Birthday Personal- New Wine

My earliest memory is my anger at my Grandma on my Dad’s side. I may have been 3 or 4 years old. I cannot remember much about her as she passed within months of this, but at the time she was babysitting me by herself, the rest of the family working in our tiny Wisconsin village independent grocery store next to our rented downstairs apartment.

Sadly, I only remember this about her or it: I was throwing a fit -and a bunch of my little wooden numbers-and-letters blocks at her! Sin nature, sadness at neither of my parents, brother or sister being near, God only knows but I’m sorry this is my earliest living memory.

Last night our leadership team shared their top of the year sermonettes. As always, really edifying and getting a sense of each one’s heart is always so good! The general theme was new wine for new wineskins via Jesus’ teaching on the subject.

Between pandemics, politics and for many of you who have (as I have like all of us) a load of other issues you struggle with and are not proud of, this I can say after a long and full life: I needed and now need the grace and mercy of God as much as I ever did! I don’t need non-stop coddling or yes-people but wise yet gracious iron-sharpening people. God in His mercy has always blessed me with such folks and I often give thanks for them having a pretty good sense of how many MORE “blocks” I’d have thrown in my life in one or another version of a “fit”!

At the end of our Zoom meeting we all took communion together, each w. the elements in our apartments. Along with my wife, we prayed, I asked forgiveness and gave thanks that God by His Spirit is in the continual work of bringing not only conviction of what the Bible (and not merely friends or enemies) calls sin, but His forgiveness! I personally believe that in part, new wine means trusting by faith that if we confess and repent He forgives and therefore the Lord works good change in us. This includes fruit of authentic repentance – genuine relationship, peace, reconciliation, restoration. “New wine” is not merely something new because we like it or would have chosen it on our own.

I often mention Jesus’ words “And He said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 14.52 brings balance to “NEW or NOTHIN'”! It also balances with wisdom “NOTHING BUT OLD!!” because whatever our loss, some of it should have been lost a long time ago.

There is always gain in Christ and loss in Christ – but it is IN CHRIST that those who seek to follow Him need to focus on at the bottom of all and I mean all of our life, decisions and choices.

How easy to simply demand the dying way of comfort. It’s as easy as saying nothing but new is sacred… or camping in old alone, perhaps frantic as to the next new thing. Either of these would be not only denying the broad truths of Scripture but wisdom of the experiences of millions of Jesus followers that came before us and will surely come after.

I know this: I’m sorry for throwing fits and blocks when I could have been kind.

Well, “one day at a time” and today, each new day we have opportunities to take on new wine if we will receive the new heart and attitudes and fruit of the Spirit that Jesus seeks to pour into us -and then toward others, through us!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Triumphalism

There are many, many levels, definitions/interpretations of this term. Here imho is one of the positive ones on MLK, Jr. Day 2021: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Even his sage comment here can be turned around by deciding “YES! I/WE will WIN in the end!!” Think about it- followers of Lenin, Mussolini or Pol Pot if ignoring Dr. King’s first sentence (“unarmed” and “unconditional love”) could and did in principle believe the second statement interpreting it as “We WILL triumph! Our loss is only temporary! Most (all?) our foes are evil and will never succeed!”

Anger that pulls a trigger, wields a knife, twists a head is difficult to match with that first sentence.

Covid or other fatal diseases that take a life in the present may indeed be triumphed over in time but does not erase the suffering, funeral, memorial service on earth.

The Bible is absolutely packed with the statements generating and revealing faith in God’s deliverance, His power unleashed to cause, bring and gift His people with victory, triumph over their enemies. It is also laced with (Psalms) laments, cries, anguish and for that matter deaths that indeed God Himself either allowed or orchestrated. Few followers of Jesus seem willing to face the both/and in the Word of God -and in my view, often to our ignorance and even peril as well as to those we oppose as our enemies. From Genesis to Revelation we not only see the tragic end that comes to the enemies of God but often the people of God who opposed His way of life and love – and HIS way of life and love are so often NOT ours.

When the narrative of Scripture (Book of Acts chapter 11 Ananias and Sapphira anyone?) say, Book of Jonah among a long list of other Bible texts are truly pondered, is it the automatic get-it-here-and-now and get-it-my-way we find? “Oh but” you may say, “THOSE people opposed God!!” Indeed, as did God’s chosen people in ancient times (Hebrews chapter 3, etc., etc.) as do masses of we gentiles -and we are prone to do likewise today. If indeed you think it comes down to faith in the sense “God will give us full victory and what WE deem success in this life” I’d say you’d be wrong in terms of the experience of a long list of both Old and New testament heroes, historical Christian martyrs and countless un-heard-of godly followers of Jesus who perished under torture, fatal diseases, “natural disasters” and more.

MLK is certainly saying there is a day COMING when the people of God will triumph. But when the bulk of your brain cells, intake from teaching and personal desires for your “best life” swim in the waters of “My ship is coming in here and now!” and doesn’t come, when in Martin’s case a racist assassin’s bullet like that of the Kennedy brothers and others ends the on-earth story, moreso as the PERFECT, HOLY, FULLY-RIGHTEOUS AND INNOCENT Jesus Christ breathed His last at the hands of ungodly, sinful humankind -it wasn’t over. It wasn’t over because He rose again and now is seated at the right hand of God. The will of God WILL be accomplished though the idea of it all being accomplished for us in this life full stop is historically quite clearly not the case.

I am convinced faith and actions toward a particular “Christian triumphalism” that our own sense of winning is always exactly the same as God’s view of such is often not only mistaken but at times an attitude that provokes anything –but– the love of God for others with whom we disagree.

Sadly, many professing believers disagree with God Himself when it comes to getting their way. His is the way of love, grace, compassion and forgiveness. If our view of justice is not fully informed by these very characteristics of God’s nature -or not… “The final word in reality” will be spoken by Him when He deems the time has come, when both time and the world as we know it will end.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Reflecting Pain

Note- “reflecting” as in reflecting on, considering and in love for others discussing it openly -not in bitterness, spite and resentment habitually bouncing it off yourself with malice and vengeance desiring “payback” to cause pain in those you wish to hurt.

My longtime friend John J. Thompson (loooong list but here I’ll accent just one of his ongoing accomplishments) over at https://www.truetunes.com/ tagged me today as he’d mentioned me in a thread re. his recent podcast including music, thoughts and interviews.

In a social media back-and-forth w. others he articulated what stood out to him from musicians Mark Heard, The Choir and others. I beg you not to take this as self-brag, I only re-post it here for context because I’m going to again share a brilliant quote I read years ago as a follow-up.

“My “faith” was mangled by fear and pain and confusion. His [Mark Heard’s] music, along with a handful of others’ (Glenn Kaiser and Rez Band, Larry Norman, Etc) seemed to respect me enough to acknowledge that pain and not skip over it. Most Christian music I was finding seemed to suggest that we could just ignore that stuff, say a prayer, come forward at an altar call, and POOF! But “Pain That Plagues Creation” was the kind of thing that told me I was not crazy, this was not “OK” and I was not alone. Looking back – I think so many of the problems we see across the culture – and country – right now have roots in people not being honest about their fear and their pain – and not having a sound theology through which to understand it. Mark and Rich Mullins and Glenn and so many others helped me with that – along with non-artists you’ve never heard of.” -JJT

If you know my own story it was/is laced w. pain, tragedy and addiction, much of it by my own choices but not even close to all of it my own fault. You’d also know I talk a ton about the fact that the bulk of lyrical content in the Book of Psalms are -laments-. Huge and important reality and for good reason. There isn’t a human on earth including serious godly followers of Jesus who only experience non-stop victory, what they/we would consider wonderful/positive answers to each and every prayer, etc., etc.. It is THAT reality, both our sins, those of others and the fallen world in which we live that does not often get reflected in faith-based culture be it “worship” songs or otherwise. Lotta reasons for this.

Imho John truly gets it- and was drawn to a core sense of need for reality plenty of believers work very hard to skip.

Neither he nor I agree with an exclusively “victim” mentality where the continuing (note that word along with “exclusive”) focus in one’s life is me-myself-and-I… and yet as a musician, hey, merely a caring person who seeks to actively love others and practice what I preach, this oft-repeated quote from a long defunct mag:

“Great artists have always been at the edge of growing awareness about
what was happening in any society. They have been not just
entertainers, but poets, painters, agitators, teachers and even
prophets. It seems their gift to us is to help us see vividly what is
taking place around us; to raise our awareness about social
conditions, about our natural surroundings, to call for a response to
human beauty and tragedy, to help us get inside the skin of others.
Perhaps the greatest moments for artists are when they move us towards
justice, mercy and compassion. Maybe then they are fulfilling their
real destiny as artists and human beings”.

-“Tell”, Australian Christian magazine, Vol. 16, No. 3, Sept.-Nov., 1987

In my own flawed, sinful, sometimes self-righteous and surely ignorant shallowness, it is this sort of “great” I seek to become. And full-on Glory to God alone at any points in my journey where by His grace I happen to touch on anything near the address!!! I hear Micah 6.8 and Matthew 25 laced through that brilliant quote from “Tell”.

In conclusion- one can get caught in a continual spinning pool of reflection, that of one’s own face in the mirror… and never grow, change, find HEALING. I do –not– mean glossing over and considering, sharing and seeking how that pain was dumped on us by others, what foolish sins or mistakes we were/are responsible for that brought pain into our world (and sadly, share/ed with others). It’s a package deal. It is often complex. God’s Word (The Bible) doesn’t ignore these things, neither should we!

Jesus is that “Man of Sorrows well-acquainted with grief” Who not only gets it but directly and via His authentic followers works to bring the healing and sense we need in this fallen, often broken and even brutal, unjust world.

I’m deeply grateful to be part of His family and therefore part of the process to bring reflection via words, music -and Dear God let it be so! –my life. YOU dear reader, play a part for those in deep need as well. God give you heart, sense and guts to love and be part of the healing process for others, not only yourself.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Vitriol Shake

As I truly try to keep it rare to post a meme or video clip from somewhere that “punches other’s lights out” I don’t generally focus much on them. Every now and then I find one so true in history and present reality I do re-post.

Today I read a friend lamenting the splits among professing Christians including the Evangelicals re. issues of racism, other social justice matters, politics, and so forth. It was brief, true, well-written and I think worthy of posting in social media. He did so without a meme or video attached.

My brain went to creating my first-ever meme (I didn’t and won’t) of my own. Something like “VITRIOL. It’s what’s for dinner! And lunch, and breakfast, and snacks, and, and, and…” Followed with a Clint Eastwood line from Outlaw Josey Wales- “Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’.”

My very next thought was “The wrath of humans doesn’t work the righteousness of God”, “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword” and other similar passages of God’s Word. Alas.

My friend lamented the splits among otherwise professing Christians, absolutely the norm over most of human and church history no matter where you look. Even among folks largely in agreement there were and will be separations due to opposing, “Enough, I can’t hang out with these folks anymore” viewpoints.

But have any of my professing Christian readers recently considered two Old Testament obvious-es? Is that a new word? 🙂 I’m referring to individual, people-group and tribal splits between God’s Chosen People and God Himself. Happened all the time and continues to. Secondly, how long was the nation of Israel a “two nation” deal: Israel and Judah? Quite the split indeed.

In what I’ve just written (and there’s more but I’ll spare you) split after split. In fact separation from family and friends and so many more breakups happen. Why? We may by God’s Own view have done the right and best thing to separate on the one hand while on the other be petty, self-seeking and sinful in our individual (and shared w. others) motivations for separating. We may be in sync with God, His Word, the mind and desire of the Holy Spirit or we may simply be full of vitriol and anything but faith, hope and love. True justice never means “just us.”

Meanwhile on this earth there will be “wars and rumors of wars”, people’s hearts getting harder, colder and quicker to choose violence over Jesus’ Own example of love and sacrifice.

I’ll finish with this fully aware, knowing, even agreeing there’s a legit “righteous anger” and a time to tear down as well as a time to build up as stated in Ecclesiastes. It’s the verse I mentioned a moment ago above:

“a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God” -NASB or “the [resentful, deep-seated] anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us]” -AMP (James 1.20)

For good measure (and before God we each and all must measure ourselves , our words and our attitudes toward those we would love to drop kick… we shall all be measured by Him…):

VITRIOL “Bitterly abusive feeling or expression”. The etymology of the word takes you to sulfuric acid. Not something worth eating much less serving to our enemies whom Jesus commands His followers to love.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Corruption.

Whether church, the political sphere, business or otherwise -issues of ethics, morals, equity and fairness all eventually surface. There’s plenty of talk about corruption but sadly little hard-mirror-looking going on for all too many.

Have I faced this in my own life and times, I mean me personally? It’s a rather continual thing to do the examination. Look up the 12 Steps and you’ll get it straight up. Read the Gospels and Jesus’ Own words and you’ll notice the issue/s very, very connected to it.

Paul wrote what is in my view perhaps one of the more overlooked or not-deeply considered statements about corruption. It seems at very least professing Christians with our opinions on how to define it and what to look for ought to carefully consider:

Galatians Chapter 6:

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (NASB)

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked [He will not allow Himself to be ridiculed, nor treated with contempt nor allow His precepts to be scornfully set aside]; for whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reap. 8 For the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in. 10 So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith (born-again believers). (AMP)

First, any one or group of us can be self-deceived. Humility and a little knowledge and just a bit of wisdom will tell you that! Yet few of us likely connect self-deception with mocking God Himself. Soberly consider that as a professing Christian.

Next we often link that and the other points Paul is expressing in Galatians as fully, totally and only toward those who do not follow Jesus Christ. Careful, contextual interpretation indeed clarifies in some places he is speaking of such people while in others he is directing his comments to believers or even both. I often mention we who actively follow Jesus still sin, still make mistakes, mess up, get “it” wrong and I cannot find a sane, logical nor scriptural argument to the contrary.

The kicker, punchline, essential matter here is that “sowing to the flesh” will indeed reap and corruption is the term. In the end whether people are impressed with you, me or what stuff we obtain or our “accomplishments” or not- this matter is crucial and central before God.

Spiritual gifts, fruit and life come from God the Holy Spirit. Engaging with Him moment-by-moment in a relationship of love, faith and truth, obeying Him and His Word, the Word of God, is not optional. It is also not automatic! We are co-laborers with God as The Bible clearly states.

Then Paul goes on to encourage us to not get weary, to allow our old nature, the world or the devil to wear us out to the point we just give up -and many sadly do so. “All in good time” goes the adage. I would say all in God’s good timing.

There is the accent of caring for our fellow believers, those in the family of faith in Jesus Christ, but Paul also includes our doing good to those who are not walking with/in Jesus yet.

Finally and at core, what IS “the flesh” and what does he mean by “corruption”?

For one of the better, more thorough articles on the Bible term and it’s meaning, have a slow read through this: https://www.gotquestions.org/the-flesh.html

The Greek (sarx) can mean several things, but we all have it and Paul himself stated in Romans 7. 18 “For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” Thankfully he goes on to say Jesus gives him and we who follow Jesus in faith and surrender “the victory” -over- our flesh, our sinful, corruptible old nature.

The Greek that is here translated to the English “corruption” is defined “corruption, destruction, perishing, that which is subject to corruption, what is perishable, in an ethical sense, corruption, that is- moral decay

As some of the old preachers said, “The dog you feed is the one that grows.”

If there is any wonder why preachers, presidents, professors, pundits, pagans or professing Christians end up corrupted and sharing, even discipling others in corruption in history or today, the answers, warning and antidotes are found right in God’s Word.

I would say the road to hell is paved with corruption.

God help us to build our lives and make our choices based on Him and the integrity of the Spirit of Truth lived out in us -not mere gain nor to impress others nor for any other motive but to honor Him, love Him and our neighbor as ourself. This lived out will keep corruption out of us and us out of corruption. Disregarded? All hell gets the nod.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Doctrine? Who Cares?!

A. W. Tozer wrote “The center of attraction in a true church is the Lord Jesus Christ. As for fellowship, let the Holy Spirit define it for us: ‘And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers'” -Acts 2.42

Some would argue (and I think rightly so) that WE, that is, those who follow Jesus Christ, who believe in Him as Lord and Savior are “the church” and that being true more still: “By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.” -Jesus in John 13.35

That is, some would argue it is not those four things Luke mentions in Acts nor any of the other “evidence” of works, etc., that mark true Christians and a “true” Christian assembly (church = assembly of called-out ones) but rather it is (Greek- agape) love. Love, period!

Most of us know people can have loads of information and no genuine, authentic relationship whether with God or others. In fact many of us can name those who by their doctrine eventually trashed their faith in God entirely – understood and have seen it in my lifetime. I’ve often thought it important to mention the devil knows and quotes Scripture -and is still the devil. The idea that no demon/s ever attended Christian gatherings nor whispered nonsense and outright lies into people’s minds is in my view, not only naive but according to Jesus in the Gospels, flat wrong.

At core I would agree with other’s views as I stated in the third paragraph above- but not entirely. Jesus immediately after teaching what we often call “The Beatitudes” continues with this (Luke 6):

“31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

How we think, speak, act, treat both other professing Christians as well as agnostics, atheists and those of other faiths is of clear importance throughout the Word of God. Neither you nor I can simply wish away all this (see Jesus’ comments on our treatment of ‘the least of these’ in Matthew chapter 25!). What Jesus teaches as well as (yes) the teachings of the apostles constitutes doctrine. So… doesn’t matter?

The ultimate point of Bible doctrine is that it gives us the details on how to love God supremely and others as our self. That’s why doctrine is important.

Note- Jesus isn’t merely teaching us to love one another as believers in Christ, is He? Nor was Paul, John, James and the other human authors of Scripture. Though His love in and extended through us to one another in the Church universal and local churches is indeed a mark of true discipleship have you considered what else He emphasizes here?

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Perpetual “I could care less!” sinners, those who do not follow the Lord nor ultimately give a rip how they live or act before God and others: “love them”. Not tacit agreement but love! The love Jesus is calling us to live out as His disciples goes beyond those who agree with you or me. Can we not admit that as individual professing Christ-followers and at times perhaps nearly entire local churches we are far from loving our enemies?

We DO expect “return on investment” or we take not getting it as a loophole, even a principle of stewardship of whether we must love people by our actions. Please think on that for a moment!

So much for reflecting our Father Who is kind to ungrateful and outright evil people. Our mercy is in need of fertilizing because it is in this that working “the works of God” yields fruit of the sort the Spirit of God desires to work in and through us that others might know Him.

So do I agree with Tozer’s quote above? At core I do, yet there’s more.

The four things Luke mentions about the early church in Acts brings me right back to early Jesus Movement and right-here-and-now comments about the relative importance of doctrine. That is, we said (and say) doctrine itself (the teachings) of the Lord and His apostles (often, Paul in particular) aren’t something to care much about because love IS the deal, not doctrine.

You’re reading doctrine right here and now. Quoting Jesus at all is largely quoting His teaching and that’s doctrine. The Bible including the Gospels are stories, narratives from which we derive teachings to faithfully live out in our daily relationships with Jesus and others. What divides us from one another and often one local church or denomination from another is indeed the varied interpretation of doctrine- and yet the point of Jesus’s and His followers’ doctrine/s is love. I find some teachers and speakers divorce narrative from clear and practical teachings. It’s a bit like saying we don’t need to think about clothing in a blizzard. This world needs to see followers of Jesus Christ the Living Word live out loving one another (including our “enemies”). Relational love for and toward God and others in His love is why doctrine is not only important but essential.

“They were continually and faithfully devoting themselves to the instruction of the apostles, and to fellowship, to eating meals together and to prayers.” -Amplified

They did not merely hang out, pray and eat together – and sometimes this separates the early and fruitful church from our gatherings today. I don’t care if you’re an old rebellious Jesus freak or a young rebellious hipster Christian – or perhaps a sectarian who thinks they have “the deeper truth and higher light from the Spirit” beyond most other confessing Christians… there is something missing when we say “I have the Holy Spirit, I don’t need anyone to teach me” full stop (which is a misappropriation of John’s teaching (!) in his first letter to the churches).

Of course our deepest need is to hear from God the Holy Spirit and not merely from flawed, imperfect, sinful humans. It is also a fact the Spirit does indeed speak through we flawed, imperfect, sinful humans. The NEED is for the Spirit to give us the teaching/s God knows we need. He has, whether or not you study and seek to apply the Book of Truth or not.

What you’re saying (teaching) is that we all have the spiritual gift of teaching (which the Spirit gives -some-) and as long as we love (How??? By our own personal definition and choice… because like all other Christians we are ALWAYS led by and walking in the Holy Spirit, right?!!) yada yada. Humility this ain’t.

Such attitudes of fellowship remind me of the old train roundhouses… with ME at the center. Jesus and the very teachings and life of Paul and the other apostles echo Jesus’ doctrine of loving – even enemies.

Church, how steadfast are we? That’s the term used for the early church’s involvement with teachings give by the apostles. We have some growing up, some maturing, some dying to self and some essential information to not only learn but appropriate if we are truly loving our neighbor “as ourselves”.

We can argue the Bible is completely narratives and nothing more or compartmentalize doctrines from stories- but there is an intertwining that few scholars would debate with any solid evidence.

God help us move down this good and sorely needed spiritual road in 2021 and beyond!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Basically WONDERFUL or HORRID?!

So regarding humans as individuals or corporately- which is it? I’d say it’s both. Read on for what at least to me makes total sense and is a comfort right throughout my own life and lifetime of human history as well as biblical studies.

In a recent social media exchange a friend who happens to be a Christian leader was discussing an ethical matter and commented on his own sense of pain and sadness about the state of humans re. law, law-keeping and ethics.

I responded back and forth and my last bit (quoted here) which has been in my mind to write and post for some time is how I finished my part of the convo. I’ve made a very few changes and additions for clarity.

“GK: But another point in all this common, since Adam/Eve fell tension is this:

Both the imago dei AND sin-nature is in us all -INCLUDING Christ-followers.

I have read and heard Christians lean hard on either side of this position for years, and I mean both sounding like all authentic believers are just about sinless due to the Spirit of God in us and/or/also all non-Christ followers have nearly zero spark of God’s image in them (see Gen. 1.26).

One of myriad texts that clarifies this even among God’s Chosen (Israel) is Isaiah chapter one. As if followers of Jesus are somehow perfected, sinless, ONLY demonstrate the nature of God in thought, word and deed? Being “complete in Him” equals in the present world we are simply by our salvation in Jesus mature, perfected? Sounds like folks are huffing glue on that one!!

That tension and the truth, the reality of it and acceptance of it brings me (in any case…) comfort. Why? Biblical and human factual/historical reality of the actual human race whether believers or not.

Only the Triune God is perfect, all-knowing, sinless, literally consistent and mature in all judgments. We just ain’t not dat!!! So we also have backsliders and atheists who at times make more sense and demonstrate a wisdom and even at least elements of love that put professing believers to shame.

We also have godly (or seeking to be so) followers of Jesus whom we full-on disagree with and the temptation is to either live in despair, throw our hands up and move to a rural “no-body-out-here-so-no-issues” escapism (which protects us from cross-bearing and mitigates the command to love our neighbor and enemy) or show up with figurative or actual weapons of warfare (and now we land in Paul’s carnal-ville carnival… hmmmm… perhaps I’m a lyricist… dunno…) and this is where we are in large form these days.

Most weapons come with a safety -and for good reason. Humans obviously don’t always use them and therefore another point to underscore we all are formed in His image but often act like the demons we’re in bed with on any given occasion.

We daily choose to love or not, and yes, loving as God loves and with His love is the core ability as well as cross given those who call ourselves followers of Jesus.

Painful. Essential. Reality.

God help us, and as always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

GK Reads Chap. 13 of ETIR

“Everytime It Rains” is a song lyric of mine and also the working title and also one chapter of a book of my early life in which I share a series of events over a very short span of time that rocked my world and changed my life.

This yet-needing-more-editing book isn’t finished -but Jan. 3, 2021 is exactly 50 yrs. to what I describe in another chapter from my story which I’ve uploaded to a podcast. I wish you the BEST in 2021 and as always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Peace in 2021? “New Year”?! Really?

Another New Year. So thought any number of people going about their lives and boom- no.

I’m now thinking of several gents my age and a couple young teens in a bowling alley in Rockford, Illinois a few nights past. Old guys bowling, young guys getting carry-out food. In a heartbeat a shooter (former Green Beret) took their lives, just like that, over. The new for them was, I believe, standing before God.

No, this post isn’t and will not be a demand to repent (though at times I will call for it as Jesus and my heavenly Father did and does) -yet that is among an essential foundation of peace with God.

Okay, no that’s not correct many will say, love is all we need consider. I will respond to that with this:

Without risking, trusting and receiving God’s love your peace is likely more a matter of circumstances going the way you wish than it is the peace of the Prince of Peace, the peace that “passes [surpasses, goes beyond] understanding”, the inner peace you cannot of yourself alone conjure though certainly that will be/is disagreeable to many. If one ends up believing in a god – or the true God, then there is accountability, judgment and the desires, even commands of that god. So much for peace, ‘eh?

Unless one… yep… repents, re-thinks, turns around, intentionally heads in the direction of that God Who alone gives the heart peace, soul peace, lasting (eternal) peace.

“6. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Paul, Philippians 4.6,7

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” -Jesus, John 14.27

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (etc.) -Paul, Galatians 5.22

The Bible says a great deal more about peace and what it entails, but the three verses I quote here demonstrate that of Father, Son, Spirit and even in the sense of what the Holy Spirit GROWS in us over time (fruit) which includes a peace that is beyond any peace I ever experienced prior to following Him – and when my eyes are on myself rather than the Lord and others, that peace seems distant.

Faith, prayer, surrender and mental focus on Jesus- according to Himself “the way, truth, life” brings peace in relationship. I know of nothing else like it nor anything else that brings -that sort of peace- but Him.

There will be new dates on the calendar but for many nothing much else. Or so we think. I think 2021 can be the best year of your life regardless of circumstances, pain, loss and worry -but I also think that won’t happen if you decide your journey mustn’t engage with God.

Grace offers peace, and both are sourced in Jesus Christ.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

A Home, Not Merely a House

Bob Dylan’s “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest” had an intriguing line: “It’s a home, not a house”, an ode re. the devil and temptation really. Frankie listens to the character “Judas Priest” and ends up in a brothel – which is merely a house. I think even professing Christians have often ignored, forgotten or explained the devil and demons out of their conscious thoughts – rather than studying Jesus’ Own thoughts/words/interactions with them.

In any case I misquoted this Dylan lyric for years remembering it as “It’s a house, not a home” because that is what my own growing up experience was in a quite broken, fragmented family. There were some moments of unity to be sure, but a great deal of deep individualism and self-interest beyond much else all too often.

The fact is that also describes much of “the church” on earth and for the most part always has. But like obsession with the devil (equally a train-wreck as what I’ve just noted above) one can be so self-obsessed any of us can forget that a home is as much about our interaction and treatment of others as it is theirs with us. Read that again. Wherever you go there you are. A fairly constant misery comes down to self because it’s yourself you can never, ever escape though you may well deny your own propensity for sin and self-serving motives, decisions and actions. I repent of these pretty well daily as I must!

The photo I used here is home to of one of the most amazing, good families I know. They are (like you and I dear reader) sinners, though people of faith in Jesus. They’re longtime friends I am blessed to know and link with. All the ups and downs of life lace through their individual and shared family experience in this big and welcoming rural house outside of a very small town in the Midwest of the U.S..

Oh there are plenty of families all over the world like theirs, but in the colder climes (such as those in the pic) and also warmer areas of our world there are fractures so deep and chasms wide enough that seem to keep distance a marked enduring thread through many families. That has been my own experience in listening, reading, touring and certainly shared by others reading this.

I found genuine, honest, self-giving people who became far more a family to me, then to my own eventual marriage and family than many of my friends ever have. Grace. And yes, commitment on my part as well as theirs.

I worry for those who just give up looking for such relationships due to hurt -real, imagined or a mix of both. Hurt will be a part of 2021 just as it was 2020 and every year from the beginning of Adam and Eve’s journey. Cain and Abel’s story ended too soon.

I would ask you to please don’t make the mistake of not facing up to your own part of why you end up with a house as opposed to a true home as it is as much your responsibility as it is the rest of the family’s. This balance is often ignored.

“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, “None is righteous, not even one”, “Forgive and you shall be forgiven”, “As much as it lies within you be at peace with all”. The truth is that these are forgotten, ignored words and advice often railed against, run from. This is why like Frankie Lee who paid more attention to the devil than his own conscience, ended up playing a game. It’s a game, a false act any and all of us can play. It was Dylan’s imaginative lyric of a deceiver which led to the other’s self-deception and consequent living a false life in the end. First line of the lyric? “Well, Frankie Lee and Judas Priest they were the best of friends”.

Since my own family disintegrated due to illness, poverty and adultery, my parents divorcing when I was nine years of age and with an endless set of lessons about how self-interest above all others destroys rather than heals, creates -true- community and indeed echos the Words and Truth of Jesus Christ in relationships -rarely have I expected Dylan, the family whose home I picture here, my own home or anyone else’s life to be some sort of pristine, sinless, grace-filled utopia. It isn’t a possibility this side of heaven. That is as mythological as the concept we can self-source grace… which has but one Source, and He alone is God.

What I and many have learned -even among the homeless, dirt-poor people of color, refugees, prisoners and other “undesirables”: there is a righteous, holy and just Savior Who knows how a house, tent, underpass or even jail or prison cell is only a home when the occupants learn and practice His love in relationship to Him and one another.

Other than that, even a rich person’s mansion is simply a shack which like all else, will leave one cold as death inside the human heart -without warm relationship to the One Who alone causes the heart to beat.

Things to consider along the journey?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn