Saturday, February 28, 2009

Oh those glory days....

Tip of the hat to Steve for the heads up.

Taylor shredding the Raw Nerve concert

This is the lead guitarist from Raw Nerve having a blast last Saturday night.

Vote right now for Raw Nerve....

Vote at this site for Raw Nerve in the 2009 Inlander's Buzzworthy List for the People’s Choice Award.

Ceaseless invitation to Non-virgins, Full-timers and Parents...

"Like lightning to the children eased
Through revelation kind
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind
-Emily Dickinson

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, the Apostle Paul encourages believers to "pray without ceasing." A literal translation of the verse is to pray incessantly. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "incessantly" means "continuing without interruption."

There are many voices, traditions and practices that seek to understand and implement a form of obedience to this mysterious phrase. For many its a high bar that seems out of reach and it's heights immediately evokes a sense of hopelessness, failure or guilt. For others it's a spring board for a host of duties that one would engage in on top of every other activity of the already busy day. Some find a mystical invitation to some sort of zen like state that a really devout or committed disciple might attain. But only if she was able to denounce, refuse and avoid the many temptations and practical duties of day to day life. Other's shrug their already wearied "devotional" heavy shoulders and leave it to the monks, virgins and widows.

I am beginning to see it more as an invitation to turn the present into petition or praise.

I pass a homeless man walking a dog with one really nasty eye that needs healing. I pray.
I get inundated with exhaust from a passing city bus and the smell instantly takes me back to Amsterdam. I pray.
I am mesmerized by the iceberg blue sky. I praise.
I pass a discarded marijuana pipe. I pray.
I hear a mother screaming at her child. I repent.
I see water melting down a hill and rocks and turning again back into icicles. I praise.

Moments becomes icons for prayer or praise that makes life like prayerful incense. Gentle, soft and holy.
My daily life becomes the chapel, sanctuary and monastery.
I do not cease living, experiencing, working, parenting, all becomes the wick that is lit by a mindful heart.

This is the path of prayer that doesn;t require a temple...but instead, turns the world into a temple...or as Jesus called of prayer.

Now that's a home...I can live within.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers

"Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds. "Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," Edelman says. -Read the rest of the article here.

You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. -Colossians 2:20


"We do not want to merely see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words--to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it...At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in. -C.S. Lewis "The Weight of Glory"

This is a picture of a spot on the Ben Burr trail, where a boulder has crashed down onto the trail from the hard winter. Today, I noticed the large amount of thawing taking place all around it. Winter passing and Spring coming. Forces at work, cycles, transformation right under your feet. The earth awakening, stirring and shedding its frozen chains. The power of life and nature, slowly but forcefully coming alive again. You can hear it being heralded by the incoming avian minstrels. You can catch a whiff of it if you are mindful, the scent of unfolding buds or just the flora shaking from its long cold and spreading its perfume...a prophetic promise of coming fragrances. It's all a hymnbook for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. I find great pleasure in discovering these urban sanctuaries that soothe the mind and heart; they coax out the prayers and praise of the deep. The beauty of it all, stops me in my journey and lifts my face towards the warming sun; and gazing up into the crystal cold, sapphire sky; one is held perfectly in a moment of stillness and glory.
Yet, even in such wanderings of prayerfulness, one is surrounded by the marring work of blindness. Testimonies, left behind by those who cannot see, cannot hear...souls that can't drink in the glory but vomit up the dissonance from inside, in scaring displays of pointlessness. Unable to just walk gently...
...Here I pass more tokens of purposelessness, a pot smoking tool...left behind items of manufactured escape. Evidence of hearts and minds that have grown dull, calloused, numb and tasteless. They are unable to be stimulated by the natural high. They are dead to the endorphin producing rush of natures naked beauty...instead they turn to inhaling mind altering chemicals...thay have no clue, that they are getting ripped off.

All of these moments become icons for prayer, meditation, praise and mourning. If you cannot find God on the couch with the bible...take a walk and let God and the Bible find you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

One of the best videos ever...imho

A dream...

All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need...But as the believers[a] rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food (Acts 4:32-35 & 6:1).

Did you read this part?

"There were no needy people among them." and there was "the daily distribution of food" among the believers in Jerusalem. Christian community urban life involved a radical approach to living that resulted in eliminating poverty among them. It involved a "daily" food distribution plan and it wasn't the government that fed the poor...but the church body caring for those in need. This is the kind of vision that I dream of being part of...not a soup kitchen or food bank but a community of faith, living creatively, sacrificially and organically and finding practical ways to become "good news" to the poor around them.

This is a "green movement" that I would believe in.

O Beauty, so ancient...and so new

Late have I loved Thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved Thee!
And behold, Thou wert within and I was without.
I was looking for Thee out there,
and I threw myself, deformed as I was, upon those well-formed things which Thou hast made.
Thou wert with me, yet I was not with Thee.
These things held me far from Thee, things which would not have existed had they not been in Thee. Thou didst call and cry out and burst in upon my deafness;
Thou didst shine forth Thy fragrance,
and I drew in my breath and now I pant for Thee;
I have tasted, and now I hunger and thirst;
Thou didst touch me, and I was inflamed with desire for Thy peace.
-St. Augustine

Poets...more than prophets.

Left Behind


Facing the Giants

"Why did Jesus speak in parables? Why was He subtle, indirect, and secretive/ Because His message wasn't merely aimed at conveying information. It sought to precipitate something more important; the spiritual transformation of the hearers. the form of parable helps to shape a heart that is willing to enter an ongoing, interactive, persistant relationship of trust in the teacher. It beckons the hearer to explore new territory. it helps form a heart that is humble enough to admit it doesn't already understand and is thirsty enough to ask questions. In other words, a parable renders its hearers not as experts, not as know-it-alls, not as scholars...but as children....Human kingdoms advance by force and violence...but God's kingdom advances by stories, fictions, tales that are easily ignored and easily misunderstod. Pherhaps that's the only way it can be." Brian McLaren (The Secret Message of Jesus)

To those who have ears to hear...-Jesus

Soren Kierkegaard, the eighteenth century Danish existentialist philosopher and theologian, also believed that identification is the means through which advocates influence people. He specifically addressed the “Christendom” problem-in which many people who live in a “Christian country” believe in Christianity but do not live by it and do not see the contradiction and they live the “illusion” that they are Christians! ...A “direct” approach to such people, Kierkegaard observed, arouses defensiveness and is counterproductive. So he recommend “indirect” communication approaches that engage peoples imagination, such as through narrative, that “wound from behind” and help people to “discover” truth. He exclaims: "The method must be indirect…All the old military science, all the apologetic and whatever goes with it, serves rather—candidly speaking—to betray the cause of Christianity. At every instant and at every point the tactics must be adapted to a fight which is waged against a conceit, an illusion." (-The Point of View by S. Kierkegaard) (The above was taken from chapter 5 of the book: The Celtic Way Of Evangelism by George Hunter)

I would submit to you that the emerging generation needs poets...more than prophets today.

I imagine there is a place for the above films, and if they have accomplished good, than I leave it up to God and the readers to sort that one out. But just because some good comes out of something, doesn't mean that is the method, institution, the book, the band or the person...should be embraced. If that was true...than Mormonism, Islam, Republicans, the Fab Five and Oprah should all be welcomed with non-discriminating arms, simply because peoples lives have been influenced, changed or bettered by them. Heck, even Playboy has good articles. ;) so I've heard...

My desire isn't to undermine the goal of these types of movies; but to challenge film makers to explore their craft with broader, deeper, more engaging means and methods. To trust the medium of art more than the temptations of message heavy movies that start to feel like fundamentalist propaganda. To think, act, write and produce art, with a Christ like, parable form of sharing truth.

Don't make it so easy. It cheapens the pearl of truth when you cast it out into the pens of swine. It's indecent, stop showing so much...leave something to the imagination. The lure of what is underneath is far more seductive than letting it all hang out. There's too many muffin-top movies out there...please for truth's sake....learn the art and beauty of message modesty.

Can someone get fed off a greasy, heart clogging, fat dripping burger? Yes, but just because a sincere person cooked it up and just because someone satisfied their hunger pains from it...should we serve it up for the multitudes? Should we discourage aspiring cooks from studying the culinary arts because we already have fast food?

It's my opinion that the "Christian" entertainment industry produces more fast food than culinary art.

Is there a place for fast food? Some would say yes, others would strongly disagree.

Our Mayor burning it up...

Last Saturday night at the RAWK Final Four...our mayor, Mary Verner, joined up with GASMASQ and busted a rhyme with a solid message, a shout out to the Grace of God and the Children of the Sun. If my son hadn't been competing in the band contest, I would have voted for her!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Christian movies...

Ok, I know I get flak for not being a rousing endorser for the latest "Christian movies" that comes down the marketing pipeline...I mean I didn't see "The Passion" until more than a year or two after it came out...because I hate being manipulated into supporting things simply because they are "Christian".

I'm crotchety and often fairly stringent when it comes to art, movies, music or literature being produced by "Churchianity". Maybe I've been too soaked in the culture to be able to appreciate the sanitized packaged, with "good for you inside" products that get pushed like sanctified crack by wide eyed fundamentalists that finally feel like they are sitting at the popular table because they got a semi-hollywood film showing. It just feels so desperate.

It might be my "indie" upbringing that exposed me to life on the margins where art was being produced for the love of it instead of the markability of it. Where music was played because it sounded good, grabbed your throat and kicked you in the groin with its message; all the while more content playing in a garage or showing on the internet than bowing to the powers that be.

It could be my individualistic North West nature, that would rather die in the woods alone; than get smothered by the masses at the latest Jesus Jolly fest.

Yes, I'm often to pagan for the Christians and to Christian for the pagans...and nowhere does it seem to feel more like gravel in my shoe than when it comes to movies. So I watched this preview at the request of someone who proclaimed it so much better than FireProof (which I have not seen) and after the trailer...I was left asking myself "If that was better than Fireproof...I rest my case." I am sure the producers of this film are great people..but I just wanted to mess up those kids hair! I'm just not living in that anyone?

Maybe down in that "Bible Belt" place...what does that mean anyway? Does it refer to the extra large pants size of the Christians there...or that they are known for whipping their kids? But I digress....I simply can't get to jacked up about presentations about life that look more like Jehovah Witnesses oddly colored tracks than the families, neighborhoods and people I live with and around.

I'm really at a loss for words about this kinda stuff...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Family Fridge Art Project

Here is our fridge with art from cousins, Lilly and Raleigh from
Portland OR.

Mt. Sinai vs. Mt. of Transfiguration

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, partners in a heavenly calling, take note of Jesus...for he has come to deserve greater glory than Moses." -Hebrews 3:1-6

I preached a message Sunday, that in my mind, was one of the most critical and important messages I have ever preached. There are moments in ones ministry life in the word; that you simply cannot explain the glory of the passage. You search for words that will hopefully unveil the pulsating light, life and revelation that lie within the scriptures but it seems like a frail attempt at communicating the reality. I found my self exhausted with the delivery, like something was struggling to be born. I wrestled with igniting words that would illuminate the Sun...a futile endeavor if you think about it. There were moments through the two times I preached this message that I know the only real witness to the glory of the subject would have been to awaken a corpse or drive out a devil in the room. The grandeur of the mystery of Christ begs for more than mere syllables stitched together...oh, the poverty of mere words in comparison to the One we try to proclaim. It's in moments after such attempts at madness that you understand the words of Paul, when he said God has chosen to hide Himself in the foolishness of preaching. I too, stand amazed at the humility and madness of that truth.

Let others wrangle, I will wonder -Augustine

Here are the notes from the slides, if anyone is interested in the subject matter.
(Picture: Carl Bloch)

RAWK Final Four...2nd Place.

RAW NERVE placed second at the RAWK competition Saturday night at the Service Station. It was a close vote by only 20 but the SKA band took the first place spot. Raw Nerve put on a great show even though 3 of the band members got hit with the flu the night before...but once they were exposed to the venue, lights and 600 person crowd...they kicked it into overdrive. We are pretty proud of this band and Christian. They work hard, play with amazing excellence and have great hearts and sharp minds.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Family Fridge Art Project

So I got an idea, sparked by Mel, a fellow "Bloggess", who has been talking about finding ways to connect with one another via technology. So after my brother sent a picture (top right on the fridge) created by my nephew Nic, who lives in Thailand; I got an idea. I will post it on the fridge, take a picture and invite the other cousins to send us their pictures and we will put them on our fridge for display...and we will send some art their way as well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dinner, a Dog & the Mission of God...

"...they were taking their meals together...with gladness and sincerity of heart -Acts 2:44
That sums up the atmosphere last night at our new Tuesday night community dinner.

60-80 people came through and most stayed, talked, laughed, played and acted like family. It was work, but good work, for those who put it on and we hope to include more people in the joy of being able to share food, love and togetherness every Tuesday from 5-7PM; so if you are interested in serving, let us know.

Afterwards, we took some of the left over food, (which was only enough for one family) to a home in the neighborhood that I have been inviting to come to church. But so far, they have not responded to my invitations. So we did what only comes natural to those who know that 'church' isn't just something you go to...but that also comes to you. So we dropped it by the house. This family recently lost their 95 year old mother and there are three sons, two with mental disabilities and one with Alzheimers, that live in the house and on the block. I met this family back when we moved into the neighborhood, I was prayer walking the area and they were on their porch...and we started talking and that's how mission begins.

I've had this little home on my heart since then...and these dinners provide yet another way to build relationships with our neighbors; by them either coming to the dinners or us taking the dinners to them. It's just like our gathered times of worship...some come and join us...and we take it to's not either or...but both.

I look forward to mobilizing some people to move from just attending dinners to begin to move out and sharing dinners. It's not invalidating the grace and beauty of eating together and setting a biig table with many chairs for all to come and eat...that is as much mission as packaging it up and taking it out of the kitchen...but both have to happen...because not all can come...some are homebound, afraid, isolated, depressed or mentally challenged.

It's like this stray dog that lives on my street...he has no home...because he is too afraid of getting too close to people. So he runs from you if you call him or go near him. But he stays on our street...because a single mom, with a child who has his own challenges emotionally, puts out a warm bed on her doorstep and food and water. I see him sleeping there...when no one is around.

He is cared for in the way that fits who he is.

I am sure he has been beaten and abused and that is why he cant be near people...but he still needs love and to be cared for...even if we can't claim him as our dog...or even if he never comes to our home.

That is missional living...

It makes the neighborhood matter who is in, or out of the gathered church; because the church gathers all up in her arms...even if it is from a distance.

"You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever flowing spring.
Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
You will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes."
-the prophet Isaiah

I did see one person...who the dog came near and played with, though was my 9 year old son Micah. In seeing that, yet again, I saw the wisdom of Jesus in the way He lived and taught:

"...unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. And whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. -Jesus (Matt. 18:2-6).

I pray we continue to grow into child like followers of Jesus; who just love...because it comes naturally and innocently.

Franciscan Benediction...

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Peculiar Peter Rollins

I'm still trying to figure Peter Rollins out. He and the postmodern Irish blend of churching intrigue me. In this interview you can see with great clarity the wrestling of modern and postmodern paradigms. Some would picture this kind of grapple as a Michael and Satan and others would look at it as Jacob and the Angel...I imagine ones age, life, education, culture, nationality and theological tradition; would be a factor in which view you would take.I'm not endorsing every idea or view of Peter's by sharing these links but as someone who has a deep love for Western Europe; I find the unfolding journey of faith and church in that region important and prophetic for the days ahead in the Pacific North West.

Generous with Generous Orthodoxy

Ok...a confession is in order...are you ready? Do you need to sit down? Can I get you a glass of water, so you don't choke? Ok, well, ummmm, , uhhhhhhh, ...ah, um, geewilikers....ok....I read Generous Orthodoxy by Brian Mclaren. There I said it, well, um, not excatly all of it...uhhhhhh, ummmmm, ok, Yes, I liked it. Are you happy? Fine...let the shaming begin. Yes, I know its a shock, its a coming out of the closet so to speak,,,I admit it, will you still love me in the morning? No don't run, don't leave, wait...let me explain....Well, I liked probably 96% of the book...does not liking, or at least kind wondering about, atleast 4% still allow me to call myself a non-heretic? (even if one half of one percent of the dislike, was just that I didn't like his face on the cover of the book?).

Ok, I know most of you have no clue about the author or the book...and like me if you do have any idea about anything related; it's more a buzz knowledge from those who didn't like it or him; instead of a personal evaluation of the book or ideas of emerging church blah, blah, blah. I realized after reading the book, or really during it, that most of my perceptions where made through his negative press; not from engaging the ideas and concepts proposed or talked about in the book. Which doesn't make for a very fair hearing.

This book, helped me see that my "Mutt Breed" Christianity that has kept me to "this"...for that group; and too "that"... for this a more a hint of Generous Orthodoxy than madness or uneducated naivety or heretical tendencies. Now granted my theological leanings are also shaded by my upbringing, my knee jerk and thought out reasonings from my Charismatic and Pentecostal jaunts and hangovers; as well as my firstborn puritanical underpinnings that make me want to be more moral, pharisaical than my other recovering fundamentalist brethren.

My middle of the road journey that makes me more comfortable in the pound than the breeders den...has served me well in being able work with the Lord; in growing a church community of biblical commitment and balance, diversity, grace, patience and love. Hopefully maturing thinkers that are developing the ability to think "christianly" instead of just equipping people with parrot like prepackaged answers from their prefabbed weightwatcherish theological calorie counters.

As we pastor and lead in the emerging generations, these discussions are part of the work. Understanding them, embracing some of them, listening, dialoguing, debating and choosing to search and see if these things be so in the scriptures, history and in the realm of reason; is critical to truly understanding and reaching our culture in a Jesus way.

Read the might do your brain and heart some good...or at least engage your spirit and then your mouth into talking about some important or con.

Monday, February 16, 2009

New Rhythms of Living

“And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” -Acts 2:44-47

One of realistic challenges of commuter churching in this culture; is the lack of proximity to one another. Unfortunately in this day, its harder and harder to find the time to be in each others lives. Our crammed schedules wrestle for the precious little free time we all have and leave us scrambling to fit people, events and serving into an already overloaded day planner. Our prosperous economic lives enabled us to live and drive great distances that didn't used to be the norm. People lived, ate, worked, got educated and worshipped within a very short distance of the very people called neighbors...that is often not the case today.

Building community wasn't a programmed happened as a by product of life. But today our rhythms of life almost fight against us...simply due to the issue of proximity. We live in diverse places, we work different jobs, our kids go to different schools and have different friends, we shop at different stores and our leisure time is often in different places of the city.

This presents a significant challenge to nurturing body life, community care and serving; when most of our core relationships with believers or unbelievers are spread out over miles of distance. The practicalities of living a more integrated, whole, rhythmic life...together, is a difficult endeavor. As economic challenges put pressure on people and their pocket books and extra money is eaten up...the freedoms of waste, will diminish and that will force people to redesign their relational, religious and even work lives.

I think there is going to have to come a radical realignment with Kingdom values in order to see true Kingdom life and impact emerge in a viable, New Testament way, in the days ahead. The above scripture has to be a divine center that we aim at in order to foster and cultivate the relational and practical proximities to build true biblical community and centers of service. Being close doesn't guarantee these things will automatically happen, it has to be conscious choice and action...but the ease of it would be greater.

Economic need, might realistically force this kind of downsizing, realignment and restructuring of our personal lives. People will need each other more than ever before and find that being close to those you call brothers and sisters...means you are closer to the support, opportunity and resources you or your family need. Choices that we once had to move down, will be eaten up as people scamble to find housing, work and worship within their means.

In my opinion the challenges facing the nation are prime opportunities to ignite fresh new ways of living together, caring for one another and growing the true, present, accessible and next door neighbor body of Jesus. Soon the way of Jesus and kingdom living will appeal to people in greater and greater ways, simply through the common sense of it all. Sharing gardens, pooling money, eating meals together, car pooling, sharing goods and services, maximizing space and alternative housing ideas, community, communal or shared housing, creative alternative homeschooling, co-work endeavors, etc...

So maybe the times are setting us up for fertile ministry and relational life together if we dare to embrace the wind of change and adjust the sails of our living and capture the momentum for the kingdom. For some this will be minor adjustments, for others more radical. But if we all think and live creatively in the days ahead...we can see more and more people added to the church...daily.

Tuesday Night Community Dinners:
You are invited to our weekly Tuesday night community dinner hosted at our Community Resource Center, from 5-7PM. Come out and eat, build relationships, serve and help each other save money by eating together. A practical way to adjust to the economic changes in our lives and neighborhood.

Take off you shoes...the ground you stand on is holy.

Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. (Acts 7:33)

When God commanded Moses to lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt into the promised land (Canaan), God had declared, “I am the God who was worshiped by your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Exod 3.1-6). When Moses asked what God’s name was, God replied, “tell them that the LORD, whose name is ‘I Am,’ has sent you (Exod 3.13-15).”

The Hebrew name Yahweh is most likely related to the Hebrew verb "to be" and so may mean “I am the one who is” or “I will be what I will be” or “I am the one who causes to be.” These possible meanings of the sacred name show that Yahweh is the God who is, will be, and causes to be. Yahweh, God, is the source of all that is and will fulfill his purpose for the people of God and for the whole creation.

When Jesus transfigured before the disciples on the Mount in Mark 9:1-29, we see a similar pattern of experience; an eclipsing revelation that both embodies and fulfills all that Moses ever experienced or foreshadowed. In the midst of that unveiling of the eternal Son, the Father commanded all generations hence forth to listen to...Him. It's really quite an extraordinary moment in light of the titles, duties, honor and historical realities of the Mt. Sinai story.

In John, Jesus uses the term “I am” to connect himself to these aspects of God's nature and to describe what God has given him to do for people. Jesus identifies himself as the one who supplies all needs (“I am the bread that gives life,” John 6.35) and who brings the knowledge about God to people (“I am the light of the world,” John 8.12). Jesus also uses this I am language to identify himself as the way for people to find God and become God's people (“I am the gate for the sheep,” John 10.7-16); and “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” John 14.6). Using imagery from Isaiah, Jesus says “I am the true vine” and that his people are “the branches,” sharing in the common life of the new people of God (John 15.1,5; see also Isa 5.1-7). By making these comparisons to the Jewish Scriptures, Jesus shows that he has been in God’s plan from the beginning: “even before Abraham was, I was, and I am” (John 8.58). (American Bible Society)

Like Moses, I too find myself taking my shoes off and bowing low in reverence at the knowledge that Jesus is more than I could ever embody the fullness of showing forth the Father is a mystery indeed. I AM, is a name that cant be boxed in. It stands above, beyond and around all attempts to name Him, to define Him, to control Him.

But in Jesus...we have Someone we can see, hear, touch and know. He is more than we ever could define, as the Mt. of Transfiguration mysteriously proclaims...but at the same time, it condenses eternity into finiteness, in a way that is touchable.

I take my shoes off, because THIS GROUND, is now holy...that is amazing. Heaven, I expect to be holy...this ground? On earth as it is in Heaven, is a statmement that most people fail to understand the magnitude of, when uttered.

Jesus manifests that mystery in so many more ways than we could ever yet fully comprehend.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Kissing with eyes open...

"Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly."
-Rose Franken

I pray the fire thats already there would create hot steam, that would lift us up and out of the ordinary. That together we can take more times up and out.

Not because what is normal isn’t good, but simply because we could use some new perspectives, new sights from new heights.

We need things that seem so big, to become small again.

It would do us good to see the sun rise or set, in a different place.

To taste morning and evening, somewhere else.

To make more lines in our face because we’ve laughed too much; instead of worrying, fretting and bearing loads to heavy for younger souls.

I want to grow jolly with you...not just older.

I want to see your eyes sparkle more...they’ve been eclipsed by too many clouds for too long....and I want it to be just our simple laughter that drives the storms away...on earth before it is in heaven.

I want to kiss you more and more this year, because your so damn cute...not just because you set me on fire.

I want to find us laughing together more than apart....more and more from each others arms.

You deserve something magical this year, something worth writing about, or singing songs to express the wonder of what happened.

A fairy-tale of your own...because no princess has ever lain down on any bed, of any castle...that is half the maiden you are.

I want a barrel of wine made just for you...something spicy and strong...but smooth and mild after the taste. Full of head spinning kick that leaves one slightly dizzy and off kilter...kind a like I feel after drinking the wine of your love.

Call the Jesters, summon the minstrels, arrange a feast more and more; for celebrating the joy of our love is simply to much of heaven crammed into a kiss to let quietly drift by...

But, a kiss, you will get...but this’s with eyes open...because a giggle for half my all I can, or want to give.

I love you, Queen of my heart. -Eric

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why you can't seem to be content...

Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want...but the realization of how much you already have.

Paul hinted at the same idea above when he said: "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." -Philippians 4:11

I've been burdened with a certain sickness that is infecting more and more people that I love, know, some I observe from a distance and others that I pastor. It's hard to name, it's slippery and difficult to always pin down or diagnose. It often appears as an "angel of light" can appear to be nobel, godly, just, admirable and industrious. The good Puritan influence in our American religious heritage, often praises it as a work ethic that is maximizing talents or living up to ones potential. And sometimes I imagine those things are probably true.

But there's a darkside to this "angel" that finds its roots in our cultural brokenness and the fruit that is starting to grow is sometimes more sour to the taste than sweet. It's a identity crisis that stems from unloved childhoods. It's a hunger that begins to awaken in the unattended, unshaped, unguided latchkey lives. It's collateral damage in the worship of materialism. For some its a cancer that eats away a sanctuary of peace that was supposed to be built within their inner lives through a loving, attentive, instructive and accepting home and family.

It's a drive for meaning, purpose, identity that seeks to justify ones existence instead of reflect a peace that comes from knowing who one is apart from accomplishments. It's a childhood joy that is missing from so many hearts. A deep inward sense of just being loved, accepted and special that so many people I walk with are missing.

It's a task master that drives people relentlessly and often there is a wake of discarded lives behind them as they ambitiously ascend to the highest of heavens with the zeal of Icarus. Friendships, relationships, marriages, churches, jobs, good works, ministries, hobbies and careers are flippantly discarded once the juice is drained. Nothing can satisfy because nothing outside can truly quench that thirst.

It's a medusa like spirit or mindset that turns to stone everything that it gazes time. One can't look to long at something or someone or some place until it slowly begins to fossilize, lose its luster, change from beauty to ugliness. lack of contentment is eating away at the very fabric of people lives and the God ordained means of discovering meaning and contentment become the very things that are consumed and abandoned.

Too many people long to be great because...too many people were never loved greatly.

They are still looking for that affirmation, consolation and validation through their conquering of one task, one person, one goal or plan after the next. But no matter what is built, it just seems to be washed away by the waves of the next idea, dream, fantasy or longing.

For some they are like extreme Megalomaniacs. And though this post is long, the below explanation perfectly deiscribes many peoples inner torture:

Megalomania is an unrealistic belief in one's superiority, grandiose abilities, and even omnipotence. It is characterized by a need for total power and control over others, and is marked by a lack of empathy for anything that is perceived as not feeding the self. Although megalomania is a term often ascribed to anyone who is power-hungry, the clinical definition is that of amental illness associated with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Narcissism is most simply defined as self-love. Though it is considered healthy to care about your own well-being and have a healthy self-esteem, when someone loves himself to the exclusion of all else and others become objectified to be used only to serve the self, this is no longer considered healthy or normal. Megalomania is also sometimes associated with bipolar disorder; a depressive illness that is characterized by mood swings from extreme lows to extreme highs. During the latter cycle, people often suffer delusions of grandeur and feelings of infinite capability. They talk about unrealistic plans and goals as if these plans and goals are within their grasp.

That simply describes the hell many people are living within and subjecting those they love, to endure.

But true freedom of spirit can be found in the simple way of Jesus, who taught us that:

...the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great. -Jesus (Lk 9:48)

and...unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. And whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. -Jesus (Matt. 18:2-6).

It's ok to just be you in the Kingdom of God. In fact life in the kingdom is characterized by a wild, carefee, grace accepted abandonment that often seems childish but is actualy the most liberating wisdom.

Accepting our own smallness and all that comes with that revelation; is a life transforming grace.

“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
- Mother Teresa

Once that discovery truly begins to happen, everything takes on a new found peace and one learns to be content in every moment because they have new eyes to see, and new ears to hear...and a recreated heart that is finally full. This enables them to learn to find God, life, joy and meaning all around them. Not some deceptive mirage that is only found in accumulating accomplishments; but in uncovering what has already been given by grace and nature.

Poets best retell this, so I will end with this familiar yet regrettably unlived invitation:

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

In the None Zone...Religion in the Pacific Northwest

This is an interesting article about faith, church and spirituality in the Pacific North West. Here are two of my favorite quotes from the article:

"Killen had some advice for church leaders in the region: Don't let others (including the denomination leaders "back East") define what it means to thrive, since a thriving religious community in the Pacific Northwest will likely exist on a small scale. Integrity and authenticity matter more than any inherited office or formal title, and people want to know what God and any church has to do with their neighborhood and their everyday life."

"And she wonders about spiritual maturity. "You can't be a grown-up in any tradition until you can endure frustration, negotiate conflict and get to the other side of disillusionment with the capacity to hope."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin turns 200

How faithlessness stalked me

And here is a little video from a Norwegian whose various little videos I have enjoyed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chad Vader...season 2

Chad Vader after Dentist....

If you have not seen this viral video of the kid back from the Dentist...then you do not know what you are watching...and if you want more Chad Vader..go here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Absolute perfection...

The practical upshot is this. On the one hand, God’s demand for perfection need not discourage you in the least in your present attempts to be good, or even in your present failures. Each time you fall He will pick you up again. And He knows perfectly well that your own efforts are never going to bring you anywhere near perfection. On the other hand, you must realize from the outset that the goal towards which He is beginning to guide you is absolute perfection; and no power in the whole universe, except you yourself, can prevent Him from taking you to that goal. That is what you are in for. -From C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity:

sound wisdom...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Rich Mullins...on loneliness.

In the 1980s Rich Mullins moved to Nashville, Tennessee to begin his professional recording career. Mullins was engaged sometime between the late '70's and early '80's and had written the song Doubly Good To You (recorded by Amy Grant on her album Straight Ahead) for the wedding. However, his fiancée broke off the engagement, at which time Mullins wroteDamascus Road. Years later Rich shared thoughts about his relationships and personal life in a radio interview with Rick Tarrant:

"I would always be frustrated with all those relationships even when I was engaged. I had a ten year thing with this girl and I would often wonder why, even in those most intimate moments of our relationship, I would still feel really lonely. And it was just a few years ago that I finally realized that friendship is not a remedy for loneliness. Loneliness is a part of our experience and if we are looking for relief from loneliness in friendship, we are only going to frustrate the friendship. Friendship, camaraderie, intimacy, all those things, and loneliness live together in the same experience... I have no interest in anybody else and she is married to someone else so that's the way it goes and I don't mind that. Right now I cannot imagine that life could be happier married than it is single so I'm not in a panic about getting married. And I think, you know, maybe God wanted me to be celibate and the way that he accomplished that was to break my heart. So that's the way it goes." (Info is from Here)
And here is one of my favorite songs of his. Christ’s sweetness

“Strive to make prayer, and reading, and holy conference, your delight; and when delight cometh in, you shall, little by little, find the sweetness of Christ, till at length your soul be over head and ears in Christ’s sweetness. Then shall you be taken up to the top of the mountain with the Lord, to know the delights of spiritual love, and the glory and excellency of a seen, revealed, felt, and embraced Christ; and then you shall not be able to loose yourself off from Christ, and to bind your soul to old lovers; then, and never till then, are all the paces, motions, and wheels of your soul in a right tune and spiritual temper. But if this world and the lusts thereof be your delight, I know not what Christ can make of you; you cannot be metal for a vessel of glory and mercy. My desire is that that Lord would give me broader and deeper thoughts to feed myself with wondering at his love. I would I could weigh it, but I have no balance for it. When I have worn my tongue to the stump in praising Christ, I have done nothing to Him. What remaineth then, but that my debt to the love of Christ lie unpaid for all eternity!” -Samuel Rutherford

Friday, February 06, 2009

Is being fatter really what's a matter?

Motivations in pursuing health and fitness are often more elusive than the pursuant is aware.

For many, the body is threatening that it's going to shut down all kinds of systems if you don't start taking care of it properly. The warning dash light is on and its time to get in shape. For some people they are choosing life but wrestle with the battle of also trying to unravel and get free from self-hate or body-image bondage. They are trying to fight off the cultural deification of thinness as defined by the ever unattainable pixies. In fact, most of the health and fitness industry really is just madness; it's consumeristic, capitalistic oppression, blatant self worship and flat out lust.

It can easily breed body idolatry.

Coming to accept the natural results of aging, sickness and disease, life change or birthing children; is part of accepting God's design for our bodies and lives at different seasons. I say good job for anyone who can shed little tears or mental energy over it. It's rare, especially for women, but men face it too.

I think there is a danger in embracing a spiritualized apathy or lack of discipline that attempts to turn our vices into virtues. I see it when people embrace the "grace of God message" and turn it into a license to sin. The flesh is a tricky combatant. In the end being overweight can kill you. Suicide isn't a godly virtue...and many of us are killing ourselves with our forks and couches.

In the end we are all imperfectly seeking to walk out what it means to "worship God" with all of our lives...and for many, their bodies are more a testimony to fleshly lack of control instead of the fruit of the Spirit called "self control". The church is praying more and more for healing and yet being conformed to death in her values, choices, lifestyles and mentalities. It's a subtle victory for death to get us to pray for supernatural means while continually undermining the end result through natural means. Death is our enemy, the very last one that Jesus will bring under His feet. Fighting against death is to resist the enemy of God. Life is what Jesus brings, not fact, Jesus expanded the idea more by calling for "abundant life".(Jn 10:10).

Of course the world would love to define that "abundance" for us and focus on designer clothes, breast size, hot or not labels, a certain age, a number on a scale, or a look...etc.

But being healthy is much different than being a certain number on the scale...or being able to wear a tucked in shirt or a thong. Beauty can be found in the breast cancer survivor or among the Eskimo women of the north. True joy isn't on a rack of jeans or in the amount of hair on your scalp. Confidence isn't rooted most securely in the changing outer life. If it is...your going need a lot more than a wonder bra after those babies take out their hunger on your chest! No pill from some smiling Bob is going to turn any man into a better lover...if anything it will make a bad night...just longer. You can reach a certain "ideal weight" through starving yourself, taking diet pills, smoking or vomiting up your last meal...but in the end you are still out of control....and ugly.

For me losing 30-50 pounds is about quality of life and the desire to live longer, more productive, with more energy and in a way that honors God with what He has given me to steward. I fail at this so much...but His grace is present, His power is available and wisdom is gained through the journey. Legalism is alive and well in the health and fitness world. Its a cruel master that can exert a power that is as much the undisciplined life.

My prayer is that: "We would prosper and be in good health, just as our souls prosper." (3 John 1:2) and achieve it in a God honoring way with grace, patience, wisdom and joy.

Lord Save Us from Your Followers....

9 of us from Jacob's Well attended the showing of "Lord Save Us From Your Followers" last night at the Garland Theater. After watching the movie and then hearing a bit from the Portland, Oregon director who was also present; we headed to Shari's resturant for some bad coffee and serivce and a chance to unpack the movie in conversation.

I didnt jive with the whole SDA (Why You Quit Church) sponsor felt agenda driven, gracious but with a possible hidden purpose...not sure why that rubbed me wrong, but it did and does. No slam on them, just being honest about perceptions today, even among us jaded postmodern christians. I guess I long to move beyond using things, messages and people for a desired end. There is a Jesus reality of the not letting the "left hand know what the right is doing" that I long to authentically work out in our community.

That aside...great message, but wow, practically embodying that is another thing. Finding practical ways for Christians and Churches to really put flesh on "loving people"; has to happen to really move the ball down the playing field. It's dangerously easy for a nice bumper sticker mentality of "Love People" to replace the hard work of building meaningful friendships with people who are not Christians...out of unconditional love...not agenda. It's not as easy to engage difficult people, conflicting agendas, offensive political opponents or matter how "right" it may seem. And to do it authentically with true trust in the Sovereign work of God to draw people to Himself in the midst of our living, telling and a true discipline of surrender. To trust Him to work perfectly through my imperfect works is true faith.

I would be interested in how the church could practically wash the feet of...the GLT community?

I mean practically?

Thursday, February 05, 2009


This was me at 218lbs in Feb 2006. Now 3 years later...255lbs.
That number is going to change. I've made some major changes since
August of 2008 and Lord willing, I will see some more by spring.

Day one

This is the first day since we started our Fit4Life health & fitness
class at church; that I've got my exercise in. Me and Kona got outside
today for a brisk 45 minute walk. She needs it too, she tipped the
scales at 99lbs at the vet. So both of us got some work to do.

Left Behind, eschatological bad humor....

Originally uploaded by ericblauer.

I guess according to some we should give this to VP Biden.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Shame on the church...

I took this pic at a local coffee shop. Sad but often it's true. The
church should aim to change this perception.

A law of nature...

New Songs: Red Rider of War & Me and my Memories

PhotobucketThe two new studio recorded songs are up and playing at RAW NERVE'S website.

Next Show:
Finals of the 2009 RAWK Final Four
Date: Saturday, February 21st, 2009
Bands: Death By Adam, Green Light Go, Raw Nerve, Olaf Olaf Olaf, Bodhi Drip
Venue: The Service Station
Address: 9315 N. Nevada
City: Spokane, WA
Time: 6:00 PM
Cost: $8 adv from bands, $10 door

Monday, February 02, 2009

Capturing light in dark places....

Picture: Sandy Puc' / Courtesy of NILMDTS

I met a young man this week who was grieving the loss of his first child. His wife had a miscarriage of a 12 week old baby. He shared with my, with tears in his broken eyes...that he had held the little baby in his hands. I couldn't imagine holding a child in my hands like that. It was so heartbreaking to hear him share his pain. My prayers go out to him and his wife. I ran across this article today and it made me think of them.

These artists are a perfect example of those who have touched the heart of God with their talents. "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" is a organization that has blended the art of photography into a healing tool for grieving parents who have lost a child. You can read the Newsweek article here.

Another ministry that reaches out to parents who have lost little babies is "Heavenly Angels in Need". Mary who is a relative of mine, runs this ministry of love and grace. She has a huge heart and a strong passion to spread God's love to those who have experienced such a tragedy. She has round up an army of knitters and seamstresses and craftsmen who make clothes, burial items and little caskets for babies that have died. They also support various projects with their beautiful hand made items; our refugees are blessed to be wearing and using their scarves, hats and blankets. Good work, good people and worthy of your support.

Artists are the healers of the world...the earth is more beautiful because they have lived.