Thursday, October 22, 2009


It’s been over a week since the show, so I guess I should say something about the U2 concert here in Houston. The emails I’ve gotten range from way far out to something similar to logical and mature in scope of opinion, etc.

It was an amazing spectacle! I’d never seen a stadium concert like this and I figured the chances of seeing a band this big wouldn’t go on forever. There’re only a couple other acts I would throw down cold hard $$$ to see.

Can you guess who they would be?

Reliant Stadium in Houston was packed! Out walks Mullin with his drum sticks in hand, major applause erupts – he starts to play. Adam Clayton strolls out toting his bass, audience roars as he joins the groove. Out walks The Edge. (Mr. Edge . . .I don’t know)
Must lead to some interesting conversations.

“Hello, I’d like to make a reservation for two for dinner.”

“Yes, what’s the name?”


“Excuse me, did you say “Reg?”

“No, Edge.”

“Did you say you’re a vegetarian?”

“Never mind.”


“I need to see the doctor.”

“Are you a regular patient?”

“Yes, the name’s Edge.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t have an Edge in our files.”

“Try, The Edge.”

“Got it.” “What time can you come in, Mr. Edge . . . or should I call you The?”

The Edge starts to play then a few seconds pass before Bono walks onto the platform. The place goes nuts! I was getting my hair cut today and there were two ladies speaking Spanish, talking about the concert. One that really wasn’t that into U2 (so, why the heck was she there???) was very confused when eighty thousand plus started chanting “Bono…Bono…Bono.” Seems “Bono” in Spanish means something akin to “Bonus.”

Over the years, I’ve watched Bono as he’s fronted this undeniably gigantic rock success story. I’ve heard lots of commentary. Opinions are like noses . . . most people have one. “He’s arrogant and cocky.” So on and so on. I don’t know about you, but if I walked onto a stage in front of eighty thousand - give or take a few thousand – every night, I’d probably be a little cocky, too.

Anyway, I didn’t sense that. But what difference does it make what I “sense.”

One comment that was sent to me – and I want to be respectful of everyone’s opinion and their right to have it – mentioned that they were under the impression that U2 was made up of Christians “until a member of the family went to the show and got drunk on the alcohol being served.” Listen, this is not a Sunday evening concert at your local church.
This is big time rock business. I would guess the powers that be at Reliant Stadium and U2 didn’t have late night negotiations over whether beer would be sold during the show. Everybody wants to make their money at these things. Heck, I paid $20 just to park! Like I said, I don’t do this often.

From what little I know about it, three of the four testify to being followers of Jesus.

So let’s just assume the best for a few.

Back to the alcohol thing. I’m assuming the people in question purchased their drinks because, during the little time I spent in line to buy a five-dollar bottle of H2O,
I didn’t see a single person get anything for free. So somebody’s got to take responsibility for their own decisions here. But in this culture, we’re always looking for somebody to blame. “Somebody’s got to be the bad guy, ‘cause it sure ain’t me!”

The Book says there are none righteous, not one . . . and a whole bunch of other stuff along those lines that you probably don’t need me to point out.

Some others I’ve heard from were blown away by the fact that, late in the show, Bono (you know, the “bonus” guy) sang a verse of “Amazing Grace.” It was a nice rendition of the classic and a tremendous testimony. To hear eighty thousand singing along was cool, but they also sang at the top of their lungs to “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Lookin’ For” and “It’s A Beautiful Day.”

It’s interesting to see the reaction of believers when some popular icon makes a proclamation of what we identify as Christian faith. “Oh,” we pine “he’s one of US.” That happened years ago when Bob Dylan made a couple of albums built around Christian lyrical content. “Saved” and “Slow Train Comin’” were interesting but nobody would claim them to be Dylan’s best work. But oh man, how we ran to claim Bob Dylan. BJ Thomas was another, back in the day, that had an experience with Christ only to be overwhelmed (and a little bewildered) by the faithful clamoring over his citizenship in the “us” culture of Jesus people.

If we’d been able to further identify or confirm the sincerity of their faith, we’d probably have drawn blood from one another over the question of whether they were charismatic, spirit-filled, conservative, fundamentalist, etc.

We all remember the fever pitch that surrounded Mel Gibson when he produced and released “The Passion of The Christ.” Not too long after the great success of this amazing film, too many of us cleared our proverbial spiritual throats as he was (and maybe still is) caught up in all kinds of personal firestorms. I just hope there’re some grownup Jesus people loving on Mel, BJ and Bob right now. Truth is, most of us are on the lookout for the next rock idol or movie star to sink our spiritual claws into and claim as our own.

The way I read It, we’re not our own . . . but were bought with a Price.

Why do you think we’re so bent in this direction? Is there not enough value in our own remarkable redemption that we have to validate it with the lives of others we declare to be on a higher level of human nobility?

Eternity will be the great equalizer so we might as well start practicing.

How can we get past this recurring behavior? How can we grow up?

Amazing Grace? It is sweet. It is timeless and indescribable. It has taken on a new, deeper definition to me in the last 5 years. And my deep thought of the day – “Get over yourself.”

Give Thanks.

Wayne Watson

P.S. Please pass this along to anyone you know that might like to read it, really, anyone you like. Anyone you don't like, anyone that you feel might benefit from reading it. thanks.....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Last Word?

Great responses to yesterdays post about Worship.

It’s a hot topic and I guess that’s good. But, wow, it’s emotional for a lot of you. I’ve gotten stories that range from peoples tremendous worship experiences to some who’ve been burned, cornered, verbally assaulted, hurt so much they’ve left the fellowship of church. All of us probably have heard stories of churches splitting over controversies concerning worship. So sad.

This forum is interesting and this web culture gives everyone a voice. But just because I’m writing something doesn’t mean it’s the final answer. I’m just sharing some of what I believe. I’m not able, and in some part unwilling, to expose all of my thoughts and beliefs on anything here in this very public vehicle.

I’m trying to refine an art in me that gets lost too easily . . . keeping my mouth shut and my opinions to myself.

The post I wrote about Andrew Jackson drew some interesting emails as well. Again, some readers conclude that I’ve poured out all of my opinions, all my conclusions and convictions about the subject of abuse of power in the presidency, the greatness of a particular official, the mistreatment of indigenous groups, or the taking of American lands. That’s simply not true. I know there’re many sides to a story. Does it make you feel better to embrace your side with no thought, no credence to the other? Me either. It makes me feel selfish and narrow. Lots of times, I feel strongly both ways! I trust in the power of the Spirit of God to guard my heart without letting me be overwhelmed or blindsided. He does it very well.

Truth is, my heart, on any number of subjects, gets tweaked everyday by the Spirit into, what I can only pray is His perspective. The older I get, the one prayer I pray most constantly is “Lord, help me get over this need to always be right.”

Someone mentioned, in a response to the worship subject that one of our problems is that we don’t want to be told what to do. That’s true in worship and in life. One of the obstacles all of us have to overcome when we read God’s Word is the objection to being told what to do. That’s what the Bible does . . . for our best . . . for our good. And because we’re flawed mortals, it’s tough to hear and sometimes tough to do.

So maybe the best move, this moment, is to breathe out. Say to God, “I’m sorry I rebel against what I know is your best for me and mine. Forgive me for being selfish and arrogant, for always wanting the last word, for always wanting my way.” “Oh, and one more thing….”

My way has some serious problems. There’s proof. But strangely, I don’t feel obligated to share all of it.

As a matter of fact, some of what I’m writing right now is a veiled attempt to “get the last word” in response to some emails and posts of yesterday. Good Grief.

So, I’ll just step away from this for a few, come back and read it later and see if it’s more
nonsense than necessary.

…….. hmm…….hmmm……oh, cookies…… hmmm...

Ok, back now.


Wayne Watson

Monday, October 12, 2009

Did You Worship?

“I always feel for you when you’re up there singing your heart out, trying to get people to join in, and some of them . . . just won’t!”

A friend of mine said this to me the other day. When I’m not on the road, I lead worship at a church about ten minutes from my home. They’re the most gracious people - from the staff to the membership. They aren’t so much concerned with the insignificant stuff, you know, the stuff that nobody will remember next week much less a year from now. They like doing church to bathe in God’s presence as a corporate body once a week, to gather to worship, to learn and have great fellowship.

Worship has become a production. While I admire the quality of all the elements as much as anyone (Heck, maybe more than most . . . because I know what it takes to pull it all together, and I know what kind of gear it takes to produce such great audio and video and lighting effects.) sometimes, it tires me.

The spiritual pendulum swings pretty fast. While one day, I’m energized by the production, on another, I’m deeply, deeply moved by singing an old hymn in a small gathering of ordinary folks with no particular musical expertise.

So, does it bother me when people don’t always join me when I’m leading? Used to.
Not so much anymore. I realize that the hundreds of people in the room are coming from a great variety of life experiences.

I don’t know too many of them intimately, but, as we’re not that different from any other gathering of spiritually hungry humanity, there’s probably any number of issues being dealt with on any Sunday AM.

There were arguments at home about being late for church. Love that one. Some parents stood in the door and denied exit by some teenager daring to show up at Sunday School in some inappropriate something. “Too much makeup,” says another. “You can’t go to church in those shoes, son.” Then there are, inevitably, the couples that are on the verge of calling it quits. “One more church service and if God doesn’t do something big – and I mean BIG, I’m outta here.” “What am I going to do with my life?” a single, young adult asks in quiet. “Am I ever going to meet somebody to love? I don’t fit in here with all these families.” Then, there’re those with aging parents thinking about how to care for them, pushing back guilt for not visiting more, pondering how the estate will be split between siblings, what to do with the house.

Add your own personal drama.

It’s no wonder that it’s difficult to pull aside for an hour our so to be quiet, to pray, to sing, to listen and be taught or at least comforted.

I don’t take it personally when people don’t sing with me in worship. I worship and I hope my demeanor, my heart and voice can gently plead with them to join me, but honestly, I don’t know what each one needs or what they have to offer. That’s out of my hands and none of my business. I do know this – I’ve had some incredibly intense worship experiences listening to others sing, listening to someone speaking, keeping my own mouth shut for a few. My built-in southern Baptist guilt mechanism does kick in from time to time. It rears its head with loud piety. “Your not singing. What are people going to think?” “Nod your head like your agreeing. No, no, no that looks more like you’re falling asleep!” “Say “Amen” or something . . . not too loud or they’ll think you’re trying to be, well, you know.” “Smile….no….look serious.”


Here it is….and this probably doesn’t need to be said but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t wait for Sunday to worship. Live your life in an attitude of worship. If you pay attention to God’s moving in your life, you’ll have a worship experience every day. And in worshiping Him, you’ll live in a spiritual posture that will cause you to be humbly thankful for all He’s done and for all He’s doing.

Then every once in a while, show up at church and sing your heart out!

I’d love to hear how you’re doing with all this. Let me know.


Wayne Watson
October 12, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Not always.

I just finished a tremendous book about Andrew Jackson. Fascinating man with such a wide scope of opinion and views on people, life, spirituality and a host of other issues.

An orphan at fourteen, the revolutionary war took the lives of his brothers and mother. He saw little distinction between family and nation. In his eyes, they melded together into one formation and one loving devotion. He was passionate in his pursuit to defend and preserve both.

He is said by some to have been the president most like you and me. During his presidency, the culture was absorbed in fascination with politics, patriotism and religion. “My Country Tis of Thee” and “Amazing Grace” were products of this era and culture.

“He could be incredibly violent toward Indians and decidedly generous. Still there was nothing redemptive about his Indian policy.” There was conflict that is more than obvious in hindsight of nearly two hundred years. The way the United States acquired much of it’s property is downright scandalous. The wrongs and injustices perpetrated on the Native American can never be undone. Simple apologies from a generation far removed from the original offenses are almost meaningless.

One of the most poignant quotes from this book “Andrew Jackson: American Lion” by Jon Meacham . . .

Not all great presidents were always good, and neither individuals nor nations are without evil.

Andrew Jackson was blinded by the prejudices of his age and owned at least 150 slaves. It’s easy, in the year nearly 2010, to judge.

While I find this all very interesting and love to read the history of the world and particularly of the United States, there are so many undeniable facts that cause me to reflect with some degree of what I can only call shame and recoil that God hasn’t called us into judgment over the public escapades of our past, much more so over the things done in secret “in the best interest of the Nation.”

I won’t go on about the embarrassing episodes in our country’s history. Most of us are painfully aware. We proceed to live with bowed heads, thankful for God’s Grace and Mercy over us as a people – praying for forgiveness as individuals and as a nation for the missteps and intentional offenses we’ve committed. Thankful that none of us gets what we deserve. Justice is for another time. His mercies are new every morning.

So with that said, there are times when I’m proud to be an American. Let’s make this clear though - I find the word “pride” has few applications in the life of one trying to walk in the steps of Christ. And in the light of all the public observations of those we celebrate as “famous” I have to say, I don’t know why we expect people who’ve never been to the Cross to behave as if they have been, when it’s hard enough for those of us who have been there to behave as if we have been there! I’m embarrassed at my own judgmental attitude when I’m aware of my own life and it’s twists, turns and failures.

While I was in the Philippines in September, I was able to visit the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. We were able to pass slowly through this beautiful memorial to the more than twenty thousand who died in the islands during the second world war. Those who live in the Philippines are thankful for the United States of America and the part our service men and women played in securing their nation.

The cemetery and memorial are beautifully maintained by the United States. It is a quiet, humbling place. A place that honors many whose bodies were never recovered. Their families were simply and respectfully informed of the loss of one they loved.

As I walked this memorial, looking at the names on the wall, watching the landscape pass filled with white crosses marking the life of some young soldier, marine or sailor, I found myself thankful for those that made the decision to stand at the door of these beautiful islands, these sweet people, and hold off the oppressive forces that wanted to overrun and dominate them.

Each marker in this memorial represents a person, a body, a soul. One who was born on that one day to a family that eagerly awaited the arrival. “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl” they said that day. They celebrated birthdays with their friends, that first day of school, they went to ballgames, had dates, made their folks proud when they announced they were going into the service. Moms cried when they got letters from the South Pacific. Moms and Dads worried and prayed over each of these children grown into grownups. Then they let go into the Eternal Hands when there was nothing else they could do.

Yes, we’ve made some monumental mistakes as a nation but we’ve done some wonderful good, too. Just like you and just like me.

Stay Thankful always. Do good.

I welcome your comments, questions and discussions.


My friend James

A few days ago, I talked with a dear old friend.

James played guitar and other instruments with me on the road for 10 years. They were some of the best musical days of my career. Every night, he added so much to the evening. People would come up after the concert and ask all kinds of questions about “how did all of that music come from two people?”

James was tender and gentle. Always gracious and kind.

I’ve lost count of how many years ago we stopped traveling and playing together. But it’s been, probably, another ten years. I tried to stay in touch, called every long once in a while to a phone that I thought was his home, but got no answer. I let it go. We’ve both move far, far along.

But the other night, I got a voicemail and it was James. His voice was the same gentle voice I’d known all those years. He said he was sorry that he’d not been more in touch, that he was sorry to hear of the struggles and troubles of my past 5 years, etc.

I called him the next day because in his message, he mentioned that he was facing some “stuff” of his own. Of course, the mind takes over and starts to write an imaginary script of all the worst things you can think of….illness, failed marriage, death of a family member, accidents, whatever.

His wife answered the phone so that was a good sign and, for the moment, eliminated one looming question. She put him on the phone and we talked for 10 or 15 minutes.

After exchanging pleasantries and apologies for not being more in touch, he asked questions that I answered, followed by mutual expressions of our collective appreciation for fresh definitions of old words. Words like grace and mercy. While “God is good” can, sometimes, come off trite and flippant, it certainly didn’t in the course of this conversation with James.

James told me (and I don’t think he’ll mind me telling you . . . he’s asked for prayer from everyone. Please do!) that he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma three or four weeks ago. He thinks the prognosis is good and that there’s a good chance they’ll be able to beat it.

My breathing stopped for a moment.

This isn’t the first phone conversation I’ve had like this. But you’re never prepared and it’s never easy to know how to respond.

And I find, even as I write these words, I have little if anything, profound or exceptionally spiritual to say. I’m just a little deflated and tired of what happens to this body.

I’ve felt bad this whole year. But my stuff is minor compared to this. My stuff is done and fixed and I’m thankful every moment of every single day.

I’m concerned for James and praying for James and his wife. But as in all things, I know and am more convinced than ever that we just don’t know everything that God is up to.

He is a Mystery and will always be. Faith requires that we trust what we cannot see or understand. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be faith at all.

Whatever you’re facing today. Trust God with the unknown and the unknowable. Smile in the face of Mystery and enjoy the fact that so much of all of this is out of our hands – and safely in the Palm of His.

Wayne Watson
October 7, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Walking Over Water

I met a young man as I walked into the village. I asked his name. “My name is Allen” he said. “My first name is Allan,” I told him. It doesn’t take much to have some kind of a bond, does it?

The chapel in this little river village was set deep into the dwellings that were built on poles sticking out of the water. As our conspicuous band of American males started to walk toward the chapel, we were intensely aware that the walkway wasn’t made for our kind.

The first 20 feet took us over boards laid out like a ladder over the water. When I say the water was dirty, well . . . let’s just say, I had the feeling if you fell into it with any kind of open cut, you’d be really sick very quick. The first section had hand rails to hold onto, then it suddenly became two boards side by side with nothing to hold onto. Then one board . . . that bent dramatically under our weight.

At that, we all turned around and went back to the shoreline to visit with some of the children that were mildly entertained by our presence.

Allen sat and talked with me. You can see and hear him in the accompanying video.

He’s been a Christian for a little over a year, speaks pretty good English, and sells jewelry that he makes himself. I asked about his family – he pointed them out and they waved from the open window above. When I asked more about how they lived, etc., he told me he most often slept in the chapel. Again, I’ll remind you that our mental snapshots of churches and chapels have to be redefined. Their chapel was simply a small dwelling among the others over the river. Maybe 8 by 10 feet. I asked why he slept there and he told me he liked to have “devotion” when he first woke up. “They have Bible there” he said.

“Do you have a Bible of your own?” I asked.

“No” he answered.

I told him I would do everything I could to get him a Bible. He had told me that he wanted to be a pastor to help all the people of the world know Jesus.

A few hours later, we visited another church a few miles away from Allen’s village. He walked up to me as we were about to leave – it surprised me to see him again.

“Mr. Allan, where is my Bible?” he asked.


I ran inside this little church and asked the pastor if there was one copy of the Bible he could spare for me to give to a young man from the river village. He found a single copy and handed it to me.

Right here, let me emphasize that we were there with Bible League International observing their work, evaluating the great need for copies of the Word of God in the local language. So this was not to be taken lightly. I knew I held something precious in my hands.

Bible League International is very focused on their methods of sharing God’s Word and what I was doing was outside the lines of that focus. The pastors and laypeople that work with Bible League share Scripture through a small workbook called The Answer. It takes the reader through the book of John and guides them through the Gospel with questions and answers. After someone completes this study and is placed in a regular study group and church, that’s when they are able to have a complete Bible of their own.

When I gave the Bible to Allen, he looked like I had just handed him a pot of gold. I suspect he knew the value was way beyond mere gold – even as young as he was in his walk with God.

What will this simple, paperback copy of the Holy Scripture do for his world? How many people, young and old, family, friends, strangers will have their lives changed by the discovery of the Truth of Christ, His great love and grace for them all, for US all, simply because Allen has a Bible. He will tell them. He will go where I cannot go.

This is not writing a check to ease my conscience. This is not throwing pocket change at a beggar to gain a few seconds peace at a traffic light. This is time and energy well spent – invested in eternity.

We can’t do everything. But we can all do something.

If you listen, whether you’re in the Philippines or in Houston, God will talk to you. He will whisper. He will tell you which way to turn, when to speak, when to hear, when to watch and when to close your eyes. Obedience will bring joy to Him that made us and could quite possibly change the world.