conference. I truly believe this man is an old prophet of the Amos quality. I felt like I was hearing history being made in those morning sessions. I also felt like a baton was being passed by an old leader who had fought the good fight. As a man who experienced the call to racial reconciliation in a jail cell while he was being beaten into a heart attack and near death...this is a man you need to hear in person. The wisdom on prophetic power that was in this man's loving words was deeply moving. The next church I plant will be in part because of this man's ministry this week. God used his words to confirm, expand and unleash the Spirit's work in the seasons ahead in a fresh way. God used pastor Erwin Mcmanus (www.mosaic.org) in a similar way in 05/06 before I launched out to plant our current church. It is in moments like these when God's word is being preached and the Spirit is using those words to open you heart, light your mind and awaken your will...that you are glad to be alive. I wept a lot of tears in these sessions. It was awesome to be among people engaged in the same call with the same heart and with years of experience. It was convicting to see men and women who were not just talking about working for the poor but were working among the poor. It was rejuvenating to be in a room with 1,500 people from many different racial groups. It was good to be with Christians who had works to show their faith...not just words. I was inspired by the call to not stop but expand and dream bigger...not in a upward mobility type of consumerist christian way...but in a Christ like way. Going to them...living among them...serving those God loved enough to spill His blood for. What are we willing to do in response to such a Lord?
"You guys are all into that born again thing, which is great. We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God, I can tell you that you have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy too... But I guess that's why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest." -Rich Mullins (deceased musician)
Mark Terrell, is the head of a ministry that works with street youth here in Spokane. We have been friends for a number of years and have talked about going to this conference together and this year he made it happen. I am really grateful he did.
The hotel we stayed in was called The Adam Mark and is just to the right of the Arch in the photo, it's also where the conference was held. The Gateway Arch was an amazing monument to see in person. It's over 600 feet high and towers over the Mississippi and frames the downtown St. Louis area majestically. I didn't have the guts to ride inside to the top...I am just to paranoid of really small spaces for that. But the stainless steel structure is a marvel to see.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
The month of October has been set aside for daily prayer at our church. We have the building open at 6:30-7:30 AM and 11:30-12:30 lunch hour every day except Sunday. During prayer this morning, I got a picture in my spirit of people sitting on the edge of a rushing river...unwilling to jump in. They were thinking they just didn't have the energy or strength to swim or navigate the water. They were wanting to be in it but not willing to jump in. I knew intuitively that if they just got in the river...the power of the current would take them where they never have gone before. They didn't need to worry about not having "enough" whatever to do it...just dive in.
I felt the Lord calling me to pray for people to jump into prayer.
That they would discover there is a mighty current of God's purposes rushing along the riverbanks of our homes, cities, churches and nations. That if we just do whatever it takes to get in...He will carry us along.
If you can pray with us...come.
If you can not come...would you pray for us.
This is a month of pivotal change.
It calls for a tear soaked floor.
Taking advantage of the shift of world attention to the diplomatic stage, Burmese authorities are continuing their nightly raids on homes and monasteries, searching for anybody associated with the demonstrations that rocked the country, writes Edward Loxton from Chiang Mai, in neighbouring Thailand.
A resident of Rangoon’s Yaydashay Road told a Radio Free Asia correspondent by phone that he had seen his neighbours, including children, bundled into army trucks in the dead of night and driven away. “They [the security forces] left only old people in the [apartment] house,” he said. “Those who were asked to leave were asked to bring three sets of clothing. They were all put into trucks and taken away with their heads bowed and their hands on their heads.”
One contact in Rangoon told me over a clandestine phone link: “It’s a reign of terror. The streets are deathly quiet by day, but you can feel the tension. People dread nightfall and what it will bring. My children are terrified of going to bed.”
Mizzima, a news service run by Burmese exiles in New Delhi, has reported that bodies of badly-beaten and tortured monks have been surfacing in the Rangoon River, which runs past several of the city’s monasteries.
What China is saying:
"Burma's interal affairs that do not threaten international peace and security". China's Ambassador to the United Nations Wang Guangya said "These problems, we believe, are basically internal. A solution for the Myanmar situation has to be found by the Myanmars themselves."
What the past has said:
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." -Martin Luther King, Jr
Saturday, October 06, 2007
~ Dr. Joe Dongell,
From-The Future of Hope : Christian Tradition amid Modernity and Postmodernity
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
It helps, now and then, to step back
and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.
-Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero ~
(murdered on March 24, 1980)
Monday, October 01, 2007
I invited the english congregation to join the Karen service last night as a show of solidarity for the people of Burma. To come together and pray, worship and hope. It was a good service even though only 10 of us showed up to support the Karen. I preached a deeply burdened message on Sunday about Ruth and Boaz and how the purposes of God move towards us from a distance until they end up in our bed, calling for a full commitment. I felt it was a powerful picture of our experience with the refugees. First hearing about them, then seeing them, than eating with them, then providing for them, then entering the gate of the city to face the system for them, and then marrying them in the sense of fully embracing the call and purposes of God found in the coming of the refugees. It was just like Boaz and his experience with the coming of Ruth. I felt it was an anointed word for our church. And as a final confirmation of that word...last night, Pastor JC's message was from the first chapter of...Ruth. Amazing.