Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas!


Well, it’s almost Christmas again. Man, where does the time go?

Living in Houston makes for interesting Christmas weather. It changes every day from drastic ( at least to us ) cold to the mid-seventies. As I write this, it’s a balmy 76 outside on this, the 18th of December 2008.

Early this week, I was driving to the airport in Tulsa, OK to fly home. On concert day, Sunday, the temp was 75 and by concert time it was 20! Driving to the airport was a delicate skate across interstate ice with a temp of 16. I mean, almost 60 degrees in 24 hours.

Oh well, it keeps it interesting.

But the sights and sounds of Christmas are everywhere and I love it.

We were out to dinner with some friends the other night. As we were about to leave, in came a distinguished looking group of mature gentlemen. Some had to be in their 80s and there were a couple of kids that were probably new to the group – the “kids” were probably 50 or so. It was an unusual sight and they looked as if this restaurant were a frequent stop.

I couldn’t help but wonder what drew them together at this particular time and place. I mean, they looked as if they had just come from a high level board meeting or something. Coats and ties with that board member air about them.

In a few minutes, we heard singing. I looked around to find the source of this impromptu Christmas carol and was surprised to see it was coming from the table full of old, merry gentlemen. God rest ‘em. And it wasn’t just some made up, spur of the moment arrangement of a familiar carol. It was a real, rehearsed piece that, I could tell, they’d done before – maybe many times before.

I asked the waiter “So, what’s the story with those guys”? He said they were regulars – some sort of singing group. He didn’t know where they sang or where they come from.

Before we left, they had burst into song three or four times to the delight of families and other diners. They good-naturedly pointed their crooked fingers at a little boy while they belted out “…he sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake”. Smiles and warm hearts all around.

Whether you’re warm or freezing right now, Christmas is sweet. I hope it is for you.

Some find Christmas troublesome and disturbing. It is not a season of tender memories but rather sorrows, disappointments, and sadness. Some of you can’t wait for it to be over. I know that feeling.

But I’ll go to my regular reminder to be thankful for something this Christmas. Find something for which to say “thank you”. It’ll help.

I think most people would like to keep baby Jesus right there in that manger. Snug in his little swaddling clothes (whatever they are) and all tucked in where he can’t cause any trouble. Because, let’s face it, Baby Jesus isn’t much of a threat. To some degree, I can control the Baby.

But that’s denying the innate power He was born with. The trappings of a infant body wouldn’t really do much to prohibit an exhibition of the power of God. I guess it just puts us at ease and lets us get used to the idea – God with us.

The baby in the manger doesn’t hold sin over me. He can’t speak so he can’t call me to obey and walk holy. What a sweet baby. We like the baby.

If it could only be Christmas all year long.

If he could just stay a baby I could do whatever I like. You could too.

But the baby grew to be a man. And in walking this planet with us, saw how we lived first hand, was tempted as we are yet without failure, loved his enemies, cared for the sick and poor and helpless, called sin what it is, spoke only truth but spoke it in love even if it sounded harsh to the ears of the hearer – died for the sins of the earth – reconciled us to God the Father.

What a beautiful Christmas it would be for you and yours to all acknowledge that Gift. The Gift that came wrapped as innocence and helplessness but was really all the power of the universe in one Man.

The Son of God became the Son of Man so that the sons of men could become the children of God. *

Bless you all. I hope to see and meet many more of you out there on the road in 2009! Have a wonderful Christmas!

Wayne







*I would give proper acknowledgement to the author of this quote if I knew it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


A few weeks ago, I went flying to Nashville then driving a few miles north to Hendersonville, TN – the home of TBN studios. TBN was nice enough to invite me to do a half hour Christmas special for broadcast this coming season.

Their grounds were decorated to the hilt for Christmas with more lights than you could count and varying scenes from the manger to fields of Christmas trees, sleighs and Wise Men.

We set up right in front of the main house on the grounds. Just so happens it used to be the private home of country music legend, Conway Twitty. Before TBN purchased the property, it was known as Twitty City….yes, you read that right . . . Twitty City. You might have heard of Dollywood in the east Tennessee hills near Gatlinburg. The theme park opened and featuring music and the life of Dolly Parton. Well, Twitty City, on a little bit smaller scale, allowed fans of Conway Twitty a more up close and personal look at the Twitty life.

So, TBN has converted this property to their Tennessee home and run many of their programs from there. I think it’s pretty cool that there is a presence there that can afford so many Christian artists – many of whom live in the Nashville area – opportunities to be on the TBN programs.

I was thankful to be there and thankful to have some time on their upcoming Christmas schedule. Thanks to Jennye Gardner and to the entire staff – camera men, audio team and production staff for a great time.
******

I got to spend the night with my son, Neal and his boys. Man, they’re growing up so fast – and changing.

From Nashville, I went on to Ohio to play a concert in Dublin. The pastor and all the folks at Meadowbrook Christian Fellowship were so good to me.

I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying this again. While the music industry is changing as fast as little boys are growing up, I never cease to be amazed at the love and hospitality I find in churches all over the country. And churches of all sizes. At one point, we (read “I”) were so concerned with the size of the venue and how many tickets were sold. It got in the way of the simple beauty of intimate worship and fellowship. There are fewer pressures and that makes way for a peaceful time with each other and with Him.

Speaking of simple pleasures and laying back…the week before Nashville and Ohio, I was in Michigan and Indiana. I’ve seen the random Amish buggy before, but good grief, there were just about as many buggies as cars! They don’t seem worried about the price of gasoline either. I saw some out at 11:30 at night. . . with lights and ground effects! Didn’t hear any bass coming from their stereos though. And the exhaust was, uh, different.

A happy Thanksgiving season to you all. By the way, rev up to spread “Merry Christmas” to everybody for the next month. The other day, I passed a Salvation Army volunteer ringing his bell outside a drug store. As I walked by, he gave me a very warm “Happy Holidays”. I’m not really an in-your-face activist type, but I was so stunned that the Salvation Army has gone all “Happy Holidays” on us that . . . well . . .

Anyway, as always I’m thankful for all of you that read and follow and pray for me.

Blessings.

Wayne

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hey Everybody....

Well, better late than never! I'm taping a Christmas special at the TBN studios in Nashville tonight - Nov. 13 2008. We're starting at 5PM central time and I'd really appreciate your prayers! Thanks.

Wayne

Thursday, October 9, 2008

itunes!

Hey Everyone -

Just wanted to let you know that "King of Kings" ( the newest Christmas project ) is now available on itunes. But Hey - don't ya really want the whole thing - the real thing??

Tell your friends!

And Thanks.

Wayne

Thursday, September 25, 2008

simple things - september 24, 2008

I went to Minute Maid Park here in Houston last night with some friends to watch the Astros play the Cincinnati Reds. Both teams are pretty much out of the playoff picture. The Astros are currently in third place in the division and the Reds in fifth. I think, and this changes daily of course, that there is still a miniscule chance for the Astros to be the wildcard team, but I’m not sure.

Still, there were probably twenty thousand people there to see the game. Twenty thousand.

This is still a city very much in recovery mode. All over town, there are lots of traffic lights out. Pretty much a NASCAR event when an intersection with three or four lanes of traffic from every direction suddenly becomes a four-way stop. People rev their engines like they’re on a drag strip. Once you’re in the intersection, you’d better just gun it and pray.

There is debris everywhere. What used to be beautiful trees shading beautiful neighborhoods are lying on the sidewalks waiting to be taken away to who knows where. Might be a good time to go into the mulching business.

But I, and twenty thousand of my closest friends, took a few hours off and made the trip downtown to see two teams that are playing for Sunday – the last day of the regular season. After Sunday, they’ll pack up their lockers, put away their gear until next February, gather their families and probably take a long vacation. Fishing, golf, Disneyland, World or whatever the new Disney thing is today. Lots of them will relocate their families back to their real homes, leaving the rented villas or townhomes or country club properties they occupy during the baseball season While some live in Houston, others spend the off season in different parts of the country. That’s where they’ll collect their thoughts and memories of the 2008 baseball season – the things they did right and the things that went wrong. That’s where they’ll begin to recharge for the next season. “Wait ‘till next year” will be on their minds in a matter of days or weeks.

They played the game last night, although it was meaningless to the playoff picture, because that’s what they’re paid to do - play ball. I went to the game because I’ve just always loved the game. In the past, out on motorcycle rides in the country as night was falling, I’d always turn my wheels toward lights in the distance in hopes of being able to sit still for a few and watch a game. It didn’t matter if it were a little league game or a high school game or even a game of softball. It was comfort. It was timeless. Living in the city now, I don’t do that much anymore. But still, when I’m traveling anywhere at night and I see the glow of lights on a ball field, I want to stop and take in a few innings.


Simple things.

My mom is settling into her new life in a great little nursing home in the town where I grew up in Louisiana. She was ready to go. The burden of my childhood home was too much for her. She lived there alone these eleven plus years since my dad passed. Now, she enjoys the security of her room, the attention and love and care of professional medical personnel and the fellowship of her neighbors. She just loves to visit and talk. That’s all. She reads, listens to classical cds (and maybe, some of mine) and watches some television though I suspect most of the stuff on the box these days is way too racy for her. I can see her gasp or sigh at the loose moral fabric on display in current popular tv shows. I shake my head at most of it myself.

Her life might not sound very exciting but the simple pleasures that happen every day bring her happiness. She still finds consolation and peace in God’s Word. She’s never strayed from that rock that’s been the touchstone of her strength her whole life. Even when she can’t reconcile what is with what ought to be, she trusts it to God and the vastness of His mercy and grace.

It’s just that simple.

Our city is getting back to normal but I’m not sure I really like everything about normal. Hurricane Ike set us on our heals and took away a lot of conveniences – things that allow us to go through our everyday lives and routines. Now, the routines have changed. Most of them have been forced slow-downs that involve more waiting. I don’t like waiting. Waiting is so . . . so simple and mindless to some degree.

I can’t imagine the conversations, the games, the forced togetherness that might expose some real needs in relationships. With the television off and the internet down, now might be a defining moment for lots of families. I’ve prayed that it will be for all of us - that we’ll take advantage of the unexpected guest of stillness to sift through some of the issues buried beneath everyday distractions.

You can, too. Wherever you are. There are “power off” buttons on just about everything! Push ‘em.

Thank You, Immovable, Unchangeable, Unflappable Father for Your Mercy and Grace and immeasurable blessing.

Wayne Watson
September 24, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

North to Alaska

The picture at the top of the piece I wrote yesterday must have been confusing. The whole thing was about Hurricane Ike and there I was in the picture standing in a jacket and ski cap in front of a glacier! Some people must have been thinking “Hurricane, heck, it looks like another ice age!”

My website guys tell me to put pictures on the blog. “People love pictures!” So there you have it.

On August 9th, I hopped on the cruise ship Oosterdam in Seattle with some other artists and over two hundred folks from all over the country. We were a small part of the large crowd aboard the ship. I’ve done a few of these Christian Cruises in the past. This one was really appealing to me because the host/sponsors were the folks from the gigantic music festival, Spirit West Coast. I’ve known the head of Spirit West Coast, Jon Roberrson, for almost 25 years. He’s a veteran of Christian concert promotions and he invited me to go on this trip.

I played at Spirit West Coast (both festivals – one in San Diego and the other on the Monterrey Peninsula) in the summer of 2007. Jon and his staff were so kind to invite me to those events. Honestly, the festivals are filled with the strongest current artist rosters you can imagine. Everyone from Leland to Switchfoot. And me. I played these things years ago but not so much lately. But Jon appreciates heart and passion. I’m thankful to still have both for the work.

The other artists were Phil Joel, Bebo Norman (along with his long-time multi-talented sideman, Gabe Scott), Aaron Shust , Comedian - Bob Smiley and Matthew West.




(L to R) Me, Bebo Norman, Gabe Scott, Bob Smiley, Aaron Shust, Matthew West, Phil Joel.



It was a great lineup and I think the folks that came on the cruise were moved, inspired and entertained.

We took off from Seattle headed toward Alaska.

Beautiful, wild country. I think I saw Sarah Palin kill a moose one morning off in the distance.

We stopped at several ports – Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, and Victoria, BC. The most incredible time was the few hours spent in front of the Hubbard Glacier. These pictures are from the time near the Hubbard. When I heard that we were going to be spending the morning looking at a glacier, I was, well, less than enthusiastic. I figured it would be sort of like watching paint dry, grass grow or the ice machine in my fridge do its thing.

Wrong.

As we were still 10 or 15 miles away, I began to see this incredible work of nature come into view. Didn’t look like much at first but as we got closer, I was overwhelmed at the sight – at just the thought - of this monster wave of frozen tundra. I thought about the time it took to form, the years it took to move to its current position, the stuff caught in it, moving with it. You know, bugs, logs, fish, etc. And then, you see big slices shearing off into the sea and a few seconds later ( I’m not really up on the specific differences in the speed of light and the speed of sound. I just know they’re, uh, different.) earthquake-like rumbles that shook the entire boat. I spent most of the morning sitting bundled up on the deck staring at this thing and taking pictures.


The color was incredible. The ice picks up the blue tint of water and sky. Amazing.

I decided then and there that I would be less generous with the use of the word “awesome” from then on. A taco is not awesome, a touchdown pass isn’t either. This work of nature, the incredibly imaginative hand of God and the intricate work He performs is truly awesome. And what’s the purpose of this work of art? I mean what’s the point? We’re so driven to know “why” and “what is the reason for this or that?” I don’t know and surely don’t have to know. That’s His business.

All I know is . . . it was . . . awesome!

Wayne Watson

Thursday, September 18, 2008

After Ike


Well, it’s been a long, long time. I’m sorry that I’ve not been updating the blog more regularly but I’ll try to fill you all in on what’s going on here in Houston.

Our course, giving you some insight to what’s happened here in the last week could take a while. Really, without being overly dramatic, the city and the surrounding areas are just very badly shaken. It’s unnerving to drive around and see the scope of the damage to property, nature and human lives. People from all walks of life are just meandering in a sort of daze – but trying to keep their spirits up. Most of them are out on a mission. Finding a gas station with a supply and the electrical power to pump it. Finding a station where the wait is less than an hour. It seems that keeping fuel in the tank brings some sort of security to us all. It’s odd, I admit. I try to dismiss it and not analyze too much but when my gas gauge gets near the half way point, I have to say, it’s, well, it’s just weird.

There are pockets of the city – and the pockets are no respecters of class or stock portfolio - where the power has been off since last Friday evening. It’s one thing to drive past during the day and sense the stillness of a once beautiful neighborhood, but quite another to pass through at night. It’s dark and still. Most of the residences are vacant, the owners off to stay with friends or relatives or perhaps, off to a second home in the hill country.

Others that live more normal lives simply have to make do. They spend their days trying to accomplish some simple task. Finding groceries, a restaurant, another gas station.

It’s strange that a city of four million people can be brought to it’s knees by a single force of nature. It’s aftermath magnifies the size of this community. It shows the gigantic scope of it’s business and commerce. I can’t imagine anyone will ever be able to put a price on what was lost and continues to be lost today.

It’s interesting to me that we’re all quick to try and estimate the price of the loss. It’s some sort of twist in the nature of a human, I think. It might say something about what we value. It might suggest that we shift the once important, prioritized items to a lower place on our list. Material things that can be so quickly snatched from our tight hold might not be worth all the energy it takes to protect them. Just sayin’.

The broken record in me still plays “Be thankful, be thankful, be thankful.” And I am. I am unharmed, for the most part, as are all those I love. Unharmed except that my heart aches at the constant sight of tragedy. It’s literally everywhere you look in Houston.

I’ve not ventured too far from here. There is comfort in staying close to home right now. Watching things unfold around me. Lending a hand when I can. A kind word. A sympathetic question? An ear.

And there is mild humor in some of it. It’s still funny to me to watch the televison and hear them tell where relief and aid are going to be set up today. They’re doing a good job, I suppose, but the people that need most of the information they’re dispensing aren’t watching TV – no power! “Go to our website and get info on this or that.” Uh…again, I can’t go to your website if my wall plugs are dead. In 2008, it’s still a good idea to go to Radio Shack and spend ten dollars on a battery operated radio.

Humor and danger mixed together at intersections that used to be governed by traffic lights. Now, four-way stops all over this big city left to the imaginations of a dozen drivers at once trying to determine when it’s “my turn” without adding a car accident to the list of disappointments and stressors today! It’s entertaining in a sick sort of way, I suppose to observe the nature of a human hurrying through a dangerous intersection to get to – where – an open McDonalds? It just seems to be very important to keep moving – make progress toward anywhere or anything. Interesting creatures.

Then, you try to make sense of it all from a spiritual point of view. The Bible says the rain falls on the just and the unjust. So, you see one place spared and another crushed. One church untouched and another disabled. I don’t know. I’m not sure things work like that. I don’t know.

One story told of a couple that left home and took shelter with a relative only to be killed by a tree that fell on them in what they thought was a safe place. What does “safe” mean?

It will be months and maybe years before some parts of the gulf coast are back in order. Parts of it will never come back. Or at least not like before. You have to live with change and believe that change is ok. That it’s cleansing, though painful

So how do you and I pray? We prayed for God to calm the storm before it reached land on Friday. It was only a Category 1 storm but still wrecked this part of the world. What would have happened if it had been a Cat 5? We prayed for mercy and found it. We prayed for survival and did. But what about those, at last count 50, people that didn’t survive?

Fall on your knees and say “thank You” with me.

Thank You that you are Sovereign over life and death, You are still God and I am not. Thank You that I don’t have to know everything. Thank You that You are trustworthy even when I don’t see it. Thank You that nothing can separate me from the love of God. “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?” (Romans 8:35) Nothing.

So in this mess and this upheaval – in this major disturbance and inconvenience, God is unshaken and unmoved from His course of a severe mercy and unimaginable love.

Wayne Watson
September 18, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Really Jazzed

A few weeks ago, my friend Kirk Whalum, sent me a text message. (Check out his website – he’s a world-class sax player with more honors and accolades than I could list) He was booked to do a show at the Arena Theater in Houston on Friday the 25th of July and said he’d put aside a couple of tickets for me.

I was pretty whipped from the trip to Nashville, the concert and the family visit, etc. Heck, the travel alone can wear me out. If you do it often, you know what I mean.

But I got home in time and Friday afternoon Kirk sent another text. He said that he probably wouldn’t go on until 9:30 PM. So we modified the dinner plans, and worked our way to the theater at about 9:15.

The opening (of three) act was still on.

But as we took our seats and listened to Terisa Griffin, we knew this was going to be a special evening. Terisa and her band were in the middle of her set and the crowd was in the palm of her hand.

The Arena Theater is an old venue here in Houston. I played there a few times back in the late 80s. It’s been up and down, through closings and re-openings, under new management several times. This was the first time I’d been there in years. It’s unique because it’s an in-the-round setting and the stage revolves. One of the first things we heard Terisa say was something to the effect of “Wow, I look out there and see somebody and then I look again and they’re gone!”

During one of her last songs, she sat on a road case ( the band is visible front and back – you get to see all the workings of the drummer, the backs of amps, etc. It’s kinda cool).
While she was singing, she tipped over, hit the floor in all her glory and splendor, propped her elbow up on the case and just kept bringing it. The place went wild.

The next artist was Jonathan Butler. The third text I got from Kirk on Friday, after he informed me that he (the headliner) wouldn’t go on until late, was “on second thought, don’t miss Jonathan Butler!”

I didn’t know Jonathan’s music. Let me tell you right now, if you ever get a chance to see Kirk or Jonathan, you’ll be blown away. I told Kirk after the show that we expected to be entertained but never expected to be ministered to and so blessed by the evening and the music and the heart!

These guys love Jesus. In what was an absolutely no-holds-barred professional jazz show, the Name was being praised and glorified in every note. If you pay attention to the countenance of Jonathan Butler and Kirk Whalum, you’ll see Christ in them. And can they ever play!

Jonathan’s a world class singer and guitar player. Most of his set was praise music of a kind you won’t hear very often. Go and buy his CDs!!

And Kirk Whalum makes a sax speak like few others that have ever played. Both of these guys throw down and make music for the audience but it’s clear who they play for. The room could be full or not and the passion would still be there.

I saw Kirk on a promotional tour one night. He was playing at a Border’s Bookstore in Houston sponsored by the smooth jazz station here in town. He was promoting a new CD called “Roundtrip.” There were probably 40 people there and he played with the same passion and energy that was there at the Arena Theater on Friday night. That speaks.

It thrills me to see brothers in different genres of music taking a joyful stand and declaring their love and gratitude to a Merciful, Gracious Savior. The lyrics to one of Jonathan’s songs says “The greatest thing that ever happened to me was when Jesus came into my life.” Kirk told the crowd after his very first song, “Few people have had such a tremendous impact on my music and my life as Jonathan Butler.” Thank you, Kirk and Jonathan for your praise to the Master with every breath and with every note in every single place you go.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, wherever you go – work the field of souls. It takes all of us.

Wayne


I was in Nashville last week to play a date at Christ Presbyterian church. In addition to getting to see these cool little Watson boys to the left, I got to reconnect with a lot of old friends and made a few new ones. They are running a summer concert series and I was honored to be asked to be a part of it. Tom Grassi is the worship pastor there and, I have to say, I felt very, very welcome.

I had lots of good conversations with Tom as the date drew near. Being in Nashville, Tom has access to tremendous players – many are members of their church and play there regularly. So, Tom offered to pull a band together for me. Given the circumstances and top-notch guys he could pull in, I told him to go for it!

Again, I was thankful for all of Tom’s work in preparing the charts, the band lineup, etc. for the concert. I showed up at the church at 3:30 in the afternoon and they were already running songs. I set up my stuff, took my place and folded into the mix with them. We got to work for an hour and a half. It’s hard to walk into an unfamiliar setting with strangers playing your music. Great bands take years to get to know each other. You can feel it and hear it.

The common bond, though, with brothers in Christ transcends a lot of the unfamiliar. And the music that directs us toward Him makes a difference, too. I felt like these new friends were familiar brothers.

It felt so good to have others on the stage with me. Most every night, I’m playing solo, unplugged. These guys were great players and it just made the night more electric for me and hopefully, for those in the audience.

Thanks, Tom.

Added to the just plain fun of playing along with these brothers on stage, was the fact that there were a couple of dozen old friends in the audience. People from record companies long past were there. Too many to name, but to get to stand around after the concert and see these friends, to know that time and distance hasn’t stifled the bond we have was a huge blessing. Some of them walked through some uncomfortable business experiences with me and now, years later, we can let what’s passed stay in the past. Love covers a multitude of sins and misunderstandings, as it’s said. So many of the issues that seemed so important and urgent don’t mean much right now. They are overshadowed by faithful friendship, love between brothers and sisters in Christ, and the wisdom that comes with passing years.

Sunday, just past, I was in Cleburne, TX with Field Street Baptist Church. Dr. John Hall and his staff were waiting when I pulled up to the church – it was a 4 hour drive from my home in Houston. I like the windshield time so driving doesn’t bother me.

We went right to work on soundcheck and started the concert at 6 PM.

Most churches are doing away with Sunday night services and events so this felt like a very special occasion and a very special place. People were excited and were so responsive.

OK, I know I could go into all kinds of details about every night. Some of the details would be interesting – others would bore you to death. So what’s the point? The point is this: I’m still just overwhelmed and more thankful than I can tell you that I still have a platform, still have opportunities, and still have a literal voice to use to sing about my Lord. When I walk out into a room full of people, whether the room is a thousand or a hundred, I still think to myself how blessed I am that people come out to hear this music. Sure, some of them want to hear stuff from 25 years ago and some nights, I play it! But really, the night is about communicating the Amazing Grace and Mercy. I know, for example, a good number in the crowd in Cleburne, TX had never heard most of the songs I played that night. Many were sweet, faithful seniors – some probably didn’t like the volume or the guitar or the jeans or whatever – but this was their church home and they were there! And afterwards, I got just as many handshakes, smiles and kind words from them as from the new teenage fans that were there.

It was just sweet.

This weekend, I’m off to Kansas City, MO to the suburb of Leawood. If you’re around, come by and see me at The Church of the Resurrection. I’m there Saturday night at 5PM for their worship service, then Sunday morning, afternoon and then, a concert at 7 PM Sunday night.

Blessings. Thanks for your prayers.

Wayne

Friday, July 11, 2008

Growing?

I’ve always flinched a little at that. The implication and sometimes, the downright, outright verbiage is “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

The questions that always come to my mind when someone goes on and on about growing is this - when is it done? Or, is it ever done? Is there a rest period? When we’re done growing, do we die? Who is really responsible for my growth? God or me? Both?

Understand these are not necessarily questions to which I have good answers and, at best, the answers seem to change every once in a while.

For the last six or seven months, I’ve been reading from a book my son and his wife gave me at Christmas last season by Frederick Buechner and it’s called “Secrets in the Dark.” I highly recommend it to you. It’s like eating dessert before breakfast for me. A rich, almost guilty pleasure. It’s been kicking off the most regular quiet time I’ve had in a long time and I enjoy it so much that, sometimes, I think as I’m reading, “I don’t think devotion is supposed to be this tasty.”

A lifetime of self-imposed guilt over stupid things I’ve done, or more often, things I’ve not done, shows its fruit and tries to steal any treasured things it can find, even in the midst of devotion and an effort to, uh, grow.

But I’ve enjoyed it so much, I wanted to share a bit from the last thing I read. It gave a few examples of things that challenged me to stretch and grow (sigh) some more and to continue to pursue that illusive, or at least, easily distracted, more Godly man I want to be.

Speaking to a group of students about their new headmaster he wrote:

First of all he’s a good listener as he is a talker, and good listeners don’t grow on trees. As far as I can tell, most people I know hardly listen at all when I try to tell them something, but seem instead just to be waiting till it’s time for them to start talking again, and that always makes me feel terribly lonely, as if the only one of us who gives a hoot about who I am and what I think is me.

The second reason I value him as a friend is that when he talks to you, you get the feeling that he’s not trying to impress you, or to sound like the kind of person he thinks you want him to be, or tell you the kind of thing he thinks you want him to say.

The third reason is that he’s kind. I don’t mean kind just on the surface with a lot of less than kind things going on behind the scenes, or kind for the sake of being popular and getting your vote. . .

See?

In every line, even when the text of this wonderful book is not directly quoting scripture or pointing me toward a Bible story, I see God in it. I see Godliness in it.

And He is in it all. In everything I do today, in everyone I encounter, I pray that He will remind me of His love for all mankind, of His delight in me as He sees me in the light of Christ and His forgiveness.

That is good soil to grow in.

Wayne Watson
July 2008

PS - And this has nothing to do with anything written above. But just be aware. I went to see the new Disney movie "Wall-E" last night thinking that next time I'm in Nashville maybe I'll take Sam (5) and Gabe (3) (Neal and Lindsay's boys) to see it. After all, it's rated "G". Right.

Well just know that it's a very direct statement about the planet and about what slobs us humans are, or are becoming. I don't know where you stand on the whole "green" thing. I think it's important to be responsible and care for the earth we inhabit but this movie is directed at children to indoctrinate them to a specific political agenda and a very specific way of thinking. Basically, that we are lazy, irresponsible brats. Well, of course, some are.

I can count on one hand the number of movies I've walked out of before the film ended. Add one more.

For what it's worth.

Monday, July 7, 2008

O What Hundred??

A couple of weeks ago, I took a flight to Washington, DC - flying in on a Wednesday evening so I could be ready to hit the ground running the next day. I’d been looking forward to these concerts for a long, long time.

The Thursday night concert was set for Fort Eustis, VA and I’ve been in contact with an assistant chaplain there on and off for several weeks as the date approached. Sgt. Mike Duncan is a great guy and does a tremendous work there on the base, as do all the Chaplains and assistants. They meet a critical need.

I told Sgt. Duncan, a couple of weeks before I went there, that I’d be glad to do some extra stuff if it would be of any benefit to them and the soldiers on the base.

So, Mike set up a lunch event on the Navel Amphibious Base at Snug Harbor near Norfolk, VA. We were scheduled to leave from my hotel on the Fort Eustis base at 08:00 . . . 8 AM.

I had chosen to fly into DC the night before because, I thought, by 10 PM (22:00???) all the DC traffic would be cleared out. I was heading south on I-95 toward Virginia.

I thought the traffic in Houston was bad.

I found myself stopped two or three times on the interstate between DC and my destination for twenty or thirty minutes each time. Now, I have to tell ya, at this hour, after the day I’d had and the travel (which in case you’re wondering, is getting more and more weird) . . . well, I’ll just put it this way; when the traffic came to a standstill in the middle of the night, I wasn’t exactly singing for joy in the middle of it all!

If you missed that, you probably haven’t heard the new record! What are you waiting for??

I got to the base at 2:30 AM, found my hotel (on the base) and went to check in. The nice lady behind the counter was a little puzzled by my presence at that hour.

“You military?” she asked.

I was feeling a little salty but held my tongue. But I thought, “Lady, look at me. Do I look military? I mean the hair alone . . .”

Pause.

“Are you DOD?” she asked. Department of Defense? Again, I mean, really. I laughed inside and tried to picture myself in some undercover DOD assignment.

Sgt. Duncan and his boss, Chaplin D’Emma came to pick me up promptly at 08:00 and we drove to the NAB (letters are big in the military) in our VAN.

Without going into all the classified details, I’ll just tell you the two days with Sgt. Duncan and the other men and women that minister to our soldiers and sailors were fascinating.

I asked questions like a little kid.

I noticed that they wear the American flag patch on the upper part of their right sleeve. But the stars are on the right, as you look at it. Normally, the stars would be on the left, correct? So, I asked on of the Colonels about it and he tells me that if you’re moving forward into battle, this is how the flag looks. The wind would be blowing the flag back and the stars would be out front. “Very, very cool,” I thought. Then he went on to tell me, “The U.S. Army is always moving forward. We don’t retreat.”
Someone standing nearby said, “Sometimes we reorganize to a different location, but we don’t retreat!”

Yes sir. And thank you sir. I mean that.

All weekend long, I felt overwhelmed that these men and women are setting aside what most of us would call normal lives to stand in the gap to defend our normal lives – whatever that might be.

And the faces.

Some of them are so young – some are right out of high school. The looks on their faces were a mixture of confidence, arrogance, terror, “what the heck am I doing here?”, immortality, invincible, “try me!”

And the men and women that are there - some have been there a good part of their lives - to train these soldiers are just amazing.

General James Chambers, a two star general in command of the base at Fort Lee, VA, was the host for dinner on Friday night. We went to his home on the base and met his wife and had a great time of fellowship around the table. Come to find out they are huge Christian music fans. Again, I was speechless – well, sort of. We talked about songs and artists they liked and, I have to say, I left there on cloud nine.

Spiritual things are sensitive on military bases. There are so many different things that have to be considered and I won’t go into it here. But I will say, General Chambers came to the microphone after the concert at Fort Lee ended and made this very clear to the soldiers and others in attendance.

“We are here to train you. Your body, your mind and your spirit. What you have heard here tonight is part of your spiritual training. You have the right, in this country, to choose to believe or not. I want you to have good, solid information before you make a choice that could effect the rest of your lives and beyond.”

Amen.

I have to say, I would go anywhere in the world to sing and speak to these men and women – to try and uplift them with the truth of Christ and the knowledge that God loves them.

Pray for these soldiers. Pray for those that are responsible for their training and their welfare. Again, I was overwhelmed with the dedication and devotion the officers have for the men and women in their charge.

And one last thing. I heard the General say this to his audience at Fort Lee. He told them that the nation is behind them, the nation supports them. Certainly not everyone supports the war, but most people are for them. He told them that when soldiers returned from Viet Nam, there was a more hostile kind of welcome. Some demonstrations exhibited such animosity toward service personnel, it was shameful. He told them to realize how fortunate they were to have strangers come up to them in public places and shake their hands – say “thank you.” I’ve seen groups of soldiers in uniform walk through airports and witnessed a burst of applause from the traveling public.

Let’s keep that up.

Pray and be thankful.

Wayne

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

IT’S SUMMER TIME – (a little misunderstanding)


I was in church on Sunday and the message was one of those I can still remember today. It’s Wednesday. How many hundreds of sermons have I heard? Thousands? And how many are forgotten – instantly. That’s not an indictment on the preacher but more on my inability to pay attention and apply what has been said to my spirit.

The message was all about communion and, in particular, the table – what the table says.

You may know that I’ve been to church a lot - all my life - so far. In my childhood days, we were regular in our church attendance on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Wednesday night prayer services and, well, any other day or night when something might be going on at the church. It was the spiritual center of activity and, for the most part, the social center as well. Much of my life revolved around what went on at church.

I’m not sure how often we came to the table for the Lord’s supper. We actually never really came to the table – it came to us. The elements were solemnly distributed by the deacons of the church.

The deacons were a powerful bunch of men. Most of them, well, all of them now that I think of it, were southern gentlemen held in high regard in our little town. One of them was my father. They took their responsibilities seriously and carried out the duties with quiet reverence and dignity. I knew and could see what most of those duties were but until I was a teenager, I was certain that one of the duties of a deacon at the little Baptist church was to stand out on the front steps and smoke cigarettes. Most of them faithfully offered up that sacrifice just as regularly as any of their other duties, then came in and took up the offering and served communion. There was no conflict as far as I knew.

Of course, the bread and the wine were mysterious elements to me as a child. I was perplexed how a church that so vehemently preached temperance and total abstinence from alcohol could run the “bread and wine” service without the wrath of God or at least the Southern Baptist Convention. (I was always a little suspicious though and wondered just went on in the privacy of some of the homes around town. There was probably some medicinal application going on and I heard all the jokes – “Why do you always take two Baptist fishing with you? Because if you take just one, he’ll drink all your beer.”)

The deacons would pass the plates filled with tiny pillow-looking shapes of some kind of bread product although it wouldn’t pass for bread anywhere else outside the church. Then the trays would pass with small glass cups filled with grape juice – probably Welch’s. Certainly not real wine. It was a very quiet and reverent affair. And one everyone took to heart – rightfully so.


The pastor on this Sunday just past said the table always has something to say. He described the table communicating words of comfort – of invitation.

He explained that someone had done a survey of some kind and come up with a list of the most comforting words people can hear. In first place, “I Love You.” In second place, “I forgive you” and in third, “It’s summertime.”

Or at least, that’s what I understood him to say from my seat in the balcony.

I wrote Jim an email on Monday and expressed how moving and meaningful the message was to me. I mean, who wouldn’t agree that those three lines are great things to hear. Who isn’t softened by the words “I love you”? We all want to be loved and when someone actually goes to the trouble to take a breath and form those sweet tones and direct them at our ears – well, it’s just spectacular and makes any day better. And “I forgive you?” Cleansing, healing, redeeming words.

“It’s summertime.” When he said that, it took me back to my childhood and the last day of school on any given year between first grade and my senior year. What great words! “It’s summertime” meant that, for three whole months, there was no homework, no studying, no assignments; just baseball, sleeping late, going barefoot,fishing and going on vacation. I remember that feeling of hearing the final bell ring, the bell that signaled the end of the last day of school. There were few things that matched the euphoria for a school boy.

Jim responded to my email. After some other comments, his email finished with “Incidentally, I said “It’s suppertime, not summertime.” Oh. Right.

That does make more sense. “It’s suppertime” is a great thing to hear, too.

I still have difficulty calling the evening meal, dinner. Seems a little pretentious to a small town boy. Dinner used to be at noon with supper coming in the evening. When I talk to my mom and the subject of food comes up, we still fail to communicate from time to time with the often misplaced “dinner” designation.

Me: So what are you having for dinner?

Mom: I already had dinner. You mean supper?

Sigh.


It’s suppertime calls the family together to share a meal and anything else that needs to be shared from the events of the day. It does say that it’s time to eat, time to dine, time to be nourished. Yeah, that does make more sense from the table of the Lord. The bread and the cup reminds us of the sacrifice that brought about real forgiveness, and hope of a new beginning – refreshment to the spirit. Volumes have been written by brilliant scholars about the deep meaning of the sacraments. I won’t try to wax eloquent here.

So, it was just a little misunderstanding. Suppertime – not summertime. So, I got the meaning and a bonus.


He loves.

He forgives.

It’s getting warmer.

It’s suppertime.

Come and eat.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Songs in the Night



I came home last night and fired up the studio – the computer, the software, the keyboard, and dusted off the guitar of choice. I didn’t have any particular sound or style in mind and there wasn’t a particular melody floating around in my head. I just opened up the door in case something popped out.

Unfortunately, not much happened.

When it comes to the doing, I’m handicapped by my hands and my ability to play something new. I go to the same chords a lot, the same progressions and the same licks that have given birth to songs in the past. When I try to start something new with my fingers, it comes out sounding like “For Such A Time as This” or “Friend of a Wounded Heart.” Geez. It’s frustrating. Then I start wishing I had my grand piano close by and that it wouldn’t disturb the neighbors if I started pounding on it. Maybe that would get me thinking in a new direction. But the old grand is in storage miles from where I’m sitting.

Next.

I’ve gathered a number of guitars over the years. I say gathered because collected sounds so, well, stuffy. I don’t want to collect guitars. I’ve lost enough or had enough stolen throughout my tenure in this work that I’ve got no real desire to get too chummy with a piece of wood shaped like a guitar. Once, after flying home from a concert, I opened my guitar case to find the neck broken in half. Another time, one just disappeared from the baggage claim in Baton Rouge, LA. A year after I’d filed the claim with the airline and gotten a small amount of money compared to it’s real value, I got a ransom note from the guilty party. Really. I’m not making this up. I got a letter from a guy that basically read, “I have your guitar. I feel bad about it. If you’d like to get it back, get in touch with me at this address.” Creepy. I never followed up.

Guitar love is a heartbreaking endeavor.

People ask – people that don’t gather or collect or even play – why do you have so many guitars? Or why do you need another one? Need?? Let’s not get personal.

I heard someone say once that every guitar has a different song in it. Yeah . . . I like that. That’s all I need. The guitar that had “Somewhere in the World” in it back in 1985 also produced “Watercolor Ponies” a couple of years later. That was a good purchase, I think.






But last night I picked up this one – the green one. This guitar is one of my favorites even though one of the most recent additions. It’s my favorite color and it’s also the color of my first car. But as I played it, again the limitations of my fingers came in to play. The chords that fell under my hand were the same ones as “When You See Jesus” from the latest album. Arrrgghh.

Try something else - yeah, that sounds . . . just . . . like . . . “Almighty.” Wow.

That’s it. Enough for tonight.

So I went to bed and just laid there. While it’s always been hard for me to turn off my mind and sleep, it was especially hard last night. Lest you think I lay there thinking deep, deep thoughts, let me just say, sometimes it’s a mental equivalent of “follow the bouncing ball”:

“Did I lock the door?”

“What did I have for lunch today?”

“How old is Regis?”

“What was that?”

and then, as it happens so many late nights, melodies and lyrics come to me. Realize that this is AFTER I’ve shut everything down and put everything away. It’s hard enough to get to sleep some nights and I’m sure not going to get up and start all over again with the computer, etc., etc.

But the limitations of my hands and fingers and my stale chord progressions don’t have a say in the mental flow of music in my head. Are these little gifts from God? Are they challenges?

I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve gone to sleep thinking of, what I think is, a great song idea, a strong lyric or melody, and say to myself “That’s so good – I know I’ll remember that in the morning.” Next morning – poof! Nada. Sorry.

The capacity to think and dream is mind boggling. There are few limitations. Whatever your particular area of expertise, or whatever your interests are, let yourself go this summer. The imagination is a beautiful companion and I know there are new heights to gain by letting God challenge our thoughts, plant new dreams and new songs in our hearts, and then walk with us to achieve them. I think there are great things to share and I look forward to sharing them with you and hearing the songs of your lives as well.


Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.



Wishing you a great summer. Blessings to you.

Wayne

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

itunes!!



So by now, does everyone in the civilized world know about itunes?

It's changed the way people purchase and listen to music. So, if I might speak for those of us making some of the music, I'm thankful for new methods of getting the music and the Word out.

At first, going back a few years, I was concerned and a little fearful that things were changing so fast. It was tempting to throw up the white flag and surrender to the new army. But not so fast, you.

I get emails every day from recording industry pros spouting off about the new music industry, artists' vanity, entitlement issues, the lack of great music in general and the lack of hard work. But the door is wide open - almost anyone can walk through it. Sure, the crowd through the door is huge, but I know some prodigy will eventually walk through with all the rest and his/her art will rise to the top. With so much junk out there, and with the standards falling to record lows, most people still recognize quality. It's more obvious than ever.

And that's what I aspire to. To present to my Creator an offering that is the very best I can give. I hope more and more people are introduced to the Saviour because of the new technology that transports the Word.

So, sign on and give a listen and tell your friends. You can search under

Wayne Watson Even This

Email your personal list and encourage them to listen to the new stuff.

And thank you!

Wayne

Thursday, May 1, 2008

One Day



Monday morning, I left home and drove to north Houston to play in an annual charity golf event. I’ve played in this tournament several times and it’s always a huge field. This year, over 200 golfers attacked two different courses.

The game was a scramble format and for those of you wondering what the heck a scramble is: every player hits a ball from the tee, the group picks the best of those shots, then everyone hits from that chosen spot. You repeat this all the way into the hole. As you can imagine, the scores are usually pretty good when you’re playing the best shots from the group all day long.

It’s especially helpful if you have a guy who can really go long down the center of the fairway from the tee. We had such a guy in our group on Monday.

On the first tee, where we had all just met a few minutes before, I casually asked him, “So, you play a lot?” He nodded. “So,” I asked “Handicap . . . single digits I bet.” He humbly nodded and said, “Probably a two – I’ve been as low as a negative two.”

It would take a long time to explain what these numbers mean so I’ll just leave it at this – he was good. For the record, my handicap moves from a 12 to a 15. One pro friend of mine says I play like an 8 and think like a 20. That means my biggest enemy on the golf course is my own head!

I can’t count how many of these charity events I been a part of over the years. I used to go to every one of them with the dream of actually winning, but, truth be told, there’s a lot of, uh, cheating and little accountability at events like this. When you get a bunch of guys together having a good time but at the same time, wanting to beat the other guys, well, it just gets shady. So, I just go now to enjoy the game and the fellowship.

Our group won on Monday! Honestly!

We couldn’t miss. Everything was going our way. We all contributed and played as a team. At one tee box, one of the guys jokingly said, “Heck, this game is easy.” As soon as the words came out of his mouth, we all held our breath, knowing he’d violated the code and jinxed us for the rest of the day.

It was a beautiful, Chamber of Commerce kind of day in Houston. Perfect temperature, low humidity (yeah, it happens) with a comfortable, gentle breeze. I really had a great day.

The next day, I had lunch at my favorite Chinese place near my home. I don’t even order anymore – menu, ha! Sometimes, I think they start cooking my lunch before I come through the door.

At the end of my meal, on top of the check, there was the requisite fortune cookie. I always get a kick out of them but on this day, I got a message that I’d never seen in any fortune cookie in my life.

“Today is a disastrous day. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

Huh?

What?

Ok, nobody takes fortune cookies seriously. But this one did make me think. If you did depend on the cookie for your daily dose of confidence, what would this do to you?

It made me realize how fragile I am. How unstable I can be in my faith – how up and down life can be.

How many days does one phone call or one email or letter completely change your frame of mind?

If the bank account is dwindling and you’re overcome with worry, one call with a job offer, an unexpected refund or some other windfall can take you from the pit of despair to a mountaintop.

After a medical exam, preceded by months of worry and anxiety, a good word from the doctor can relieve all kinds of stress (and it makes you wonder, “Why did I wait so long to get this checked out?”).

When a family member is ill, the ringing of a telephone can be terrifying.

You fill in the blanks.

Isn’t it interesting how easily we can be thrown off course and then put right again? In a way it makes me very sad and disappointed in myself that it happens so often. Where is my confidence? Where is my treasure? Where does my strength come from?

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121


And so I pray for me and those I love – that we will hold on to the One that is immovable, the One that never changes, the One that keeps pouring out grace and mercy without limit. This fragile planet with its peaks and valleys will ultimately surrender to the strength and assurance that I can find in none other than my God.

Wayne Watson / April 30, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008



I spent the last week in Nashville at Gospel Music Week, which always concludes with the Dove Awards ceremony on the final night. I told my manager, Dennis Disney (no, not that Disney – I don’t think – hmm) that I’d come up if he thought he could make it worth the time, energy and dollars to get there.

I flew into Nashville on Sunday morning and hit the ground (I always hate using those words anywhere near the word “flying”) around 9:00 AM. My first stop was to go out to see the kids – that alone made the trip worthwhile.

On Sunday afternoon, I was a part of a panel of artist and industry types. We sat at our respective tables and were put on the clock. A group of young and older aspiring artists and songwriters would gather around and ask questions. Everything from, “How do I do this?” to “Where can I go to use the gifts I have?”

Another question that came up a couple of times from some of the younger attendees – “Who are you?” When I answered their question, some of them still didn’t know. Someone asked if that bothered me, given all the years I’ve put into this, my response was, “No, actually it’s kind of funny and it definitely keeps things in perspective.”

But it is nice when people know, I have to admit.

I was introduced to Mark Hall from Casting Crowns. Mark was very nice and said some nice things. He told me I was his “car singer.” Huh? He told me that when he was growing up, he would ride around in his car and sing along with me. He said Steven Curtis Chapman sang the stuff he sang in church. I asked him why. He told me in every song of mine, I’d throw in a couple of lines or notes as if to say, “So, you thing you can hang with me big boy? Try this!” And then I’d be out of his range.

I laughed but later thought, “Hmm, so that’s why Chapman sold so many more records than me?”

At this point in my career, I wish I’d recorded some of those songs a little bit lower myself. They tried to warn me.

I spent most of the week doing media for the new record. Lots of radio interviews and some television.

The most intriguing TV thing was for a network from Kenya. It set me to thinking about the world outside my world – and I’m still thinking, praying and hoping something comes of the contacts I made. I’ve got some ideas that actually have nothing to do with me. A breakthrough.

I sang at an art gallery on Tuesday night in a small showcase of artists. One of the girls that was on the list to perform was the daughter of Chuck Girard, one of the real pioneers. She's a great singer and one of the best songwriters I heard all week. You should check out Alisa Childers (spelling might be off).

On one trip through the maze at the convention center, I saw this guy from far off and watched the buzz around him. A dead ringer for the president! And a really nice guy. He said he’d been a fan for a long time and gave me one of his DVDs.

At the airport, before boarding my flight home on Thursday, I was browsing the magazine rack, looking for the latest bike or golf mag – something easy for the flight, something I could fall asleep reading, and I saw a magazine title I’d never seen. I love Nashville for lots of reasons, so what I’m going to say is no indictment on my beloved southern culture, but you might only be able to buy this magazine in the south. “Garden & Gun.” There was a picture of a great looking black lab perched on some expensive looking iron patio furniture – it could have been the cover of some highbrow publication, but, no, it was “Garden & Gun.” I didn’t want to spoil the many layers of weirdness I was enjoying in the playground of my head by opening it and actually seeing what was inside.

I might ask Santa for a subscription to “Garden & Gun” for Christmas! It would be a great coffee table conversation piece, eh?

Chuckling to myself as I left the airport bookstore with my copy of USA Today and Golf Digest with Tiger Woods on the cover, I heard this announcement over the airport sound system. “Would the person leaving the Elvis painting at security please return to claim it?”

Love ya, Nashville. Entertaining as always.

Wayne

Friday, April 18, 2008

Confusion



Our enemy is not dumb.

It always makes me uncomfortable when I hear anyone crow about the Adversary as if he were some dolt stumbling around trying to trick mortals or stab them playfully with his pointy stick. This is, and always has been, serious stuff.

From the origin of our faith with the birth, the life, the death and resurrection of Christ, people have set themselves against each other in the name of religion. It would take volumes (and volumes have been written) to articulate all the details of who said or did what to whom. You could spend a lifetime reading the stories. Truth is stranger than fiction, they say.

When Christianity first appeared in Rome, the Romans, who were very tolerant at the time, of different religions, thought little of it. To them, it was just an offshoot of Judaism and they certainly were familiar with that. But it didn’t take long for the teachings of Christ and His followers to intrude upon some long-held beliefs of the Romans. Only one God? Hmm. Everyone loving each other? No, Romans, not like that!

Confusion.

Constantine relieved some of the tension by declaring Christianity as on of the official religions of the state. But then the invasions started and confusion led to violence – lions, tigers and bears and worse. The violence lasted a very long time. And the violence goes on.

I was in a bookstore the other day and picked up “European History for Dummies.” I’ve been interested in history since college. Actually, my interest peaked and was sustained when I realized I didn’t have to study history for grades or memorize dates for tests.

This book is a fun read and hits the high (or low) points of the most significant events in the history of the continent – a history that, obviously, has had a dramatic effect on the entire planet.

But as I’m reading it, the most vivid, recurring element is that religion has made such a profound footprint on all human events. Some would argue that the footprint has made a mess of human events and continues to do so. To bring it closer to home, and to speak only of my own beliefs, I overheard someone say a few days ago, “…the problem with the church is not Jesus, it’s Christians.”

Christians that are easily distracted (me), Christians that are sometimes weak in their faith (me, also), Christians that don’t always believe that they’re truly forgiven and that they have to perform like sideshow monkeys (uh, me again). That grace is real and sufficient – period.

And the Enemy is simply delighted. His scheme is working out just fine, thank you very much.

When all is set aside but Jesus, faith makes sense. But how did we get this way? While you and I were born in sin, and while you and I are certainly responsible for our own footsteps – misguided or true as they may be – the current state of the planetary union doesn’t rest on me or you. We are a part of the great sinful collective that has no option but to throw ourselves at the mercy of the court.

What a relief. What good news.

When gossip, rumor, or even disturbing truth finds it’s way into my ears, I will try my best to trust in Him that made everything.

What is man that you are mindful of him . . .
Psalm 8:4

I’ll remember today that God is not the Author of confusion. That would be the other guy. I’ll remember that God will keep me in perfect peace when my mind is fixed on Him.

You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26: 3


Wayne Watson
April 18, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Face




One of the songs from the new project that’s getting the most attention and draws the most frequent comments is called “When You See Jesus.” You can read a description of who it’s about and why and when it was written on the website.

But right now, it gets me to thinking in a whole different light.

Years ago, I wrote another song called “Would I Know You Now” and it was inspired by a wandering imagination (like a lot of songs) that was sort of a daydream. I imagined Jesus walking into an everyday situation – approaching a table full of friends in a restaurant or a group on the first tee at the local golf course - a couple of fishermen in the early hours of a summer day (of course, in this picture, He would be walking on the water, you know). Maybe He’s walking up to a group of parents at a kids’ soccer game or happening upon a bunch of teenage boys sitting on the hoods of their cars in the parking lot talking smack about how fast they can go, how much beer they drank last night, which girls they’re after.

Jesus came to the world as a gift from the Father – A gift to be shared. But, too many times, like a spoiled kid, I hear myself say, “Mine!”. The healing of His shadow isn’t cast over the wounds of the world as readily as it ought to be.

More likely, the message I/we send to a lost world is, “Look, get yourself together, and stop doing whatever it is you’re doing, then we’ll talk and maybe you can bend yourself into some shape that will fit what we’re doing. Yeah, I know Jesus said He would do the work in you and that He would change you, but it would really be better, and most of us would be a lot more comfortable if you’d do something about it yourself. And try some mouthwash while you’re at it.”

Who has the face of Christ? Your neighbor? Your pastor? Would people confuse him with the Savior. Odds are against that, you say? Why? What is so different? “Well, my pastor is so recognizable, people know him.” And we have our opinions of our favorite preachers and we’ve come to our own conclusions about his Christ-like traits or the lack thereof. No, people would never mistake _______________ for Jesus. And really, I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just so obvious that most of us are far from being mistaken for the Nazarene.

Pity.

But what about me? Same pity. There are things about me that would stop people from ever mistaking me for the Christ.

I want to believe that if I were to encounter the Lord face to face, in person, real flesh and blood, I would know it. But He might be nothing like I expect Him to be. Like most people, I have that picture hanging on the Sunday School class wall burned into my head. You know the one – Jesus, dressed in a robe with an extra sash or two, sandals (cool), with that serene countenance. Skin color – hmm, not brown but not white and not black but not yellow either.

By the way, the picture at the top is not from the Sunday School wall. It was a gift from a friend from Romania.

We haven’t come as far as we’d like to believe about the color thing. For better or worse, we can’t claim ownership (though yes to some responsibility) of any particular racial or tribal prejudice here in the USA . Sometimes I wonder how the planet holds to its orbit with all the violence perpetrated by one superior group against another, faith against faith, one tribe trying to rid the earth of its rival.

If Jesus were to walk into the hills of Afghanistan and occupy a spot around a Taliban campfire or sit at a war table with an American Colonel, would I know Him? If he were to press His face against the fence surrounding a refugee camp in the Sudan, would I know Him? If he were to check into the hotel room right next to me, could I feel it?

And skeptics laugh. “When will you people ever get over this.”

I’ll never get over it and I’ll never stop looking. The more time passes, the more promises are unfulfilled by a world that tries to placate me with more storage space on my ipod, bigger TV screens, faster internet service or better gas mileage or more energy through pharmaceuticals, the deeper I breathe and believe that He is here now and He is coming then and there is more than this.

And I’m thankful.

Sweet Jesus, thank you for your patience with me. Sometimes my faith seems so small it makes a mustard seed look like an asteroid. Open my eyes a little wider today so that I can see you in everything and everyone. And so I can keep from freaking out at every obstacle that shakes me and makes me ask stupid questions that you answered a long, long time ago.

Amen.

Wayne

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Busy Week


Just a few words to catch up…

Last Tuesday, I did a simple little promotional video at a local studio here in Houston. It was set up to advertise a cruise I’m a part of in June of this year.

The hosts were a very nice couple by the name of Gil and Mary Ann Markarian. They showed up to do the interview segment of the promo and we felt very comfortable together right off the bat. That always makes things easier.

After we were done, I taped a couple of songs from the new project for them to use along with the interview. I sang “Sing for Joy” and “When You See Jesus.”

So, we wrapped it up and they told me they were hosting a half hour show on the local Daystar Network here in Houston, and then asked if I would come to be on the show with them on Friday.

I was planning on leaving early Friday to be in Dallas for a meeting that evening but pushed everything back a few hours and did the show.

Daystar is a huge Christian network and growing all the time.

Thursday night, I was at Lakewood Church here in Houston. You know, uh, the biggest church in the country! Well, before you get all excited, I was there to play for a group of about 400. They were a group called The Gathering of Church Bookstores – as in Christian bookstores located inside churches.

I was honored to play for this group. They are the fastest growing segment in the world of retailers of ministry products, books, music, etc. One church north of here just set up a ten thousand square foot store in their church to meet the needs of their congregation and their community.

Along with the retailers were forty authors representing their newest publications. It was a cool assortment of folks.

I gave them all a copy of “Even This” and played for a half an hour from the new project. Afterwards, so many of them came by for autographs and expressed their excitement and interest in hosting a concert at their respective churches. They were a great audience – laughing, crying, holding their collective breath at the right times. I was moved by their response.

So that was Thursday. And after the TV show on Friday I drove on up to Dallas.

Saturday morning I played a private event for a friend.

Sunday Morning, I sang in the worship service at the First Baptist Church in Carrollton, TX. Great church! Alive! Fresh!

That night, I played an hour concert. I love playing and singing this new music. It seems to touch people with its frankness and simple, direct message. Of course with the new material, I’ll always throw in a couple of oldies like “Friend of a Wounded Heart” “Almighty” and that night, did an encore of “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”. Man, how many thousands of times I’ve sung that! I still like doing it.

After the concert, my favorite moment was when a group of teenagers came up and told me how much they enjoyed the evening. I was overwhelmed by the expressions of some new, young and unexpected fans. Some of their parents had been listening since they were kids. What can you do?

Anyway, all this to say, it was a great, busy week. Things are starting to get rolling and the new project is gaining momentum. Next, we’re beginning to work on the radio promotion for the first two singles from “Even This.”

I hope to have the finishing touches on “Turning Into Dad” – the book I’ve been working on for the past 8 years about my father. You’ll see it on waynewatson.com as soon as it’s ready – hopefully just in time for Father’s Day ’08.

Thanks for your continued prayers and support.

Wayne

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Blue Light


I know, I know, the picture from the return trip looks pretty much like the picture of the going. Except it’s raining and I’m going in the opposite direction.

After playing my concert in Natchez, MS last week, I took off for Monroe, LA where my mom is still on the rehab train after her surgery. Looks like she’ll be there for a few more days then we have some hard decisions to make. I appreciate your prayers.

The drive back to Houston was covered in a hard driving rain from Shreveport all the way home. I knew it was coming so I prepared by stopping in Ruston, LA for a late lunch with my good friends, the Bradfords.

When I called them to find a meeting place for lunch, they told me they were just walking into The Blue Light Café. Hmm, that’s funny. Spell correction put that little sign above the “e” in the word café. There, it did it again! Did you see that??

I attended college in Ruston at Louisiana Tech and never ate at The Blue Light ____.
They said it was time. Soul Food at it’s finest.

I made the turns and found myself in a part of Ruston I’d never seen.

Sweet people of all colors filled the place at noon on a Monday. Good food seems to make people happy – at least for a little while.

I sat down and visited with the Bradfords for a while then went to the counter to order. I wrote down my choices on a little white pad of paper and handed it to a nice lady. I could tell she was one of the veterans of the place. I told her I had heard this was the best place in town and I’d come all the way from Houston to eat there – a stretch, but all in good fun.

She told me she had two daughters in Houston and I said, “Well, why don’t you just jump in the car with me and I’ll take you down there?” “Awe honey, I couldn’t do that.” You know the kind of place now?

When they brought my meatloaf, corn and black-eyed peas, I knew I’d come to the right place. This is one of those places you hear about from the locals. This is the kind of place I look for when trying to avoid the regular chain stores on the highway.

The owners of The Blue Light were African American. So were the waiters and the cooks. It made all the difference to how the place felt (like a welcome home from a long journey), how the food tasted (I guarantee you the recipes weren’t written down – a pinch of this and a taste of that) and the general “come one and come all” atmosphere of the place.

The clock turned back in the best possible sense of the phrase. The world was slower and whatever tensions there were in the outside world didn’t show up for lunch that day at The Blue Light.


*****

The race issue has always bothered me. I grew up in the south (North Louisiana) during the turbulent sixties. They didn’t really seem too awfully turbulent to us at the time. Actually, it was pretty quiet. But I was a white kid. What did I know?

The most intense racial issues I had to confront in my naïve childhood were the awkward misunderstandings of (1) why there was a black window and a white window at the one-of–a-kind ice cream stand in the middle of town. I really thought you went to the white window if you wanted vanilla and the black window if you wanted chocolate. True. I promise you. And (2) the unspoken but clearly understood seating arrangement at the movie theater. White people on the floor level and Black in the balcony. I always thought the balcony was the better seat and wanted to sit there.

I know the very statement of these things is a mystery and a horror to some of you.

The only real tension I remember was the night I woke up with the reflection of flames bouncing off my bedroom wall. We lived right across the street from the high school and that particular night, the KKK had decided to have some sort of demonstration in the school yard. I didn’t understand it but it was strange and frightening.

I didn’t intend for this little piece to take this direction and I could go on and on about any number of issues. There are things that have been debated and will continue to be debated. Who am I to attempt to address anyone on this sensitive subject? The very mention of the word “race” pushes so many buttons. It’s now become a defend/attack point in the current presidential election. Sigh.

I just know this. It falls to me and to each one of you who call ourselves followers of the Christ to walk in love, in kindness, gentleness, forgiving one another even as He has forgiven us.

I can’t fix what’s been done but, as the song says “I can change what will be. By living in holiness that the world will see Jesus.”

Play nice, for God’s sake (literally).

Who’s with me?

Blessings.

Wayne

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Uncomfortable Chaos of the Cross

I’m no theologian; let me make that brief disclaimer.

During Sunday morning worship, something simple touched me very deeply.

What is normally a very reverent service was that and so much more. With all due respect, church services can sometimes be almost predictable. And I like that. It’s okay. Still, every single Sunday, even with the expected delivered, something always surprises me.

Today as the pastor read from the book of Matthew – the story of the events that lead to the crucifixion of the Lord – the sound of his voice alone was interrupted by a chorus of voices in concert with his.

When the first sounds were heard coming from the choir, you could feel the rustle in the crowd – “Uh, well, that’s different.” And even a few giggles. Then -

He told of the interchange between Pilate and the crowd of witnesses. When Pilate asked whom they wanted him to release, you know their response. The choir, speaking all together responded, “Give us Barabus”. This was, of course, a rehearsed moment in the service, but the beauty of it for me was, even though they were responding on cue, they responded like a mob – some speaking slower than others, some louder and some not speaking at all. It was anything but perfect sounding and that was what was so perfect about it. That was what was so moving. It was uncomfortably chaotic in an environment that is usually quiet and still.

The dialogue continued with the pastor speaking his part from the pulpit and the choir and other individuals taking on the vocal roles (none of the principals were visible to the audience) and spoke their lines in turn.

The whole place went still when Pilate said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood” and the crowd responded, “Let His blood be upon us and upon our children.”

A quiet, uncomfortable silence.

It seemed like everyone was holding their breath.

“Truly, this is the Son of God” said the Roman soldier – and all of us.

Why?

I’ve seen dozens of pageants, dramas, musicals – heard as many Easter sermons as years I’ve lived but rarely have I felt His presence like I did today. I was afraid to move.

I’ve lead and participated in performances that were technically as close to perfect as we could do. I was pleased when we didn’t have a major meltdown or a serious malfunction. At best thankful and at worst, inappropriately proud.

I never apologize for giving every effort my very best. I believe offerings to God, whether a song or a word, should be the best we can give. But, I’m ashamed to say that, many times, I’ve missed the awe and the glory of it all while stressed out in my pursuit of perfection.

The pageantry of the Easter season might not rightfully communicate the chaos of that day. I’m not sure the literal telling of the story would have them beating down the doors for a seat. When you reduce a moment in history like the crucifixion to a play or something that looks more like a children’s story, though less real, it’s easier to digest.

Reality makes me very uncomfortable.

On the hill that day, were the disciples quietly watching everything unfold? Were they keeping their wits about them or were they about to lose it as they thought, “What is going on?! Is this really happening?” “Is this how this whole thing ends?” “Somebody do something!”

Was the family of the Crucified One properly placed in position at the foot of the cross or were they stricken with grief, with loss – panic evolving into madness?

And the brutality of it all. Many of us saw “The Passion of the Christ” a few years ago and while it was horrible in its depiction of the abuses Jesus endured, most would probably agree that the real thing was still much worse than a film could ever show. It’s impossible to dress that up.

It was horrible.

When the chaos ended and the Prince of Peace came out of the grave, time and eternity never looked the same again.

And I for one am thankful to be entering this Holy Week with the fresh impact of the sacrifice made for me. When I am quiet long enough and allow the truth to settle on my heart, it chills me.

I’m afraid and assured at the same time.

“Lord have mercy.”

He did, He does and He will.


Wayne