Monday, August 31, 2009
Mr. Roger's was the vanguard of missional endeavors...his secret, was simply...being a good neighbor.
You can sell all your 'Missional books, dvds and conference tickets'...and just watch and embody the above video intro of his show and get more wisdom for community care and impact than all the other stuff combined. I learned this the other day...
I was interrupted during my writing time, the other morning by a knock on the door. I opened it and it was a man from the neighborhood that I have been developing a slow growing friendship with. He's lived in this area for over 15 years and he is in his 50's and has a mental disability of some sort. I've been fond of him, since I first met him and his family when I was prayer walking with my guitar in the first days of our church plant. Since that meeting, I've consciously sought to be his friend...even though for many years, He has kept me at a distance, kind of like an interested but aloof cat.
He's turned down countless invitations to this or that church activity or services. He's never come to one of our Community Dinners and rarely lingers in conversation around my fence for more than 5 minutes. Yet, he always crosses the road and ask's me "What Im doing" when he finds me outside. Our short conversations usually center around mowing the lawn...because he is a expert in yard care...that's how he makes extra cash to supplement his state checks. We talk mowers, rocks, blades and possible folks to hit up for a yard job...most of my tips, he lets fall to the ground as soon as I say them...I've never appeared to important to him. But, I still talk.
Some times I give him rides, just a few blocks, or to the store...or we run into each other at Freddie's...he usually has a bag of lunch meats from the deili...because he mostly eats Turkey sandwiches....he's extremely picky. I've taken him gifts at Christmas....dinner plates after meals, treats from events...and mostly, he has seemed disinterested. But I've just continued bothering him nonetheless...mostly because, I have a God given heart for the lonely, forgotten and sometimes odd folks. I have a deep inner pain for those who I know are very isolated and longing for companionship but often just dont know how to be a friend...or are simply unattractive, smelly, old or poor and don't appear to have much to offer the "Fast & the Furious" of today's up and coming world. I've felt that way too...and there are many memories of feeling forgotten and not good enough.
These are the type of people, I was assured we couldn't "build" a church with in this neighborhood...and maybe that's true...but they are the people, we can "BE" the church for...and in many ways, that's much more the way of Christ in my opinion.
My friend at the door...sat down on my porch railing and simply said:
"I'm lonely...I don't have any friends...what are you doing?"
It was in that moment, that I was granted the gift of friendship, expressed. It was a precious moment to me. We ended up going to my favorite coffee shop and shared some good coffee and cookies together. As we sat down at the table in the crowded room, he said he wanted to pray. I bowed my head and he led us in a simple but heartfelt prayer for each other, the troops and the food.
When he was done, he asked me "How did you like my prayer?"; I smiled and told him I thought it was a really good prayer.
He sipped his coffee with ice and cream and then said: "I like having coffee with someone who is a friend...do you like having coffee with me?
Yes, I do...I replied..."I really enjoy it."
He then told me he could beat me at Monopoly....
I guess, that will be another day's story from the Neighborhood.
I've been ruminating on a few verses of late that speak of resting and being still in and before the Lord. The passage in Deut. 33:12 pictures someone being carried by the Lord between His shoulders and I thought this piece by Fritz Eichenberg captured the spirit and truth of the passage.
"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him." is another passage of Scripture that fed me like bread from ravens this morning. It's found in Psalms 37, as well as a number of other meditations that invite us to "delight ourselves in Him". I sensed an internal ache in my spirit as I dwelt among the lilies of those verses. The fragrance and beauty of them soothed my long distracted soul.
As I was greedily sipping of their healing ambrosia...a deeper longing was awakened. Seasons of visitations...remembered. These reflections cast light on a present but unnoticed thirst. This is often the case...we move through life at a pace that most of the time deafens us to the internal pleadings for fresher air, more still waters...and pastured presence.
Nurturing a faithful life is the continual habit of a God dweller. Doing good as the saint and poet says, but never losing the fascinations and preoccupation of the Divine delighting. Waiting...the art of being present and accepting what is..instead of postponing pleasure for some future possibility. Learning to be full in our poverty is a secret of saints. It is so true..."The little of the righteous is better than the abundance of the wicked."...why do we forget that and pursue the abundance of things that never truly satisfy the hunger within?
As I sit in this moment, among these eternal whisperings...I remember...and in remembering, I am made a little more alive as I rest between His shoulders.
Art by Fritz Eichenberg
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
A thought worth pondering....
Friday, August 28, 2009
"It is impossible to get from preoccupation with behavior to the gospel. The gospel is not a message about doing things. It is a message about being a new creature. It speaks to people as broken, fallen sinners who are in need of a new heart. God has given His Son to make us new creatures. God does open-heart surgery, not a face-lift. He produces change from inside out. He rejects the man who fasts twice a week and accepts the sinner who cries for mercy." Tedd Tripp
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Eyes of the Storm...Uncensored news from the heart of Burma is scarcely reported and this documentary is a must watch for everyone who loves the people of Burma. This news piece made me rethink of how I spend my life and how I use my resources.
As a church that took the missional name of Jacob's Well as a description of our life and mission; I see the imagery of a well, as a mobilizing directive. We are people of the living water and as those who have been revived by these eternal springs of restoration, renewal and resurrection; we are compelled to overflow into the parched and dead places of this world. Our internal springs of life, given by the grace of our Mission hearted God; are meant to quench our thirst as they spill out and over the deserts of these fallen lands. He has chosen us to be His living extension of His ongoing work on Earth.
"The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the LORD, will answer them Myself, as the God of Israel I will not forsake them. "I will open rivers on the bare heights and springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. -Isaiah 41:17-18
This year at Jacob's Well, we commissioned a second Vision & Values painting to express our commitment to the mission of God among the nations of the world:
As I watched this documentary and was haunted with the sense of "Where are you God" in this horror...the answer is always returned...In YOU....and then the question becomes...."Where am I".
I pray that this year will be one of increased involvement and action in the work of love among the most needy of this God loved world. I pray we all will be able to answer the Lord with a humble and obedient response that reflects His heart in response to the needs of this age.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
This article (Believers Invest in the Gospel of Getting Rich) chaps my hide. A ministry that takes in $100 million annually...really? I was made aware of a recent group of local pastors that have special monthly clergy rates at a local Golf Club that nearly exceed our monthly budget as a church. The issue is growing and the damage to the credibility of the local church is ever expanding. The slick hair, crest strip teeth, the flashy clothes and sports cars and sooped up Motorcycles, not to mention the expenses accounts, helicopter transportation and a host of other gross misuses of hard earned cash is atrocious.
It makes me ashamed to be called a pastor at times.
This "prosperity gospel" feeds upon peoples unmet needs, it promises the moon while it pit-pockets your shorts. It's a delusion that weaves itself into the legitimate hierarchy of needs. It's a bait and switch like the professional street thieves use...they get you looking at one thing while they pull a fast one on you. So they are walking off with your cash and you are left scratching your head.
The prophet Daniel saw a statue that embodied all the fallen kingdoms of this world...and guess what the head of this statues was made out of...yes, you guessed it...gold.
When will we ever learn....we are such suckers.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Jacob's Well Church Community Garden: Before...
Jacob's Well Church Community Garden: Now...
Today's pickin's for Sunday distribution: Squash, Onions, Potatoes, Carrots, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, some kind of cabbage root, hot peppers, strawberries
Friday, August 21, 2009
Needless to say...our group earned the "Worst Group Ever" epitaph...from a disgruntled grounds keeper who had to clean up someone's crap out of the men's bathroom sink! Which by the way was present when we arrived at the camp...of course there were a couple Jacob's Well campers there before our main group arrived...(you know who you are...)...but I digress. In fact the deputized park ruler...called the pernicious poopers...."Cannibals"...Yes, you read it right...human flesh eating tent dwellers!
So that makes Jacob's Well Church: "The Worst Group of Cannibal Campers Ever" at Farragut St. Park!!!
There has to be a T-shirt in there somewhere...
But no worries for next year...because we just told all the staff, we were from LifeCenter.
I was told that these grapes that are growing in our Church Community Garden, had a few purple ones popping out. So today, I investigated, and sure enough, there were some that have turned purple. I have never seen any purple grapes on this vine before when it was on the metal fence. But today I plucked a lovely plum colored grape and ate it and it was delicious! I was so excited. I find myself praying for the Lord to bless this piece of ground...which is so Biblical and yet at times, seems strange to do.
But I am compelled to speak the words of the Lord into the roots, dirt, fruit, watered spaces, growing vines and ground yet used. There is so much to come in the days ahead....
I find the truth of the passage to be extremely liberating if you can fully comprehend and accept it. Many people wrestle with the sense of being bound by providence in circumstances...but often the very thing one is seeking freedom from...is what will usher us into a deeper experience of true freedom.
I am finding God big in smaller and smaller things these days. The whole "mustard seed" reality is becoming a peace producing truth. I am letting go of more and more pursuits that are governed by a sense of bigger or better. Process is more and more valuable to me.
As a growing painter, the ability to layer paint with a sense of a bigger process is critical. In order to produce a depth to the painting...I often start with a darker paint underneath...this allows for lighter paint to be layered over the top and the combination of light and dark...produces perspective. You need both to produce dimension to the painting....and I am coming to see the same in life.
"Thou art in small things great, not small in any...For Thou art infinite in one and all." -George Herbert
We have these Sunflowers growing in the church garden...I took their picture the other day, because I love yellow in art. To some our garden has little significance...but to me it is pregnant with inspiration. I discover the Lord in the boundaries and opportunities of the rhythms and seasons. I am captured by the process of it all and the large amount of time that is needed to truly enter into the mystery of growth. It's a piece of ground that isn't that pretty to most people...but to me, I love it.
I love that its not what it will be...and not what it was.
It's a organic prophesy to me.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
I couldn't help but laugh out loud and think about the scene in the movie "HotRod" when Rod is screaming the trouble word "Whisky" at the top of his lungs, as he is careening down the hill. Luckily Jeremy didn't end his run in a crash with a trailer like the movie! It was hilarious and the teens in my rig thought he was a riot...and a bit nuts....
Sliding softly down into the yearning, emerald deep,
Rippling sensations of passing descent, wash away the too full, days.
Quiet forgetfulness...a darkened remedy, a pause of peace.
A thousand bubbled massages,
Soothe and release the cocked trigger of muscle.
The descending dive, unslithers me from my overly burdened skin,
And it reminds me that I am alive.
Darkness gives way to light,
Rising with effortless lift,
a porpoise or an eagle,
Blissfully lost in the mix of sea becoming sky.
The distance, surprises me,
The reach awakens me,
I rise swiftly, a sense of quickening birth overtakes me.
I pass through...
Gasping and in rushes today and tomorrow.
Gently rolling over,
The sun leans down...Fatherly kiss, motherly light.
I am alive again.
-Eric Blauer (8.17.09)
After the baptism we did on Sunday morning, I took a dive into this spot of the lake we were at. It was the first time all weekend I was in the water. I had been admiring the emerald lake but the cold temperatures, the rain and the crowds had left me hesitant. But the sun had come out, the baptismal waters were surprisingly warmer than anticipated and I knew...the water called.
So after the glorious moment of new life was celebrated...I turned from duties and dove into the deep.
With eyes closed, I descended into the cooling waters. The quietness and the revitalizing depths were almost ecstasy.
I opened my eyes as I began my ascent and quickly noticed that the surface was quite a ways up.
The lake shore drops off fast here. The moment of feeling the depth of the waters and the ascending...is heavenly.
I cant even explain the exhilaration I felt in the moment of this spot...it was amazing.
As I came closer to breaking the surface, the bliss was as childhood as it could get, but with adult appreciation.
I think it was one of my most visceral aquatic experiences...
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
So, Im looking up information on some leads of potential and verified sex offenders within a few blocks of our church; at the request of someone who has been experiencing unsettling and possibly criminal behaviors from some of the locals. So I'm knee deep in police mug shots and words like: child rape, molestation, crime, convicted, sex offender, warning...etc..and I get a phone call from another woman in the church.
She tells me she has a vision to share with me concerning the church garden. So she begins to recount this vision God gave her of angels in the garden, and an explosion of celestial inspired spiritual growth that she saw in the garden vision. There were dancing angles, rushing winds of the Spirt of God who was blowing the fragrances of beauty into surrounding parts of our city from this little eden. The working of the supernatural work of God that was expressed in the images of powerful fragrant winds was powerfully impressed on this sincere woman. She related the vision to me and expressed her excitement about the future work of God among us and through us. I thanked her and asked if she would write it down, so we could hold it in prayer and believe it into reality as we work towards such ministry impact.
As I got off the phone, the irony of the two previous moments, so diametrically opposed, crashing together, didn't escape me. The ability to hold these conflicting realities in tension and not lose faith to fear or become over dazzled by potentials is sometimes paralyzing...probably Like finding Angles in the streets of Sodom.
So often the challenge of urban ministry is "seeing" the angels in the devils. Finding the beauty among the decay. Scrubbing away for life...when death is urinating on every street corner.
I find myself praying for grace and a enduring spirit like Paul who honestly recounted the challenges of ministry: "We wear ourselves out from working with our own hands. When insulted, we bless. When persecuted, we endure." -1 Cor 4:12
I too, like Lot, am in the gates of Sodom...the people go about their lives an ever stretching drama of blood, failure, darkness and encroaching sin. And yet as I sit trying to disciple the saved and reach the lost among the local masses and the demonic rhythms of some dark band are pumping through the sound system of the local coffee shop...Im reminded, that there are still Angels in Sodom.
Angel's use to come for judgment....their presence meant wrath was about to fall.
But now...the Angels come as ministers of life...thier arrival, speaks of grace and forthcoming blessing...not fire.
But even still the bizarreness of it all sometimes overwhelms me...
Monday, August 10, 2009
The Gospel is, Im accepted through what Jesus Christ has done for me, therefore I obey.
Religion gives you control, thats why its so popular.
If I am saved by what I can do, then theres a limit to what God can ask of me.
I still have some control.
But if I am saved by sheer grace, then theres nothing He cannot ask of me.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
some months. Last time we did one in December and we raised $3000 for
African Orphans. This one will be a fundraiser to help the Spokane
Indian tribe replace a culturally appropriate statue that the city
tore down. Spokane Garry was a christian leader in the early days of
the Spokane tribe.
His story is inspiring and another tragic testimony of white on Indian
injustice. The tearing destruction of the statue is another sad event
I've always valued the local first nation art in this area and have
also been dissapointed in the lack of city support and celebration of
Read up on his story, it's a major move of the Spirit of God through a
man in our city's history. He's a modern apostle that the local church
I fully support a new statue in his honor and hope to work together
with the tribe; to errect a monument worthy of the man and the people
he loved and led.
The church failed him then...I want to help redeem our reputation now.
It's a sin that needs restoration.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Originally uploaded by l'enfer.
I find this sculpture simply stunning and the photographer did an amazing job capturing it. Rodin is one of my favorite artists by far...the stuff of his I saw in Lyon France was a gift to behold. This picture captures the spirit of my thoughts for tomorrows message: "Naked and Unashamed"...I hope to do the image justice, at least in poetic form.
Micah, made it up first, Christian was over-confident and ran up the first quarter of the hill and exhausted himself and retreated in defeat...I made it second, slow and steady and here is Austin making his way up the last leg of the hill....on hands and knees.The massive Haystack rock is something to behold...the picture doesn't do it justice...there are hoards of swirling sea birds on the top of this thing...it looks ominously prehistoric. Pacific City is a must stop destination on the Oregon Coast.
During the raucous romp in the cool waters, my little niece, "Lilly" and her friend "Ellie" and I had fun, jumping off the edge of the pool together. Lilly, the little blonde was extra sweet to me. She swam up to me in the pool and asked if I wanted to "jump off together"...as an uncle who doesn't get to spend much time with his nieces and nephews...it was a very special moment for me. Just hearing her call me "Uncle Eric" melted my heart...I would of bought her the moon, if she asked. If you click on the picture of her and I...you can see that we share almost the same color eyes...I thought that was cool.
"His (Elrond) house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come into that valley. I wish I had time to tell you even a few of the tales or one or two of the songs that they heard in that house. All of them, the ponies as well, grew refreshed and strong in a few days there. Their clothes were mended as well as their bruises, their tempers and their hopes. their bags were filled with provisions light to carry but strong to bring them over the mountain passes. Their plans were improved with best advice." -The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
The pool was located by a glorious home, on a couple of wooded acres in the heart of Garden home...it's simply known as...Mary's house. Mary lives alone but she shares her haven in the midst of busy urban life, with her friends and family...it was a really special treat. My brothers place, buts up against her property and all you can see is a heavily wooded area beyond the fence that separates the two properties....except of course...a gate. There is always a wonderful gate between the known world and the one that beckons you. Once you pass through that gate...you enter a magical world of beauty.
Here are some wonderful pictures that LeeElla took of Mary's world.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Climbing over the constant emerald hills,
and the Leopard has left his spots across the sand.
Smokey clouds hover softly,
Punctured by moments of teasing blue.
Trails of grey weave across charcoal waters.
And the thin line of the artist's thumb,
Separates sky from sea...