GK Guitar Rant

I rarely do this, try not to do it at all but that’s of course rather impossible. But here goes re. guitar choices…

In one of several online multiple interest platforms I receive various regular and in some cases daily email inbox stuff. Like anybody, some of it is of interest to me and some is not regardless of how they establish my algorithms. Yep, regardless.

So one of ’em that keeps popping up relates to the Gibson Les Paul guitar and why they are so superior to the Fender Stratocaster.

What their computer has not yet realized is over months of including this bit of click bait my way they’ll never get me to open it. Why not?

I don’t believe LPs (I have 3 of ’em) are better than Strats (I have one of them and there is little actual Fender anything on or in it). I’ve owned, recorded, toured with and used many actual Pauls and Strats and to be sure- long and wide list of various electric and acoustic guitars. Look, I’ve been at this for over 50 years and like most peeps have my personal tastes and for -many- reasons in each case. But here’s the deal:

A stick and string, even 2 nails, something for a single string and a board, wall or can to attach them to work for me. For -me- I said… not everyone.

Yet I’ve owned, used and greatly appreciated a vast assortment of guitars both electric and acoustic -in a massive range of woods, acoustic tones, pickups and via umpteen amplifiers, p.a. systems, recording studios, indoor and outdoor gigs galore. The truth is you can make one guitar work -with a load of caveats to this of course- but a few of them work even better or certainly with less fuss. I mean that last bit in the pure technical sense. SOME wiring, wood fit-to-finish, pickups and all the other variables are made with more precision and care… and yet don’t meet the particular need, style or taste of the particular musician.

And then there is a kind of concept that “more is never enough”.

All things considered I’d say it’s the APPLICATION of the particular guitar, not all the rest of the various elements that in the end call for this or that tone, approach, number of strings, finger-style or pick (plectrum) or slide use, on and on and on -you see?

As God is so infinitely larger and greater than any group of -or individual- churches… so it is with guitars.

Though I’m convinced there is One God, there are a vast and wide range of guitars or guitar-like instruments -and to say re. guitars than this or that one is “better” comes with a long list of details that surely complicate and indeed inform exactly which guitar works best for whomever and whatever application.

This is my polite and I hope informed way of saying “Keep talking, in some cases I’m not engaging in this for a long, long list of what I believe to be absolutely legit reasons”.

Now if it’s about Jesus or people I disagree with on any number of levels I’m going to listen.

But for many less than arbitrary reasons I -might- not respond.

“Different” may or may not equal “better”.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

-Glenn

Traditions Worship

Oh yes, many of us (including professing followers of Jesus) worship, bow to, focus on styles, methodologies and other elements of worship modes  whether old or new-

sometimes rather than worshiping God for Himself.

We all know this or at least suspect it is true for each of us…

How much is about pop culture (popular equals true and God’s will??) or ancient culture (ancient always equals true and ??) or whatever our personal fave cultural approach to Him, prayer, song, building, gathering together with others may be?

How many of us judge and look at people on the outside rather than get to know them in character, heart, personal relationship? We all of course fall into this all the time. So it is with worship and worship styles.

I’m convinced this is what starts churches, splits churches, ends churches and either handshakes with current or older established styles (name the style, there are many old, new and hybrids thereof). It’s a boutique get-what-you-like-and/or-want or with age-we-got-used-to-it attachment, sometimes more the glue that keeps us coming back or searching for something else as opposed to linking with God, people or both via far more important issues. Note, it can end up more literally a matter of detachment with regard to God and this or that group of His people.

What are the issues? I already mentioned them above if you think about it.

But… all this takes thought, time, effort, even grace to listen, keep coming back, forgive, ask forgiveness, you know, all the stuff that relationships are REALLY made of!

Thin commitments equal thin ice in both spiritual and practical senses. We long to belong, for safety, sometimes to just be left alone, no? It IS complicated… which is why it’s so much easier to just keep moving continually or conversely, to plant like cement and either way not think too deeply about the issues.

All this is in part why many just give up, give out, quit and “take their marbles and go home”. Except far too many never find a home with the people of God!

I suggest we really must learn, grow, do the hard work of being more flexible, pliable and seeking after God Who is not bound by traditions be they old, new or mix them together however you wish… or maybe that’s the problem -it is ourselves and not our God and others we’re most connected to, seeking after, committed to.

Things to consider along the road?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

DIY 2 String Fishing Line Guitar

Most of you may know I’m fond of creating guitar-like musical instruments out of cigar boxes and found-object stuff, whatever I find laying around or in a clean spot via dumpsters or el-cheapo yard sales and the like.

The imagination and creativity as well as challenge to me as a musician is what draws me. Sharing all this with others is a way of bridge-building, teaching, even sharing the Good News of Jesus as I am a pastor and chaplain as well as recording blues musician who’s been doing all this for many years.

So in the past several days I did a deep dive (again… have done this many times for decades) into guitar and guitar-like objects found in Africa. It’s of course a very large continent with a super wide range of cultures, subcultures, tribal and religious histories that offers so much with regard to origins of the guitar, indeed blues music!

The sick, horrid and damnable slave trade brought people with knowledge and skills to build primitive stringed instruments made from the most basic of materials to the U.S., Caribbean and South America among other places.

I spent recent days digging into Northern Ghana, FraFra people, their Kologo music and the kologo which is a 2 stringed instrument played with (usually) a diy plastic pic made from discarded soda bottle, strings of monofiliment fishing line and in Africa, animal skin or cowhide stretched and tacked over a gourd -or- wooden bowl-shaped body. The “tuners” are simply rawhide whetted with saliva and each string wrapped within it, the leather tightly tied. When dry, one may be amazed at how well after the strings are stretched, such can hold pitch! To tune one moves the rawhide up or down, sometimes using (in my case) a flat-headed pliers as well as fingers for pressure. After doing one string, the second is secured in the same way.

Some sort of bridge (piece of wood normally) is used. No slide is used, one fingers the strings and typically the higher-tuned one is played as the melody string, the lower one as a drone. Players tune them all sorts of ways but often the second string is tuned a 4th above the drone string.

Very simple, very effective and for me, really fun to learn and find a deeper blues source as you can find quite a few ethnomusicologists and other scholarship pointing to these gits as foundational to American blues via the Black folks of the South.

If you’re interested, here’s the 3rd quite westernized version I recently completed.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Faith, Hope -the Path to Love

Paul concludes his famous chapter unpacking what love is and is not in 1 Corinthians 13 with this in verse 13: “But now faith, hope and love abide (remain) these three. But the greatest of these is love.”

Few would debate every human’s need for love, many indeed debate what love is, means, looks like. Plenty of people are hopeless or it seems that our experience of hope comes in and goes out -and often may feel like out is more the norm… as opposed to largely -in-, to and for us.

While it is an important reality that often we may think there is no real or certain chronology for the human biblical authors, there are places where it does seem there may be an order to how they list various things. I personally think this is one of them.

Without faith what hope does anyone have? Without hope how is it anyone believes that love is even possible for us? We grasp air and fog and cloud as easy as we come to experience love or hope without faith.

There is one Source of all three and most of you who read my writing already know I have long been convinced that Source is no other than God in Christ by the Holy Spirit. Yes.

My own experience over most of my lifetime takes me back to my own lack of faith in anyone or anyone and further, any I had was largely destroyed by observation. Watching my parents, family and my friends relationships fall apart, listless, blown about by the winds and disasters of life on earth as well as deep, continual studies of human history left me little to “believe in”. Finally I recognized a serious stack of issues in my own life I had to recognize I myself could no longer trust nor hope in myself. Loving myself was frankly, out of the question by then. It only took me appx. 18 years.

On that basis hope was far beyond reach for me. My own life personally was a fairly ongoing train wreck -I mean relationships, bands I was in and then out of, addictions and all the rest -that is until I came to follow Jesus. The search for meaning was completely empty for me until that point in time.

Love came to town indeed!

“Greater love has no one than this, that they lay down their life for a friend.” -Jesus in John 15.13

This is exactly what Jesus did for us. The tough issue is whether we do it for Him -our ultimate Best Friend, and in time for others –even for those we don’t like

I am convinced faith, hope and love are accessed in just this way.

May God give you and I the grace to reach up and then out regardless the cost. This is what love is. I am convinced this is the path. Fifty years later The Way has not changed but Alleluia He is still changing me!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Who Wants to Study Corruption?!

So when Facebook went dark we were spared, right? 🙂 We are under enough emotional/spiritual/mental and perhaps familial, workplace and etc. distress! So who wants to read anything about THIS? I get that.

We all know our deepest need is LOVE. We recognize many legitimate calls and actions for justice, equity, the extension of grace and compassion in the face of reality and false news alike, gossip, slander, vengeance and desire to control, win, see demands met whether or not we or even God thinks they should be as we think they ought to be. So in light of all the darkness I ask- when is the last time you did a Bible study on this particular issue? Whew.

I dug into scripture on the topic of corruption recently, moreso last night. This morning -October 5, 2021, I opened to read through the Oswald Chambers devo for the day entitled “The Nature of Degeneration”. All I can say is Amen and let’s get ears to hear and eyes to see before our time runs out. https://utmost.org/

We must be clear right off: “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for humankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior…” -Titus 3.4-6 Also even in terms of repentance: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” -Romans 2.4

The old KJV tells us the word “corrupt” shows up 33 times in 31 verses of the Bible, “corruption” 21 times in 21 verses.

By far the matter being discussed is decay and specifically related to dying and death. We all know we’re going to experience this.

What I was searching to really understand at a deeper level is where the term is contextually linked to this:

Galatians 6 esp. vs. 8- which in some places the NAS renders as “destruction”: 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will reap DESTRUCTION from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9 Let’s not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary. 10 So then, (Or as) while we have opportunity, let’s do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

2 Peter 1 esp. vs. 4- 1 (One early ms Simeon) Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same (Or value) kind as ours, (Or in) by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Or our Lord. Since His…excellence, through these (vv 3-4) our Lord, 3 for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us (Or to) by His own glory and (Or virtue) excellence. 4 Through (Lit which) these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the CORRUPTION that is in the world on account of lust.

2 Peter 2 esp. vs. 12- 12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, using abusive speech where they have no knowledge, will in (Lit their) DESTRUCTION in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13a suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong.

2 Peter 2 esp. vs. 19- 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of CORRUPTION; for by what anyone is overcome, by this he is enslaved.

The same Greek word rendered (in the KJV) “corruption” in all four texts means “corruption, destruction, perishing”.

Note Paul writing to the Galatian church and Peter to the church are writing about the issue of false beliefs, false prophets and in essence warning believers not only about judgment coming to those who do not follow Jesus in faith but the possibility of their own shipwreck (to use the old KJV term).

I should also add that as The Jesus Music movie has just been released and I’ve been involved in online chats and panels regarding it, I’ve been reminded of a long trail of tears over first-person involvement with professing Christian musicians (and other leaders) who fell. Thank GOD some repented, became personally accountable in the local church and have matured spiritually and in all other areas, but far too many did not. We see that same record all through both Testaments and centuries of Church history. Of course -we- don’t know who repented and who did not, in the end God alone knows and is by Himself the only righteous judge.

While our salvation is not about our own “good works” nor somehow “earning” God’s grace which is not possible (UNmerited favor is what grace is all about) the sense of personal responsibility to genuine relationship to Jesus, the whole Word of God (Bible) and right relationships to the church are so foundational and so very needed. Then there are my own temptations, sins and those of others I’ve done the best I knew (at the time) to help move out of and beyond these to God’s mercy, forgiveness and Christ-like change. As you might imagine, my efforts as likely your own are sometimes fruitful and other times not.

I noticed in my Twitter feed another comment this morning re. white folks trying to help in the area of racism, the term (and often quite accurate) “white savior”. There IS NO SAVIOR BUT JESUS and can never be another at the most core, that’s a fact. In Christian leadership early on it became glaringly obvious that I could only try to reflect Jesus and His Word best as I knew to do by example -as flawed as I have always been and remain to this moment.

At the same time to simply buy into every temptation to roll with whatever “felt” right, most any cultural shift, or hard-wire align myself with ignorant, self-serving attitudes, being unwilling to re-visit the whole Words of God in scripture because they no longer suited -me- and/or those I love and care about does neither others nor myself any lasting good. Our life on earth will end. “Then the judgment” which of course plenty would also love to ignore, wish away or produce a defense against.

It does seem in the practical, most if not all corruption happens over time, a bit like the frog in the frying pan. Most people don’t wake up one morning deciding “I think today I’ll choose and live out corruption!”.

If these warnings from scripture (and there are of course plenty of those throughout) seem intense, perhaps even irrelevant or simply not what we’d like, I fully get that!! I don’t always like ’em either! But I love Jesus and want to reflect His love and truth to people. For my Lord, others and myself I want to avoid corruption. Dear reader, how about you?

The issue is whether these things move us to embrace our individual crosses or merely “look into the perfect law of liberty” and walk away from it creating our own false “scripture” within our own head.

Matthew quotes Jesus (7.14) as saying ““For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”

That word “small” has the meaning (Strong’s) “narrow (from obstacles standing close about):—strait.” and further, “narrow” = “to crowd (literally or figuratively):—afflict, narrow, throng, suffer tribulation, trouble.”

God have mercy and may we trust Him and learn to walk in it.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

BEattitudes in Very Brief

I’ve noticed Jesus’ “beatitudes” message from Matthew 5.3-12 being quoted by loads of people recently. And for many good reasons.

A super-brief overview-

Those “be-attitudes” He preached and commented on include the poor, mourners, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness which all relate to their/our individual hurts, anxieties and deepest needs. Legit as can be then and now.

Note each comes with an incredible COMING blessing according to Jesus.

Many may miss what He said next in what I consider largely a move from individualism to a context of outward love, compassion and service toward others:

“Merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, being persecuted for righteousness (that last including living out these other things He speaks of!) and then the Lord finishes this part of His discourse with:

“…when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me…” implying those who are truly living out these “beatitudes” prophesy, act in the role of prophets.

As always, there are true as well as false prophets -and the false ones tend to point to themselves and “special/secret revelation” in arrogance and self-serving, often “playing to the stands” rather than speaking the truth in love.

The people Jesus is talking about are recognized as His disciples based on His love, not merely nor only His truth divorced from His love.

Knowing when to speak and when to be silent is truly important. Living out these things Jesus taught is even moreso and in the end, a matter of faith and obedience regardless of the fallout.

LOVING God and my neighbor as myself has costS. And the greatest BlessingS.

Things worth considering on our journey? I believe so.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

More OPEN in the ’70’s?

Here is my reply to a q from a good, gracious friend in the faith.

He writes:

“Good afternoon brother. Hope that you enjoyed a couple of days in the woods. Question for you. I’ve been seeing the trailers for the Jesus Music movie and it has gotten me thinking. What happened? I mean it seems like in the 70’s people were more open to the message of the early Jesus Movement and music. As a movement folks seemed more caring. Today seems less open to the message and many of those delivering the message seem different. What happened is [over] a relatively short period of time.”

My Friend- thx again, always love getting out in nature very much! Excellent question! I truly love the simplicity of times in woods and on or near waters but also love people in need so I cannot in good conscience live out there…

So to your concerns. A lot of believers came to saving faith in Jesus in those years. The simple Good News in a complex society of injustices, war and racism brought healing to soooo many of us! The problem of not being open in society around the church… and not being open within it… that’s more complex again. I don’t mean you when I say many of us don’t want to think too much. We love simplicity and for good reason… and sometimes bad.

If (Greek) a “disciple” of Jesus is one who listens and LEARNS the mind has to engage with greater depth. Self-defense, protection and “me FIRST” above all else and massive, often false judgment of “the other” has to take a back seat. Look at what Jesus both said and did and you’ll find NONE of the latter in Him. Look outside and within the churches and you’ll find far too much.

God the Holy Spirit showed up big time in the late 60’s-early ’70’s and thousands of people were desperate enough to understand surrender to Him and His ways at the most basic level. So on one hand simplicity was the greatest blessing to us then… but mark this: continuing in simplicity and ONLY simple-minded concepts when God challenges our socks off for change and growth in our heart and activity of serving OTHERS as opposed to ME ME and ME and MINE is a train-wreck.

So hearts grow hard instead of soft. We tire of the personal sacrifices and call to forgive, be kind, live out His deepest commands to love as Jesus loves -because there is real pain involved. We look back on earlier times when such change seemed nearly effortless and in some areas of our lives it was. So frustration, anger and vitriol are what many of us spout in the face of our enemies rather than the (talking about professing Christians now) fruit of the Holy Spirit.

People long for “the good old days”, we have that bent for the nostalgia -and stated bluntly, when white males controlled most everything… which in my view is a real-world denial of equity, growth and grace received and shared.

Israel wanted a worldly King, a Czar not a suffering Savior. They wanted dominance, not redemption to share with Samaritans, gentiles and riff-raff.

The Spirit continues to work to move us beyond spiritual kindergarten. Having experienced first love many of us would rather bail on further education as both listeners and learners. The kingdom of self must go.

God have mercy. -Glenn

Sustaining Advocacy

Plenty has been written and a great deal more of late in light of the pandemic, racism and issues of history both past and present injustice taking a toll on those who advocate for sense, love and righteousness -not only in the world but within the churches regardless of “kind”.

Thankfully a lot has been offered as advice for tired, disgusted, even rightfully angry folks who are calling for positive change/s in local and larger society.

Taking breaks, starting or re-visiting a hobby or two, getting out in nature, getting a pet and any number of good, helpful, health-giving ways for the life of an advocate are often cited.

Professional help as in therapy, spiritual direction, a good feet-on-the-ground counselor, focus on God and His Word (The Bible), simply attending a concert or taking a long walk, etc., all of these and more can and do work wonders for people suffering as we navigate often deeply troubling, painful issues that tempt us to “self-medicate” in damaging ways.

Addictions and suicides are up as I type… but these are not true answers to living in a broken and in-need-of-change world.

Advocacy means a hard, long and often pushed-against slog through struggle, rubble and at times, death. Surely there will be those who tell you to “Just drop it! Leave it alone! It’s no use, you’re only wrecking the peace!” when in fact those for whom you advocate don’t have a just peace due to those in positions of power actively working against change -or doing nothing because they are already comfortable with the status quo.

I fully admit that there are times we ought not, even are called by God the Holy Spirit Himself to do exactly that, nothing. To critics who judge in ignorance, it can look like “nothing” when in fact God has perhaps called you to do something -in another way- or at another time or both.

Nobody has the burden of advocacy Jesus did and does. Note also that scripture references the Holy Spirit as “Advocate”, as well as “Helper” and “Comforter”.

Every follower of Jesus has access to God and the peace of Christ -which passes mere understanding, that is, our ability to mentally fully understand that very peace itself… because we have access to the Spirit of peace, the Prince of Peace in prayer, meditation, by speaking and listening to Him. “Casting our cares upon Him because He cares for us” -this is essential!

I’ve met and now know a large and wide group of advocates right through my lifetime.

Those who are willing to act on such advice I mention here (and these things are only a short yet beneficial list) will continue to advocate. Burn out and quit are far too common, but wait, there’s more 🙂

“MY peace I leave you, MY peace I give to you” still holds as true as when Jesus was foretelling His disciples He was about to leave them. Consider that in the same breath He told them He’d send the Spirit, the Comforter to them, that they would not be left as orphans in the cold.

Advocates need advocates. Well, all but One 🙂 as He unlike ourselves, is self-sufficient.

I’m deeply grateful for “times of refreshing” from the Holy Spirit.

I’d have long ago left the plow in the field had He not sustained me.

I’ll end this post w. a link to a load of English translations that call us to remember an essential truth as followers of Jesus who advocate. I first noticed this many years ago as a young believer, guitar player who appreciates little effects pedals that help notes to –sustain-, to lengthen and not decay:

https://biblehub.com/psalms/54-4.htm

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Flies!

In a gathering of solid leaders all of whom I have known for years a discussion was held.


The issue was how to best proceed with serving a large group of people in a poor neighborhood in the inner city.

Two key and very appropriate concerns were voiced by one good-hearted person about motives. One was their own concern to serve for others and not themselves. They also brought up the matter of how to encourage others to join in serving without causing them to feel shamed, judged, leaned-on about doing so.

After these and a number of inspiring comments, ideas and exchanges of positive interactions with those in need were shared, we prayed and the meeting ended.

I had a sense the Lord wanted me to communicate something with the individual and another key leader who also has received a deeper call to serve another much larger group.

The essence of my message was that from time to time we all have two sets of flies buzzing around our heads. There truly is a devil and demons who would love to sideline us -take us out of service, out of the battle, off the field.

Self-condemnation, self doubt and an outsized self-judgment in the extreme is one tactic. Another is being so worried, so fearful someone will get their feelings hurt, misunderstand our motives, and/or misjudge us we give up communicating about an issue entirely for fear of these very possible negatives.

I have long taken a “back seat” sensing a call to say less and less in such meetings where ever and with whomever they happen. Younger people should and will step up and grow when older folks give them the keys and the wheel. There are then “pick-and-choose” moments to offer input. These are lessons aging people like myself must listen for and become aware of for other’s benefit.

It is as always, core to Christian leadership of -any- sort that other’s benefit ought to be the lion’s share of our focus and not we ourselves. Yes.

We DO need to check our motives, consider our tone, words, delivery when sharing a legitimate concern for ministry. People HAVE felt condemned and wrongly, harshly judged by leaders who call them to engage in various areas of service. These are legitimate things to know, confess, be careful about, repent when we blow it as we all do. Sensitive communication with grace, tact and patience for younger –and– older sometimes immature, perhaps truly self-centered people is a constant area for leaders to be aware of and learn how to do well!

Having considered all this- it is still indeed “The Book of Acts”, not merely concepts, theories, ideas. People are served when we engage. I have found withdrawing to pray, “passing the torch”, learning when to speak and when to be silent is part of our life-long road in a continually growing discipleship.

We cannot literally serve everyone, meet everyone’s needs and fewer still, their desires! We do not all have the exact same spiritual gifts or calling. That’s an important Bible reality. Unlike God, we each truly have limits to what we can give and do. This is why TEAM is so very important.

Being sidelined for fear of judgment accomplishes nothing. Such is not God’s plan for His servants on earth, the church.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn