My Personal Space

Of course it varies from person to person in place, size, shape, kind, atmosphere. No problem with that. Unless you never land there. Most of that has to do with your choice/s and willingness to try!

I suppose mine has always been either the woods, near a stream or pond, up a hillside, out in nature somewhere. Sometimes it’s a very small spot right in the midst of a large city, but no matter, a place to park my body for a bit and cool out, rest. Chill. Or bask in a little sunshine. I’ve long realized I’m an explorer sort of person so searching and looking to observe in new places and new ways has not typically been a matter of fear for me. Drifting, restlessness, that’s something else, more on that in a moment.

So- often my personal space has been a place of quiet.

Years ago it was a web spot (MySpace, heh) but at present it’s any of several including Word Press, Twitter or Facebook, Instagram spots. Libraries have been this for me right through my lifetime.

There are more and other ways to think about it but the point is that I believe everyone needs a place to just be!

I mean where we can be ourselves, who we are and at ease. I don’t mean to say we do not need to grow, change, shift, reflect maturity and I’m talking spiritual, social, emotional, mental and physical maturity. We live, learn, consider, accept, reject, deal with (or do not) proportion and values or we just drift.

By “drifting” (a part of life too!) I do not fully discount learning from moving around but in the end I’ve long been convinced non-attachment as a lifestyle is less than best. Being planted is how flora grows. It may be blown by the wind but eventually must settle, take root or it dies. No doubt good soil is essential.

My attachment to the risen Jesus is like blood -only it’s eternal- and brings life to me. I meet with Him no matter the place, space, group or in solitude, but the ongoing life coursing through me is forever (yes) constant and essential to life.

In that sense my personal space isn’t 100 percent personal even when I’m not in the presence of people on this planet.

Right in the middle of anything including fear, pain, enemies, etc.: “You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” -Ps. 23.4

Though physically speaking alone, I’m never alone.

There are plenty of Bible verses that proclaim the close, immediate God-with-us presence of the Lord. I’ve been convinced most of my life that such is reality regardless of feelings or circumstances.

Oh, Psalms and other texts are laced through His Word where worry, calling out “Where ARE You Lord??!” is a reality too. It is my ongoing experience He meets us where we are, never leaves or forsakes us, is a very present help in trouble and does Himself not change regardless of our faith, doubt, fear, ice-cream and coffee, sunshine -or- bitter weather.

I do think there is a place for anyone who genuinely seeks Him.

THAT is my happy place, the place of peace. Why? It’s a place of fellowship in His presence. It’s a place I don’t have to “perform” to gain His attention, the attention I most need and desire.

As always, thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

“IF” My People…

So if you’ve read or heard me much over time you know I often bring that lil’ two-letter English word up often.

Here’s God speaking about HIS PEOPLE:

“”If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” -NASB

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” -NRSV

2 Chronicles 7.13 and 14 are classic examples of how God deals with HIS OWN PEOPLE.

No one can stop God from being God, from being Himself dealing with His people as He so chooses. So what is the response He’s looking for among those of us who think and say we belong to Him?

HUMBLE THEMSELVES

PRAY

SEEK MY FACE

TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS

Now for some professing to be Christians none of this relates. The mindset is that it’s Old Testament, Old Covenant, law and not grace, and/or relates to the Jews, to Israel and Judah in ancient times. We are not them, the sacrifice of Jesus means we live in the New Covenant, we’re saved by grace and not works, even faith to believe is a gift from God to us so in essence, most if not all of this is irrelevant to sons and daughters of the Most High in our time.

Since when is humility, praying, seeking the Lord Himself in the here-and-now without purpose, not part of the life of a true follower, a growing disciple of Jesus Christ?!

Further, the concept that truly saved lovers of Jesus as sons and daughters of God have zero ability, possibility (or option) to stumble or even practice “wicked ways” only takes a short study of church and world history to debunk.

Cross-reference with a fair number of comments in the New Testament including some of Jesus’ Own words even to His Own disciples on occasion and you begin to understand why I write such things. More importantly, why God the Holy Spirit moved for scripture to include such statements by God about His Own truly beloved people.

All of us (followers or non-believers in Jesus) get tempted. That won’t end until our lives on earth are over.

The GRACE of God calls us to repent when and where needed.

It’s a rare day when I don’t ask His forgiveness because it’s a rare day I am not in need of doing so! The follow-through is then action, doing diligence with God and others. Easy? No. Essential? Yes.

Things to consider for those who consider themselves belonging to God?

I believe what God called and offered Israel in His statement here is a template of both conditions and grace for ALL who are truly His people!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Suit Up!

Brief Thoughts on “The Whole Armor of God” as per Paul in Ephesians chapter six.

Paul lists several items in the spiritual armor followers of Jesus need to wear if they are to overcome the enemy -that being the very devil and demons Jesus dealt with directly in the Gospel accounts.

Here are brief comments on each of them, including the last one that by my way of thinking is too often considered separately.

BELT: The allegory here is TRUTH. Consider The Emperor’s New Clothes story where the guy was naked though he thought he was not. Truth is so foundational and if you do a study of the New Testament the number of times the term is used even in translating from the Greek it is clear how! Jesus is the TRUTH, His Word is TRUE, the church is a pillar and ground of the TRUTH and so on. Certainly genuineness, integrity in a professing Christ-followers life is core to walking in (see 1 John, 2 John and 3 John) the. Truth. It is our first line of both defense and offense in the spiritual battle.

BREASTPLATE: From the foundation of truth Paul moves on to RIGHTEOUSNESS which is two-fold by a thorough read of Scripture. First it is only of and by the righteousness of Jesus Himself we are saved, born anew, graced with eternal life and all the massive benefits of being God’s child by the grace and provision of the Lord! Next, there are again plenty of verses throughout the Word of God that call us to righteous living, that is, application and not mere mental/theoretical and abstract concepts of a right relationship to God and others. Out of this relationship flows all others, a “Guard your heart” (see Proverbs) re. this piece of the armor.

SHOES: Paul links our “walking assisters” 🙂  (note: walking implies movement) not only to the Good News of Jesus or Peace but to “THE GOSPEL OF PEACE”. We verbally and by our actions share the love and reality of our Risen Savior due to the peace we now have with God in Christ. We share so others may experience that peace in/with Him –and we do it in peace, not bashing in violence as with a hammer. It is indeed “the GOOD NEWS OF PEACE”!

SHIELD: In warfare there are always elements of defense and protection. Genuine FAITH in Jesus, in the Truth of His righteousness and in the very Words of Jesus in the Gospels builds our faith in Him and these. Faith shields us from “the father of lies” which term Jesus used regarding the devil. When we drop or neglect our shield we open ourselves up to destruction.

HELMET: NONE of these articles of a fully-dressed individual prepared for battle happen without our being transformed by the renewing of our mind (quoting Paul in Romans 12.2) and “we have the mind of Christ” (again Paul in 1 Corinthians 2.16). Keeping a core focus on our SALVATION because of Jesus we are then able to wage victorious, overcoming, spiritual war. What we think and keeping our focus on loving God “with all our [your] mind” can only happen when we are convinced of our own salvation. It is not a matter of spiritual immaturity to return to that bedrock reality of our faith again and again, then going out recognizing the battle we face in the fallen world.

SWORD: Though a sword is a weapon offense it is also very much a defensive tool. Consider the “foil” used in fencing as well as swords used in historical battle. GOD’S WORD -both Jesus the Living Word and of course God’s Word also called Scripture may rightly or wrongly be put to use as church history and people’s (including Christian’s) attitudes and behavior truly shows. Remember that when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness the devil miss-quoted/interpreted God’s Word in each case. Note also Jesus replied rightly using the Sword the Spirit, breathed and swung: the Words God spoke with the exact meaning God intended. We imperfect believers don’t and won’t always get it perfectly right as Jesus but the best practical weapon of God’s love is His Word which is His will lived out as best as we understand it in the face of temptation.

PRAYING: Not only is the Spirit active in all things pertaining to a child of God who follows Jesus but He also leads, directs and assists us in effective prayer. Scripture tells us God the Son and God the Spirit pray for us. Further, our own communication with the Father and the Son that is surely heard with regard to fighting the devil and resisting temptation cannot be stopped as long as we can think to God. Silently or otherwise praying in accord with the Holy Spirit will carry us through whatever battles we encounter in this life -regardless of the struggle, even beyond the outcome.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Abiding?

“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” -Jesus in John 15.4

“Abide” in biblical Greek means to stay, remain, wait for, wait

There is a sense of rest in this! But there’s more.

Apparently Jesus is allowing that His followers may –not– do this, it isn’t automatic that we abide in Him. If abiding is a done deal why speak these words to one’s followers?

Further, His concern is fruit -mentioned by my reckoning in two clear places re. the New Testament, again, I admit this is -my- understanding:

The term seems linked to those people we influence toward Him as well as fruit of the Spirit, that is, the character/nature of God growing and manifesting in and through His people. Study His mention of “talents” in the Gospels on this concept.

Our genuine, authentic demonstration of faith, hope and love in/from Jesus- the Vine… is the fruit the Holy Spirit produces in us (study Galatians chapter 5 and 1 Cor. 13) which reflects Him, that leads many to faith, hope and love from and in Jesus Christ.

How are we doing church?

As always, thanks for stopping by, -Glenn

DEVOTED to…

I read an article about people dreading Mondays on their Sundays due to issues that they must face in their workload. Immediately Paul’s words came to mind.

He writes to the followers of Jesus in Colossae (Colossians 4.2) to devote themselves to prayer keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. This may sound so simple and so basic we may overlook how important and central to our relationship with God, with others and even to our own sense of mental and emotional health it is!

Devote yourselves to prayer

keeping alert in it

with thanksgiving

All of us encounter troubles, struggles and anxieties in life. Nobody is immune to hard tasks, or at times failure or coming to an intersection where we wonder which is the best way to turn.

Others near and far are facing the same things.

Reaching up and out of ourselves to a Higher Power, the One Who is the Highest Power can bring not only clarity for decisions but peace.

Sadly, too many carry burdens alone. While people can and do often help, and best practice is navigating shoals in storms with experienced shipmates there is a Pilot so superior to any of them Who has ultimate power, One Jesus calls “the Helper” the present Spirit of God and so we are never alone.

Prayer, conversation with God Himself, “… casting ALL your cares upon Him for He cares for you” is a massively underused strategy.

A friend recently stated “Be not afraid” appears in scriptures a great deal. My research sums it somewhere around 144 times depending on how the Hebrew and Greek are translated, also re. synonyms and such.

Then we are encouraged to lace our prayers with thanksgiving. All truly good gifts come from the hand, heart and desire of God (as James tells us). How spiritually numb, passive and forgetful are we to find grace and experience blessings but then just walk away like 9 of the 10 lepers Jesus healed -only one came back to thank him though all experienced such compassionate deliverance.

When I give Him thanks I find I am not burdened or angry, fretting or fearful but tend toward being grateful and even joyful, happy and at peace. Knowing the One Who walks with us when few or none seem to brings a peace that passes understanding. Thanking God is His due!

Paul is right in his instruction and we are in need of it’s application .

It’s all about relationship -without which we are just plain sunk!

Jesus taught people “always to pray and not to faint”.

There are many good reasons why!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

3 Important Points

David Guzik quotes the Book of Acts writing about Paul’s message to a Roman ruler who had in part, power to end Paul’s very life. What did Paul discuss with Felix?

“When Paul preached to this high and mighty man, he had a three-point sermon. Acts 24.25 says that he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come.”

The righteousness of Jesus Christ lived out by faith and love in obedience to Him, self-control which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit grown in those who truly walk with Jesus daily and God’s judgment that will surely come are not often popular subjects, often not even among professing Christians.

Paul’s witness of and for His Lord was obviously paramount in his life regardless of personal cost. You may judge his motives or even sanity for focusing on these three topics when before Governor Felix, but I believe it’s worth pondering whether or not these three matters are of importance to God and thus to human beings.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Primitive String Material for Guitars

My life is full with family, webwork, songwriting, recording and jail/prison chaplaincy and touring concerns so I cannot give it much time -still, specifically cigarbox or other found-object guitar building has been a longtime passion of mine which many of you know. So let’s think about strings on such instruments!

As a young guy of 13 beginning to play in a band, poverty was common for us. We learned to make picks out of plastic bread ties or though shredding apart quickly, matchbook covers folded over. Not great tone, those, but you use what’s at hand when you don’t have money. Sometimes we’d use a coin as a pick but those sometimes caused string breakage.

Using old guitar strings by re-stringing all sorts of ways- I mean threading them into the “wrong” tuning posts where the shortened string could still be used depending on how long they were (often broken but saved) or when the little brass nut on the bottom had busted off, knotting ’em so they’d hold when re-used, all these tricks were not uncommon.

A while back I mentioned here (in my blog posts) using a slide to play blues on a uke (yep) tuned to an open chord you can even use ukulele strings finger style or w. slide if the action is high enough for slide playing. Different and sweet sound imho! Of course we’re talking nylon strings, fishing line or some such thing. Cigarbox/found-object gits can be played with the round, smooth (NOT sharper variety) weed wacker line as strings too, especially if using acoustically or with piezo pickup/s because neither nylon nor plastic line can be “picked up” by conventional guitar pickups. Such “strings” make serviceable baritone and bass guitar tones possible.

“Catgut” strings have a part in guitar or guitar-like instrument history too: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catgut

This morning my friend Shane Speal posted this article in CbGitty.Com that is quite fun and instructional on the subject: https://www.cbgitty.com/news/homemade-strings/ The short article quotes bluesmen who poor, figured out how to make use of what they had for strings on primitive guitars they built. VERY cool!

https://www.cbgitty.com/news/homemade-strings/

So now you know a bit about how folks did and even today, get along in making simple, cheap and useful guitar or guitar-like music. Plenty of options to try 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Attitudes and Nutrients of a Maturing Unity

That is, specifically unity between professing followers of Jesus…

I have been pondering the following text for nearly 2 weeks. It is so rich and deep -so here is a mere skim, a few core thoughts about it’s meaning and importance.

Paul writes the church in Ephesus:

“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” -Ephesians 4.1-6

Apparently it’s possible to live a life unworthy of our calling -but the Holy Spirit in many ways and yes, even via imperfect believers can and does move to help us practice what we say we believe about Jesus and God’s calling on each of our lives.

How do we -do- this, live into this, live this out?

“with ALL humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort…”

IF we grow in, walk in these our actual unity with and peace from God Himself can then be offered, shared with others who also follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Yep. Starts with me, not “them”.

Note- this does not mean we will all totally agree with one another on every point, vote the same, come to the exact same conclusions about methodology, theology, doctrine or even what to eat at a meal. And yet:

Ain’t but one God. Yer in His family? Act like it. Treat others –in the church– like this. That’s Paul’s message here.

We hear, read, give lip service about caring about our witness and attitudes toward pre/unbelievers all the time, right? We don’t have a copy of the Lamb’s Book of Life do we? So that dude or lady in that fellowship of believers or even our own may or may not be part of the forever family just yet. “You will know them by their fruit” doesn’t equal your or my certainty of their present state with God.

If you and I don’t walk like Paul writes here what sort of fruit are we pretending to be producing in the churches?

How are we doin’ church?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

I See You, I Hear You

The year before I was born the amazing, accurate and rightly bold Ralph Ellison wrote in his book “Invisible Man” ““I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in a circus sideshow, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination—indeed, everything and anything except me.

What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?”

It is a rare person who has not felt such feelings – but the kicker is that Ralph powerfully, accurately spoke of the Black experience in the United States. I deeply appreciate him and this, perhaps his greatest work.

I’ve been thinking a lot about terms that likely get up the nose of folks on the right wing of American politics and policies, and wish to only offer a brief and old white man’s (me) thoughts on them:

I see you – you are truly seen


I’m listening – you are truly listened to

I hear you – you are truly heard

And then comes the obvious which regardless of your attitude, politics, stance on anything or even faith or non-faith in Jesus Christ, the rub, the pain factor even AFTER all of these is as real as allowing, giving space, affirming and authenticating a person’s or people group’s feelings.

I agree with you

-or-

I disagree with you

Biblical -grace- means UNmerited favor. We cannot earn God’s grace yet often demand others earn ours -which is a mish-mosh sidestep and not a consistent reflection of Jesus loving others through us.

We each and all NEED to stop, truly HEAR people including those we either wrongly or rightly judge we don’t agree with. NEED. Because we are no more worthy of God’s love and grace than anyone else on planet earth though of course we don’t always think about them in that way.

“Repent” in Bible Greek means to re-think, a change of heart, a turning toward God. Do we see, hear and actually listen and agree with Him? Major question, that.

We start by listening. We continue by actually hearing. And then… sometimes agree or disagree but keep listening and hearing one another or we largely go our separate ways.

So interacting with bikers, jail detainees, those locked in prisons, addicts and other so-called “undesirables”, having to truly see and indeed listen to them has been a life-long task God put in my life. I’m still a novice and some days/moments I’m better at it that others but it’s a major, conscious part of my own process of growth and maturity.

Now, actually HEARING as in understanding what the other person/s means by what they seem to be saying ups the ante, takes a great deal more work and of course the big crescendo (I’m a musician as well) is then whether we both/all/somewhat agree or disagree on the issue/s in play.

The process is daunting to the extent many just don’t give others -or very few others- such time and mental/emotional effort towards connecting with them. Many aren’t generally even interested in trying, starting, giving it a go, hence divisions galore. Racism, the powerful white and dominating race has often simply moved away. I mean literally moved away. The energy of peacemaking, actually seeing, listening and hearing others is such it’s easier to just hang with our own tribe and give up on trying to link -or even think!

We can and sometimes have done so even within groups of people including church, in rock bands, misc. organizations and so it goes.

Then the reality is also some WANT to be invisible. “Leave me alone!” is truly their desire and I would even grant, right.

God has His own ways of knocking on people’s doors. We sometimes won’t open, or regarding interaction with people, take a step toward trying to connect at all.

In the end, the joy of shared things or punchline (proverbial punch in the gut or mouth?) is when we agree… or disagree… or even grant an “agreeing to disagree” position. What then?

Regardless of government in a body of people be it political in our geographical area, church or whatever, all of this plays out over and over.

My nickel is that the more grace we can both trust God for re. ourselves, and the more grace we can extend one another the better the outcomes.

My one caveat to Ralph’s true statement is that sometimes what we want is what God wants… and sometimes it is not. His plans vs. our plans.

As for equality and truly seeing, listening, hearing and agreeing as much as possible as well as graciously disagreeing and not severing relationships with people, well that’s the stuff of maturity that costs as well as pays off before God’s throne and thankfully, often in the real world on planet earth.

God help us!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Taking Stock -and- Giving Thanks For HIS Grace!

TRUTH, RIGHTEOUSNESS, GOSPEL OF PEACE, FAITH, SALVATION, WORD OF GOD, PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT -Ephesians 6.14-18

LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL
-Galatians 5.22, 23

COMPASSION, KINDNESS, HUMILITY, GENTLENESS, PATIENCE
-Colossians 3.12b

These above along with Jesus’ “beatitudes” from His sermon on the mount (Mt. 5) are key watchwords/attitudes and fruit of the Holy Spirit which provide the practical spirituality, the daily ground of my walk, that is, the walk I am convinced Jesus wants me to believe are both God’s will and possible, that I might aim for, trust in and live out.

The reality is that I do not live these out each moment of every day -these amazing and wonderful qualities are not manifested automatically non-stop in my life. Lack of literal sinless perfection is a real pain. I of course, can be a real pain to those I love and those who perhaps believe I do not love them… so I keep these pinned to my wall in my office for sake of regular reflection. If you happen to be wondering- nothing amiss is happening in my life as I write and post these, all is actually quite well with me.

I share them here for your (and my) own ongoing consideration.

Believe me when I tell you I REJOICE in: “For God IS at work in you to work and to will for His good pleasure”*, “He Who has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion until the day of Jesus Christ”** and so many other blessed promises of God including “Him who is able to protect you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy”***!

Alleluia that the Lord is Who He says He is and does what He says He’ll do!! May we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”**** as we trust in, depend upon and walk with Him daily!

* Phil. 2.13

** Phil. 1.6

*** Jude 1.24

**** 2 Peter 3.18

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn