Scales- Unity or Uniformity?

Analogy: music scales and one’s preferred culture of comfort vs. true unity. Is it unity or uniformity we’re after?

Granted, individuals, tribes, this or that group you hang with have shared and sometimes not-so-much ideas about what sort of music they love and listen to daily.

Consider America alone and more styles of music than I’m going to name here and you begin to understand my point. Now consider other nations and the wider world. Off the charts -and likely plenty off of your or my personal “chart” of love or even like much less genuine acceptance.

For example, in 6 string guitar playing alone you have (at a minimum at least) steel or nylon or composite strings (3 kinds) then played w. fingers (often called fingerstyle) or a pick (plectrum) or with some sort of “slide” as in blues, country or bluegrass music (all different). These are only the tip of the iceberg as they say!

But at core there are scales. One definition is “Guitar scales are groups of notes that work with one another. If you stay within one scale, you will be more likely to sound as if you’re playing “in tune” and you will be able to create melodies that sound pleasant when played over chords that are also comprised mostly of the same notes.” With a guitar there are what are considered more “western” -as in European or U.S. guitar- patterns of notes used, yet also other scales pertaining to hundreds and even thousands of years of “eastern” music forms -plus hybrids of all this in near limitless variety.

Depending on a long list of things the scale may be long loved and accepted in one country, culture, tribe and sound crazy, horrible and not EVEN cool in another. It’s music to some, noise to others.

Is your head spinning yet?

Ok, so back to common “western” scale playing. Even within any of those instruments, playing styles, focusing on 6 string acoustic guitar playing we have wide and I mean variable tuning possibilities. Choose the guitar, six strings, with fingers, pick or slide, a chosen music style and still there are a multiplicity of tuning options. Oh indeed there is standard tuning and yet… By now you’re asking if there is any end to this?!

Yes indeed.

The unity is music, perhaps guitar-based, maybe the music style. But you and I both know your best friend/s may not like nor daily enjoy the sounds and songs you and I do, correct? So… “THAT ain’t MUSIC!” Uhhhh… you may share true and authentic unity while not lock stepping with one another in uniformity by a long shot!

UNITY: 1.the state or quality of being one; oneness 2. the act, state, or quality of forming a whole from separate parts 3.something whole or complete that is composed of separate parts 4.mutual agreement; harmony or concord: the participants were no longer in unity. 5.uniformity or constancy: unity of purpose. (By the time you reach 4 and 5… hmmm?)

UNIFORM: 1.Always the same, as in character or degree; unvarying: planks of uniform length. 2.Being the same as or consonant with another or others: rows of uniform brick houses. 3.A distinctive set of clothing intended to identify the members of a specific group: a police uniform. (Starting right at #1 here…)

Can we not be gut-honest and admit there are things with which we each and all disagree with in marriage, family, small group of friends, bands, workplace and associates and yes, the church -regardless of form? Jesus truly prayed for all of His followers that we would be one- in unity, but read through those common dictionary definitions with utter honesty and argue that any of us regularly maintain in our own minds or relationships utter unity much less uniformity!

I absolutely love my Methodist (and varied forms of) friends/churches, but the old joke goes “How free are the Free Methodists?” The other answered “About as united as the United Methodists.” This can be truly applied to all relationships I mentioned in the above paragraph and many, many more.

Apply this to anything and I’ll leave you with a punchline to also consider:

If you seek unity with God and the people of God, you still may rarely if ever end up with uniformity while on this planet. Since when does a style, a form of music (your chosen fave/s) equal true music?

“Love one another, as I have loved you”. “For those with ears to hear, let them hear.” -Jesus

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

God’s Heart

Many volumes have been written on this topic and here I only wish to discuss a very select part of what I gather from my own thoughts and experience relating to the following two verses.

Psalm 86.5, 6

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You. v.6 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; And give heed to the voice of my supplications! NASB

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. v.6 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. ESV

For You, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive [our sins, sending them away, completely letting them go forever and ever]; And abundant in lovingkindness and overflowing in mercy to all those who call upon You. v.6 Hear, O Lord, my prayer;And listen attentively to the voice of my supplications (specific requests)! AMP

GK Notes:

God IS, He is GOOD and that is His nature. His character/nature is to forgive. Don’t miss that as it will deeply affect not only your here-and-now attitude towards God and yourself… but how you think of, pray for and actually treat others!

So what is it the LORD is abundant, abounding and overflowing in? To whom is He like that?! Are we calling to Him, seeking, knocking finding -if not the exact answer to our prayer- are we finding HIM? If His answer is “Not now” or “No” do we conclude His character and posture toward us has changed or that He is wrong and untrustworthy in His dealings with us and our prayers?

That God actually listens, hears us- that He supplies us, gives us grace is in my faith and indeed experience, true. He and these virtues remain absolutely true even when we don’t seem by our way of thinking to receive the requested results of either our relationship with Him or specific answers to prayer we determined He should grant.

Faith, hope and love are sourced in Him, not in us.

The issue is always whether we trust ourselves rather than the true Triune God.

In my studies, travels and life experience I cannot begin to state how strongly I trust in the unchanging and gracious nature of Father, Son, Spirit over those two qualities in humans!

These are things to consider when giving God the Thanks He is due.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Attack-Defend M.O.

Can you imagine your thoughts being largely occupied with either attacking or defending yourself from enemies?

Please know I’m neither thinking of the military or anyone/anything related to my own life. Truly I’m not. Rather, I woke up the other morning with this thought: there are those whose lives have ended though they physically still walk around on the earth due to this sort of preoccupation.

It is neither life nor love for ones mind to be so bent on one’s enemies or possible enemies to either function in a norm of attack or defense mode and thus such accent leaves faith, hope and love out.

I fully believe in the devil and demons, I understand human beings are not intrinsicly trustworthy and there are of course sane, logical, rational reasons to act on such knowledge -but I’m talking about a lack of the presence of God in one’s life mixed with a concept of “vigilance” that concocts a slow-cooking stew morphing into a phobia, a fixation to where anxiety, depression and all sorts of mental imagination and effort moves a person’s regular thinking into these two pools of attack or defend “at all costs”.

Such a state is certainly a thief and robber. Such would also keep one from serving others because of overblown suspicion and likely false judgment toward anyone who is potentially unsafe.

Preoccupation with self is not only a self-destructive force, it shares it’s devastating qualities with others also infecting them.

Finally, I would posit a person living in such malady loses actual control and likely the ability to “by love serve one another” (as the Scripture says) due to the greatest focus toward keeping/maintaining/gaining control. Self is the overarching concern. Fight or flight is a vicious animal to feed and a mindset that destroys it’s owner.

There are a number of antidotes to this but they all involve surrender to a greater and more dangerous truth: humans were and are created to love, not merely survive in a state of stress, paranoia, prejudice or malice toward others.

Consider what Jesus actually taught, then did for His enemies (including us!) and you’ll begin to see a massive contrast to the self-induced misery of mere attack and defense.

“I have come to give you life…” -that He did and does.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Do Nothing From…

No wonder many would have loved to see Paul stoned dead…

God’s Word via apostle Paul- Philippians 2.3

“Do nothing from [Lit according to Or from contentiousness] selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves” NASB

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” ESV

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves” AMP

And I think it important to add another statement of Paul’s in this mix:

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” 2 Timothy 1.7 ESV

“self-control” re. biblical Greek includes that and also: sound mind, moderation, discipline

Church, professing Christians (including me)- how are we doin’??

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Petty Little Foxes

Yep, in the illustrious (I’m joking here…) Glenn’s life! That’s where cheerful servanthood ought to be present in acts done in/out of love for my Lord, my wife and family and others. So here’s the sometimes truth about me.

Usually, not always mind you but normally the abnormal Big Freak-Out stuff doesn’t shock or devastate me. Living as long as I have there have been plenty of those. No, it’s the little mundane stuff where I freak, and here in all honesty are two general catagories in my own life.

First- “Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF”, “He who loves his wife loves himself…” have been on my mind recently along with “God loves a cheerful giver”. Gulp.

I deeply love Jesus and my wife- but being home more in pandemic time naturally means more “Honey could you please…?”. Her main area of loving service (and she’s a QUEEN in this area!) is loving me and our family members several of whom live in the same building. Her cooking keeps us healthy and she’s SO good at it!!!

I love her and all my fam to BITS… but always have 3 or 4 other areas of service going on, interact with literally hundreds of people online and otherwise on a continual basis, 5 and more areas of media including music and all the stuff part of my calling – all of which has only escalated incrementally over the years, go figure!

The sheer number of communications w. folks in my average day would likely overwhelm the most adept and committed person. It’s part of why I’m on the planet -BUT… I’ve literally written a short book including a chapter on responsibility to family. I get get get get and get what I’m supposed to be thinking, saying and doing yet often find myself in “duty’ rather than “gratefully serving when called upon” mode.

Next allow me to add as no defense whatsoever to my own selfishness and at times right-now stuff to-do level, I absolutely love getting whatever it is I’m working on finished. So one of my pet “arrrrggghhh!” emotions is having to drop my list to help someone get theirs done in a timely fashion.

I won’t list the stuff I do that I’m pretty sure wouldn’t get done if I had not and did not routinely choose to do various household chores not because my Sweetheart wouldn’t do ’em all by the way -but for good reason she cannot or should not. Like most everyone reading this I’ve daily and weekly chores I’d never have chosen. Hey- I’d rarely choose any sort of “cross” if it were solely up to me. There is God the Holy Spirit and even I hear His voice sometimes!! Love equals Time and is also lived out in service -and I know this is true.

All this to say “By love SERVE one another” is a near-constant conviction and undercurrent of my own failings to be willing, to set aside my own whatever it is (and sometimes petty) agenda and serve when and where I ought to.

So I confess if anything in this Covid/lockdown time has been sandpaper in my life it’s the simple, basic duties and often the spur-of-the-moment stuff… well o.k. the dinky sink and mature mass of dirty dishes I volunteered for (did I say that? yep, it was the right thing to do, still is). Now to mature more myself 🙂

Ahhh the life of a rock star… I wonder what it’s like cuz ain’t never been there. The life of a loving husband, father, grampa and friend? I’m still working on that after all these years!

Thank God and my dearest wife and family for their grace and patience with me. Love not only covers a multitude of [my] sins… it does the dishes with kindness and grace.

As always, thanks for stopping by, -Glenn

Changing-UNchanging

Heb. 13.8 “…the same always” -Jesus
Mal. 3.6 “…do not change” -God the Father
John 14.16 “…with you forever” -Holy Spirit

There are loads of Bible statements that speak directly to the reality of the unchanging God, but in what I’ll term the cosmology of we humans there is also the fact of change -both changes we like and approve of and those we do not and at times cannot control.

In biological aging our very bodies won’t remain the same as when we were young. Constancy is not an option there.

Myriad events take place in countless areas and ways -plenty of which we have no actual ability to change more to our own liking.

The Serenity Prayer includes the wise line “accept the things I cannot change” with good reason.

When painful disrupting events, people and thoughts swirl, in a lifespan certain to include minor if not directly-affecting major “pandemics” of various sorts, kind, good, helpful constancy is a gift! Who, what and where is both comforting and unchanging -bringing not only purpose and meaning but peace and even pleasure in the storm?

Faith in addiction be it drug, bottle, sex, power, money or material things is a thin temporary fix, not constant -and sometimes fatal. None of these in themselves love you.

Faith in the natural universe and it’s elements is faith in change and flux, not stability.

Faith in human perfection or their static dependability is faith in mythology if not an epic lie or outright insanity.

“My peace I give you, not as the world gives…” -Jesus, John 14.27

“…no variation or shadow due to change.” -James 1.17

When you’re willing He is waiting, ready and able. In truth, unchanging.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The Cozy Learn

Sure, sometimes it’s the rough road, the cross-filled experiences through which we learn -but that’s not what this post is about 🙂 !

While recently driving through smaller, pretty tree-lined streets in a Chicago autumn, some decorations up, overcast with a bit of rain -my brain and emotions triggered to a sort of Super-Eight flick flow, a series, a number of slightly amber-bathed snapshots of cozy corners, spaces, scenes of autumns past and present.

Various blends of coffee and in the fall seasons a number of varieties of hot and often spiced tea popped up in my mind. A lit candle or two. A book opened, often decades old, the scent of it. A little, old netbook’s soft glow as I read and consider. Soft lighting.

A seat by a window where I can view leaves, birds flitting in their search to feed and ward off the approaching winter with it’s challenges.

I am warm, seated, loving the atmosphere, studying any number of issues.

In my case such coziness isn’t so much a “fun” read but rather a study of people as an arm-chair anthropologist in a sort of humanities trek through endless encyclopedias (especially before the internet existed) and these days often via a Kindle or laptop read, learning more about the vast and needful world of people in which we live from many perspectives.

Praying, giving thanks, asking for clarity, repenting where I must, asking God’s intervening grace and healing for those in need, considering who I might check up on among a large world of friends due to the sheer volume of years, concerts, church and other gatherings I’ve attended, time spent in their homes and them in mine -relationship. Guidance regarding relationships.

For me “cozy” often expands into considering others and service – not because I am not at times quite selfish, lazy or somehow sinless mind you! Like anyone I’m in need of growing and loving others better and more genuinely… but somehow these many seasons, times, places (three libraries, my own office/s, various spots in woods/forests and such where I experience this sense of His presence I discover communion with God, but even alone, with no people present I’m learning about them and learning, yearning how to love people more, to love better. In this process He also reminds me how much He loves me, what He did and does for me.

Somehow such experiences when no major tasks are being asked of me or that I need to do immediately, a window and atmosphere of cozy becomes a place of learning, of deepening connection to Jesus and others.

My wish for you dear reader, is that you might recognize and experience such a space (or spaces) and moments when heaven touches earth with warmth, thought, contemplation and thus “cozy” blooms… spills over into grace shared in tangible ways with others. Yep, I mix metaphors plenty 🙂

Such times and places are gifts from God. May you and I be sensitive, aware of, take steps to cooperate with Him along our journey.

Cozy is a gift we need to notice with grateful hearts and able minds.

As always, thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

Minority Status. Yes!

“You feel me yet?” Yep. Been preaching to my fellow white folks that we would become -on many levels- an American and world minority for decades. Nobody wants the gig. Understandable, especially if you’ve been in the driver’s seat so long you never noticed or are in denial of what that means for those without such privilege.

How do you think God teaches us to share the wealth, share the controls, choose a back seat rather than the “catbird seat”? This. Right here and right now. Belly up to it you who have been shouting “UNITY… GOD WANTS UNITY!!” Did God change His mind now that you are facing your own lack of control, entering more of a phase of no longer BEING in control? THIS my white friends, is a small part of what people of color, migrants, refugees, Blacks, Native Americans, Asians and immigrants have faced daily for… well… basically forever.

Empathy is often learned best with famine, right? Joseph and his brothers anyone? Not only did he forgive them but though he suffered injustice upon injustice he was faithful to God, was delivered but when in power used that authority to bless, even feed (migrant workers anyone??) and sustain them.

Don’t miss the fact God told Joseph to tell Pharaoh straight-up to TAX (that’s exactly what it was) one-fifth of their produce for seven long years. Can you imagine what many, maybe most Americans would do in that scenario? Mamma! Come on now, fess up!

Who but God and Joseph were certain of seven years of prosperity and seven years after that of devastating famine? Pharaoh, a full-on pagan leader was humble and wise enough to hear God’s truth from this Jewish prisoner and then acted on it. Don’t miss this: God literally saved Israel and certainly a large chunk of the known world via an unjustly imprisoned Jewish prophet by a sinner-unbeliever who was king.

Some reading this will immediately interpret (wrong as wrong can be) that their favored president is the man for the job. There are plenty of prophets who are false prophets- and the humility, wisdom and deep faith in listening to one’s own prisoner who was placed there by a totally false accusation of his own wife… hmmmm, I’d say there is a massive, wide difference between these two “kings”.

The United States is not Israel, nor is the State of Israel the Israel of God full stop end of discussion -and until we face the truth about our own self-interest above that of others we may well be enraged, in utter fear or simply in ignorant denial of our true and actual minority status.

Bob Dylan rings in my head at times- “How does it feel…?”

It feels like humility, a long overdue re. the fact that all lives do matter- and as whites in control we’ve not thought, lived nor treated minority people like they equally do.

Repent. Lose. Learn. Grow. Care for others equally as yourself. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Who told us to do that?? He gave His life for those who did not earn it, and that means all of us! All of these tenets are absolutely clear in the Gospel, example and Person of Jesus Christ.

Learning to adapt? Minority people are experts. We white folk have a lot to learn from our sisters and brothers of color.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Response to Straw Man

I decided to get into details some would choose to avoid in SWAMP GAS MESSIAHS- and in the first single, that being “Straw Man”. Why?

In essence I think if you are a white American and fairly comfortable in your life, lifestyle and position you may not wish to discuss details of how you and those positions affect the poor, people of color, immigrants or would-be immigrants, widows, orphans, the incarcerated, abortion, gun legislation, Israel, Old and New Testament prophets including my Lord Jesus Christ who was/is Son of God and far more than a prophet- and for that matter biblical definitions of sin and justice.

You’re thinking “Lord have mercy, this post is a book… no… a volume of ’em!” Nope. Just statements to clarify my thinking whether we agree or not.

Recently the response to Straw Man included asking what it meant. I ultimately recommended the individual to check online dictionaries, but it does include avoiding or changing the subject, it’s a false argument, a dodge having no core link to the issue whatever the issue may be. I am used to having folks respond to my lyrics and comments that way rather than quoting specific lyrics or phrases and having to wrestle with what they strongly disagree with re. my own beliefs.

Re. “Straw Man”- someone wrote Jesus’s redemption for ALL Sin was sufficient (it is for salvation, eternal life) so what would I have them do? Action from the heart that demonstrates repentance is the short answer. Wrestle with Micah 6.8 and Matthew 25.35,36

I could fill this post with what I’ve personally done re. pro-life -but am always amazed at how unborn babes are never linked with the already-born who are routinely not cared for and indeed slammed and indeed at times killed by the policies of governments and individuals who are rather comfortable, often not cared for by individuals who otherwise profess Christian faith, who support the (U.S.) federal and states death penalty, who ignore humane care for women and children at our southern border, who look the other way at our deployment of troops which I have and have not agreed with depending on the issue/s. Someone mentioned a pro-life shirt I wore in a festival years ago but apparently did not see my “Don’t Kill For Me” shirt at the festival which included a long list of why I do not support capital punishment.

As I’ve often mentioned, I own firearms, hunt, shoot (name the weapon from slingshots, bows, muzzleloaders, modern handguns and etc.) and believe freedom in 2020 and beyond is NOT about individual citizens bearing arms which in the real world may well bring a mythical “dying with honor” or prison as well as countless deaths in this nation which happen daily as a result of this core, frankly dumb and deeply flawed policy of “rights”.

Israel- I pray for her peace and salvation and will never quit doing so! Bible history is clear, God DOES show favoritism, but not simply because Christians support Israel, His chosen people. Was God anti semetic when some 70 percent of the Old Testament He exiled them for their sins, often citing miss-treatment of the poor, widow, foreigner, unfair and unjust scales in the marketplace? How many prophets did He send to Israel and Judah commanding, pleading with them to repent? Most all of them brought that exact message and the OT is loaded with it. Therefore neither Israel, the U.S. or any other nation is in and of itself pure, holy, righteous. We are often too slack in facing our own individual and/or corporate sins, repenting and growing, moving on and past “ME and MINE FIRST and to hell with these other people!”

Plenty of professing Christians are living in and out of fear, anger and self(ish) preservation thinking. Plenty of those who do not share the faith in the risen Jesus I do are also living out of these. The question and the issues I raise continually in my lyrics (and you can begin with the first Resurrection Band record through GKB and my solo projects) have dealt with these issues, the racism and injustices not only in our history but now, today and largely due to our own simple-minded approach which I mentioned above- “If my life is set and good that’s enough.” No it isn’t. God right through His Word disagrees with you. Jesus Himself disagrees with you.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” Paul writing to Timothy is certainly talking about living out His Word, being diligent is about study, not surface conclusions, mere words casually tossed out in social media and such. Deep dive if you’re truly a caring, serious person.

I am convinced a good many folks treat The Bible, God’s Word to us much as they have my lyrics and plenty of other voices (none of which hold the eternal power and value as what God Himself thinks and says in Scripture)! Surface. Thin. Shallow. Ignorant. “I like my life as is, get off my lawn. In fact get out of my town, state, nation.” I’m an American, I live here along with all sorts of people. Jesus calls me to be a peacemaker but sometimes prophetic words stir and make uncomfortable (hopefully to genuine repentance).

You can disagree with me and I’ll still work to show you love and respect, but that doesn’t mean we will ever fully agree on these and many other matters. I am as convinced as I can be that our Father in heaven treats us exactly that way- unlike us, He does it in perfection.

As I wrote the lyrics to “Straw Man” I also immediately thought about how easy it is to walk on straw, drive over it, burn it. That power-trip won’t wash when we face God Almighty.

When we consider straw useful, fine, but if not who cares what happens to it? We treat people we don’t like as straw people, we may even see them as non-people, a type of scarecrow without true human value, essentially without worth –to us. This is completely the opposite of God’s mind, heart and desire toward all human beings, period.

He calls us to repent, to re-think, to grow up and to not only love Him supremely but with an “AND” that is fully linked to it:

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” -Jesus

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn