Slide Guitar Stuff

Just so you know- LOTTA folks ask me to publicize their music, website, workplace and so forth. As I don’t want to simply be an add-man for anybody it’s only now and then I’ll post what I think friends of mine are doing that deserves wider attention. This is one of those times.

My bud Shane Speal just sent me one of these. VERY cool.

Turquoise (Jasper) Stone Guitar Slide

Like him I use all sorts of slides, handmade, store-bought, junk and whatever.

You might already know I play slide guitar on a lapsteel and several 6 string electric gits as well as cigar box guitars, each set up for slide playing. But this here may be the best well-considered basic tutorial for slide playing I’ve yet read:

https://www.guitarworld.com/lessons/diy-musician-five-reasons-you-suck-slide-guitar

And then I will say what he offers and what he does with a portion of the loot is very, very cool.

https://shanespeal.bigcartel.com/ (read Slides, Africa & The Blues, etc.)

In my workshops I’ve long taught folks to play slide and am on record saying it is BY FAR the simplest, easiest way to get into guitar playing. Others may disagree but I can list a number of reasons why I came to that conclusion years ago. In any case, enjoy!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

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Spiritual Diabetes

If you want simple and in-your-face answers you’re in the wrong place. I mean, living on planet earth!

What I’ll call “spiritual diabetes” seems a likely metaphor for what I’m going to generally address now.

My family- Mom, Dad, brother and sister (as far as I know) were all diagnosed or eventually had to face diabetes. If you have this disease, really know someone well who does or have studied it, you likely know much of the following.

I’ve been right at the edge of this for years and being the last of three siblings in such a family wasn’t in the least surprised when something like a dozen years ago my doctor told me I had reached that particular cliff.

In my case, the dna is rather obvious. I’m a foodie and struggle with food addiction, eating either the wrong stuff or simply too much, even of the good stuff and it affects my body chemistry as it does everyone whether or not diabetes is the issue.

Science, doctors and other medical professionals -and indeed spiritual, Christian pastors, counsellors and coaches have all come up with a long list of solid or un-verified reasons why people develop it. There is also a wide range of approaches to how people can overcome or certainly change quality of their lives via everything from education to exercise to medications, abstinence from certain foods or over indulgence, prayer, study and application of The Bible, 12 Step Recovery work and on it goes.

Put slightly another way, not everyone (nor those who believe in them or try various methods) is in full and complete agreement about how this or that individual contracted the disease. There seems even more variance and often disagreement with regard to viable, actual cures or at least how living a more stable, healthy life in light of a diagnosis of diabetes might move past the insulin and pancreatic issues.

With me so far?

You may partly or fully disagree with me on what I’m about to say, but here it is:

Whether or not dna, sin, taking actual responsibility or fully neglecting/rejecting all or partial responsibility for your (in my case, my) attitude, with due and accepted respect for emotional mood-swings and biological, diagnosed diseases (autism, bi-polar, clinical depression, etc., etc.) there are some folks who seem pretty well consistently:

Unhappy

Contentious/combative

Angry/mean

Paranoid

Distant

I do NOT mean they always wish to be thus, simply that I’ve known so many people whose general modus operandi is rather laced with the above list.

Whether inherited, chosen with regard to their choices or via actual or imagined abuse/abuses, genuine traumas they experience in life or a mixture of these, diabetes and the attitudes and general day-to-day life of such folks mean they bear crosses some do not.

Some reading may well think “Yeah, and such people are crosses in my life…” and I also get that!

Have you considered that they beat themselves up constantly far beyond any misery we get out of being around them?

I am not saying stay put with violent, physical abuse people, not in the least!

Truth is that quick and often ignorant as well as harsh diagnoses (I mean, by we non-medical peeps) as to a person’s nature/character and even whether we want to be anywhere near them are often wrong, biased and if nothing else, unloving and non-gracious on our part.

I have often found myself wanting to escape from being near such folks -and am sure some of them have done their best to avoid me -because of any number of character issues they believe (and may be correct in judging) about my life!! Read that again and ask yourself if you fit in either or perhaps both of these categories…

I could have spent the rest of my days denying God, blaming Him, my parents and any number of other people for my condition. My conditionS. My willingness or unwillingness to change, to adjust best as I can grasp, move to the positive in this or any number of areas in my own life.

Exercise and low-carb -when I apply them rightly- have kept me from needing any medication at all -but there are a great many folks that do not get the same results as I have. Your mileage may vary and often does.

I believe in the devil, demons, old-nature/the “flesh”, “the Fall” and sin. I also believe in the wisdom of science, doctors and medicine. Anyone (spiritually or biologically) can mis-diagnose the problem and/or appropriate treatment. Anyone at any time. We’ve all done it! Yet we live on a planet with hurting people and yes, they often hurt others because relationships or even in the workplace or a church, wherever we go there we are.

Regardless, I don’t want to be the person who continually and with contempt judges ANYBODY with regard to their weight, diet, consumption of cake and ice cream or anything else!! Empathy and sense requires me to be kind. Jesus commands me to “Love [my] neighbor as [myself]” regardless of the source of their affliction -or if they sometimes afflict ME. Indeed.

Church, how are we doing with our diseases? Let me make it real simple: in Scripture, does Jesus hate and totally avoid sinners? Did he demand lepers merely repent to be healed? Thank God, it seems to me he laid down His life for th… errr… me and you.

I get the difference between sin and disease, and there is a difference. So… how are you doing with your “expert” diagnoses? I cannot claim to be an expert at anything.

I also think we all need to repent.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Grace Boot Camp

This is by no means the definitive tome on grace- but it’s a start. I’ve riffed on this before here in my blogs but today someone needs it today,  deeply, so here we go.

I’ve a friend who is in need of some peace. The needs include answers to difficult issues regarding family, finances and essential security. All of this is linked to faith in God, the ability to correctly hear His voice, and of course provision.

If one is biologically prone to anxiety and depression, there are brain chemistry issues and not only spiritual matters of faith involved.

Does any of this remind you of anyone you know… or sometimes are?

Full disclosure- I rarely get depressed. I get angry or fall into self-pity but rarely classic, dark depression. And yep, I know sometimes anger or self-pity are the surface symptoms of a depressed state, understood. And no, we’re not talking politics at the moment…

In that by God’s grace we exist, breathe and suffer (yes, that’s not a typo) and in that God is real, never lies, and we don’t always believe either due to pain and suffering in life on this planet, well what of grace when the pain is unbearable? What if “boot camp” kills us before we get to the “real” battle?

Grace (God’s UNmerited, UNearned FAVOR) does not always look nor feel like grace. It sometimes feels like a cross. Or several of them, even simultaneously. Sigh…

If you’re like me you couldn’t wait to finally get out of school. Later you realize you never graduate… the lessons keep coming whether you like them or not, if you do or do not appreciate the Potter molding the clay via difficult events and being involved with difficult people.

Some of your prayers, sometimes what in your mind are THE MOST ESSENTIAL requests are apparently denied. God seems or truly is, silent. Now what?

Book of Job stuff- in his agony his friends treated him with anything like kind respect, his wife finally said “Why don’t you just curse God and die?”

Suffering loss, staring potential or actual mountains of financial debt in the face, the uncertainty of next week or the rest of your days due to illness, “natural” disasters (note, often described as “acts of God”) and any number of confusing signs, mixed advice from friends and enemies and your own nagging guilt with regard to actual or imaginary sin, all of this conspires against emotional peace and certainly doesn’t nurture us toward mental problem-solving and solutions. That is, not toward solutions that feel like the pond if not lake or ocean of -grace- you need. Or might they move us toward Jesus and saving faith if not practical eradication of the pain?

Still with me?

The battles are real, the mind is often a loop, a re-run of all this and in the end I will say there are at least (there are more but…) three major intersections to **consider.

In no particular order:

**We live in a fallen, imperfect world as imperfect, vulnerable creatures who cannot totally control -anything- and at times find controlling our own thoughts and emotions nearly impossible.

**Faith is a gift, in fact I would argue a gift of grace from God Who “…makes the sun shine and rain fall on the just and the unjust.” -Matthew 5.45

**Medication- whether prayer, music therapy, good coffee at a warm fire, a walk in the woods or self-destroying drugs, booze, porn or any number of addictions are matters of choice -and there are also fallen angels (biblical demons) at work to influence you away from God, His Word, His people and the lessons that give life to you for yourself as well as others. We do make decisions when tempted by the rotting self-“medication” or the nurturing people and tools to help us through the crawl-in-the-mud-dirt-under-barbed-wire-and-today-is-live-ammo-day-soldiering moments of life.

Those who do not experience the sufferings of this life have already died -only God Himself knows if the suffering for them is finished or unending.

The EMOTIONS, the FEELINGS won’t likely be magically fixed and vaporized but a theological and absolutely boots-on-the-ground practical matter is mentally clear as a bright day if you take a slow walk through the first chapter of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.

Grace and reason has been poured into me again and again in this chapter!

https://www.bible.com/bible/100/2CO.1.nasb

Important note- the actual word “grace” is mentioned twice in the chapter, along with terms like peace, suffering, despair, death, consolation and joy. Real stuff, all of it. What has always moved me deeply yet not always ended my trauma’s or battles, bringing to light at least a part of God’s presence and work both in and through me are these words of Paul in verses three and four:

“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Then for me, the kicker: (v.12) “For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.”

For the amazing, entire chapter: https://www.bible.com/bible/100/PHP.4.NASB

So much of what is life-giving is to focus up and out, rather than inward. I do NOT mean to not love yourself, disregard self-care and healthy choices, rest and recreation, etc.. You may indeed benefit from spiritual direction, mentoring, a small group, recovery gatherings, prayer and Bible study and careful professional examination regarding chemical imbalances and such with regard to your mood and depression… I’ve been blessed with ALL of these and practice them except for medical treatment regarding mental issues having not needed it (so far). But please don’t miss this:

A. you’re not alone

and

B. you’re not on the planet for yourself

Last point in this bit of writ and then some thoughts on grace:

If grace truly does not always FEEL like favor and mercy, how do we “live by the grace of God”, or put another way, know we are living IN it, experiencing it in the midst of “live fire under barbed wire?” (apologies, I’m a lyricist, rhymes happen)

I pray because I must, search God’s Word the Bible daily because I must, share with spiritual friends regularly because I must, do recovery work and drink coffee and tea and walk in the garden because I must. Living is part of God’s plan for us. Faith is a gift but choosing these disciplines REGARDLESS OF MY FEELINGS is a must.

What I am absolutely certain of is that none of us exist on this rock merely for ourselves and the sooner we look up to God and outward to serving others the better.

We may be locked in a jail or prison cell or filthy rich in a penthouse with more money than Solomon but our relationship to Jesus and His people is the true, even eternal wealth, the rest is good and often pleasurable but it’s frosting, not nutrition.

Breathing is a gift. Faith is a gift. Walking alone or with the Lord and His people are gifts but also very much a matter of choice.

I deeply believe (SOOOO easy when all is going great, even fun and sometimes surprisingly sweet!) that we cannot earn God’s grace and mercy, but we can choose to share it with others even in and through suffering which all of us will experience in this life.

The worst of it is that some choose to suffer alone. You do NOT have to!

Paul makes amazing claims in the fourth chapter of his letter to the Philippians, and in that chapter again mentions both suffering and God’s provision.

Tradition tells us he was executed for his faith by pagan Romans -yet he was not without God’s grace in life, in death and now in the presence of His Savior.

Glory to God for His unchanging GRACE toward us!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Division, Loopholes

In light of black history month-

We can say anything we like about division and ignorantly ignore or talk about transcending uniqueness, differences between race, ethnicity and the like. And it would be very much like saying in the United States there are no liberals or conservatives, no Republicans, Democrats, Independents or Libertarians.

You might add “Nobody’s wealthy and nobody’s poor, nobody’s imprisoned and nobody’s free out on the streets. Really? Truth? Or “Hey you are CAUSING division by stating myths!” I’d say you’re either ignorant, lying to yourself, or have faith in nonsense because it suits you.

We can deny there is a sky at all, or that it’s typically blue and ok with us, makes no difference, that the weather doesn’t matter. Then comes a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, blizzard or polar vortex and the loss or potential loss of life, etc., and all of a sudden we’ve become our own worst enemy.

I speak as a pastor, evangelist and a Bible-reading, believing and seeking-to-live-it-out Christian (flawed, sinful right through my walk) for all but the first 18 of my 66 years. I could be partially or fully wrong.

What I don’t agree with is the logic of pretense because we feel better telling ourselves myths are reality.

Sure, some think Jesus Himself was/is a myth, or that the Gospels, the other writers of the New Testament, Old Testament, all the stories in them are essentially just a stitched-together mythology. Some surely consider core Bible concepts of heaven, hell, judgment and moral writ mere human constructs to help explain some of the miseries of life and mysteries of any possible afterlife, various morality narratives and not much else.

Some folks think as they do based on what they judge as illogical and immoral amongst professing Christ-followers who seem to do everything they can to either gain or keep control of their “slice of the pie” regardless of how others (“not like us”) are kicked to the curb as a result.

There are those who either have decided all are simply reaping what THEY’VE sown, we have zero responsibility for their situation. There are some who believe God predestined the down-and-out to BE down-and-out in their miserable lifetimes on the planet. Some folks believe both of these at once. I don’t believe either.

I’m convinced all of us are responsible to essentially do two things: Love God and love our neighbor regardless of the change, loss or even pain it may bring us. Nobody, certainly not me -does this perfectly and in all relationships at all times. And yet this is the call of Jesus specifically to those of us who claim saving faith in Him.

If this is divisive, I’d say what God the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives is working to divide us from:

Self-interest and harsh judgment to the point of ignoring His commands to love WHOMEVER THEY MAY BE by looking for an exit to this call

And

Converting us to treating those we don’t like or value as equals with THE SAME VALUE WE ASCRIBE TO THOSE WE LIKE.

IF as the Book of Genesis account says, we are ALL created in the image of God… and IF He commands throughout The Bible (He does) that we are to love one another without preference, how is it we so quickly prefer one individual to another and break His clear commands by deeming them of less value by our very attitude and lack of respect and care for them? The mission, the witness of the Gospel has in history at various times and places been left in the dust at this very point.

Here are two solid English New Testament translations that speak via apostle Paul to the Philippian church and all of us today- (Philippians 2.3,4)

“In humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” (NIV)

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (NAS)

Neither God nor His Word are bound. We cannot say this is also true of all professing Christians. Often it is our own anger, fear and lack of maturing in the love of Jesus toward others which both blinds and binds us.

Racism exists and sometimes “people of faith” have propagated it. You can of course deny history past and present but that won’t make Holocaust/s “go away”.

I cannot find a loophole to all this -but perhaps as a noose was once preferable for those we thought unworthy of our respect and valuing, that is the “loop” we credit ourselves with?

May God have mercy and may we learn to actually sow the mercy we seek to reap.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Mississippi Gabe Carter

Recently met this blues-monsterbro, mentioned that via my site:

Gabe on the left, my bro Jeff Stone on the right.

They played same stage as I at the Chicago Cigarbox Guitar Festival. You can search my site here and find my post w. more pics about that cool night!

So on this cold January in Chicago vortex day I went on a deep search and found this. Betonia, MS Blues chops galore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_X3v5-9TTk&list=PL9aP2bOgQ-XPO5O9_J4EQwbTl7Yxa-I8h&index=6

And This 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_GCnsSyHLI&index=30&list=PL9aP2bOgQ-XPO5O9_J4EQwbTl7Yxa-I8h

And then: https://www.isrbx.com/3136608877-mississippi-gabe-carter-live-from-rosemont-2015.html

Yep. Uhuh.

Warm up y’all, and as always thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Prayer Focus

Here’s a little thing that may be helpful to folks who accent repenting for sin over or against loving their neighbor or acting out of “love is patient, love is kind” as apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13.4

I admit I don’t do this 100 percent perfectly but I have long made it a practice to ask the Lord to bless and show the same mercy I want for myself, my family and my closest friends -to those I disagree with or who may count me as some sort of idiot if not enemy. Why?

Believe me when a thread running through my life and a great many of my messages and lyrics has been hopefully in love, to stir people toward repenting, which means turning around, going TOWARDS Jesus and faith, experiencing HIS forgiveness and applying the Word of God in their relationships and choices. Whether they even like much less love me while on this planet isn’t the issue at all. Their relationship to God (or lack of one) is ULTIMATE and will be in the day of judgment. To be sure, I won’t be on God’s throne and am as much in need of His mercy in that day as everyone else!!

But while on this earth my heart-attitude toward those I find I’m somehow in opposition with, THAT is a matter I cannot allow to simply ignore. At very least and in any case first, comes prayer about whatever the issue/s may be, and my gut attitude toward the person/s.

Whether I know them well, not all that well, simply via social media or in a one-and-gone meeting is not what’s important. Prayer for them and MY heart towards them IS.

So there you go. One part of my fairly regular prayer life.

See, repentance begins with ME, not “the other guy”.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The Bridge Chicago!

Lotta talk about walls these days. You might already know I do a lot of chaplain’s work in Cook Co. Jail and prisons. I have several amazing friends nearby who serve those I often refer to as “the least of the least of these” Jesus talked about in Matthew 25: prisoners.

Have you ever felt truly UNwelcomed?

Director Glen Fitzjerrell, Jed Brewer and their incredible wives and co-workers and a long list of volunteers serve a lot of incarcerated, at-risk, gang people and formerly locked-behind walls folks.

A couple of years ago Jed (brilliant songwriter/worship leader and then some) put together a project asking if I’d sing and play on it. I was so UP to sing one of his songs which I’ll feature here. They conceived that particular benefit recording project just to help finances at our Cornerstone Community Outreach here in Chicago.

20190127_193729

I came in last night from yet another gathering with them and decided I must help people be more aware of Mission U.S.A./The Bridge for the deep, important work they do. Note: they serve with genuine love and respect for people many in society and even the church are enraged at, afraid of or simply don’t want to risk caring for.

This song was perhaps the first I heard of Jed’s at a Bridge meeting years ago- also covered by me on the “Homes For Heroes” project (which he named due to the many veterans our Cornerstone Community Outreach shelter serves).

SO HERE I AM by Jed Brewer

If You were looking for accomplishment
Then You know I wouldn’t stand a chance
But You said You wanted failures
So here I am

If You were looking for intelligence
Then You know I wouldn’t stand a chance
But You said You wanted fools
So here I am

[Chorus x2]
Thank You God
For love I don’t deserve
Thank You God
For love I did not earn

If You were looking for good citizens
Then You know I wouldn’t stand a chance
But You said You wanted prisoners
So here I am

If You were looking for faithful men
Then You know I wouldn’t stand a chance
But You said You wanted doubters
So here I am

Chorus

If You were looking for righteous men
Then You know I wouldn’t stand a chance
But You said You wanted sinners
So here I am

If You were looking for worthy men
Then You know I wouldn’t stand a chance
But You said You wanted me
So here I am

Neither Glen, Jed or the rest of the staff want the personal kudos. It would take me quite some time to share all The Bridge does but I took a few pics (a bit dark, sorry) and please read on.

I encourage people who care about these issues to really dig into their website- there is SO MUCH GOOD happening via Mission U.S.A. and The Bridge…  check out Contact Info., Current Ministries, Media and note their training offerings at their link below.

NOBODY asked me to publicize any of this. I do it because I could not be more impressed and hope-filled knowing their team and fruitful work as I do.

I missed the top of one of these slides but you might find this of interest too:

http://thebridgeloud.podbean.com/ They are increasing (see bottom left pic above) radio outreach as well…

The deep needs of people and ramifications of doing little to nothing is FAR too prevalent in our society and sadly, often even the church. M-USA/The Bridge are an amazing example of what they’re doing (for 15 years now!) and what CAN be done by more of us.

The last pic includes Jed and the last verse of a fresh song he shared with us last night. It’s a true snapshot of the core heart and mission depth of these sweet friends.

20190127_193813

http://missionusa.com/

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Yours Truly, -Glenn Kaiser