Jesus Movement -Then and Now?

A Facebook friend recently sent me 3 successive clips. They were the history of Calvary Chapel and the Jesus Movement, a full tv show with William F. Buckley Jr. interviewing Malachi Martin dealing with the movement, and a Love Song tune of the era.

This can be and in many ways is a deep well. But in a nutshell response I replied with the following-

“Ahhh the “good old days”, when for some of us young ‘uns the spiritual times were simpler including the theology, doctrine and lack (Allelulia) of hard-wired methodology. On the other hand, race-riots, young service personnel being shipped home in body bags, Kent State and police brutality, Nixon, drug and sex addiction… wait… maybe all this is still in various ways happening today. Hopefully enough professing Christians will come to deeper connection to Father, Son, Spirit via His Word so that solid theology, depth of understanding to love Him and “the other” via doctrine (which is the core point of it) and fluid methodology rather than clinging wistfully to what either was or what we merely prefer painting us into static, spiritually immature corners. My prayer and personal desire -let it be HIS desire we fulfill!”

Mine was a simplistic reply of course. Here’s what I’d add:

IF and AS enough people (sizable minority) actually “pray without ceasing” through their day, are active in BEing “at peace with one another”, DOing “all you do in love”, and rather than lip-servicing “my faith is real” while clinging to weaponry and seeking the obliteration rather than cooperating with God the Holy Spirit to the possible salvation of “the widow, orphan, refugee, and those “not like us”, don’t hold your breath over “a new Jesus Movement”.

I’m one of the JM veterans and for what it is or isn’t worth, the first one imho happened due to 3, perhaps 4 major things.

1. Jesus moved. 2. Most of us (a majority of white students and street people) recognized and called out the atrocities (see above) and Emperors’ new clothes for what they were, 3. recognized beyond all material gain and “security” we’d enjoyed none of it met our deepest need for God and His love in Christ, and banded together to live out our faith come-what-may. (4.) Traditional churches on occasion were gracious and did not seek to co-opt the young Jesus Freaks but laid aside cultural and political “Berlin Walls” and whether they did or did not, houses sprung up in the U.S. and elsewhere that welcomed the hippies, surfers and “street Christians” who boldly, simply shared the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Most aged, got culturally conservative, got “a real job”, married, had kids and decided they were best fit for “normal”. Many via the several levels of pain, illness, dashed hopes and church politics or big-shot and often sin-mired leaders simply quit. Plenty continue to love God and populate churches (traditional and quite the opposite), a great number serve on the mission field of the larger world or in church leadership to this very day.

The reality is that there is a cost for following Jesus and many did not count it. Even quoting the very Word of Christ in the four Gospels (I mean the hard, demanding, “sounds like boundaries and even exclusion to me!”) then and now are what we are tempted to avoid.

Sometimes by this we avoid the Holy Spirit. Our thoughts about His thoughts become more important to us than His clear commands.

One reason I love blues music for all it’s simplicity is that it’s lyrically rather matter-of-fact about the injustices or perceived injustices of life… and the song continues to be sung. The cross is in the DNA.

If we avoid our crosses we avoid Him and those pesky, unlikable, unlovable “others”, and there you have my assessment of what was and why what some wish for may or may not take place.

Jesus is still moving! He’s never stopped. He will return too, ready or not.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

“Peace On Earth And…

Goodwill towards men”?

Is this what I’ve learned from world, national, state and local history?A more in-my/your-face question: is it what I have experienced -and- projected via my own life in the day-to-day?

To those paying attention to sheep and the night sky these are clearly God’s desire. But sadly, some will not bow to Him in order to receive them for they are also God’s doing.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” -Luke 2.13, 14

“…among those with whom He is pleased!” Yow. That’s a can of worms, no?

Ahhh but if there is no God, whatever. I mean literally whatever… whatever you like, however you feel, even civility like many things in which we engage or not, is a matter of personal preference and not much else.

Same goes for the Scriptures. I don’t happen to subscribe to a hardcore extreme fundamentalist or extreme reformed (Calvin-esque) or extreme Arminian understanding of The Bible. But I do believe it’s true, the Word of God and not merely a matter of human authorship -and without going into why I believe this I’m as convinced as I can be that what’s between your ears OR mine doesn’t come close to the truth, reality and indeed salvation that only Jesus Christ offers.

So do we want peace, is goodwill towards humankind- friends, foes, people like and unlike us really something we even seek?!

No doubt there are those that read my last longer paragraph above and separate from me in their viewpoints for any number of reasons. How much of our positions boil down to “what I want to believe or disbelieve”, in a word: preference? I’ve written a blog on that recently if interested.

Luke’s Gospel clearly states that the “glory” of God is paramount -but not if what you or I desire is more important to us! Honoring Him, worshiping Him is moot if you don’t believe He exists. Further, even if you profess faith in the Risen Savior Jesus if what you desire smacks up against Him (and yep, His Word) well whatever is what you actively live out in daily life. Does it bring you true, inner peace? Either way, is it building a bridge of loving relationship to God and your neighbor -or a wall? “Goodwill towards” others??

Look, I have written strident lyrics and preached plenty of tough messages, given countless rather raw interviews for most of my lifetime and have not always sounded out “peace” and “goodwill”. Certainly Paul, John, James (!), Jude, John the Baptist, indeed Jesus (note we’re not even considering the Old Testament prophets here) did not always sound like “peace”! Repentance where God calls for it is part of the issue.

Jesus Himself said “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”-Matthew 10.34-36

In fact some of the more “rock your world” statements leap out of Matthew’s Gospel. Text after text the often difficult words, convicting commands and indeed even the grace of God in Christ seem sometimes more slap than hug. I admit this openly.

Neither love nor truth simply kiss up to your personal persuasion. The issue is “What does God think about —–?”

If we humans are effectively God, I am not convinced we really want the love and peace that is only sourced in Him, His nature, His character, yes, His Words and ways.

The angels brought that amazing Advent message to illiterate, not-so-sweet-smelling, poor, “low account” shepherds when the most powerful, wealthy, highly educated people of that time and place had to wait their turn to hear the Good News. Luke tells us these sheep herders literally walked it. They acted on what the angel and multitude of heavenly hosts told them about God’s gifts of love, peace and joy in the Advent of the Christ Child.

What am I, you, willing to do in relation to God and others to connect with His love, joy, and peace?

This is what I’m pondering at the beginning of Advent 2019.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

GK Christmas Set- Chicago

As part of Uptown’s annual Winter Walk, my friends The Crossing (trad. Irish/Celtic band extraordinaire) will play 5-6:15pm, then I am pleased to bring a bluesy/folksy solo Christmas set 6:30-7:30pm this FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6th @ Everybody’s Coffee (Wilson Abbey) 935 W. Wilson Ave. Chicago, IL 60640 -And here’s a pic of EC’s/WA’s amazing Advent Calendar!

As always, thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

Advent 2019

Begins today! This incredible tune and lyric has filled my thoughts now. So rich, so good, Thank you Lord Jesus for Your grace, power, compassion to a fallen world!

As always, thanks for stopping by.

-Glenn

Thanksgiving 2019 and My Holiday “Blues” Reads

Blues? Many dear friends are struggling at this time and my prayers and concern go up and out daily for them. Regardless- and I mean that… there are always things to Thank God for. Sometimes if only focusing our mind on lessons being taught and learned via the hard times. Another sad but grace-sharing reality not lost on me is that blues music (Psalms: “Laments” mind you!!) is itself something I’m thankful about. Music of the soul, prayers sung, statements of truth whether all wish to face or hear it I’m still deeply grateful for. Further, some of the key historians were themselves activists in the best and even biblical sense. One of the two I’m about to mention was very much so.

I also admit I’m gratefully not one to have to deal with depression and am truly sorry for those who journey there in holidays -but this “blues” is about the music form I love, write and play.

Serious Reads

In blues music written and even recorded history Paul Oliver and Alan Lomax are unsurpassed giants. The former wrote a series of brilliantly researched books on the musicians and form/s while the latter’s Library of Congress (U.S.) field recordings include both songs and interviews with southern bluesmen and women throughout the Delta. His work extended even to prisoners and church congregations.

Oliver’s (1960) “Blues Fell This Morning” was one of my earliest forays into blues literature several decades ago. His interviews and writ is surely the cream of any white author’s understanding of the subject.

As an ethnomusicologist Lomax was also recording engineer, fan, writer, concert promoter and a musician himself. In the U.S. and eventually the U.K. via study and  recorded documentation of varied music styles including the American blues he is without parallel. He is often credited with the last century’s folk and blues music revival in both nations.

While neither bring to table the depth of amazing African-American writers Amiri Baraka (who as LeRoi Jones, authored “Blues People”) or James Baldwin, if you want to begin serious historical study of the blues, these are writers of incredible worth. There are so many more -but now to family, reading and giving Thanks to my Savior.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Righteous??!

Pharisees and teachers of the law?

In a sum total, those Jesus mentions here were experts in the Scripture but the whole point of loving God and neighbor was lost on them. Therefore, much like the devil -Jesus dealt with him as an actual entity regularly in the Gospels… these were what He called “blind guides”. Wow.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them…For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus in Matthew 5:17, 20

Their “righteousness”, like ours, ends up being mere “filthy rags”. “Christ IS our righteousness” and there is no other of such value when we stand before the Throne on that day but Jesus. (1 Corinthians 1.10)

God’s righteousness via Jesus wasn’t nor can it be established by civil law nor even scriptural law. Consider in light of say, Constantine’s time. Study his life and acts during his entire reign, how he ruled and for that matter his treatment of his own family for an eye-opener.

The concept of the State being more than servant of it’s people -ALL of it’s people- does not establish God’s righteousness. A genuine relationship to Jesus, His followers being walking “little Christs”, loving, gracious examples of HIS righteousness is what society needs to be truly reformed. Even in this bold, loving witness via our character we cannot -establish- righteousness in the sense that only Jesus IS fully righteous and only HE fully and perfectly is without sin.

In their desire to declare their own righteousness the Pharisees and teachers of the law of God rejected His! The gift was spurned when societal position and self-righteousness was their actual ground of defense. Self rather than either God or people around them -was their supreme focus.

God deliver us from us!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Unity? Where, When, How?

United -where and to what? Divided -how? Age, experience, faith, faithlessness, commitment or determination to no commitment to X, Y or Z, gender, family, nation, ethnicity, race, culture/subculture, even down to the most basic preference one way or the other, this is the reality of the human condition as I personally see it.

The concept of full and complete unity is in this sense, not only impossible but costs to the extent few if anyone either reaches it or has it -including any of us with God Himself.

Let me explain that last bit please.

Unless we are literally perfect/flawless/sinless/fully mistake-free we are not in the sense I am speaking here always and at every moment, re. decision, choice, attitude and behavior literally PERFECT as God Himself is. He is a distinct Person (The Trinity to be more theologically exact) and no matter how deeply our faith and relationship to Him, yes, even in Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior- I remain different to Him.

I WANT to agree with Him in all things but must confess there are always areas of difference, divide, even at times rebellion against all I am convinced He wants for me to be and do. Am I in unity with Him? Through my faith in Jesus and God’s love for me, yes… but this is not the unity many are discussing even as they quote scripture using the term or like terms.

If this is true in our relation to God, then how is it not between people? Perfect, total unity even among professing Christians isn’t what we actually have on this earth. If we will not be truly honest about this even then we are divided, no?

What husband and wife fully agree on all things right through many decades of marriage? What church or ministry partnership is in 100 percent unity on all matters at all times? What band or sports team or you-name-it in the core of their thoughts is always fully on the same page with every and all issues?

So how is it we expect such of one another in the United (!) States (or anywhere else)?

Look, I’m not saying everyone must always speak out on all matters nor that all must blindly agree with all others to express and maintain true, actual unity -though others seem to say that’s what unity is about.

The reality is much like a church I knew of some years ago that split into two camps (though I believe there were more…). Some referred to themselves as “liberals”, others “conservatives”. That local church no longer exists. But before you leap to conclusions on that, there were likely others who in some areas leaned strongly to either of both “sides” depending on the particular issue. We might consider them “independents”.

Then there were others there who probably didn’t come to strong conclusions on some of the more divisive (or unifying) matters as well. At least in various snapshots of time they would be “undecideds”. In any case, this is not only true in almost all local churches, denominations, house churches and other gatherings of professing Christians, it is the case in most any area of life including the political spectrum.

Am I saying “Forget about being in unity or seeking to build it!”?? NO. I am saying we must face practical, boots-on-ground reality that though we may or may not speak, write or communicate on various divisive issues doesn’t mean now or -ever- even in the past, we were truly and completely united in the first place. That’s a myth and as I see it, should not come as a surprise.

The deeper issue is being truly honest about how to love one another, forgive one another and yes, at times strongly disagree with one another without destroying the relationship, by taking the cheap and cross-less route of simply leaving one another to link only with those who are in full agreement with us. If God did that with us you and I (my Christian brothers and sisters) would never see His face again. Ponder that for a bit.

See, either love keeps coming back or even hate, perhaps even a conclusion like “If YOU knew what I KNOW…” and sharp, emotional disagreements move us to not only burn bridges but one another.

I have seen this all around the world in so many groups (Christian and otherwise) that these thoughts I now write are just common for me.

“Knowledge puffs up, love builds up”. Self-righteousness easily pretends deity while humility and grace nurtures and I reckon produces relationships of love, trust and unity even when at times and in any number of areas we are not -and surely in various areas have NEVER been- united.

“Blessed are the peacemakers” doesn’t mean there are no prophets or times to prophesy, in some moments with sharp, direct yet life-giving truths. The Bible is loaded with those and that. “There is a time for every purpose under heaven.”

“Seek peace and pursue it” indeed! Finally from Paul in Colossians chapter 3 And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity.”” Dear reader, sometimes you and I aren’t active re. the things he mentions prior (in context) and truly, the punchline here- ADD LOVE… without which full, mature, complete unity isn’t happening. Paul doesn’t say we live in this state, rather that we must attend to these things if there is any hope of reaching it.

The day-to-day issue we must consider is whether we are adding love and compassion to the local and larger stew, or if we simply add to the hunger and separation which in the end looks more like scorched earth than either love or holiness.

And this from an aging holiness preacher. “If we have not love” -we got zip my friends.

Things to consider along the path?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn